In this orange tempeh recipe, crispy tempeh cubes and tender asparagus stalks are coated in a sweet and tasty sauce for an easy vegetarian take on classic orange chicken.
I opened the fridge the other night in search of something to cook for dinner. There wasn’t much. That’s when I actually took a thoughtful look at all of those jars that accumulate in the fridge doors. Somehow I managed to collect five jars of jam, a few fruit butters, multiple bottles of ketchup and mustard, a slew of miscellaneous sauces, and a few other odds and ends. I’ve watched enough Chopped to know that there was a dinner in there somewhere.
time to spring clean the fridge
Now that it’s spring, the season of cleaning, what better time to use up and clear out this precious fridge space? A good place to start is by checking the use-by dates. Anything well past expiration or growing something green and fuzzy is unusable and needs to go.
Then I make a list of what remains. I relocate anything unopened to the pantry until I'm actually ready to use it. I know I have more space outside of my fridge than in. And while going through everything, I keep cleaning supplies at the ready, as I find that these kinds of bottles and jars often leak.
how to clean through condiments
In your daily cooking routines, make mental notes to use up those nearing expiration items first. Or if mental notes don’t work for you, do as I do and post a physical one right on the fridge door. I actually have a small dry erase board on the side of the fridge and one for the freezer where I write down items I need to use soon. Also, you could move those need to use soon jars and bottles to the top shelf, so they have a better chance of getting noticed.
If you have duplicates, see if it’s possible to condense them. I was able to do this with three bottles of soy sauce that were all about a quarter of the way full. Please don’t ask me how that happened. But now, I have one nearly full jar and that much more space. Not to mention, I found out that I didn’t even need to keep the soy sauce in the fridge. (The label lies.)
Yet, no matter my organization tactics, I find the fridge door just difficult to maintain. Instead, I often keep a carton of milk and other large items in that space. As far as the jars and bottles, I break them into categories and organize them in narrow plastic bins, like these, where all of the jars and bottles can be grouped in the main part of the fridge. Jams and jellies all go in one, condiments in another, and so on.
always be resourceful
So what about that dinner? A few thoughts came to mind, but the soy sauce and orange marmalade got me thinking about making an orange sauce like what you find with orange chicken at Chinese takeout restaurants. From there, I just thought about what goes well with oranges. A sad, but still perfectly usable nub of ginger, was hidden in the back of the produce bin behind a bunch of asparagus. And after a bit of searching, I found a block of frozen tempeh in the freezer. Plus, there were still a couple of oranges hanging out on the counter.
I don’t know about you, but I too often jump to the conclusion that I have nothing to make for dinner. No wonder I accumulate so many random ingredients. Sometimes all it takes is a little thought, creativity, and organization to put together a quick and tasty meal.
making orange tempeh
As I said, this orange tempeh is similar to orange chicken. But just so we're clear, it's very much American food. Dishes like General Tso's and Orange Chicken are not traditional Chinese foods, even though that's what most Americans are led to believe. In fact, many of the dishes found at our Chinese restaurants are Americanized versions of Chinese foods, created to appeal to our love of sweetness and salt.