Dealing with Leftovers: Congee
I hate opening the fridge and seeing boxes of leftovers from the day before, either from lunch or dinner. A problem that used to bother me when I first started cooking regularly for the family was being completely off the mark on portion size. For instance, I would cook too much rice or too much pasta, and cooking too much pasta is fine except I would cook just the right amount of sauce for everyone eating so, it would be a case of pasta sauce <pasta, and that would frustrate me to no end, because 90% of the time, the extra pasta that I cooked would be kept in the fridge for 2 days, then tossed out with the day's worth of trash.
In the past year, because we have had to tighten our belts and cannot afford to waste so much food anymore (of course, wasting food regardless of whether one can afford to or not is a huge NO-NO! I know that now, forgive me), I have had to come up with ideas on how to incorporate leftovers into our meals the next day. Personally, I do not enjoy eating the same thing as from the day before, so simply re-heating the dish is not enough for me and I have to crack my head to have the leftovers re-styled into another dish.
This dish was borne out of the fact that I did not have any chicken broth left in the pantry, but had a small pot of Ikan Bilis (a type of anchovy) with homemade pork meatballs soup from lunch the day before. I had to prepare a dinner for the little tykes that was simple, tasty and that could be left on its own to cook because I had a massive headache the entire afternoon. So I chopped up some garlic, 1 tomato and 1/2 a carrot, threw them into a slow-cooker pot, poured the leftover ikan bilis soup with the meatballs and all in with the garlic and carrots and turned it on to "High". The prep for that : under 5 minutes (depending on your knife skills, I suppose). I then let that cook for an hour an a half before washing half a cup of jasmine rice and throwing it into the already boiling soup, together with half a cup of tomato sauce (tomato puree works too), and let that cook too for another hour and a half.
When it was time to serve up, the rice had transformed into a thick congee coated in a brilliant shade of orange (thanks to the carrots) and the broth was savoury, fragrant and in a very pretty color. I sprinkled in 2 teaspoons of sugar, mixed it up and served it to the little ones, who finished the entire pot. Job done!