It should come as no surprise that I’m late in getting this post written up. As I’m new to this blogging business, my writing schedule is still sporadic. But as I anticipated, it is yielding excellent results for me and my sanity. My pint-size companion is in the midst of a crest of disequilibrium (and we think teething pain) this week and so I can use these little spots of time with my fingers clicking away at the keys all the more.
I’m late to publish because we are already about a month into eating out of the freezer. Clearly storing foods for the winter is a thrifty thing to do and a healthier alternative to eating foods that are grown and then flown, but I wanted to share my ideas for freezing just in case I’ve also got at least one novelly nifty item on my list as well. Items are therefore ordered accordingly.
Hate garlic breath? Me too. Since we get a CSA box, I get more garlic than I’m inclined to use on account of the resulting stink. But it dawned on me that I could take full advantage of parsley’s miraculously anti-garlic-stink properties. So, when I get a head of garlic, I also get a bunch of parsley, then I remove the stems and skins, rinse, and process in our mini cuisinart. I portion the mixture into plastic sandwich bags (I must find a greener alternative…) and plop them in the freezer. Then I’ve got flavor at the ready without the unfortunate aftermath. For example…
Tonight’s dinner is almost completely from the freezer:
Eggplant parmigiana patties (prepared back when we got a lot of eggplants in the box), slathered in TSH marinara sauce (which I purchase when available for just this sort of purpose) and mozzarella (okay, I’ll pick that up at the market today along with a loaf of bread) for garlic bread (with parsley, of course).
Orange and Lemon zest. When zesting, why not go all the way and put the extra bits in a baggie for later? Waste not, want not.
Roasted peppers. Around October is the optimal time to gather up a lovely variety of peppers at our local farmers’ market. I roast them and remove the skins. Then I chop them up into strips and portion them into baggies. I use them in all sorts of dishes through the following months. A far thriftier and healthier way to enjoy roasted peppers than purchasing them in pricy jars.
Tomatoes. I know, I know, everybody’s got their way of putting tomatoes up. I’ve tried a few. For now, this way is the best for me. I purchase a couple boxes from our favorite farm, rinse, bag, and freeze. When the tomatoes thaw, the water naturally separates and the skins fall off with minimal effort. Real. Simple.
Herbs in the freezer: basil and sage. Sage on account of the fact that I can’t seem to find away to get it completely dry with air alone and basil because my husband’s favorite way to cook carrots involves fresh basil and so frozen fresh is better than dried.
Blackberries in freezer. We take an annual trip up to a nearby town that is bursting with wild blackberries. We fill every container that will fit in our car with the delicate fruits of our labors. Because my husband can’t tolerate seeds, we run the rinsed berries through a food mill. In the past we’ve made jam, but this year on account of limited time, we just poured the puree into ice cube trays, froze, and then plunked them into (you guessed it) a plastic bag. We take the seed pulp and boil it up with sugar and water to make a tasty syrup for waffles or pancakes.
Lemon juice at the ready. We have many friends with lemon trees which I think is just wonderful given my love of lemon juice (I have to hold back on putting it in just about everything I cook, because my husband does not share my opinion). When we receive a bag of gifted lemons, we juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays and then we put them in plastic bags.
Summer rhubarb sauce. Last year when I had a very small baby to care for and a frequent sense of overwhelm to navigate, my father-in-law showered us with rhubarb from his garden. I was not pleased. Surprisingly, my husband welcomed the gift and put 4 full freezer bags in the freezer. For later. The thing is that later for my husband is waaaay later than it is for me. The kind of later that may never happen. Lucky for me, I stumbled across this recipe and now it follows, that since our source didn’t deliver this year, I was searching for rhubarb at the farmers market so that when February comes along I will be able to satisfy a particular craving.
Aside from the use of plastic bags in the freezer, which we do wash and reuse, by the way; we make use of quart and pint sized yogurt containers for freezing foods. Generally speaking, when I cook something, I cook enough for dinner, lunch the next day, and a couple meals worth for the freezer. This keeps me from having to spend each and every day cooking in the kitchen save for preparatory work.
Here’s a list of the meals that our freezer currently contains with links to their online recipes when available:
goulash, red bean chili, white beans, stuffed cabbage, minestrone soup, and butternut squash lasagna.
Clearly, a full freezer is the only way that I feel comfortable starting the winter. Although, it’s only fair to admit that these days in Oakland feel more like summer (sorry to point this out to those who currently are shivering in their seats). It would seem that my California freeze is contained to a rather small box in my kitchen. And I’m okay with that.
Wowee! I dream of having our freezer so well-stocked. Actually: I dream of having a big fat freezer in the basement someday. 🙂