Les restes: Waste not, want not

Book of the day: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.


This year, as part of an ongoing attempt to be greener and more ecologically conscious, I resolve to reduce further the amount of food waste produced by my family. Shortly after we moved in to our home, five years ago, we adopted a lovely big compost bin (and, naturally, one of those adorable vintage-looking food scrap tins for the kitchen to go with it), which we manage to keep well-fed and nurtured for roughly six months every year. Unfortunately access to the bin usually becomes impossible by summer, either through illness (like last year) or the opposing wishes of gardening projects (like the swan gourd rampage of 2017), and the poor thing slowly starves and sickens – despite my spending every spring trying to tame decades of previously unchecked jungle. The actual excuse matters very little; at around the same time each year I find myself waving a reluctant goodbye to the bottom section of our garden as the weeds run rampant and block out the world beyond. This has so far blighted my good intentions, and I am determined once and for all that my faithful friend shall no longer suffer this cruel annual fate. There has only been one bright spot in this otherwise depressing pattern, which is that in blocking us from the rest of the world, the rest of the world (specifically one aged boundary-disrespecting neighbour) is blocked out in return. As the father of our local agriculteur (and former bearer of that title himself), he appears to being clinging to some vestiges of ancient feudalism, where, having been here the longest and presumably (given his age) benefiting from his previous role as sole provider of all tithable produce, has claimed all of the surrounding land as his own, our garden included. This gentleman has been caught red-handed pottering about in our chicken run and attacking the ivy that creeps up our boundary wall. Polite hints to encourage his retreat falling on deaf ears, my more pointed remarks that he might address any horticultural concerns to my husband, who would happily resolve them himself, were met with my casual dismissal from my own garden, accompanied by an assurance that he could manage. To add insult to injury during last year’s saison de chasse his hunting dog also invaded our chicken run, causing the premature decease of my Chou’s beloved Esther I. Were it not for the fact that he occasionally toots the horn on his tractor for the amusement of my Chou and that I am convinced he has the local maire in his pocket (who, until our house renovations are complete, it would be unwise to annoy) I do not think that I would be able to remain civil towards him. As it is, we are not the best of friends…

Therapeutic embittered rant aside, however, the point I had been attempting to get to, before I distracted myself, was that since most of our weeds die back to their roots in winter, our garden has finally reached the point in its seasonal cycle where I can once again see the compost bin, peeking out from behind a wall of dead nettles. Now all that remains is to hack a path through the wilderness and to find the lid:

It’s there if you look carefully.

In the meantime I challenged myself to use up every single scrap of leftover Christmas feast from the fridge. My mum and I did so much cooking during Christmas week that I found myself accumulating more and more partially eaten food, much in the same manner as Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar (although the caterpillar has a justifiable reason for his feeding frenzy; in my case it was merely the combination of tradition and greed). This is how our food mound escalated:

On Tuesday (Christmas Day) we ate through part of 1 turkey (after which we were no longer hungry for the rest of that week and beyond).

On Wednesday (Boxing Day) we ate through part of 2 gammon joints.

On Thursday we ate through 3 types of raclette.

On Friday we ate through 4 (and a bit) portions of ‘leftover turkey and gammon en croute’, recipe courtesy of Delia Smith’s Christmas.

On Saturday we ate through 5 leftover side dishes – cauliflower cheese, sprouts, roast parsnips, roast potatoes and bread sauce – by blitzing them into a surprisingly tasty soup.

From Sunday up until yesterday we ate through ALL of the leftover leftovers, including:

  • 2 and a bit portions of leftover ‘leftover turkey and gammon en croute’
  • 5 portions of coronation turkey
  • 2 portions of leftover chestnut stuffing and turkey stock soup (the recipe for which can be found over on my mum’s blog)
  • 6 portions of leftover ‘gammon (plus scrumptious glaze) and cranberry sauce potato bake’ with raclette:

  • 2 sausage meat stuffing, cranberry sauce and raclette toasted sandwiches
  • 4 portions of Maltese fennel and turkey stock potatoes, and
  • 2 portions of leftover cheese (St. Agur and Bornin à l’Ail to be precise) in pasta, with more cranberry sauce (not technically a leftover because it’ll keep fine in the fridge for months with the amount of port in it, but I know that I still have two jars left, so why ration it?)

After that we deserved to have stomach ache.

I am very proud not to have thrown anything out, and to have used up all of our leftovers before anything started to fester or to walk out of the fridge by itself, but I will be very pleased indeed to have a few days of meat-free meals, after which I think we will all feel much better!

Now, where’s that cocoon?
Mots du jour:

les restes – leftovers agriculteur – arable farmer saison de chasse – hunting season maire – mayor raclette – delicious cheese originating in the Valais region of Switzerland, served melted over boiled potatoes

14 thoughts on “Les restes: Waste not, want not

  1. I think I would need to just curl up in a ball and never eat again after all that – but massive kudos for using everything up! In comparison I did the same sort of thing, I ate Christmas lunch, cheese, Toblerone, more cheese, the leftover toblerone, and finally the leftover cheese. I’m thinking of starting my own recipe book haha!


  2. Reading this has made me hungry! We managed not to have too many leftovers bit there are 2 slices of raclette cheese still in the fridge an we’re slowly making out way through the rest of the Lebkuchen and Christmas chocolate. After that I swear I will started eating healthily again 😆


  3. What do you ask for in France for gammon – or did your Sainted Mother bring it over for you? I love gammon, but have never found out what to buy in order to have it. IKEA do a frozen Christmas ham – must remember to buy one when I’m in Clermont on Monday – which is good, but only available round the festive season, so otherwise we go without.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tried the local butcher and asked for jambon salé anglais, then explained that it was called gammon in English as he hadn’t a clue. He ended up not being able to source one so I eventually resorted to ordering 2 small ones from an “English supermarket” close to my father-in-law’s house (an hour away), which does frequent raids on the nearest Tesco to Dover ferry terminal. It was definitely a splurge! Thanks for the tip about Ikea…I’ll try to remember to go hunting there this year to see what I find 🙂


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