Sunday, March 03, 2013

Freezer Adventures

Every once in a while, I get so overwhelmed with the fullness of our freezers that I declare a moratorium on most food purchases. So we take stock of what's in there and figure out how to make meals out of it.

We've been in the process of a freezer purge over the past few weeks, which has led to some interesting dinners, like venison stew, Sunday gravy, tamales surprise and mini tacos.

We've reached the point where our freezers are getting down to a few random items, like half a bag of raspberries, a quarter pint of ice cream, diced ham, and bags of chicken, turkey and beef bones we saved for making stock.

Along with these randoms, we also have a handful of mystery bags.

After some close inspection and inquisitive whiffs, we hypothesized that we have black bean empanadas filling,

sauerkraut and something still to be determined,

and something that smelled like barbecue.

For the latter, we heated up the mystery contents in the oven and finally determined that we had homemade barbecue sauce. Chris recalled bringing a chicken and barbecue dish to our friends' potluck, before these friends moved back to Italy. Then I remembered that the potluck was on Easter, and that I let on while there that I was pregnant. With Maya. Who is now 3 1/2. Which would make this particular sauce close to 4 years old.

Yeah, we ate it anyway. We combined it with the aforementioned diced ham and enjoyed the classic dish barbecue ham- and-cheddar omelets.

In addition to these culinary adventures, we decided we didn't want to be those people who keep animal bones in their freezer. So we also finally got around to making stock -- both poultry and vegetable varieties. However, making stock doesn't help our over-stuffed freezer situation. We've made stock many times before, and usually we freeze it in Ziploc bags of varying sizes. But since we don't own a microwave, using the frozen stock resulted in a slow thawing process before we can even get the stuff out of the bags. So, in need of a space-conscious way to store stock, preferably without plastic bags, naturally, I turned to Pinterest.

That's where I found the solution that's so often the solution for all kinds of food and space dilemmas: muffin tins. A muffin tin is like Pinterest's duct tape; it can be used for EVERYTHING. Martha Stewart's suggestion to freeze stock in 1-cup muffin tins was frequently pinned. Unfortunately, I don't own any of those massive tins; mine are only 1/3 cup each. Still, the idea worked well.

In addition to muffin tins, a few people also suggested yogurt containers, which also proved successful. We go through tons of Oberweis yogurt, which comes in the 8-oz containers -- a perfect size for stock.

On tap for next weekend: figuring out what's up with that sauerkraut.