Why is it that if I preface lunch possibilities with the word, “Leftover” then at least half of my family says an automatic “no thanks” whereas if I say, “Macaroni and Cheese from a box” (which just might happen to be the same thing we had two nights ago) then they’re fine with it?

Why is it that I know that soup, for instance, is even better the next day, but that they haven’t yet learned this? Or, perhaps, they just refuse to believe it?

I have, however, discovered a trick.

If the child makes the food, the child then wants to eat it – even the leftovers!

Isn’t that a great trick? It kills several birds with one stone. 1) They’re learning to cook – a life-skill and a boon to busy mothers everywhere. 2) They’re learning the value of their work and the loss of spoiled (and rejected) food. 3) They’re learning to better appreciate the work that it takes to prepare, present, and clean up after a meal.

At least I fondly think they are.

My nephew made me promise not to post any pictures with his face in them. No, he's not an ogre - just shy, I guess. But his hands were fair game.

When we were out in Washington over Christmas, one of my favorite memories was cooking together with my sister and her family every evening. My sister has a large kitchen – large enough to hold 5 or 6 adults all working in the same space. Not to mention my three kids running around underfoot.

It was the most fun ever. My brother-in-law was grilling outside, though he mostly was inside with us as it was cold out. My sister was making several things at once – dips and batter for onion rings and slicing the onions too, as I recall. My husband was deep-frying the rings. My nephew was making sushi which, if you’ve ever made it, you know is a detailed and many-splendored thing. I was helping him a bit by cutting veggies and tuna with his direct-from-Japan sushi knife which he warned me about with no uncertain words.

It’s very, very, very sharp.

Yeah. It's sharp.

I was also making chocolate chip cookies (though perhaps that was on a different night? I can’t remember – we had several of these wonderful evenings!). I am required, by law, to make Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies for my brother-in-law whenever we visit. I have lived under this law since 8th grade. I always make a double batch, because it’s hardly worth all the work otherwise. I even fried them like pancakes on their woodstove one time when the power was out for 8 days.

I know that on one of these fun nights, my nephew made whole wheat noodles. And that on another, my nephew-in-law, who had come over for the evening with my niece and great-nephew, was in charge of deep-frying oysters. (If you pull the fryer out, you might as well get a lot of use out of it!)

The kids, during this time, were “helping”.

"Helping" with the scraps of homemade noodles.

As we worked we talked, laughed until our sides ached, and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s not often that we’re together as a family, as Minnesota is a long way from Washington, mores the pity.

The next day we ate the leftovers – the few that there were – and relived the memories of the night before. Those kinds of leftovers will never get old.

4 Responses

  1. Jenny

    It was a wonderful time! It’s always much more fun to have others to cook for and with. I love it when the husbands and kids get involved!

  2. Why is it we connect so many fond family members with food?

    As for left-overs, I love them because it means I get a night off from cooking. And what mother doesn’t like a break from cooking?

  3. I so agree! Lunch would not be the same without leftovers! I suppose food so often comes into our family events – that and we need it so often! – that it just fits in our memories! I’m often bummed when we don’t have leftovers – so long as they haven’t been hanging around too long!

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