Before I varoom to visit my oldest daughter when she labors and births, I'm freezing meals for my husband. Personal history indicates that each meal should serve two people--either for leftovers or a wholesome evening with a platonic friend. For example, say you're 21. Your parents are on a trip. You invite someone to dinner, say, a neighborhood priest. You both eat your mother's 2-person serving of thawed barbecue as you converse for hours in a non-date fashion. Because it is not a date. Because you are innocent of all such accusations. Because you are no hoyden.* Otherwise, would you have served such an innocent meal as your mom's chili?
I'm reading Any Bitter Thing, which focuses on a priest and the confusion of innocence. Here are some good lines from the novel by Monica Wood:
"His life had become a badly sutured wound that occassionally seeped..." 284 [cf. Jude the Obscure]
"He discovered, also, that the human spirit is not built for endless despair. He took up books again, found movie houses or art galleries to sustain him through the thing that appeared more and more to be his actual life." 282 [cf. Montaigne's essays on books and the solitary life]
"The opposite of God is not evil. The opposite of God is absence." 161 [cf. Augustine and Marlowe's Faustus]
"His mission, in the words of the more progressive teachers at Grand Seminaire, was to help his parishioners 'find their own priesthood.'" 125-126 [cf. Luther's "Priesthood of the Believer"]
Back to the project of freezing meals for my husband while I'm away being a new grandmother...
I know that when you freeze your concoction, it is obvious what you've created. But it won't be so apparent later. You'd be surprised how much last week's frozen wedding soup looks like last month's frozen beef stew. So right now, pledge that you shall label all of your freezer meals. I swear to you that this will save you embarrassment. My mom still tells the story of freezing meals for my dad in individual containers (no chance that he was entertaining); then, traveling around Europe with her girlfriends; and arriving finally, at her London hotel with a message from her husband. Beaming--because she was the only wife to hear from her hubby--she devoured his missive:
"Virginia, How the hell can you tell the difference between the frozen spaghetti sauce, the frozen chili, and the frozen barbecue? Edward" I wonder what my mom told her girlfriends was in his "love letter." I wonder why my dad would go to all that trouble--sending an international letter--to inform her about proper frozen food container labeling. I guess, he was just a romantic. My dad.
I've composed a list of some of my tastiest, easiest, and freezeryest meals.
chicken and rice casserole. This is nice because it has veggies with the chicken and rice. You could freeze it before cooking. But I cook it first, then freeze, thaw, and warm. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/chicken-and-rice-casserole-recipe2/index.html
meatloaf patties. I spray a fry pan and spray the pattieson both sides. Then, I fry, bake (350) until they're done, and freeze. After they're thawed, I just warm in microwave. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/meatloaf-patties-smashed-potatoes-and-pan-gravy-recipe/index.html
White chicken chili. Rick just loves this. I load this with beans. You can moderate the density (for a soupier dish) with the amount of broth and half and half. This time, I accidentally added beef--instead of chicken--broth. It was great. from Gourmet Feb., 1996: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/White-Chicken-Chili-11452
Morgan's veggie patties. These are awesome. If you're watching your cholesterol and struggle to eat lunch without deli, this is a great substitute. I always serve this to my vegan/vegitarian friends, and they're always surprised at the flavor. from Guy Fieri: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/guy-fieri/morgans-veggie-patties-recipe/index.html
Quick sasauge meatballs. You make these whatever size you like. You can serve them in a sandwich or with pasta. The meat-mix is what makes it interesting. After cooking, partially freeze in a Ziploc bag, separating each and resting the bag on a pan. After an hour or two, remove from pan and continue to freeze in bag. This way, they don't stick together and you can thaw the exact amount you want. from Jamie Oliver: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/quick-sausage-meatballs-with-a-tomato-and-basil-sauce-spaghetti-and-sweet-raw-peas-recipe/index.html
pulled pork for sandwiches. Whether you like Eastern NC, Western NC, or Texas barbecue, the ginger ale in this recipe unites all dissenters. Don't be deterred by the "pulled" concept. If you can fork-poke a pork roast and watch it crumble, you can "pull" this apart. Don't stress about the rub either. You can buy a pork rub. Even though this recipe looks long, it's just... rub pork, deposit on top of onions, deposit onions on top, pour ginger ale, slow-cook, drain & "pull," and add barbecue sauce. Truthfully, I sear all sides with the rub on before I put it in the crock pot. But I don't know if that actually matters. I'm just a searer.
Adapted from www.recipezaar.com/Pulled-Pork-Crock-Pot-131018
Rub (see below)
4 lbs pork roast (shoulder or butt)
2 large onions
1 cup ginger ale
1 (18 ounce) bottle favorite barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's.)
barbecue sauce, for serving (optional)
Slice one onion and place in crock pot. Put in the roast and cover with the other onion, sliced. Pour over the ginger ale. Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours (depending on your crock pot). Remove the meat, strain and save the onions, discard all liquid. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any remaining fat, bones or skin. (I use a pastry cutter.) Most of the fat will have melted away. Return the shredded meat and the onions to the crock pot, stir in the barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for another 3-4 hours on LOW. Serve with hamburger buns or rolls and additional barbecue sauce. Any leftovers freeze very well. This is better the next day. You can freeze this. Note: Shoulder or butt are recommended because the meat shreds very well while other cuts don’t. It is a fattier cut, but the fat melts away in the cooking and is poured away when you discard the liquid.
RUB #1: 3 tbl. coarsely ground black pepper 3 tbl. packed dark brown sugar 3 tbl. paprika (I use something like this, doubling or tripling it, depending on the size of the pork butt.) 2 tbl. coarse salt 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
RUB #2: Irvine Smokey Rotisserie Blend Seasoning
RUB #3: Grill Mates Pork Rub
RUB #4 (I use something like this, doubling or tripling it, depending on the size of the pork butt.) 2 tbs. paprika 1 tbs. brown sugar 1 tbs. chili powder 1 tbs. cumin 1 tbs. granulated sugar 2 tsp. kosher salt 1.5 tsp black pepper Pinch cayenne
RUB #5: ½ tsp. paprika ¼ tsp. pepper ¼ tsp. onion powder ½ tsp. garlic powder Variations some people include...mustard powder, chili powder, cumin, cloves or nutmeg, chipotle chile, smoked paprika
mac 'n cheese Either you're a mac 'n cheese fan or you're not. Rick is not. I am. I am such a fan that I was determined that I could find a recipe that would freeze well so that I'd always have a mac 'n cheese fix available. from Alex Guarnaschelli: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/macaroni-and-cheese-recipe6/index.html
my mom's chili: My mom is not wild about spicy food. So if you're looking for a mild, beef chili recipe, this is a good one. It freezes well.
1 ½ # ground beef 1 can tomato soup ½ green pepper cut fine 2 cans kidney beans (rinsed) 1 lg. onion 1 ½ c. canned tomatoes 1 clove garlic salt & pepper
Place 1 ½ tbls. shortening and ground beef in large kettle. Cook about 20 mins. slowly. Add green pepper, onions, pepper, & salt with ½ clove finely chopped garlic. Add canned tomatoes. Cook for 20 mins. Then add tomato soup & cook a little longer. Add kidney beans & heat through.
Mexican tortilla chicken soup. Make this as the base. Then serve with a medley of options on top--or all of them. You can easily improvise with this recipe, even thicken it if you like. from Tyler Florence: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/mexican-tortilla-chicken-soup-recipe/index.html Stay tuned for my mom's chicken tetrazzini recipe... (Judy's personal request)
*Hoyden: a girl or woman of saucy, boisterous, or carefree behavior [from Wordsmith]