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So, Mary Anne has a little cooking challenge over on her journal. To come up with dishes suitable for lunch for four, using basic food staples plus ingredients chosen among the following:

  • 1 lb. green beans

  • 1 lb. mushrooms

  • 3 poblano peppers

  • 6 large baking potatoes

  • 1 can artichoke hearts

  • 1 can bamboo shoots

  • 2 cans mackerel packed in oil

I'm not exactly Wonder Chef, but I do like to experiment in my kitchen. (I keep a lab notebook in my kitchen, for recording my culinary experiments.) I unfortunately don't have time to try cooking any of these dishes right now, but here's what I came up with as possible dishes:

  1. Stir Fry was my first thought. This is hardly surprising, since stir fry is usually my first thought when faced with a pile of ingredients in the kitchen. So: Cut green beans into 1 inch pieces. Slice mushrooms. Stir fry green beans, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots with garlic, soy sauce, and fresh ginger (or mix a little powdered ginger in with the soy sauce, if fresh ginger doesn't count as a staple. I have ground ginger, but no fresh, in the house right now.)

  2. Mackerel "Nicoise". This was my attempt to fit in as many ingredients in the list as possible. Cook potatoes, let them cool, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Blanch green beans and cut into pieces. Slice mushrooms. Quarter artichoke hearts. Flake mackerel with a fork. I forget what sort of dressing usually goes on a Nicoise, so do a basic vinaigrette: 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, a couple of chopped scallions, salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together. (I'd probably add a little romaine lettuce if that were available, but I'm not sure if that counts as a staple.)

  3. Veggie tacos. Seed and cut up 1-3 poblano peppers (I forget how big poblanos are). Slice mushrooms. Cut up green beans. Sautee mushrooms, pepper, and green beans with garlic and onion. Serve wrapped in warm corn tortillas, topped with salsa, and chopped scallions. (Okay, I'm cheating a little there. Tortillas and salsa are staples in this house, because Whatever Tacos are basically the default cooking choice.)

  4. Hmmm...I'm not exactly great at multi-dish menus. I'm a virtuoso of one-pot or one-skillet cooking.

    If I actually try making any of these dishes, I'll be sure to report on the results here.

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