August 4, 2013

Author Q & A: Seconds Chance

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Author Mary Rolph Lamontagne lives most of the year in South Africa but spends her summers in Prouts Neck.

Courtesy photo

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WHEN: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Li’l Liza Jane’s, 524 Black Point Rd., Scarborough

INFO: 510-1944;

LAMONTAGNE’S BOOK is also available at K Collette, 100 Commercial St., Portland

My butternut (squash) cake from my book; it's cake that I created in the bush camp because butternuts and beet roots are two of the favorite things for South Africans to serve, and we had so much butternuts and beet roots that I created this butternut cake for a tea. It's great. It's really yummy. But that was created out of not knowing what to do next. 

Q: You were working in a bush camp in Botswana when you had your "a-ha" moment about using leftover foods. What happened?

A: That was my butternut "a-ha." The other thing was, the hyenas had come in at night and eaten all the sugar in the camp because we hadn't closed it down properly. And (more) food wasn't going to be delivered for another two weeks. You can go to other camps, but it's three to fours hours away. You can fly in, but that's expensive.

We started going through the root vegetables, and we had carrots and butternut. There were people flying in for tea, and I was like, "OK guys, we have got to do something." We had roasted butternut from the night before for a roasted butternut salad. So I just said, "Let's just use this leftover. Let's figure it out." And that's how we got on our way.

I come back to Maine every summer, and for the first 10 days, I would just shake in my boots because oh my god, there's so much waste. Anything from going out for dinner, and (there's) way too much food, to the packaging and even my (own) waste. Here, I'm buying from markets and stuff like that.

There's such an amazing array of fruits and vegetables here and colors, that you sort of get carried away. Then you get home and you're invited out for dinner, and all of a sudden you have all this food that's building up.

I started thinking about how my life is so different here compared to South Africa, and then I was trying to figure out why, and then I realized we waste so much food here, and that's how this whole thing started. 

Q: What are the most common foods that are thrown out here in the United States?

A: If you look at them, they're really fruits and vegetables that you use on a regular basis. Butternut and beet and cabbage, carrots and peaches and plums -- those are all the things that, when I think of summer or winter, I always think of those things. I think of apple picking or strawberry picking. They're all the things we come home with bags full of stuff. Or tomatoes at the end of the summer. In the past, you'd be canning or making applesauce, and doing all sorts of fun things, and I don't think we do that as much. 

Q: What are the overall messages you want people to get from this book?

A: One is to start thinking about what we're putting into the bin, and to try to come up with solutions for the amount of waste we're creating by eating what we have in the fridge and not overbuying and not impulse buying. Probably the best thing is, when you go shopping, make a list and stick to the list so you don't buy excessive amounts of stuff and you reduce the amount of waste you're creating in the kitchen.

If you do have leftovers, see them as treasures and not as things that go in the garbage. Try and celebrate using the leftovers rather than just going "ooh, yuck" and throwing them out. Those are probably the biggest things.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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