I intend to get back to documenting my Spain travels at some point. Yes, really! Its just that so many other things have been going on and its difficult making time to write.
I spent two evenings this week blissfully stationary on the couch with some knitting and not with my work laptop in my face. I loved those evenings. I could have been writing, but I really need to have downtime that does not involve working a computer.
I do need to stretch my fingers and my mind a bit and write, but all I’ve got today is some odds and ends stuff about food. It took a good week plus to get my home-cooking mojo back after vacation, but I did really good this week. I made one loaf of banana bread, some all fruit jam, and a ham.
Much of this week’s cooking had a common theme: I have too much food in my freezers. Yes, freezers in the plural. I have the refrigerator/freezer in the kitchen, a spare refrigerator/freezer in the basement, plus a dedicated stand up freezer in another location in the basement. I like to freeze stuff. A lot.
So many foods can be frozen, and a freezer can be a single person’s culinary powerhouse. Forget all those “cooking for one” columns and cookbooks. I cook up big batches of stuff, portion it out, and then freeze it for later. Containers of soup and chili are wonderful for lunch, but I also love to freeze portions of rice, sliced bread, and lots of seasonal fruit.
About a week ago, while digging in my freezer for a bag of frozen brown rice I realized that I have a lot of frozen fruit left that I should use. So Saturday afternoon I pulled out a few frozen ripe bananas to defrost and Sunday morning I made banana bread.
I had also noticed a partial bag of frozen strawberries. I typically buy a big flat of strawberries at the farmers market every year, then clean and freeze the berries whole. I do the same thing with blueberries, and also freeze lots of rhubarb every year. Frozen berries and fruit are pretty versatile and it’s good to stock up when local stuff is in season. I’ll often add frozen berries and bananas to smoothies, but I didn’t make very many smoothies this year, I guess, so there are quite a few bags of frozen berries left. It’s also nearly rhubarb season again, and I have quite a bit in the freezer from last year. Time to start using them up!
The all fruit jam used up three cups of frozen strawberries. That’s a tiny dent in what I still have in the freezer, so I am thinking that one of these rainy days I may cook up a bit pot of traditional strawberry jam and can a few jars. In the meantime, I’m loving this all fruit jam mixed into plain yogurt.
Making the all fruit jam is super simple and involves only apples, berries, and water. Use one peeled, cored and diced apple to one cup of diced berries. (I use a granny smith apple because it is lower in sugar and is a good cooking apple.) If you’re using fresh berries, add about 1/3 cup water to a saucepan and then add the fruit. If you’re using frozen berries you likely won’t need any additional water. Simmer gently for about 90 minutes, occasionally stirring or using a potato masher to combine the fruit well. Cook it down to a consistency you like (mine was somewhere between apple butter and apple sauce), then remove from heat. If you want it really smooth you can puree it in a blender, food processor, or with a stick blender. I like it without any further blending. Because this jam is made without any additional sugar it is not highly sweet, but the pure fruit taste really comes through and I love that more than sugary sweetness. After cooling, it can also be portioned out and frozen in cubes or dollops for later use.
The ham I baked had also been sitting in the freezer quite a while. I’ve had sliced ham dinners twice this week and will now move on to casseroles and making soup with the bone. Some of the soup and maybe even some of the casserole will wind up back in the freezer for lunches and convenient evening meals, but at least I’m chipping away at the total volume, right?
What have you been cooking? Do you use your freezer much?