Know What’s in Your Freezer: January 9-13

Home at 3 AM on Monday and a day late after two weeks away. The fresh food on hand was a short list: apples, onions, and garlic. We didn’t even have coffee! And after nine hours of sitting on a plane followed by four hours of sleep, coffee was really all we cared about. But I settled for Earl Grey tea. Many, many cups of it.

The solution to “nothing to eat”? You already know I’m NOT going to say, “Well, go to the store, of course!” At the risk of making this blog post sound like an advertisement for kitchenlister, this week represents the magic of pantry management. Or in this case, freezer management.

Packed Freezer

Is buying more stuff really the answer when there’s “nothing to eat”?

Monday’s Soup From the Freezer

I’ve mentioned before that anything I put in my freezer gets noted in my kitchenlister account with “#freezer” in the notebook. Knowing I had some kind of soup, I searched “#freezer soup” and found a couple options, including leftovers from this meal.

The soup would make a great dinner with some homemade bread and roasted tomatoes. So I also searched “flour” in my pantry list to remind myself which types I had on hand. I made “Golden Malted Wheat Bread” from Whole Grain Baking, a sandwich bread I’ve made before. Most of the included bread recipes are simple. Combine all the ingredients and mix, then knead with an electric mixer. The work is minimal, it just takes time. Enough time that I wanted to try doubling the recipe so I’d have plenty of bread, including some slices for the freezer.

Golden Malted Wheat Bread Sliced for the Freezer

Homemade bread sliced and ready for the freezer. Recipe for Golden Malted Wheat Bread from Whole Grain Baking.

Making Homemade Bread on a Weekday? That’s Crazy

I agree. It does seem so at first. But it’s easy to forget (or perhaps not even realize) that fresh-from-the-oven homemade bread is so deeply satisfying. Even if you’re used to good-quality bread from local bakeries. There is something special about your own bread made from scratch. (And if you’re only used to pre-sliced supermarket bread, you may never buy it again!) Don’t look at baking bread as an extra thing you now have to do. Instead, good bread can become the base for simple meals, like this and this. Or as I found out during the week, the meal itself. Which leads me to …

Breakfast and Lunch

Toast for breakfast with honey, jam or fruit, plus eggs later in the week. Homemade bread with butter and a sprinkle of salt makes a very satisfying lunch.

Composite of Meals With Homemade Bread

Homemade bread gives you simple breakfasts and lunches throughout the week. Here with Apricot Rose Spread from Lamb Farm Kitchen (top left), butter and sea salt, softened (top right) and thin pats for when you can’t wait (bottom left), and toasted with a poached egg and home-canned peaches (bottom right).

And when the bread is gone (or frozen), there’s always hot cereal 🙂

10 Grain Hot Cereal With Canned Peaches

Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal topped with cinnamon and home-canned peaches.

Freezer Week Continues

I failed to mention that while I was searching for soups and flours on Monday, I also searched “#freezer” by itself. This gives me a list of all the contents of my freezer. It is an amazingly long list of over 50 items. And, yes, I only have the old school, 24″-wide refrigerator-freezer combo. That photo up above is my freezer.

From the vast freezer inventory, I selected the following items for dinner on Tuesday:

  1. Linguine (saved from my fresh pasta share).
  2. Whole plum tomatoes.
  3. Cooked black beans.
  4. Fresh herbs pureed in oil. I have a couple options but I chose the celery leaf, fennel frond, and cilantro combination.

Adding some garlic and olive oil to make a tomato sauce out of the frozen tomatoes, we threw together this quick and delicious dish:

Linguine Pasta With Black Bean Tomato Sauce and Celery Puree

Linguine pasta tossed with tomato sauce and black beans. Garnished with a puree of celery leaves, fennel fronds and cilantro, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The pasta, tomatoes, cooked beans, and herb puree were all pulled from the freezer for a last-minute dinner.

I had plenty of pasta and herbs but not enough tomato sauce for leftovers. So before tossing with the sauce, I removed a portion of the pasta. I tossed it with some extra olive oil and the remaining herb puree. Lunch for the next day!

Linguine With Celery, Fennel, and Cilantro Pesto

Linguine pasta tossed with celery leaf, fennel frond and cilantro puree. Garnished with breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Wednesday’s Market

We missed the Sunday farmers market due to our canceled flight. Thus Wednesday’s night market was a priority. While I could continue eating almost exclusively from the freezer, I want to support this new weekday farmers market. Plus a few key ingredients, like eggs, can widen the possibilities for meals. There’s only a few vendors (at least in December and January) but we still found some essentials. Even with the limited selection, I bought a vegetable I’d never had before: Castelfranco radicchio. Farmers markets never disappoint when it comes to discovering new foods.

Capitol Hill Night Market January Food Haul

January food haul from the Chophouse Row night market: eggs, radicchio (top right), cabbage (bottom row), and fruit leather from Tonnemaker.

Don’t Forget About the Fridge

Of course, kitchen management is not limited to the freezer. Before shopping, I did another quick search in my kitchenlister account. This time for “#exp1.” to find items expiring in January. I was targeting long-keeping items that I tend to buy during my quarterly shopping trips. Without noting the expiration dates, I may forget to use these perishables up in time. Examples are dairy products, crackers, and certain condiments.

I had a couple cheeses in the fridge (saved from my cheese share). Seeing paneer on the list sparked the idea of making a saag paneer to serve over rice. Instead of spinach, I used a combination of frozen greens and cabbage from the market. Combining those vegetables with onions sautéed in ghee, I added turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne to the mixture. I finished the dish with coconut butter and water instead of coconut milk (because that’s what I had). Finally I added the cubes of paneer cheese and let it all simmer. It’s a simple and satisfying dish. If you’d like a recipe, I recommend this one for ease. There’s even a recipe for homemade paneer, but I haven’t tried it myself.

Saag Paneer Served Over Rice

A less traditional saag paneer made with mixed greens and cabbage. Served over brown rice.

Delicious, but I only used half the package of paneer. So one final trip to the freezer (for this week, that is) completed the week’s meals:

Fried Paneer With Spiced Broccoli

Pan fry cubes of paneer cheese in avocado oil. Add to broccoli spiced with cayenne, turmeric and garam masala for a quick dinner. Here I used frozen broccoli, but try whatever fresh or frozen vegetables are convenient.

The bonus is both of these paneer dishes—like all Indian food—make fantastic leftovers.

But Wait … Cookies?

You might come home from a long flight feeling sick and tired. Homemade cookies can turn your week around. Thanks Mom!

Shortbread Cookies

Auntie Clara’s Shortbread Cookies. Because that’s what my mom calls them.

Hoping I have advice about how to get people to make you cookies? I don’t. Oh wait, yes I do. Make them pie. Not sure if you’ll find that a good trade …


If you’d like more information about any of my meals from the freezer, leave me a comment.

Read more about my “Week in Review” posts.

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