Well. It’s been awhile.
When I left you last, I believe I was experiencing some hardcore nesting? Well, the whole decorating strain of nesting passed, (unfortunately it mostly didn’t go further than looking at a million different blogs and pinterest boards and coming up with a hundred different ideas that I never followed through on) and more recently I’ve been stricken with the OMG COOK ALL THE FOODS variation. So I’ve been cooking.
I’ve been wanting a new freezer since… I think since I was pregnant with Violet. I kept telling Nate how great it would be, and how I’d prep a ton of meals and stop myself from my nearly daily “oh shoot it’s 4:45 what the hell am I going to make for dinner” panic attacks. For some reason (lets be honest, I know the reason- see above for example of enthusiasm that dies at the idea board stage) he kind of never got on board with the whole “Let’s buy a freezer” concept.
Then last week I was browsing Kijiji (which is like Craigslist, except the Craigslist here in Edmonton is super slow and sketchy and Kijiji tends to have more better stuff) and I came across this huge chest freezer that this lady was giving away (FO’ FREE) to whoever was willing to haul it up out of her basement. It was there (and operational) when she moved in, but she just didn’t have any need for it and wanted it gone. Hence the free part. Well. I am in no position to do any hauling, but I happen to know people whom I can influence to haul.
So first thing (Well, second thing. Pancakes and coffee had to happen first.) Saturday morning the hubs set off to Home Depot to rent a dolly and then off to pick up a friend to assist him with the freezer hauling duties. A few hours later they returned with a MASSIVE freezer. The thing was huge. And obviously old. And obviously really heavy. They somehow managed to get it inside the house, and through the kitchen (they had to move every piece of furniture in my kitchen, plus take down both coat racks), and then they took all the railings and shelves off the walls surrounding the basement stairs, and they took the basement door off it’s hinges and they took a short pause to collect themselves and gear up to get this behemoth down the basement steps.
And then the friend’s wife suggested that maybe we ought to plug it in just to make sure it worked, and not be so trusting of randoms we found on Kijiji.
So we plugged in the freezer.
The little “on” light didn’t even come on.
The thing was 100% dead.
So then I was embarrassed, and they were embarrassed, and basically we all felt like idiots for not, you know, thinking of trying this earlier. Like before I made them haul it out of the basement of origin.
Soooooooo then they lugged it back outside, and flipped it end over end across the yard like those macho workout guys do with tractor tires, loaded it back into the Jeep, brought it to the recycling place, paid $15 to dispose of it, and headed back to Home Depot to return the rental dolly and to purchase a brand shiny new freezer that’s big enough to fit a ton of food and small enough that they easily lifted it and carried it down to my basement.
And now I have a freezer.
See that green light? Means it works.
That was Saturday.
Now the pressure was on me to deliver on my promise of filling the freezer with convenient dinners and such. Google and various message boards turned me on to Once a Month Mom, a website that I basically am in love with right now. They are advocates of once a month cooking, hence the name. Basically what it is is you pick a menu (they come out with a new one every month), and type in how many people you are cooking for, and then they give you not only a customized grocery list of everything you need, but also a complete hand-holding list of instructions on how to go about preparing/assembling/freezing all that food into meals that should last you a month. Or so. ALSO PRINTABLE LABELS, WHICH HELLO I FREAKING LOVE.
Because I’m a freaking glutton for punishment, I chose to follow the “Whole foods” menu (which has nothing to do with the grocery store chain and more to do with cooking with real ingredients instead of my typical go-to of “chuck this frozen meat in the slow-cooker with a can of condensed cream-of-something soup” and voila, dinner) and so anyways I printed out all my lists and instructions, headed to the grocery store at about 5:30pm on Sunday evening, and then I became meal-prep obsessed for a few days.
Was a bit overwhelmed in the grocery store (like an idiot I agreed to let Fiona come with me) because my list had a bunch of stuff I wasn’t familiar with (Beef brisket? I don’t see a label that says that? And where the hell is the cilantro? And wtf is chipotle en adobo?) but also because my entire list gave me amounts on how much to buy, but everything was in lbs and oz and OF COURSE I’M IN FREAKING CANADA and so everything labeled in grams and liters and I’m standing there like a moron frantically converting things on my phone and trying to find the right amount of the right thing….and meanwhile this grocery trip is quickly running into and past suppertime and Finn is falling apart, and…
Okay. Long story short- after calling it quits on that trip and heading back out for the rest after the girls were in bed, I finally got everything I needed. And began my prep work. Stayed up until 3am chopping vegetables and filling every tupperware container I own.
Next morning, Monday morning- got up at 8am to begin COOKING DAY EXTRAVAGANZA. (It was a holiday weekend here, so Nate was on childwatch duty while I sequestered myself in the kitchen). Followed right down my list, prepping one thing while another simmered, assembling another while yet another baked. It was pretty smooth, punctuated by offers of “help” and requests for tastes.
Long, long, looooooooong day. I don’t remember what time I decided to hang it up. I do know it was later than midnight. But I do know that by the time I did, I had baked 8 loaves of bread, made cookies, muffins, and griddle cakes for breakfasts, and had I think about 7 different entrees (2 dinners worth of each) packed up and ready to be carried down to the freezer.
Oh my god, the LABELS are just… they make my heart sing.
Of course come Tuesday Nate was back to work and we were back to our normal routine, but I was still so jazzed about my cooking project (and somehow ended up with like 3 extra cups of chopped strawberries that never got used) that I also made up some Strawberry and Greek Yogurt freezer pops:
(recipe adapted from here), but I skipped the bananas (since I can’t eat them), and didn’t add any sweetener since I used vanilla yogurt, which is already pretty sweet.
I also loved the Pecan Maple Breakfast cookies so much (one of the batches I made Sunday morning never made it to the freezer) that I decided to try my own twist on them, and add some cranberries, shape them into triangles, drizzle them with a lemon glaze, and call them scones. I love the lemon cranberry scones at Starbucks, but I’m sure they’re full of all kinds of junk that isn’t good for you (plus they are huge, and have a CRAP ton of glaze on top), so I like that these are actually… healthy-ish (my version a bit less so because I gave the frozen cranberries a quick coat of sugar to cut the tartness, plus GLAZE on top which is just straight powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice).
On Tuesday night after I got the girls in bed I picked up where I left off the night before, and made the remaining 2 dishes on the list, plus I cooked up and froze some homemade chicken nuggets to quickly grab for lunches and such, and since I had some extra pork chops I also made up some Parmesan-encrusted pork chops to freeze. I don’t have a recipe for those. They’re just pork chops covered in breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
I finished last night at 12:30. Then I ate some mint-chocolate-chip ice cream straight out of the carton and went to bed. I still have some dishes on the counter that I need to wash up.
It has been a busy few days. My feet are killing me. Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen will do that to you. I don’t know that the once-a-month cooking method will work for me long term, but now that I’ve got a good base, I’ll likely switch over to a “double whatever I’m making for dinner and throw the second batch in the freezer” type method. Or maybe just do a few meals at a time instead of one MASSIVE day of cooking/prepping. Plus probably “OH wow, that’s a good price on chicken, how many freezable recipes can I find that use chicken?”
The only problem now is- I’m anxious to see how any of this tastes once it’s been thawed and cooked/reheated. Some of the dishes aren’t really prepared so much as assembled, but some of them (like the Southwest Chicken Paninis) are completely cooked and just need to be heated up. (I had one last night for dinner as I worked and let me say- they’re super good when they’re fresh.) (Also, I freaking MADE THE BREAD that I put them on. Seriously? Yes. It’s true.) (And one more thing. If anyone is ever looking for a nice gift for me, I’d sure love a panini maker. I think that is the one kitchen gadget we did not get for our wedding and I think these sandwiches could only taste better if they had those panini lines pressed into them, you know?)
Anyways. As we pull meals out and actually eat them, I will report back as to what held up well and what not so much.
Now I just have to figure out what I’m making for dinner tonight…