Tuesday, August 23, 2011


“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”
-Calvin Trillin

Cornbread in Milk
My mom used to make fun of me over my breakfasts. I don't care for a lot of breakfast food, and by now I'm both lactose intolerant and cannot eat sweets except in very small, rare portions, so I actually can't eat most breakfast food. So I'd eat a can of soup or a sandwich, or preferably leftovers.

The benefit of leftovers for breakfast is that they're already made; all you have to do is heat them up, or just eat. Most people think of breakfast as a special, specific sort of meal only eaten then. If you make scrambled eggs and waffles for dinner they look at you like you grew another head. But its all just food, and sometimes its great to mix things up.

Yet leftovers are often good any time of the day. Cold pizza is probably better than even warm pizza, and its always welcome. Again, leftovers save time and if you eat them, they don't grow fuzzy and green in the refrigerator.

I've already written about a few ideas for leftovers in my Real Men Cook series, in the post on mashed potatoes. Just taking some extra potatoes and turning them into a dish is a great use for leftovers. Here are a few more ideas:

Meatloaf Sandwiches
Although this is pretty standard (and available at some restaurants) its worth pointing out. Leftover meatloaf and the accompanying sauce makes great sandwiches. In fact, I think meatloaf is better as a sandwich than on its own. Just make sure you have either toasted or fairly durable bread. Don't bother with any spread, use the sauce the meatloaf is cooked in instead of mustard or what have you. This works especially well on grinders or other rolls.

Waffle Sandwiches
Yeah you read that right. If you have cooked up too many waffles, there's a few things you can do with them. They freeze well and can be heated up in the toaster like Eggos, but they also make great sandwiches. Waffles are just uniquely shaped bread and if you put an omlette and some bacon between two slices, its pretty good eating - remember to butter, though, because they are pretty dry after a night in the fridge. Waffles will take just about anything regular bread does, but remember that they soak up liquid very well, so make them fairly dry as sandwiches go.

Rice Cereal
When we had left over rice at home we used make this the next morning sometimes. You take a bowl of cooked rice, pour milk and sugar over it and eat it like cereal. Its pretty good that way, and is just as quick as a box of cereal. You can do the same thing with leftover grits, but avoid southerners when you do, because they'll tend to throw a fit.

Cornbread Cereal
This one I really miss. Its basically like Rice Cereal, above. Crumble up cornbread in chunks in a bowl, and pour milk and sugar over it. This makes a great cereal, but you have to eat it fairly fast before the cornbread breaks down into basically sludge.

Scrambled Leftovers
Many times you can take leftovers from the previous meal, chop them up, and mix them into scrambled eggs. The trick is to get the eggs mostly cooked before putting the leftovers in, because otherwise, the eggs coat the other food and you don't get scrambled at all. You can also use this trick with some cheese in an omelet; fold the leftovers in the middle.

Got any great leftovers recipes? I know some people make casseroles out of whatever leftovers they have, and most cold meat can be used for sandwiches. What do you do at home with leftovers?


vanderleun said...

The most memorable meal of my childhood was called "Camp Doon Slop."

The first time it was made was on the morning of the last day of a four day camping trip my father, my brother and I made to Camp Doon, California.

1 campfire
1 large cast iron frying pan
Everything left over in the camping larder that you didn't get around to eating but would fry up nicely with eggs as a binder.

A cold morning by a clear stream somewhere in the Sierras. My brother and my father in Levis and flannel shirts. Starving. My father hovering over the frying pan add this and then adding that and this and that again until it was crisp and brown and bubbling.

Eating my share off an enameled plate with a blue enameled spoon.

Never anything better in the cupboard that hold's the cuisine of the soul.

Philip said...

I do something that I started when money was low called Wingit Stir-fry. Basically leftovers (I froze a lot of mine) plus whatever vegetables are around. Even cooked pasta tossed in is good. The secret is making sure you have enough various spices around, plus a decent oil.

Tina said...

Meatloaf Sandwiches! Ha! Now that the kids are grown and gone, Paul no longer has to pretend: when we have meatloaf, he puts it on white bread with Louisiana Hot Sauce from the very beginning. If I want green beans and mashed potatoes and tomato gravy, I can have it but he's still gonna make a sandwich.

Rice as a hot cereal with sugar, milk and butter is an old standby from my childhood.

We do something like Philip's stir fry: leftover rice with leftover pork and assorted veggies for fried rice - the rice does better if it is cold or cool.

Try your stale cornbread in milk with salt and pepper instead of sugar. That's how my grandfather used to eat it and I always liked it too. We called it "sweet milk and cornbread" to distinguish the fresh milk from the buttermilk. And since we had cornbread every day, they called a loaf of bread "light bread".