Friday, November 25, 2011

Let Us Not Waste Food

Tis the season of leftovers, and all of us are eager for ways to magically turn them into appealing new meals.........
  • Turn bread into bread sticks:  Cut bread into strips, brush with butter or olive oil, season with favorite seasonings, bake till crispy.
  • Turn bread into croutons for lettuce salads:  Dice bread into cubes, brush with olive oil, and season before baking.  
  • Turkey carcasses and vegetable scraps can be boiled down for stock and soups.  We did this at our house, added noodles homemade by the Amish, and had a wonderful meal of homemade turkey noodle soup.
  • With leftover rice, stir up a quick rice pudding.  Combine 1 cup cooked rice, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 cup applesauce, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Mix well, spoon into dishes and serve.
  • Leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into potato pancakes by taking 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, 1 or 2 eggs, 1/4 cup four, salt, pepper, garlic, chopped onion or chives.  Preheat skillet and add a couple Tablespoons of shortening or oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into hot skillet, press with a spatula to flatten, brown on both sides.
  • Turn leftover cranberry sauce into a one-serving salad vinaigrette by mixing together 2 Tablespoons cranberry sauce, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. 
  • Replace cream of mushroom soup that's called for in a casserole recipe with leftover gravy.  The gravy is flavorful and will add a new spin to the dish.
  • Stuff a squash with leftover stuffing by piercing a whole acorn squash in a few places with a sharp knife, bake on high in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Turn over an bake for another 4 minutes.  Carefully cut the squash in half and remove seeds and strings.  Fill the squash cavity with a mixture of leftover stuffing, diced turkey, and top with 2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan (or other) cheese.  Brush squash flesh with melted butter, then bake on a cookie sheet for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • If you have pickle juice left in a jar, don't pour it out.  Use it to make a fresh batch of refrigerator pickles, or add it to salad dressings.
  • If there's a small amount of honey left in the bottom of a jar, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice and swish it around.  The juice from the lemon will loosen up the honey, and you have an ideal addition to a cup of tea.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year.  The food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide, according to State of the World 2011.

Each of us plays a part in these godawful statistics.  When we open our refrigerators, let's get creative and see how we can turn those leftovers into the next meal.  If your kids don't like leftovers, well, then it's time they go without a meal.  Let them know that some children in less fortunate countries go to bed hungry because they have no other choice.  

Christmas season is here, and all of us can get more watchful of the food we throw in the garbage.  Start a 2012 Food Challenge in your home.  The family member who gets most creative with reusing food leftovers will earn a hike in allowance or earn some other household privilege.  Let's teach our kids that there's more to a kitchen than fancy granite counter tops.  Let's teach them how to cook and how to be smart with our planet's food sources.  We have the responsibility to teach them so they can teach their children. Let's make it our 2012 Mission. 

All other creatures on planet Earth, living in trees, in the water, in the jungles, and the deserts, know enough to search for and save their food to stay alive. We have only to watch the squirrels to prove this true.  Only we humans, with our aggrandized sense of self, are irrational enough to throw our food away.

Please be thankful.....not wasteful.