Leftovers Makeover

Latrina M. Midkiff

People have no consensus about leftover food. Yet, leftovers are a fact of American life: Is it a good meal to be experienced again, or an economic necessity to eat it once more? Only one other choice remains: Waste the food by tossing it out.

Personally, I welcome leftovers for another meal. I microwave them in under two minutes, plus there are no pots and pans to clean up. The flip side view: After you pack leftover food back into your refrigerator, it stares you in the face each time you open the refrigerator door: “Eat me; bon appetite!” I know someone who refrigerates leftovers to avoid the guilt of throwing out good food. Yet, she will not eat them. Her decision to throw them out a week later is made for her because she sees (or imagines) fuzz and smallpox-like appendages on the leftover food. “Yeah, I had throw them out. They went bad on me.”

A good meal does not go bad on you. Somehow, you have harbored ill will toward your food because it is no longer fresh from the cooking pan. Maybe you could brand your leftovers with a more palatable name: “Second Servings,” “Eaties Redoux,” or “Mange le Lendemain.” The last name is French for “Eats the next day.”

Forget the name! The real issue is that the leftover food cannot be prepared fresh. Yet, you could fix a side dish fresh to pair with it. There is the constraint of needing to cook the side dish quickly. Otherwise, what is the point of having the quick fix of leftovers? Consider sauté as the way to do that. In sauté, one uses high heat to quickly fry vegetables while using a little oil or fat in the pan. My favorite sauté is Garlic Mushrooms and Onions. I can cook a little of that or a lot (depending on the amount of leftovers to complement), and that it will pair well with any leftover meat.

If you are a mushroom or an onion aficionado, you know that there are different types and that the flavor will change by type. Pick ones that you know and like first, then later, try something new. As for garlic, that is a matter of how little or how much of it that you want. If you want to bury the idea that you are eating leftovers with your sauté, use more garlic so that you taste only garlic during the entire meal.

Garlic originated in Egypt. Europeans were introduced to its strong flavor by returning Crusaders. Garlic is mentioned in the Christian Bible. Web search the book of Numbers 11:5. The passage refers to the Hebrews, who were on their way to the promised land, led by Moses, who followed God’s guidance. Many of the Hebrews complained that they ate better while they were slaves in Egypt. The verse is a lesson to us all to think carefully before whining to God in prayer. Is it not better to thank God for the grace in your life?

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