Saturday, March 6, 2010

musings on left-overs

Today's blog entry is a guest post written by my Aunt Carol (and yes that's capitolized because I think she's "just capital"). She'd sent these musings to me as an email but I loved it so much I wanted to share her thoughts with all of you. With her permission here they are:

Your article on
sequential eating is an affirmation of the way that I've been cooking all my adult life.

When our children were small I used to save the empty aluminum trays from tv dinners, putting left over entree portions in the main compartments, add some frozen vegetables, half a baked potato, left over pie filling in the dessert compartment, etc. I would serially fill the various compartments when I'd have the appropriate left overs. Then cover each tray with aluminum foil – I did not mark what was inside, who had the time for nice details like that? :-) When Yosef and I went out to dinner, our kids had the treat of choosing a "mystery tray" – a wholesome form of gambling (but pretty safe because they were meals that they already liked anyway) and each one would be getting something different. The baby sitter would heat them up and our kids had exciting meals, telling us the next morning what each one had had (I never heard about trades, though that might have been possible).

I imagine that like you, most of your readers, still having one or more children living at home, prepare meals for families. As an older widow with occasional guests, I often freeze part of the cooked ingredients for a recipe before assembling let's say half of the total recipe, I also freeze individual portions of stews or soups, or what will in future be pot pies or Shephard's pies, so that they'll be ready for the crust or mashed potato topping when I am making those things for other meals.

The dishes that I do not like to freeze and defrost later are quiches (they get soggy and the vegetables get too soft when frozen, defrosted then reheated). I make mine crustless, just rubbing a bit of butter around the bottom of the round flat pan, to grease it, sprinkling on a layer of bread or toast crumbs before adding the sauteed vegetables, grated cheese, and then the custard. I try to plan to first serve this entree when I have guests coming over. However since this is an easy and favorite dish with me, I sometimes grate different kinds of cheese (another good use for left overs) on different portions. I usually cut my quiche into wedges, and may decide that half will be cheddar, and half Swiss, etc. I change the side dishes during the subsequent days--baked potato, reheated grain with spices, or different salads. This makes for a tasty variety and and easy way to use up left overs.

What is even more delightful is that I have a friend to whom I often give a portion or two of something tasty that I have prepared; she does the same with me. This way we both have more variety in our meals. What I give to her often becomes a treat for lunch at home, before she leaves to teach at the university; what she gives to me becomes a delicious, surprise dinner. As you can anticipate--we also share many recipes, enjoying one an other's tastes in food and both being whole grain, organic food enthusiasts. Many people think of inviting friends over for a meal, but sharing dishes to be eaten at home is also a generous, friendly gesture and fits well into the full life of commitments that many of us choose these days. It does not replace sharing sit down meals with guests, it's rather a personal catering with love, service.

I want to explain that it's not a one-on-one direct exchange--I give her A so she gives me B. Rather when, for example I baked muffins (and I'd been explaining to her son the difference between cupcakes which are a new treat to most Israelis – a few enterprising women have even opened successful delivery of home baked cupcakes for special events services- and muffins), I saved and froze a few of my last batch of corn muffins that contain niblets. Then when I baked oat-berry muffins with raisins and maple syrup, I packaged up a few of each, along with a baked apple and some chestnuts and gave them to her when we next met.

A few days later when we again met she brought me a wedge of a delicious cake she'd baked that contained chunks of apple and some grapes in the batter and gave me a jar of her home made granola - which I plan to sprinkle on a sliced banana, top with yoghurt then enjoy for breakfast.

Savoring the cake with a cup of tea, enjoying this breakfast gift, these are, to me, like little hugs.

photo courtesy of Manuel Flury | Wikimedia Commons

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