It’s been a while since I wrote about a hero gadget of mine, so I started thinking about equipment in the kitchen I literally could not live without. It dawned on me that of course, I had to write about my freezer. Duh. It is singularly the most useful thing that any busy parent can own. Make friends with your freezer. Feed your freezer. Fill it with food. It will repay you with unimagined riches!
In my 20s my ‘freezer’ was a small box at the top of the fridge, in which we kept ice cubes for gin & tonics, a tub of Häagen-Dazs and maybe a small bag of peas. Fast-forward 15 years or so, and while ice cubes and the peas are still there, my relationship with my – much bigger – freezer has taken on a whole new dimension.
The joy of being able to reach into it and pull out a labelled container full of homemade soup, or a little tub of pasta sauce or a casserole, carefully divided into portions (some adult sized, some kid sized) is truly a thing of wonder. Of course, it requires some work in terms of stocking it, and labelling it all, but it still honestly feels like magic sometimes. You forget the time spent making the dish, and just feel a huge sense of gratitude that tonight’s dinner is already made. All you have to do is remember to take it out of the freezer in the morning. (It also gives me a reason to buy clip ‘n’ lock containers – hurrah!)
I don’t tend to batch cook specifically for the freezer, although I do sometimes if we have a glut of vegetables from the Riverford box, when I’ll make some butternut squash soup or a veg curry or whatever. But when I cook a one-pot dish, I’ll squirrel away a portion here, or a couple of portions there, knowing how handy they’ll be when we are late home from after-school and Biggest is ‘starving’.
The other thing I have learnt in recent years is that you can freeze practically anything. Between my freezer-obsessed mother-in-law (she has two) and this brilliantly practical book, How to Freeze by Carolyn Humphries, (I have the old edition) I have been merrily freezing all kinds of things. And so, I give you my Busy Person’s Top 5 Things to Freeze list. Wild.
1. Cheese. Can you freeze cheese? Of course you can. I have discovered that most cheeses freeze really well, particularly soft French ones (Brie, Camembert etc). They should be just ripe when you freeze them, and need to be really well wrapped. Defrost and bring to room temperature before serving. Cheddar cheese is best frozen grated. A handful or two is perfect for a quick cheese sauce for cauliflower or pasta – just use from frozen!
2. Soup. Don’t forget to leave a little headspace between the top of liquid foods and the rim of the container when you freeze liquids, as they expand by about 10% when frozen. Soup freezes really well – just cool it quickly and get it in the freezer as soon as you can.
3. Smoothie ice lollies. Make or buy 100% fruit smoothies and freeze in ice-lolly containers. Instant healthy frozen goodness. No added sugar.
4. Onions. Sometimes you get on an onion-chopping roll. Sometimes. If you’ve got to chop some for a dish you’re making, do a couple of extra ones, then blanch the chopped onion in boiling water for one minute, then drain and plunge immediately in a bowl of iced water. Drain again and dry on sheets of kitchen roll. Freeze in small portions in freezer bags. Next time you can’t face chopping onions, you don’t need to – just use straight from the freezer.
5. Purée for baby. Probably lots of you are doing this already, but it really is very simple. Cook if necessary (juicy fruit can be puréed raw), freeze in ice-cube trays, and once frozen, turn out into freezer bags and label. Defrost on the side or in the microwave.
I thank you *takes a bow*
I will soon be following this up with the Top 5 Things to Keep in Your Freezer.
Happy freezing, folks!
I was in New York for work a couple of months ago, and in one of my few hours off, I decided to browse the baby aisle in the KMart near my hotel. (Always thinking of you, dear blog readers…) What innovative product could I find that American moms were using on their babies?
Of course there were sippy cups, spoons, melamine plates, BPA-free bottles, etc – much the same as you’d find here in the UK. But there was one product that stood out for me – this, the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon. The blurb on the packaging says:
A baby food spoon for no-mess, one-handed feeding at home or on-the-go – feeding with a simple squeeze makes mealtime a breeze.
One-handed feeding? Well, of course I had to buy one to share with you. As you know, I am a huge fan of shortcuts and ways to make life easier for busy mums and dads, and Munchkin seems like a great brand. Here it is:
This is a really nifty device. You fill the squeezy rubber container part of the spoon with puréed baby food, squeeze gently and the food comes out onto the spoon, and, hopefully straight into baby’s mouth. Seems pretty ingenious to me, and the idea of being able to feed baby one-handed with no mess is very appealing!
If you are a parent who likes to make homemade purées for your little one, then would be a great product to use when travelling, in particular. I am not sure how practical it would be to clean by hand, but it’s dishwasher safe, which we like J It is made of silicone and is BPA free. Suitable for babies 4+ months.
Now, as I am well beyond the weaning stage with my two, I thought it would be nice to offer this as a giveaway on my blog! So, if you’d like the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter @onehandedcook and tweet that you’d love to win the spoon (or follow and RT my tweet about the giveaway).
Follow me here.
If you’d like to buy one, you can actually buy one on Amazon here in the UK.
Giveaway ends on Monday 16 September, when I will pick one name out of the hat. Usual T&Cs apply.
This is not a sponsored post. I bought the spoon myself!