Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 Freezer Cooking Part 1

It is that time of year again for freezer cooking! I start school back in two weeks and I wanted to have a few stand-by meals in the freezer for when things get crazy this fall. I will be working part-time and taking a 16 credit hour load at school and Chris will be assisting with the high school marching band. That means lots of late nights at class for me and late night rehearsals after school for Chris. 

I am switching things up this year and the only full meals I am making are chili and chicken and rice bake. For the rest I am making more separate items like sauces, blanched veggies, and pre-cooked meats so it will still be a breeze to put dinner together but we have more variety and more options. I am also spacing it out a little more this year. Last year I did everything in 3 days and my poor freezers took forever to catch up. Also, because I packed everything into the freezer without it freezing right away, all the bags got stuck together and trying to get them apart meant tearing some of the bags. This became very inconvenient when I would put a bag of chili in the fridge to defrost overnight. 

Yesterday I put a lot in the freezer, so today I will just make chili and some pre-cooked brown rice and black beans and finish the rest next week. 

You know this post would not be complete without the token messy kitchen photo. This is where things started yesterday morning. The little bit of counter space next to the water pitcher was where I did all my chopping yesterday. 

I went out first thing in the morning and harvested fresh herbs for my cooking. I have thai basil in the top left hand corner, then chives, rosemary, and sweet basil. 

Green Curry Sauce which I blended with my nifty immersion blender. 

To prevent the sauce from turning brown in the freezer from oxidation, I heated it just until boiling then pulled it off the heat and let it cool.

Labelled, jarred, and ready for the freezer!

Garlic anyone??

Here I am making my favorite red curry sauce. I don't have a recipe for this, but I will tell you what I put in. I chopped up about 5 onions and cooked them down. Then I added a whole head of garlic chopped, 2 inches of ginger chopped, and several tablespoons of red curry paste. I cooked that for a little while then added 3 cans of coconut milk, 2 cups water, 1 large handful each of fresh thai basil and sweet basil. I tasted it and then added a little bit of lime juice, sesame oil, rice vinegar and salt. I heated that to boiling and then let it cool before putting it in jars. 

This turned out so good!

I get pasture raised beef from a local farmer and they gave me some marrow bones recently to make beef broth. I am still cooking it now but I will use it this afternoon to cook my black beans. 

I started by putting the bones in a pan and roasting in the oven on 400 degrees for about an hour and a half. 

Then I put them in a stock pot with a little bit of apple cider vinegar (to help get more nutrients and minerals from the bones) and filled with water and simmered on low all day. During the roasting process tallow was also rendered from the bones which I collected in a bowl and put in the fridge. 

I am so excited about this tallow. It is great for cooking eggs and for sautéing onions and peppers. 

On this side of the kitchen I have meat defrosting, stock cooking and water boiling for blanching veggies.

I also cooked a chicken and pulled off the meat. I will chop the meat and bag it up in 1 cup portions for quick dinners in the future. The bones were put back into the pot and left to simmer all night long to make chicken broth. I will use the chicken broth when I am cooking brown rice for the freezer. 

Next I chopped up 4 lbs of carrots, 8 head of broccoli, 4 heads of cauliflower, 8 onions and 9 zucchinis for blanching and freezing. 

I only have 2 ice cube trays with ice in my freezer. So submerging all of these veggies in ice cold water after blanching wasn't going to work. So, I just spread them in in thin layers to cool quickly. It worked great and the vegetables weren't as soggy either. Win-win!

I spent $21.79 on veggies and got at least 68 cups worth. That is $.32 per 1 cup serving. 

Then I made Mom's spaghetti sauce and added ground beef and some shredded carrots for sweetness. Having big stainless steel bowls has made things so much easier this year!  Thanks Aunt Joy!

I was able to get 8 cups in each bag. I also saved some out so we could eat spaghetti for dinner and so I can make lasagna for small group on Sunday.

Now I am waiting for beans to cook so I can make chili, Chris' favorite food. Did you know putting a wooden spoon over the pot will keep it from boiling over?

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

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