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Cooking With What's On Hand

Contributed by: Cajun Clark

There comes a time, all too frequently, when the taste buds go bonkers and Caj winds up drooling on his keyboard. When this time comes da ol' mon starts searching for the ingredients that will satisfy the craving. Making the seven-mile round trip to the general store is not an option when the commitment has been made to start emptying the freezers and pantry, to use what's on hand. Or as friend JB would say, "It's time to start 'scrapping.'"

If that's not enough, Caj believes in cooking One Inch From The Top. In other words, if he gets out the five-quart pot it's going to be filled to within one inch from the top. If it's the eight- or twelve-quart monster the same philosophy applies. Now you know why those two pots are used on extremely rare occasions. Or you could say, like never ever!

Now that the scene has been set, you know that once again this is not the Fortnight you'd expect (but then again it never is), so you might as well get ready to follow the waving wooden spoon as Caj takes you on the perilous journey of creating a recipe from the ingredients on hand. Please forgive da ol' mon for not giving you exact measurements, they're non-existent! These recipes are from the school of: Does it look right? Does it taste right? Okay, now let's get cooking.

Caj's Favorite Beans

Please understand upfront that all of the ingredients are listed, AND there is an explanation following how da ol' mon used them.

Beans: One Pound Dry Great Northerns. Soaked overnight, drained, fresh water added to more than cover.

Onion: chopped. Probably about a cup, can't tell exactly because the amount added only stopped when it looked "right" to da ol' mon.

Bell Pepper: chopped. Same story as to how much. Have used red bell peppers and green bell peppers, either works quite well. And as friend Barb would say, "Using the two together adds a nice touch of color." Maybe she's thinking about making them for Christmas, she didn't say.

Garlic: one heaping soup spoon out of the jar of minced garlic. Don't know where you find this type of garlic today. Ol' mon Caj found it in the produce department of a major supermarket quite awhile ago.

Ro-Tel Tomatoes with Chilies: Used three cans the first time, two the second. Yes, da ol' mon has played around with this "recipe" twice to date. Once using...

4 Ribz for Sandwiches, 84 grams each, boneless and covered with barbecue sauce, cut into bite size pieces. These came from the freezer section at Sam's Club, like 20 in a package. The next time using...

Boneless Pork Loin, also cut into bite size pieces, enough until it looked "right." Also poured in some Hunt's Original Recipe Barbecue Sauce for additional flavoring. This time until it tasted "right."

Okay, there you have it, ALL the ingredients in this touchy-feely recipe. Now it's time to cook this concoction. Da ol' mon sets the gas burner to medium-heat, then watches the pot until it starts to bubble. When this stage is reached it's time to turn down the flame but only enough that the bubbling continues; ya gotta cook them beans. Now even though a quality non-stick pot is being used stirring and tasting are part of the drill, because the taste changes as the cooking progresses. Finally, when the beans are at the tenderness desired, the top is removed and excess liquid is cooked off. And you can take this to the bank, Caj always has too much liquid!

Caj's Special Pasta with Clam Sauce

Y'all need to know that Caj is a brown carb kinda guy. Has been for several years which helps to explain some of his idiosyncrasies, like the ingredients he uses when working on another palate pleaser. That said...

One box of wheat pasta--thin, angel hair, fettuccini, your favorite. No, Troy my friend, it doesn't have to be wheat! Considering the fact that da ol' mon hates to see a grown man cry you might want to get a copy of his free real estate e-Book at It's really a good book, but please don't tell him Caj said so or sent you; he's gonna be embarrassed enough as it is. Thanks, valued subscriber, 'preciate ya big time.

Olive oil added to water to help prevent the big boil over.

Garlic, minced from the jar for flavor.

Now cook pasta according to directions. Until the tenderness meets your specifications.

Drain--DO NOT rinse. According to most pasta makers rinsing reduces nutrient content.

Now that the pot is empty it's time to make the...

Clam Sauce:

  • 1 bottle, 8 fl. oz. Clam Juice
  • 2 or 3, depending on how clammy you want your sauce, 10 oz. cans
  • of baby clams including liquid.
  • 1 heaping soup spoon of minced garlic
  • Parsley, optional.

Dump all ingredients into pot, turn heat on to low or medium, your decision, begin to heat. Add pasta, start stirring mixing clam sauce. When you think you've stirred enough, which doesn't take too long for da ol' mon, call it ready. Dish up this mouth-watering dish, top with Parmesan Cheese, if you so desire, and play oink, oink. Really tasty a day or two later when the flavors have melded together. Also freezes quite nicely for zapping when your taste buds have you climbing the pantry walls and you don't want to cook.

BTW, if you want another from scratch, touchy feely recipe for Pork and Beans, send Caj an email and tell da ol' mon:

Have a good one, and Bon Appetit!

Cajun Clark's Selected Freebies
Cajun Clark's monster 659-page eCookbook is no longer available. His second cookbook in the series, with nearly 500 recipes is Sweet & Sassy! You can grab a copy of Cajun Clark's Selected Freebies at



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