Welcome to the Favorite Freezer Foods Ezine Issue #15: Freezer Cooking Sessions
October 4, 2010
What’s New This Month?
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What‘s New This Month?
On the home front: I’ve finished moving and for the first time in nearly a year I have my own kitchen that isn’t being renovated again. But, it figures, we’ve done more cooking outside, on the grill, than in the kitchen so far.
That will be changing fast because, although I want to cling to summer, the weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing and Thanksgiving is next week, the 11th of October here in Canada. Being from the states originally, I’m still not used to Thanksgiving before Halloween. However, I’ve taken to simply making Thanksgiving dinner for both the Canadian and US holidays and think my husband has come to like having so much turkey.
On www.FavoriteFreezerFoods.com: This month I’ll be adding some fall recipes for you all including some of our family favorites for Thanksgiving and our best pumpkin recipes.
When people start freezer cooking the simplest way to dive in is with what I call batch cooking, effectively making a larger batch of something that freezes well than they can eat and freezing the extras.
Batch cooking saves time because it doesn’t take longer to buy more of the same ingredients and it barely takes any more time to prepare or cook that dish.
Session cooking on the other hand is a little harder because you’re making multiple dishes but they utilize similar ingredients. This method of freezer cooking is great for taking advantage of store sales and seasonal foods.
Think of session cooking like an Iron Chef battle, you get your ‘secret’ ingredient and then you have to make a 'menu' out of it.
Once a week cooking is generally the hardest because you’re only making enough of each dish for one meal and you want variety so the recipes will be vastly different which translates into more work.
Once a month cooking is usually a series of “session cooking” plans. First you’ll make all your ground beef recipes, then all your chicken recipes, all you ham recipes and all your vegetarian recipes. This keeps you working with the same groups of foods making once a month cooking faster.
My favorite method is session cooking because I can get it done in a single afternoon or evening and having variety in the freezer is awesome.
Since pumpkin is such an awesome fall flavor and we're all clear on what session cooking is I'd like to walk you through the basics of setting up a session cooking plan for your self.
First and foremost, we have to pick a main ingredient, in this case it's pumpkin. Then let's get really specific about it; we're using canned pumpkin puree here. If it was a chicken session you might use boneless skinless chicken breasts or a beef session might be sirloin strips.
Next, I like to narrow it even more with similar seasons. In the chicken example we could consider Mexican chicken dishes. In the beef example we might be making Asian dishes. For the pumpkin we're going to go with sweet dishes, like kind with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and maybe allspice.
Then it's time to pick some recipes. You can choose as many as you want. Today we'll just start with my favorite three; pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin butter. You'll need to make sure all the recipes you're thinking of are freezer friendly, I know these three are.
Next, we think about the logistics of cooking them. The pumpkin pie could be frozen baked or we could mix the filling and freeze it before baking, separate from the crust. Quick breads like pumpkin bread can also be frozen baked or unbaked but I prefer them baked first. The pumpkin butter. can simmer away on the stove for an hour or in a crock pot for a lot longer.
Since I prefer my pumpkin bread baked first and the pie would be fine to bake later I'd make the bread first since it'll take the longest (60-70 minutes). Next I'd start my pumpkin butter so it has time to simmer and reduce. That'll take 10 minutes or less to get started and I'd put it on the stove so it's done around the same time as the bread. Then I can make the pumpkin pie filling. If we want there is even be enough time to make a homemade crust.
Since it'd be easy to finish the pie that before the bread and butter are done we could squeeze in another fast recipe like some pumpkin pancakes or waffles, maybe even a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake.
Then all that's left is to write your shopping list, hit the store, do a little cooking and fill your freezer.
And that, in a nutshell, is how you prepare a freezer session cooking plan.
If you have any comments, opinions, content ideas, or requests I'd love to hear from you.
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