Avoiding “Dinner Party Aftermath”

We rang in 2013 with an Epiphany. More precisely, we celebrated the 12th day of Christmas with a gathering of friends, a mound of good (mostly vegan) dishes, and an embarrassing amount of alcohol. We celebrated decadence.

The epiphany? That a decadent feast need not be wasteful. We simply needed to plan with an eye to repurposing the leftovers. This we did–but only after we had identified the  signature dish for the meal.

The Hook

Our dinner parties usually begin with a single idea. It can be a new dish, a technique, a flavour, or a beverage. (Yes, we once planned a five-course meal entirely inspired by our homemade Dark-n-Stormies.) Our desire to feed others is almost always triggered by one event. The trigger for our epiphany party? Veggie-based dips and spreads shared by some of the amazing chefs we’ve met through this blog, Two Spoons and Food to Glow.

On 19 December, Two Spoons posted a lovely instructional guideline for using vegetables to make flavourful spreads and dips. And the ideas are clever. I made two dips using ideas from her post that relied on winter veg, nuts, olive oil, and mushrooms.

And then there was the Spinach Pkhali with pomegranate and fragrant fresh herbs that Food to Glow posted on 13 November. We’d found a prettier, and tastier, version of the nut crusted cheese loaf.

Spinach Pkhali

We served four dips:

  1. Spinach Pkhali (vegan)
  2. Roasted mushroom, walnuts & feta
  3. Roasted carrot with miso and maple (vegan)
  4. Pistachio, olive oil, carrot greens & feta

One week later, these dips (and the rest of the food on the menu) were fully enjoyed. None of that meal went into the bin.

How? It helps that one of our guests was vegan and snapped up most of our vegan remains in his doggie bag, including the two non-cheesed dips and the two remaining okara falafel.

The pistachio  dip was used as a pesto over pasta. I put the mushroom dip on toast (like a terrine), used it as filler for wonton ravioli, and included it in an egg omelette. I suspect there is are many other ways to incorporate the dips into soups, salads, biscuits and muffins. But I ran out of dip before I could test the theory.

For those who are interested, here is our menu from that party. We’ve shared the recipes for the falafel and ginger beer in previous posts. The others, I will share in the coming weeks.

The Menu

  • Jamaican-style ginger beer (homemade, with a much stronger ginger punch than the commercial varieties) and rum cocktail,
  • Dips & cheeses served with crackers and crudités
  • Fenugreek, red onion, grapefruit and pomelo salad with a tangerine, tarragon dressing
  • Okara falafel with tahini
  • Roasted cauliflower tossed with homemade curry and other spices
  • Vegan tagine with couscous
  • Roast pork with a jerk rub and mango salsa

Country pork rib jerk

  • Stir fried rice pudding with flambéed shredded pineapple and raisins, shredded coconut, nutmeg and orange zest (the most decadent thing you can do to leftover rice)
  • Raw cheddar, goat cheese, gorgonzola and camembert

222 million tons: the App

The idea behind 222 million tons has always been to spark conversation and change – and to do that by sharing tips, tools, and resources that help people waste less food and eat well. So far, that’s only been through this blog, but as of last week, we have an iPad App in iTunes.

The App is a publishing platform for weekly menus and shopping lists. The recipes all work for a single person (though through the miracle of technology, they can be scaled), and use up all the fresh ingredients on the shopping lists.

The idea was Bonnie Lee’s, and emerged out of her frustration over the amount of food she was wasting when she first moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles. She was overwhelmed by the quantities that food was sold in, and had no idea how a single person could use it all before it spoiled. In Japan, there are home economics magazines that help people save money by providing weekly shopping lists and recipes, but she couldn’t find anything like that in L.A. – and all the recipes she could find served 6 to 12 people. Bonnie Lee doesn’t like leftovers … so she issued me a challenge, which led to this App, built by our friends & partners at bluejava: Glenn & Makiko.

The first collection of recipes is called Bright & Bold, and was written by me (more on that another day), but my hope is that the 222 millions tons App will become a platform on which a large community of home cooks shares recipes – and if anyone reading this is interested in becoming part of that community, let me know via the comments below, or through any of the community platforms listed on my Gravatar profile.

The key to reducing food waste at home is planning – and as I wrote Bright & Bold, I came to appreciate the challenge of planning whole weeks for a single person with both variety and zero waste. So, if you don’t have time to plan meals, but hate waste and like to eat well … well, now there’s an App that can help.