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‘TIS THE SEASON……

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 November 2017 at 08:38


Well, we’ve gotten through Thanksgiving---the unofficial start of the holiday season. One thing we know the holidays will provide is the age-old question: What about leftovers?

I’ve never understood the controversy that surrounds left-overs. We grew up poor, and the last thing that would occur to any of us is to throw out perfectly good food. Yet, many people do just that, having, somehow or other, developed a disdain for them.

Even celebrity chefs are like that, if we can believe the ones who appear on shows like Chopped. Time after time comes the refrain, “I never use leftovers,” or “There’s no way leftovers appear on my table,” or words to that effect.

The irony is, the same chef who tells you he’d never serve leftover soup is the first to proclaim that soups and stews taste better the day after they are cooked. Say what? If there’s a difference there I’m too nearsighted to see it.

When it comes to major holidays, most of us start cooking days in advance. Given our schedules, there’s no other way we’d get everything done. So, riddle me this: How is that mac & cheese, prepared the day before the event, different than if it’s eaten on the day after?

Don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to say that three-days of post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches can get old. But that misses the point. Leftovers should be thought of as an ingredient to be used in another dish. That is, as they say on Chopped, you should repurpose the leftovers into something else. Do that and you’ll be neither bored nor wasteful.

Leftover turkey is perhaps the ultimate in recyclable food, if for no other reason than there’s so much of it. If you start listing all the dishes you know that use cooked poultry, you likely will still be writing them down this time tomorrow. This is so true that we often set out to produce “leftovers.” For instance, when making stock I use more than the chicken bones. I intentionally use whole, broken down chickens. After about 40 minutes I fish out the pieces, strip off the meat, and return the bones to the pot. What I’m left with is a pile of poached chicken, which is divided into portions and frozen or canned for later use.

It’s not just poultry, however. Any leftover food can be transformed into something else. Potatoes? Gimme a break. If there’s anything that can be repurposed more easily than left-over mashed potatoes I don’t know what it could be. Sweet potatoes run Irish a very close second.
Ham? Almost as recyclable as poultry. Beef? Come, on! If you can’t think of ways to repurpose beef you’re not even trying.

While it’s true that left-overs, thought of as an ingredient, can be transformed into restaurant quality dishes, there’s no need to be that creative. Almost anything can be turned into a soup, for instance. All it takes is the leftovers, some liquid, and maybe some additional herbs, spices, and veggies. That left-over roast beef? Dice it, mix it with some baked beans, add a starch, and you’ve got a great mid-week meal.

don’t want to belabor the point. But, IMO, if you aren’t reusing the holiday leftovers, shame on you.

Where does everyone else stand on the left-overs issue?



But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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I agree 100% with every word of your post, Brook. I get frustrated sometimes when my own children fail to see the potential of the leftovers in the refrigerator. I look in there, and if I don't see whole meals, I at least see components of meals; but when I suggest these ideas to the family, they look at me as if I just stepped off the platform of an alien spacecraft.

Our "leftover" use of the Thanksgiving meal wasn't very innovative, but it was good. We were crunched for time, and no one was in the mood to get too elaborate, so we kept it simple. I dumped the leftovers together in a large mixing bowl (diced turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole) and the gravy. I then mixed everything together as thoroughly as I could into something that would be between a casserole and a loaf, cooked in a baking dish. I could have added the cranberries as well, but decided to keep them separate so that folks could enjoy them on their own or on top of the meal.

As I said, there wasn't anything revolutionary about it, but it made quick work of the leftovers and allowed us to get back to the main task ahead of us, which was butchering deer...as well as seeking out another deer or two for my father and niece.

The hunts were unsuccessful, but it certainly wasn't the fault of the deer - but that's another story.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 November 2017 at 09:32
Throw away leftovers?  I've never even heard of such a thing. I don't believe I know of anyone who does this.  At least not in plain sight.  I am just the opposite in this regard.  I plan most of my cooks so I am sure to have leftovers. 

Every Thanksgiving dinner entails a large enough bird and enough sides to make two dinners.  Next come the sandwiches which my family loves so much there is usually an argument whether or not to leave enough meat on the bones to make soup.  If I win (and I don't always) we will have a large pot of wonderful turkey soup.  Nothing left but dust and a few spent bones.

Throwing away food in a world where so many are literally starving due to nothing other than current politics is more than a sin.  A sin we should all be ashamed of.

One YouTube blog I follow is Townsend, formerly Jas Townsend and son.  A recent Q&A episode dealt with a viewer question asking how 18th century people got along eating the same thing over and over.  How could anyone possibly survive with such repetition?  The host diplomatically explained how people of the period were much more concerned with having anything to eat at all than how varied their diet was. This was a question from a spoiled brat American living in a relatively small section of the planet where one can pick up the phone and order food that he/she doesn't even have to pay for if it takes longer than thirty minutes to deliver.

It's true that I am now an old crank born and bred of farming families in New England, a section of the country known for frugality.  At least in the more rural areas.  This may be the reason I hold these opinions but I like to think of them as common sense.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 November 2017 at 09:35
The idea is being tossed around to make a Thanksgiving dinner pizza.  Hmmmmmm.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 November 2017 at 09:49
I gotta say, gMan - your post also rings quite a heck of a bell for me. I was raised by people who were raised by people who lived through the Great Depression, and a lot of that common sense/frugality trickled down to me, as well. For things such as this, or re-purposing things around the house, it's a no-brainer.

Townsend! I've seen a few of his videos, and enjoyed them. The one that sticks out in my mind is the "portable soup, but there were several others.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 November 2017 at 13:37
Sadly, Townsend hasn't been the same since the younger generation took over. This shows in the answer to the question: In fact, there was no lack of diversity in foodstuffs available during the 18th century. Almost everything we have available today was available then, excepting exotics like, say, kiwi.

Not everything was available everywhere, of course, no more than it is nowadays. But there was no lack.

Certainly, at certain times and places there would be privation. Jamestown, during the first three years, for instance, and Kentucky during the bloody 7s. But these were aberrations.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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