MY LIFE - What to do with all these leftovers

MY LIFE - What to do with all these leftovers

Much as I love hosting parties at my house, dealing with leftovers can be something of a knotty problem.

I should probably clarify the fact that leftovers fall into various categories, the first being left over stuff, as in forgotten or abandoned non-perishables. Like the brown glove discovered under the quilt rack in the guest room that is now winging its way back to New Hampshire as we speak, or the T-shirt currently draped over one of the dining room chairs and awaiting return to same young man who left his jacket here the time before. I still have a large folding table and two folding camp chairs that have remained unclaimed from previous years which I now consider mine.

Some fall into the “still had food in it” category like the platter that came in with an entire carved turkey on it, the covered casserole dish formerly filled with Powers stuffing, the pie plate that once held seven-eighths of a pork pie, and a bowl that had arrived full of cranberry sauce, all of which have now been washed, stacked, and are ready to return from whence they came.

Then, sadly, we have stuff like the gigantic plastic jug that showed up here last month for cousin weekend, compliments of my nephew Liam. I tried to send it back still half-full when he was leaving, but was told by his dad to just keep it here since cheese puffs never really go bad anyway and they had originally been sent here mainly to get rid of them, so I might just as well keep them here for the next occasion…which I did...and which has also passed...and whose time has now run out.

Oh, and let us not forget the booze. Every gathering generates new bottles, all of which are deposited on the Hoosier cabinet which I eventually began to refer to as the back bar. The assorted wine, gin, vodka, and yes, even absinthe to name just a few, arrive, are partially consumed, and then left behind when the guests depart.

The kicker is that I don’t drink. Never. Not a drop. But the first thing people see when they come through my front door is an impressive collection of bottles. I installed a shelving unit at the back of the dining room closet and transferred all the bottles onto it, but it hasn’t worked as expected. I have so far emptied the “back bar” into the closet three times, filling all the shelves as well as the floor space in front of them, and if memory serves me, there is also a partially filled cardboard box of bottles in the garage.

The girls, my daughters and niece Kelly, are the culprits and when I tell them they need to drink what we already have they just laugh. However, the full case of wine from Thanksgiving that is now sitting by the door, will soon be picked up by Barbara and Jonathan and transferred to their house where Christmas festivities are to be held this year. If I’m quick enough, I am hoping to offload a bunch more assorted bottles onto their sled before they leave.

That brings us to the second, more critical category of foods, the perishable stuff. I try my best to rehome what I can, handing off a hunk of ham here, a jug of eggnog there, and whole pies, and loaves of bread wherever I can, but that still leaves a bunch of stuff that I have been valiantly trying to save.

As we speak there is a bowl of ham salad in the fridge, made from the remains of a 10-pound ham and to be honest, after eating ham salad sandwiches for breakfast and supper three days in a row, I really don’t even want to look at it anymore.

The leftover baked butternut squash went into the soup pot and emerged as a lovely cream soup.

The large wedge of smoked Fontina cheese and the pound of really nice deli-sliced swiss cheese will probably find new life in quiche and a baked mac and cheese if I can find someone with whom to share it (Elaine?).

The almost full bag of fresh cranberries have already been earmarked for the Cranberry Pecan Cake recipe that I cut out of The Breeze a few weeks ago, but only after the Eggnog Bread Pudding made with leftover eggnog, a pint of leftover heavy cream, and the smidge of spiced rum found in the bottom of a bottle in the closet (which I have already prepared and will soon be putting in the oven) is eaten.

That will still leave a bag full of less than fresh Brussels sprouts that I just this morning found lurking at the bottom of the fridge. I remember hearing about a Jacques Pepin recipe that involved Brussels sprouts and bacon, and since everything really is better with bacon, I just might give that a try.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

Rhea used leftover eggnog to make this Eggnog Bread Pudding.