Shopping My Freezer: 8 Weeks and 23 Meals

by Anne Maxfield on May 2, 2016

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Accidental Locavore Freezer InsideYou know that moment when you open the freezer and the last thing that was shoved into it drops on your foot. You howl in pain and vow to clean it out—pronto! That was the state of the Accidental Locavore’s freezer. As a challenge, I thought I’d see how long we could go eating what we already have, buying vegetables and perishables only.

The unofficial start was March 12th – with a grape leaf “pie” from Ottolenghi’s Nopi cookbook (delicious!) made with ground beef and a marrowbone from the freezer – and is still going on as we reach the end of April. We have eaten out several times, and I haven’t really counted the nights we ate leftovers, but so far it’s been over 20 meals created from what we had on hand.

Accidental Locavore Grapeleaf PieI have bought fish three times, some (extraordinarily tough) chicken thighs and a couple of pork tenderloins, but that’s it for the meat and seafood section of the market in eight weeks. Needless to say, our grocery bill was significantly lower too.

So what does a month of shopping the freezer look like?

  1. The aforementioned grape leaf pie
  2. Albondigas I made for Frank before I left for France and an avocado with dressing.
  3. Lunch of salad with feta (homemade), and leftover steak
  4. Indian chicken, basmati rice and roasted broccoli
  5. Guests for dinner of pulled pork and mac and cheese
  6. Pasta Puttanesca with Italian sausage (from the pig class)
  7. Moroccan lamb shanks with artichokes, butternut squash (from freezer), dried chickpeas (balance now in freezer) and couscous
  8. Leftover grape leaf pie
  9. Chicken with cilantro chutney
  10. Meringue cookies with chocolate from freezer, cornflakes from cupboard, egg whites from hollandaise sauceAccidental Locavore Freezer Door
  11. Broccoli soup with stock from freezer
  12. Lamb stew with spinach and basmati rice
  13. Lasagna, sauce and Italian sausage from freezer
  14. Pork roast with hoisin sauce
  15. Cod wrapped in banana leaves (from freezer)
  16. Amazing Tartine Bakery bread for toast
  17. Lamb-stuffed grapeleaves
  18. French onion soup
  19. Another batch of pasta Puttanesca with Italian sausage and a couple of meatballs
  20. Lasagna with the leftover Puttanesca
  21. Chocolate salted-caramel mousse with chocolate from the freezer (and some tuiles I whipped up
  22. Rao’s meatballs with ground beef we were going to make burgers from
  23. BBQ spare ribs

Accidental Locavore Sealded FoodMy verdict: Without my FoodSaver (sealer) almost all of this would have suffered from freezer burn–it is worth the money! All the pork, lamb and beef we got locally was either sealed or well wrapped in butcher paper. Even with all these great meals, the freezer is still pretty packed. We could/can go at least another month and let me tell you, shopping from my freezer is a whole lot easier than running out to the market every other day! Besides, I like the challenge of working with what I’ve got. How long do you think you could go shopping your freezer?

 

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Green Posole With Cod

by Anne Maxfield on April 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Green Posole IngredientsThis is a lighter (and quicker) take on the classic Mexican hangover cure. The Accidental Locavore thinks you’ll like this fresh take on a classic Mexican (hangover) classic from bon appétit. It’s easy and serves 4.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced, divided
  • 8 medium tomatillos (about 1¼ pounds), husks removed, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound cod fillet
  • 1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 3 small radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (optional, but pretty)
  • Lime wedges (for serving)

Accidental Locavore Green PosoleHeat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook shallots, garlic, and half of chiles, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 6 to 8 minutes. While that’s cooking purée tomatillos in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Add half of tomatillo purée to pot and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup cilantro to remaining purée in blender and blend until smooth; set aside.

Add cod, hominy, clam juice, and 1 cup water to pot. Bring to a simmer and gently cook over medium-low until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in reserved raw tomatillo-cilantro purée, breaking cod into large chunks; season with salt and pepper.

Divide stew among bowls and top with radishes, cilantro, and remaining chile, if you like it hot. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!

My verdict:  Since I first had posole in Mexico, I’ve been a big fan! This is a great spring-like take on the classic. It definitely needs the lime to perk it up, otherwise it’s a great dinner. If you’re not a fan of heat, cut down on the chiles or leave them out. My guess is that if you wanted to take the time to soak dried posole corn, it would be worth the time. Next time I’m going to try that. You could add some warm tortillas, or even some chips, or just enjoy it as is.

 

 

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Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish Restaurant

by Anne Maxfield on April 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore Farmer & Fish & FrankThe Accidental Locavore thinks that what goes on in the city should stay in the city, especially when it comes to the useless policy of not seating “incomplete” parties at restaurants. A recent trip to a Westchester restaurant, Farmer and the Fish, highlighted the inanity of this policy. We got there early, had drinks and oysters at the bar and were enjoying ourselves. The hostess came up to us and told us that our friends had called and said they were stuck in traffic and would be there as soon as they could.

As the bar was filling up and getting noisy, we asked to be seated and were told she’d have to check with the manager as it was against policy. Now, she knows that we’re there and our friends are obviously on their way, so it’s not like there’s going to be a no-show. Tim, the manager, refused her and then after a long conversation/disagreement refused us.

Accidental Locavore Farmer & Fish BarBesides being the worst sort of customer service, it’s a big revenue loser. Instead of sitting at the table increasing our check by enjoying a drink and maybe something to nibble, we were in the car fuming and trying to get a cell phone signal to find out how far away our friends were. And the table that they didn’t want to partially fill sat empty for a half an hour. Who does that benefit?

On top of that you know dinner is going to have to be spectacular to appease us. Why make the waitstaff and chefs bear the brunt of a stupid management decision? You only have one chance to make a first impression and my attitude was so abysmal that at this point it would take something like the escargots and chicken from L’Ami Louis (back in the day) to begin to make me smile. But of course, we’re not in Paris, and this is not L’Ami Louis.

Accidental Locavore Farmer and FishOur Empty TableI had a pork chop, which was weirdly salty throughout (probably brined and not rinsed well). Frank had a tuna burger which was much larger than its English muffin bun. Someone had a lobster roll, someone else scallops and there were more oysters for starters. For dessert there was a serviceable apple crisp/tart and an interesting-looking take on a bread pudding that everyone said was good.

The waitstaff was fine, friendly and helpful, but throughout the meal, Tim, the manager, was jovial with our host while subsequently managing to completely ignore us – hard to do, but he’s had practice.

Farmer & the Fish grow a lot of their own produce and source as much as they can locally, which is why our friends thought we would enjoy it and we might have, but sadly, an awful policy led to an evening best forgotten. Interestingly, on CBS This Morning, Saturday, Chef Mike Price was the guest and he said something that made me stop in my tracks. “You can look at people two ways when they walk in the door—like they’re lucky to be there or you’re lucky to have them.” Anyone at Farmer & the Fish listening?

 

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Making Perfect Basmati Rice

by Anne Maxfield on April 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Basmati Rice The Accidental Locavore always makes rice, be it long grain, jasmine, basmati, the same way – twice as much water as rice, a little salt. Bring the water to a boil, add the rice, turn the heat down as low as you can, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Works every time. If I remember, or want to get fancy, substitute chicken broth for the water. Mexican style, blend some cilantro, and anything green – a poblano pepper, a tomatillo etc. – with the chicken broth and proceed as usual.

So when I was looking at Made in India and she had a recipe for “Perfect Basmati Rice” I was skeptical. How much better was this than my normal way? There are a lot of cultures that are really particular about how rice is cooked, much like how the French judge a cook on how perfect an omelet they turn out, but working harder to make “perfect” rice wasn’t on my bucket list.

However, there’s nothing like a challenge to get me to do something and I was curious to see if this method/recipe was going to make a difference. Feeds four and here’s how it goes:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ½ cups of just boiled water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear. Let it soak in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes, but 30 is better, then drain.

In a separate pot, boil the water.

Put the oil in a wide bottom pan (that has a lid) on medium heat. Add the rice and salt and stir to coat all the rice with the oil. Pour in the boiling water, turn up the heat and bring the rice to a “fierce” boil.

Put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and simmer the rice for 10 minutes. Do not take the lid off!

When the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Just before serving, dot with butter if you like and fluff with a fork. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Cooked BasmatiMy verdict: As hard as it is to admit, this was much better than my normal basmati rice! Definitely worth the extra time (which is really just planning ahead). The grains of rice were long and perfectly cooked. You do have to be careful to soak the rice in a fairly large dish and drain it well. The second time, I tried to take a short cut and my rice wasn’t well drained (or soaked) and it wasn’t as good as the first time. A pot with a glass lid helps to see what’s going on, since she tells you that removing the lid is a definite no-no. I’m even going to see if this method (with longer cooking time) will work with brown basmati rice.

 

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