Making dinner from nothing


Wow…an empty fridge. Today has been too crazy to consider making dinner from scratch, but what option do I have? Ran 5 tanks of gas through my husband's huge chainsaw because mine was giving me fits. Got a couple truckloads of firewood bucked up. Its snowing. I'm cold and my body is starting to tighten up. I haven't eaten since breakfast, and things are looking a little desperate.  

Okay, don't just stare blankly, Sarah...move some things around in there. Maybe there’s a hidden gem in here that can be eaten, I just need to find it! Ah, a package of ground beef that my husband decided not to use the other night at his buddy's house; that’s a good stop. What about that kale gratin that Wendy dropped off a week ago, that has to be eaten for sure. Some wilty greens in the drawer and a limp half-bunch of green onions from a harvest 2 weeks ago will do nicely. And then there are the frozen peppers from summer in the freezer–those always save me! A box of lard, yes, I will definitely be needing that. With the exception of pickle juice, I guess that's all I've got without a trip to the cellar.

If I spend the time to harvest those greens, you better believe I’m going to eat them (wilted or not!).

If I spend the time to harvest those greens, you better believe I’m going to eat them (wilted or not!).

This can work, I can make dinner with that. I throw the gratin in the oven and toss some lard in the cast iron. After the green onions cook for a bit with the lid on, I can barely notice that they were once wilted. I add in the ground beef, crumpling it between my fingers to help it break up. I start to wonder what I'm going to do for a starch, a component that will not only be filling but it’ll also tie the other ingredients together. Thank goodness I've got some organic pasta shells in the cupboard! I don't allow myself to use them often, but they’re perfect for night's like these.

Before I know it, the dish has come together. I add my frozen peppers to the mostly cooked beef, along with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In goes the warmed gratin and a few kale ribbons because, why not. In just a few minutes the noodles are ready to add to the pan. Dinner!

Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe not the day I had, but the way I made dinner? If you’re not cooking this way, you absolutely should be! It was so incredibly rewarding to eat a meal that literally materialized as I toss things into the pan. THAT, my friends, is bricolage!

What’s your favorite way to bricolage your way to dinner? Lunch? Breakfast?


Sarahlee Lawrence

Sarahlee Lawrence
is the farm manager at Rainshadow Organics. She converted her family’s farm to certified organic from a small hay and cattle operation in 2010. She and her husband, Ashanti, now steward the full-diet farm with the help of family and interns.

In 2017 they opened a kitchen and farm store where they host community meals, farm dinners and classes. They feed over 150 families throughout the year with their CSA and many more through the farmer’s market. Sarahlee loves all of the animals on the farm, but is particularly fold of her ox, Mister Moo.