I dubbed this month Clean Out the Pantry Month. In that vein, every Sunday I've cooked a meal, entirely unplanned, from whatever I find in the pantry and/or fridge. Thus Surprise Me Sunday. I think it may survive past October because it's turned out fairly well so far.
Earlier in the month I made a falafel and hummus and the following week it was chicken soup with leftover Ethiopian vegetables. Last week it was a spicy lentil soup (I added berbere) with toasted tortilla wedges and quark, which is sort of a cross between cream cheese and sour cream. Tonight's meal was basil stir fry over rice. Had basil, 1/2 an onion, orange pepper and green beans that needed to be used up. Rice in the pantry. Voila. Very simple but quite tasty.
There are several benefits to Surprise Me Sunday dinners. Most obvious, of course, is that the pantry and fridge are slowly becoming less cluttered. Random food stuffs don't get lost in the back of the pantry for years on end and fewer veggies mold in the fridge.
Less tangible is the boost to my confidence in the kitchen. I am not afraid to admit that I am not a great cook. I don't feel confident in my ability to experiment or deviate from recipes. And while I haven't tackled anything overly ambitious (yet!), just winging it with easy menus helps immensely. Eventually I'd like to make Surprise Me Sunday into a bit of a challenge ala Chopped. Take truly random ingredients and find a way to make them into something delicious. Or at least edible.
So stay tuned to see what surprise meal each Sunday brings!