This week’s theme: The Freezer.
Coming off of a busy weekend and into a busy week, I knew that we were only going to be able to make one “big” meal this week. So I picked a dish that would make a veritable bounty of food mid-week. And then I started pulling containers of curry out of the freezer to thaw so that we would have proper lunch food. My picks? Kadhai Chicken and Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry.
I wasn’t always extremely practiced at using our freezer. But I very quickly realized over the last year that if I kept it organized, inventoried (in my head) and stocked, things would be cheaper and easier. How do I accomplish this?
- Organizing our freezer by section. Everything has a specific “corner” of the freezer. Meat, bread, vegetables, nuts, ready-to eats, meals we have stashed away. This keeps things visible.
- Labeling EVERYTHING. If it goes in the freezer (meals, extra broth, tomato paste, chiles, etc.) we label it with its name as well as the date that it goes in there. That way we know what needs to get eaten/used first and more importantly, what it is. Sometimes a few months and a little bit of frost will make something look completely different from its refrigerated form. So the labeling is key.
- Knowing when/what to freeze. When we make dinner, I try to stretch the leftovers so that we have two lunches each. But if it looks like we’ll have two lunches AND a bit more than that, I’ll refrigerate one meal for each of us and then freeze the remainder of it for another dinner. We’ll find something else to eat at lunchtime (leftovers are a revolving door for us), and we’ll never regret having an extra meal ready to go. On the flip side of that, there are dozens of recipes that ask you to use 1 c chicken broth or 2 T tomato paste. Instead of tossing the rest, we’ll bag it and freeze it, because we know we’ll use it in another week or so.
Saturday -Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon, Maple-Glazed Plank Salmon with Coconut Rice from time for dinner, Garlic Green Beans from Great, Easy Meals
At the beginning of January, Ben told me that he and his girlfriend Dani wanted to do some cooking together. We set a date. And then we had to re-schedule. So Saturday night is when we finally realized our little project.
Considering how often we eat the dressing from the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing, it only seemed appropriate to action the dish in its entirety once more. And this time we actually had dried cranberries. Yes, they made a difference.
When we were in discussions about what to make from The Blog for our main course, they said that they really wanted to learn how to glaze salmon. Which sounded wonderful, except for the part where we all know that I’ve only glazed salmon maybe three times? So I am far from expert. But we gathered the requisite materials and glazed away to great success.
Wednesday – Black Eyed Peas and Green Chile Rice from The Homesick Texan, Roasted Broccoli
Why roasted broccoli? Because it was in the fridge and it needed to be cooked, if for no other reason than the fact that we could eat it later. Sometimes things don’t match, but we make them work anyway.
Lisa sells Black-Eyed Peas as being drastically faster to make from scratch than any other bean, really. Considering the fact that they were done in about an hour, she’s definitely right on that count. There wasn’t even a drain, rinse, re-heat phase. One pot, one shot.
In case you were wondering, when you make a pound of beans, you DEFINITELY end up freezing some of the finished product.
I loved the Red Chile Rice that we made last week (it was delightfully spicy), but I think I loved the Green Chile Rice even more. We used brown rice because we were out of white and I’m 100% comfortable saying that from now on when we are making “flavored” rice as it were, it will always be brown. Because this method of flavoring (tossing puree into the rice steamer along with the liquid) does away with 99% of the taste/textural difference between white and brown rice.
And because you were wondering, our pepper count for this meal? Six. Two roasted poblanos and four jalapenos. We are really through the looking glass on this one.
Do you put your freezer to work?