What is “cabinet stew” you ask? Well…it’s the result of 1 part creativity, 1 part adventure and whatever food you happen to have in your kitchen at the moment!
Although I have been making various forms of cabinet stew since I was just a kid – the actual term “cabinet stew” was coined one late night as my friends and I rifled through the kitchen to see what we could come up with. Why does everything seem so much yummy-ier late at night?
…that old TV show “Door Knock Dinners” with Gordon Elliott? It ran one season. (1999-2000) I LOVED that show. This was actually a reality show based on a cabinet stew concept- although they didn’t call it cabinet stew. I loved that folks had a delicious home-cooked meal; sometimes even gourmet -just waiting to be discovered in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer! I don’t know why that show didn’t make it past one season? I think it was just ahead of the “reality show meets food” love-craze. Too bad. Gordon if you are out there reading this – please bring it back!
A new TV show: Chopped - kinda gives the same experience. The chefs are given a basket of ingredients and they have to make something great using all of the basket items. Not easy.
“Cabinet stew” has become the term used whenever I am cooking something new, out of my head and with whatever I found around my kitchen. Or if the mood strikes… at the grocery store.
Sometimes my cabinet stews are just an impromptu version of an old favorite. Baked Ziti for example. Maybe I only have Rotini. And maybe I have some frozen homemade red sauce with pork. Why not saute those mushrooms, celery and onions hanging around the crisper drawer? So now maybe it is more like the “American Chop Suey” of my youth! But with pork! We can call it “pork suey.” No matter what it is called- it is definitely a “cabinet stew.” (You get the picture.)
Sometimes my cabinet stew starts out as a well-intentioned effort to follow a recipe exactly as written. But I can never leave well enough alone. I find myself adding things that were never in the original recipes. Ask my husband about my many versions of meatloaf. Never the same twice. He always says…”that was a good one, write that one down.” So I am learning to document better. Now if I could just organize all those scraps of paper….
I have also developed a strong interest the history and tradition of food. And the cookbook collection has become a bit of a “problem.” But they provide great inspiration.
So check in as I occasionally post a new cabinet stew, a forgotten recipe or even a photo from the garden!