"Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."
When I was a teenager I used to go spend the summer with my aunt. She would make this dish that she called "stuff." "What is it?" I would ask. Her reply was always "stuff". Being the analytical one in the family, this answer wasn't good enough for me. I pressed. "What stuff?"
"It's different every time," she would say, enjoying the irritation that I would feel.
"How do you make it?" Bingo. It took some time but I had finally landed on the right question.
Here's the recipe:
Take a large air tight plastic container, with tightly securing lid, and place it, empty into the freezer. As you finish each meal, if there is a scoop of something leftover, place it in the freezer in the airtight container. The requirements are that the leftover has to be too much to throw away, but not enough to save for another meal. Other than that, the ingredient list is wide open. She generally tried to stick to potatoes, vegetables, rice, meats, gravies, and the occasional hot dog. In other words, savory dishes. Deserts are off limits. They can make their own "stuff" later. When the plastic container was full, she would throw it into a crock pot and cook it all day, letting the flavors marry and meld together. She was right. Each and every dish of stuff was completely different than the one before. Most were quite tasty, I am told by my cousins. Others... well, you know.
This is strangely reminiscent of a traditional Scottish dish called the Hunter's Stew. As the men would set out hunting in the morning, the women would prepare the base of the stew. They would go to the garden and bring in whatever vegetable was in season. Potatoes and leeks were common. Onions and other greens would be harvested too. These would be prepared and thrown into a large pot of water. Whatever meat the hunter would bring home would be cleaned and thrown in too. Hunter's stew could be anything from venison, beef, and mutton to rabbits and squirrels, or any type of seafood imaginable. It is different everytime. Often there would be some small leftovers from one meal, that would be added to with a new kill, changing the taste completely. Whatever the hunter brought home went into the stew. There was no recipe. It was "stuff."
I take a slightly different tact with my leftovers. Rather than one large plastic container, I have numerous small ones. I make what I call "TV dinners." Being a finiky eater, I am a little more cautious with my combinations, but the idea is the same. I will place into these containers, one scoop of potatoes one night, some vegetables the next night. One day a leftover hot dog or a chicken breast - whatever my hunter has brought home that day. When an individual meal is done, I put it on a special shelf in my freezer. These are what I bring to lunch at work every day. When the kids are gone and I have a meal alone, I dine on one of these leftovers rather than going out, or cooking another whole meal just for myself. It works out well. I save tons of money on lunches out at work, and no matter how tired or sick I am feeling, I know there is a good, nutritious, home cooked meal waiting for me at home, made of scraps and pieces that some would throw away.
After Jesus fed the 5,000 in the book of John, he took care to tell the disciples "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." Jesus had some "stuff" too. If it's good enough for Him, then it's good enough for me! Try it, and enjoy - just leave out the ice cream and pumpkin pie.
Psalm 23:6 "...my cup overflows."
You can find me on my web site, Facebook, MySpace, Classmates, Shoutlife, or Twitter.