Kitchen Experiments

Do you ever find yourself in a cooking rut, making the same boring meals over and over?

When that happens, we do kitchen experiments here at Five Feline Farm. No, not the mad scientist kind where you blend chemicals while cackling wildly.

The mystery food ingredient kind of experiment. No, not the “wonder what this fuzzy stuff in the back of the fridge is?” kind either.

We do the kind of experiment where random ingredients are combined to make a meal. Like the TV show “Chopped” but without the time limit and pressure. And, sadly without the possibility of a cash prize.

One recent round had the following ingredient list:

Canned Pumpkin

Cheddar Cheese Soup

Quick Cooking Barley

A Blood Orange

Sprig of Fresh Rosemary

Yes, that is the actual randomly selected list of ingredients awaiting me (Julia) when I arrived home from work. This was going to take a few minutes of brain time to come up with something for supper. But this is how I learn to be creative with cooking.

The rules are simple: use each of the mystery ingredients at least once in the meal. Any other items from freezer, refrigerator or pantry can be used.

Here’s the menu I devised:

Green salad with blood orange sections, a chunk of blue cheese and an oil and vinegar dressing

Pumpkin ravioli with a mushroom rosemary cream sauce

Cheddar barley focaccia

How did it turn out?

I was mostly concerned about the cheese soup and how to make that palatable. I’m not even sure how a can of cheddar cheese soup ended up in the pantry. It worked out fairly well, adding texture, moisture and flavor to the focaccia. The ravioli filling needed something to mellow out the intensity of the pumpkin and the focaccia was best hot from the oven. The mushroom rosemary cream sauce was really good.

This will not make it into the grand repertoire of meals. But it does inspire me to make more flavored homemade pastas. It also helped use up a few random ingredients and step away from another boring weeknight meal.

If you want to learn more about how I cook and meals designed to use up leftovers, pick up a copy of my book Simply Delicious, available in digital and print formats in our Mercantile or on Amazon.

As a special bonus, email your receipt to and get a free photo ebook download.

Don’t forget to follow all the happenings here at the Farm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.