Wednesday, March 29, 2006

[Takes Deep Breath, Reconsiders]

So it's Day 12 of the Ice Harvest, and we decided to go out for lunch.
The reality is that we're simply not going to snowplow through that freezer and eat up everything, down to the bare walls, within two weeks.
It's been a very interesting project: creative, disciplined, kinda Girl Scout rah-rah merit badge.
But a little unrealistic.
Eh, so what? Most of the stuff still in the freezer is stuff we tend to want to have on hand in the freezer: tomato sauce, local whole-wheat flour and some local wheatberries. A few packets of meat. And the real clutter-bomb — frozen broth in large, one-quart containers inside freezer bags.
I'm maniacal about broth, since soup is my very favorite meal to cook. Being a little bit thrifty, I'm also maniacal about saving broth ingredients until there are enough to boil up another batch: bones, meaty carcasses, vegetables, even vegetable trimmings.
OK. Yesterday I discovered a red onion that was ready either for the compost or for the retirement home. A quick rummage through the fridge turned up a bag of the fleshy center ribs trimmed from two bunches of chard, a couple of carrot halves and the strongly scented tops of a celery root. Not a lot to go on.
I dashed out onto the rainy patio and snipped a basketful of herbs: garlic chives, tons of marjoram, some paltry parsley (and the brawny stems from this plant, which is past its prime), a couple of frail rosemary sprigs (the plant is new and trying to get its bearings), plus about five fresh bay leaves.
Cranky was polite, but it was clear the question on his mind was "Why? Why are you making an anemic vegetable broth when there's so much in the freezer?"
I couldn't help myself!
And soon, as the reinvigorating, steamy aromas rose from the pot, he understood. It smelled like summer. It smelled like hope. It smelled like life.
It was too good not to do. And it was decidedly not anemic. (Hint: I usually toss in a small handful of lentils and two or three dried shiitakes, to add bass notes. I leave out salt and pepper, allowing the dish this broth will go into to govern those choices.)
So, without apologies, I present to you my fresh vegetable broth... Which we have decided NOT to freeze, in honor of this silly and rewarding experiment. We're just going to dive in right away.
Mushroom-rice-chicken soup tonight, made with fresh broth and a trickle of cream.


Kalyn said...

Another thing we have in common. I'm also stock-obsessed and totally ocd about saving things in the freezer to make it.

cookiecrumb said...

Yes, I saw your post on making chicken stock from leftovers. That looked like the richest stock ever!
(Do you think I could get a full-size freezer? I'll make it sleep out in the garage. It will never jump up on the furniture. I'll feed it and clean it and take it for a walk every day. Please?)

Dagny said...

You lost me at "Girl Scout" because I suddenly remembered the cookies I have stashed in my freezer.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny, I don't know how much cooking you do (the last post of yours I read was about, oh, let's say a headache you got rid of). But you should definitely check out Heidi's recipe!

Dagny said...

CC, lol. Yes, I tend to write about headaches. I also tend to cook quite a bit. Every now and again I actually write about food. I like nice food but find it costs less to prepare it at home than to go out to eat. Plus it's fun.

I will have to try out the recipe. That would mean no more freezing of cookies.

kudzu said...

My friend has a big freezer in her garage. I asked her about it. She said that it is even easier NOT to clean, and so easy to throw things into it. I am wondering whether this is the answer for those of us who are foodie packrats.

Soup sounds good, especially today when it is s-t-i-l-l so wet, here.

Tea said...

I hear you, sister! (yes, I have decided that we are soup sisters). I've had a house guest this week (thus little cooking time). I just dropped her off and had to fight myself not to go to the butcher for stock makings. Now reading your post I wish I had.

Growing up we had a full sized freezer my mom got in conjunction with a funny story about half a cow she bought in an attempt to provide us kids with organic meat (only available wholesale at the time). Talk about a freezer of meat!

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Oh gosh. There goes that idea. I can really see the pitfalls, now that you mention it. OTOH, I'm bragging that even though we really *need* the soup in this chilly, damp misery that is Northern California right now, we are keeping the quantities made down to two servings, so there are no leftovers (to freeze). There will be enough veg broth to go around.
Tea: See? Obey your inner soup goddess. BTW, I just spent a few minutes up at Boca Steak (in Novato) flipping through George Morrone's soup cookbook. I almost bought it, but decided to wait... :D

Sam said...

I have been to ashamed to visit you since i over-defrosted the turky and it started to pong.

I phone my mum but she told me it would be unsafe to use it.

i did defrost some veggie stoock though and make a delicious artichoke and asparagus soup flavoured with cheese rinds.

cookiecrumb said...

Sam, you are among friends. It's OK. I had already guessed, in fact. Besides, you didn't really want to eat turkey. :D
(Cranky threw out my cheese rinds!! Gotta start over.)

Tea said...

Oh my gosh, I finally had a chance to use the cheese rinds that have been languishing in my freezer. I added them to a ribollita-style soup I made last weekend and it was amazing. I wanted to post about it on my blog, but I fear the natives will revolt if I put up yet another soup recipe...

Brett said...

I have been astonished at how much your freezer holds. It sounds like it must be about twice the size of my entire kitchen.

cookiecrumb said...

Brett: I could say that we packed it neatly (and to some extent we did: The tomato sauce was frozen in flat plastic bags that stack), but it was really just horrendously overstuffed.