Alyce McKenzie: Condiments Don't Make a Meal!


I heard a comedienne one time talking about the problem with her cooking.  She said she was all condiments and no entrées. Every night, as suppertime approached and she peered into her fridge, she asked herself the same question: "How do make an entrée from a fridge full of condiments?"

I haven't been cooking much lately. I chalk it up to being busy. And to teaching until 6 pm some days and then having a long commute home. That shouldn't prevent me from planning menus and shopping for food in an organized manner, but lately it has.

Inspired by a recent conversation with my sister in law I decided to try out something she has been doing over the past few months. She tries to use up the food she has already bought before she goes grocery shopping or eats out. What follows is not a recipe. It's not the beginning of a blog that becomes a movie like Julie and Julia. I have no plans to follow this up with other blogs on a related theme. I have no plans to produce a Busy Woman's Cookbook orAlyce's 4 Minute Meals. This is a onetime thing.

It was 5:30pm yesterday. I had a narrow window to make something before we had to leave for choir at 6:20.  I took a deep breath, rolled up my sleeves and walked the 10 steps around the corner from my home office to the kitchen.

I pulled a bag of cooked, frozen turkey medallions out of the freezer and put them in the microwave. I found a box of instant brown rice in the pantry, and a box of not yet spoiled chicken broth in the fridge. I poured the chicken broth in a saucepan to boil and prepared the instant rice. I found 2 youthful, unwrinkled peppers, one yellow, one orange, in the fridge and deseeded and chopped them. I found a whole case of diced peaches in little plastic containers perfect for lunch boxes.  I sautéed the thawed chicken  in olive oil, added the peppers and peaches, and some cayenne pepper, chili powder, and several shakes of Emeril's Original Essence seasoning. No idea what that is, but Emeril's picture is on the front and he looks happy. It turned out to be edible. Not exciting exactly. Certainly not gourmet, but much cheaper than going out. I only discovered later the little note on the peaches that said, "Enjoy by 2/9/11,"  but what's a year or so among friends?  I feel fine today.

I may try this with my wardrobe, because I have a closet full of condiments and no entrées there as well. A closetful of separates with not much of a plan behind them.  I'll see how many months worth of outfits I can come up with before buying anything new. That doesn't sound like much fun.

Maybe this is a symptom of a deeper issue- condiments with no unifying entrée plans. Separates with no unifying wardrobe plan. Saying yes to lots of stuff and being busy with no unifying theme or purpose. Hmmmm.

I can't wait to see what I'll cook up tonight. My most recent  survey of my pantry revealed a promising combination of honey roasted almonds, canned premium chunk chicken breast and whole wheat organic spaghetti. Also those peaches. The bad news is they are out of date. The good news is that I have a lot of them.

Taken with permission from Alyce's blog, "Knack for Noticing," on