Last week, when my friend Michele and I were done with our afternoon Country Western Line Dancing Class, she said, “You’re coming home with me and I am going to feed you leftovers for dinner!”
“Oh goodie! Count me in!” I replied. Because I LOVE LEFTOVERS.
We proceeded to set the table with a cold rotisserie chicken from the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market from the day before and some jasmine rice sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper. The salad from the day before had fresh spinach and roasted cauliflower, to which we added more spinach, tomato and radishes. She offered a creamy bottled dressing and I said I’d rather make an oil and vinegar one from scratch, which I did and the whole meal was divine. We were very proud of ourselves for our creations.
There is nothing I like better than leftovers, of every kind. I treasure my frozen containers full of homemade chili and pieces of cornbread individually wrapped. That wedge of pizza that is waiting to be microwaved until the cheese is molten. The cold grilled sirloin or meatloaf which will make splendiferous sandwiches. Just think about that Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and gravy waiting for you the day after.
And then there are the leftovers that come in those white boxes from restaurants. Oh, I love those especially. Some chef toiled for hours making something really delicious, and all you have to do is heat it up for a couple of minutes! I live with two people who sometimes bring home little white boxes filled with surprises. I love to open the refrigerator and look expectantly inside. It’s like Christmas. And they share.
So, two weeks ago after our dancing class, Michele and I went to The Kettle in downtown Manhattan Beach. This place has been there since the mid-1960s and was the first restaurant I went to when I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1971. It has great beach atmosphere, with booths of dark wood and red leather. The backs are quite high, so when you sit down, you can talk in privacy. The food is American comfort food – burgers, pasta, salads, pancakes and eggs. They have the best bran muffins I have ever eaten. And you can see the ocean.
We were hungry, so for some reason I ordered fried chicken with mashed potatoes and country gravy. Usually I get a Chinese chicken salad, but that chicken sounded good. When it arrived, it was ok. I was hungry, I ate the chicken, then I wasn’t hungry any more. Mission accomplished.
So the next day, when I opened the refrigerator, I had forgotten about the leftovers. There were those white boxes, which I opened, looked at the contents, and thought to myself, I really didn’t want to heat up that hard blob of mashed potatoes and the congealed gravy. The cheese and broccoli soup was hard like a hockey puck. But I didn’t want to throw anything away either. So I decided to do the logical thing under the circumstances: make soup.
I heated up two cans of chicken broth in a big pan and mixed in the mashed potatoes, gravy and cheese soup. They dispersed beautifully into the broth. Then I cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and added it to the soup. That cheese soup must have been full of parmesan because the cheesy, potato-y broth was really, really good. I sopped up the broth with the garlic bread. Yum. And I had made enough to create more leftover containers to freeze, like money in the bank. Yes!