the glory of the second chance

weekender special edition
notes from maggie's farm

the most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers.  the original meal was never found.
--calvin trillin
the glory of the second chance

so what is it about leftovers?  seems like there's no love for the lowly leftover.  'my family doesn't eat leftovers'—i hear that all the time. gosh, some of my most fab meals come with creative repurposing of the leftover.  i mean don't we all deserve a second chance?  i, myself,  am a living testament to the glory of the second chance.  my second chances have their own second chances. i'm just a late bloomer.  i seem to save my best work for the do-over.  it's not by intention, and not to say the first result wasn't just fine, but the second, (or third, or fourth)  is usually an improvement on the first, whatever the project may be.  a little more finessed, a little easier on the eyes, ears or tastebuds.  draft, proof, edit, revise. who doesn't love a second chance to redecorate  the first? 

so i say, with the shortage of time and funds so many of us are faced with these days, let's champion the culinary renaissance of the artfully repurposed leftover!  let's call it a movement  and make it to food network.  artfully repurposed is the key here, because honestly, if the meal didn't knock your socks off the first time, is it likely you'll eat it a second?  well probably not as it stands; we need that artful repurposing to elevate the leftover. 

so here's the plan.  if you, like me, are hardwired to cook for an army, even if you are only an army of one or two, work with it!  on that day that you have the time,  the energy, and the desire to devote to your best kitchen work, double, triple, quadruple your efforts, and eat dinner, or sport some very fancy brown bagging,  for the rest of the week. 

let's see how it's done.  but first, a disclaimer.  for most posts i measure each ingredient without fail, and try to be painstakingly thorough to make it as easy for our readers to duplicate the recipe as possible.  it's the weekend now, and honestly?  i  usually cook just like your little ole grandmother did—a handful, a pinch, a shake, a dash—i don't cook by recipe, i cook by sense and memory.  so i'm giving you the bones here, however if you would like more exact quantities and times, please don't hesitate to email, or leave a comment, and i'll get those together for  you.  eventually.

yesterday, we enjoyed a shrimp boil for two (with plenty for leftovers, too). 

today, we made a delicious creamy corn salad with basil in tzatziki dressing.

- we cut the leftover corn off of the cob.  (you better boil way more than you need, because you're not going to have as much leftover left over as you planned, and you will even eat it cold while you're 'decobbing') 

-we steamed a small zucchini in the microwave for two minutes, then cubed it

-we rough cut some fresh tomatoes

-we chopped a handful of basil leaves

-we made a quick tzatziki dressing by peeling, seeding, and grating a small cucumber, chopped fresh mint to equal a tablespoon, added 1 t chopped fresh dill, and ½-1 minced clove of garlic, and combined all, plus 1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar , and 1 tablespoon olive oil, with 1 medium carton of greek style yogurt (runs around 12-16 ounces, depending on the brand).  we actually made this earlier in the week for lunch.  this was leftover.  so we're using this leftover in this leftover.

-and then we tossed it all together, added salt and ground black pepper to taste, and popped it into the fridge to allow flavors to marry.  this is some delicious stuff.

then, we made a creole potato salad.

-we crushed potatoes with mayonnaise.  we won't do a whole taste test of mayo's today, but we love hellman's, only because we can't get blue plate over here.  duke's is another southern favorite.  and miracle whip in arkansas.  and that is just wrong, as far as we are concerned.  but to each his own, of course.  (i'm not making fun of you arkansas.  i love you!  but i just have to rib you about that miracle whip.)

-we tossed in 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, and some olive salad.  don't know what olive salad is?  it's from here, and here, and you can usually get it at any local grocery store, but if you can't, you can make your ownif that doesn't work for you, chop up some olives, capers, maybe some marinated artichokes in oil, whatever you have on hand,  and you'll have a close, instant, approximation. 

and that's it.  simple.  see, it wouldn't be so much work to toss together that olive salad with a dish that's so simple, yet quite sophisticated for a potato salad. you can serve it warm, you can serve it cold, whatever your preference.  we eat it both ways.

finally, the crowning achievement--shrimp and artichoke, with poached egg on whole grain pasta

-we've saved the boiling water from our shrimp boil, strained it, and returned it to it's large pot.  bring to a boil. toss in the pasta.

- we saute a handful of frozen artichoke hearts, the leftover mushrooms from the shrimp boil, quartered, and 1 tablespoon capers, over medium high heat, in 1-2 tablespoons butter, for about 8 minutes.  add the juice of one lemon, toss in a handful or two of peeled shrimp, and remove  from heat.

-when spaghetti is cooked al dente, remove from pot to a colander.  turn water to low boil, and carefully poach as many whole eggs as servings that are being prepared.  be careful not to poach too long, as you won't get the velvety, liquid, yolky  'sauce' that's desired. (have trouble with the poaching thing?  it's easy, and you can get more info here.)

-plate spaghetti, top with shrimp and vegetables and then top with poached egg.  garnish, optionally, with chives, or a grating of parmesan, perhaps, and a liberal sprinkling of coarse ground black pepper.   

-we dig in and it's all just sooo good--just a little party for our taste buds, and that shrimp boil is nothing but a delicious memory, with these fresh new arftully repurposed leftovers! 

and if that doesn't get you loving the idea of the elevated leftover---well i guess i'll just have to continue the hard sell—we'll be sharing more of the artfully repurposed leftover, including a leftover with these leftovers, monthly, on tips for tuesdaysnotes from maggie's farm.
see you next week from maggie's farm where we're devoted to the tradition of keeping home-- daily chores with a little bit of yesteryear, and a little bit of this year.  monday is laundry day, and we prepare a luscious, fresh, velvety roasted tomato basil soup that's a cinch to make between loads.  have a great weekend!


  1. These photos are simply incredible. I could stare at them all day! Bring on the leftovers!

  2. from maggie's farm07 August, 2011

    thank you kind friend! i have to admit i got hungry all over again while i was posting the photos. my new dslr is making me put on the pounds..haha


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