Making Something out of Nothing… a culinary phrase almost true



Using the leftover juice

When I first started dating my husband, David, many moons ago – he came over to my apartment on a sort of a first date (poor guy wasn’t used to dating after years locked in a dis-functional marriage that ended in divorce). At some point during that afternoon, I looked at my guest, and asked, “Can I get you something?” But quickly followed it with, “do keep in mind, I have virtually no food in the fridge.”

About twenty minutes later, I presented my date with a fluffy Omelet…loaded with whatever vegetables and cheeses scraps I had in my fridge, some pan-fried potatoes, a garnish of sliced fruit, and some freshly brewed tea. He told me later, he said to himself on the drive home – that girl can make something out of nothing – I’m going to marry her!
And so he did, about a year later.

Since I developed that reputation of making something from nothing, thirty-six years ago, I have continued to live up to it – but now, far more deliberate! I love the creativity and I hate to waste food…that combination has enabled me to not only stay creative and resourceful, but also the ability to develop recipes that are often unique and flavorful.

Today, was one of those days…de-crocked a big batch of homemade Kimchi. After I had covered the de-crocked Napa Kimchi adequately in its own brine, there was remaining in the Asian Crock – beautifully red-colored brine staring back at me – looking for a home.

What to do with all the liquid left behind? Well, I certainly wasn’t going to throw away that spicy deliciousness, absolutely couldn’t do it.

Determined to make something out of nothing, I grabbed my trusty LeCreuset rounded pot – added some olive oil and sautéed a large chopped and trimmed Vidalia onion. Scavenged in the fridge for a few minutes…added in some sliced baby bok choy and continued merrily on my sauté of anything appropriate remaining in the produce drawer of the refrigerator to work in this dish. Next came diagonally cut pieces of a small bunch of scallions, shredded carrot, and sliced mushrooms. Added to that mixture, some floating pieces of Napa from the Kimchi brine along with all that remaining red-tinged liquid.

Stirring up a storm, I then re-checked the lower drawer of the fridge to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any remnant of produce – low and behold, some green beans. Ah ha – perfect! Washed and trimmed the beans, and set them aside momentarily.

My next mission became making that soup broth delicious – after a taste, decided it needed some of my homemade chicken stock (frozen, but on hand), a can of tomato paste, and some official Korean Pepper Paste

I let that all come to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer for about 40 minutes. Added those green beans toward the end, brought it back to a boil and added several cups of sliced raw chicken (about the size I would use for a stir fry).

Let my soup cook just long enough for the chicken to cook through…
With a spoon in hand, checked the seasonings – nothing was needed.
It was ready to serve.

David lovingly looked at me and said, “You’ve made something out of nothing.”

Well, almost true…

MaKing something out of nothing

Jjampong close up


  1. Janet Popichak says:

    RMJ, I’m a newbie to fermentating. When one heats the varioous vermentated vegies, do you lose any of the nutritional value obtained in the fermentation process? I thought heat would kill off the beneficial bacteria. BTW, I really like your site.

    • RMJ says:

      Janet – welcome!!! If you heat the vegetables – you do loose not only some of the nutritional value, but also the probiotic component. In most of my recipes, I keep things raw — but in some, it is about flavor and not necessarily the probiotic component.
      Good Question! Enjoy your new journey into fermenting!!!

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