an improv dinner and other adventures

Happy Holidays, everybody. I've had my head buried in bubble wrap, tape, plastic bags, and cartons for the last frantic 3 weeks - and so tired I've gone to bed at 8:pm. Today, the 1-800-GOT-JUNK people were here and took away some large items I can't take with me. Sigh of relief...but still a long way to go with only a couple of weeks till I have to leave an empty house. ARGH.

On the other hand, I finally felt I could take a blogging break after the junk people left -- so here I am. I have yet to clear enough space in my sewing room so I can sit down and make a sleeve for my quilt that is going to QuiltCon -- but I'm working on it. (maybe I should have had the junk people help me out here).

In the meantime, since the kitchen is a more open space, I'm cooking.

I cook the way I make quilts (or vice-versa, since I've been cooking since I was a teenager and I didn't start making quilts till I was in my early 30s). The photo above is my go-to, low budget/not in the mood to cook, recipe. Tonight's dinner.

The recipe is from the long-out-of-print Talisman Cookbook, published in 1950; it was my mother's. She sent away I don't know how many coupons from Ronzoni Spaghetti boxes to get it - and it is held together with scotch tape.

I am going to give you the original recipe for this dish - unadorned, and you can "what if?" and come up with something yummy. Sort of like starting with a basic rectangle and jumping off to something more interesting.

This is imaginatively named EGGS AND POTATOES. It theoretically feeds four people.

2 medium-size boiled potatoes, sliced

4 thin slices mozzarella (1/2 lb)

4 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 T grated Parmesean cheese

1 T butter

Place sliced potatoes in a greased shallow baking dish, place mozzarella slices over them and break eggs gently over mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Parmesean cheese, dot with butter and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Since I am moving in a little more than two weeks, I am not doing a lot of grocery shopping and am trying to use up what I have. Even worse - I packed my spices. What was I THINKING?? So...of course, I improvised and used what I had.

- I didn't have boiled potatoes but I did have a leftover baked potato. - No mozzarella, but plenty of white cheddar cheese.

- Couldn't find the Parmesean but had some Manchego (Spanish sheep's milk cheese)


- What if I threw some raw green beans around them and then sliced up two tomatoes that were starting to look tired? And what if I added a few anchovies (I always have anchovies!) and sliced up a Kalamata olive or two? Red pepper flakes? Why not? The result was yummy!

Try it with a basic recipe: If you're baking, switch out the walnuts for pecans; substitute brown sugar for white, etc. etc. Add grated lemon even when it's not on the ingredient list. Double the vanilla. And if you're making a quilt - improvise the same way:-). Fun and never boring!

Do you improvise when you cook or do you stick to the recipe? Chances are that you cook the way you make quilts. Think about this true for you?

Leave a comment - and let's have a conversation!

 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019