Leftovers have been a part of the human eating culture since ancient man realized the fruits of his hunt would stay edible for awhile if they were stored in the back of a dark, cold cave. Ancient Greeks and Romans would haul ice and snow down from the mountains, wrapped it in straw or buried it in cellars where it slowed down food spoilage.
By the end of the 19th century, ice delivery men visited Canadian and American homes as regularly as the milk man, depositing large cubes of ice into ice boxes made of wood and lined with tin. In the 1840's, a Florida physican named John Gorrie, trying to cool the rooms of yellow fever patients, figured out how to make ice using mechanical refrigeration. That paved the way for household refrigerators to appear en masse in homes in the 1920's and 1930's. Mechanical refrigerators first used methyl chloride, ammonia or sufur dioxide, before the discovery of Freon in the 1930's. Freon was then found to have a severe impact on the ozone later and has since been eliminated from household and commercial refrigeration, that now utilize natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons which have negligible impact on the environment.
What does refrigeration have to do with leftovers you might ask? Well, during The Great Depression, families struggled to feed their children and to throw away perfectly edible leftovers was unthinkable, hence the timely invention of refrigerators. Not long after the discovery of household refrigeration, plastics innovators like Earl S. Tupper, of, you guessed it, Tupperware notoriety, produced containers that would seal in food and keep refrigerators smelling fresh. And for those who didn't want to purchase an entire cupboard full of plastic containers and lids, Dow Chemical came to the rescue in 1953 with 'Saran Wrap', and then 'Ziploc Storage Bags' in 1968.
But perhaprs the biggest invention for the leftover culture was the microwave in the 1970's, when the first 'affordable' microwave went on sale. These days more than 90% of all Canadian and US households have microwaves.
So you see, eating leftovers is not only acceptable, it's apart of our culture and heritage! Leftovers can simply be re-heated portions of a previous meal, (and in my opinion, a lot of things such as chilli, spaghetti sauce, stews and pot pies, actually taste BETTER the next day!), or a completely new meal using leftovers such as Chicken Quesadillas, soup or Twisted Turkey Pot Pie!
A traditional English 'leftover' delicacy is Bubble and Squeak, made with the shallow fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner that is often served with cold leftover meat and pickles or brown sauce, or as an accompaniment to a full English breakfast. Here on the rock, making a hash with the leftovers from Jiggs Dinner, (salt meat, carrot, turnip, potato, cabbage), in a cast iron frying pan is an all time favorite.
Perhaps the easiest and most cost effective use of leftovers is the good ole sandwich. Whether its turkey, chicken, roast beef, lamb, ham or even fish, between two slices of bread slathered with mayo - its a classic! But, in usual Kim style, I wondered...how about kicking it up a notch? Make it something just a little bit more creative and intriguing, able to qualify as a dish all of its own?
This is where my Roast Turkey Breast with mayo, slices of baby cucumber, grilled sweet potato and cranberry orange chutney on whole grain bread was born. You won't believe the difference the grilled sweet potato makes to an otherwise routine turkey sandiwich! This week, I used leftover Cajun Spiced Roast Turkey Breast Its so popular with my family, I sometimes buy whole turkey breast just to make the sandwich, which I refer to On Purpose Leftovers.
Turkey is my favorite meat to use, bar none. There's something very satisfying and right about utilizing the whole turkey for roast turkey dinner, hot turkey sandwiches, turkey vegetable soup, Twisted Turkey Pot Pie, (another one of my family's favorties), and of course, a sensational cold Turkey Sandwich! There's something very zen about not wasting a single bit of an animal, just as our ancestor's had done.
On Purpose Leftovers....it just makes sense! Get a little more at the grocery store, cook a little more, store leftovers in individual portions to be re-heated in the microwave, or create something new with what's left from the initial meal. It saves time and money - hard to argue with that!