By: Rubbermaid Products

Kitchen experiments and thriftiness just seem to run in my family. We keep an old bookshelf in our cellar for pantry items. This thing has maybe two molecules of room left in it but every week we defy the laws of physics and fit a few more things in. While I’ve never been one to play “ptomaine roulette” with our canned goods I have been know to boil the hell out of something I had my doubts about. I have not, however, used anything from a previous presidential administration. That was my grandmother – “Mustard never really goes bad” she would say. We were too busy cringing in the background to hear anything after that. You have to remember there’s a fine line between waste not want not and that which does not kill. (I think she lived by that credo, the woman had it down pat.) I’ve been very lucky in that my spouse is not that picky. If we buy a fully cooked chicken from our local market, it can come back later as chicken soup without too much complaint although he does have his limits. My babca used to make refrigerator soup when we were kids. That’s what I used to call it. The recipe went something like this: take whatever’s in your refrigerator: sauerkraut, meatloaf bits, string beans, elbows etc., and throw it in the soup. (Thankfully her applesauce was in little sealed containers!)

We are approaching our third year, and thus our third Halloween in this house. In our first house we
saw a few kids, maybe enough to warrant a couple of bags of Snickers, but nothing to write home over.
After our first Halloween in the current house, I started buying candy in August. I’d never seen so
many kids on Halloween. You’d have thought they were a bunch of hypo-glycemic seniors and we
were the half priced early bird casino buffet. I try to go shopping after Halloween for more leftovers!
Decorations, stickers, cards and half priced candy are my usual targets. In spite of how well preserved
we’ll all die one day, I do not let the chocolate sit around until next Halloween! It comes back to haunt
the Christmas cookies as weird shaped chocolate chips. I like to think of myself as supporting two
industries, Hershey’s and the gym in the hopes I’ll break even.

Using leftovers for me goes beyond cheapness. Somehow, total intolerance for the concept of
waste got ingrained in me. For example, we live in New Jersey and the summer is the best time for
tomatoes. My mom planted a half dead six pack off of our back deck in the early summer. By mid-
July, the mutants took over the mulch, spread into the grass and under our steps. We’ve been up to our
armpits in tomatoes ever since ( in defiance, I might add of my infamous “black thumb”). Since then,
I’ve made salsa, pizza, tomato salad, and chopped some up to freeze. We’ve also given them away to
our neighbors, David’s office, my gym, and my doctor. (Yes, I know Halloween is coming, don’t tempt

We did not, however, give them to the one person who started all of this, my mother. Why?, she’s
got too many of her own! This is really a good problem to have since as most people know, by
November, you’re back to cardboard, if you bother to buy tomatoes at all. I’ve done everything I could
think of to find them a home. The one thing we haven’t done, is throw any away, that would be a

Leftovers are almost the duct tape of my life. I grew up with them everywhere, and I am forever
coming up with new uses for them. Maybe it’s because my mom grew up on a farm in Europe in the
sixties, I can’t imagine life without them. They’ve saved us money, they’ve saved me from cooking
when I don’t have the time, they help me use up odds and ends and they save my husband from
refrigerator soup!

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2 thoughts on “Leftovers”

  1. You and I have opposite problems. I have an almost phobic repulsion to eating leftovers. For that reason, I will stuff myself in a restaurant rather than take home a doggie bag. I have things right now in my fridge which I could probably donate to a lab for bacteria experiments.

    The only exceptions to this are leftover turkey, chicken and spaghetti sauce. Turkey and chicken are fine when cold. Day old leftover spaghetti sauce has aged like fine wine.

  2. I see in your bio, Barb, that besides being a culinary artist you’re also a martial artist. Do you chop the tomatoes with your bare hands?

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