Tim and I normally travel together, but he’s got things to do at his place and I’ve got things on here. So we’re apart for a few days. There’s no point in moping, tempting as it is, as I’ve actually made a to-do list. Although the things I’m doing today aren’t on it, they’re additional.
For example, I’m in the process of turning out the freezer, so that I can find what I want again. I dislike freezers. Chest freezers are difficult to keep organised in the long term and the drawers in upright freezers aren’t the right size and shape.
Time was when I kept a notebook and everything that went in or out of the freezer was marked down. The difficulties there include the need for everyone else to follow the system. If someone doesn’t bother, you lose track in no time. And then there doesn’t seem any point in bothering any more and it gradually gets chaotic. Inevitably, the stuff on top tends to get used first and then what’s down below becomes less appealing anyway. Upright freezers aren’t really geared to home-freezing, I don’t think. They’re fine for boxes and tubs, but only a few at that. When I cooked food for Ro and Dora when the baby was born, they said they couldn’t take too much, the freezer wouldn’t cope. It was a bit better when Weeza and Phil had their first baby as they were moving up from London and were starting afresh with an empty freezer.
I rarely freeze vegetables any more. Prepared dishes, yes, but not a glut of runner beans or whatever. The hours I used to spend in blanching, cooling and freezing, in the belief I’d use the summer crop in the winter. The truth is, I mostly prefer seasonal vegetables. There are some that we’re so used to having imported that we don’t think too much about the seasons – courgettes, peppers, aubergines, spinach, broccoli, for instance; or nearly always eat frozen, such as sweetcorn kernels or peas; others are stored or grown all the year round – carrots, cauliflowers, potatoes; but some vegetables seem connected with their seasons. Brussels sprouts. Who’d want to eat them in June? They’re firmly a winter vegetable. I simply never buy asparagus unless it’s English and locally grown (living somewhere where it thrives helps, of course) and, though I am known to buy french beans from thousands of miles away, I don’t do it with runners. And even though the ones in my freezer were grown in my garden, we tended not to feel like eating them in January. So the July ritual was to throw out half the ones I’d frozen last year to make room for that year’s crop. In the end, I called a halt and just give them away, or compost them if they’ve got tough, at the start.
Ratatouille, passata, that sort of thing are different, of course. And Imperatrix, who long since gave up blogging but is a friend on Facebook, has recommended that I should egg, breadcrumb and fry aubergine slices, then open freeze them. If reheated from frozen, they aren’t soggy.
Actually, I’ll quote her friend’s recipe, which is more or less aubergine parmigiana –
I slice them with or without the skin, then process them like fried breaded eggplant: Dip in flour, dip in egg, dip in bread crumbs (i like a mix of regular with panko). Then I fry them in shallow veg oil until brown, let dry on paper towels, cool then I freeze them between sheet of parchment paper in a plastic bag.
Then to enjoy them later – I plop them frozen in a baking dish with some red sauce & top with mozz cheese and bake for 15-20 min. Yes, they would be soggy if you let them defrost or microwave them, but if you bake them they get back their crisp.
That reminds me of an aubergine sauce I made the other week –
I drizzled olive oil on slices of aubergine, roasted until soft, mashed (should have removed skin but didn’t) and added a couple of spoonsful of yoghurt and some chopped mint. Really good, couldn’t be simpler.
And some roasted vegetables –
I put some cumin seeds and pine nuts on the roasted veg a few minutes before they were done, then stirred in some harissa sauce. I think coriander seeds would have worked instead and a bread slice brushed with olive oil and baked would have added a good crunch. Maybe halloumi cheese, grilled, would have made a good substantial meal.
I should add, I’ve no idea what panko is. And the spellchecker ‘corrected’ it to panic, so it doesn’t know it either. Anyway, we’re not wasting any of the crop. We’ve got a lot of seriously hot cayenne peppers, though.