“What’s for dinner?” Rachel calls to me through the window.
“Stuff ‘n Nonsense,” I reply.
A wide grin spreads across her face.
“Hey Lydia,” she runs off excitedly, “We’re having Stuff ‘n Nonsense for dinner! Yippee!!”
Yep, that’s one of the favorite meals around here because it invites every member of the family to peruse and choose their dining experience according to the odds and ends plus bits and pieces from previous meals.
You may call this “leftovers” but I found that term made my lips curl as I said it and caused more noses to turn up than mouths. After all, “left”over connotes that somebody “left” it and probably for a good reason. (Oh wait, that voice from childhood has piped up again!) My mom tried calling them “plan”overs but that didn’t work either.
One day in a fit of perkiness on my part, to counteract whininess on my child’s part as they beseeched me for a hint about dinner (a task for which I had zero ideas and even less energy to put forth in the creation of such), I popped off with “Stuff ‘n Nonsense.” Mouth agape, the young one stuttered out a plea for explanation, to which I threw open the fridge door and invited them into my lair. The eyes of a child can find all kinds of adventure in the hallowed recesses of a food chiller. Hmmmmm … ooooh … *clank* … shove … reach … aaaaaah ... With a bit of teamwork we hunted down a delicious array of “Stuff ‘n Nonsense” and transformed a dull meal into an epicurean adventure.
Now, despite the fact that these food items have been stockpiled from a former dining experience and may constitute a portion less than adequate for more than one person, we assemble an eye-appealing array of this and that atop serving platters and in fetching little bowls that just cry out to be sampled. “Presentation is everything,” according to Martha Stewart and never more so than with the wholesome and still palatable dregs from the fridge. Candles, cloth napkins, and charming music make for a thrifty buffet everyone will enjoy.
I once watched my mother-in-law cut up dinner’s remaining bread+spread (a concoction my arteries don’t want to remember), a few uneaten bar-cookies from dessert, and other assorted finger-foods that the group hadn’t consumed. She attractively arranged these leavings on a tray and set it in the middle of the table as we carried on an after-dinner conversation. I queried why she offered more food directly after we had finished eating and she replied sweetly, “There isn’t enough to make another meal, so if I cut this all up into little pieces and place it in the middle of the table it will disappear.” She proved to be a magician as the assembly of eaters, who could in no way have maintained hunger after her filling meal, proceeded to nibble and sample until the platter winked starkly from the center of the table. My mother-in-law smiled, retreated to the kitchen to wash the platter, and left me with a tidbit of wisdom regarding hospitality.
Hmmmm … I wonder what would happen if I dropped little bits of unfolded laundry onto the middle of the table next time we are all sitting around gabbing after dinner? Just a little bit more stuff 'n nonsense -- or should I say "fluff 'n nonsense"? ; )