Are you, or do you know someone who is, one of those people who won’t eat leftovers, and would rather die than wear hand-me-down clothes? Maybe they have the mindset that everything has to be new and fresh, or somehow someone is getting shortchanged? I don’t get it.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do have my limits. Clearly, undergarments and swimwear, or anything that has ever touched someone else’s nether bits is off-limits. Did I really even need to call that one out? But I also have this thing about wearing someone else’s shoes—just can’t do it. Not even if they are supposedly “sanitized”. This is why renting bowling shoes, ice skates, or other such footwear is not in my repertoire. I rank it right up there with eating eyeballs and parts of the digestive tract. It just isn’t happening.
But in all other matters, I prefer old to new.
Undergarments and footwear aside, I love vintage clothes. I love them because if I am wearing something that was first sewn and worn in 1955, I am pretty sure that nobody else at the party will show up wearing the same thing I am. I do get the same sense of satisfaction in custom-made clothes, or in one-of-a-kind boutiques, but I am rather fond of the arm and leg that such clothes cost me….Vintage clothes are usually much more affordable, and again, I like that they have a history, or at least I can imagine that they do. And you can take parts of them and sew them into something new and fabulous, and then feel really good about re-purposing something, rather than it being tossed.
And how nice to wear your grandma’s re-worked wedding gown, and your husband’s great-grandma’s wedding ring? Such a great story and tradition to pass down through the generations.
I like old homes rather than new ones. I think that’s because an old home has a story. There is history in its walls, and it is palpable. Memories and imaginings of what might have come before me—children laughing in the hallway, families living and loving, celebrating and mourning, being born and growing old together. These memories fill a house, making it warm, providing a comforting feeling that embraces me. I just don’t get that in new construction.
Exact same way I feel about antiques. I can spend hours in antique shops. Touching items that are 150 years old. Everything has as a story. Who first owned this old wooden dough bowl? Did her husband carve it for her? Was it a wedding gift? What happened to her? How many hands did the bowl pass through to get here? You can imagine such great or terrible things with each item you touch. It’s like reading a bunch of books all at once. In fact, I have filled my house with antiques, to get that feeling in my home, since I live in a newer house.
And re-runs—who doesn’t love re-runs? I still watch Seinfeld, even though I have seen all of them multiple times, and I still think they’re funny every time. And every Saturday night finds me watching Two Fat Ladies on The Cooking Channel, even though I have seen every episode at least 5 times (they only made like 24 episodes after all). Those broads crack me up. “And make sure to use real buttah,and real crrream….none of that low-fat nonsense…..” Love them.
And I know a great many people feel the same way I do about most of these “used” things.
How funny then, that so many people have an aversion to eating leftovers. My kids will not eat anything that wasn’t just made. Not even buttered pasta. Seriously? Yeah, seriously.
The way around this problem is really quite simple. Subterfuge. I use the same sort of sneaky, conniving tactics that I use to get them to eat vegetables. I hide leftovers in other things. If they don’t recognize it as the same thing they ate a few days ago, then they don’t know I have “repurposed” the meat and they are no worse for the wear.
I love leftovers, because they make for quick meal preparation on days that I just don’t have the time, the energy, or the inclination to go through a full meal prep. It keeps the meals varied and interesting for those of us who DO know where Tuesday’s meat loaf went…
The week before summer vacation, I always use up as much as I can of the perishables in the fridge…includnig dairy, produce, and leftovers. That way I don’t come home to any smelly, slimy, fuzzy surprises.
Here are some of my favorite food re-purposing tactics.
Using leftover taco filling or picadillo:
Sloppy Joe’s—heat the meat in a skillet with some minced onion and bell pepper. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and heat through. Serve on buns.
Spaghetti Sauce—heat in a saucepan with minced peppers, onions, mushrooms, and top with tomato puree. Add a bit of chopped basil, salt, pepper and a bit of sugar to taste, and serve over pasta.
Shepherd’s Pie—mix 4 cups meat with 1 can condensed tomato soup. Place in bottom of 2 quart casserole dish. Top with 32 oz can corn, drained. Top with 3-4 cups leftover mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Taco Soup—add meat to crock pot. Top with one can each of corn, pinto beans, black beans, and 32 oz can stewed tomatoes. Add on packet of taco seasoning. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve topped with corn chips and shredded cheese.
Using leftover meatloaf/meatballs:
Spaghetti Bolognese—break 1 pound leftover meatloaf up in a skillet or saucepan, heating through. Add one can beef broth, ½ cup red wine, 6 oz evaporated milk, and one small can of tomato paste. Cook until hot, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Season if necessary with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked pasta.
Meatballs Marinara Lasagna–using leftover meatballs or meatloaf, and marinara sauce, use your favorite lasagna recipe. Sooo much better than plain meat sauce or Italian sausage.
Using leftover chicken:
Chicken taco soup—see above, for taco soup. Substitute grilled, roasted, or smoked chicken for taco meat.
Smoked Chicken Salad—using one pound of leftover smoked or bbq chicken (remove skin and bones), shred or chop and place in a bowl. Add 1 cup red or green grapes, that have been cut in half. Add ½ cup toasted slivered almonds, and ½ cup chopped parsley. Mix ¾ cup each mayonnaise and plain greek yogurt. Mix all together, and serve cold.
Chicken and Dumplings—using leftover roasted or broiled chicken…remove skin and bones, and chop meat. Place in stock pot, and cover with water by several inches. Add enough chicken bouillon to make a flavorful broth. Add a few stalks sliced celery, and a few carrots if desired. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Using 10 flour tortillas, cut into 2 inch pieces and put in the pot, stirring to break them up. Place lid on pot, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot. Alternately, you can use two cans of refrigerator biscuits (buttermilk), cut into quarters.
Using leftover Chili:
Texican Lasagna—use your favorite lasagna recipe, substituting chili for the marinara sauce, and cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese for the cheeses.
Cincinnati Chili—serve chili over spaghetti noodles, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onions.
Create something new and yummy!