An Ode To Leftovers

You make dinner. You stress about it and season it and salt it. You toil and trouble and because you drank too much wine you burned the onions and had to start over. When you sat down to eat you were hungry and exhausted.

It is not this way with leftovers.

Leftovers are your gift to you.

I’m not talking about the Thai food from five days ago (throw that out btw), I’m talking about all that’s left of the pasta/chili/rice/chicken thing you made last night that’s now sitting in the tupperware on the top shelf of your fridge.

You shouldn’t be letting it spoil. You should really be enjoying day two of your dinner–preferably for lunch–and here’s why:

Your sauce has really had time to come together. Whereas it may have been a little soup-y initially, while your sauce has been sitting on that shelf it’s figured out how to cling better to the pasta/meat/rice/vegetables. The flavors have developed and become richer. It’s probably something scientific, but I would like to think of it as magic.

Leftovers were meant to be microwaved. I know people extoll the virtues of reheating pizza in an oven or on a skillet and tossing cold pasta into a pan, but leftovers are a meal of luxurious convenience and not dirty dishes.  You did those yesterday. You’ll do them again tonight. Plus, I fucking love when the cheese melts and gets a little hard on the plate.

Leftovers inspire creativity. Add more vegetables to give it an extra shot of color and freshness. Drown it in cheese. Add hot sauce if you’re feeling spicy. You already know what the initial dish tastes like. Leftovers are your chance to spruce things up or change them however you’d like. It’s your dinner’s second chance. It’s a mouth adventure.

Eat them standing in the fridge, waiting at the counter, out of your lunch bag at work, in a bowl at home. It’s yours. You made it, you didn’t have to open Postmates to order it, and sometimes they taste even better cold. Leftovers aren’t lazy, they’re easy. They’re past-you looking out for present-you. They’re home-cooked happiness. Thanks, you.

All that crying over the onions was worth it after all.

 

I Am Incredibly Passionate About Trader Joe’s Organic Jasmine Rice

My grandmother gave me a rice cooker for my birthday (or maybe it was Christmas, I don’t remember. Sorry, Grandma). I wanted to make perfectly fluffy, a little bit sticky, definitely delicious, white rice.

I grew up in a home where rice was made on the stove in a pot with water. It was always either a little too hard or a little too soft, and if I made it it was definitely burned.

The rice cooker helped some. I still somehow always burned the bottom layer, making a crunchy rice shell that I would peel and eat (not as disgusting as it sounds, I promise).  The rice was better if I made it with chicken stock as opposed to water–a tip I learned from the wife of a friend of my father’s over lunch at Nobu.

BUT IT WAS NEVER FUCKING RIGHT AND NEVER EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED AND I WANTED PERFECTLY FLUFFY AND DELICIOUS WHITE RICE,DAMNIT.

Enter Trader Joe’s.

One day I ate my sister’s leftover rice in our refrigerator. It was sitting there in a tupperware, and I microwaved it. “This is some restaurant-quality fucking rice!” I thought to myself as I shoveled spoonfuls down my gullet before she came home from work. “I’ll have to ask her where she got it!”

Aside from being annoyed that I had consumed her food, my sister told me that the rice was actually from Trader Joe’s. “Like, is it pre-made?” I asked. “Like, did you get it in a little container or something? Do they have a hot bar now?”

“No!” She told me. “It’s frozen!”

Pardon????

So basically, this beautiful delicious rice that tastes just as good leftover as it does the day you make it, comes in a 3-pack at Trader Joe’s. The box reads “Microwave perfect in 3 minutes” and they are not lying. This rice has been perfect every single damn time I have ever made it. It’s lightly sticky but still fluffy, it’s never burned (make it in 3 minutes exactly), it’s never too hard or too watery or too soft.

According to TJ’s it’s “Grown in the valleys of Northern Thailand on farms with fertile soil and natural rain water. This rice is a premium, organic product grown with intensive care.”

I don’t care if this rice is from the Thai restaurant down the street, it’s really stinkin’ good and one pouch is enough to feed two people if you’re pairing it with a vegetables, a meat, or a soup. Trader Joe’s also offers a brown rice but it’s nasty because it’s brown rice and I hate it. There is also a wild rice variety that I also find gross! But this white rice is….divine. Simply divine.

I’ve had it alone, alone with butter, with Asian cucumber salad, with chicken, with curry, with red pepper soup, with beans, as part of a burrito bowl, and I would probably eat it any way that it was served to me because I am devoted to TJ’S white rice now!

I’m going to need you not to be a skeptic right now. This microwaved rice is life changing–especially if you suck at making rice for yourself. Seriously, in college I would walk to the Walgreens on Clark and Diversey (Chi till I die bb) and pick up their pre-made rice that I would microwave and cry about because it was terrible.

This rice is wonderful.

And it’s from Trader Joe’s so it’s budget-friendly and it’s a 3-pack so that’s actually like a few different meals you can make.

Have I converted you yet?