Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's hard to imagine sharing a social life with folks who don't share my love of leftovers. I fear they will starve to death, because they are a beloved staple of menus at my house.

I felt like I was better-dealing my own fridge last night (filled with tempting treats) when the Junior Gays invited me over for last-minute dinner. I had offered to cook for them, but it turned out OJ was already marinating chicken when I asked, so how could I turn that down? (He's so close to graduating to Food Gay -- though he would normally be YEARS away from declaring his major -- still, I do feel like I must keep a careful eye on him during this critical phase.) He shows such particular promise in keeping a uniquely homosexual eye on our post-holiday waistlines: the chicken had one teaspoon of oil (!), yet it was quite savory.

I think they just didn't want to eat leftovers at my house --- though I swear I was going to make them into something new and delicious. I had already turned the lucky black forbidden rice into a soup with ginger, garlic, lime, scallions, and OJ's fantastic orange-soy pork tenderloin. Then I planned to take some of the rest of our brunch creations and make fritters, etc. Clearly, they wanted no part of it. And I have an admittedly hopelessly straight approach to our girlish figures -- there's no doubt butter and sour cream would've played a starring role. As the two of them remarked of me and my occasional cooking companion last night, "My GOD you two are the DAIRY Couple." (I suspect we have been called worse things.)

In the summer, I am admittedly a little more Euro -- everything just comes straight from the garden to the plate for that night's dinner -- though I still always spend the weekends processing out the bases I know I'll need that week (roasting garlic, etc.) I don't like Winter, and I don't appreciate the paucity of culinary resources -- but I don't mind throwing on a Sunday pot roast or pot of chili and sustaining everybody through the week on it.

My FEAR is that I am becoming my grandmother (the most beloved person in my life next to my Uncle Don), God rest her soul.

Squandering leftovers would've been an affront to her right, God-fearing, Calvinist sensibilities. Any invitation to a restaurant meal was invariably met with exactly this protestation, "but we have a big skillet of meat back at the house."

To this day, if I hesitate too long over a dinner invitation, my family will openly mock me asking, "what? do you have a skillet of something we need to eat?"

Well, yeah. I probably do.


  1. Using the words skillet and meat together clearly exposes your southern roots. Nothing is better than a complete meal in a skillet. When I was a child they might call such a thing Oklahoma goulash. Here they might call it a burgoo. By whatever appelation it may be called this I know: when all the juices and textures blend together and the meat is tender to the point of being buttery you have yourself a meal -- and all out of leftovers. I suspect even food snobs occasionally behind closed doors delight in a meal in a skillet.

  2. one of the greatest culinary heartbreaks of my 20s was when the vulture-relations descended on my grandmother's house after she died and cleaned out her cupboards --- making off with those perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillets (and everything else that wasn't red hot or nailed down).
    I have bought replacements since, but they DO NOT work right, even after decades of amateur seasoning.

    I will be inheriting my Dad's -- he says he is afraid to sneeze for fear I will proceed straight to the E.R. and forge a DNR on his behalf.

  3. I have a set of cast iron skillets that I received as a gift about 20 years ago. They were light gray when they were new out of the box. I did the initial "seasoning" at a low temperature over a couple days. Since then I have never washed them in soap and prefer cleaning them by heating. Now they are a combination of jet black rusty brown. They cook better now but still, I think in another 10 years or so they might begin to reach their prime. I wonder if my son will want them with a wanton lust like you have for your father's skillets.