Dark Days freezer fare

Posted by Anita on 03.09.08 3:48 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Our main fridge in the kitchen is a counter-depth, side-by-side model. Its narrow, shallow freezer doesn’t hold a lot, volume-wise, but picking a bigger fridge would have meant a lot of kitchen remodel trade-offs that we weren’t willing to make. The ancient fridge we inherited from the previous owners was wheezing and leaking by the time we started our remodel, so we killed two birds with one stone by buying an old-school (but brand-new and EnergyStar compliant) over/under fridge for the basement.

The plain-Jane newbie was a perfect stopgap for us to use until we moved back upstairs, and now we fill the basement fridge with all those goofy condiments we only need twice a year (cooking Thai food will do that to you) and extra beer. When fiesta time rolls around, the beer gets moved up to a cooler on the back porch, and the downstairs fridge gets filled with all the party mise en place. And, of course, the second fridge’s freezer is our storage vault for things like summer veggies, pasta sauce, make-ahead meals, and other frozen staples. We keep one or two packets of each thing in the main fridge, and the back-stock downstairs — a bit of it’s an oddball system, but it works for us.

At least 90% of the time it does. But when you’re prone to making megabatches of chicken stock, things can go south pretty quickly.

Last week, I innocently opened the freezer door in search of some chile verde, and a tectonic shift sent plastic-encased projectiles plummeting toward the floor. Thank goodness I had my clogs on, or I might’ve lost a toe! I’d stacked food cubes like a giant game of Tetris — or maybe more like Jenga — and I’d paid the price. Clearly, my version of Fibber McGee’s closet needed a clean sweep. I took everything out of the freezer (note to self: wear gloves next time!) and reconfigured it all in a less-precarious arrangement. Still, though, the tiny compartment was pretty close to capacity.

To try and eat down our storage problem, I put us on a strict diet: Every dinner we ate at home had to have at least one frozen element… at least until there was enough room to store another batch of Bolognese sauce. (It’s nice to have problems that can be solved by eating.) With spring on the horizon, it seemed safe to start really digging into our local-food stash. After all, we’ll start seeing roaster/fryer chickens at the market again next month, and we’ve got plenty of canned tomatoes to last us through to the new season — the hothouse Early Girls are already coming in, much to my shock.

Due to a combination of Presidents’ Day weekend festivities and long nights at the office, we only managed 5 dinners at home during the last half of February — all of them, of course, at least partially from the freezer. We’ll keep plugging away at our hoard over the next few weeks, but now there’s enough breathing room in the freezer that I don’t feel bad eating the occasional freshly prepared supper.

In fact, the downstairs freezer is looking downright breezy at the moment… A phenomenon that should last until we start getting 9 pounds a month of sustainable, local beef, pork, and lamb from Marin Sun Farms’ new meat CSA.

Hmm, do you think a third fridge would be excessive?

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Dark Days Ticker — February 15 to 29
- Dark Days dinners at home: 5 dinners
- Locavore dining-out: O Izakaya Lounge, Primavera, Tacubaya
- Freezer fodder: Short-rib ragu, Cornish pasties, rigatoni bolognese, turkey meatballs, chicken pot-pie

New local items in the pantry:
- Scharffen Berger cocoa powder (Berkeley, 13 miles)
- Marin Sun Farms pastured eggs (Point Reyes Station , 44 miles)
- Katz champagne vinegar (Napa, 57 miles)

Dark Days challenge, locavore, preserving & infusing



Comment by Laurie

I’m so pleased to see your pasty; I’d been meaning to ask if you had a photo. Matthew said the unbaked pasties didn’t work for you, but it looks like baked ones did? It’s lovely and the shape is exactly right.

Posted on 03.09.08 at 5:34PM

Comment by Jennifer Hess

I can’t wait until we can get a second freezer. We have room at our new place for a small chest freezer, we just need to look into the outlet situation.

Posted on 03.10.08 at 7:36AM

Comment by robin (caviar and codfish)

A meat CSA!? That’s heavenly.

Also, I LOVE your kitchen, I just checked it out on your past post. Congrats on such a great job creating it! Though maybe you need to get your hands on an icebox! :)

Posted on 03.10.08 at 7:44AM

Comment by Anita

Laurie: Thank you for reminding me! I forgot to mention that the pasties did not freeze well at all! The potatoes turned all brown and smelled like … well, like something that doesn’t warrant space on a food blog. :) We ate the crust and the meat, but ended up tossing out the taters, which (as a potato junkie) made me terribly sad.

So, next time I will make only as many as I can bake, and/or try pre-baking them before freezing.

Jennifer: Oh, fingers crossed for you that there’s an outlet where you need it. If not, maybe your new neighbors know a good electrician? :)

Robin: Yeah, “Meat CSA” is one of my favorite new phrases. And thanks on the kitchen praise — we’re still just as in love with it a year down the road as we were the day we moved in.

Posted on 03.10.08 at 9:50AM

Comment by jessica

No, three fridges isn’t excessive, but if you don’t need the fridge space, why not consider getting a deep freeze? My mom has a fridge/freezer upstairs, a fridge/freezer downstairs and a standing deep freeze. Get a standing one, not a chest – it makes organizing and accessing a breeze and then you have plenty of room!

Posted on 03.10.08 at 11:37AM

Comment by Kendra

Three refrigerating units is definitely not excessive if you’re family is as into food as mine is- and into preserving fresh foods! I have a regular fridge upstairs, a regular fridge downstairs for mostly drinks, leftovers that are too big for upstairs, and things that need refrigerating but I’m afraid to keep upstairs, like delicate cakes. I also have a chest freezer downstairs for the rest that can be a hassle at times (usually when someone less organized gets a hold of it) but does a great job keeping our food fresh!

Posted on 03.10.08 at 11:58AM

Comment by katiehage@hotmail.com

You might be eating locally grown food, but your carbon footprint is out of control freezing that much food!

Posted on 03.10.08 at 6:27PM

Comment by Anita

Jessica & Kendra: Oh, I am being too deadpan, aren’t I? I think two fridges for two adults is plenty. I’ll just have to get more efficient in my stacking. And we do actually need the fridge space, at least what we have. In addition to the other uses I mentioned above, we also use the “spare” to chill stock and pasta sauce and other big-batch foods (after safely cooling them to room temp, of course), and for wide platters of party stuff that don’t fit in a small side-by-side fridge. We’ve thought about a chest freezer or an upright deep-freeze, but frankly it would probably be overkill for us, and we like the flexibility of having a second fridge.

Katie: Actually, our freezer runs at the same rate whether it’s full or half-empty and keeping beer in the fridge means it actually is more efficient. A full freezer or refrigerator has a thermal mass that requires less power to keep cool. (Call your local power utility and ask if you don’t believe me. Or read this page.) In fact, I would argue that having our deep-storage in a less-frequently-opened freezer means that our main fridge is getting a break, too.

Given that we didn’t just take an inefficient old unit and move it downstairs, like 90% of the people who have spare refrigerators do, but bought a new EnergyStar-rated model, my conscience is pretty clear on this point. And when we re-roof our house in the next 12-18 months, we’re going to go solar, so the appliance footprint won’t be an issue at all. But thanks for stopping by and leaving your positive vibes, Sweetness.

Posted on 03.10.08 at 7:05PM

Comment by Joan

Wow, we have the identical problem here – side-by-side too full, freezer projectiles (except I wasn’t wearing my clogs at the time and it DID hurt!), wishing for a different freezer arrangement, but no room without major remodelling. Alas, I don’t think the contents of our freezer are on a par with yours. But, still the empty-the-freezer diet sounds like a good idea for us to follow. I don’t know when you did your remodel, but it is beautiful. I have a friend doing that now and I know I am going to have a serious case of kitchen envy when he is done. So, am thinking about starting a list of wishes and dreams for a future project-just have to convince the better half it’s a good idea.

Posted on 03.10.08 at 8:20PM

Comment by Deborah Dowd

I love my extra fridge which is in the garage, and we have an upright freezer in our kitchen in addition to a sidde by side, and still we get filled up! Seems like the more room you have the more you use.

Posted on 03.11.08 at 6:49PM

Comment by michelle @ TNS

man, a second freezer? jealous! i hate my side-by-side fridge and freezer, i can hardly fit two quarts of stock in there.


Posted on 03.11.08 at 8:04PM

Comment by Tartelette

We have one of those fridges with the freezer at the bottom and the space in there is limited. I was commenting to Bill the other day that a chest freezer in the garage/basement would be nice. He warmed up to the idea when I mentionned the numerous jars of tomato sauce and stocks I could store in it. I think I need to keep working on that one though :)

Posted on 03.11.08 at 9:38PM

Comment by Don't Call It Frisco

Wow…I thought I was the only one with two fridges and stuff falling out! :)

Posted on 03.13.08 at 12:50AM

Pingback by Urban Hennery » Blog Archive » Dark Days 2008: Recap #5

[...] Like many of us, Anita doesn’t always have enough freezer space. And perhaps she’s also been hoarding the fruits of summer, afraid to dip into them for fear she’ll run out before spring arrives The past couple of weeks have been mandatory freezer fare around her place. Now that they’ve feasted on short-rib ragu, Cornish pasties, rigatoni bolognese, turkey meatballs and chicken pot pie, there’s plenty of space. Obviously Anita’s freezer is magical, right? The meals coming out of ours don’t sound nearly so scrumptious. [...]

Posted on 03.13.08 at 10:55PM

Comment by Donna

My husband grumbles under his breath (well, sometimes loudly) every time he gets hit by a projectile from our freezer. Then he reminds me that we have a perfectly good chest freezer in the garage with room to spare. :) Maybe the balancing act packing job is genetic?

Posted on 03.14.08 at 2:13PM

Comment by shelley (s'kat)

I’ve been trying to get us to eat more freezer foods, but my beloved Dave FIGHTS tooth and nail. *sigh* It’s rapidly become a cold tomb where food goes to die.

Posted on 03.24.08 at 2:06PM

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