Sunday, November 18, 2012

Extra! Extra!

During NaBloPoMo month, I've been responding to requests for posts on specific topics, and Maya requested a post on getting creative with leftovers- and she was talking about leftover food, of course, but also leftover yarn from knitting and crochet projects.

Ideas for leftover food:

I actually had to sit and think about this for a little while, because do you know how we usually handle leftovers around here- we simply eat them! Leftover dinner gets packed into lunch boxes for the next day. If the quantity is too small for a full meal, leftovers go into a small box for a snack.

If the quantity is too large and we'd end up eating it for several days (never fun), I freeze the leftovers for a meal the next week. The key words are "next week" because leave them in any longer and they disappear into the back of the freezer, only to be tossed out a year or two later.

I think my basic rule is that when I'm cooking anything, I have a definite plan for the leftovers (both leftover cooked food and leftover ingredients). If I let them just sit there saying, I'll do something with them one of these days, you know they're likely to be wasted. I like using leftovers when they are relatively fresh rather than letting them languish in the fridge.

 So anyway, this was a very long-winded way of saying that generally I don't get very creative with leftovers at all. But when I do, they end up being recycled into one of these 3 dishes:

1. Quesadillas: Mix almost any raw or cooked vegetables/beans with a little cheese, spread on tortillas, fold into half and toast on a griddle. Of course, the same thing can be done with sliced bread instead of tortillas.

2. Egg hash: Saute the leftovers to warm them, then pat them down to make a bed and break eggs over them. Cover and cook for a most delicious breakfast.

3. And the mother of all recycled dishes- patties or croquettes. All sorts of vegetables and cooked grains and fresh herbs can be formed into tasty morsels and pan-fried. I add some mashed potato or sweet potato in there which helps to hold everything together. You'll be amazed at how fast these mystery croquettes will disappear.

Now of course these recycled dishes taste different each time you make them, based on what's on hand. It is a one of a kind treat. The funny thing is that these are often the best things I make, eaten with more gusto than more elaborate recipes.

Ideas for leftover yarn:

Ravelry is an incredible resource for all things yarn related, and registration is free. Ravelry has many threads on using up leftover yarn, for instance- this one. By the way, although Ravelry is intended for the knitting and crocheting community, there are intelligent discussion groups on everything from cloth diapering to books.

1. Wrap the yarn around something: Yarn wrapped around glass bottles (from wine or other beverages) makes a colorful vase. Yarn can be used for wrapping gifts instead of ribbon.

2. Toys: Small amounts of yarn can be used to make tiny knitted and crocheted toys, often called amigurumi from the Japanese word for this art. Use tiny yarn scraps (that are not big enough for other uses) to stuff the toys!

3. Yarn cards: Use ordinary white glue to paste yarn scraps in pretty patterns on cards. I often make gift tags this way.

4. Leftover yarn ends can be tied to each other and then this crazy multicolored yarn can be used to make a unique scarf or if you have enough yarn, even a throw or a blanket.

5. Make pompoms! String them into a garland if you like. 

Do you struggle with leftovers? Got any brilliant ideas for us? Share them in the comments- please and thank you.

21 comments:

  1. You are far too sensible a person Nupur, you put people like me to shame. Just today I was talking to my mom about cutting wastage and I got an hr long lecture about how wasteful I am and how she managed with very little her whole life - and you can imagine the rest of her spiel in marathi :) I aspire to be as good as you and Im sincerely working on it.

    here is a topic idea for a you :) how often do you eat out and what do you guys like to eat?
    Whats the fanciest meal you've had and would you be willing to shell out big dough for good food?
    Archana

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    1. Oh dear- there's nothing like a stern parental lecture to make you feel like a naughty five year old all over again!! Listen, don't be so hard on yourself. I am no role model; I just wanted to swap tips here. Every day and every meal is a fresh opportunity to cut waste.
      I'll try and address this topic you've suggested :)

      Delete
  2. My mother always froze leftovers for the next week, stating she would serve it when the family forgot it was eaten earlier rather than consecutive meals. I struggle sometimes, but here are a few things that i do...
    1. sauteed/ baked/ roasted vegetables with minimum spices go into salads, soups or patties.

    2. indian style curries and dals get mashed and stuffed into parathas. or cooked with rice for a mash up bissibelebhaath

    3. kottu parota or kathi rolls with leftover rotis/ tortillas

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I love your idea of stuffing dals into parathas- I've never done that. And oh yeah, anything in kathi roll form is instantly tasty and appealing.

      Delete
    2. Dear Nupur,
      I have a tip handed over by my mother, left over dal is used as moisturiser to knead flour instead of water, this changes the taste of roti/parantha and adds culinary quotient to simple dish.
      Sameer

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  3. My usual left overs are
    White rice. this transforms into Phodnicha bhaat / lemon rice/ modified bisi bele bhaat, make sambar, add rice and cook to soft, thick soup consistency.

    Roti- I rarely have any left overs as I make just as many as we need. In case I have rotis left over, I reheat ( wrap in a slightly damp tissue and microwave for 20 secs., good as new), if not heat and eat, I make Phodnichi poli ( same for bread)
    or Ladoo ( tear the roti into small bits, heat ghee in a pan, add jaggery and roti bits, mix well and roll into balls).

    If I have Daal fry or plain tadka daal - I make daal paratha.

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    1. Ooh, you make dal paratha too?? Your soupy sambar rice sounds sooo good for a chilly evening. I often recycle leftover white rice into phodnicha bhaat but with pav bhaji masala, sliced onion and bell peppers.

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  4. I love the idea of Egg Hash as for me anything-with-egg tastes delicious. Everytime I read your posts on yarn or crocheting, my hands start to itch to make one. I am gonna take you as an inspiration and start a small project in 2013. that's my resolution no. 1 :-).

    P.S - I still have the cute maroon hot pads you send me as my wedding gift and they are as cute as ever even to this day! :-)

    Hugs,
    Siri

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    Replies
    1. So glad you're enjoying the hot pads :) it was just a little something. There are some knitting/crochet enthusiasts in your city- I know them from Ravelry. If you do decide to try your hands at it, I hope you enjoy it.

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  5. All my leftover vegetables, daal and sometimes even rice go into the making of parathas for breakfast next morning.
    What do you do with leftover cooking oil (after deep frying?). Isnt it harmful to re-use? I throw it away with lots of regrets.
    I have a topic I would like you to write about - what are the best cooking utensils for Indian Food. The market is flooded with all brands of non stick cookware and they are so tempting! But when I read things on the net about the coating releasing harmful gases and all, I get scared. Isnt hard anodised the same as aluminium? What to do? I would have been happier to be a cook in times when there were not so many choices! Thanks,
    Mansi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The thought of varied parathas is making me hungry!

      I rarely deep-fry and when I do, I save that oil and use it for cooking. As in, I don't reuse it for frying but I do use it up for regular cooking. From what I understand, it is not good to reuse oil repeatedly because of the degradation products that accumulate in it, but I feel that twice is fine.

      I don't know very much about cooking pots, unfortunately. I avoid non-stick except for one pan which I use for eggs.

      Delete
  6. If you compost, you can actually put yarn scraps into your compost pile (as long as they are natural fibers).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's the trouble. Mine are a mix of wool, cotton and acrylic.

      Delete
  7. We mostly cook Indian food so the leftovers are just re-heated and served for another meal or (very rarely) frozen for later.

    If I have leftover guacamole (I don't add chopped onion tomato to it, I make a pico de gallo on the side) I knead the next batch of chapati dough in it and make avocado chapatis (turns out really soft and stays soft for long time). Same with very little leftover plain dal (varan) or refried beans - mash well and add atta to make chapati dough.

    Leftover chopped raw veggies for sandwich/ noodles/ salad can be used up in next days breakfast omelette.

    - Priti

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    1. Leftover guacamole- hah! Is there really such a thing :)

      But seriously, I've wanted to try avocado paratha for a long time. And yes, I've made rajma parathas and they turned out very good.

      Your leftovers omelet sounds so good.

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  8. Nupur, I placed an order for my very first cast iron skillet (the Lodge 10 inch one) and I am very excited! I can't wait to start cooking with it. Thanks a lot for ur help in make this choice. :) Do u also have the lid? I havent ordered one yet.

    - Priti

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    Replies
    1. Enjoy cooking with it! There is a learning curve so be patient. I didn't buy their lid. One of my other pots has a sturdy glass lid that fits this pan perfectly so I just use that. Those cast iron lids are too heavy IMHO.

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  9. My leftover policy is usually like yours - eat it later... unless it's something the family didn't like, then I think about how to covert them. The Quesadilla tip you have is how my favorite school lunch idea and is something my daughter likes... :)
    THe yarn ideas are so cute.

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    1. Yes, the creativity is only needed when it is a dish that didn't turn out all that great!!

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  10. Thanks a ton Nupur for taking my my suggestion and doing a lovely post about it. Thanks to everyone else too for contributing in the comments section. I am loving NaBloPoMo:-)

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  11. Hi Nupur,
    Love your tips..I like to roast the leftover dry rotis in the oven with a litte oil and salt. A perfect substitute for tortilla chips.

    Vini

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