Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers

My goal for the past year has been to throw out less leftovers. Waste not, want not – that is the saying, isn’t it? For some reason though, no matter how hard I try or how often I serve leftovers in one form or other, at the end of every week there are more glass bowls filled with leftovers lining the shelves of the fridge than I started with.

Don’t over simplify this and suggest I just make less initial food so there wouldn’t be any leftovers in the first place. That isn’t an option. Grace takes them to work, Zeb takes them to school, and I do get some really great ‘Leftover Makeover’ concoctions that in some cases turn out better than what I first started with. So less is not the point. The point is the quantity of leftovers in my fridge increase the more I use them.

Now I am the first person to take responsibility when I do something wrong, or at least I try. But, I don’t believe I should take all the blame for this. I’m not certain and I certainly wouldn’t quote me on this, but I do believe there is some sort of “Law” out there about the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers. But if for some strange reason this hasn’t been discussed/discovered yet, I am right now taking claim to it – Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers.

Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers states that the harder you try to get rid of leftovers–the more effort you put into using up what at first try didn’t get eaten, the more leftovers you will accumulate until eventually they spoil and end up being thrown out, thus canceling out any intentions of the initial goal to get rid of your leftovers before they spoil.

I know, I know! You are probably wondering how I ever came up with such a thing. After all, correct me if I’m wrong…isn’t the point of cooking with leftovers, to “eliminate” the leftovers – not to make more?

That’s what I thought! I knew I couldn’t have been wrong all these years, but then again I admit that 9 out of 10 times when I cook with leftovers, I end up making even more leftovers. This obviously doesn’t happen when I “reheat” leftovers and serve them in their original form. No, then, and pretty much only then, I truly do either eliminate or at the very least make a dent in them. The trouble starts when I use leftovers in a “makeover” dish. This is when I find myself adding to the ever growing stacks of glass storage dishes layered one on top of another as high as the eye can see on every shelf of the fridge.

Let me share with you my latest example.

Thursday I made corned beef with boiled potatoes and fried cabbage for dinner. At the end of the meal I had three bowls to go in the fridge. One bowl with the extra corned beef, one bowl with the leftover potatoes, and a small bowl of fried cabbage. Plus I had half a head of cabbage still in the fridge that I didn’t use for dinner.

Friday I decided to try to use up the corned beef in a new meal. I made Chicken Reuben Roll-ups with Mornay Sauce. Plus I used the leftover boiled potatoes and made a Mashed Potato Casserole. Perfect, I could use up two of the leftovers in one shot. Well, things didn’t work out quite as I planned.

At the end of the meal we had leftover Chicken Reuben Roll-ups, Mornay Sauce, and Mashed Potato Casserole – three new bowls. Two bowls came out of the fridge, three bowls went back in. I was already losing ground.

Oh, and just when I think it can’t possibly get any worse, it does. Many a time when I use leftovers to make a new meal (a ‘makeover’), I don’t even use up all the old leftovers in the process. This leaves me with not only all the new glass storage dishes to hold the makeover leftovers, but also all the old ones holding the original leftovers. Albeit some of the old leftover dishes are possibly half empty or may have been transferred to smaller dishes, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are more leftovers now than there were in the first place.

So, back to my Chicken Reuben Roll-up makeover meal. In the process of making the Chicken Reuben Roll-ups, I didn’t use up all the corned beef so there was still that dish. Oh, and although I did use up all the boiled potatoes in the Mashed Potato Casserole, the casserole called for 6 slices of cooked bacon. I couldn’t very well just fry up 6 slices, so a pound of bacon got cooked and crumbled and what didn’t go into the casserole, went into another glass bowl.

So, I started out with 2 glass bowls coming out of the fridge to use up, and put five back in. It’s no wonder there’s never any space in the fridge and this does justify why Hubby can never find anything in there either (and here I just thought that was a man thing – don’t tell him that though, I’d never live it down).

But, not to be discouraged, today I decided to use up the remaining corned beef and the rest of the cabbage in Corned Beef and Coleslaw Sandwiches. At the end of the meal there was one sandwich left and some coleslaw. Two bowls came out, two bowls went back in. Okay, no gain, but then again no loss either.

Now, there aren’t enough leftovers for a meal for the four of us, so guess what? That’s right, tomorrow I’m making something new. Sure Grace will take some of the leftovers on Monday to work and Zeb might be persuaded to take some to school, but that will just make the leftovers even smaller, thus not enough for a meal for three, then not enough for two, then Everyone Will Be Sick Of Eating Them And They Will Get Pushed To The Back Of The Fridge Until Weeks From Now I GET SO FRUSTRATED WITH HAVING NO SPACE TO PUT ANY LEFTOVERS THAT I TEAR EVERYTHING OUT OF THE FRIDGE AND FIND THEM ALL MOLDY AND GROSS AND END UP THROWING THEM DOWN THE GARBAGE DISPOSAL CURSING UNDER MY BREATH THE WHOLE TIME ABOUT ‘WASTE NOT, WANT NOT!’

Whew! Well, I feel better. Sure I didn’t really solve anything here today, but at least now I can blame it all on Tilly’s Law of the Multiplying Multiplicity of Leftovers and perhaps come to accept that some things are just never going to change. And hey, I got five great new recipes out of my corned beef and boiled potato makeovers, it doesn’t get much better than that. And for this I am – Simply Grateful.


Turkey Carcass Soup – Thanksgiving All Wrapped Into One Pot

My body feels like it’s been run over by a truck. Okay, so I don’t actually know what it feels like to be run over by a truck, but I imagine it’s got to hurt — an awful lot, and my body right now, hurts, a lot. Lifting my arms to put on a shirt took more effort than I’d like to admit and bending over to pet Bell made me howl.

Why? Well, I guess the gardening, sod removal, weeding, planting, and bush removing that I’ve done the past three days, finally caught up with me. I’m just not that young anymore and am aging faster than I can keep up with. At the rate I’m going, by weeks end I’ll be older than I was just a few days ago, which goes without saying.

In order to recoup, revitalize, and renew my perspective, today was a day to ground myself and the best way I know how to do this is to hang laundry on the clothesline, fill a vase with the last of the lilacs from the bushes on the side of the house, throw a pot of soup on the stove, and can something. Nothing helps me “reset” after a busy couple of days than getting back to basics.

Laundry is never a problem around here, there’s always something to wash. Clipping the lilacs only took a minute or two, and filled the house with their sweet smell one last time until next year. The soup? Well, while most people were probably grilling on Memorial Day, I went against the grain and made roast turkey.

Yep! Thanksgiving in May with all the fixings. Turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade cranberry-plum sauce, pickled beets, and sweet potatoes. No pumpkin pie this time, but we did have fresh fruit for dessert.

The best part of making turkey any day of the year is what type of “Leftover Makeover” can be done with the turkey — Turkey Carcass Soup. Had it not been 85° on Memorial Day and the kitchen not been 95° because the oven had been going for five hours along with all four burners on the stove, I would have done exactly what I do Thanksgiving night, thrown the turkey carcass in the pot right after dinner. Not being thrilled with the prospect of sweltering in the heat the rest of the night, I chose to refrigerate the carcass until the weather broke a bit.

This morning, the weather was perfect for putting a large stock pot on the stove and allowing it to simmer all day on low, filling the house with the mouth-watering smell of roasted turkey and herb stuffing all over again.

Growing up, my mother never made Turkey Soup. I’m not sure why, she just never did. She was a good cook, albeit her comfort zone never wavered beyond meatloaf, roasts, and spaghetti. Although certainly not a gourmet meal, turkey soup was just not on her menu repertoire.

After many years of enjoying homemade chicken soup, one Thanksgiving night, as I was striping the turkey carcass of it’s meat for storage, preparing the bones for the trash, it hit me — Why not throw the carcass, scraps, fat, bones, and skin in a pot of water and see what happens? The results were better than I imagined. Unlike chicken soup, which I make with chicken thighs with the skin bought specifically for making soup, the turkey carcass had remnants of stuffing and roasted skin which gave the soup a rich, deep flavor. The broth was so good, I decided it would be a shame to muddy it with anything more than some fresh, needle-thin egg noodles, so I strained everything else out. Although not substantial enough for a meal, especially without any vegetables or meat, the flavors of the roasted turkey, herb stuffing, and vegetables added to the broth made for an amazing first course to any dinner or a great accompaniment for cold or hot turkey sandwiches for lunch.

Today’s “Leftover Makeover” is Turkey Carcass Soup — I know the name is a bit risky, but I bet it’s one you’ll remember.

Turkey Carcass Soup

Carcass from Roasted Turkey, including any fat, skin, bones or scraps that you can scrape off the cutting board
Large Stock Pot filled with hot water
2 tsp. salt
4 Carrots peeled and chopped in food processor
1 Large Onion peeled and chopped in food processor
3 Stalks Celery chopped in food processor

Put turkey carcass and cutting board scrapings into large stock pot and cover with water.
Add salt.
Prepare vegetables.
Add vegetables to pot.

DSCF1729Bring soup to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 hours or until all meat falls from bones and carcass falls apart.

After only an hour the broth is already getting murky from the fat.

After only an hour the broth is already getting murky from the fat.

Remove from heat and strain vegetables, bones, and meat from broth.
Return broth to pot and bring to boil.
Add thin egg noodles and return to boil. Noodles should cook within 2 – 3 minutes.


DSCF1770If you want vegetables and/or meat in your soup, once the soup has been strained, you can add diced turkey and vegetables to the broth, cook an additional hour or more depending on how thick vegetables are cut, then serve.

Taking a break from the seasonal demands of summer might not have been on my to do list but sometimes the body knows what the head won’t admit. Today my body told me it needed a day that didn’t include hauling dirt, digging holes, pulling weeds, trimming grass, pruning plants, or planning my next big garden project. This gave me the time needed to ground myself and get back to basics, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.