One of my most useful skills is my ability to recycle left-overs. I can take left-overs and odds and ends in the fridge & cupboard and feed myself for up to 2 weeks. There was a time when I was just too busy/tired to go shopping and I managed to feed 2 adults (and 2 kids for 2+ meals) literally for 2 weeks. I haven't topped that one yet, but in general, I can create a totally satisfying meal with the most absurd ingredients.
For example, we had a hot pot dish one night. The following night, I made a risotto with the rice and soup we had left over. This second meal was relatively predictable. But then I pureed this and made a dip out of it by adding spices for a third 'serving'. The third incarnation was as far as I got this time around, but a co-worker of mine had an exceptionally wonderful fourth step to add to this: return to the soup after the puree. What great way to go full circle! Soup (hot pot) to rice dish to dip to soup! This is so Zen in the strangest sense, I love it!
The Papa Bear refuses to eat left-overs (although he claims it is unintentional), so I find myself getting creative on ways to not throw away food. One of my most creative recycling projects was a kabocha pumpkin stew (savory) turned into a pumpkin brownie/pudding (sweet). I took out the mushrooms and the konyaku (to be described in a different post), added some eggs and spices, adjusted the sweetness to taste with some maple syrup, baked it in a cookie sheet, and cut out cookie-cutter shapes. No one who ate this creation would have ever guessed that it was a recycling project! :)
The key to my recycling is to find out what is in the dish, feeling the potential of what it could be, and rebuilding flavors and scents as a new dish in my mind. It shares something very fundamental with my love for making sauces. The process of creating something new by combining all sorts of building blocks - that is the best of part of being in the kitchen!