Yard Sale Mandoline

Eat Like a Ranch Hand (or the “What’s In the Fridge?” game)


I’ll be the first to admit it: I get a little too caught up in my food-related projects. I really, really enjoy the crafty science and art of food preservation, lacto-fermentation, making my own condiments from scratch… it’s just my thing. Some people can paint beautifully or clear their mind through a good run; I make food. It’s my hobby, therapy, and favorite way of connecting with people. It’s also been the source of significant physical healing for me, but I’ll save that monster of a post for later!

If you’re looking for me outside of work hours, chances are if I’m not on a hike or walk with the dog, I’m at work in the garden, the kitchen, or in the dining-room-adjacent closet fondly known as “the brewery.” Few things hold more satisfaction for me than digging weeds out of the soil to encourage the nutrient-sucking habits of my future food, water-bathing jars of jam made from Grandma Donna’s rhubarb, whipping up Sunday muffins for the week ahead, or taste-testing the kombucha brew while Joseph analyzes the pH balance. 

That’s the long version of the story of yesterday’s breakfast, though. Boring. The short version is that, when given some time in the kitchen, I typically tend to start batches of several different things at once, and forget about normal-person food, i.e. breakfast and lunch. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? Yesterday, in the midst of straining ricotta, boiling eggs, and dehydrating soaked walnuts, the most important meal of the day and also that one in the middle completely slipped my mind. Joseph was caught up in starting a batch of Scottish session ale, so he was no help. 

By the time we realized we needed food, our needs had crossed into “hanger” territory, so no quick snack food would do. Thus began the game of “What’s in the Fridge?,” played fairly frequently at our house. We have been kind of lazy over this Christmas break (a well-needed rest from work for us both), and haven’t gone to the grocery store or the farmers market for a while. We were down to the weird stuff. You know that time during the pay cycle, when you open the cupboard to a few dried beans and some clam juice? It was that time.

I had, though, strategically volunteered to make the chile relleno casserole for our family’s tradition of quite Americanized Mexican Christmas Eve dinner – meaning we got to take home the leftovers. I also had a waning avocado, and a couple of uncooked burger patties from the previous evening’s dinner. A couple of collard green leaves from the garden and a solitary potato were hanging out on the counter, begging for some love. Yes, the makings of a hearty meal, indeed – so long as we pretended we had just come in from wrasslin’ unruly cattle or something else calorically expensive. 

I’m not one to complain about calories. I have a different philosophy on food and nutrition than most of the United States. It’s just that this is a heavy freaking meal. 


The meat portion of our meal, still pink as a baby’s bottom. Going forward, shall I not mix food with baby’s bottom similes? ‘Kay.


So, here’s how it came together:

I heated a medium-sized cast iron skillet, and sauteed

– .5-lb’s-worth of grass-fed ground beef patties (which were mixed with crumbled bacon and shredded raw, white cheddar)

– 1 diced yukon-type yellow potato

– 2 large collard green leaves

– 1 generous pinch celtic sea salt (the best salt ever, full of minerals essential to your body’s healthy functioning)


This stuff. So good. Also, it’s in a fantastic bamboo salt box, which I got on my honeymoon at Sur La Table, and which is available here

While the saute’ sauteed, I reheated the chile relleno casserole leftovers. I may post that recipe here some time – suffice it to say, it’s one of my favorite foods in the world, with raw, grass-fed cheese, lots of pastured eggs, and poblano farmers market chiles I roasted and froze this summer.

Once everything was appropriately brown/sizzling/sliced, it was briefly on a plate and then down the hatch. 


That’s some quality and quantity, right there.

The moral of the story is: sometimes having to scrounge for food pays off nicely.



This entry was published on December 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm and is filed under Collection. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Eat Like a Ranch Hand (or the “What’s In the Fridge?” game)

  1. Pingback: Spring veggie soup (or the “What’s in the Fridge Game, revisited”) | Yard Sale Mandoline

  2. Oh my goodness, that looks so good! Just discovered you here and so excited to keep reading you Mal!!


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