Sunday, April 15

You can cuss out the tilapia and still call it domestic bliss, right?

Want to know what's in my freezer?

It doesn't matter, because I'm going to tell you anyway. Putting things in the freezer is a useful skill, and I've lately been slightly obsessed with it because I've been reading Country Living too much. I kind of want backyard chickens and something gingham, too.

1. Mom and I were talking about filone yesterday for some reason.  I'm almost certain that I'm the one who directed the conversation there on account of my freezing-things obsession. Mom was probably trying to talk about what to do re. World Peace or Starving Children because she's a better person than I am. I'm not sure how strongly she actually feels about filone.

Regardless of how we've arrived here, that's the first thing you'll find in my freezer. Trader Joe's sells par-baked filone bread loaves which I buy and keep in the freezer for when I want to have a slice of warm, delicious bread slathered with loads of good salty butter. Which is approximately every seven minutes. Consider keeping par-baked filone loaves in your freezer. It's the next best thing to homemade. I don't think the practice will sadden you.

2. I discovered recently and thanks to Facebook (Hello? Nicole W.? This one's on you.) that you can make your own vegetable stock and keep it in the freezer and...there it is. Next to the filone. For whenever you have a hankering. So...

3. ...I also keep a gallon-size Ziploc bag full of vegetable scraps in the freezer. This is super awesome.  Every time I have vegetable scraps - carrot peels, old desiccated onion parts that I intended to "use later", garlic ends and skins, wilty spinach, the wide parts of the celery and the leafy bendy parts that suck - I put them into the Ziploc which then goes back into the freezer. When the bag is full, I fill up a large pot of water and throw everything in, add salt, bay leaves, and sometimes other dried herbs, and simmer it for a half-hour or until I remember that I'm simmering things ("Oh shit! I'm simmering things!") (That's what I say.). Then I strain it and let it cool and measure portions into any available freezable containers. Which, I swear to you, my plastic storage containers and their lids are like the socks that disappear in the wash. Jesus.

Anyway, I like to label my containers with things like "1 1/4 cups veggie stock 3/15/12" so I'm more willing to use whatever's in that container when I accidentally find it later while looking angrily for the tilapia. ("Where the hell is the tilapia?!?") (We live in domestic bliss over here with our cussing and our fish.)

4. Okay.

You know how you buy a chunk of fresh ginger and you grate off, like, a teaspoon of it, and then you find it in the vegetable drawer three months later covered in green mold and all squishy?

How about this: grate off a teaspoon. Put the ginger in the freezer. When you go to use your ginger again, it's actually easier to mince. Because they always make you mince ginger. Nobody's ever like "just throw that sucker on in there, skin and all. Don't worry about mincing. Mincing is irrelevant."

Well. Once that happened. But mostly I have to mince it, and I hate mincing ginger with all its arrogant stringiness and its irritatingly complete sense-of-self. It's one of my things. I also hate the whole process of thawing chicken in the microwave and unrolling the cuffs of pants before putting them into the washer. Those are also my things.

5. Oh! This is a good one. I can't name even one recipe where I use egg yolks, yet I invariably wind up with  a carton's worth of egg whites in my freezer because whenever a recipe calls for yolks, I break the whites into an ice cube tray, freeze them, and then break them out into another Ziploc bag. Later, I can let them thaw and use them whenever a recipe calls for egg whites, or whenever I feel the need for a good egg white-and-sauteed-vegetable breakfast scramble (with a toasty slice of buttered filone and a good, strong cup of coffee) which is more often then you probably think. I might have that for dinner, now that I've mentioned it.

6. Oh my God. This is a good one too. This is my favorite one.

Tomato paste drives me nuts. Doesn't it drive everyone nuts? Yes. Because every time you use it, whatever you're using it in calls for a tablespoon, right? And you probably have a whole can of it. And you probably wind up throwing the remainder away because who uses that much tomato paste?!

So here's what you do. Use your one damn tablespoon of tomato paste. THEN, lay out some wax paper or parchment on a baking sheet. You probably could just use the baking sheet sans paper if your baking sheet isn't older than God which mine is. It used to not be chronically black and disturbingly sticky at the edges, but now I can't let food actually touch it because there's no predicting the results.

Anyway, scoop out the remaining unused tomato paste in tablespoon-sized increments and make little mounds on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the tomato paste mounds are frozen, pull them off the sheet and store them in your third and final Ziploc bag.Voila. You're welcome. Tomato paste problem solved.

The end.


Anonymous said...

So, you see how I threatened you and then you rewarded me by upping your blogging output? Positive reward for negative behavior - never, never a good idea, except maybe in this case. Favorite line from today: "I don't think the practice will sadden you." No, indeed! Ha!
Okay, so keep up the good work or I will stop reading again. For real this time. I mean it.

CJ said...

tomato paste: I just put it in a plastic freezer bag, zip it shut, then squeeze the paste into a thin layer and freeze it flat. Then when I need some, I make a guess as to how much flat, frozen tomato paste equals one tablespoon. I'm usually wrong, based on the color of my soups, but I'd rather be lazy than accurate.