Editor's Notebook

| January 2007

Pinching pennies in the kitchen

Many of my best memories of my mother are associated with the kitchen. A skilled and creative cook, she was able to infuse even the simplest fare with flavor and richness far beyond the cost of the ingredients. She taught me how to slice vegetables, cook a roast and especially, how to squeeze the last penny out of the family food budget.

As our story on two-for-one meals on Page 22 reveals, my mother's approach is now completely up-to-date. One of the central tenets of her method was to make sure every piece of meat did at least double - and sometimes triple - duty. Our story mentions using a piece of steak in stir fry, then making it the foundation for a delicious soup. When I read the story, my initial reaction was, 'Well, of course.'

That manner of cooking is so much a part of me, it's automatic: Buy a chicken and roast it; serve roast chicken with potatoes and vegetables; trim off pieces that didn't get consumed and chop them up in a chicken salad. Then boil the carcass and make soup, or chicken and dumplings, or chicken enchiladas. Feed the scraps to the dog and cat.

A roast becomes, in succession, roast beef and gravy, with side vegetables; beef and noodles; then beef stew. (The happiest bonus of this menu is the beef gravy over scrambled eggs for breakfast.) Mom learned this menu multitasking during the Great Depression, but unless they have money to burn, home cooks today also would do well to master these thrifty techniques.

We are excited to offer in this issue a brand-new story, The Agreement, by Jo Maseberg. For those of you who have followed her previous novels, The Bargain, The Compromise and The Decision, this newest iteration sets the stage for stories you've already read. And if you haven't allowed yourself the pleasure of Maseberg's fiction yet, this newest installment will serve as a great introduction.

I don't know how the weather has been in your neck of the woods, but where we live it's barely seemed like winter yet. This makes some of us especially itchy to get our hands in the garden dirt. I've just received a catalog from the place where I order my specialty potatoes - heirloom varieties with deep purple or cranberry red flesh - and I am getting ready to place my first order of the season. Now to restrain myself so I don't end up looking at a garden nipped in the bud by a late-to-start winter.

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