Liberating the Leftovers
My first partner said, “Making meals is the wife’s job, so was taking care of the kids, and cleaning the apartment.”
My second partner said, “Eating leftovers just didn’t work for him, he’d rather eat out.”
My third partner was perfectly fine cooking 14 pieces of chicken and eating one breast at lunch and dinner each day of the week.
At age of 50, a very pivotal year, I said good bye to my 3rd partner as I watched my world crumble, and that fall I said hello to my life partner, the person I had been looking for my whole life.
We come from very different worlds, but the way we look at things, treat people, raise our children, and embrace life, all have a true synergy. It struck me that despite our different approaches to many things, we actually arrive at a very similar place. This occurred the other week, twice, while we were preparing dinner. I joked we should create a cookbook. But it wouldn’t be about just cooking, but a combination of cooking and a reflection on the way we live our lives.
A big pot of chili can go a long way.
Through the years my partner has worked to create the award winning chili that he concocts probably once a month. It’s over 3 lbs of meat so it lasts a long time. You could just eat it warmed up in a bowl sprinkled with cheese for every meal. But, I’m not that kind of eater. Eating is a time to feed the soul. If I’m going to eat it, it should be good because I’m at the age that what I put in my mouth shows up on my hips or bulging in my belly. Calories in, calories out. I also think of meal time or the preparation ritual as family time. A chance to catch up on each other’s day and to transition from work/school to home life.
I wanted to share the many creations of how our pot of chili looks during any given week. I’m a firm believer in taking well made leftovers and creating something new, this allows us to enjoy it all over again. Well if you pause to think about it, ten years of bringing my lunch saved me at least $10 a day and helped me purchase my favorite Mini Cooper that I designed online.
The first night we make the chili (don’t forget the beans), one of our favorite ways to eat it is over pasta with lots of melted cheddar cheese on top. We like it spicy but the nuclear chili pepper mixture is saved for “adults only” eating because the kids balked at it. You can serve chili on all sorts of things, rice, tater tots, or a baked potato, but we always start with rotini first. It catches the meat and sauce in the ridges.
If it was Friday night that we prepared the big pot, then for breakfast on Saturday, well, there’s nothing like a cheesy chili omelet for breakfast. One that’s as large as the skillet with thick puffy eggs. Plus, a zig zag of Sriracha sauce on the edge of the plate for extra dipping.
Lunch during the work week needs to be quick, so it could be more cold pasta and chili warmed up, but when there’s more time later, there’s so many options.
A salad, layered with Fritos or tortilla chips, plus a dollop of warmed chili, and then topped with cheese, is mighty fine.
Paired with leftover quiche, the chili definitely jazzes up the quiche as a thick layer on top.
Or if you are feeling fun, what’s better than taking a scoop style tortilla chip, loading it with homemade mac ’n cheese, and topping it with chili to stick into the toaster oven for crisping?!
Another quickie when you are on the go, is taking a half of bagel and loading it with chili and cheese with a short stint in the toaster before running out the door. Don’t forget the plate cause it’s messy.
A decadent meat laden snack is that all beef hotdog with a load of chili and cheese on top stuffed in a bun.
Grab a pizza dough and spread a layer of the chili instead of sauce, then add cheese and salsa on top. Definitely needs to be a thicker crust to carry the load.
A true one dish meal, entails mixing the chili in with the pasta, and topping it with cheddar cheese to pop in the oven for a chili mac casserole.
Chili fondue, who doesn’t like to dip small french rounds or chunks of sourdough in the chili and then a beer cheese sauce?!
Here’s to making great meals together, and re-creating new ones with the same delicious ingredients throughout the week. It’s kind of like a good relationship, the key to keeping things interesting is mixing up the strong basics in different ways.