LIFE AND LEFTOVERS

“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart” …Thomas Fuller

I don’t know about you, but when I go to the supermarket and see my bill, it takes a while for me to catch my breath. There is no question that fresh, healthy food has become frighteningly expensive. I’ve had to embark upon practical and creative ways to cut my grocery expenditure, like planning weekly menus so that I am forced to buy only for those meals, buying non-perishables and cleaning agents in wholesale bulk from downtown Kingston, purchasing vegetables from the market and buying meats directly from the butcher.

Another great way I’ve found to cut back on my food cost is to use up leftovers as creatively as possible. Now, if you are Jamaican, you know that we never scorn leftovers. If you are Jamaican, and you open your fridge and see a bowl of day old stew peas or oxtail, your heart skips a little beat, because you know that after that flavour has sat overnight and blended in with that coconut milk and butter beans …Lord have mercy! Sometimes though, three pieces of leftover oxtail may taste like heaven, but when you have five people to feed, it’s just not going to cut it. I have found that the best way to maximize these delicious flavours is to ‘stretch’ them. The benefit of ‘the stretch’ is that you are able to balance heavy meals some evenings with lighter fare on others. It’s also great way to unleash your culinary creativity with minimal prep effort. Here are a few of my favourite ‘stretches’

SUNDAY ROAST PORK, RICE and STEAMED VEGGIES  = FRIED RICE

BAKED MUSTARD CHICKEN WITH BLACK BEANS AND SWEET POTATO = CHICKEN AND BEAN BURRITOS WITH SWEET POTATO FRIES

Add a tin of chickpeas or more black beans and heat with diced chicken and sauce …

OXTAIL AND BEANS = SHEPHERD’S PIE

Cut oxtail off the bones … Season and cook a small pack of beef mince. Add the oxtail and gravy and place in a baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes and bake for 25 minutes ...

MINCE AND RICE  =  STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

TAKE-OUT CHICKEN TIKKA CILANTRO-BASIL SAUCE =  GREEN THAI BAKED CHICKEN

Don’t ever throw out those extra sauces from take-out meals! Mix them with honey and chicken broth and stretch the flavour over baked chicken. For the Green Thai Chicken I add plain yogurt and grated onion to the Indian Cilantro-Basil sauce and spread on chicken thighs. Bake for one hour and get the most amazing flavour!

There is a famous quote - “Out of the frying pan into the fire.” But when it comes to leftovers, I like to say, “Out of the frying pan and into an even better dish!”

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