Friday, December 4, 2020

Friday Food: The One With the Leftover Turkey


Short version: National Leftover Day!

Long version: Okay, so it's not officially National Leftover Day*, but I bet a large percentage of Americans have leftovers for dinner the day after Thanksgiving. We did, too, although really, any day is likely to be Leftover Day at our house.


I made turkey slop, which is just leftover shredded turkey and gravy heated up on the stove. It's very important to heat it on the stove. That tastes much better than heating leftover poultry in the microwave.

Anyway again. Here's the breakdown by family member.

A. had some of the turkey slop on leftover mashed potatoes, with some of the leftover green beans.

Poppy and Jack had the turkey slop with leftover stuffing, and some leftover broccoli which was not from Thanksgiving but needed to get out of the refrigerator.

Charlie had plain cold turkey dipped in leftover ranch dressing (he doesn't like gravy, so no slop for him) and leftover mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Cubby, who came down with Charlie's cold and had a terrible sore throat, had the last bowl of some turkey/rice soup I had made for lunch. That was made from the turkey-carcass broth, leftover turkey, some of the leftover green beans and bacon, leftover rice, onion, carrot, and lots of garlic. I think the bacon in the green beans really made the soup a lot better. Unsurprisingly. Also the tiny bit of cider vinegar I put in at the end helped a lot with the flavor.

I had a salad with the bit of leftover salad from the Thanksgiving dinner, the rest of the leftover green beans, tomatoes, shaved Parmesan, and salami. I could have put leftover turkey in there, but, well, I don't like leftover turkey. That's one reason I don't like cooking a turkey: There are always a LOT of leftovers, and then I have to get very creative to disguise that leftover turkey taste.

And here's a leftover photo for you:

Holiday memories . . . of boys making silly faces.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, sabotage peppers, bread and butter, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: Time for a turkey break. Burgers it is.

The peppers were actually the very last peppers I had harvested from our garden before the freeze. That was, um, maybe six weeks ago? I thought they were all banana peppers, and they were the shape of banana peppers. They were all pretty green and immature, so I assumed they would just be like green bell peppers.

My first indication that they were not at ALL like bell peppers was when I threw them on the grill pan with the cheeseburgers and started coughing. 

Buckle up, kids. It's a spicy one.

When Charlie came in the kitchen for dinner, he said, "Why is there a smell that makes me feel like coughing?"

Because of the NOT BELL PEPPERS.

I gave the peppers to A., who ate some and then had to get milk to cool his mouth down. He said they had an afterburn that just kept increasing and didn't go away.

Cubby ate one, too, to clear out his stuffy nose. Charlie had a piece and ate the whole thing, because if Cubby could eat it, so could Charlie.

Jack tried a piece, but didn't finish it. And Poppy insisted on a piece. I gave her a speck about the size of a flea, because I was not interested in listening to screaming and wailing for the rest of dinner.

Anyway. Apparently you can't trust those banana peppers, even if they are green. Lesson learned.


Short version: Cheesy Deezy with turkey and peas for the kids, pizza turkey and pureed squash for A.. salad for me, pots de creme

Long version: Cheesy Deezy is the dish from A.'s childhood that's just pasta, marinara, and lots of mozzarella. I made it with pasta, Finny's sauce, and asadero cheese. Plus some turkey, because Cheesy Deezy is an excellent place to hide leftover turkey. I also put a breadcrumb topping on it, which I don't think the MiL ever did, but I haven't found any baked pasta that isn't improved with a crunchy topping of breadcrumbs, butter, and garlic powder.

A. had some of the leftover turkey heated up with Finny's sauce and asadero cheese.

Pots de creme is a recipe I got from the MiL, who in turn got it from her MiL, who got it from the cook at the hotel she and her husband ran in the Carribean. It's a good story, and an even better recipe. I think I'll feature it on Tuesday. Get excited. My kids certainly were to eat the pots de creme.


Short version: Same pasta, still-frozen green beans, pauper's beef burgundy and rice, pureed squash

Long version: Second verse, same as the first for the kids. Plus some our home-frozen green beans, still frozen because they like them that way.

For A. and me, I used the last quart jar of bull that didn't seal, plus sauteed onion and garlic and red wine from a box to make a version of beef burgundy. It was really good, actually. And certainly easy, since the meat was already all the way cooked. I really need to try pressure canning more of that bull following Karen.'s directions.


Short version: Bulk ground beef tacos

Long version: We have these ten-pound logs of ground beef in the freezer from the school, and they're very awkward. They take up a lot of space, and since they're already frozen, it's hard to get off a manageable amount to cook with.

So I decided to cook the entire unmanageable amount. I had to brown the meat in two very full batches in my biggest saucepan, then saute the onion, garlic, and tomatoes, and then put it all together in my biggest pot to simmer for awhile with the spices. It was like two gallons of meat.

I froze several containers, and used some of it for very straighforward tacos with store-bought corn tortillas.


Short version: Maple-mustard pork roast, leftover rice, frozen peas, mashed squash, gingerbread with whipped cream

Long version: The pork roast was a really big fresh ham that we got from the school cook. It must have been over ten pounds. It did, thankfully, fit in my big enameled cast iron dutch oven, so I just put it in there with some salt and water, covered it, and baked it for about five hours.

At dinner time, I sliced it and made a sauce for it in the pot with some of the cooking liquid, Dijon mustard, and maple syrup. Yum.

Since the oven was on most of the day anyway, I decided to bake a gingerbread cake**. Also, it was below freezing with howling winds all day and . . . you know what? I'm an adult. I can bake a cake on a random Wednesday if I want to.

I can also whip some cream for it when I serve it for dessert, because that is the best way to eat gingerbread. AND, I can light the Christmas candles Cubby and Charlie made at school and that are currently our table centerpiece.

Remember a couple of years ago when everyone was talking about hygge? You're looking at it.


Short version: Leftover pork with barbecue sauce, green salad with ranch dressing, baked custard

Long version: I baked bread this day, so the kids had their pork as sandwiches. A. had his with rice. 

I opened my last bottle of New-York-State-specific barbecue sauce for this. All the barbecue sauce I've found here is way too hot. I'm going to have to start making my own now. Boo.

And yes, another dessert that is not on a Sunday. I had a gallon of milk that was a couple of days past its sell-by date, so I thought I'd better use half of it for a double batch of custard. No one complained.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

* Though it occurs to me that it might be. There seem to be an inexhaustible number of "Days" now, most of them commemorating something very lame.

** I don't know when some cake recipes started being labeled "snacking" cakes, but I find it quite annoying. Does calling it that make it seem healthier? Does it make people more likely to make it because they don't feel as guilty about making a cake? It's a cake. And cakes are a dessert. If you choose to eat dessert in the middle of the day--which we definitely did with this cake--that's cool. But let's call a spade a spade and a cake a cake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Tuesday Tips: A Very Cheery Toilet Float

A few months ago, I happened to notice that after the toilet in my bathroom was flushed, the water in the tank continued to run. Usually when that happens, it's because the handle--and therefore, the chain in the toilet that connects the handle to the stopper--gets stuck down, which means the tank continues to drain the water that is refilling the tank.

Not this time, though. This time, the float in the tank was completely missing, which meant that the water wasn't getting the signal to stop filling and the tank started to overflow.

I was very thankful that I happened to still be in the bathroom to notice the water coming out of the tank so that I could turn the valve at the base of the toilet and prevent a disastrous flooding situation.

A. diagnosed the lack of float. He thinks it just broke off and went down the pipe. In a normal place, one would just go to the hardware store and buy a new toilet float.

We don't live in a normal place, however. Driving 60 miles for a toilet float is daunting. But in such cases, ingenuity saves the day.

In this case, A. asked me if we had any balloons around. Sure, I said. What color do you want?

Fortuitously, my parents had just been for a visit and my mom had brought my kids two bags of balloons. So we had many color options.

A. didn't have a color preference, so I chose a purple balloon for him. He blew it up slightly, tied it, and attached it to the rod in the toilet to buy us some time to get a new float next time we were in a place with a hardware store.

And there the purple balloon has been. For three months. We keep forgetting to get a new float, because it just keeps working.

So! Two tips for today. One is general: It's not a bad idea to pretend you live too far from stores to buy something to fix problems. It's often possible to fix your problem without spending any money at all. 

And the second tip is specific: If your toilet float breaks, you can use a purple balloon in its place. 

A functioning toilet AND significant entertainment value. Now that's what I call a win.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Another Domestic Pat on the Back

I've done it again. I've cleaned something so neglected and disgusting in my kitchen that I feel the need to announce it to the Internet at large.

Lucky Internet.

Last time I did this, it was the high edges of my kitchen cabinets that I had spent a lot of time cleaning*.  Then I shared my subsequent pride in this (admittedly minor) accomplishment with all of you. And then you all told me the unappreciated but satisfying tasks you had accomplished yourselves so that we could all indulge in some mutual appreciation.

It was nice. Let's do that again.

So! This time it was the top of my refrigerator. I, um, do not remember the last time I really cleaned this. I store some things up there--the extra-large bags of store-brand cereal we buy, the large economy box of oatmeal, the extra-long roll of aluminum foil that doesn't fit in a drawer--so cleaning it requires first clearing it off.

Also, I'm five feet, five inches tall, so I don't actually see the top of my refrigerator unless I climb up on a chair to retrieve something.

A., however, who is over six feet, can see it. And did see it when he was looking for something up there. Even A., who is possibly the least fussy man on the planet when it comes to house cleaning, said he was a little shocked.

Yeah. It was gross. It was that special combination of grease and dust that builds up in kitchens--or at least, in my kitchen--with the added complication of the textured surface of this refrigerator that traps all this stuff and requires serious scrubbing to get clean.

Nothing for it but to get scrubbing, however. So I got some very soapy water in the sink, my old nylon scrubby thing that I keep for just such disgusting jobs, and got to it.


It was probably only about 15 minutes of actual scrubbing, but it was HARD scrubbing. My hands were cramping by the time I was done. 

But it's done now! And I took a picture for you:

Back to its original white. A great improvement over sticky gray. Yuck.

I did not take a "before" picture, because this is supposed to be self-congratulations, not self-castigation about its original filthy state.

So tell me! What have you done lately that I can applaud you for?

* Okay, so it was only 45 minutes, but that's about 40 minutes longer than I want to be climbing up and down and scrubbing grease and dirt.