Welcome to the very first post in the “Sharing the Love” series, where I’ll feature some creative, inspiring folks who have some wisdom to share!
As you may have read in a previous post, I’m on a mission to improve my relationship with food. Part of this improvement process involves becoming a more creative cook and cutting back on the amount of food that gets wasted in my house. My friend Lindsey, a.k.a. The Leftovers Lady, does this better than anyone else I know. She has a fabulous website, www.leftoverslady.com, where she shares all of her tips for redesigning leftover food, cooking healthy, and minimizing food waste. She’s taken the time to answer a few questions and impart some wisdom. Enjoy!
AdisonInMadison: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lindsey: Hi! My name is Lindsey. I was born and rained in Western Washington and now reside in Seattle. I am married and have one son, who is almost 3. I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to garden. I am frugal and cheap and thrifty.
AdisonInMadison: Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?
Lindsey: My kitchen inspirations come from the day before or what someone gave me, or what’s growing in my yarden. I hardly ever make menu plans or schedules. I just go with the flow of what needs using up or what I have found on sale someplace.
AdisonInMadison: When did you first realize that you were a creative cook?
Lindsey: I have been a creative cook my whole life. I suppose it began when my parents were divorced at age 7 and I learned to help my mom with the cooking and baking. I was often experimenting on my own, with her at work….so I improvised.
AdisonInMadison: Do you have a culinary role model?
Lindsey: Definitely my maternal grandmother. She is currently 94 years young. She grew up during the Great Depression and the rationing of WWII and she knows how to use every crumb or leaf of edible morsel.
AdisonInMadison: I know that you create most of your dishes yourself, but do you have a favorite cook book?
Lindsey: My favorite cookbook is the JOY OF COOKING. It was the first cookbook I received as an adult, so it means a lot to me. My aunt gave it to me when I graduated college. I think she could see the budding chef within!
AdisonInMadison: What’s the one kitchen utensil or appliance that you just couldn’t live without?
Lindsey: I love my immersion blender. It’s my all time favorite tool. I made a lot of soups, and with the immersion blender, I don’t have to transfer my soups in and out of a blender to get them smooth. Examples are cream of broccoli or split pea soups.
AdisonInMadison: What’s the most versatile food that you cook with?
Lindsey: I suppose that the most versatile food item I keep on hand is the lemon. It’s able to behave in anything from sweet to savory, even a cup of tea or water. And it’s very nutritious.
AdisonInMadison: How has having your own yarden (the term you brilliantly coined to describe your front yard/garden) impacted what you do in the kitchen?
Lindsey: Growing my own food in what used to be my yard is brilliant. Over the past 5 years I have honed in on what grows well here in Seattle, in my soil, with my (and my husband’s and son’s) talents. I don’t like wasting space or water or time on something that isn’t meant to grow here. So I now focus on only about 15 crops, rather than my original try at everything possible that grows! Most of my time in the kitchen in July and August is spent par boiling and freezing spare green vegetables, making pickles, jams, and salsas to preserve what can’t be eaten fresh. My meals completely 100% revolve around my garden from April through November.
AdisonInMadison: Whats the best advice you can give to someone who want’s to cook creatively and frugally?
Lindsey: Don’t plan your meals and then go out and buy everything…..go out shopping for staple items and then see what else is on sale that you can work with. If you aren’t going to finish something and it can be frozen for later, freeze it. Clean up your meals and contain them attractively so that you will feel like eating them the next time you see them. Label and date things. Always say YES to free food from friends and neighbors.
There you have it folks! A big thanks to Lindsey for letting me share the love with her. Be sure to check out her website,www.leftoverslady.com, for a lot more advice on cooking, canning, gardening, freezing, and using up those leftovers.