I was raised by a Mama that went through the Great Depression–you know it was a real event if both words get capitalized. They say that folks that endure a hardship like this are permanently changed, that their “normal” isn’t like our sense of everyday security. I used to laugh at my Nannie who saved string and tinfoil into big balls that sat on the kitchen counter. My Nannie also used to make sure that every bit of the chicken was used, so the bones were boiled to make chicken stock along with some carrots and celery and salt and pepper. They didn’t have ramen noodles back then, but they also didn’t have high blood pressure either.
Another thing I would giggle at was the use of leftovers to make “druthers soup.” It got its name from the fact that we’d druther have something else, but we would eat what we got in front of us. We didn’t eat out unless we went to our grandparents’ homes or got the occasional ice cream treat. It wasn’t that I was from a poor family, for my Dad was a doctor. This was just how I was raised. Mother believed that she could cook better than the restaurant, so unless we had a birthday, we ate at the family table.
To this day, I don’t waste the left overs, not even from the food I’ve bought at a restaurant. At a Cinco de Mayo celebration I had the fajitas which came with beans, rice, and tortillas. I managed to eat the meat, and part of the onions and grilled peppers, as well as the guacamole and lettuce. But all the rest came home with me. Folks were just amazed that I would take home these “cheap foods”, but I said, “These beans will be a good base for a soup, I’ve got some leftover chicken in the freezer, plus I’ll add a few mushrooms, these onions and peppers, and the leftover rice, and this will be a great soup!” I had a whole other meal all spiced just right and everything. All I had to do is heat it up. That’s the photo above. I threw some of my fresh basil from my little garden into the pot, and I felt like the queen of my kitchen.
I don’t keep the tinfoil ball–I think that is probably germ attracting. I don’t have a ball of string, but I don’t believe in wasting food. Buy what you need, order what you can eat, take home and use up what you don’t eat. People are still hungry in this world, and our throwing out food is wasteful. Invite someone over to share a meal with you and turn off all the electronics. Reconnect and rediscover what it means to share your selves around the table.