Of Woods and Words: Serving Up Resolutions

"By performing “fridge triage” on a regular basis, I was able to save plenty of food and associated dollars"

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Last year, I really only made one New Year’s resolution. I resolved to throw out less food. Sure, plenty of petrified limes and lettuce slime escaped my best intentions, but by performing “fridge triage” on a regular basis, I was able to save plenty of food and associated food dollars from going the way of the compost bucket.

It seemed like a resolution worthy of carrying into this New Year too. In fact, one of the easiest ways to lead a greener life is to keep things from turning green in the fridge. But like most New Year’s resolutions, my resolve faced stiff adversity as I rounded the corner into 2012.

The holiday season gives us an excuse to buy all sorts of food items we would never buy any other time of the year. By early January, some unusual items had set up residence in my fridge…namely, a package of lefse and a paper-wrapped portion of smoked fish.

You won’t find lefse or smoked fish in my fridge on a regular basis because I don’t like them. While I’m sure both items were enjoyed by others during the holidays, now I was left with the leftovers. I didn’t want to throw them away, but I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to nosh on either item as a snack anytime soon. What could I do with them to make them appetizing enough to get them eaten?

Meanwhile, we’d also reached the point in the winter where I start to wonder what exactly I’m going to do with those canned goods I put up back when the days were long and the sun was warm. Sure, the pickled jalapenos sounded like a good idea in August when we were up to our ears with the spicy peppers, but I don’t have any recipes that actually call for pickled jalapenos. My mind rambled as I turned over the half pint can of jalapenos in my palm. You know what lefse looks a lot like, I thought: tortillas.

Bam. Smoked fish lefse enchiladas were born.

It was sacrilege, I knew. Most persons of Scandinavian descent who I know think ketchup is spicy. And here I was, about to take two profoundly Scandinavian items south of the border. I’d figured I’d take the fish, shred it and sauté it up with some onions, jalapenos, cumin, and chili powder, then roll the mixture up in the lefse. A white sauce, what I suppose people who aren’t Midwestern might call a Béchamel, would hold it all together. After it came out of the oven, I’d smother it with chopped tomatoes and avocados and a liberal dose of salsa verde.

As I chopped, sauteed, and whisked, things smelled promising. Still, I fretted after I popped the entrée in the oven. I wondered what I could whip up quickly for dinner if the dish turned out to be absolutely awful. On the first bite, we found a smoky, creamy concoction. The lefse “tortillas” made for a fluffy, subtle binder. It was actually really good. I relaxed as Andy went back for seconds. The enchiladas received the true mark of culinary success at our house the next morning when the leftovers were all eaten for breakfast.

Whatever your own New Year’s resolutions are this year, may you find them inspiring and rewarding. More importantly, may they make you thankful for the things you already have and allow you to see things in a new light.

Airdate: January 18, 2012

Photo courtesy of Kelly Bailey via Flickr.


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