Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Freezer meals

I am leaving for Vancouver in five days, and I am going to be gone until one month post partum at least.  That means that my husband is going to be without us for the next three-four months.  As such, I am preparing some freezer meals for him.  Since other people might be doing freezer meals for the first few weeks after having a baby, this might be a useful post.

We eat almost everything home made, including bread, pasta, deserts, cheese (except for fancy hard or blue cheeses), yogourt, etc.  The only things that I buy are bulk rice, chickpeas, lentils, seeds, nuts, flour and wheat kernels, plus eggs, meat and milk, veggies and fruit.  The rest I make.  I have been this way for over 12 years, since I have moved out on my own, and so I am used to it.  I am also not about to let my precious lovely hubby eat crap meals while I am away, so I am making lots of frozen stuff for him.  Most likely when I come back the food will still be in the freezer while my hubby will have survived on bread, cheese and jam. 

But hey, I try.

So, the things that freeze the best are the following:  beans, chickpeas, lentils, lasagne, any kind of ground meat curry, soups (in particular pureed soups made with pumpkin or carrots or sweet potatoes), fresh pasta if it was dried first (if you are really desperate, even cooked pasta can be frozen, but I have not tried, just defrost in the microwave), ice cream (duh).  So, for me, if I had a baby and had to feed a family of two adults plus toddler, I would make the following for one month of survival:

-four dense breads with 150g milled grain, 350g flour, 180g pumpkin/sunflower seeds, 350g water, 40g fresh yeast, 40g vinegar, 1 tsp honey, 2 tsp salt.  Just do the usual thing, and let the bread rise once in the pan and cook for 40 min at 425F.  Freezes like a dream.  We freeze it cut in halves.

-6 batches of beans or lentils or chickpeas made like this:  half to one onion minced, one or two carrots, one or two celery sticks, possibly one or two bacon strips, all cut into pieces and sauteed for five minutes in 2 tsp olive oil.  Then add your cooked beans (400g can or if you cook then something like 300g cooked), some chicken stock (1 cup), some crushed tomatoes (or if you want it creamy then some coconut milk/curry combo), whatever spices you like, I love cumin and turmeric and bay leaves.  Even cinnamon if I put in pumpkin cubes.  Winter or summer savory?  Cardamom? The kitchen sink? it is a very forgiving dish.  Just smell a spice and if goes with the cooking aromas currently in your kitchen, then it is a good spice to use.  That is my rule of thumb.  Cook either covered or uncovered depending on whether you overshot on the liquid (haha).  If it tastes boring, add some cream.  It will fix anything (I am joking). If you are in a hurry, it gets done in 10 min in the pressure cooker.

-any kind of ground meat prepared like this:  brown 1 lb of meat, add half to one onion chopped, one carrot chopped, and saute another five minutes.  Add one can of crushed tomatoes or something like that, or four fresh tomatoes should do it.  Perhaps some white wine (100g) or chicken broth or water if it needs it.  Add cubed potatoes or cubed yams or cubed pumpkin.  Cook until it is done. Spices:  bay leaves, oregano, thyme go well with this. Basil if it is cooked for a pasta dish, but then don't put in any potato/yam/pumpkin, they do not go well with basil.

- the basic above meat sauce, minus any potato/yam/pumpkin can also be used as a pasta meal: you can make lasagne with a layer meat sauce, one of bechamel (500 g milk, 60g flour, 60 g butter I think, I would double check) or ricotta cheese, one of cooked pasta sheets.  Or you can just mix it with some cooked tagliatelle.  (I cannot comment on any other pasta shapes because I have bravely resisted getting a pasta extruder, so the only shape I can get in my house is whatever I can cut, ie. tagliatelle, or mal-tagliatti, or ravioli).

-speaking of ravioli, that would freeze well too:  2 eggs, 180 g white flour, make a dough, let it rest, stretch it out as thin as you can (either with a rolling pin or with a pasta roller), then make a mixture of ricotta, pumpkin or spinach that you first cook, dry as much as you can, and then puree, and perhaps some parmesan cheese or salt or nutmeg or whatever spices you like), fill them out, cut out into ravioli (you can use a pizza cutter, really), let them dry and then freeze on a cookie sheet (I use silpat to make sure they don't stick, or lots of flour), then put them in a bag.

- I think potato gnocchi freeze well.  There is a recipe online for "thermomix gnocchi", just use the ingredients list and you will really know what to do, don't worry about the thermomix instructions.

-soup with sauteed half onion, carrot, and celery, then add chicken broth and more carrots or yams, some cream and puree.  Beautiful soups.  Keep the cream under control.  If you like it tangy, mix the cream with some yogourt and incubate it for eight hours in a warm place first (makes creme fraiche).

We also eat a lot of just "chicken and broccoli" both of which I defrost and steam.  Or "salmon and green beans".  Or "bison/elk/deer/etc and asparagus".  Just defrost, and steam the green component, then quickly cook the meat in a pan with a bit of wine or chicken broth, salt and pepper, and some minced garlic.  That is probably our default meal.

Quiche is great for freezing too.  We make good quiches with either the traditional 1-2-3 pie crust (see the book Ratio), or something more funky, like this.  There are no limits to what you can put in a quiche, but I prefer leeks, spinach, capsicum, mushrooms.  For liquid, I use one cup milk/yogourt combo, and two eggs.  Here are the rules for quiche.   I agree with them about the cheese being nice, but I really cannot afford to eat that much cheese because I get fat very easily, especially when pregnant.

Now, I often make quiche filling and bake it in muffin trays, using silicone or paper cups for liners, then freeze these.  They make a great breakfast or lunch treat (eat two, one is too small), with a salad.  No crust.

Phew, that was a lot of work.
This is more or less what I eat all the time for the past couple of years (since I am not vegan anymore).  When I was vegan it was a bit more weird stuff, and lots made with cashews or other nuts, more mushrooms, more potato/yam dishes.

Ah, I forgot the deserts:  you need to make something nice and freeze it for when you have a sweet tooth, otherwise you will go out and buy it.  Brownies freeze well.  Almond or other nut cookies do too (85g pulverized nuts, 50 g sugar, 2 egg whites, bake for 15 min at 350C).  Even banana bread cut into slices or baked as muffins would be good.  Do not freeze chocolate truffles because they will look odd (from experience).

Ice cream is beautiful and we almost never buy it:  400 g milk, 200 g cream, 4-6 eggs, 100 g sugar, 100 g melted chocolate (or vanilla pods if making vanilla ice cream), pinch of salt.  Beat the eggs, heat the milk and cream, pour over (temper the eggs first), then heat until it thickens like a creme anglaise (use a double boiler, if you accidentally scramble the custard then blend for one minute in a STRONG blender).  Let it mature in the fridge overnight.  Try not to drink it with a cup.  It WILL make you fat.  Freeze in a tray, cut into cubes, and then mix with the mixer to make it creamy and store in freezer.  I find it freezes a bit hard, so I add either 1 tsp salt, or 1 oz liquor if I won't give it to Emma, or 1 egg white pasteurized that I beat a bit first to stop it from freezing too hard.  Or I just let it freeze and microwave briefly before scooping.  BTW, MrH, one quarter cup is a serving ;).

I hope all this helps.
Does pizza freeze?  I plan on finding out tomorrow:  I will make a pizza and freeze half, then I will find out from hubby if it was good.  Warning: he will say yes anyway.   And then he will be off to eat his bread and cheese and jam sandwich.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the awesome info!!! I was planning to also do the lasagna, black bean enchiladas, soups, etc and love all of your other ideas! Definitely will do some breads and such as well!
    I've definitely heard a lot of good things about the BOB and my neighbor also got a good deal on one off craigslist!