What to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers?

ESCANABA – The fridge is full, the pantry is packed and the venison is hanging frozen stiff.

The big roaster with the remnants of the Thanksgiving turkey lurks on the top shelf of the refrigerator. Bowls of potatoes, yams, dressing and rutabagas are stacked high there, too.

The larder is full. That is a good feeling.

In the olden days, preserved food meant winter survival. Native Americans smoked and dried meat and fish and pounded it into pemmican with berries and nuts.

Our grandparents also prepared for winter by butchering a hog and canning all sorts of vegetables. The cellar or the basement was filled with bushels and bins of apples, carrots, onions and squashes.

Even though in these modern days, we have the conveniences of refrigeration, freezers, micro-waves and zip-lock bags, its still a nice, homey, secure feeling to have a good stash of food when the cold and snowy weather hits.

Leftovers can be a lovely thing. I remember years ago, after my Mom put on our big family Thanksgiving feast, the leftovers were one of the best parts. Many of the pans, roasters and bowls were stored out in the garage over night. One nice things about living in the U.P. is that any unheated room or out building, makes a perfect walk-in freezer for four or more months of the year.

After all the dishes were done and the food put away and everyone sat down in the front room, my Dad would pipe up, “Gee, I could really go for a cold turkey sandwich right about now.”

With a few moans and groans, someone would hike out to the garage and grab the fixings for a nice turkey sandwich.

Turkey pot pie (turkey, gravy, veggies, in a pie crust) was a favorite after-Thanksgiving meal at our house. RootMoose, a combination of mashed potatoes and mashed rutabagas put a tasty new twist on an old meal, too.

Day-old bread could become bread pudding and a turkey carcass turned into the best soup (with dumplings) that you ever did taste.

Maybe it comes from living in the north woods were a big snowstorm could cut us off from the store or restaurant for a day or two or maybe it’s just some instinct, but a well stocked kitchen is a blessing.

Enjoy your turkey part two. Oh, by the way,” is there any cream leftover to go with that pumpkin pie?”

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.