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What's in your freezer?

Living out here in evenTinierTown, with the nearest serious grocery store almost an hour away, gives one a whole new appreciation for having a well stocked larder. I rediscovered this when I went out to the freezer to grab some butter to make cookies and found I had none. No butter? Frell and frack! I was within spitting distance of my friendly local** Costco just a few days ago and blew off stopping because I couldn't think of anything critical that I needed.

**local meaning an hour away, over the mountains, through the woods, past grandmother's house, across the second largest river in the United States and then another bridge over the edge of the Pacific Ocean, in another state... yeah, local...

You see, when you live in evenTinierTown (aka somewhat past the middle of nowhere) you have to be more self-reliant. There is no great little place around the corner to go grab dinner, or even many of the ingredients you want for dinner--so if you don't have it on hand, you're pretty much screwed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally on my own; I've got a few resources, if not exactly at my fingertips, within reach of a single gallon of gas (and with it over three bucks a gallon, that's mattering more) and a 45 minute round trip. There's a small store just up the road, with a not-so-bad wine selection--lots of WA/OR wineries, and two-buck (or is it three?) Chuck for only four bucks--and a surprisingly good cafe, as well as another store and a few small places to eat about ten miles further up the road. But this is evenTinierTown, where you've got better choices for lunch than dinner, and the bakery (which makes a decent doughnut and legendary maple bars) closes at 3:00 in the afternoon. Being a writer, I am sometimes awake at 3:00 in the afternoon, but seldom in the mood for a dash to anywhere and I really can't understand why they don't stay open later just to satisfy my deep-fried carb fix!

I am a near-purist when it comes to food--not purist like I eat only healthy food, purist as in I make my own food and would almost always rather eat home-cooking than restaurant. Every bite of bread consumed in my house, with the exception of an occasional loaf for sandwiches, is homemade; I make marinara in a canning pot and freeze it; a "normal batch" of cookies usually makes 6-8 dozen; and so on. When you put this together with the remoteness of evenTinierTown it adds up to a crammed freezer. Which must be how I missed running out of butter.  beats head on keyboard

All of which winds back to a topic I've been meaning to write about: What's in the freezer?

  • Marinara--Homemade and frozen in sizes ranging from muffin cup to gallon bags. I can eaily grab the right amount for anything from pizza to dinner. (uh oh, the pizza purists are going to be after me for marinara on the pizza)
  • Bread--At any given time there are from 3-10 different kinds of homemade bread in my freezer. Standards include baguettes, dinner rolls, sourdough loaves, bread sticks, and cinnamon rolls.
  • Cookies--Any day other than today, there are two or three kinds of cookies. It's simple to bake a double batch and freeze most of them and leaves me with a great selection. But not today.
  • Homemade soup--someoneElse makes lots of soup and there's always a few types from which to choose.
  • Stock--Usually beef, vegetable, and some sort of bird--reduced and frozen in ice cubes trays, then tossed in freezer bags. It's almost like having demi-glace in the cabinet. (oh shush, I said almost!)
  • Leftover wine--Reduced to about 1/4 of original volume and frozen like the stock, or in a yogurt container. Makes sauces simple.
  • Cheese--(i said shush!) Pre-shredded bags of cooking cheese freeze decently. I am not talking about the good stuff you nibble with wine and crackers, this is cheddar to melt into dishes, mozzarella to melt on things, etc.
  • Bread starter--It's the muffin tins full of goop again. I've made starter that makes one large pizza or loaf of focaccia per frozen chunk using recipes that I can do in my sleep.
  • Meat--I shop sales and buy bulk bags of a few things, like chicken breasts. Yes, this goes against my general do-it-yourselfness, and when chickens are cheap I buy a lot and hack them up myself, but sometimes quick counts.
  • Fish--It's less expensive to buy whole fish than pieces, and out here I can buy it still flopping around fresh. My last big (and I do mean big, it was 40+ pounds) fish purchase was a sturgeon which has been eaten as kabobs and fillets, and some of it will become stew soon. My 40 pound fish cost me about the same as 5 pounds of fillet would cost most places, and you can't get it any fresher. For some reason I have several pounds of scallops at the moment, must do something with them.
  • Butter--Well, usually... sigh... I refuse to use margarine, or pay three bucks a pound for butter, so I stock up every few months.

I know there's more, but that's my short list. How about you? What would you be lost without? What do you wish you had on  hand?

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