The Freezer Wasteland

"You're no match for me! Your icy length taunting me from afar. I'll get you... and if I don't, my ally the Sun surely will."

You have one too, right?  The freezer, be it upright, chest or attached to your beloved fridge, tends to be forgotten territory – especially the back or bottom.  We all know the ice cream sits front and center – no need to reach or look any further! 

Maybe we need snow tires on the wheelbarrow?

I’m mid-way through my New Year Clean and Purge event.  Each room, each closet, each drawer, even the kid’s room, gets a thorough sorting and tossing.  I’ve even gotten The Boy to rid his room of miscellaneous crap like rocks, miniature zebras and green army men, gum wrappers and bits of plastic that came off of more expensive bits of plastic that an adult probably had to assemble but had no idea what the hell it was.  Bakugan, anyone?  OY!

In cleaning out the freezer (ok, it’s not quite ‘there’ yet, but the stuff that fell on my feet as I opened the door has been discarded) I found a plethora (love that word – feels weird on the tongue) of goodies  – things I had every intention of using when the winter doldrums hit and I needed a taste of summer.  Needless to say, those homegrown peaches that I lovingly blanched, peeled, pitted and sliced back in September OH-EIGHT are now gracing the compost heap with their more-brown-than-orange flesh. 

They were gross.

My intentions are good though.  Really!  I make big batches of things and freeze in smaller containers so when the need arises, I have lunch or dinner available for either The Boy or myself.  And just think about how much better home-cooking is than store-bought frozen meals and canned soups. 

But those plans often fall by the wayside because I get bored.  I guess the split pea soup that sounded like such an awesome idea on St. Patrick’s Day didn’t blow my skirt up come July.  Which is why it was thawed and subsequently flushed in January.  Because there are only so many times I’m gonna move that container around in my freezer to make room for the Mint Chocolate Chip.

In my defense, there ARE some things that I make, freeze, and routinely use.  Rice – usually brown basmati – is baked in large batches and frozen (yes, BAKED and here it is, many times removed, but originally from Alton Brown *make a note, basmati takes less time to cook*) .   We’ll have it fresh for dinner the night it’s made, then I turn it out onto a cookie sheet  to cool completely.  I package it up in a large freezer-type ziploc bag and it lies flat in the freezer until needed.   A quick rap on the counter and all the lovely grains are separate and I simply grab a handful or two.

Greenhouse cilantro
Greenhouse cilantro

Wild rice is also made in big batches, but that I boil like pasta, in lots of salted water.  Wild rice adds such a nutty crunchiness to other dishes, like pilafs, frittatas and soups.  I love pulling out a handful of frozen wild rice and adding it to a bowl of nearly any kind of soup – the aformentioned split pea is excellent that way.

Remember back in the summer when I was flipping out  and making boatloads of cilantro-chile sauce?  That’s another staple that gets used long before I get sick of it.  I add it to so many things, including the frozen black bean soup that is still left in the freezer.  [STOP LAUGHING!  I’ll get to it… eventually.]

With this crappy Northeast weather (and the implied snowdays) we’ve been having, I’ve been entertaining a young man more than I’m used to, and I don’t mean that in a good way.  He always thinks it’s a holiday, so a labor intensive breakfast is what he craves:  Crepes (cook 4-5 dozen at a shot, stack them with  paper towels between servings and wrap the stack in plastic wrap, then put in freezer bag for quickie breakfasts – Nutella is good here.  Honestly, Nutella is good anywhere.); Pancakes (cook a double batch, cool completely on wire racks, then stack in freezer bags – 4 or 5 in toaster oven for 5 min and a 1st grader is happy.); Popovers (great teaching opportunity if you can get past fishing the shattered egg shells out of the batter).

But since those things are pretty much nutritionally void and terribly unsatisfying to me, I make something that I know he’d never touch: soft-boiled eggs on brown rice, artfully drizzled with cilantro-chile sauce.  Protein, whole grain, bit of olive oil, add a piece of fruit mid-morning (I can’t do it together, I don’t know why…..) and I’m good to go!

I remember my father sitting down to a breakfast of soft boiled eggs when I was a kid.  He’d tap-tap-tap around the top of the egg with the edge of his spoon and pry it off, then scoop the egg innards, cooked white and runny yolk, into a clear glass coffee mug.  He’d plop on a bit of softened butter from the butter dish that was always on the counter, and then generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Chill out!
Chill out!

The butter melted into the eggs as he chopped them up with his spoon, and he’d sit at his spot at the table (Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny how we all have ‘our spot’ at the dinner table and we never deviate?), buttered toast next to him on a paper towel, eating that luscious yet inexpensive and healthyISH breakfast.   In all these years, I’ve never been able to recreate those perfectly soft-boiled eggs, and I’m pretty handy in the kitchen.  And yet I keep trying,  hoping that the next great method I discover will be THE ONE

It never is.  Until now, that is!  The Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Cooking Light magazine has a recipe for Walnut-Breadcrumb Pasta with a Soft Egg.  I didn’t try this particular recipe (although it sounds great, right?).  What caught my eye was the perfectly cooked egg in the photograph!  I had to try it – for nostalgia’s sake and for the simple fact that poached eggs are watery and the icky white stuff clogs up my sink strainer.

Healthy breakfast
Soft-boiled Egg on Brown Rice with Cilantro-Chile Sauce

I followed their instructions to a T [from Cooking Light: Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add eggs to pan; boil 5 1/2 minutes. Drain. Plunge eggs into ice water, and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain and peel.].  Meanwhile, I heated a cup or so of brown rice in the microwave.  Once peeled, the eggs were broken atop the rice, then drizzled with a bit of cilantro-chile sauce.  Salt and pepper a must, the dish was finally ready to eat. 

It was heavenly!   With two of the three ingredients prepared and frozen, I was able to have this ready in minutes.  There’s no reason why we cannot eat well every day, it just takes a little planning!  I felt like it was actually fueling my body, which is so much better than succumbing to  the carb cravings that usually guide our breakfast choices. 

Now, if I continue to eat this way, do you think I’ll ever be as strong as my dad? 

Farmer Sonny has the weight of the world on his shoulders
Farmer Sonny has the weight of the world on his shoulders

4 thoughts on “The Freezer Wasteland

  1. Kasha — Any tips on how to peel soft cooked eggs? And the nice fresh farm eggs that I get during the summer – how to peel the hard cooked eggs???? Luckily, Glenn likes eggsalad so you don’t notice the mess. I make poached eggs because I’ve always been a wimp about trying to peel a soft cooked egg. All suggestions gratefully received. Susan

    1. Susan, I have to say I’m just very careful when I do it now. I crack it all over, gently rolling it on the counter (or a paper towel, just to be safe), then peel. Or you could do what my dad used to do and scoop it out with a spoon once the top part of shell was removed.

      As for hard-cooked eggs, I learned in restaurants to add LOTS and LOTS of salt to the water. I don’t know the science behind why it makes them easier to peel, but for the most part, it does.

      Also, fresher eggs are more difficult to peel because of 1) acidity of the white and 2) a smaller air pocket within the shell.

      Ideally, use those fresh eggs for frying or poaching, and save older eggs (Glenn will just have to wait a week for egg salad!) for hard boiling. Or… do what this guy does and add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water.

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