April 22, 2013

A Dinner Gone Wrong and Curry Cornbread Muffins Made by an Anal-Retentive Individual

I hate wasting food. I’m borderline obsessive about it (probably minus the “borderline” part). And because I hate wasting food, I’ll pretty much eat anything in the spirit of Not Wasting It—which is why I’m sometimes referred to as a human garbage disposal around my household.

One time Doug and I made pumpkin ravioli with a gorgonzola cheese sauce. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I hated it. It wasn’t that bad the night we made it, but we had a lot of leftovers. Even though I found the dish disgusting, I packed a big serving of the gorgonzola monstrosity for my lunch every single day of that workweek. By Friday, I was gagging on it—and to this day, I won’t touch gorgonzola cheese (the mere thought of it repulses me). But none of it went to waste, so I don’t regret my choices.

The other day, I made a big pot of curry vegetable noodle soup. I’d made this dish before, and it was delicious. The reason I’ve made this dish twice now is because when I make a slow-cooker beef roast with vegetables (as I did recently), I like to use the drippings as a base for a soup stock. So the whole point of the curry noodle soup stems from not wanting good drippings from a previous meal to go to waste.

But during this most recent soup adventure, disaster struck. The soup was on the stovetop and almost done—but Doug was going to be later getting home from work than I thought. So I turned the pot to low and just left it on the stove. I let time get away from me a bit, and by the time we were both home and ready to eat, the wide rice noodles in the soup had become terribly mushy. It was pretty awful. We choked it down, but the thought of suffering through the leftovers was too much for even me (this is saying something).

I couldn’t bear to actually throw the whole thing away—after all, we’re talking about all kinds of organic vegetables, a lot of noodles, and curry spices. It wasn’t the ingredients’ fault; it was just the damned mushy texture that made the stuff inedible. I was in a pickle.

Doug suggested that, rather than toss the food in the trash or compost, I use the “mush” as a filling in a pastry-like concoction. I didn’t like the sound of that (blegh), but it did give me an idea. The next day, I spooned a few globs of the curry noodle mush into the food processor (don’t judge me, if that’s what you’re starting to do).

A food processor with curry soup puree

Then I mixed the puréed soup-gone-bad into my standard cornbread recipe in hopes of making cornbread muffins.

A bowl of curry cornbread muffin batter

The idea seemed to be working so far ...

A muffin pan full of curry cornbread muffin batter

Here’s the recipe I used for these cornbread muffins:


2 cups organic cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (from a pastured hen)
1 cup organic milk
About 1 cup dinner-gone-wrong purée


Mix the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in one large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Mix the dry ingredients, wet ingredients and dinner-gone-wrong purée until combined. Add to greased muffin pan. Bake muffins in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Baked curry cornbread muffins in pan

These muffins weren’t bad at all. They weren’t going to win a blue ribbon at the Cornbread Muffin Awards, but they were totally and completely edible. Because they were edible, I made more of the purée and put it in 1-cup servings in the freezer so I could continue on with this worthy and perhaps crazy project of not wasting the mushy curry noodle soup.

Cornbread muffin on plate with butter

What do you think? Might you consider breaking out the food processor the next time a meal goes awry, and folding the puréed result into another recipe? Or, rather, do you suspect I am in need of psychological help?

Photos by Shelley Stonebrook


  1. Don't feel bad about not wanting food to go to waste. I once threw a raw steak away because it had been left out overnight (I had forgotten to put the groceries away). When I woke up in the morning, I realized my mistake and put it in the trash. My instincts told me to cover it up with trash so Hernán wouldn't find it, so I did just that. I went to work and received a text from Hernán that he found the meat and was cooking it. You can bet he ate that whole thing -- steak that had been in the trash for hours after being out at room temperature all night. That anecdote should make you feel better about any need you might have to not waste food ... because I assure you, no matter how bad you think you are, Hernán is worse.

    1. Lindsey, this is hilarious! Wow. It does sound like Hernán might be even more determined than me to not waste anything. I have to admit, though, that I'm impressed by his actions, rather than disgusted by them. Please give him my props.

  2. hahahahaha I thought I was the only one who did this kind of thing. I cook posole, then use the last of the soup for beans, and so on. I think I'm so clever :)

  3. Been there.
    Done that.
    My nickname is also the human garbage disposal.