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Human Garbage Disposers

 
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:01 pm    Post subject: Human Garbage Disposers Reply with quote

Mostly, I want to rant about my mother-in-law who just spent a week in my home with her husband and 92 year old mother. Since this a cooking forum, I will attempt to limit my ranting to the use of leftover food items. I am interested to hear how others handle this common fridge filler, and whether everyone thinks I’m just plain nuts.

My wife and I are in the habit of cooking with fresh stuff. We mince fresh garlic and ginger, juice fresh limes and lemons, chop fresh herbs, steam fresh broccoli and asparagus, grill fresh fruits, toss fresh salads, etc. We make many meals that fit our family’s tastes out of fresh ingredients. We scale cooking portions to fit our eating habits. But, since we would rather have our kids leave the table with happy bellies than to leave hungry and head for the junk pantry, we make sure that there is enough for all. And inevitably, we end up packing small plastic tubs with cold grub for entry into the giant Kenmore petri dish. They get picked at over the course of the week. But, when trash day rolls around, with much fanfare, the fridge gets cleaned out, and we reclaim our little plastic tubs.

Mom-in-law has an entirely different mindset. She is cheap, and unable to discard anything. And she hates to grocery shop, so she buys everything in bulk, even produce. She doubles many recipes so that she doesn’t have to cook as frequently for herself and her husband.. So she always has well aged food in the fridge. There is always something that needs “used up” before it goes bad. Just snip off the brown spots, pour off that unusual fluid, or spoon out that fuzzy growth and voila: salad is served.

When things get really bad, she employs one of two techniques. First option is freezing because recently thawed rotten food is more palatable than food that’s recently gone rotten. Second option, which I’m sure you already considered, is to make soup. Yup, she reclaims her plastic tubs too. Just the aforementioned snip, pour, and a quick spoon, and dump everything into a large pot. Just add some stock, salt, last week’s take-out, some more salt, bring to a boil, simmer to blend seasonings, and serve with toasted, well aged bread.

So 24 hours before in-law departure from our house, mother-in-law decides around 11:00am that we need to eat promptly at noon and she begins preparations. My wife, whose parent tolerance had been reached early in the morning, had taken our children out of the house to experience a small slice of “normal” Americana, which, oddly, turned out to be McDonald’s and WalMart. My grandma-in-law had been looking forward to finishing the Pho she had saved from lunch the prior day, as it is one of her favorites. Pop-in-law and I were working in our detached garage.

As I casually passed through our kitchen on my way to fetch something important, I was asked whether we had any soup stock. I was a little confused. I was shocked when I passed through the next time to find mom-in-law standing over a bubbling cauldron at my stove. I was horrified to find my sink full of dirty, empty, small plastic tubs. It was about then that grand ma-in-law said, “I thought you were heating my pho”. Ma-in-law replied, “There wasn’t enough pho for everyone, so I had to add a few things. But don’t worry, I found half of a lime to add in, so it will taste like pho.” I had no immediate recollection of having deposited a cut a lime in the fridge.

Luckily, we had planned ahead and thoroughly cleaned out the fridge before in-law arrival. Other than the lime, I could readily identify and date the food chunks that ended up in my soup bowl. In addition to the normal pho ingredients of rice noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, sliced chicken and herbs, there were steamed green beans, a cheeseburger, a hotdog, a chickpea patty, grilled pork chuletas, tri-color pasta twists, and my personal favorite, over cooked roasted zucchini with pesto. “This doesn’t taste like pho”, grandma-in-law repeatedly claimed. “Sure it does. Who was served the lime? giggle giggle” was her reply. “Did everyone get a bite of burger? giggle giggle”. No one could understand why we had gas for the rest of the day.

This is all normal for them. It’s not normal for me. But maybe I’m too close to the issue. So where oh where could normal be?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh my god. That's all I have to say.
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject: Gulash Reply with quote

Yes, well, I see what you mean. Divorce would seem a logical course of action. But I'm lucky, I love my wife and she likes my cooking. She's a keeper, and I'm stuck with the ensuing baggage.

But I am interested. Where do other folks fall in the realm of leftover reuse and/or disposal?? Do you even save leftovers? Do you religiously eat them, say for lunch the following day, or at a once a week leftover night? Does Fido take care of whatever is left of your daily meals? Or do you make Gastrointestinal Gulash?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1629
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given my financial status (working for a new startup = not getting paid... literally), we do try to make the best use of our leftovers. But we try to keep the meals resembling their original intention as well (no cheeseburgers in pho). If it's older than an a week, we generally toss the leftover because we figure spending a few more dollars is a lot better than an unpleasant trip to the bathroom (or several trips).

What are other people's habits?
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Cassie



Joined: 16 Aug 2006
Posts: 7
Location: West Virginia

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We keep all leftovers for a week, too.

Depending on what all is in our fridge, we might have a leftover day (always on a friday). Odds and ends that nobody will eat get thrown away as soon as the meal is over, like green beans. Things like casserole, chicken, onion rings, salads etc are saved because I eat them for breakfast or will take them to school for lunch.

That sounds like a pretty nasty soup though.
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Matt



Joined: 30 Mar 2006
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Background: Growing up, I did something very much like what your grandma-in-law did. For lunch on weekends, I used to get cans of Chef Boyardee, and add some leftovers - steak, burgers, chicken, meatloaf, veggies, and other assorted goodies. That being said, this was done when I was 10, and my culinary skills were rather nascent. Plus, I DID have some limits

Since my fiancee and I both work somewhat later hours, we tend to try and cook a little extra on the weekends, so that we have a quick meal on Monday or Tuesday at the latest. Through the week, the only time we really have leftovers is if I make couscous (because I find it's actually as good the 2nd time around), or the odd time when we order pizza. We also make sure to clean out the fridge of food that has been left too long (the occasional bit of cheese that worked its way into a shadowy corner, stuff like that).
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kgb1001001



Joined: 21 Dec 2005
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:58 pm    Post subject: Freezers are made for leftovers Reply with quote

The way I was brought up my mom always made more food at each meal that she cooked than we could eat especially so that she could freeze the remainder as leftovers. Of course, she also did lots of home canning and preserving too, so I'm guessing this was a lesson learned from growing up during the depression.

I have some meals where I overcook for my family specifically to create leftovers, but only a few. Soups are generally good for this although we've found out the hard way that tofu -- for hot and sour soup -- and pasta do not freeze and reheat well. However, we always make double batches of french onion soup, potato leek soup, spaghetti sauce and taco filling because these each defrost and reheat very well. Likewise roast beef in gravy freezes well -- I just froze a half a carved roast that way tonight.
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onyx



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG...That is TOO funny!

I tend to be one of those who buys in bulk (but not produce) and cooks mass quantities for freezing. However, I freeze it immediately, not after it has exceeded its shelf life in the fridge. Any fridge leftovers that have fish/shellfish in them, I won't eat after two days. Any leftovers containing meat or eggs go in the trash after three days. Other leftovers may be eaten up to 4 days depending on content. I'm pretty good at planning, though, so I don't usually have many cooked leftovers to throw out.

I do, however, end up with a lot of produce that is less-than-fresh, and that gets fed to the chickens.
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Auspicious



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 59
Location: on the boat, Annapolis, MD

PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you need to get a lock for your fridge when your mother-in-law comes to visit. What you described isn't food ... it's glop!
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Thor



Joined: 24 Jul 2006
Posts: 112
Location: Camp Hill, PA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:04 pm    Post subject: Happy Turkey Day Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for your support. It helps preserve my sanity.

Since my original rant, I have been researching the art form that is the re-use of food. I have browsed my way thru many websites, and I have assembled a tentative list of cookbooks full of recipes using leftovers, which I hope to review in the near future. My research is nowhere near complete. But on the eve of one of the premier leftover productions of the year, Thanksgiving, I thought the time may be appropriate to offer some preliminary observations.

First, there are a plethora of recipes out there involving leftovers. The overwhelming majority of which do not entail combining a random hodgepodge of treasures found languishing in the fridge. Instead, they focus on one, specific leftover, usually a meat, pasta or rice. That focal ingredient is combined with a brand new, fresh set of ingredients (not leftovers) to make a brand new dish. Popular dishes are casseroles, soups, and wraps.

Second, there is actually a buzzword out there called “planovers”. They are basically planned leftovers. There is a Canadian cooking show that does a segment on planovers, and I’ve found a number of websites that have planover recipes. For planovers, one primary dish is prepared in bulk that is intended to become several dishes over several days. For instance, a couple of chickens are roasted, say over a weekend. A normal meal involving roasted chicken is served. Then the one week night, roast chicken burritos. And roast chicken pot pie another night. This promotes both time efficiency and the total use of all the leftover chicken.

Lastly, there is a leftover camp out there that frightens me a little. It’s akin to my mom-in-law’s methodology. Folks are cooking extra and saving meats, vegetables and starches for the sole purpose of preparing leftover potpourri soup. The huge difference is that all that I have found who claim to do this have designated containers in their freezers in which they place their future soup goodies on the same day they were cooked. One container for meats, one for veggies, and individual containers for specialty items. That all but eliminates the fermentation process that my in-laws employ and seems to make the entire endeavor more palatable.

As for me, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving leftovers. I will be baking an extra loaf of honey buttermilk bread to make hot, open faced, leftover turkey sandwiches Friday evening, probably with fried potato cakes. I also bought a can of beans, some cheese, and tortillas for leftover turkey burritos. Mmmm, some of the best leftovers of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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EngineeringProfessor



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:09 am    Post subject: Ya gottah love it! Reply with quote

America+families+Thanksgiving=r.v.

Ya gottah luvit!
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