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The vegetarian freezer. November 16, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Most folks stock the freezer compartment of their fridges with various meats and convenience foods. But what if you’re a vegetarian? What would you put in your freezer? 

Since our friend Ben and I were just forced to buy a new refrigerator after discovering that our ancient, bought-used workhorse had breathed its last and couldn’t be resuscitated, I’ve been busy restocking the freezer. Here’s what I consider essential:

* Fruit juice. I keep orange juice, cranberry juice, and Five Alive (a citrus-juice mix) on hand at all times. I wish they made frozen grapefruit juice, too!

* Frozen veggies: spinach, shoepeg corn, lima beans, edamame, okra, artichokes. Plus basic dish-enhancers like mushrooms, diced sweet and cooking onions, and red and green bell pepper strips. Convenient when you need ’em and can’t find fresh (or get to the store).

* Frozen fruit: sliced peaches, blueberries, raspberries, sour and sweet cherries, sliced mango. I’m lucky to live within easy driving distance of Echo Hill Country Store, a Mennonite establishment that grows and freezes its own fruits and veggies, the freshest I’ve even seen. I also keep frozen shredded unsweetened coconut, great in curries and dressed-up rice dishes.

* Tempeh. Admittedly not something I use often, but a slab or two in the freezer means that I can add body and protein to a stir-fry, chili, or a sandwich if I want to.

* Veggie egg rolls. Thank God for the frozen food section of my local Weis Markets! They sell excellent house-branded frozen vegetable egg rolls, the only ones I’ve ever found. Crackly-crisp egg rolls with super-hot Chinese mustard and sweet sauce definitely kick-start a homemade Chinese meal.

* Cheese ravioli. Mini- or full-size, these are great to have on hand as a variation on classic spaghetti. I make big batches of rich, luscious homemade spaghetti sauce, and there are only so many times you (or at least OFB) can eat spaghetti. Topping frozen ravioli with homemade sauce makes a whole new dish without the effort of making lasagna.

* Pierogis. Our friend Rob is the real pierogi fiend, but I’ve noticed that his enthusiasm has started to rub off on OFB, so I figured I’d get a couple of boxes of Mrs. T’s to have on hand just in case. (One box of potato, spinach and feta cheese, and one classic potato and onion seemed to cover all bases.)

* Indian appetizers. We love Indian food, and I make curries, dal, rice dishes and the like from scratch. But I appreciate some help in the appetizer department, so I load up on frozen pakoras, samosas, patra leaf roulades, and various special breads. (I also buy fresh-made garlic naan.) We’re lucky to have a well-stocked Indian grocery, Rice & Spice, in nearby Emmaus, PA, but you can buy pakoras at any well-stocked grocery. 

* Sweet potato fries. We love these, and buying them frozen lets us bake up a tray at a moment’s notice. Mind you, we also love roasting sliced sweet potatoes with olive oil, cracked black pepper, Trocomare (a hot herb/salt mix) and dried Italian herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme—yum!!!—or simply baking whole sweet potatoes and serving them with butter, salt and cracked black pepper. But it’s nice to know you have a bag of fries in reserve.

* Piecrusts. I’m happy to make OFB a pecan pie, sour cherry pie, or banana cream pie, but am definitely not happy messing up my kitchen and grossing myself out making homemade piecrust. (Those who love mushing chopped-up bits of butter into flour with your bare hands, more power to you.) But I recently discovered that most ready-made piecrusts are made with lard, a definite no-no if you’re vegetarian like me. Thanks goodness for Mrs. Smith’s! Her piecrusts are vegetarian-friendly, and have found favor with both OFB and our black German shepherd, Shiloh. 

* Ice cream. I’m a whipped-cream person myself, but OFB enjoys ice cream on his pie or with his cake or cobbler, so I try to keep our favorite, Ben & Jerry’s vanilla, on hand at all times. 

Obviously, the freezer is a convenience item, at least as far as I’m concerned. It makes ice, and it preserves staples that everyone might need to enhance and simplify their cooking efforts. Besides the ice for OFB’s martinis, the things I really use from our freezer tend to be the veggie eggrolls and Indian appetizers and the lima beans and okra. Not to mention the shredded coconut. But it’s great to have the other items stocked and ready should the need arise.  

What’s in your freezer?

               ‘Til next time,

                            Silence

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