I guess you could say progress is being made.
Some food from the freezer was consumed today: One-half of a small freezer-bag of frozen chicken.
Oh, sure, we had to mix it (or, in the correct but unfortunate parlance, "extend" it) with some cooked canellini beans. Some fresh stuff in the fridge — jalapeños, tomatillos, onions and a pasilla pepper — that had to be used up. A splash of chicken stock, that if not used soon, will end up IN the freezer. Some flavorings from the pantry.
But we scored. It turned out to be a most delicious white chili.
So this is all doable.
I'm just not sure it will all be done within two weeks, my original goal for eating my way through the horribly congested freezer.
However. Different topic. Today's post is about an old pal.
I used to have a business relationship, strictly by telephone, with a nice young man. I could tell he was what you might call sensitive — That is, he loved the arts, he was interested in food, he was devastated when his kitten died. This, I knew from our non-business chit-chat, which is almost always part of business chit-chat.
I got to talking to Vini one day about the collard greens I'd been learning to cook, southern-style. He brightened.
"Do you ever add diced turnip?" he asked.
Wow. No, never thought of it.
"How many peppercorns do you usually put in?"
I began to pump Vini for more suggestions; he sounded like he knew his stuff.
He also sounded like a pale, skinny, solitary guy: tiny voice, unassuming manner, sweetness and light.
When I finally met Vini in person, I realized I'd been right about everything but the physical impression I'd formed of him. Vini is a huge man. Huge in height, huge in girth. And not only is he not light in avoirdupois, he's not light in skin color.
Well, as I live and learn!
I'd been learning how to make stewed greens from the right guy, a man with deep southern roots (annual family reunions, cornbread, cornrows, the whole deal).
Vini's greens include, besides the wads and wads of cleaned, chopped, mixed greens (mustard, collard, kale, etc.): smashed garlic, whole peppercorns, a chopped turnip, a chopped carrot, a couple of strips of bacon, a couple of cloves, a dash of hot sauce, some vinegar added close to the end of cooking. And. And.
Oh, I have it all written down somewhere, but it doesn't really matter. When I was learning this from Vini over the phone, he would often drift off for a few seconds, and then say: "Oh, maybe a bay leaf. Hmm. A small drizzle of honey."
It was a riff, built around a general theme. Each day's version could be a little different, and it would still be the same... but different. Maybe a different kind of greens (today I used carrot tops and two colors of chard). Maybe turnip but no carrot. Salt pork instead of bacon.
One constant was long cooking. I find that many of the greens found in markets today can't bear long cooking; you be the judge.
Another constant was pot likker. Make sure there's enough water in the pot (an inch or so) to keep things soupy; the greens will collapse into silky ribbons.
So how does this fit in with cleaning out the freezer? Hey, I'm ever-vigilant.
1) I used leftover corned-beef cooking water to stew the greens in; that means less that will have to be frozen. 2) Um. We had to use up the chard. 3) We already had turnips and carrots in the crisper.
Oh, god, this is going to be so hard!