Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Use it Like Another Pantry

Last year I took a good hard look at the crypt that was my freezer and determined to do better about being organized and thoughtful about using up food that we already had on hand before trucking off to the grocery store.  What I found was that a little organization and intention went a long way and that with a little labeling and a little container love I’d created a system that not only reduced our food waste, but turned my freezer into another pantry of sorts.

ways to organize your kitchen and your freezer

Before I got organized about my freezer, it was a place where all food went to die.  After a resting period in the tundra, it moved directly to the hens or the compost pile depending on what unidentifiable object I thought I was looking at.

Use Your Freezer Like a Pantry
Now, however, I use the freezer as I believe it was intended, as an extended pantry.  With labels on everything and containers that stack and easily organize, I no longer dread opening the freezer, but instead go to it on a regular basis to supplement and add to meals in the works.  When I’m doing my regular rotation of food in the fridge and clearing out little bits of this and that, the freezer is just one more place I go for inspiration.

Also, no longer is the freezer a stuffed-full, can-barely-close-the-door sort of place.  Instead, I use it often to pull weeknight soups or stews that can be ready in minutes.  Just add salad or cooked greens and presto, dinner is ready.  The freezer stock is rotating on a regular basis just like my dry pantry items.

  1. Make soup, omelet, or pizza kits with little leftover bits from the fridge – remember to label everything
  2. Think about your freezer as if it were another pantry. Use it often and regularly.

Annie
How do you organize your freezer?  What works for you?

Tips for Organizing Your Freezer – Label Everything

Organize.  Budget.  Plan.  Diet.  What a perfect time of year to focus on getting organized and tidy in one or more areas, such as, ahem, my closets.  But closets are for another day.  Today is about the freezer.  I’m not really a New Year’s resolution sort of gal, but I do like this time of year for checking in about my habits and making sure that I’ve got a good handle on the life I’m choosing by the choices I’m making.  And while the garden is asleep and the winds whip and roar outside, it feels satisfying to turn my attention toward the house and our inside life.

labels for organizing the freezer

One of the things I focused on last year around this time was our food waste.  And while the compost pile is always ready and willing to receive any and all organic matter, I wanted to get even better at consuming our food before it headed to the big pile out back.  I already had a handle on rotating stock in the fridge, using up pantry items, and having a pretty good plan for leftovers and little bits.  I’ve written about good strategies for leftovers before and will be sharing more as we go along this winter.

The freezer, however, was another story. You know, that place that we relegate unused food, wait until it has freezer burn, and then a year later throw the unlabled and unknown mystery items into the compost pile?  Might as well be Siberia.   Yup.  That’s the thing I wanted to be better at.  So I’ve come up with a couple of strategies – all of which I knew and none of which I did much of until last year.

Label Everything
All of the changes I made were fairly small and didn’t take much doing, but the biggest of all was labeling everything that went into the freezer.

Basically, if I don’t label, I may as well just skip the freezer and toss everything in to the compost bucket straight off.  Once something goes into the freezer without a label, it’s never coming out as something useful.  Why not?  Because I NEVER remember what the thing is.  I always tell myself I will.  But I don’t.  Because it get moved around.  Because once it’s frozen it doesn’t look exactly as it did when I first put it in there.  Because I can’t smell it to figure out what it is.  Because I can’t taste it to figure out what it is.  Because.  Just.  Label.

Once I gave in to the idea that my intellectual prowess was not strong enough to overcome the freezer vortex, I started to love opening the freezer.  A year later it’s even more organized than it was initially and it’s something I use all the time, not a place to relegate unmentionables.

To make things easy, because who has time for anything else, here are a few tips:

  1. Make up labels ahead of time, so all you need to do is write and slap
  2. Store the labels and pen in the kitchen somewhere close
  3. Use a waterproof pen or marker, not a gel pen that will smear if it gets wet
  4. Label the top of the lids for a bottom or chest freezer and the side of the containers for a top freezer so you can see the label easily
  5. Date everything

Annie
More to come in this series – stay tuned!

Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemaryt Cheese with Apricot Preserves by Elizabeth Poisson

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Cocktail – Fresh Sea Breeze

I raise a glass to all of you and your loved ones.  Thank you to all of you who read, comment, and use my recipes.  To all of you who sail with us and allow us to do the work we do.  We are so thankful for you all!

Here’s a cocktail for your Thanksgiving table.  May your day be filled with family and friends, love and laughter.

Thanksgiving cocktail with cranberries
A toast to you all!

Fresh Sea Breeze
1 1/2 ounces Cold River Vodka
3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry syrup (see recipe below)
ice for serving
3 cranberries in syrup
1 lime wheel

Add ice to an old-fashioned glass. Pour vodka and grapefruit juice over the ice and stir. Add the cranberry syrup and let it fall to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with cranberries and lime wheel

Makes 1 cocktail

Cranberry Syrup
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the cranberries all “pop” and release their juices. Cool and store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Makes 4 cups

Alternate: Shake 1/4 cup cranberries and syrup together and serve with candied grapefruit peel.

Cider Pressing

It’s a tradition in our family to pick a ton of apples in the fall and then take them to the press to be turned into cider at Sewall Organic Orchard.  Every since the girls were old enough to pick up apples from the tarp on the ground, we have joined our long-time family friends in this fall ritual.  They have more heirloom trees than we do, so most of the apples come from their property.  Over the years, as the girls have grown, we’ve perfected our apple picking technique to the point were we’ve got it down to a science.  This year, our crew was able to see the press and spend some time sipping cider.  And next summer on the Riggin, we will have organic cider every week!  There’s a video of the process on Instagram.

Apples ready for the press
Hauling in the apples. Many hands…
Loading the hopper. Ear protection is key.

Bob Sewell, the man himself.

The end result.

 

Downrig and Getting Set for Winter

Storing things in the barn using the tackle system attached a cantilevered beam.

Well, the last of the crew left yesterday and that puts another season in the books for us.

The wood is stacked, the boat wrapped, the systems winterized, and small boats in the barn. From the galley, the dry goods are all stored in the barn, the jams re-canned, and the leftovers from the boat turned into soups. I am now remembering how to cook for only 3 people again. All of which mean we are readying for winter and it’s time for us to say ‘farewell’ to the crew.

We use so many jams and jellies that are homemade that I can’t bring myself to through them all out. That’s a lot of work to throw away. So I heat everything to a boil and re-can them individually in sterilized jars.
Clockwise from the top: Keilbasa and White Bean Soup; Cauliflower Cheddar and Jalapeno Soup; Asian Duck and Bok Choy Soup; White Bean Hummus; Creamy Beef and Matsutake Sauce.

Erin and Chives piled into his car, packed full with their life’s gear, on a fall road trip which will meander through New England and eventually end in California in December. None of us wanted to say ‘goodbye’ even though we are all onto fall and winter adventures about which we are excited. Instead we said, “See ya tomorrow”. The only difference is that we hugged and held on for a second.

Farewell, Good People!

 

New Cookbook!

Announcing Sugar and Salt: Book Two -The Orange Book!  This collection of recipes from my galley and home kitchen will arrive at our door step (or barn step) soon!  Here’s a look at the process….

Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Over the past several months we’ve been getting serious about producing a cookbook, so we made a lot of food.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was chocolate! And delicious.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of it was healthy. And delicious!
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
When we couldn’t hold all of the pieces in our head any longer, we posted it all over the office walls.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
We got to knit. And made a Ball jar cozy (several actually) using Mim Bird‘s pattern.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Occasionally, we made cocktails. They were well timed.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Then Elizabeth made them look pretty in photos.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then we drank them.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Some of us had lemonade instead. And also, one of us got confused.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
Then we made Brussels sprouts that were so good we almost didn’t get the photo (because we ate them all while standing at the stove).
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
A lot of words got written and someone had to take a doggie break.
Photo by Rocky Coast Photography
And then there was more food.

Annie
Now that was fun!

Click Sugar and Salt to order.