It takes creativity to turn cooked food into something nearly new again. My fellow blogger Stephen noted as much in his post-Thanksgiving post about making noodle soup from a turkey carcass, with the bone marrow squeezed out for that much more local goodness.

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Here in a less wild corner of the Northwest, I’m discovering that ham roast is great for leftovers, and not just as reheated slabs on the plate. You may recall our first ham, pot roasted in Maderia and gnawed down to a bone that my mother-in-law handily turned into split-pea soup. A more recent roast, also from the Methow Valley’s Crown ‘S’ Ranch, produced a good pound and a half of leftover meat. Necessity being the mother of invention, we layered ham slivers into lasagne with tomatoes and mushrooms, scrambled ham bits with eggs and goat cheese for Sunday brunch, stirred diced ham into a risotto with peas and kale. It was all as truly delicious as it sounds. The meat remained firm and smooth even after additional heat was added; perhaps roasting the original joint in a 200 degree oven did something to stabilize the cells.

Anyway, as we whittled away at our ham, I pondered the sustainability angle of eating leftovers. Yes, nothing got wasted, but more critically we ate less meat, using the ham primarily to flavor and flatter the companion ingredients. If you believe the numbers on how much fossil fuel goes into creating a pound of meat — see Mark Bittman’s Rethinking the Meat Guzzler for some specifics — yet remain omnivorous, then this is a happy development.

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