Hi, I'm furloughed, what should I cook?

I am a government employee with a lot of time on my hands looking for projects. What would you make if you have all day (really, all the days) and time (all the time) to get creative? Coming off the holidays I'm not always feeling intense stews or things that are heavy, or too many desserts - so far I've been doing a lot of Middle Eastern or Asian or Latin inspired stuff, and... baking bread, making stocks, lots of things that take a long time that I then freeze... You guys, it's getting boring in DC. What ya got?

  • Posted by: LucyS
  • January 14, 2019


Pilar January 21, 2019
DC is never boring. Draw, paint, write, take photographs. Clean the attic.
All day cooking? Learn to slice sushi or make crepes, Cha Gio, BBQ Pork Buns and Other Dim Sum, Homemade Pasta, Yogurt, Jelly, Pate a Fruits, Smoke a Brisket, Duck Confit, Paté and Baguettes for Bahn Mi, Tamales by Hand, Learn to Work with Fondant, Canitas, Sausage, Learn to Make Good Peruvian Chicken or Mexican Street Corn, Xiao Long Bao, A Real Turkish Dinner with Grilled Chicken with Baharat Seasoning, Ramadan Pide, Testi Kebab, Olive Mint Meat Balls, Shepherd's Salad, Chicken Tagine with Olives, Onions, and Oranges, Charred Corn Salad, Eggplant Dip, and Apple Honey Cake, These are Heavier: Cochon de Lait for Po'Boys, Gumbo, Cassoulet, Pot Roast with Dates and Oranges, Sausage,
Nancy January 21, 2019
Eric's idea (make every element of a dish from scratch) and Pilar's (so many interesting complicated and various dishes I lost count) reminded me of another approach.
Make a dish three times (minimum) and it's yours
That way you learn the feel, smell, texture, taste of the elements and the dish as it comes together.
Make a recipe you've been wanting to try....pasta making, deep frying, slow drying vegetables.
Or learn a technique you dont yet have.
PS another way to approach learning a dish is to make three different versions (by different authors or from different cultures).
sile January 16, 2019
Rice and good beans. Always hearty and delicious. Lental and beans are really good in a taco. Filling and great for you.
Happygoin January 16, 2019
Hahaha...I was going to say potstickers with homemade wrappers. You beat me to it with dumplings. The best part is they’re fairly inexpensive (with no paycheck coming in) and you can make a lot and freeze them for later when, hopefully, you’ll be back to work and too busy to make them.

I hope for you and everyone else affected that things return to normal for you soon.
BerryBaby January 14, 2019
Granola, trail mix, popcorn balls or some crazy popcorn mix, home pizza...dough and sauce, take five random ingredients from fridge and pantry and create a new dish (see my Chopped thread)...it's a fun challenge! Kind off the wall but maybe they will give you ideas.
HalfPint January 14, 2019
Hi LucyS!

Sounds like you want some projects that involve food, like homemade food pantry items. Here are my suggestions:

1. homemade rice wine, https://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/rice-wine
use wherever the recipe calls for 'rice wine'
2. XO sauce. Plenty of recipes on F52 and my favorite recipe is from Grubstreet.com

3. Worcestershire sauce. Here my favorite: https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Worcestershire-Sauce

4. Fermented Tofu Misozuke, https://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2012/09/fermented-tofu-misozuke-recipe.html

5. Limoncello, since citrus are in-season :)

6. Kimchi. I prefer the one with Napa cabbage. https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/traditional-napa-cabbage-kimchi-233839

7. Tofu, from scratch. Warning: it may ruin you for the commercially-prepared stuff. The flavor of a freshly made soft tofu is incredible. Ditto for fresh soy milk which I love to serve hot and sweet.

Crossing my fingers for the shutdown to end really soon.
LucyS January 14, 2019
These are amazing suggestions! Thank you all so much! I love all the ideas of what to freeze and keep, or use as condiments, for the future.

Thank you also for the words of support! I should say that I am VERY lucky that boredom is my biggest challenge - I'm not worried about feeding myself or my family, or paying rent or my mortgage, so I'm in a much better position than many, and I am aware of that. But I really do appreciate the support. Thank you all!
Steph January 14, 2019
Excuse my terrible typing!
Please read as: It is delicious over pasta as well.
Steph January 14, 2019
LucyS, hang in there, so sorry you have to deal with this!

this recipe is easy and winner! Love it with bread and ricotta cheese, it also gets better over a couple of days in the fridge. It's delicious over past as well!
gandalf January 14, 2019
Some of the suggestions about marmalade and pickles made me think of . . . canning! I usually do this in the Fall, using things that I have picked and saved or frozen from my home garden; but homemade salsa is an example of something that you are able to make with things that you can buy from the grocery store. Canning may take some time, as you have to cook/heat the foods that you intend to put up; then put them in sterilized jars and heat in a boiling water bath. Once you do it a few times, you can get into a pretty efficient routine; but it may take a little while at first before you feel comfortable.

Here is a link to Ball Canning: https://www.freshpreserving.com/

I hope that this helps; good luck with everything!
LucyS January 14, 2019
I have limited experience with canning so this is the extra bonus of learning a new skill. Thanks!
Nancy January 14, 2019
Re canning:
Another group to consider is winter chutneys. Examples:
Lemon or lime (see Laurie Colwin's recipe)
Wendy January 14, 2019
Firstly, my condolences to you and everyone else in this terrible circumstance. I do hope that you will be back to work (and regular pay) very soon.
Think of your lifestyle and the dishes that you would like to prepare to have on hand to serve when you are back to work, then check your freezer space and what you can fit in to keep. For my family, it would be bouillon base, a couple of pounds of compound butter, a lasagne or two, cinnamon buns, world peace cookies and shortbread cookies rolled in cylinders in parchment and plastic wrap. Pickles, ketchup and jellies are great because you can keep them in your pantry. You can make jellies from fruit juice so it won’t be ridiculously expensive.
Nancy January 14, 2019
Yes to bouillon mix.
See Souper Mix from River Cottage Preserves Cookbook 2012.
Several places online.
LucyS January 14, 2019
This is a great thought! Thank you for the ideas!
Stephanie B. January 14, 2019
Sorry about the ridiculous mess you have to suffer though.

Here's a challenge for you: homemade ramen. I mean from scratch, all day bone/cartilage broth slow cooked to get gelatin to form, with all the fixings (chashu pork, marinated egg), and homemade ramen noodles. Serious Eats has a recipe for tonkotsu ramen broth that I made once - it was delicious and the meal in its entirety took days.

It's not a light meal, but it sure takes time.
Nancy January 14, 2019
These don't take much time.
Choose depending on your tastes and what you will use.

Pickles from winter or all-year vegetables. Beers, carrots, onions, cabbage (kimchi).

Vanilla extract. From beans & vodka, brandy or bourbon.

Branded cherries.

Herbed olives.

Home made spice blends for sweet and/or savory dishes.

Homemade hot sauce or paste.

Marmalade (esp from Seville oranges).
Nancy January 14, 2019
Should read: beets
Joanna S. January 14, 2019
LUCYS, I'm so sorry to hear this and do hope the shutdown will end soon—for everyone's sake. In the mean time, here's what came to mind:

SOUP! (You guys just got a bunch of snow, right?)







Classic coq au vin or beef bourguignon

Best of luck and happy cooking!
LucyS January 14, 2019
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