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Music – “The Leftovers” from Homemade Fun by Keith Munslow. Released: 2009. (PS: Don’t take this song too seriously!)
In Forensic Anthropology, there is a term “commingling”, which is a mixture of the skeletal remains of more than one individual, and for one reason or another, have been “mixed” together. This can happen in mass burials, such as the genocide we have seen during WWII in Germany, and more recently in Rwanda and Bosnia, just to name a few. It is up to the task of the Forensic Anthropologist to attempt to make order out of chaos, and ultimately, try to assemble the bony remains in order to identify the individual. Forensic Anthropology is definitely not for those who eschew puzzles!
Well, you may be wondering what all this talk of “commingling” has to do with the kitchen. From my love of cooking, I frequently make large batches of “stuff”, which inevitably ends up in my freezer. (No, I am not Hannibal Lecter!) Periodically, I rummage through the freezer, looking for likely batches of “stuff“, which might be good “commingled”. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they don’t (just ask my spouse!).
When I am “commingling” in my kitchen, my spouse will often come in to ask what’s for dinner. I usually end up telling him that we’re having some “soupy, stewy thingy” and leave the rest up to his imagination.
Anything with a good soup base is a good starting point to add some leftover stew, toss in some veggies and a splash of wine and Bob’s your uncle (or in my case, my ex-brother-in-law).
I have commingled leftover chili with beef soup (pretty good), leftover chicken a-la-king with shrimp jambalaya (not so much), and you can’t go wrong commingling soups (usually). On some occasions, the final product looks like a hodge-podge of “whatever”, so I take out the Cuisinart blender and blend up the stuff until it resembled a thick, homogenous pea soup. (So tasty too!, with apologies to Lucy!).
There is so much food thrown away every day, that it is mind-boggling. I’m not talking about rancid, long-in-the-tooth food, but decent food, which for some bizarre reasons, many people refuse to eat. These are the “leftovers”, which our Moms frugally saved and served up again, perhaps morphed into something else, which looked totally different from it’s former life, or perhaps just re-heated what was cooked and leftover from the night before.
I can’t imagine NOT eating leftovers, yet there appear to be a whole lot of people out there, who simply throw away anything that doesn’t get consumed on the first go-round of cooking. It’s tragic, and I think, irresponsible and wasteful, but that’s just my opinion. Perhaps this is a reflection of a throw-away generation, who did not have to live with wars close to home, rationing, or cared about conservation efforts and starving millions.
So, I urge you: when you are tired of cooking and stuff is falling out of your freezer, think “commingling” and be adventurous! You’ll never forget the combinations that do not work! (and your spouse won’t let you forget either!)