Holiday meals are supposed to leave foods in the refrigerator for other meals. Plentiful leftovers. In my family, it’s for grazing when you come back to the same meal later to have a bit more of something and another slice of pie. The next day is often sandwiches and sides and the third day is soup with anything else left being stuffed into freezer bags and stored until it gets freezer burned and is guiltily tossed.
Unfortunately, this is frequently the experience of my daily meals as well. I’m trying to do better. How about you? Would you like to come on an exploration of our collection to find some new favorite ways to serve those leftovers?
There are recipes in most books that use leftovers. They are the ones that call for two cups of chopped poultry or “cold rice from the refrigerator” (actual quote from one of my favorite recipes. (where else would I store it?)) or beef stock, preferably homemade. Once upon a time, I thought you had to plan ahead to have that chicken or just buy it pre-chopped at the grocery store. I realized I just wasn’t good at planning ahead. This is not the situation during the holidays, but keep that in mind as we review some books together. Let’s find some delicious, clever ways to redress these holiday meals.
“Love Your Leftovers” by Nick Evans is very cleverly done. He starts by preparing one main meal and then gives us several other ways to use the leftovers. For roasting a chicken, for example, he shares five different ways to flavor up that bird and then goes on to offer up a breakfast hash, Greek Chicken Salad with four varieties, and four other ways to use it (all of these would also be delicious if substituted with turkey). There are 10 different ways to dress up baked potatoes. Evans means for us to start the journey of being a Use It Up Rockstar, a careful steward of our groceries and a tightwad with our budgets. You can carefully follow his suggestions and recipes until you have the confidence to develop your own fantastic ways to use up those leftovers you will come to love.
I wasn’t able to get my hands on “Here We Go Again: Recipes & Inspiration to Level Up Your Leftovers” so I went to the author’s Facebook page to see what she shares about this book. There I saw recipes for pulled pork burritos, ambrosia salad, cereal ice-milk bars, Beef Bourguignon and more. Author Tiffani Thiessen’s second cookbook cleans out the cabinets and the fridge with some clever make-overs. Chapter Eight covers holiday leftovers and how to dress them up into something new to please you and your family. In her own words: “Let’s face it, leftovers are a reality for those of us making weeknight suppers… sometimes even that plan can be foiled if some people, who shall go nameless (*cough* the kids *cough*) weren’t big fans the first time around. Leftovers can be so much more than the sum of their parts.” Like many social media influencers, Thiessen’s writing is bold and confident.
Waxing a bit more philosophical is Tamar Adler in “An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace.” Adler’s writing style is lyrical and correct, somewhat like reading a Georgian novel by Jane Austen. This is not a cookbook although it does contain recipes. It is not a personal memoir, rather it is about a relationship with food and cooking shared by an author unafraid to expose herself and her favorite meals to our scrutiny. I’ve read how to make anchovies taste fresh and clean, how to stock a kitchen with the basic ingredients and how to make stock. It speaks of making a meal and then using parts of that meal for another meal. Use the scraps from that initial meal — carrot ends and potato skins — to add depth to your everlasting stock pot. There is a fantastic chapter on cooking vegetables on Sunday to serve all week in a variety of dishes, which does go into some depth of preparation. I love this concept when you wonder if a roasted vegetable is done: taste it. “When you don’t wonder, but reach for another, they’re done.”
If you want a book with recipes, Adler offers “The Everlasting Meal Cookbook” but like most of our Thanksgiving cookbooks, it’s checked out. Don’t hesitate to put it on hold — your turn will come. And since we have 49 other titles in a search in our catalog, we hope we have something for everyone.