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Fixing the Fourth’s leftovers. July 5, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. July Fourth’s eating extravaganzas may be over, but unless you planned perfectly or sent every last leftover home with friends and family, your refrigerator is probably groaning with the remains of yesterday’s feast. Assuming you took good care of your food, keeping stuff like deviled eggs and potato salad chilled on ice and out of the sun so they wouldn’t spoil and only bringing them out of the fridge at the last minute, I have some suggestions for transforming these dishes into new ones your family will love. And they’re all easy, because you’ve already done most of the work!

* Deviled eggs. Turn deviled eggs into easy egg salad by dumping them into a bowl and mashing them up with a fork until the whites and yolk mixture are blended. Voila! How easy is that? Now you have extra-yummy egg salad to spread on your morning toast, fill a sandwich of whole-grain bread with crunchy lettuce add tomato, or scoop up as a dip with celery, carrot strips or rounds (baby carrots are too slender and round for this), or broccoli florets.

* Potato salad. If your potato salad has a mayonnaise dressing (and you’re sure it’s been kept cold and covered), consider making a “composed” salad with layers of iceberg lettuce, potato salad, strips of red, yellow or orange bell peppers (curved ends removed), chopped scallions (green onions), arugula, sliced tomatoes, and sliced green olives. Make it in a circular ovenproof dish with straight sides or a glass brownie or lasagna pan (i.e., not in a bowl, or you won’t get even layers). Chill until serving time, then cut into individual servings, remove each serving with a spatula, and pass the salt, pepper and olive oil. If your potato salad has an oil-based dressing, on the other hand, you can heat it and serve as an extra-flavorful potato side dish. Yum!

* Pimiento cheese. Like egg salad, pimiento cheese is a great sandwich stuffer with lettuce and tomato. But don’t overlook its potential as a filler for omelettes and quesadillas, especially when coupled with crunchy red, orange or yellow diced bell peppers. It’s also a different and delicious topping for burgers and those leftover hotdogs. It’s a great dip for crudites, especially celery. And wait ’til you try pimiento mac’n’cheese!

* Grilled veggies. What, you have leftover veggies? Say it ain’t so! But if it happens that you do, it’s a real blessing in disguise. You have the perfect base for a great pasta dish! Just make your favorite pasta (spaghetti, fettucine, and penne all work well). Heat the veggies with a little extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil or with storebought pesto. Mix them with the cooked pasta, top with shredded Parmesan, pass the salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, and dried oregano, and enjoy! They’re also great reheated over rice, or used in a tomato-based spaghetti sauce, or added to an Alfredo sauce, or folded into quiche or an omelette or other egg dish, or reheated as the veggie portion of fajitas.

* Corn on the cob. This grilling favorite can be used in innumerable ways if there are leftover ears (again, gasp!). Stand each ear upright in a bowl (to keep the kernels from flying all over the place) or lay each ear on a cutting board and cut off the kernels. Add them to salads, burritos, or wraps. Mix them with canned black beans and heat for a yummy side dish, especially if mixed with diced tomato, jalapeno, bell pepper, and sweet or green onion just before serving. Saute them in a little butter as a side dish, with or without mushrooms and diced sweet onion. They’re great in quiche and corn pudding, and really enrich cornbread and corn muffins. Don’t forget corn pie and corn chowder!

* Coleslaw. What says summer like coleslaw? But what do you do if you have a big vat of it left after your Fourth of July guests depart? Well, here’s what I do: Use it as the ultimate flavorful topping on tossed salad. The combo of creamy slaw and crunchy salad is just about perfect. And if I’ve made one of my special slaws with tons of shredded red cabbage, carrots, diced sweet onion, cumin and cracked fennel seeds, oil and crumbled blue or Gorgonzola cheese, plus lots of fresh-cracked black pepper and salt (we like RealSalt), I’ll mix it into a mixed lettuce base and won’t need to do another thing to have the best, most flavorful, healthiest salad anyone could ask for. If your slaw is oil- rather than mayo-based, there’s no reason you couldn’t roll it up in phyllo or eggroll sheets for a luscious hot snack or use it as a hotdog topping. And if it is mayo-based, I’ve heard that a popular sandwich is made from rye bread, corned beef, and coleslaw. Go for it!

* Veggie burgers. Gee, your guests didn’t go for the grilled veggie burgers? Not to worry. You can crumble those grilled burgers and use them as a salad topping, pizza topping, in spaghetti sauce, in a casserole, chili, shepherd’s pie, sloppy Joes, or lasagna as a meat substitute, or coupled with cheese in an omelette. Veggie burgers have come a long way: Some are really delicious, and some taste startlingly like meat. If you got them to appease vegetarian or vegan guests, don’t toss the leftovers. You may be pleasantly surprised.

* Buns. The bread bought for occasions like July Fourth is often an afterthought, but it’s still food that could potentially be wasted or saved, depending on your approach. Buns can easily be turned into garlic bread by smearing the inside surfaces with butter and chopped fresh garlic or granulated garlic or with jarred minced garlic with its oil, then heated. They may not reach the level of fresh-made garlic knots, but they’ll satisfy garlic bread-lovers’ tastebuds just as much as storebought, and you won’t need to do anything besides split each bun in half. You can also turn the buns into homemade croutons by cubing them, tossing them in a bowl with olive oil and herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil, then baking them ’til crisp and golden. Think about brushing the cut surface of each bun with a little olive oil, then baking it ’til just hot and topping it with sloppy Joe spread or barbecue, potentially topped with coleslaw, or with egg salad or pimiento cheese spread.

* Melon. If nobody finished off the watermelons and cantaloupes you got, and you’re not prepared to eat all those leftover chunks with salt (as I do), try this: Make salad with Romaine, arugula, and frisee (watercress and baby spinach are also options). Add diced red (aka Spanish) onion, fresh mint, and melon cubes, along with crumbled feta cheese if desired. Top with splashes of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and pass the salt and pepper. Or blend the melons into a chilled soup, with or without a plain yogurt base. Or add blueberries and strawberries (for cantaloupe) or blueberries and kiwi (for watermelon) for a refreshing fruit salad, with or without a topping of plain yogurt and pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy, and don’t waste all that good food!

‘Til next time,



Top ten ways to stop wasting food. March 22, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, gardening, homesteading, pets, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I was shocked and appalled this morning by an article in The Wall Street Journal with the innocuous title of “Leftovers: Tasty or Trash?” (check it out at www.wsj.com). The article turned out not to be about food preferences, as I’d assumed (though there were plenty of comments from men who hate leftovers, including one who said he’d rather eat a spoonful of peanut butter than leftovers).

Instead, it was about the massive amount of wasted food that’s thrown out in America’s home kitchens. Take a look at these stats: vegetables comprise 25% of trash in a typical home; fruit and juices, 16%; grains (presumably including breads), 14%; and milk and yogurt, 13%. Do the math, and it looks like 68% of a typical home’s trashcan is filled with food! In a world where even one person goes hungry, this is a sin and a disgrace. And this doesn’t even touch the food waste produced by restaurants, groceries, and the like. Yikes! 

Mind you, as anyone who’s taken a statistics course knows, statistics often aren’t what they seem, and this proved true in this case: “Trash refers to avoidable waste” was printed in tiny type under the stats. And what they considered “unavoidable” waste wasn’t defined.

There’s not much I consider to be unavoidable waste. It just kills me to see perfectly good furniture at the curb, waiting for the trash as it’s ruined by a downpour. Would it have killed people to call Goodwill or even—gasp—find the nearest thrift store and drop it off themselves?!

People need your old clothes, shoes and accessories. Even clothes that are worn out can be made into rags for rugs, etc. (that’s what they do with the clothing donated to those big dumpster-like bins you see around town). And here’s a tip: Buy clothes, shoes and accessories you actually like, that are flattering, comfortable, and easy-care, not clothes that fashion designers and stores want to sell you so you’ll have to constantly replace them to stay on-trend. If you buy stuff you enjoy wearing, you’ll wear it ’til it wears out (and then just be sorry you didn’t buy two).

Appliances can be donated or recycled. Plastic bags can be recycled at any grocery, paper bags can be used to hold papers for recycling or shredded and composted, and you can always buy earth-friendly grocery bags for 99 cents at the checkout and use those. (Even liquor stores now sell special compartmentalized bags for 99 cents!) You can cut down on plastic waste by purchasing water, milk, detergent, etc. in reusable containers. (Some companies deliver and pick up, you return the containers to other farms and stores, and you buy refills in your original container at others.)

Admittedly, some things do fall into the “unavoidable waste” category. I’d put used bandages, kitty litter, past-wearing athletic shoes, and toothpaste tubes in that category, though used toothbrushes can enjoy a second life cleaning grout, jewelry, or your rock collection. Here at Hawk’s Haven, our friend Ben and I shred waste paper to put in our chicken nest boxes and mix with soaked coir for our earthworm composter. We burn boxes and cardboard in our fire pit, recycle everything we can, and wear our carefully-chosen and much-loved clothes ’til they’re literally unwearable, then part with these old friends with huge regret. We save bubble wrap for winterizing the house and mailing gifts; we return plastic flats and pots to the nurseries where we bought the plants.  

But I digress. Let me give you one more stat from the article before I move on to saving food. It notes that the average U.S. household spends between $500 and $2000 each year on food that ends up in the trash. I imagine that seeing 5 to 20 Benjamins in a trash can would turn most people into dumpster-divers. Just think what you could do with that money! You could put it toward painting the house, paying the mortgage, dental care, health insurance, car repair, college expenses, a family vacation. Think about this as you plan your family’s weekly meals. Did I say plan your family’s meals?! I guess it’s time to move on to those tips.

1. Look at what you have. Make some time this weekend to go through your kitchen cabinets, fridge, freezer, pantry, and anyplace else you store food, to see exactly what’s in there. Check out all the cans, boxes, packages, and bottles. This is a good time to think about whether you’ll really use everything you have, or whether you should donate some less-popular items to a food bank or soup kitchen. Our local bank (as in money, not food) has bags in their foyer for donated food, another reason we love them. It will also remind you that you have ten jars of jelly or mustard and don’t need to buy more until all of them are used. And of course, I hope it will inspire you to think about how you can plan meals that use the food you already have.

2. Make a weekly plan. Because OFB and I subscribe to our local paper, each week we get circulars from the local groceries and pharmacies with their discounted items for the week, as well as at least two circulars with discount coupons. Because I shop at local health food stores, I also pick up sales circulars for them. So every weekend, I compare the prices in the circulars, see if anything I want is on sale, see if there are coupons for anything I want, and then make my grocery list based on what I plan to cook that week and where I should look for ingredients. To avoid food waste, you must be absolutely realistic: How many meals will you make at home, and how many will you and yours eat at school, at restaurants, at the company cafeteria, order in, or grab at the fast-food line? This is probably a fairly set schedule, so thinking it through once will probably give you a good idea about how many meals you’ll really cook at home. Use that estimate to decide which meals you’ll need to plan for, and then what ingredients you’ll need to make those meals.

3. Rotate. This means two things, both of which are helpful: First, it means that you should plan for variety. Even if you’ve made big pots of delicious chili, spaghetti sauce, or soup, you should serve them on alternate nights or every third night, not every single night until you’ve used them up. Variety is, after all, the spice of life. And second, you should keep an eye on the use-by dates of your canned, frozen, bottled, packaged, and fresh food. This sounds like a pain, and is one for about 10 minutes, but every time you buy replacements for your go-to foods, you should move the oldest cans, boxes, packages, bottles, and etc. to the front and put the newest ones in the back. Tedious? Sure. But it will not only remind you of what’s available for this week’s meals, but make sure you use what you have with no waste.

4. Share. If you find you’ve cooked too much of any one dish, and you can’t think of a way to incorporate it into something else, consider sharing it. Perhaps your neighbor would enjoy a dish. (And please, perhaps they’d enjoy it even more if you invited them to share it with you!) Perhaps your friends might appreciate a care package. But don’t overlook your pets. Our dog, parrot and chickens love fresh veggie and fruit scraps, nuts, and grains.

5. Morph those meals. Today’s beans and rice can be tomorrow’s refried bean and rice burrito. Or they can be added to a soup or stew. Todays’ side-dish greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard can be added to tomorrow’s soup or quiche or omelette or spanakopita or lasagna. Leftover rice, veggies and greens can make a delicious fried rice. Curries use any quantity of mixed veggies. So do salads and stir-fries. I’ve found that homemade spaghetti sauce is endlessly forgiving, so you can toss in that last bit of fresh salsa or a few tomatoes or anything you need to clean out your fridge, and it will blend and taste great. (It also makes a great sauce for lasagna and pizza. Just ask OFB!)

6. Make good food. I have to wonder if the reason so many people apparently hate leftovers is because the food isn’t that great to begin with, and is even worse when it’s nuked as leftovers. (Of course, some folks may hate leftovers because their parents insisted that leftovers were only fit for pigs. Shame on them!) If your meals are luscious and flavorful, and you warm up made-from-scratch leftovers in the oven rather than nuking leftover convenience foods in the microwave, everyone will want more. Why? Because it tastes so good!   

7. Compost.* OFB and I have a simple 3-bin composter out back made from free pallets. We also have an earthworm composter. Anything that starts to go bad before we can eat it, or our chickens can eat it, goes in our kitchen compost bucket to make rich, luscious soil for our garden beds.

8. Learn the art of food preservation. It’s really not hard to learn how to freeze, can, pickle, dry, and otherwise preserve extra food. Yes, it sounds scary, but even I can do it. And if I can do it, you can do it, I promise! It’s incredibly satisfying to preserve your homegrown harvest, whether you’re drying herbs and hot peppers, making your own applesauce or marinara sauce, or making pickles.

9. Talk first, then eat.  That amazing three-for-one deal on collards isn’t going to save you money if your family refuses to eat cooked greens. You know it’s super-nutritious. It will provide essential nutrients for everyone in the family. But nobody wants to eat them. Even I wouldn’t eat a serving of plain steamed collards (or kale, Swiss chard, or even spinach). Tell everybody you’re making a super-delicious dish. Then stir-fry those greens in extra-virgin olive oil with diced sweet onion, sea salt, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar, with some raisins tossed in for added complexity, though, and your family won’t be able to get enough!

10. Be grateful. Slow down a minute, and think what you’re putting in your shopping basket or cart. Look at the beautiful fresh fruits, greens, and veggies. Take some time to savor the cheeses and cut flowers you’re adding to your cart. Take a minute to thank everyone and everything who made your choices possible: the earth, the plants, the people who grew and harvested them, the people who painstakingly bred the varieties you’re enjoying, the processors, truckers and grocers who put them into your hands. If you train yourself to be grateful for every stalk of celery you put in your grocery cart or slice for your family’s evening salad, you’ll be much less likely to waste food.

Be a hero—save the planet. We all want to, but it can often be so overwhelming. A good, manageable place to start is in your own kitchen. Just a look at your family’s food use can start a revolution!

              ‘Til next time,


Reheating without a microwave. January 28, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. I was recently reading a statement on a blog I very much respect in which the blogger responded to someone who asked how to reheat leftover mashed potatoes without a microwave, “Mashed potatoes don’t reheat very well.” Gasp!

This certainly hasn’t been my experience. Now mind you, I’ve never owned a microwave, which for all I know could reheat mashed potatoes, leftover pasta, dressing, corn pudding, rice, dal, refried beans, chili, and so on perfectly at the push of a button. But if, like me, you don’t have one, what’s the alternative?

Clearly, it’s not a pot on the stove. Try reheating rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or what-have-you in a pot, however heavy, on the stove, be it turned down ever so low, and you’re asking for the dreaded burned-on bottom and thrown-out, burnt-smelling top. Yuck! And to top it off, you need Iron Man to scrape all that burnt, sooty gook off the bottom of the pan.

Been there, done that, way too many times. Forget the stovetop: When it comes to heating leftovers, the oven is your friend. Our friend Ben and I have a compact countertop convection oven—larger than a toaster oven but way smaller than a conventional oven—on, shock surprise, our kitchen counter.

Now, this convection oven has definite drawbacks when it comes to cooking, simply because it’s smaller than a “real” oven. Fewer slices of pizza, fewer trays of roasting veggies, fewer pans of lasagna or dressing or a combination of casseroles can fit in the countertop oven at a time. But when it comes to reheating, it’s a dream.

Here’s what I do: Put a little milk—and I mean a little milk, a couple of tablespoons—in the bottom of an ovenproof glass, clay, or metal pan. Add your mashed potatoes or creamy pasta, cover with aluminum foil, and pop in the oven at the “convection-stay on” settings. I like to start out at 350, then quickly dial down to 300, then 250, then 200, removing the potatoes or pasta when they’re heated through. Give them a quick stir, serve: They’re perfect! No burnt anything, and if anything, they taste even better than when first made.

This works for pretty much any leftovers, too, even if they’re not creamy like mashed potatoes or creamy pasta. Suppose you’re reheating rice or baked beans or spaghetti or chili or refried beans or dal. If the rice or spaghetti looks really dry, add a splash—again, just a splash—of water or veggie stock in the bottom of the pan instead of milk, then put in your leftovers, top with foil, and heat until heated through. I’ve found that veggie sides like green beans, carrots, or roasted veggies reheat beautifully in the aluminum-topped pan with no additional liquid at all, as long as you added butter when you originally cooked them.

So simple, but so good! Clearly, this would work in a real oven as well if you kept the heat low, but it seems like a waste to heat an entire oven just to heat up some leftovers. But if you do happen to have a countertop oven, I think this is the very best way to reheat leftovers, even if you do have a microwave. And if, like us, you don’t, it’s a godsend.  

             ‘Til next time,


Addendum: Once again, my friend Delilah has come to the rescue with a great suggestion here. She uses a double boiler to heat leftovers without scorching, burning, or drowning them. Delilah points out that adding a bit of water—one or two inches—in the bottom pan of the double boiler (make sure you don’t add so much that it touches the top pan), bringing it to a simmer, then putting the leftovers in the top pan, covering it with the lid, then cooking until the leftovers are heated through, typically ten minutes, turns out perfect leftovers with no added anything, every time. Thanks, Delilah! Great idea!!!

Leftover roasted veggies. January 21, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, Uncategorized.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I have fallen in love with roasted veggies—sliced sweet potatoes, halved new potatoes, wedges of sweet onion, quartered red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, mushroom caps, halved Brussels sprouts, wedges of yellow beets—all brushed with extra-virgin olive oil (preferably infused with sage and wild mushrooms), sprinkled with salt, lemon pepper or cracked black pepper, and dried thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Yum, incredibly delicious! And we’ve only scratched the surface. I’d love to roast cabbage wedges, sliced summer and winter squash, eggplant, corn, cauliflower…

Anyway, we like to have our roasted veggies with a side of rice, mashed potatoes, or creamy pasta (assuming we’re not roasting new potatoes). We find leftovers keep well and can be heated and served with a different starch later in the week (I have to keep OFB from insisting that we eat them again the next night). So I often make more than we can eat at a meal so we can look forward to, so to speak, a second helping that only requires a quick reheating.

But what if you’re eating for one and find that you’ve made too many roasted veggies? How can you use your leftovers creatively without having to eat the same dish again and again? Our friend Huma brought this to my attention today, since she’d made my version of roasted veggies and found herself inundated with them, and though she enjoyed them, she dislikes eating the same or similar food again and again.

Yikes, was I chagrined! This wasn’t a problem I’d ever come up against. But I rose to the challenge to help Huma and anyone else who makes more roasted veggies than you’d care to eat as sides. Here are ten (plus one) ways to enjoy leftover roasted veggies that bear no resemblance to simply serving them up:

* Quarter leftover roasted new potato halves, then heat in a little butter and serve with fried eggs for breakfast.

* Add roasted sweet potato or winter squash slices to your mashed potatoes, along with roasted sweet onion (diced) or roasted garlic cloves (mashed), if desired. Mix well to blend, add plenty of butter, milk or half-and-half, salt, and cracked black or lemon pepper, and enjoy.

* Dice roasted red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers and roasted sweet onions, mash roasted garlic cloves, and slice roasted mushroom caps, then add them to hot, drained al dente spaghetti or fettucine with red pepper flakes, a generous splash of olive oil, salt, and plenty of shredded Parmesan or crumbled feta cheese, toss, and allow to heat through for a fast, delicious dish. (You can add pitted kalamata olives and/or chopped artichoke hearts for a really decadent treat.) Add a crunchy tossed salad and some broccoli and you have yourself a meal!

* Use roasted veggies to deepen the flavor of soups, stews, and sauces, rather than starting with uncooked veggies. It’s a delicious difference!

* Puree roasted sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets with roasted sweet onions. Heat, adding light cream, a little veggie broth to thin to the desired consistency, plenty of cracked black or lemon pepper and salt or Trocomare, and a splash of bourbon (for the sweet potatoes), Sambuca (for the winter squash), or vodka (for the beets). Yum, a delicious, warming, nourishing cream soup for cold winter nights!

* Toss cooled roasted Brussels sprout halves with a little extra-virgin olive oil, minced fresh garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes to taste. Allow to sit for an hour for flavors to marry, then serve as an appetizer as you would green olives.

* Marinate cooled roasted Brussels sprout halves in oil and vinegar overnight in the fridge, then add to a tossed salad. You can do the same with diced roasted beets, whole roasted mushroom caps, roasted zucchini or summer squash slices, or diced roasted red, yellow, or orange bell peppers.

* Make corn chowder with roasted corn cut from the cob, diced roasted sweet onion, minced roasted mushrooms, milk, a little veggie stock, and salt and cracked black or lemon pepper to taste.

* Make delicious baba ghannouj by pureeing roasted eggplant, roasted sweet onion, roasted garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke into a thick paste. Enjoy with pita wedges, crackers, crudites (carrot sticks are especially yummy), or hot wedges of naan (Indian flatbread).

* Make an exceptional black bean salsa by dicing roasted bell peppers and roasted sweet onions, cutting the roasted kernels from an ear of corn, and mashing roasted garlic cloves, then adding a can of black beans, a diced jalapeno pepper, a chopped fresh tomato, and a splash of lime juice, then stirring well and letting the flavors blend before serving with tortilla chips or hot tortilla strips or wedges and sides of sharp shredded white Cheddar, sour cream, and hot sauce.

And the bonus:

* Add diced roasted bell peppers, sweet onion, new potatoes, zucchini or summer squash, minced roasted mushroom caps, and roasted corn kernels, in any combination and to taste, to a basic quiche recipe. Yum!

That’s all I can think of offhand. But I’m sure you all have many more favorites of your own. Please share them with us!

           ‘Til next time,


Addendum: Our friend Delilah, an accomplished cook, read this post and e-mailed me with a suggestion. “The very best use of roasted (or grilled) vegetables is to top a pizza,” she says. “I prefer to roast them on a grill because of the wonderful smoky flavor it imparts.” To make her pizza, Delilah uses garlic, Alfredo, or oil-based pesto sauce instead of marinara sauce, then adds shredded mozzarella, the roasted veggies, and chunks of feta cheese to give her pizza a “Mediterranean flair.” Thanks, Delilah! Great idea!

Good luck with not cooking. September 25, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Ever had a problem with too much good homemade food almost exploding from your fridge? Well, join the club.

Here at Hawk’s Haven, my love of cooking has collided with the harvest abundance to create a crisis situation. Since there are only two of us—me and our friend Ben—to eat my creations, our fridge is overflowing with homemade spaghetti sauce and Red, White and Gold Pasta Sauce, salsa verde (I’m trying to find an “open” night to make bean and Mexican cheese burritos to go with our tomatillo harvest’s bounty), chili, vegetable curry, dal, and mac’n’cheese. We’ve tried to share the bounty with friends and neighbors, given away take-home containers, invited folks for supper, everything. But our fridge is still at explosion point. And to make matters worse, our next-door neighbors just gifted us with a big container of pasta salad and three-bean salad and a plate with bazillion desserts.

OFB has now forbidden me to cook anything new until we’ve managed to eat all the food already calling our names from the fridge. But, as a friend said, “Good luck with not cooking.” I concur. Those burritos are calling my name. The weather has finally cooled down, and I’m dying for roasted vegetables. It’s been three weeks since I’ve made pizza. We need to find a way to enjoy and distribute the food that’s now in the fridge so we can make space for new delights. Sounds to me like a lot of dinner guests are in order.

                 ‘Til next time,


Thanksgiving: Luscious leftovers. (Aka frugal living tip #47.) November 28, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Every week in 2009, we here at Poor Richard’s Almanac have provided a Frugal Living Tip to help all of us get through these hard economic times. Today’s post is Frugal Living Tip #47, which I’ve tied into our Thanksgiving week theme. Leftovers are a fact of Thanksgiving life. And of course they’re delicious. Reheated turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, or delicious turkey sandwiches with mayo: Yum!

But you can do a lot more with the leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast. Admittedly, my taste in food is simple: As long as it’s delicious, it never bores me. Back in the day when I still ate meat, I could have eaten turkey sandwiches or reheated turkey ’til the end of time. But as it happened, my Mama had a leftover turkey specialty that I loved best of all: creamed turkey. After all the big slices had been cut off the turkey and used to make hot turkey or turkey sandwiches, she’d carefully cut off the remaining shreds and put them in a pot with plenty of butter, salt and white pepper, turkey drippings, and cream, and cook them until the turkey was heated through and the sauce had cooked down thick. Then she’d make toast and serve the creamed turkey over that. To me, this was heaven on earth: the creamy turkey and the crunchy toast. You could, of course, serve creamed turkey over biscuits, rice, pasta, or even cornbread, and I’m sure it would be delicious. But there was something about the crunchiness of the toast that made it really special.

Turns out, creamed turkey isn’t the only thing you can do with leftover turkey. In our paper, the Allentown PA Morning Call, food editor Diane Stoneback interviewed the local matriarch of all things turkey, Anne Jaindl, who at age 80 is still cooking turkeys several times a week and making the most of the leftovers. Here are three of her favorite recipes for leftovers:

               Anne Jaindl’s Turkey Tetrazzini

8 oz. spaghetti (cooked according to package instructions)

6 Tbsps. butter

3 Tbsps. flour

1 1/2 cups turkey stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsps. dry sherry

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

1 lb. cooked turkey cut into bite-size pieces (about 3-4 cups)

2 Tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese

Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle in flour. Stir over gentle heat for 2 minutes. Stir in hot stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until thick. Cool for 5 minutes, then add cream, sherry, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Melt remaining butter in separate pan. Add mushrooms and fry gently. Arrange cooked spaghetti, turkey and mushrooms in baking dish; cover with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

               Anne Jaindl’s Turkey Barbecue

1 onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped  

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup vinegar

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 lb. cooked, cubed turkey (about 3-4 cups)

Combine all ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes.

                 Anne Jaindl’s Cranberry Turkey Stir-Fry

1 cup cranberry sauce

1/3 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vinegar

2 Tbsps. cornstarch

2 Tbsps. cooking oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups carrots, sliced

2 cups zucchini, cut in strips

2 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 cups bean sprouts

Combine cranberry sauce, sherry, water, soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch. Mix until smooth. Set aside. Stir-fry garlic in hot oil for 30 seconds. Add carrots: stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and turkey and stir-fry 1 minute. Add cranberry mixture; cook until bubbly (about 2  minutes). Serve over sprouts. [Or pasta or rice.—Silence]

These recipes certainly help you think of good things to do with turkey, or even turkey and cranberry sauce. And speaking of cranberry sauce, if you have a lot of leftover sauce, you probably can’t face eating all of it with your turkey leftovers. So consider using some of it as a luscious topping for ice cream or sherbet. Vanilla, peach, and mango ice cream strike me as especially good choices, or you can bring out the orange in your cranberry sauce by using it as a topping for orange, lemon, or lime sherbet. (Bet it would taste great over pineapple sherbet, too.)

Which reminds me, you might consider trying cranberry sauce as a substitute for the usual pineapple in an upside-down cake. It could be delicious! If you enjoy a cherry or strawberry topping on your cheesecake, I’ll bet you’d enjoy a cranberry-sauce topping, too. It would also layer beautifully in a trifle. Or try this super-simple dessert: Slice a storebought angelfood cake into three sections crosswise. Whip a pint of heavy cream with sugar. Spread cranberry sauce over the top of each layer, followed by whipped cream, then gently put the layers together and serve.

Needless to say, if you bought an extra bag or two of fresh or frozen cranberries and didn’t end up using them, your options are almost unlimited. Cranberry bread or muffins would be fantastic. But how about cranberry chutney? Here are a couple of recipes from a classic cookbook in my collection, The Cranberry Connection, published in 1977 and written by Beatrice Ross Buszek of Cranberrie Cottage, Nova Scotia: 

          Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 3/4 cups sifted flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

1 well-beaten egg

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup cooking oil

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/3 cup homemade cranberry-orange relish

To make the relish: Put 4 cups of fresh cranberries and 2 oranges, quartered, through a grinder. [Er, a food processor?—Silence] Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar. Chill or freeze and use as needed. [You could also halve the recipe.—Silence]  

To make the muffins: Sift together flour, 2 T sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Combine egg, milk and oil. Add to dry mix and stir until moistened. Spoon half the batter into 12 2 1/2-inch greased muffin cups. Top each with 1 teaspoon cranberry-orange relish. Then fill with batter mix. Bake 25 minutes at 400 degrees F. While still warm, dips tops in melted butter, then in the 1/4 cup sugar.

           Refrigerated Cranberry Chutney

4 cups cranberries

2 oranges

1 lemon

2 apples

1 cup raisins

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger

2 Tbsps. candied ginger [Crystallized ginger?—Silence]

2 Tbsps. grated onion

6 Tbsps. minced green bell pepper

Core apple and put fruit through chopper. [Food processor?—Silence]Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 3 pints.

Okay, now you’ve got the turkey and cranberries covered. What about the dressing? Well, if it’s that soft, gooey dressing that’s cooked inside the turkey, aka stuffing, you’re on your own. But if it’s the savory, crunchy dressing that’s cooked separately, and if you also have leftover mashed or whipped potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, you’re in luck. Spread the potatoes in a buttered casserole dish or pie pan and top with a layer of dressing. Dot the top with butter and heat in the oven at 300 until hot through. Yum!!! (Naturally, you can always make a fresh batch of mashed potatoes if you don’t have potato leftovers. It’s worth it!)

What about those sweet potatoes? If you have leftover baked or mashed sweet potatoes, you might consider making Landis Store’s Sweet Potato Souffle. It’s the best! (See my earlier post, “Thanksgiving: Those sweet potatoes” for the recipe.) Or how about adding them to baked goods, like Sweet Potato Biscuits or Sweet Potato Corn Cake (a type of cornbread)? Here are recipes for both from Bill Neal’s classic Southern cookbook, Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie

          Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

heaping 1/2 tsp. salt

3 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sugar, if desired

1/2 tsp. baking soda

5 Tbsps. cold shortening, butter, or a combination

7/8 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mashed or pureed cold cooked sweet potato

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Add the cold shortening and/or butter and work all through the flour with your fingertips. Every bit of flour should be combined with a bit of fat. Add the buttermilk and sweet potato and stir vigorously until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly for 10 strokes. Stop just as soon as the dough begins to look smooth. Pat the dough out to approximately an 8 x 8 x 1/2-inch-thick square. Cut into 2-inch rounds. Place on an ungreased sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 500 degrees F for 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Biscuits will be a lovely apricot color. Serve hot with lots of butter. [And slices of aged Cheddar or maple syrup or apricot jam!—Silence] Makes 12-14 biscuits.

              Sweet Potato Corn Cake

2 cups cornmeal [White cornmeal is traditional.—Silence]

1 tsp. salt

1 1/8 cup water

2 Tbsps. butter

2/3 to 1 cup mashed sweet potato

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 egg

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift flour with baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl; add cornmeal and salt and mix thoroughly. Beat egg with buttermilk. Bring the water and butter to a boil. When the butter has melted and the water is boiling, pour over the cornmeal-flour mixture and stir thoroughly. Add the buttermilk mixture and sweet potatoes and stir again to blend. Bake in a buttered 9-inch tin in the preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. This is delicious split and buttered with honey or molasses. Makes 6 servings.  

Moving on, what if you have a can (or part of a can) of leftover pumpkin? (We’re talking about 100% pumpkin here, not pie filling.) I, of course, enthusiastically recommend my Curried Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Chili (search for my earlier posts, “Curried pumpkin soup” and “Silence’s Chili Surprise,” for the recipes.) And I suspect you could substitute equal amounts of pumpkin for the sweet potato in the biscuit and corn cake recipes. But here are two other intriguing options, from Pumpkin Lovers Cookbook:

             Pumpkin Spaghetti

1 cup canned 100% pumpkin

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 cup softened butter

12 oz. thin spaghetti

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and cook the pasta. When it’s nearly done, mix the pumpkin, cream, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup Parmesan in a small pan. Bring just to a simmer over low heat, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat. Drain spaghetti and pour into a large bowl. Add butter to spaghetti and toss ’til butter is melted. Pour pumpkin mixture over pasta. Toss. Serve with additional Parmesan, salt and pepper.

           Pumpkin Custard

1 1/2 cups canned 100% pumpkin

2/3 cup brown sugar

3 beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups scalded milk

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger

1/4 tsp. each powdered cloves and nutmeg

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour into a buttered baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. over for 45 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

Sometimes you end up with leftovers you don’t expect. Our neighbors sent us home from Thanksgiving dinner with an entire container of cooked corn, for example. I had made the Gourmet magazine recipe for corn pudding using John Cope’s Dried Sweet Corn and substituting half-and-half for the milk (we were out of milk, gasp), and it was delicious. (See my post “Thanksgiving, PA Dutch style: Dried corn” for the recipe.) Alas, no trace of this delicious corn pudding remains, so I’m tempted to try it with the fresh corn and see how it is. I might also add some of the corn to my own standard cornbread recipe, or toss some into sauteed sweet onions and mushrooms to serve over pasta or rice, or…

Anyway. Making the best use of leftovers, so you eat every last bite with as much delight as the first, is frugality at its best. Let us hear from you if you have favorite ways to use leftovers! 

           ‘Til next time,