With all the articles and posts about what to do with leftovers, I have been wondering “why not just eat them?” Growing up, we had our main Thanksgiving dinner at 1 PM, then we played board games or card games at my Grandma’s until darkness fell and it was time to reheat the leftovers to enjoy the dinner all over again.
I mean sure, you can turn many things into soups, stews, or casseroles, but there’s something satisfying about nuking a plate of your favorites and reminiscing about the good times that were had.
And so, as a tribute to leftovers, I bring you an excerpt from The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition by Peg Bracken.
Some women can keep a leftover going like an eight-day clock. Their Sunday’s roast becomes Monday’s hash, which becomes Tuesday’s Stuffed Peppers, which eventually turn up as Tamale Pie, and so on, until it disappears or Daddy goes. These people will even warm up a stale cake and serve it with some sort of sauce, as some sort of pudding . . .
[Many cookbooks and articles] seem to consider everything a leftover, which you must do something with. For instance, cake. This is like telling you what to do with your leftover whisky. Cake isn’t a leftover. Cake is cake, and it is either eaten or it isn’t eaten; and if the family didn’t go for that Mocha Frosting, you give the rest of the cake to the neighbor or to the lady downstairs before it gets stale. (Maybe she’ll make something out of it, but you won’t have to eat it. Maybe she’ll even throw it away, but if so, you won’t know about it, so it won’t hurt. Like what happened to that twenty-second batch of nameless kittens you finally had to take to the city pound, there are some things you don’t exactly want to know.) And certainly you don’t want to let the cake get stale so you can make a Stale-Cake Pudding for the family. They’re the ones who left so much of it the first time, remember?
WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.
Just remember: if vegetables have been cooked twice, there aren’t enough vitamins left in them to dust a fiddle with. Furthermore, if your refrigerator is jam-packed with little jars, it will have to work too hard to keep things cold. Presently its arteries will harden, and you have to pay for a service call–the price of which would more than buy a lovely dinner out for you and your husband, with red-coated servitors and soft music.
Actually, the only soft of leftover you need to concern yourself with is meat. It takes more character than most of us have–even those of us who hate to cook–to throw out two of three pounds of cooked beef, lamb, pork, or turkey. So let us consider the meat problem. Before you do a thing with that great sullen chunk of protein, ask yourself a few questions:
- Have you incorporated it into a dish of scalloped potatoes, with plenty of cheese on top?
- Have you augmented it with a few slices of Swiss cheese from the deli and served it forth as Toasted Club Sandwich, in neat triangles surrounding a mound of coleslaw or fruit salad?
- Have you re-presented it as an honest cold-cut platter, with deviled eggs in the middle, and ready-mix corn muffins on the side? It’s easy to forget the obvious.
- and have you ground up a chunk of it with pickles and onions and celery and added some mayonnaise, as a spread for after-school sandwiches?
If you can truthfully answer yes to the foregoing, then, as the British say, you are for it. You are about to start cooking.
Happy Thanksgiving! And if you DO truly want to do something with those leftovers, I’m sure you will find many, many options. Just Google it
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