Eating Down the Fridge, December Edition

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

…or, in my case, Eating Down the Freezer.

I decided it’s time for a serious eating down the fridge project. I have stuff that’s been in the freezer forever and there’s no room to put anything new. I really need to get rid of some of it. Seems like a good project for the end of the year, in time for a fresh start for a fresh new year.

So the goal is to not buy anything that will end up in the freezer, and to make sure that every day I eat at least one thing that has been languishing in the fridge or freezer for more than a month. (I’m still buying perishables and other fresh stuff, I just need to make sure I work the stuff that’s fallen off the radar screen back into the mix.)

On Monday, I made pizza with dough and sauce from the freezer — though it hadn’t been there long, so that wasn’t much of a victory — and instead of buying fresh vegetables to use as toppings, I used frozen spinach (which I’m not actually worried about using, I always have that around and go through it regularly) and a vegan sausage that had been there for almost a year. So that was a little bit of progress at least, I got one thing out of there.

For breakfast on Tuesday, I had scrambled eggs using one whole egg and one egg white left over from last week’s cookie recipe, along with goat cheese that I bought a few weeks ago, and spinach from the freezer. I made biscuits and used up the last little bit of gravy that I’d saved from my fried chicken, which was in danger of becoming a mystery item. (There was just a tiny bit left but I love milk gravy and I hardly ever have it so I was hoarding it to have with biscuits when I found time to make them.)

Still in the fridge are vegetables and gravy from the pot roast, plus now the pizza from last night.

The main problem in the freezer is the numerous quarts of stock (shrimp stock, made from shrimp shells left over after eating shrimp in something like Hot and Sour Shrimp), and then a bunch of different soups. So I think I’m going to be eating a lot of soup for the next few weeks. And also making some muffins and quickbreads with the random leftover bits of fruit and cooked vegetables that are hiding out there in the deep freeze.

Then I can start filling it up again!

In the meantime, here’s the recipe I use for pizza dough and sauce. It’s really easy to make your own pizza, and the recipe is cheap and makes a lot, so you can make it all up and freeze individual pieces and have your own little frozen pizzas, or you can cook half and save the other half for another round of fresh hot pizza later. And if you can use up leftovers from the freezer as toppings, that’s even better.

These recipes are from The Pizza Book by Evelyne Slomon, which my dad bought for me a long time ago at a used bookstore, it has lots of good stuff in it. I think it might be out of print now, it came out in 1984.

Basic Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 tsp salt

1. Pour the water into a medium-sized mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir gently with a fork until the yeast has dissolved.

2. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Add a second cup of flour and mix well.

3. Measure out the third cup of flour. Sprinkle some over the work surface and flour your hands generously. Remove all of the dough from the bowl and begin to work the mass by kneading the additional flour in a bit at a time.

4. Knead in the flour until the dough no longer feels sticky and your hand comes up clean when you push the heel of your hand into the dough and leave it for 10 seconds. (Approx kneading time: 5-10 min.).

5. Lightly oil a 2-quart bowl with vegetable oil. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl to coat it with a thin film of oil. Tightly seal the bowl with plastic wrap to seal in the moisture and trap heat.

6. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (e.g., gas oven with a pilot light). Let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes or until it has doubled in bulk.

7. Punch the dough down, remove from the bowl and knead lightly for 1 minute.

8. Pat or roll the dough into pizza, or let it rise a second time if you would like a more refined crust

Basic Pizza Sauce

1 can of whole tomatoes (2lb 3oz), packed in tomato puree or juice
1 tsp dried basil, dried oregano, or dried marjoram
1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed, and minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
salt (if needed)

1. Pour the contents of the tomato can into a 2-quart, heavy nonaluminum saucepan and coarsely crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands.

2. Add the herbs, garlic, tomato paste, pepper, and salt.

3. Bring to a bubble over medium heat, stirring to mix the seasonings.

4. Cook, uncovered, stirring from time to time, for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour.

The sauce will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to 4 months. [Note: You can cut it in half and still have some left over if using one full recipe of dough. It makes a lot of sauce.]

To assemble and bake the pizza, you should preheat the oven to 500°F. (The oven needs to be VERY hot when you put the pizza in, it needs to cook almost instantly.)

You should pre-cook the dough until it’s just starting to turn brown, then take out and put on the sauce and toppings, then back into the oven until the cheese (if you’re using) is melted and turning brown, or until everything else looks hot hot hot and just cooked through.

3 Responses to “Eating Down the Fridge, December Edition”

  1. Lorrie Says:

    That’s an admirable goal. I’m laid up after surgery for awhile, but may be inspired to do the same in the new year. Keep up the inspiration!

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Sorry to hear about the surgery, I hope you’re back up to speed soon…

  3. Lorrie Says:

    Thanks! Right now I’m enjoying meals brought to me and my family. It’s slow but every day is a little better.

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