I just got back from Chicago for a quick birthday vacation. Besides packing plenty of warm clothing and deciding on restaurants: iNG, The Bristol, The Publican, C-House, XOCO and Bari I also prepared my kitchen for a few days’ absence. But one more Chicago plug — Twisted Spoke, plenty of interesting, local and international beer, plus…inescapable ’70s porn. Enjoy a mustache with your Goose Island.
Anyway, here are some ideas on how to quickly prep your kitchen for a more welcome return.
Four Things to Freeze Before Vacation
1. Freeze Bread
There’s usually some sort of bread around my house looking for a quick toasting and buttering, or a nan looking for a dip in lentils. Either way, I rarely ever finish a package before its time is up. Before you see mold – and before you go away – toss the bread into the freezer. If you don’t have time for anything else on this list, this is the least you can do to save your food for future use.
2. Freeze Fruit
In this time before spring’s strawberries and summer’s, well, everything else, I’ve been leaning on the banana (especially in my double almond oatmeal). I used to throw the whole banana in the freezer, peel and all. But soon the skin would blacken and turn slimy, and make the whole thing a mess. Now I peel the banana, slice it and throw it in a freezer bag. So far the banana hasn’t turned too dark. I added the frozen banana right into a new batch of cooking oatmeal, letting the banana warm up and soften into the oats. A frozen banana is also fab blended straight from the freezer with some Greek yogurt and topped with raw oats.
3. Freeze Greens
I learned this no-brainer from ES fan Evo Diva. There are two things that happen all of the time – I let spinach go bad before I use it all and I buy boxed frozen spinach. What I should be doing is just buying the fresh stuff and when it’s about to go bad (or I’m about to leave for vacation) blanch the spinach. Dunk the spinach in boiling, salted water for 30ish seconds (or when bright green), remove and cool it in ice to stop the cooking, remove, squeeze out the water and put in a freezer bag.
4. Freeze Leafy Herbs
This is almost the pesto trick, but with less commitment. Basil grows like crazy and many people create large batches of pesto, minus the cheese, and throw in the freezer for later uses. I figured I could use this method for parsley. I use parsley a lot in my kitchen: Citrus-Parsley sauce over Bulgur and Greens, Feta and Parsley Sauce with Whole Wheat Angel Hair, Chickpea and Sesame Dip, Stuffed Mushrooms or Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Red Snapper Cakes and Roasted Curry Chickpeas, among a million other dishes. Some dishes need a fresh herb, but all these listed above could work with parsley from the freezer. I simply blended the parsley with salt, pepper and just enough oil to get the blade turning. I slipped the mixture into an ice cube tray (above) and will pop then into a freezer bag for storage. With just salt, pepper and oil the parsley is ready to mix with a range of new flavors.