Let's resolve to deal with the chaos that is the freezer - to preserve peace of mind!
“Good order is the foundation of all good things.” — Edmund Burke
Feeling a bit down? It’s cold. It’s dark. The days are short and all your friends have flown South, persistently posting gloaty photos of beaches and palm trees on Facebook. Need a little spring in your step? It might be time to wrestle a bit of Mr. Burke’s good order to earth.
Start small. Organize your junk drawer! Take everything out. Put it on the counter. Wash the drawer. Now get a shoe box or some container. Put those things you know you use often back in the drawer. Put all the rest in the box. Write the date on a piece of paper if you don’t yet have a label maker, and attach it to the box. Put a reminder in your phone for one year from today. Put the box in the basement. Every time you need something from the box, return it to the drawer. After one year (that reminder will pop up), put whatever remains in your “things to slip into the church yard sale” pile. You obviously don’t need that stuff.
Now then. Don’t you feel better already? Admit it. You keep going back to that drawer to admire it. Good order is lovely to behold.
Everyone has those purgatorial areas in their home where the remnants of past unmade decisions patiently await their fate. And we know it’s there, noodling our subconscious, disrupting our peace of mind, clogging the flow of our chi.
Which is why it is so invigorating to clear them out!
Start small. A drawer. A closet. Next: the garage! But sooner or later, we have to tackle the behemoth of all junk receptacles, the freezer!
When I ask folks why they eat turkey every day for a week after a holiday, why they don’t just package it, label it and freeze it to enjoy another day, they might scare up an excuse. “It’s such a bother” or “I don’t like the taste of food that has been frozen,“ but we suspect the real reason is that the freezer is jammed to the hilt with unidentifiable, freezer-burned bags of indecision from days of yore and there’s not an inch of available space. Eventually they will have to deal with it, but not today. I suspect some people just pick up sticks and move to avoid contending with the freezer. But why?
Perhaps because we can’t cope with the guilt of throwing away the remnants of that lovely turnip puff, so we pop it in a baggie and pitch it in the freezer. Surely we’ll never forget what’s in that baggie. And surely the day will come when a freezer-burned bit of turnip puff will be just the ticket! Or we bought something “on special” and were too fatigued to portion it, so now it lurks in the freezer, an intimidating mass the size of a bowling ball and about as appetizing. There are obscure bits wrapped in tin foil, or blocks of something that could possibly be soup in containers of varying sizes.
A good trick to reach the goal of “eating down the freezer” is to make a random selection the night before. Then you won’t be quite so tempted to run through the store for something quick, or order pizza yet again. Be consequent! When you have freed up some space, don’t be tempted to fill it. Just keep going until everything is gone. By that time it will be spring.
What to do if you discover something entirely unexpected? (You thought it was meatloaf but it thawed out to be fruitcake). Ok. Order the pizza. There will be setbacks. And some things will beg to be pitched. Do so! No popping them back in the freezer to be dealt with another day. This is the day! That bowling ball? Time to invite the neighbours in! Odd bits of leftover meat? Soup!
There are endless variations depending on what’s handy. Once you get started, you’ll enjoy the creative freedom that is soup!
An onion, diced and sautéed
Some garlic, minced
Herbs, chopped and added last.
A container of canned broth if you haven’t been brewing your own in your idle hours.
A can of diced tomatoes if you have such and like them
A few thinly sliced mushrooms?
A carrot, diced or the rest of that bag of mixed vegetables that’s been kicking around your freezer.
Salt and pepper
Hot pepper flakes if you’re me
Perhaps dice a potato, or toss in a handful of rice or pasta depending on your mood.
Just a tip: If you like rice, or pasta in your soup, make it separately and add it at the last. If you are freezing portions, don’t include rice or pasta – some people say even potatoes. These things tend to become overly fluffy, absorbing too much of your lovely broth. The result will be not as you would wish, reminiscent of the last scene of Titanic.
I’m told that this is a little known secret, so now you know. Tuck it away in a corner of your bag of tricks.
Simmer until delicious
If you’re really on your game, put all this in your slow cooker the night before to fire up in the morning so it will bubble away while you’re at work.
Serve with a lovely baguette – you deserve it – and a smug smile on your face as you enjoy the flow of your chi.