February 29, 2012

Guest Post: WilliamB's Freezer

Internet, I'm beyond delighted to present a guest poster that you may already know from insightful commenting here and at The Frugal Girl - among other places, I'm sure - and helpful suggestions for food waste reduction and freezer diving: WilliamB.

 Ever since meeting - Yes, virtually. Yes, it counts - WilliamB I've wanted a glimpse into what sounds like the Most Prepared Kitchen I've ever heard of. Today, the freezer.

Tomorrow, the moon - er, pantry. And how to organize it. With pictures.

Lannis is squeeing. Right now.

Also: Ten. Pounds. Of. Butter. You can see why the intrigue.

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Fair warning: I am not funny in my essay writing. I envy The Mrs and Lannis their ability to do that. Maybe we should challenge them – rewrite my guest post as funny.

I have two freezers, the fridge freezer and a 14 cubic foot chest freezer. The fridge freezer is for everything but meat and stashed food. So: stocks, liquids, ice cream, umami on call (tomato paste, anchovies), grated cheese if I have it, quick meals (deli meat, sausage, ham), frozen oj (for baking with whole wheat), yeast, bones and bits. The deep freezer has the protein (whole happy pig, cut up; 10 happy chickens in parts), 10 lbs butter, a couple of frozen pizzas, store of spices, random bits and any bones that don’t fit in the fridge freezer. When I have too much meat – such as now, when I just got the pig – I stash some in a friend’s freezer. Friend doesn’t cook so my happy pork is safe. The fridge is freezer-bottom and the chest freezer is too small to have included internal organization. Therefore both are hard to keep organized so lists are my friend. I write down what goes in when it goes in, and cross it off when I use it. –ahem- In theory. In practice I have to take inventory every now and then.

Any rational person must be wondering what I do with all of this. (Are there any rational people in The Mrs’ readership? Speak now so we know you’re there.) Actually, I hope that no reader of The Mrs needs to ask what I do with the butter.

The major gift of my freezers is the stocks and liquids. I collect bones and bits everywhere I go. Roast duck carcasses from Chinese restaurants (one place gave me an extra!) Lobster shells. Turkey carcass from the office holiday party. I save even more at home. Leftovers from smoked pork are like gold, the fat as well as the skin and bones. Chix bones, raw or cooked, simmered for 3 hours with onion, celery, peppercorns, and fresh ginger, becomes the most important must have in my kitchen: chicken stock. The leftovers from Red Cooked Anything (a Chinese simmering liquid based on soy sauce and stock) and the liquid from French Braised Chix are both saved for the next time. Even the very salty liquid from blanching a ham is saved, for cooking rice or potatoes or beans. Right now I have chicken stock, Peking duck stock, lobster stock, and salty ham drippings with crisp skin bits that I’ll use next time I make split pea soup. I also have salsa liquid, the liquid that pools in the bottom of the salsa fresca bowl; it makes awesome beans or Tortilla Soup. The minor gift of my freezer is the umami on call. In my case this means tomato paste and anchovies. When a dish seems to lack depth or is monoflavored, try adding umami: soy sauce, tomato paste, anchovies, minced sauteed mushrooms, dried mushrooms, or a combination. The culinary impact of these is huge, all for the price of one freezer shelf. Sandi asked me what are my must-haves. The answer is everything on this shelf.

The bulk of my freezer space goes to the bulk happy meat. I’m moving toward buying only pastured meat – for many reasons, none of which I’ll get into here because it’s long, boring, and/or possibly controversial. Happy meat is more expensive than factory meat but buying in bulk helps reduce the cost. This fall I paid about US $5/lb for the pork (not including weird bits such as heart and lard) and US $3.50/lb for the chicken.

This time last year: Coming Soon