“Chopped” my version


I’m a big fan of the Food Network show “Chopped.”   It’s always fun watching professional chefs open the mystery basket and proceed to make a meal out of such diverse ingredients like, oh gee, dried limes, butterscotch candies, french fries, lamb.  I guess lamb isn’t that weird, but when you have weird ingredients to go with it, and have to get it on the table, and not only looking good, but tasting great, well, my hat’s off to those cooks.   I’ve learned so much about different foodstuffs that we would never, ever see in our little town.    And totally in awe that they can make an appetizer, entree or dessert and do it so quickly, with very few missteps in the time allotted.

However, I have my version of Chopped, nearly every week.   When we plan our meals at the Senior Center, we try to use whatever Farmshare items have been brought in the previous week.  (Our weekly/biweekly stuff comes in just as we’re serving lunch most weeks).    In one memorable week we got cases of cream, heavy cream, which I proceeded to make butter out of, and because I froze a lot of it, we’ve continued to have fresh butter available every week for months now.  Plus of course the custard sauce, (Creme Anglaise) and other decadent goodies I make from the cream.   Which I love to do, let’s face it, I’m a frustrated baker, and love to make goodies.   This week I had some fun with whipped cream and hot chocolate mix.   And am kicking myself, I didn’t get a picture.  But let me describe it for you.   I made a yellow cake, from a mix, then Ginnie poked holes in the cake, poured cherry jello over it and placed it in the cooler.   I whipped up some cream and added a little sugar and then pulled out some hot chocolate mix we had in the pantry, added about 1/2 cup of the mix to the whipped cream and dolloped some of that on the cake.   Cherry and chocolate go so well together, and we used some of our Farmshare cream.   When I went to check on the dessert table, there were none left.

We’ve gotten zucchini and yellow squash in the past,  acorn squash, tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant and various juices, milks, etc.     We do put out the food for our seniors to take, and believe me they do take advantage of it.   But we get to use some of the foodstuffs as well.   I’ve learned so many new cabbage dishes, and have introduced some of my favorite recipes to our lunch patrons as well.   I made some Rødkål a couple of weeks ago, plus I’ve made Squash Medley a few times.

I learned cabbage isn’t just for coleslaw and cabbage rolls.  Well, I already knew that, but I’ve learned many new ways of preparing cabbage as well.

And it’s just plain fun trying to come up with ideas on how to use some of the veggies we get.  And another thing we have in common with Chopped, we have a time limit, we have to have the meal ready by noon.  Which can mean that the last hour or so can get a little crazy making sure that all the various elements are ready on time.

This week we had Fried Tilapia, Hush Puppies, Shepherd’s Pie, Turnip Greens, Coleslaw, and Biscuits for lunch.     Robin and Ginnie did the fish and hush puppies, I kept an eye on the Turnip Greens, made the Shepherds Pie as well as having baked the three cakes earlier.   And we’re still trying to figure out what to make for next week.   So, I’ll keep you updated with that one.

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