Cooking with what’s available

Try this seasoned mix of meat and vegetables.


This summer has been different; instead of eating out at my favorite restaurants, I have been taking the opportunity to cook more meals at home. Some nights, I have taken over the responsibility of cooking lunch or dinner for my family, taking away pressure from family members still working at home.

I have inherited my mom’s cooking habits of taking recipes and changing the ingredients to them by working with what I have available in the kitchen. Sometimes when I dive into a recipe and realize a specific ingredient is missing, I make substitutions or additions for that ingredient with those having a similar flavor.

To me, cooking is about working with what you have to create something delicious or unexpected. The recipes I find are useful templates for creating dishes, but I find a little deviation from the template given is always an option.

Kielbasa with Brussels Sprouts and Potatoes

2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. kielbasa
2 potatoes, chopped
½ lb. linguiça
1 package baby Brussels sprouts, trimmed and chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp.
2 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme

On a small cutting board, smash the garlic cloves with the heel of a paring knife to remove the skin. Chop up the smashed bits, and place them in a large bowl. Cut up the onion, kielbasa, potatoes, and linguiça into small pieces and add to the bowl. Trim the outer layer of dark green leaves off the Brussels sprouts, and cut them into small pieces; add to the bowl.

Coat the ingredients in the bowl with ¼ cup of extra -virgin olive oil, and toss in the rosemary, oregano, salt, and thyme. Also, use one tablespoon of oil for a large skillet; I ended up using a cast-iron pan with a gas stove to cook the seasoned meat and vegetables.

On medium-low heat, cook the meat and vegetable mixture for 25 minutes, or until the ingredients brown. Stir occasionally, and poke the potatoes with a fork to test their softness.

Take the pan off the heat and serve with your favorite side dishes, or top it off with sour cream, if you like.