Spend Less, Eat Better: Hope for the Canned Food Snob
I almost forgot - February is National Canned Food Month. Designated "months" are almost as unfashionable as canned food.
Still, give the devil its due. Canned goods sustained Americans through hard times. No matter how "fresh" we cook now, certain cans are worth their weight, or at least worth a try.
Beets: The difference between canned and fresh-cooked beets is negligible. Besides, fresh beets take forever to cook. (Roasting is worth it.) But beets are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. Buy a can, drain, heat the liquid with a spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of vinegar. Pour over beets and thinly sliced sweet onion and marinate for a day or two. Google beet cake, a yummy surprise.
Beans: Two cans of great Northern beans and a little liquid pureed in blender with a garlic clove, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cilantro leaves makes a wonderful dip for tortilla chips. Mix canned white beans with cooked carrots, chopped onion and slices of broiled spicy turkey sausage for a quick stew.
Creamed corn: Mix a can of creamed corn with a can of vegetable or hearty tomato soup for thick instant chowder. Use creamed corn as part of liquid in cornbread. Mix a can of creamed corn with about 3/4 cup cornbread stuffing from a bag and an egg, bake for 30 minutes for an interesting side dish.
Another side dish or vegetarian main dish: Old-fashioned scalloped tomatoes. Pour a can of flavored stewed tomatoes into a bowl. Mash large pieces with fork. Cut one or two slices of toast into cubes. Mix with tomatoes and a cup of grated cheese. Fancy it up with a can of artichoke hearts, drained. Transfer to shallow baking dish and bake until bubbly and browned on top.
Cherry or other fruit pie fillings: Warm and spoon over ice cream, yogurt, waffles or pound cake.
Try exotics - mango, guava, heart of palm - from a can.
Sauerkraut does wonders for hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans, beef or pork roasts.
The generation force-fed mushy canned peas, bitter canned spinach and slithery Spaghetti-Os can still be rescued. Just don't wait until a snowstorm or a camping trip.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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