Monday, February 12, 2007


The older I get, the more resourceful I become. Resourceful enough that people, who hardly even know me say to Hub, “Man, your wife is an easy-keeper.” And when those comments come back to me I wear them like a badge of honor.

But maybe, just maybe, resourcefulness is as slippery a slope as paranoia, or depression, or some of those other ills of the mind that can so soon become chronic and difficult to cure. I don’t know. Let me tell you about today, and then you be the judge.

Today, I’m baking muffins. It’s not that I want to bake muffins today but I can’t be wasting food, you know, and I have one banana left in the fruit bowl that is going to expire within the next seven minutes. Sure, I could freeze it, but frozen bananas should be used within 6-8 weeks, not four years later. So I will use it now.

But there is no such thing as a recipe for 12 muffins made with one lonely banana. The best I can do is a recipe that calls for one cup. And I know at least two bananas are needed to make one cup. But then, while pivoting my head around in the fridge, I notice a bowl of mashed potatoes left over from last night. That’s when the thought came to me that I could simply expand the mashed banana with mashed potatoes (that thankfully were not seasoned with dill, garlic, rosemary, thyme, or cajun)? So mixed together, we now have one cup of ‘generic’ mashed banana.

Now I have muffin papers but I am disinclined to use the bloody things. I buy parchment paper that is non-stick to bake cookies on, so why can’t affordable muffin papers be non-stick? Don’t manufacturers know how much I resent eating the top half of a muffin with all decorum and then in the end being forced to awkwardly apply a disc of pink or yellow accordion paper to my face so I can eat the bottom half?

That’s why muffin papers don’t appeal to me. And so I grudgingly greased the muffin tins, (which means washing them later will be such a pain) and flung the muffin papers back in the drawer. Then I popped my pan into the oven I just cleaned last Wednesday but isn’t it already smoking because of errant raisins that leaped off yesterday’s raisin bread? Oh well, by now they’re probably close enough to charcoal that it doesn’t matter.

But aren’t we just always thinking? Burnt raisins? I have a purpose for them. I’ve wanted to show the grandchildren how to make a colorful miniature garden of stalagmites but I needed coal or charcoal. Now where is one going to find coal in this day and age? As kids we used to seed miniature rock gardens in rose bowls and grow beautiful stalagmites in lovely rainbow colors. I had forgotten how we did that but I found a recipe recently in a really old cookbook – first coal or cinderblock in the bottom of the bowl, covered with a mix of salt, water, ammonia, food coloring, and bluing.

So now, coal, charcoal, burnt raisins? Is it all one and the same? I’m half convinced it is. So I’ll use those raisins as a charcoal substitute.

And so now, the potato-banana muffins are baked and coffee is poured. I am so amazed. You would never believe how good they are.
And, in case you’re interested, this is the garden that I grew with scorched raisins. Cute, but obviously a different recipe from the gardens we grew when I was a child. Still the grandkids might think it is pretty awesome.


Matty said...

Wow, very impressive! I could keep you busy for quite awhile at my house. When I think of all the waste! You could probably apply to be on Survivor..and come up with all kinds of creative ideas on how to survive with very little!

Pauline said...

You're too cool. Any Yank could take lessons from you. I thought we were known for our thriftiness and inventiveness but you have me beat. I do remember those gardens you're talking about. We made them all the time from coal pilfered from my Pepere's basement.

joared said...

Oh, I surely do know that "don't waste" bugaboo and spent a lot of years making sure I didn't. I'm still pretty thrifty, but I've actually thrown out some over-ripe bananas and feel no guilt for having done so -- of course, you notice, I do vividly recall having done so. Cooking for only one now -- if I cook -- there are only so many muffins, and so much banana bread and, heaven forbid, banana pudding I dare eat, much less fill the freezer. Guess you have enough mouthes in the house to handle it all. ;-)

Roberta S said...

matty, if the truth be known, actually this is how I create my own fun.

Hi pauline, amazed that I found some one so quickly that also grew miniature rock gardens. Did they look like this one or did they grow underwater like miniature rainbow stalagmites?

Hi joared, haven't seen you for a wee while. Thanks for stopping in. I'm not thrifty, but I think resourceful is a bit different. If I lived in town or had the eye doctor's okay to drive I wouldn't have been writing this post about mashed potatoes. But when it's more than 30 below, I won't be going to town. And that's when I start contemplating how my mother managed with all her brood and no money. Maybe I just do things like this as a tribute to her.

I fully understand your point when resourefulness starts getting in the way of 'fresh' food. I try to incorporate left-overs from one meal into the next, but if it doesn't work out, I'm with you. It can go into the dog dish or garbage with no remorse whatsoever.