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Thursday, 3 May 2018

An Ode to What's Left

 I was made aware of a strange Human the other day – a man who doesn’t do Leftovers.
 Now I’m not talking won't-eat-3-day-old-dinner-because-germs-phobia leftovers, I’m talking about a will-throw-out-any-food-not-consumed; will-make-every-meal-from-scratch type of human. He even goes to a supermarket EACH DAY to buy something fresh for his lunch (say, a chicken breast and some veges) and will then cook it up and eat it for lunch. Every. Day. He apparently had to be almost pressured into eating food left from Christmas lunch for dinner that night (isn’t that the point of Christmas night dinner?). Though apparently eating a cake or biscuit The Day After is OK (phew!). Apparently it’s by-product of growing up with a father who ran a restaurant – he always had a meal made from scratch every night (nice for some)

This blew my mind. On SO MANY levels. So much so that I had to blog about it.

  Leftovers. For a word that sounds so second rate, in cooking it is a magical thing. I have already blogged about how awesome they can be (see here for a refresher). They’re like a little magical gift from your fridge, “I know you don’t feel much like cooking tonight, so here’s a meal you prepared earlier! Or some bits and pieces that (when combined) will make a really easy dinner!”.
 There are certain dishes that I love making because I know the recipe will make too much.
 Like my Speedy Tuna Pasta (that is the actual recipe name, not my iteration. Though it is super quick to make. This is why we love it). Or the risotto we had for dinner last night that I made for Saturday night’s dinner, knowing that it made enough for another dinner (We've got a school Bake Sale this weekend – I needed kitchen time for cookies and cakes not meat-and-three-veg). And when Husband makes a roast dinner (which, luckily for me, is fairly often during the cooler months), he deliberately buys too much meat and cooks too many veges. Which means we can have several meals out of one lot of cooking, as well as roast pork for yummy rolls for lunch.
(and on that – who doesn’t make their lunch the night before? You really should. We stumbled across this wonderful life hack back in the Before Kids days, as it meant an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning. It also alleviates the “argh! We don’t have any bread” school morning chaos, as you’ve already discovered this anomaly the night before. Clever. And yes, even salad sandwiches are OK made the night before and stored in the fridge, as long as you have a barrier (such as cheese, spinach or avocado) between the tomato/cucumber and bread #learningstuff)
 Speaking of lunch, here is another point for Leftovers – the cost. Any financial planner worth his (Himalayan pink) salt will tell you one of the best ways to save money is to bring your lunch from home. When two sushi rolls or a lame sandwich and a drink from the café leave you with little change from $10, you know you’re on a good thing when you can make a week of lunches for the same prices. Not to boast but I can’t remember the last time I had to buy lunch for work. Most of this is due to a fantastic house husband who keeps me in rolls and salads, but I also have a stash of vege slice in the freezer for those Cant Be Bothered Days- like today!

Hmmm. Their freezer must be really neat and tidy without all the leftover meals sitting there. He’s also averse to frozen meat. Crazy.

 But back to dinners. We all have those dishes that taste better after a night in the fridge – gumbo, stroganoff, lasagna. But how would we know if they were thrown in the bin?
 And that’s another thing that really gets in my 21st century craw – the Food Waste.
 Having a husband who works in fresh produce, we see how much food doesn’t even make it to be sold to the consumer (which is bad enough). But then to Throw Out anything unconsumed just leaves me aghast – all of the resources that went into creating that nourishing food, going to landfill.
 In our house, leftovers go in the fridge/freezer to be used again. Anything that’s not enough to make a meal or snack gets divided up between the chickens and the dog. And most other food waste goes in the compost bin, leaving only onion skins and citrus that actually makes it into the landfill bin.

 I could preach on and on about this, but as my packaging waste levels leave a bit to be desired,  I’ll get off my soapbox now. But one final thought – if we didn’t have leftovers, think of all the wonderful recipes that would never have been invented:  bread and butter pudding and pangrattato (using up stale bread), Shepherd’s Pie and Bubble and Squeak (using left over meat and veges), aracini (from "left over" risotto. I’ve heard such a thing exists – just not in my house!)
Granted you can makes these recipes using “fresh” ingredients (not leftovers), but where’s the fun in that? And I bet they wouldn't taste as good either.

 So in these days of Food Miles and Less Waste, I’d like to again champion those who do their best to make sure No Food gets left behind. We get creative and clever, and sometimes it's probably not a Meal as much as a Collection of Food objects, but we’re helping the planet (and our purse strings) just that little bit more.

In other Domestic Goddess news – I got a Kitchen Aid.
 A second hand one from a friend but still – it’s black and its beautiful. I took it for a spin yesterday and it made my cookies in less time, and made my chocolate cake so light and fluffy that it rose over the middle of the doughnut tin! Who knew how much quicker things would be when you don’t have to stand there and hold the mixer!
 I also got super enthused and cooked a cake for afternoon tea. I have NEVER done this before. But when your Son smells the cake you are making (for the bake sale) and raves about how great it smells, it does inspire you to make one for him. And serve it straight from the oven with butter melting into it – yum!
(Well I had to have one picture!) Honey Loaf with butter

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