Repurposing with a Purpose

Yikes! Realizing I think like my mother once did is bad enough, but every now and then I take on the role of her mother, at least when it comes to Grandma D in the kitchen. For one thing Grandma’s soup, unforgettable would be an understatement. Her soup cost next to nothing to produce and never tasted like the one before, a testament to her ingenuity and a delectable plus guaranteed to leave a comforting feeling in the pit of any hungry stomach.

A little of this from Grandma’s fridge—leftover scraps of meat and veggies. A little of that from her backyard—assorted herbs and wild greenery. Maybe dandelions, onions, garlic and chives. I should’ve paid more attention to the ingredients but as a teenager, never thought I’d ever have use for this, much less that. Especially since I absolutely hated to cook and still do—sort of. Hello, Attitude Adjustment, as in marriage and eventually five hungry children.

Empty nesters—that’s what Hubby D and I have been for years. And loving it. If D had his druthers, we’d eat out every day. Which would probably work if, except for the bare necessities, I stayed out of grocery stores, discount stores, and my catering friends’ extensive garden and freezer. But no-o-o. Somewhere out there awaits a bargain too good for me to pass up. Or a freebie—can it get any better? No way.

Take this past Saturday, our noonday meal—not lunch, dinner because it’s our most substantial sit-down, the only one I cook, usually four or five days out of seven. Polenta with three cheeses—ricotta, pecorino, and Grana Padano—plus chicken cacciatore simmered long and slow in a puttanesca sauce. Leftovers, you bet. After all, there’s only so much two people can consume at one sitting. Add to that, the abhorrence one of those two people has when it comes to leftovers.

What would Grandma D have done? Same thing I did. Make soup. Or, as I prefer to say: Repurpose. Whereas Grandma probably repurposed her leftovers in a large, hammered aluminum pot, I repurposed mine in a Le Creuset French (Dutch) oven, a hand-me-down twice over, handed down to me from my catering friend E, who has a vast collection of cookware acquired from estate sales, thrift shops, and elderly transitioning to some type of assisted living.

A thorough sweep of my fridge produced leftover chuck roast with gravy, plus raw celery, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and the indispensable tiny alphabet pasta. Plus olive oil from an emptied can of imported anchovies—perfect for sautéing my soup base. From the freezer came broccoli, peppers, and parsley. After a quick sauté of the fresh veggies in anchovy olive oil, I added the leftovers and cacciatore sauce along with a nice red wine. Last to go in the pot was chicken from the cacciatore since I only wanted a quick warm-up of already cooked meat.

Soup’s done. Hmm, after one meal for the two of us, and possibly another for me, what should I do with the rest? I could use my stick emulsifier to produce a flavorful cream soup or possibly a sauce for pasta or chicken cacciatore. Or freeze the soup in quart-size freezer bags that will sit alongside my other repurposed items taking up space in the freezer. So what if I do have more than one freezer? That’s the joy of repurposing. How about you? Any ideas for repurposing repurposed leftovers?

About Loretta Giacoletto

Loretta Giacoletto is an American writer of family sagas, mysteries, and contemporary fiction, all of which contain elements of crime. She divides her time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks where she writes fiction, essays, and her bi-monthly blog, Loretta on Life, while her husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Their five children have left the once chaotic nest but occasionally return for her to-die-for ravioli and roasted peppers topped with garlic-laden bagna càuda. An avid traveler, she has visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains her favorite, especially the area from where her family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps. - See more at:
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