Whenever I cross the bridge connecting Brunswick to Topsham, I hope the dam is open, giving me a bird’s-eye view of the mighty Androscoggin’s flow into Merrymeeting Bay. At those moments, I don’t envy my California friends’ their restricted-by-drought lifestyle, even if I was insanely jealous of their temperate climate as recently as April 9, the last time it snowed here.

That’s not to say folks on this coast should stand at the sink, taps full bore, for the fun of it. Maine is running almost 12 percent below average precipitation rates in 2015, after all. Making sure new toilets have the EPA WaterSense label, capturing rain that cascades off roofs for use in the garden and limiting shower time contribute to good old Yankee conservation, sometimes called frugality.

But what about cutting water usage in the kitchen? I’ve used a dishpan to do the washing up, and I dump abandoned glasses of water into my jade plant’s pot. But those two things alone are not stellar representations of my green-ness.

So I challenged myself to prepare an entire picnic lunch – deviled eggs, peanut noodle salad (recipe below), and vanilla pots de crème (chilled, they travel very well) with strawberries – using only one gallon of water. The test merely required a new level of consciousness and some rejiggered workflow.

I poured two quarts of cold water over six eggs in a 6-quart sauce pan, put the lid on, brought the pot to a boil, turned the heat off, and let the eggs sit for 12 minutes, removing them with a slotted spoon at the timer’s ding.

I added salt to the pot, got the water boiling again, this time adding two cups of broccoli florets and cooking them until they turned bright green. I used my slotted spoon to scoop up the blanched broccoli, placing it in a colander fitted inside a bowl. I poured 2 quarts of cold water over the broccoli to stop the cooking and pulled the colander from the bowl.


I poured half the water that had just shocked the broccoli back into the pot, brought it to a boil and dropped in noodles. The other half I used to first rinse off some organic strawberries and then to help me peel my eggs. I then ran this water through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl to remove any shells and briefly set the water aside.

Just as the noodles reached al dente status, I held a colander over the 9-by-11-inch pan that would serve as the water bath vessel needed to bake the pots de crème. As I drained the noodles my water bath materialized.

I poured my reserved rinsing water over the noodles to rid them of starch that could make them stick together in the salad.

After the eggs were stuffed, the noodles and broccoli dressed and dessert chilled, I wondered if I could feed this recycled water to the jade.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer and tester, and cooking teacher in Brunswick. She writes about feeding her family Maine seafood at www.familyfish.net. Contact her at cburns1227@gmail.com.

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