Posted by Richard | Filed under Richard
“What am I going to write about?” I ask Jane.
“How about dinner?”
“What? What’s interesting about dinner?”
“We’re having leftovers. That’s kind of interesting.”
Actually, Jane and I have different philosophies about leftovers.
Leftovers are a reality of home-cooking. It doesn’t all always get eaten. So, if you are to be virtuously-frugal (or frugally-virtuous, for those who can’t stand them) you need to find a way to re-eat the food: leftovers it is.
Now, Jane’s aware of this theory, but doesn’t like leftovers. A picky eater to begin with, the idea of having something she wasn’t too keen on for a second time, but now cold, apparently doesn’t work for Jane.
I grew up without a microwave, until I was 15, I think. And even then it was on top of the fridge, so difficult to remember to use. Re-heating anything required an oven or a stove-top. So, as a teenager, I developed a taste for cold food. So for me: warm food is special, cold food is normal.
Jane likes hot food: she will microwave previously cooked meat just to get it warm again (blech… microwaved meat, with the exception of bacon, is just awful.) She tells me her mother takes freshly delivered pizza and pops it in the oven to heat it up again. It’s amazing what behaviours can be imprinted on us as “normal.”
So, when it’s my turn to plan the meals and I say “fridge is still full: leftovers it is” I think it’s an easy meal: cold food all around, different samples from different days’ tupperware, and away we go: dinner is served. But this doesn’t do for Jane, and she’s quite distressed to see me twiddling my thumbs waiting at the table as she tries to figure out what on her plate needs to be microwaved for how long.
So the other approach is it needs to be disguised. It needs to look like a brand new meal. For my family, this is what one did with leftover-leftovers. Portions so small they couldn’t easily be shared. Traditionally they all got blended together with a sauce, served with a starch, and that was the new meal (and, it too could become leftovers.) So there was chili, or curry, or frittata, or the meal I called “tortillas” (which I’ve since learned is the just the bread the meal got served on) or… the final-result of many a meal in my parent’s house: home-made-everything-soup. A one-pot meal is the solution for all left-overs.
Jane’s not particularly thrilled with this strategy. She’s not too keen on spicy food, and the one-pot reinvention strategy heavily relies on “this sauce tastes so strong you don’t recognize the food.” But since Jane foots the food bill, she’s beginning to appreciate its strengths in general… just not always in specific.
Tonight I shared with Jane a traditional family recipe from my mother’s family: Tatty Bree. Which the almighty google tells me is a North Ireland staple. Very odd, since I thought my grandmother’s family background was from Lancashire and France.
Simple, simple, simple: so simple you can tweet it. Knead old mashed potato, melted butter and flour into a dough. Roll flat. Cook on hot griddle until browned on both sides.
I like it about as thick as a loonie. Jane was more partial to pieces closer to half a centimeter thick. Jane wasn’t sure what to think of tatty brie. It was bland enough she was wondering what could go on it. (Anything, but I’m partial to butter, or soft-fried eggs.) She settled for maple syrup. The good news is we can have it again, cause we both like it.
Anyway, let me hand the court over to you readers. What’s a recipe for leftovers so simple you can tweet it? (140 characters or less)