JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: So I got home Friday at nine in the evening to a mostly empty household - Ross and Youngest were in New York City for their three-day holiday (it's been school vacation week in Maine) and the Smithie was off for her usual Friday-through-Monday stint in graduate school. The house looked about like what you'd expect after Mom had been gone for two weeks - it was a toss up between trying to clean up or just torching the place and starting over from scratch.
The fridge had several crumpled bags with bits and pieces of fast food meals in them, but the pantry was denuded, as was the freezer. (Don't ask about the vegetable bin.) Since by dinnertime it was snowing - again - and the roads were getting extremely slippery, I decided to stay put and see what I could eke out of the cupboards.
This led me to today's recipes: three standby entrees I almost always have ingredients for. You probably do too. None of these are even remotely gourmet, but they're all quick, easy, and guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of palates, especially of those palates are younger than 25.
GRANDMA FLEMING'S PIZZA
Can of diced or stewed or ground tomatoes*
optional: sliced onions, green peppers, olives or other pizza toppings.
Make enough Bisquick dough to cover a baking sheet. Drain the excess juice from the tomatoes and spread them evenly over the dough. Lay the cheese slices over the tomatoes. If you have other toppings, put them on the tomatoes and then add the cheese. You could sprinkle it with garlic powder, but you'll miss the genuine Central New York flavor (about as far from Italy as you can get.)
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
* You can of course use pizza or spaghetti sauce and mozzarella, but this recipe assumes you're down to the real basics.
BLACK BEAN SOUP
2-3 cans black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (I usually have the kind with jalapeno peppers in them, if you don't, throw in a few jalepenos or several spoonfuls of salsa)
1 can or 2 cups chicken broth
Dump the beans and tomatoes into a food processor or blender. Puree until they are smooth.
Pour mix into pan, add chicken broth and simmer. Add a generous amount of cumin, until it tastes like real Mexican cooking. You can also add Habenero pepper/Tabasco/etc to taste if you like it hotter.
If your family hasn't devoured all the tortilla chips while you were gone, they make a nice accompaniment.
SPAGHETTI AL BLANCO
Now we're getting to the real grad-school poverty stuff.
Spaghetti, cooked and drained.
Italian seasoning and garlic powder
Toss the hot spaghetti with a generous amount of olive oil. Shake on the Italian seasoning, garlic powder and top with a lot of Parmesan.
My husband actually considers this a great treat. Maybe because I've never shown him how I make it.
What are your down-to-the-last-few-cans recipes, dear readers?