Leftovers and Life Have a Lot in Common

Yesterday's turkey, peas, carrots and mushrooms and a few chunks of boiled potatoes in a casserole dish along with some gussied up gravy. Add a few fresh ingredients and a rolled biscuit crust and dinner is served.

Leftovers are a lot like life, a delicate combination of new and old. Tomorrow starts the beginning of another holiday season and it's only natural to think about changing a few things with the new year ahead.

Here are a few thoughts to focus on that might help you in making the best of what you've got:

1. Get outside of your head. We live in an uncertain world. Worried times puts us in our heads; fretful for many hours every day. We mistreat our bodies, eat poorly, always at a dead run to get things done without taking time to integrate our physical self with our inner selves. Reconnecting with our bodies by walking, taking a warm bath instead of a fast shower, yoga, any activity that us connects with our bodies again can release tension.

2. Allow yourself to be human. Feel every emotion fully, including the ones you prefer to avoid. There’s a high premium on maintaining control of our emotions. So we stuff down sadness and fear. The backfire comes when we let loose all our emotional turmoil at inappropriate moments. It’s only on the other side of our feelings that we can feel relief. Pretending nothing matters is no way to deal with life.

3. Focus on being happy. Sometimes it’s just easier to help someone else instead of facing changes we should be making in our own lives. We are programmed to feel guilty if we do things we want. But keep in mind that people in our lives suffer when we are not happy. Try to do two or three little things that make you feel happier each day.

4. Act with loving-kindness. In our fast paced, jostled daily routine, everyone needs a daily dose of kindness -- from the guy on the subway, to the woman running the cash register, to our workmates, colleagues and ourselves. Be nice to yourself and to others everyday. According to Wikipedia, loving-kindness is the translation for chesed in Hebrew, agape in Greek, mettā in Sandskrit. Choose a book from noted author and Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg’s book list or Debbie Tenzer’s web site DoOneNiceThing.com for a little inspiration.

5. Try new things even if it takes time to get it right. We hurt ourselves by setting incredibly high demands on ourselves. When we try something and it doesn’t work the first time, we take it personally. We’re afraid to make mistakes, to fail. If we don’t make mistakes, we aren’t trying hard enough to learn and grow. Tripping over our own feet actually propels us forward and though it might feel safer to stand still, it gets us nowhere.

Embrace what you've got, even while working in new ingredients to your life -- the same is true for cooking. You won’t be disappointed with the results!

½ stick unsalted butter, cut into ½ inches tabs
¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups chicken broth, fresh or canned
¼ cup dry sherry or dry vermouth

¼ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1/8 teaspoon dried)
1 bay leaf
1 small shallot, finely grated
½ cup carrot coins, pre-boiled to tender crisp
½ cup sliced white button mushrooms
¾ cup red-skinned potatoes, cut into chunks, pre-boiled to tender crisp
1 cup cooked turkey, cut into 1 inch chunks
½ cup frozen mixed veggies or peas
1 teaspoon minced pimento

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Pot Pie Crust

1 ½ cups complete pancake & waffle mix (way better than biscuit mix)
¼ cup 1% milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour a little at a time until it makes a fragrant nutty smelling roux (paste), about 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add broth, whisking constantly to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in sherry until smooth. The sauce should be slightly less thick than regular gravy. (Hint: if you have leftover gravy throw it in too)

Return saucepan to medium heat and add thyme, bay leaf, shallot and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until mushrooms cook. Remove bay leaf and discard. Stir in potatoes, carrots, turkey and mixed veggies coating all ingredients with the sauce.

Mix milk into waffle mix to make pliable, moist dough. If dough seems too dry add more milk a drop at a time. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to fit as a cover for filling in the pan. Pour the filling into 1 1/2 quart oval baker or other similar capacity baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with minced pimento. Gently fit dough to the pan, crimping edges inside the rim.

Bake until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit five minutes before serving. Cranberry relish as a side always enhances any turkey dish. Makes 4 generous helpings.


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