This post was written by my ridiculously cute boyfriend. Any and all comments are his own, and do not reflect the opinions of me.
In the midst of a resource crisis, Lele turns meager pickings into delicious dishes
Lele accepts onions from Jordin Bert during her mission to turn scratch into scrumptious.
Let’s set the record straight right off the bat…this is not a Lele post. This is her lucky boyfriend who had the fortune of seeing Ileana turn an eclectic mix of odds and ends into a full-blown dinner miracle.
This is how it all went down...
Staring off into the Delaware River with drinks in hand and appetizers nearby, Ileana, my sister Jordin, and I tossed around ideas for how to live life well that evening. We pondered spending our night in Manayunk, a cozy suburb of Philadelphia that butts up against the Schuylkill River, or spending the evening in Philly, in the boughs of a rooftop deck.
But heavy thunderclouds rolled in, and it got oober [Lele as editor: uber!] nasty. Our visions of celebration under summer skies were stymied.
That’s when Lele brought up the idea of cooking at my sister’s place. Cue heavenly music. Our original plans were to each pick up fresh provisions and prepare our own dish de glory for a family style feast. However, stopping for provisions wasn’t as easy as we’d imagined. We stopped at the Italian Market and Reading Terminal Market to find both places closed, before 6 pm.
Jordin and I were both pretty glum. Ileana tried to cheer us up. She assured us that we could make something fun and delicious with the food Jordin had at her apartment. But my sister was leaving in three days for a trip back to our hometown, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and the bounty in her cupboards was pretty lacking.
Yet, the ever-creative Lele made it her mission to cook us up something wonderful with the limited resources in my sister’s apartment.
Finding one very ripe mango and shrimp in the freezer she exulted, “I think we can make mango curry!” My sister and I exchanged this “really?” look with each other, but neither of us put it past her.
Ileana borrowed my sister’s mac and found a recipe that she could loosely work around.
Her creativity started simmering.
Ileana: “Do you have any spices?”
Jordin: “I have these if they’ll help.”
Ileana: “Coriander! This will work!”
The next 40 minutes were magic. Ileana chose spices from my sister’s spice rack and random other ingredients to make one of the most delicious curries I’ve ever tasted.
(Note from Ileana: Jordin didn’t have curry powder so I made a basic curry spice mixture with mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, sweet onion, and a bit of cayenne. Then I added water and cooked down an oldish mango and the tomatoes. Pureed them with milk, finished with shrimp. It actually was really good!)
She took old desiccated baby carrots, cooked them in the oven with a pinch of olive oil and puréed them with my sister’s tiny handheld blender. To finish them off, Ileana was hoping to add some honey, though Jordin didn’t have any. Lele made do with maple syrup; she drizzled a bit on top of the carrots. SOOO GOOOOD!!!!
Before our trip to Philly, I packed two tomatoes, bok choy, garlic, one lemon, two sweet potatoes and a big zucchini, because I didn’t want them to go bad over the weekend. Ileana, put these ingredients to use.
With spices and a pinch of oil, she browned the zucchini to perfection.
(Note from Ileana: the fresh garlic from the farm MADE this)
She found some romaine lettuce and an apple in my sister’s fridge and made a salad adding bok choy and lemon. She let the sweet potatoes bake until they were soft and scrumptious.
(Note from Ileana: Jordin’s Buddha makes for way cuter food staging than I will ever have!)
And she used the tomatoes I’d brought in the curry.
Watching Ileana’s art unfold before me and my sister’s eyes was so spellbinding. Beyond the enjoyment of having such a creative blend of flavors complement each other, I got to watch my sister be happy around Ileana, the woman who makes my life so full.
- Shrimp – One frozen bag in freezer
- Mangoes – 1
- Iffy Spice Rack
- Bok Choy – 1 bag
- Apples – 1
- Baby carrots – ¾ bag
- Sweet Potatoes – 2
- Zucchini – 1
- Garlic – 5 cloves
- Onions – 2
- Maple Syrup
- Olive Oil