Does anybody remember the Frugal Gourmet? Jeff Smith was so popular in the eighties in the US, the darling of PBS. And then there was that scandal about the young boys. If you search the PBS site, you will not find his name there any more.
Still, that doesn't take away from the chef, his philosophy or his recipes. And I loved the philosphy behind his frugality: not being stingy but making sure you use everything. It reminds me of one of my favourite recipes in the Fanny Farmer cookbook, Floating Island. There are only four ingredients, but they all fit together like a puzzle: you separate the eggs and beat the whites, cooking the whites in a saucepan of milk. You then use the same milk and the egg yolks to make a custard, on which you float the egg-white meringues. (The other two ingredients are sugar and vanilla, if you are interested.)
Oddly enough, this same philosphy was bred in me by my Austrian grandmother. Having lived through the Depression, you might have thought that she would be frugal in the sense of not spending money on good food, but you would be wrong. She always bought the best possible cuts of meat, the freshest vegetables. However, like the Frug she was careful to waste nothing. The chicken or duck carcass was turned into a soup stock. The water from boiling potatoes was added to the simmering carcass, as were all vegetable peelings. If she didn't have a use for the vitamin-laden water immediately, she put it in the freezer for the next time.
And so I do the same. The photo above is the lovely rich stock I made from last week's chicken. I tried a new trick (read about it in one of the Frug's recipes actually) of adding the onions with the skins to give it more color. I didn't have many old vegetables in the bottom of the fridge to add, but I think it will still make a tasty soup. For the moment, it glows at me in a friendly way every time I open the fridge.