Stocking the Fridge for Winter; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Leftovers

31 10 2009

We all knew this time was coming. We were cooking up a storm, as usual, but the Chef was getting ready to leave on a two-week overseas vacation, and due to various circumstances we weren’t really eating our leftovers. Sure, we joked about how really it was so he could make sure I ate a decent meal even while he was gone instead of reverting back to my steady diet of tortillas and butter. But when the Chef’s ride to the airport finally arrived and I trudged back to my apartment with a very large bag of leftovers, I started to get concerned.

This was a race against time. Some of the leftovers had already been in the fridge for over a week. Sure, in two weeks I could probably handle ingesting a good chunk of those leftovers, but how was I going to do it before they went bad?! And what happened when I just didn’t feel like eating beet salad? Make mac n cheese – but then I have MORE leftovers!

When I tried to eat leftover onion & potato salad for lunch – without the arugula (too soggy!) and the onions (too much!) and the duck eggs (all gone!) – and discovered several instances of what may or may not have been pink mold, I ended up deciding to throw the whole thing out (there were easily 3 servings left) and I went into full-on anxiety mode. Then: a flash of brilliance. FREEZE IT!


Good thing I have a big freezer!

Some quick internet searches advised on the best way to freeze beets. I had three beets leftover that we’d cooked but not used for salad – I sliced those. Then I picked the endive out of the leftover beet salad and dumped the diced beets onto a cookie sheet with the beet slices and put the whole thing in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then took them out, bagged them up, and put them back in.

Though the internet advised against freezing potatos – we had a meatloaf and roasted veggies meal that hasn’t appeared here yet – I did slice the meatloaf chunk in half and freeze one part, leaving the other for everyone’s favorite, meatloaf sandwiches. (At least it seems to be everyone’s favorite, considering how many times people have mentioned it since I came into possession of said leftover meatloaf.)

So, I found myself standing at the fridge, looking inside and thinking “What else can I freeze? This is fun!”

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to visit a small farm that a friend worked on this summer. The farm did produce for summer CSA boxes, and were growing a very small amount of winter veggies, even though they weren’t really employing too many people. There were still a few tomatoes on the vine, and I came away with a quart of sun golds. I knew it might be a challenge to use them, but considering how much we loved them this summer, I couldn’t say no.

Unfortunately, the week came and went and the sun golds stayed in my fridge. Today, I zeroed in on them and thought, what about a sauce? I could make a sauce, and then FREEZE IT!

While looking for a recipe, I came upon something slightly different: sungold nuggets. Described as a “January mental-health remedy”, this blogger goes on to claim that sun golds actually ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder. Well shite! Sign me up because by February I’ll have gone mad from another long, gray Seattle winter!

This blog also uses the cooking phrase I dread the most: “Use your judgement.” Still, even without very specific instructions I was determined to move forward.

Sun golds on the chopping blog!

The first step is easy: slice the sun golds in half and scoop out the seeds! My blog-guide suggested feeding the innards to the chickens, but when I found myself without a source of hungry chickens, I fed the innards to my garbage can.

Sun golds halved and "stuffed".

Next up, mix parmigiana and olive oil and salt and pepper and garlic and thyme. Well… no parmigiana on hand, so I replaced it with shredded gruyere, since I had some in the fridge from the pumpkin soup adventure. No thyme, or oregano, so I left that out altogether.

Next, bake for a million years. No, seriously, I actually have no idea how long I baked them. This is where the “use your judgement” part came in – I got a temperature range to cook at but no time frame. My only guide was that hopefully at the end they would look like tomato raisins.

Tomato raisins?

Well, not exactly. I suspect too much olive oil. Some of them looked ok, some of them were getting there, some were burned. I checked them every 10/15 minutes, eventually deciding I didn’t want them to burn anymore, even if I didn’t think they were all quite done. Still, they look pretty tasty… I will definitely enjoy eating them with SOMETHING. Probably they won’t end up a sauce, but they’d be delicious on a pizza!

The final product. For FREEZING!

The quart-box of sun golds yielded a half-size jar of “nuggets” (sorry, I can’t be more specific on size, I know nothing about standard jar sizes). And now I’m FREEZIN’ EM!

Thus, our in-the-freezer-for-winter inventory is:

  • 4 bags of pumpkin soup.
  • Half of our meatloaf leftovers.
  • One mid-sized tupperware of chili.
  • One larger-sized tupperware of veggie soup we made when we were about to lose some veggies to not-so-freshness if we didn’t ACT QUICKLY!
  • 2 small bags of sliced beets.
  • 2 small bags of seasoned/diced beet salad.
  • 1 large bag of fiddlehead ferns the Chef blanched and froze in the early summer when they were in season.
  • 2 maple-bacon waffles I stole from the Chef’s freezer because he can’t eat them while he’s overseas! Snap!

Whew! So, it’s not your typical end-of-summer stash. I didn’t can/freeze/process a bunch of fresh summer veggies. BUT, it’s a respectable bunch of meals we can eat when we are feeling lazy. As long as we remember to look in the freezer.




One response

3 11 2009

LOVE IT! I look forward to getting back and eating the sun gold nuggets. YUM! Good jorb!

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