The term leftover takes a bad rap in our society. But that’s because we have options to disparage valuable used materials in favor of new. With fewer options, you make other choices.
While running a Folklife program for a federal agency, one of my staffers gave me a gift made by Indonesian youth. It was a sort of lobster made from egg crates and other bits and pieces. It scuttled around realistically when manipulated with a string. Next year I found some neat little autos made from cut-up bits of soda cans.
After my federal job went south, I learned first hand the need for using leftovers. As a woodcarver with a very marginal business, wood was my most considerable expense. I found a local mill that produced large amounts of cherry, oak, and maple flooring and paneling. They sold their “shorts” – pieces too short for their use but too long for scrap. They also gave the waste away as firewood. Their waste-stream fed directly into my product stream.

A favorite dish in our house is my wife’s Shepard’s Pie. It has a crusty covering of biscuit. Beneath the biscuit is the filling made from leftover dishes we’ve had that week. It’s forever variable, filling, and always a culinary opportunity to enjoy.

So the problem isn’t with the material; it’s with the mindset. The leftover is the opportunity.

7 Replies to “Opportunity”

  1. We’ve used the potato topping too. But my wife prefers a baking soda biscuit topping. She does not share the specifics with me, but I know that there is some sort of special add-in that gets it to the correct crustiness.

  2. I agree 100%, leftovers are always opportunities. I reuse materials in wood and leatherwork as much as possible, since high quality wood and leather are both relatively expensive.

  3. I definitely agree! We have an elderly gent here who takes wood scraps and glues strips together to make cutting boards and beautiful big bowls. Thanks for sharing.

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