Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are we eating this again?

Leftovers, the continual question of the cook: What do I do with this now? I dislike having leftovers as my husband usually won't eat them. It takes talent and endless thinking of what to do with last night's dinner, transform it and come up with something new. Sometimes it's really exhausting and frustrating. Why can't I cook every other night? Why must I spend time in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, thinking, preparing and continually making new food? Why can't I make a lasagna out of the spaghetti sauce from a couple nights ago? I will tell you why, it's because some people think that food should be new and exciting all the time. Well it's not. Casseroles came about because no one wants to try to cook two portions of something every night, it's hard to make two portions, it's much easier to make four portions of something and serve it the next night. Not me though, I get the joy and pleasure of a mild 'yeah, it's good' for all my efforts. I spend around two or three hours a day in the kitchen cooking dinner. I spend another hour cleaning. If I make a quick dinner, I almost always know that my husband will not be real excited about it. Heaven forbid I want a night off and would just like to not spend my day in the kitchen.

Now my husband is pretty nice about it all, but it's frustrating to serve dinner, have him eat just a little and I'm right back where I started. With a lot of leftovers. Though if I make a lot of meat that seems to disappear the first night, and then I have nothing to cook with. This is a no win situation. Also only some meats seem to hold up to the leftovers challenge. If they're lean, they won't reheat well, drying out and getting gross.

I say to this NO MORE! No more will I take it. Eat it or starve! I am not a short order cook, I am not your waitress! The problem with my little tirade is that my husband happens to be a grown man and grown men often do what they want. He can go to the store, he can open cans of chili - which incidentally - why are some people the messiest cooks ever? How do they use so many pots and spoons to make chili from a can? How does he get chili there?

What do we do with our left overs? This is going to be a continuing subject here, because it's one the frugal chef wrestles with on a weekly level. Being that I don't have five kids to just eat up what I make, I must revive and make new something each night for me and my husband. I do think though, that it is better than trying to cook for one.

You may have guessed, if you read back a bit, I have a lot of Chinese BBQ pork. It's been sliced and refrigerated so it's getting a bit dry, the solution is sauce. I made a sweet and sour - cuz it's pork! - stir fry today, and I didn't pull anything out of my garden because I had veggies in my fridge, slowly decaying and needing to be used before I go for the fresh good stuff. I should just throw them out, but when you pick a head of cabbage are you really going to eat it all today? That sounds like it could be uncomfortable in an intestinal way. Really also, there's nothing wrong with them. I did pour things into a measuring cup today so I have a vague idea of what I did too. This is an easy sweet and sour recipe. I think leftover recipes should be easy, I already labored once, this time I'm laboring less.


1 sliced onion
1 quarter head of cabbage thinly sliced
1 bell pepper sliced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 handful sweet peas
1/2 lb. Chinese BBQ pork - sliced
1/2 C. Brown rice vinegar
1/2 C. Soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 squirt of ketchup
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 C. chicken stock
2 spoons splenda or sugar
1 Tbs. Corn starch
1 tsp. red chili flake
Anything else you might find in the fridge - hoysin, rooster sauce, saracha chili and garlic, honey, green onions, carrots, kimchee, whatever.


Cook up some rice.

Slice, or don't slice the pork some more, big chunks are easy to wrangle with chop sticks, small chunks look nicer and then you can wrap everything in moo shoo pancakes. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, ketchup, oil, stock, sugar and starch together and set aside.

Heat a wok or large pan and put a little oil in. Throw in your onions for about five minutes, add cabbage and garlic. Cook these until the cabbage cooks down and the onion is getting a little brown. Add the peas, pepper and pork and toss. Then add the sauce mixture and turn down a bit. Cook this stirring until the sauce thickens and turns clear.

Serve with rice, makes four servings.

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