Eating out the Freezer – the Busting of the Stash

I was going to write a blog post about superfoods and how they don’t exist (sorry about that spoiler!), and even began to draft it yesterday, but as it often happens, life interfered.  This afternoon the outdoor temperature plummeted below freezing, and it occurred to me – this may be the last time this spring that it does that.  I mean, I live in Central Finland (aka Keski-Suomi which, charmingly, directly translates to ‘Middle Earth’), and it may well not be the last time, either – last year it snowed here on Midsummer.  But then again – it might.  And, like any deadline once I’ve remembered about it – oh shit! – it spurred me into action: I realized that I need to defrost and inventory my freezer before I won’t have the option of freezer-on-the-balcony to relocate the food to, while I defrost and clean.

So I grabbed a washtub, a small vegetable cart (emptied of vegetables), and a couple of buckets and emptied the freezer out onto the balcony.  I turned it off, stuck a couple of pots of boiled water in there, along with a turned-on hairdryer balanced on a pulled-out freezer shelf (that being important so that meltwater wouldn’t drip on it), tucked towels into the bottom of the freezer and around it, and within two hours I had a defrosted, clean and dry freezer.  (Note: I turned the hairdryer on and off a few times to allow its motor to cool to avoid burning it out, and also obviously made many trips back to the freezer to wring the soggy towels sitting in its bottom.)  Next, I grabbed a kitchen towel (to towel any frost accumulated on the frozen items that sat out on the balcoy before replacing them), and a notepad, and began to inventory things as I replaced them in the freezer.  When I was done, I was, frankly, in shock.  See for yourself (but please excuse the handwriting – I wasn’t actually planning to show this to anyone when I started!):

Freezer Inventory
Yes, it is utterly ridiculous. And drool-inducing. That, too. (Circles designate packages, half-circles – half-used packages, and large ovals a quantity sufficient to feed more than two.)

Obviously, I had known that I had a lot of food in there.  I mean, duh, it’s the freezer and I buy and store things in it for the time and day when I want them and don’t want to/am sick/weather is too bad to go out to shop, or because I bought a whole side of salmon on sale and cut it up, or that time I ordered meat from a farmer (10kg box) – but I had NO idea just how ridiculously much (really good) food I had accumulated in there!

It is perhaps also important to note, that my freezer is cranked up to maintain a temperature of -28C or below, so I can keep vacuum-sealed meats in it for a pretty damned long time.  None of this huge list is a loss – I am happy to report that nothing ended up scraped out of the bottom of the freezer and tossed.  That would have made me sad.  Very sad.  What it is, however, is an untapped gold mine – of things that can seriously save me money on the food budget in the upcoming month.  Or three.

What I need now, is a meal plan to use some (or a lot!) of this.  I am not saying that I will entirely cease buying things until I have cleared any specific amount of space out (that would be silly and against my own thoughts on the subject) – I am not into severe and punishing self-restriction (that tends to act as reverse psychology on me, and makes me do more of whatever I am not supposed to, perversely).  Instead, what I will do is aim for, is using up 2-3 protein items out of the freezer per week, and to only refill it with awesome-and-on-sale things (such as more of that duck or goose breast I’ve nabbed in Lidl, or if someone is selling an entire side of Norwegian salmon again for a reasonable price).

In addition, I think a refrigerator and pantry inventories are in order, and I will attempt to get to those this week, which will help with putting together of plans to eat those two out right along with my freezer (they’ll work well in combination, I feel!).

And so it would appear that I have yet another topic to write about alongside the food myths and misconceptions – leet’s call this one ‘the freezer chronicles’.  Perhaps if I make both, my meal plans and my results public, it’ll remind me to keep it up and keep me honest.  If you have thought, ideas and suggestions about what to do with any of the items on that list – please do tell me.  All will be appreciated!

And with that in mind, I am off to write that selfsame meal plan.  A cold-smoked mackerel currently defrosting in my refrigerator deserves one, and far be it from me to offend the gods and Little Green Apples by letting it go bad.

I’ll keep you posted.

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6 thoughts on “Eating out the Freezer – the Busting of the Stash

    1. Lamb stew is actually a great idea – I was thinking of braising the riblets, but they aren’t really enough meat to eat as main dish on their own. Cooked in a pile of root and other veg they ought to be fantastic though! Alternatively I might braise them and the leg steaks in a large open dish in shallow liquid so they all get sticky with sauce… hmm, ideas ideas!

  1. That seems like a lot of frozen food for two people, but you have a cooking blog to maintain, so I guess you’re feeding us as well. Or you REALLY like to eat! (I am not here to judge:-)

    Anyway, what struck me is that you wrote it all down in English, but that’s not your native language, is it? I’ve always thought, since I started reading your blog, that you write as well as any native-born American, if not better than most. So do you think in English as well? I’ve always wondered that about people who have mastered several languages: what language do they hear in their private, personal thoughts? I’d always assumed it was their native tongue. Then again, you’re writing a blog in English from Finland, so maybe your English freezer list is not so odd after all. (Conspiracy theory — you have a secret Finnish freezer list for reasons known only to your inner circle…)

    1. *insert pithy comment about judgemental Americans and conspiracy theories here* ;)

      About the language – actually, I use English in everyday life since I am certainly not native to Finland (and this language is not related to anything in sight except Estonian), while T is a Swede (and my Swedish is fairly basic), and he works teaching in English in university here. So English ends up being the household language, because me writing a shopping list in Russian or Hebrew would be so much of gobbledigook to T if I wrote on a list somewhere that on the way back from office he should need to pick up בצל or масло (that’d be onions or butter if you are curious).

      Because I am effectively trilingual (I don’t consider my Swedish fluent by any means), I can think in any of the three when I need to speak them (although my Russian friends say that I speak it like an old Jewish lady, which is hilarious, and my Hebrew is terribly rusty!), but since I’ve used English more or less exclusively in my life for the past oh, 20 years, it’s what I default to.

      Back to my hoard – it IS a ridiculous amount of food for two people, but while I have no excuses, I do have two mitigating factors – one, I have a rather large and powerful freezer so it’s not food waste, and two – I do love to entertain. Make that three, I love a true bargain so when something *good* is on sale, I will buy it because that amounts to savings later. Like, now, when I plan to eat a lot of it.

      So, I am still open to suggestions about what to do with all or any of this! Thankfully, a lady of Singaporean extraction already gave me a few (more) tips of what to do with the whole (gutted) lake monster lurking (and taking up half a large shelf) in my freezer.

      1. Alrighty then!

        I would make a baked cheese dip out of the defrosted and squeeze-dried spinach while the lamb shoulder chops — marinated in olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary and cracked black pepper — were waiting to be thrown on a very hot charcoal grill with some coarse salt. And after all that cheese and lamb fat, grilled pineapple on a skewer, dipped in some melted chocolate, might hit the spot.

      2. Oooh, thank you – those are actually great ideas! I love baked cheese, spinach and artichoke dip – I do that in a fondue cast iron dish and have served it hot before and it was awesome! We don’t have a charcoal grill, but I can do the lamb on a cast-iron skillet! Not sure about the pineapple – it’s been frozen. I suspect it may only be any good in cake or a smoothie.

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