Posted by: deadmousediaries | January 19, 2015

News from the Path Valley Hotel; Episode #76- the Last of the Refrigerator

There are so many things to love about the holidays here at the Path Valley Hotel, things like the smell of fresh pine, the chilly winter mornings waking up covered with cats, and the sound of the people I love opening the refrigerator door every two hours. It’s also the time of year when we serve a special menu we call: Last of the Refrigerator. It’s the final vestige of the holidays that carries us through the first half of January.

   I grew up with this menu choice, a phrase my mother coined to cover two basic events: the days immediately before we left for vacation – and the holidays. I suppose it really isn’t a menu choice as much as it is an ever-changing menu default but Last of the Refrigerator (LOTR for short) never fails to surprise us with its diversity.
   At the Hotel, the post-holiday season is easily identified by the lack of leftover containers stashed in the cupboards. Every single, mismatched and lid-less piece of Tupperware, Cool Whip tub and Ziplock is employed to contain the smidge and skosh of appetizers, meats and side dishes that had earlier bedecked our holiday table in grand and bountiful style. The goal is to get it all served and eaten before it turns into penicillin.
   One of my favorite finds among the LOTR options is the makings for a green bean sandwich. After the last of the ham has been devoured and even the final spoonful of whole green beans is gone, there are always those few stragglers left swimming in a flavorful broth, the distilled reminder of how good Christmas dinner really was. By the time that happens, the last of the buttermilk biscuits is hard as a rock so the pairing is perfect like fine wine and steak. Nothing says after-holiday brunch like a buttered biscuit covered with green bean remnants and nuked until the juice soaks through.
   For dessert, there is something I like to call the frownie. When the fruit salad nears its end, pouring the last of the juice over the remaining stale brownie adds a delightful touch. It also resuscitates the brownie and ensures the confection can be consumed without damage to your dental work.
   A turkey dinner of course, opens up another whole range of leftover options. As writer Jean Shepherd elaborates in his classic tale A Christmas Story, without it there would be no turkey sandwiches, no turkey salad, no turkey gravy, turkey hash, turkey a la King, or gallons of turkey soup.
   The first time I saw turkey sandwiches on a deli menu that were being served with a smear of cream cheese and a dollop of cranberry relish, I thought that was an amazing, inspired combination. I realize now that a deli, too, has to deal with LOTR, so maybe it was more about economics than a diner’s delight.
   Here at the PVH, the post-holiday nosh often includes a mismatched sampler of dinner leftovers and party foods. It’s not unusual to see a slice of ham, a clam ball and a chunk of deer bologna leaving the kitchen next to three cherry tomatoes, two shrimp, six grapes and the last two Triscuits. The trick is to arrange it all on a very small plate so it looks like something more.
   This year, we flip-flopped our traditional holiday menus and served Christmas Eve fare on New Year’s Eve instead. That was great except for the fact that after everyone else returned to their regular lives on January 2nd, the cook was left to deal with two pounds of barbeque. Or steamers. Or sloppy Joes. Call it what you will but it was way too much lean ground beef to be tossed at $5.89 a pound. After three days of barbeque sandwiches, all remaining freezer containers were called into service to hold the makings for chili and spaghetti sauce, bounty for some future winter’s day.
   The barbeque surplus also led to the one real LOTR triumph of this holiday season; we decimated what was left of the essential food group that some call condiments. When our big bottle of smooth, tomato-y goodness finally gave its last squirt and the very last dab had been scooped out of the lid, I was forced to desperate measures. For the first time since I have owned a refrigerator, I am now ketchup packet-free. I used up every last one I had crammed in the door to avoid going out to the store.
   Welcome 2015. It’s shaping up to be a very good year!  MK


  1. While a sandwich of green bean juice and granite biscuit doesn’t set my taste buds atingle, I am nonetheless impressed with your culinary creativity!

  2. And this my friend…… how great recipes are made! Oh my goodness, you had me giggling!!! Thank you!!! Now….how to put these items on a menu with creative names…………..

  3. Love your stories Yvonne! What would the holidays be without leftovers taking hostages in the frig;) Ami

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