Monday, January 4, 2010

How to 'recycle' Christmas food

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of throwing out leftover food from the holidays, why not learn ways to "recycle" some of these edible treats?

Filipinos' love for eating guarantees a stockpile of food (and leftovers) from the traditional Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) feast up to New Year's Day dinner.

Mary Ann Rodriguez, an avid cook, came up with practical ways to "recycle" leftovers from her family's table.

For example, she shreds up extra Christmas ham and mixes it with mayonnaise and chopped-up boiled eggs to make a ham-and-egg sandwich filling. This sandwich spread, she says, is perfect for school lunches or office snacks.

Aside from sandwich fillings, Rodriguez also uses leftover ham or hotdogs to add extra meat to "callos" (or ox tripe stew) or spaghetti sauce.

Overripe bananas from the traditional fruit bowl can make for tasty banana bread.

The bananas can be mashed then mixed with cooking oil, brown sugar, eggs, baking soda, milk and flour, then baked in an oven for 30 minutes to make a savory dessert.

Natural preservatives

Norma Salazar, who owns a small eatery, meanwhile, knows a thing or two about how to let food keep longer.

Grilled "liempo" (pork belly) or other grilled pork can be added to "kilawen" (a broiled fresh meat dish) with just a healthy dose of salt and vinegar.

Salazar swears by the preservative properties of vinegar. "Suka lang. Pag nilagyan ng suka ang pagkain, tatagal. Tulad ng karne, hindi agad mapapanis," she said.

She said leftover "adobo" (a favorite Filipino stew) meat bits can add flavor to chopsuey (a stir-fried vegetable mix), while scrap beef bones can be used as tasty soup stock.

Bones from barbecued ribs, fried chicken, lechon (roast pork) or even fish dishes can be boiled along with vegetables. The resulting soup stock can be frozen and used again.

Other meat bits like beef can be recyled as stews like "kaldereta" (a beef stew with carrots, potatoes and thick tomato sauce), lechon bits can be deep-fried to make lechon kawali or added to vegetable dishes like "pinakbet", while fried fish meat can add extra flavor to "diningdeng" (an Ilocano dish with vegetables and shrimp paste).

Both Salazar and Rodriguez said all it takes to resurrect food scraps and save leftovers from spoiling is to listen to good cooks and to use your imagination.

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