When i was a child someone broke into my parents’ garage and cleaned out the chest freezer. It was a food heist. I kid you not. The scoundrel took off with the entire contents. We were a family of six, including a hungry bricklaying father, so the freezer was well stocked: legs of lamb, slabs of belly pork (as it was called in the north-east of England in its unfashionable days), sides of bacon, big bags of chicken portions, and a plethora of pork chops. The loss was so great that my parents filed an insurance claim. And someone made a quick quid by selling a stack of defrosted meat off the back of a lorry.
When i cleaned out my own freezer last weekend – for health and safety reasons – there was no such bounty. I don’t own a chest freezer, for a start. Plus, we’re a two-person household. And being ridiculously time poor of late i haven’t done a weekend cook-a-thon/freezer-fill for a while. After a cook-a-thon the freezer is full and neatly lined with labelled plastic containers holding curries, sauces, soups, as well as piles of home-made burgers and pies – a goldmine of convenient home-cooked week-night dinners.
My small two-drawer freezer has been bursting at the seams for a while. But it has been crammed with odds and ends, dribs and drabs, things i feel guilty throwing away. In a nutshell it was stuffed, almost to bursting, with a whole lot of not much. After the long overdue clean out i categorised my freezer stash in an attempt to analyse my hoarding habit. What do i keep and why? Deciphering the code might help close the freezer door, or at least and prevent dummy spits from my partner when he tries to find and extract something edible from the detritus.
Here’s what I came up with:
Bread products: garlic naan, garlic bread, half loaf of turkish bread, Lebanese bread, ¾ loaf of sliced sourdough, 1 bag of pita, 1 bag of breadcrumbs
Snags: 15 sausages, plus 6 chorizo
Good intentions: chicken carcass and 2 bags of prawn shells, both put aside for stock.
Inedible: freezer burned pork loin, ditto lamb backstrap
Stockpile: 200ml beef stock, 1 cup vegetable stock, 2 cups chicken stock, 350ml veal stock
Pastry: One unopened packet of puff pastry, two opened packets of puff pastry
Forgotten gems: a roll of herb butter, madeira jus, hand-pounded Penang curry paste, box of mixed berries, three individual pear crumbles, 2 half eaten containers of vanilla bean ice cream from Glacé Ice Creams & Sorbets
Herbs: coriander roots, bag of basil leaves, kaffir lime leaves
Tomatoes: half a tin of tomatoes, tomato paste stored in an ice-cube tray, half a cup of passata
Beans & things: ¼ tin kidney beans, ¼ tin of cannelloni beans, unknown quantity of chickpeas, ½ tin four bean mix
Mince: 250g beef mince, 200g pork mince, 200g veal mince
Chicken: 4 chicken breasts, 4 chicken drumsticks
Bingo: 4 bags of home-made pilau rice, 1 portion of butter chicken
What do I make of all this?
Well clearly I have a penchant for buying, but not necessarily eating, sausages and bread products. I stockpile stock, including the raw materials for making it. I also have an annoying habit of hanging on to ridiculously small quantities of mince, tomato sauces/pastes, and varieties of beans. There’s a hint of frugality behind the breadcrumbs and coriander roots. And a lot of good intentions.
On a more practical note, i have the makings of meatballs if i combine minces, tomato sauces and basil. Throw in some garlic bread and it’d be a pretty decent meal. With autumn upon us i could eradicate the snag glut with a spicy sausage and bean hot pot. I have the key ingredients for Penang chicken – a forgotten favourite. Chicken drumsticks slow cooked in an Indian curry could be consumed with pilau rice and garlic naan. Dessert is taken care of with pear crumble and vanilla ice cream, or i could knock up a mixed berry and puff pastry tart.
All up, there’s more than just a whole lot of nothing in my freezer. It’s not in the same league as my mother’s chest freezer food heist material, but these odds and ends, thoughtfully combined, will create a week’s worth of meals at least. I feel a cook-a-thon coming on.
So what’s in your freezer? And what does it say about you?