First of all, thank you to those who have been so supportive of my break from knitting. I have received several messages, by email, Ravelry and here on the blog. It makes me happy for two reasons…one, it means that people actually read what I type and two, I have some great friends!
While taking a fiber break, I have gotten a bit reacquainted with my kitchen. If you know me well, you’ll know that I wasn’t that distanced from my culinary workspace, but I needed to work on getting out of a food rut (as I explained a few posts ago). Like any other Mom, stay at home or not, there are some nights that I just don’t feel like cooking…or I am not feeling creative. So, I thought I’d fill my freezer with some delicious meals for those “on the fly” moments.
First up, vegetable stock. There are two things that always amaze me about stocks…one, no matter what kind you get, they are loaded with sodium, and two, we always manage to throw half of the container away. In an attempt to get a bit more healthy and cost effective, I decided to make my own. I cut up carrots, potatoes, a turnip, onions, fresh parsley, peppercorns, garlic, celery, leeks, dried thyme, and a bay leaf, and threw it all in a pot with 8 cups of water. As for the salt? I only added about a teaspoon! I simmered everything for a good two hours and let it cool right on the burner. After it was cooled, I put it in the fridge overnight and put it in glass canning jars the next day. It yielded about 4 cups of liquid, which gave me two canning jars for the freezer. I didn’t want a huge amount since I also plan to make some chicken stock, so this was the perfect amount. Because I only used one or two of each veggie, the cost was minimal too. All in all, a complete success!!!
Next, with the cold weather we’ve been having, I was craving chili. The problem was that I didn’t have any tomatoes on hand, and frankly, it was too cold to go out to get some at the store. I didn’t want to run into this same problem again, so when we did our weekly shopping trip, I stocked up on tomatoes, beans, corn, and other staples and came home to make a double batch of chili for the freezer. My chili recipe is a hit in our house, mainly because it isn’t really spicy. Hannah even loves it!! By doubling my recipe, I was able to get two large canning jars filled (each one is plenty for a meal for the three of us), and enough leftovers for last night’s dinner and some lunches this week. The best part about the chili is that it is chocked full of yumminess. I used white and red beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and of course, lean ground beef. Added with a bunch of spices, and my secret ingredient (shhh…don’t tell anyone that it is cocoa powder!), it makes for a super yummy and filling meal. For dinner last night I also made a batch of cornbread and we all went to bed with full bellies!
Finally, I froze some banana muffins that I made last week, and some pound cakes that Hannah and I picked up at our local indoor farmer’s market. (I was told a neat trick by the ladies at the farmer’s market…put your baked goods in the fridge for a bit before you put them in the freezer…apparently it helps them keep better in the freezer) Adding all of these things to the parsley pesto and marinara sauce I made and froze this summer, we should be set for a while. (I say that, but I have plans for chicken stock and some chicken pot pies in the near future!!)
So, while most here in the city have been inspired by the cold to climb under their covers and wish the freezing temps away, I used it as inspiration and brought some of that frozen goodness inside!