Island Cooking: From Clutter to Cooking

Lately I don’t know what it is, but I can’t seem to get out of my own way. It’s like taking one step forward and two steps back.

With each and every weekend that comes and goes I keep telling myself this is the weekend – I’m really going to start cleaning out this house, especially with the nice weather coming. It seems like so much junk piles up over the winter and I honestly don’t know where half of it comes from. When I start to look around I swear I get overwhelmed and find an excuse to leave the house – and that’s been going on all winter. We started out the winter with our winter coats hanging in the mudroom and by spring I now see four fleece jackets that do not belong to us, three extras pairs of shoes, two hats I’ve never seen before and just my winter jacket. Then there are the gloves that I can’t find a match for – inevitably I’ll get tired of looking for their mates, throw out the one I have and – voila! – I’ll find it the very next day after the trash is hauled off.

So last weekend I finally started in the kitchen where I proceeded to clean out the bottom cabinets with the baking pans and plastic containers that you can store your food in. Now, mind you, I never can find any lid to match any container or the covers to the casserole dishes and recently I had to buy a new pie pan because mine disappeared. As I began hauling everything out I was amazed at the stacks of plastic storage ware I had. I really don’t remember buying all of it and I don’t think it’s necessary to own more than 40 containers, but I now have enough to put leftovers or freeze things for a while. It was all hiding in the back of the cabinet and when I hauled out the last dish I found that I now have five pie plates – and who knew I had six dozen mini muffin tins? I also did something I’ve never done before and that was to take all of my everyday dishes, which are mostly mismatched, and throw them out. I’ve had some of them since before the kids were born (and the youngest is a freshman in high school.) I felt it was time to move from Corelle and plastic to the Fiesta Ware I’ve always wanted, and real Fiesta ware glasses. In hindsight, I should have stayed with plastic since two pieces have already been broken.

It was when I got to the cupboards with soups, pastas, baking mix, waffle mix and all of the extra things you buy to go with the meals that I had enough and decided we are going to eat everything out of the cupboards before I buy more to put in them!

That is why the recipes this week are simple and can be made from the boxes or cans of what you probably already have in your cupboards for an easy side dish or meal. But let me tell you, after all of my hard work cleaning those cupboards I was ready for a refreshing beverage while staring at my open cupboards. (I’m actually leaving my cupboards open so I can stare at them for a while because as we all know they wont look this good by next week!)

Blue Martini

  • 1 ounce favorite vodka
  • 1/2 ounce blue Curacao
  • 1 ounce sweet and sour cocktail mix

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain in to a martini glass. If you want you can serve it on the rocks to it’s your preference. My preference is to make up a pitcher and enjoy!

I know a lot of you may have tried this, but I honestly love it and it comes right off the Bisquick box or you can use Jiffy. If you have ever had Red Lobster cheese garlic biscuits, you will love these.

Cheese Garlic Biscuits

  • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450. Mix Bisquick, milk and cheese to make a soft dough. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds with a wooden spoon. Drop dough by tablespoonsful onto an ungreased sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Mix margarine and garlic and brush over the warm biscuits before removing from the sheet. Serve warm.

I usually can almost find all of the following ingredients in the cupboard because I keep buying them over and over because I don’t see them in all of the clutter.

Corn Casserole

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies, drained
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn muffin mix

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream-style corn, sour cream and melted butter. Stir in whole kernel corn, cheese, onion and chilies. Stir in the corn muffin mix until just moistened.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes; or until an inserted knife comes out clean and the top is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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