In spite of the apparent reference to garbage, this post is not about eating garbage nor is it a commentary about how certain foods lack nutritional value and should be tossed in the garbage rather than eaten. Seriously, if you feel that a food has no nutritional value, save your money. Don’t buy it. This is the story of the night I fed my family trash, and I’m not talking about dumpster diving, either. The really weird part of this story is that 5 out of 6 members of my family actually enjoyed their trash based food. Before anyone sends protective services banging at my door to protect my family from my madness, let me begin by saying that the trash I fed them wasn’t spoiled or rotten. In fact, it hadn’t even made it to the trash bin.
Here is the unadulterated version of the facts. It was a typical lazy afternoon. Family members were watching TV, surfing the net or listening to music. I was in my laboratory, also known as the kitchen, whipping up a few goodies to see us through the work week. One of the things I decided to make was Five Cup Salad. It is what the name says. One cup portions of five ingredients–pineapple chunks or tidbits, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, coconut, and sour cream–mixed together to make a fruit salad that some would call ambrosia. When I drained the canned pineapple and mandarin oranges, I saved the leftover juice in my large Pyrex measuring cup. As I cleaned up the kitchen, I stared at it for a while. I knew that if I put it into the refrigerator, no one would drink it, and in a week or two, I would find it fermented and rotten. I stared at it long and hard, as I considered my options. I almost surrendered and tossed it out until I had a revelation. A week earlier, I had been in an Asian market and had tried a sample of a tapioca dish. The large tapioca pearls had been cooked in sweetened water instead of milk. It was then served topped with sliced fruit and a splash of coconut milk. Why couldn’t I do the same thing, substituting the leftover juice for the milk?
It turns out that I could, and I did. I didn’t have the large tapioca pearls that I tried at the Asian market, but I had what I needed in my pantry to succeed. I was pleased with the results because I made something extra out of something that might otherwise have gone to the landfill or down the drain. I love to save money by extracting everything I can from every ounce of what I buy thereby stretching my food dollars even further. My hope is that after reading this post, you will consider the leftovers from meal preparation that you discard in a different light and maybe give them a new life. (REMINDER: It is never safe to recycle the drippings or marinade from raw meat as it can contain bacteria that might make you ill.)
Here is the recipe I made up that day for what I call Tropical Tapioca Pudding. We really enjoyed it. I hope you do too.
Tropical Tapioca Pudding
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbl Tapioca (I used Minute Tapioca)
2 3/4 cup juice from canned fruit (I added water to make enough)
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Mix the sugar, tapioca, juice and egg in a medium sauce pan and let stand 5 minutes. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into serving dishes and allow to cool. Mixture thickens more as it cools. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Yield: 6 1/2 cup servings
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