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Home alone: Culinary adventures in a treasure trove of leftovers

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Tomatoes fresh from the garden are food for the gods, morning, noon, and night. However hellish summer may otherwise be in the Deep South, the blessing of red, ripe tomatoes is some measure of compensation for the heat, miserable humidity, mosquitoes, chiggers, sky-high electric/water bills, snakes, and other drawbacks of living here.

 

With my wife away for a few days and the granddaughters summer vacationing and no longer getting off the school bus at our back door each afternoon for snacks and drinks, there is an unaccustomed quiet in the house.

These observations from (temporary) bachelor life:

Leftover fried chicken is a perfectly acceptable, and tasty, breakfast food. Leftover chicken McNuggets from Mickey D’s, abandoned by a granddaughter who popped in for a brief visit, are not. Ditto for leftover McD french fries, no matter how much ketchup they are slathered in. For that matter, even when they are fresh (?) both these “food groups” are little better than deep-fried cardboard. Yet they, heaven help us, are among the foods (?) of choice for aforementioned granddaughters and a large chunk of the juvenile population of the U.S.

Mississippi farm-raised catfish — fried, grilled, lemon peppered, or whatever the preparation — is yummy the day after, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or all three. As is true for a slice of cold watermelon.

Leftover pizza is yucky any time.

A baked potato, after sitting overnight, becomes gummy and rubbery. However, chopped into cubes with some onions and butter and a sprinkling of spices in a hot pan, it makes a quite delectable batch of hash browns (not to be confused with the patties of tasteless shredded potatoes masquerading as hash browns at fast food restaurants).

The bowlful of leftover homemade ice cream is a perfectly breakfast-worthy treat, far superior to the more nutritious (supposedly) Special K cereal. The half-eaten cup of somebody’s Wendy’s Frosty that was parked in the freezer who-knows-when is not. Similarly unappetizing is the partially-eaten cup of yogurt.

Tomatoes fresh from the garden are food for the gods, morning, noon, and night. However hellish summer may otherwise be in the Deep South, the blessing of red, ripe tomatoes is some measure of compensation for the heat, miserable humidity, mosquitoes, chiggers, sky-high electric/water bills, snakes, and other drawbacks of living here. Mealy, tasteless, supermarket tomatoes, picked green, gassed, and shipped from who-knows-where, are an abomination any time of year.

Ripe, juicy southern peaches, if you can find them (not many peach growers in my part of the world any more), rank right up there with tomatoes as one of the joys of summer. I remember to this day, as a youngster, picking a ripe peach from my uncle’s trees, biting through the warm fuzz into its sweet goodness, juice running down my arm and dripping off my elbow. How many of today’s kids have had that experience?

Finally, when it is turned off, the big screen TV offers a pleasant mirror reflection of the backyard. Which is far preferable to the idiotic reality (?) and talk shows that seem now to populate every channel.

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