Tag Archives: vegetarian

What I’ve Been Cooking: Eating Down the Freezer

This isn’t the sexiest post I’ve ever written, but sometimes when you’re going to be moving* and you like to keep a well-stocked pantry and chest freezer you think, “Yowza. I don’t want to move all of this, too!”

My freezer is worse (better?) than my pantry. It is stocked. Veggies from our summer CSA, organic beef and chicken (usually, but we’ve used it all up), berries, banana chunks for smoothies (and six whole bananas C threw in there once), frozen veggies from the store, chunks of a whole coconut we’d broken up, cranberries from the Cape, peaches from last summer, homemade stock and pesto, tasty things from Trader Joe’s, a frozen pizza.

That’s rather a lot. Plus I sometimes tend to put leftovers in there, too. Maybe I’m a little bit of a food hoarder, but I like to have stuff on hand.

Our pantry is less full, but it has a fair amount of food in it, mostly pasta, grains, and beans. And canned tomatoes. It’s really quite reasonable, not excessive, but we’re not going to starve, that’s for sure.

On my own, and with the kids gone half the week, and thus my not having to cook a major meat-containing meal every night, I’ve started to making recipes that catch my eye or that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and also generally simplifying what I cook. In addition, I’ve again begun cooking out of interest and pleasure instead of as a dull repetitive chore.

I once again love to cook!

I went through the freezer the other day, partly to see if I had anything affected by that recent listeria recall (I did not) and partly to see what was in there. Year-old birthday cake? Goodbye. Year-old unfrosted cupcakes? Six-month-old pastry dough? Two-year-old pesto cubes (ugh)? Gone, gone, gone.

Here’s what I’ve been cooking lately, using up what I have on hand:

Cacio e Pepe: It’s like adult mac-and-cheese. So simple, so delicious. I don’t make it quite like Mark Bittman does, but it’s lovely. I also made another version with fried sage leaves (oh…..so good) and threw in some fresh spinach leaves just before the pasta was done cooking. Helpful tip: Frying sage leaves in brown butter can make your house smell like pot (come on, I went to a small liberal arts college in the ’90s). If you don’t like the smell of pot (I do not), ventilate well.

Fruit Cobbler: On Tuesday I took all the frozen berries and that one remaining sheet of puff pastry and made a cobbler, also adding chunks of fresh mango and some of last summer’s peaches, which I’d managed to peel and slice last summer (and froze in anticipation of making jam at a later time, which I haven’t yet done…). The puff pastry wasn’t great. Maybe I didn’t vent it enough, but it was soggy and thick. And the fruit was really runny. Tasty, but I should have done something different.

Banana Bread: The same day, I defrosted the six whole frozen bananas and made a 9×13 pan of chocolate chip banana bread…just in time for yesterday’s epic seven-boys/two-moms playdate.

Chocolate Chia Pudding: Yesterday morning, I made chocolate chia pudding. I had no nut milks/rice milk on hand, and while I do have very nice cows’ milk in the fridge, I decided to use a can of coconut milk (with the fat skimmed off to save for another use). It seems a bit too chocolately for the texture, frankly. I think this would be good mixed with a good whole-milk yogurt (Greek or not, whatever’s on hand) to balance the flavor and texture.

Vegetarian Chili: Max wanted chili for dinner last night. After our epic seven-child playdate I needed to make something quick. Thus this delicious skillet chili. This nicely used up most of an onion, some carrots and green peppers from the produce drawer, two cans of beans, and a can of tomatoes. Alas, my chili powder and cumin seem to have moved out with my husband, so I found a half-packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning and put a little of that in. Ben complained the chili was too spicy but otherwise liked it. I would have used more of that seasoning but it has a really strong note of cayenne and not much else (that is, to get the other flavors you’d have way too much cayenne going on). I had to add water to the chili to make it soupier for my traditionalist children, who like a soupy chili instead of a bowl of beans. With some shredded cheese on top, it was delicious and everyone ate two bowls (yay!!).

Veggie Tempura Nests: I didn’t really make these. I had some from Trader Joe’s (man, I have a lot of TJ’s stuff in my freezer!) and wanted to use them up and thought they’d be a nice counterpoint to the chili. Ben didn’t like them, and Max thought they were just OK, so I ended up eating them all (don’t judge).

So that’s what we’ve been eating. I also, when I can, maybe every other week, make a trip to a local produce market and stock up. Then I roast big pans of eggplant and peppers and summer squash and zucchini and make big salads, and another night I might grill a pile of veggies as I continue to learn to master the charcoal grill (windy days are tricky).

What I’d like, frankly, is a big juicy steak, cooked rare. Alas, I haven’t yet found one in my freezer, fridge, or pantry. Maybe when I get the chest freezer nearly empty and schedule a pickup for a big pile of stuff to donate, I will celebrate with a steak. Let us hope I’ve fully gotten the hang of the charcoal grill by then.

*I don’t know where yet. But it will be sometime this summer, away from the city. And yes, I’d probably be better off focusing on cleaning the basement and getting stuff ready to donate, but hey, we need to eat, right?

Meal Plan: Week of July 23

(Well, what’s left of this week…We just got back last night from a beautiful trip to Iceland to visit family! More on that later.)

We arrived home from the airport last night to find an enormous bag of vegetables* in our entryway. This wasn’t a shock. A friend who’s in the same CSA we had to drop out of this year is out of town this week and wanted to give her share to someone else. I jumped at the chance, even though our plane would be landing at Logan just as the CSA pickup was ending.

Fortunately, a few of our neighbors are in the same CSA and one kindly volunteered to pick up our share for us.

So we got home to find:

  • two heads of cabbage
  • two bunches of chioggia beets
  • two bunches of Swiss chard
  • two pounds of new potatoes
  • two cucumbers
  • two squash (some kind of green summery squash, similar to zucchini)
  • two pounds of Kentucky wonder beans
  • two bunches of Cipollini onions

[You’re probably thinking, “Why the hell did you drop out of that CSA??” Great question, and I ask myself that every day. But let’s move on.]

The food in Iceland was excellent, and we ate well. I especially enjoyed the hangikjöt on flatkokur, which we had for lunch one day when my sister in Iceland packed sandwiches for us when we toured the Golden Circle. (I promise, more on this soon!) Hangikjöt is smoked lamb, and it was in thin slices on this flat bread. I really like it. I liked all the food there.

But, you know, when you’re traveling, you don’t eat quite like you do at home, and you often want to try all the pastry shops and bakeries and local ice cream to see how they are. Well, I do, at least.

So it was a nice treat to come home to a million pounds of fresh green vegetables. Those vegetables will inform the menu for the rest of this week.

Wednesday: Zucchini and feta pie, Kentucky wonder beans, Balsamic Glazed Cipolli Onions (since I’ll have the oven going anyway!). Doesn’t that onion recipe look amazing?

Thursday: Chickpea Pasta, raw beet salad, sauteed cabbage.

Friday: Pizza, shredded cabbage salad.

Saturday: One of the Wildtree freezer meals (probably Tropical Glazed Porkchops), greens.

Sunday: I don’t know!

Lunches this week are looking pretty spectacular: huge chopped salads of beet greens and grated beets and shredded cabbage; garlic soup from a recipe I found in Yoga Journal; hummus from The Frugalette’s recipe. I’m so happy to be up to my ears in veggies! And this confirms that next year I will indeed be joining the CSA again.

* Which I didn’t photograph, as we were trying to get all the luggage and children and car seats unloaded from the taxi and up the stairs. Trust me, though: It was a beautiful sight.

Do you belong to a CSA? Do you alter or create your meal plans based around the local harvest?