I had planned on starting off this project with the falafel sandwiches…a little trip to the Middle East to warm up. The recipe, in essence, isn’t that difficult but I only have dried chickpeas. I put the required amount in water last night to rehydrate the hard little kernels, but they weren’t quite ready by the time I wanted to start today. Guess what’s on the menu tomorrow!
Tonight, though, I was restless…I wanted to make something damn-it! To rectify the situation, I decided to play around with a few things.
I think a lot about cooking is trying to use ingredients effectively. I’ve wasted so much money throwing out everything from chicken to chives to cheese. When I lived in Ottawa I had briefly toyed with the idea of preserving and canning, but I was just too scared of poisoning myself or someone else. Up near the Arctic Circle you definitely don’t get that opportunity to buy cheap fruit and veggies to store away; instead I’m going to focus on the nuances of freezing.
Freezing you say? Can’t you just throw it in the freezer? According to the Joy of Cooking, you can’t. In fact, pg. 910-926 of my edition is completely devoted to the art. For a single person or someone with a busy work schedule (definition of ‘me’ in my very own personal dictionary), freezing is awesome. Ingredients. Full meals. Everything ready to go on a moment’s notice. “Cook for a day; eat for a week” and all that jazz. Throw nothing out…there is a use for every scrap. The challenge is to find the page in this cookbook to help you figure it out what that use is!
Anyway, as with all things, you have to start small. Take the egg, for example. Before you can maneuver a meringue (pg. 740) you have to know how to boil an egg (pg. 194). Did you know that you can freeze eggs (pg. 923)? I didn’t. There’s actually a full section in here on how to choose the right freezer the next time you head down to your local Maytag dealer.
Avocadoes. I usually buy one or two of these when they’re available but often find that they get all nasty before I get to use them. Of course the easy answer is to stop buying them, but I get so excited when I see them here at the local Northern. I had one in my fridge ripening into a rotten existence if given a few more days. With falafel on the menu, I knew it’d be spoiled by the time I got around to it. According to the Joy of Cooking (pg. 919), all you need to do to put that guacamole on hold for a few weeks is to peel, pit, mash, and then sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice. Put it in a freezer bag, flatten to squeeze out the air, and you’re good to go.
Next on the list? I had some fresh herbs, but they were getting old. Rosemary and thyme, though, makes them easy to freeze. I decided to do a little something extra with my thyme and made some ‘herb salt’ (pg. 1009)…I basically slowly roasted pounded thyme with salt (30:70) in an oven that had been quickly heated and turned off. I can’t wait to try it on something!
Well, yes, this has been a rather boring post…freezing avocado and making herb salt. It will help me with my more complex creations in the future though. Stay tuned for the falafel!