We've got a big chest freezer in the basement, but there's too much in it and I need to make room for the half a cow I've got coming in a month or so. Not only that, but the food should be used before it gets any older. Not only that, but why should I spend money at the supermarket when I've got an array of goodies right here at home?
So I'm planning meals around what's in the freezer (and pantry, as far as that goes, but I'm not going there right now). Last night is a case in point. Well, "planning" doesn't actually apply in this case; it was more of a spontaneous "let's see what's in the freezer that will do for dinner."
Anyway, it was a blowy, drizzly, gray, cold, nasty kind of evening, the kind that makes you say, "This is soup weather." I could have made soup very quickly in my pressure cooker, but I thought I must have something in the freezer. Foraging around, I found a container of beef bits frozen in home-made broth, one of beef stew, and one of minestrone. Voila! Dinner! I thawed them, mixed them together, added a little liquid and some barley--oh, and some leftover green beans from dinner the night before--and it was delicious. Jim kept saying how good it was. A little of this, a little of that ... Gourmet cooking it ain't, but it sure hit the spot on a wet, windy night.
Today I found a mystery container--you know, the kind the label has fallen off of, and you sort of peer at it and say tentatively, "Well, it could be chili ... looks like some kind of beans in there ..." I thawed it out, and it turned out to be black bean soup with corn and squash. Seemed to me I had some frozen black beans somewhere or other ... Yep, I located them. I thawed and mashed them, added them to the thawed soup, jazzed up the spicing (a little more garlic, some jalapeno pepper, and most definitely some cumin), and heated the whole thing up, simmering some of the liquid away. Black bean burritos for dinner tonight. Oh, and there were some roasted tomatillos, too, which will become salsa verde.
I still have quite a few of last year's tomatoes in the freezer, so some homemade tomato soup is in order shortly, and no doubt some spaghetti sauce as well. Not to mention chili, especially if I still have some grass-fed ground beef left (I really need to take inventory!).
There are some leeks left in the freezer, so I got a jar out to thaw in the fridge, having leek-and-potato soup in mind, especially given the bonanza of potatoes we harvested this year. I'll serve it with a beef recipe of some sort--haven't decided that part yet.
Chickens. I have several whole chickens in the freezer, and the very large, tougher ones (free-range chickens can be tougher, especially when they're allowed to get quite huge) will make terrific soup stock that can be frozen--that'll take up a lot less space in the freezer. I think I'll roast a smaller one and serve that with some of the ginger-carrot soup taking up space down there. Our carrot crop is all but non-existent this year, due to neglect on my part (the weeds took over), so I'll make do.
I noticed some frozen cabbage soup--the kind in a tomato base, often called Jewish cabbage soup, and I'm thinking that would go well with sauerbraten. Don't you think? Last year's beef needs to go, too, after all.
After I take inventory, I'm sure I'll come up with a dozen more ideas for dinner. And I'm hoping to do that before my next trip to the supermarket, believe me. In economic times like these, who needs to spend a fortune at the store when the freezer is well stocked?