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.