The part you throw away

Because everything is better with a Tom Waits reference.

Hey, folks.

Well, today, I’m not doing so great, as I made this mistake of reading an article by a friend of a friend that was wall to wall Worst Case Scenarios, and while I don’t for a moment think I’m going to find myself intubating any family members in the back of a racing van as it careers around east block security checkpoints, (I exaggerate slightly for effect) reading about her own experiences in sketchy situations definitely triggered an amorphous free-floating load of panic in me.

I wasn’t even catastrophizing in really specific ways: it was more “what if supply chains break down entirely and we can’t feed the cats?” and… we have several weeks of cat food in the house. It’s really a long-range worry.

So I ate some soup and bread and tea and took an anxiety pill and life is settling down a little. Memo to be: all that advice to be kind to one’s self begins at home.

Like, can we one catastrophe at a time without worrying about all the other possible/past/future/potential catastrophes?

Sufficient unto the day is the catastrophe thereof.

Thinking about cat food got me thinking about by-products (mmm, lips and assholes) and all the stuff we sometimes, feeling affluent, discard—and the uses to which it can be put.

Shrimp shells and tails and lobster shells, for example—those make broth just as surely as a turkey carcass does, and they’re tasty and useful. When you cook poultry, save the pan drippings and the fat. The drippings make a nice dressing for cooked vegetables, and the fat is a delicious cooking fat for potatoes or just about anything you might normally cook in vegetable oil.

The lipid profile on goose fat is supposed to be excellent, by the way, and pastured chickens aren’t bad either.

You can get two or three steepings out of tea leaves or tea bags. Broccoli stems are delicious but might need to be peeled, they can be woody. Sprouted potatoes—don’t eat them, unless you’re just looking at a little nubbin at the eye, and definitely don’t eat them if they’re turning green.

But you can cut them into chunks, one sprout per chunk, and bury them in the back yard or even at the edge of the compost heap if you have one, and the odds are very good that they will grow you a new crop of potatoes if you don’t live in an endemic potato blight region. (If you do, stick ‘em in a pot instead.)

We already talked about animal bones and vegetable peelings and stock. Apple cores have pectin in them—if you have some fresh fruit that’s going off, you can toss it in a pot with sugar and water and a couple of apple cores and turn it into jam, which will keep indefinitely in the fridge or freezer even without preserving it in jars. (Fish the apple cores out before storing, and shake the seeds out before you put the cores in the jam. They’re very mildly poisonous.

You can make jam out of onions too, and use it on sandwiches or stirred into other dishes, if your onions look like they might want to go bad.

Hmm. Now I’m hungry. :D What are your favorite tips for using up the parts you throw away?

Hang in there, folks, and I hope the plaguexiety is treating you well.