Friday, March 20, 2009

My Freezer



Spring has sprung, and since even the most stubborn mountains of snow in the corners of parking lots are beginning to ebb, what better time to scrutinize the contents of one's freezer. In the confessional spirit of Bittman and the IFA, I thought I'd do so publicly.

As you can see from the photo, we're well stocked. Literally: most of what you see is stock. Like many others, I keep a container of carcasses in the freezer and add bones, pan drippings, skin and such until it's full, at which point I cook it down into rich and delicious golden-brown chicken liquor. I like to think of every time I make stock as a sort of mini festival. Stockstock, if you will.

When it comes to stock, it's all about something-from-nothing. I won't add anything that has to be purchased anew (fresh meat) or could simply be eaten as is (celery). To me, stock exists not to be adulterated but to give waning ingredients a second chance. And which is the more noble way to treat a bird: throwing it in the trash or wringing its corpse for a few more drops of flavor and nutrition?

The white paper packages with red labels indicate another sub-zero staple: meat from Codman, a local, sustainable farm. A full blown vegetarian diet may seem better for the environment, but I still see animals as having a key role in the closed loop of sustainable farming. Plus, we don't eat too much of it, and the amount of red meat that you see in the photo will last us for weeks.

In addition to saving food for later, freezers can also serve as a purgatory for undesirable but not entirely unwanted items. Like the spiced rice I made for the Tu B'Shevat seder. It was good, but not great. Hence it lies enshrined in an icy tomb until I make myself -- or the bacteria in the compost bin -- eat it.

There's also some partially defrosted grapefruit sorbet that has separated into syrup and ice. I'm throwing it out as soon as I finish this post.

Between the identical rectangular tubs of stock and the yogurt containers (also full of stock), you'll see a heel of Elise's excellent oatmeal bread. It's so good that I don't know how it wasn't gobbled up fresh, but I'll be toasting it this afternoon.

In the background you'll notice a few amorphous plastic bags lurking. One contains hunks of pumpkin, the others are full of shrimp tails and pea pods, destined for (separate) stocks. There's one item in tinfoil that I can't identify. I don't know what's in it, and I don't think I'll find out.

At top right you'll see a container of the buffalo yam chili, and there are several items on the door rendered invisible by the angle of the shot. These include balls of dough, frozen jugs of slightly expired goat milk, the tough part of a chicken of the woods, the fat from my duck proscuitto -- too granular -- and of course vodka.

What I've learned from this exercise is that most of the skeletons in my closet belong to chickens. It seems my freezer is essentially a repository for stock, ingredients for stock, and things I didn't have the heart to get rid of but might still have a role to play in future meals.

Duck fat-goat milk-chicken of the woods-vodka pudding, anyone?

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