Monday, July 7, 2008

Fun Playing with Leftovers

The late, great, George Carlin had a wonderful bit where he talked about leftovers.

"Leftovers," he said, "make you feel good twice. They make you feel good twice. The first time they make you feel good is when you put them into the refrigerator, and you think, what a great thing I'm doing - saving money for my family and not wasting food. The second time they make you feel good is when you finally remove the moldy, ugly mess from the refrigerator and throw it away - and you say to yourself, what a great thing I am going, throwing this nasty stuff away and not feeding it to my family. Make you feel good twice." Or something like that.

A week ago, I had made a rather large batch of "Light-Style Peanut-Lime Noodles" from one of my favorite cookbooks: China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp, for a Slow Food Potluck Dinner which I wrote about here.

The Asian Grocery where I shopped for ingredients, was a mixed bag. I was thrilled to get beautifully fresh water chestnuts to add to my salad - but the type of noodle I needed came only in 12 oz packages, rather than pounds. So, instead of the 2 pounds I needed for a double recipe, I had 2.5 pounds. Since the noodles were in skeins, I could certainly had put a couple in the freezer for another time. But no - in the heat of prep work, I decided to just use them all. Though the salad came out beautifully and was enjoyed by many at the party,

I had a LOT of leftovers. Bob and I ate some of it as dinner side dish during the week, and I took a big bowl to the office for lunch one day, but there was still a generous supply of leftovers - and between the fresh noodles and fresh waterchestnuts, the shelf life would be limited. So, what to do??

Friday, July 3 was a rare day off, so a cooked breakfast was possible. I decided that notwithstanding the peanut-lime sauce - I would try frying the noodle salad and turn it into a noodle pancake (the original "chow mein") topped with an over-easy Blue Egg. It worked beautifully!

I still had a whole lot of noodles left, though.

I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning preparing Jiao Zai, or Boiled Dumplings, to bring to a July 4th party held on July 5. I haven't made these in a long time, and I like to practice them at least once a year so I don't lose my touch. As often happens, though - preps took longer than I thought they would, and I also had to prep our Friday night dinner.

Friday July 4 dinner was going to be a grilled Wayne Cattle Company Sirloin with grilled potatoes and grilled broccoli. But I was too tired after all the other prep work to fuss with the grill, so I made dinner in the oven (which was fine - other than the burn on my thumb from accidentally touching the hot roasting pan). We started with a salad of Organic Greens (which were on their last legs) topped with Mackenzie Creamery Goat Cheese and Dried Cherries from The Cherry Stop. So, it was no surprise that there was a modest hunk of steak left over when we finished eating.

July 5 was the dinner party - my dumplings were very well received. I combined the best of several filling recipes, and used Nappa Cabbage, Chinese Garlic Chives, Ground Chicken, Cilantro, and Scallions in the filling. I need to thank Shelley for the next two photos, taken at the July 5 party!

This is how it looked, served with Tropp's Hosein-Garlic Dipping Sauce from China Moon:

We got home very late Saturday, and by the time we reached Sunday, we had no desire to shop. Were there enough ingredients in the house to make a satisfying dinner for us? But of course!

I started by pulling from the freezer a bag with several fully cooked, leftover grilled hamburgers from The Queen's Croquet. After I butchered the leftover steak, I decided to add 1 cut-up hamburger to the remains. I tossed all of the meat with some Soy Sauce.

Next, I prepped Nappa Cabbage, Chinese Chives, and Cilantro leftover from the weekend's cooking, and allowed the remains of the Peanut-Lime Noodle Salad to come to room temperature. I beat 2 Blue Eggs with a dash of sesame oil, pulled out a tube of concentrated tomato from the fridge (since we had no fresh tomato in the house), and measured out some Curry Powder from Heather's Heat & Flavor and thoroughly ground some chile pepper leftover from the Chile Oils I made the week before. Finally, I sliced up an onion and got out the ketchup, which was suggested by a recipe I looked at, but which I didn't actually use.

Now, I was ready to cook.

Sauteed Onions in a hot wok, with Curry Powder and Chile Powder

Toss in beef, cabbage, noodle salad, chives, and a squeeze of tomato

When the contents seem almost cooked - make a well in the wok and add the eggs

Allow the eggs to set a bit before stirring them with cooking chopsticks

Use the chopsticks to gently work the eggy bits into the rest of the dish

Empty the wok into a serving bowl and garnish with Cilantro

Time to eat!

And after all of that - I still have a bowl of noodle salad AND a container of leftovers from the dinner I just described in the fridge! Even after playing with my leftover food, I may yet experience that second "feel good moment" George was talking about!

1 comment:

  1. YUM!!!!! I'll take them off your hands, lol!