I haven’t been by myself on a Sunday evening in a while. So, I found myself earlier standing by the open fridge, looking at several containers and dishes with leftover food, wondering what I felt like eating tonight. My options: pork fillet and chilli stir fry with egg noodles from last night, garlic mashed potatoes from Friday night (no leftover red roman), peas and sausage from this afternoon’s light pub style meal, half a punnet of strawberries, half a packet of mixed green salad leaves, leftover salad dressing in the little bottle that I shake it up in. I guess the strawberries and salad stuff do not really count as leftovers.. but I do feel that I may need to use it up before long since it won’t keep, and which could very easily, like leftovers, remain unnoticed at the back of the fridge in discreet Tupperware containers, until a day when I clear out the fridge. I don’t do that often enough. I hate finding food unused and gone to waste through sheer mindlessness. I usually have ideas that I would use the leftovers in some way or the other, but more often than not they languish in the fridge too long.
Since my oldest son has been living with me again (he’s staying here until he leaves for overseas next year) I have had less of a problem with leftovers: he is quite fine with raiding the fridge in the mornings!
But he is not here tonight either. So I had al the leftovers for myself. I stood there wondering what my mother would have done with that somewhat incongruent combination of foodstuffs. Well, there would not have been pork fillet stirfry in her fridge in the first place. The more conventional peas and mashed potatoes and sausage were more likely to have been found in the fridge of my childhood. And I am sure that my mom would have thought out some interesting thing to do: probably have fried lots of onions, cut up the sausage and braised that with the peas and served the resultant stew on top of the potato.
She used to be able to make entire meals from tail ends of food in the fridge. She had a name for it: those bubble and squeaky kinds of dishes, and now for the life of me I cannot remember what! I will probably wake up in the middle of the night and recall the term. I wish that I could pick up the phone and ask her, but she died ten years ago. I cannot ask my dad either; he died three months ago.
Maybe one of my siblings will remember. Then again: maybe not. No matter. I feel too sad now to phone anyone. I can however remember that we would be most likely to have sandwiches with leftover cold meat from the Sunday lunch: white bread spread thinly with margarine and thickly with mayonnaise and for the brave, a hot home-made mustard. I don’t have that recipe either: it was my gran’s and maybe there’s no great mystery to it. I know she used Colman’s hot English mustard powder, sugar, and egg and vinegar(I think). I’ll google it.
In the end, I had a mouthful of the cold peas, standing in the pool of light from the open fridge, and half a teaspoon cold mash, and a little bite out of a sausage before pressing down the lid of the Tupperware. And since I am not as good with leftovers as my mom was, it was the easy bowl of stirfry I took through to my lounge. I had it, sitting on my sofa, to the strains of Nimrod from the Enigma variations by Elgar, heartachingly beautiful and suited to my somewhat sweetly sad mood thinking of a long gone mother and my father more recenty dead and a long lost childhood of which only memories remain.
The stirfy though was as nice cold as when it was sizzling hot from the wok. I noticed that I had put too many roasted peanuts in, and I bit into a piece of star anise which I had not taken out. But I remembered last night having it hot ,by candlelight, with a glass of cold sparkling wine, with my lover. That made me smile.
I’m not going to worry too much about thinking up a recipe for the remaining leftovers: my son is back tomorrow, and I know that when I get back from work tomorrow evening, he will have made his own variation of his grandmother’s leftover creations.
And so it goes.