Do-over's aren't all bad

You either like leftovers or you don’t. 

I love leftovers because they mean I don’t have to clean up the kitchen other than the dishes we eat on and maybe the baking dish.  

I like to think of them as positive do-overs. No mistakes made, just a chance to redefine or recreate rather than waste food. On do-over nights there are no pots, pans, knives, mixing beaters, bowls or cutting boards to wash, rinse and put away. I can go to bed with a clean counter.  I may love to cook, but I hate to clean up.

I grew up in a house where leftovers were rare, because we were big eaters and if you have a hot dish that is protein, starch and vegetable or dairy or all the food groups you tend to eat more because that is the only thing on the table. My mom was also a stay-at-home mom until I was in upper elementary, so she had time to put a meal on the table and clean up after it.  

My husband did not grow up with leftovers because there were 6 in his family and four of the six were men. Their family could go through a 9X13 pan in one supper without anything left when all the boys were out of junior high and working at the farm.  His noon meals were made by his grandmother who was an amazing cook and who ate the single servings of leftovers for her solitary supper when the guys went home just down the road.

The Farmer was not a huge fan of leftovers when we married.  He has grown to appreciate them, because they can mean the difference between hot food and a bowl or cereal that may or may not have milk if I haven’t had time to hit the grocery store on the way to or from work.  I have also learned to reinvent leftovers so we aren’t eating exactly the same thing every time and so portions of pans of food don't become dog treats for her insulin shots or something to slog down in our trash bags. 

Wasting food is not really a joke.  That line our mothers gave us about starving children in Africa is still true and sadly it is true in America.  One in four American school aged children is dealing with food insecurity.  They don’t know that they will have enough food and the majority of the food they eat is provided through the school lunch program (that’s not very comforting to me). 

This issue really bothers me when I think about how much our family throws away.Feeding America estimates that more than 70 billion pounds of food is going to waste every year. Read that again… 70 BILLION pounds of food.  They share these food waste statistics… “An estimated 25-40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed. More food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in municipal solid waste (MSW).” That bothers me.

Our family is not food insecure, but I do know that too much of what I buy ends up in the trash and is a waste of my grocery budget. I love what Feeding America does, because while I do think we are obligated to share culturally appropriate technology, technique and opportunity with other countries, we are even more obligated to the residents of the country we live in. So I urge your family to think about a waste not,want not way to consume food. I use do-over meals as a way to reduce our food waste.

Today I got to share one of my favorite do-overs with a friend as we husked, washed, boiled and cut fresh Iowa sweet corn.  We are super fortunate to have several local producers of quality sweet corn which means great quality, fresh from the field and a way to support local economic growth.   

My favorite producers are the Hardin City Sweet Corn stands owned and operated by Todd and Allie Kjormoe.  They hire local young people to help harvest and sell at several locations around while extended family members are also involved in the daily grind of the business, too.  You can find them at Farmer’s Markets in Ames, Fort Dodge and at stands in Iowa Falls, Eldora and Hampton, Iowa.  

I would say that this year’s crop is one of the sweetest and most tender sweet corn that I can remember. Today’s corn was so good it didn’t even need butter or salt and pepper. It was amazing.  Buy it while you can! 

I will be hoarding the 30+ bags of sweet corn that was my take from our working bee.  I loved having help with the clean up and my kitchen honestly looks better after all that corn than when she arrived. I enjoyed that my working conversation with her was about experiences, not people and her  14 month old daughter was a great diversion for the Mini's. Today was a blessing all the way around.

This recipe uses either fresh sweet corn or frozen and can be made ahead and frozen after the corn pudding on top has been baked. The Farmer likes to garnish this with Doritos and extra sour cream.  Enjoy!

Do-Over Taco Sweet Corn Casserole

The Groceries:

1 pound of left over Taco Meat (You can find our favorite taco seasoning here)

1 ½ C your favorite salsa

4 C Sweet Corn kernels divided in 2-2 cup portions

3 C shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 pkg corn bread mix (we like the Betty Crocker brand, but any kind that will make an 8x8 pan is fine)

1 large Egg

1 stick butter melted

1 C sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 C Sweet or hot pepper, roughly diced and seeds removed

 

The process:

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.

Combine the meat, salsa and 2 C of the corn kernels. Spread across the bottom of the baking dish.

Top with the 3 C Cheddar Cheese and set aside.

In a bowl combine the corn bread mix, egg, butter, sour cream, final 2 cups of corn and diced pepper just until well blended.

Spread the cornbread mixture across the meat and bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour or until the corn bread topping is well set and lightly browned.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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