Sunday, January 11, 2009

Leftovers and Old-Fashioned Cooking

There are some meals that, at the mere thought, take me back to the kitchen table of my childhood: split pea soup, roast beef hash on Jiffy cornbread, cornbread dressing.... And there are a few meals that I have made since starting out on my own that create similar "homey" feelings in my mind. I realized recently that these meals are all made from leftovers. The "30 minutes or less" versions wouldn't cut it, although the meal itself doesn't take too much time to make if you already have the leftovers on hand.

The way so many of us are tempted to cook these days doesn't leave many usable leftovers on hand (unless you want to eat the exact same meal again in the same form). But, when you have leftover roast beef, making roast beef hash is quite straightforward; it tastes even better with the well-seasoned leftover roast beef. Split pea soup is a given in our house every time we have a ham; that ham bone starts me salivating even before we've made the first carving of meat. Cornbread dressing (officially listed as "vegetable of the day" at Cracker Barrel once...) is made best with leftover homemade biscuits and cornbread. We made a cream of turkey and wild rice soup last year with our leftover turkey carcass and resulting stock--and have been waiting to cook another turkey ever since just so we can have that carcass and stock!

When you plan your meals, consider the quick cooking you'll have with some of the leftovers of a more time-consuming meal. It sort of all balances out in the end. I roast a chicken early in the week, make the stock that same night, and then have all sorts of quick meals begun already; the initial work pays off in healthier, cheaper, TASTIER, quicker meals later.

We are cooking our turkey today (having spent our holidays all elsewhere) because... we want those turkey leftovers! Our neighbors are joining us because they, too, haven't had a good plateful of turkey leftovers at their house this year either. We'll eat the obligatory roast turkey today and then...the sky's the limit! Good turkey sandwiches, cream of turkey and wild rice soup, cooked turkey in the freezer waiting to be popped into a casserole or soup. Mmmm.....

1 comment:

Alicia said...

I'm hungry now... LOL!

I love soups made from leftovers. We are eating the last of our homemade chicken noodle soup today for lunch - and I already miss it.

I've never had roast beef hash - any tips??

Part of my plan for this year is to use up more of our foods and waste less! I think that soups and casseroles are one of the biggest ways to accomplish that feat!