Dear gentle reader. Within this year–this very bad, terrible, no-good and horrible year of 2020–there have been pockets of time during which I’ve indulged in examining my (deeply flawed) self, as I’m wont to do. One area of my life, in particular, consistently fails to impress me.
What could that area be, you ask, generously, and believing the best of me, because you are that sort of gentle reader. That area, gentle reader is refrigerator management and leftovers usage.
That’s RMALOU, for short.
It just doesn’t make sense that I make simply lovely meals (many of them are simply lovely, anyway), present them to my two male household inhabitants (Bryan and Mack, with Scout and Capone waiting in the wings, hopeful and drooling–that would be Scout and Capone) once, and then tuck them away in the refrigerator and . . . forget about them entirely.
I realized that I’ve fallen into this habit of poor leftovers stewardship for two reasons:
- New meals–and the preparing of them–are always more interesting to me than pulling out leftovers, and
- Mack is not a fan of leftovers. Dang it.
And so, in examining my heart (and the interior of the ‘fridge) regarding this issue, in determining t0 just stop the neglect and wasteful habits, in trying to Just Do Better by the Leftovers By Gum (or JDBBTLBG) I stumbled upon a wild, exciting discovery that is (literally!) changing my life.
In the category of leftovers usage, at least.
Are you ready for this? Of course you are. You were born ready, gentle reader. That’s what I like so entirely about you. 🙂 You’d better sit down now, though, regardless of your state of readiness, dearest.
Here it is
Simply: a good sauce will go a long way in making leftovers more appealing to you and your
picky er, more-particular household inhabitants. To expound: a good sauce can be whipped up in mere minutes, and then can turn a *meh* leftovers meal into something new, exciting, delicious and irresistible!
I have found this to be wondrously true, even if your crew doesn’t fancy leftovers overmuch. Say. Which, by the way, mine doesn’t. (Except for Scout and ‘Pone, if slathering snouts are any indication of readiness to eat any leftovers that happen to appear, and I believe with all my heart that they are. Bless them. The dogs, not their slathering snouts. Although–I guess they are one and the same. In a sense.)
Here’s another thing: My refrigerator is a mess. In fact: I’m imagining the kids coming home at Christmastime, (which will be before we know it, after all) opening the ‘fridge door to place a lovely salad or a piquant pot of creamy chip-dip, or somesuch addition to the feasting, into the ‘fridge to find . . . not a sliver of space. There won’t be enough space in the main ‘fridge (“Monty”) for more than a spare celery stalk, and “Steve” (the secondary ‘fridge) will be full, too, as I’m right now–as we speak!–filling it up with toothsome fermented veg, drinks, and other celebratory foods to share with my kids at Christmastime.
*UGH* SUCH a problem.
No Room In the Inn, er, ‘fridge
What if my lovely daughter brings a three-layer-Christmas cake, I ask you? Festooned with, say, candied orange slices and the creamiest buttercream frosting? The beautiful thing would have to be left outside in somebody’s car, and fingers crossed all over the place that it would stay just the correct temperature out there to keep it perfectly cool. Because the fridges? They will be full, full, full.
I only have myself to blame, of course, and my habit of fastidiously socking away little bits of that and half-jars of this, and then promptly–*poof*–forgetting about them. Until the refrig begins to smell a little . . . suspicious . . . at which time, I drag up the chicken bucket and clean it all out, fore and aft, back and front. Door and drawer. Etc.
It takes some time. So I avoid it as long as possible, as would you, probably.
So I’ve made this raw, vulnerable confession to you, to God, to my family and to the listeners over at Bethie’s and my Sweet as Love Podcast (click the link to listen). As such, I can now face this incredible character fault of mine, and Do Better At Once.
A little bit of forethought, a few minutes of my time, a couple of lovely sauces and the chickens and dogs will no longer get all the leftovers. My human, quite-particular crew will feast on them, happily, and none the wiser.
Who knows? Even I may be tricked to believe that leftovers are superior to the original thing. Stranger things happen.
Here are a few of my very favorite sauces, and some of them Bethie and I chatted about on our podcast. Listen to it if you want to hear about more than these. I hope you try them ALL, and then drop into the comments below some of your own strategies for using up leftovers!
And EVEN BETTER . . . share your favorite sauces with us. It’s a great season for sauces, don’tcha think?
Creamy Caper Sauce
Do you love capers? (Who doesn’t?) Then you’ve gotta try this sauce. It’s good on chicken, it’s terrific on salad. It’s pretty good straight off the spoon. Just imagine what else it would add a delicious kick to. The secret: the capers. Definitely the capers. And it whips up in the blender in just a few minutes, so tra-la-la-easy.
Jamie’s Parsley Salad Dressing with Bleu Cheese
This recipe came from my friend and co-grandma Jamie, who is a professional farmer and is a great cook, to boot. You can read more about how I came upon this sauce here, and the recipe too.
You can bet that if I’ve got a handful of parsley, I’ll make this sauce.
I’m that predictable.
We’re all kinda crazy about bleu cheese around here, too.
You’ve made a white sauce before, correct? Velouté is a thicker, richer, yummier white sauce that pairs perfectly with anything you’d put into a pot pie . . . I pull leftover bits of veg (green beans, potatoes, carrots, celery) and cooked diced chicken out of the ‘fridge and whip this sauce up, and mix them all together and fold into a pastry, and voila–Easy Chicken Pot Pie.
Even smarter than that–when I make this sauce, I make a double batch and freeze one. IN FACT in my freezer this very moment sits a nice container labeled “Velouté Sauce” and I feel richer because of it. I AM richer (and smarter!) because of it.
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup dry sherry (optional, but very good if you have some)
2 stems fresh thyme (may substitute herb of your choice)
freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux; cook for 5 to 8 minutes, whisking constantly, or until the mixture picks up a little color.
2. Gradually add the broth, milk, whisking constantly; cook for about 10 minutes, until smooth and thickened just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the sherry and drop in 1 stem of thyme. Season lightly with salt and pepper; remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
3. Discard the thyme stem. Strip the leaves from the remaining stem of thyme and stir them into the sauce.
(makes 4 cups; enough for a 9-by-13 casserole or potpie, and freezes beautifully as well!)
As I’ve said a couple times already, you can hear more over at our podcast.
Did you mention tulips just now?
I thought I heard somebody mention them. Yes, I love them too, and I’ve been planting, planting, planting bulbs until my bony fingers are sore and stained. You know I just can’t wait until next spring, when it has been grey and gloomy and cold and obnoxious for nearly half of the blessed year, and I spy something green and sturdy poking up from underneath the wood chips in the flower bed and I realize . . . Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow . . . spring is coming again, because looky there, the tulips are coming up.
If you are like me and are already looking forward to springtime, do click over here and enter my giveaway. DutchGrown has put together three (count ’em, three) sweet prizes: a huge bag of tulip bulbs, a huge-er bag of daffodil bulbs, and three Amaryllis bulbs. But hurry! It only runs until late late Wednesday night, November 25th! It’ll only take you a minute or two to enter, and you never know . . . you might win!
Now I’ve got to run. It’s time for me to make supper . . . and we’re having leftovers . . .
- How to Plant Fall Bulbs and discovering DutchGrown bulbs
- Coon Creek Herbs are back & a Christmastime giveaway!