my days in college, I shared an apartment with a couple of great
guys… Mark and Mike.
other day, while dealing with some leftovers in the fridge, I
was reminded of an incident from thirty years ago. An incident
that, if used as evidence against me, quite likely could end up
with my permanent removal from the kitchen.
story begins with Mark going away for a few days. I don’t recall
the reason, or the exact length of his trip. But I do know he
was gone for at least three dinners and returned just after we
had begun eating the fourth since his departure.
the first evening, Mike and I decided to make some pasta. The
two of us preferred things with a bit more heat and seasoning
than Mark did. It wasn’t that Mark disliked either, instead that
he tended to be a bit more traditional… lighter with red pepper…
more fresh garlic instead of powders… and so on.
and I went a bit nutty that night. We didn’t make meatballs or
add sausage. Instead… fresh mushrooms and onions and peppers…
plenty of garlic and parsley and oregano… and LOTS of red pepper.
We had a good pot of sauce and plenty of pasta.
finished the pasta. Leftover sauce went into the fridge.
next night we came home, and feeling pretty good about dinner
from the night before, we decided to repeat the meal. And this
is where things begin to spin slightly off the rails…
best description I can offer would be this. We took the leftover
sauce and placed it into a pan. We then opened some new sauce
and added it to the pot, effectively bringing the amount of sauce
to the same amount we had begun with the previous evening. And
then, we added exactly the same amounts of seasonings and other
on night one… 100% fresh sauce. On night two… 50% already seasoned
sauce and 50% fresh sauce, with the same level of seasonings added.
second evening ended in similar fashion, with leftover sauce placed
in a container and moved to the fridge.
three? You guessed it… a repeat of the seasoned sauce mixed with
fresh sauce and the addition of another full batch of fixings.
At this point, we could truly call it the leftover seasoned seasoned
sauce being mixed with fresh sauce and a full complement of additions.
believe Mark returned home on night number four. But his timing
was a bit off. See…
and I had come home once again, and we have both routinely proven
ourselves to be fairly basic in our approaches to things. By that,
I mean that I could eat good Chinese food every night and never
get tired of it. Same for good Mexican food. Same for good any
food. It doesn’t mean we don’t mix things up and try different
meals. Just means that yesterday’s meal and tomorrow’s menu don’t
necessarily sway us from decisions made today. And as such, another
evening of pasta and sauce was not an issue for either of us.
of course means… you guessed it… the now seasoned seasoned seasoned
leftover sauce being used as the starter batch with the addition
of an equal amount of fresh sauce and then another full round
of peppers and mushrooms and onions and garlic and red pepper
night four, it was quite a hearty stew of a sauce. By measurements,
you basically had two-and-a-half recipes of sauce measurements
mixed with four batches of other ingredients. Plus, it had a chance
to mellow and age from day to day.
and I thought it was brilliant. We loved it. Mark? Well…
he arrived home, we were sitting in the living room and eating.
We had bought some fresh Italian bread. We thought he might be
home that night and had made extra pasta. There was plenty for
him to enjoy.
returned from the kitchen and commented about how we had gone
with a thicker sauce while he was away. And then… his first bite
pretty much knocked him out of his seat.
would like to point out that he ate the entire serving. (He also
described it as toxic. We didn’t save the leftovers from this
thing about cooking. Generally speaking, when a recipe is involved,
I try to follow it the first time I make it. From there, if it
is enjoyed, some playing around might become involved. That approach
has never changed for me. And quite often, the slight changes
have led to some amazing meals. Meals that are still cooked and
when it comes to leftovers, and tinkering with recipes, I still
fondly recall that run of pasta and sauce. (And I realize I’m
fortunate that people trust my cooking.)