Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone:
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

When I was growing up the freezer in the basement was a veritable Davy Jones' locker for frozen foods.  Some things made it back to the kitchen and some did not.  Everything was in there: blueberries, casseroles, packages of freezer-burned meat, Jennie-O turkey loaves, butter, ancient breads, my dad's beer mugs, and god-only-knows what else. 
It's part of our family lore the time my brother pulled a casserole out of the freezer, put it on top so he could continue his rummaging, and forgot to put it back.  It took us several weeks to find the source of the stench.  And when we did... well, you don't want to know.
My mom's mom had a well-stocked freezer in her basement.  I remember visiting my dad's parents in the 'burbs of Boston as a kid and seeing my gram's stairwell shelves packed full.  I think she had a freezer in her basement, too.
My dad had strict rules about rotating the oldest things to the front of the shelf while putting the newest ones in back.  My parents now have a huge walk-in pantry and could feed an army with its Costco-sized containers of StoveTop stuffing, granola, baked beans, and brownie mixes.
It was a given for me that you always had pantries or cupboard stocked to the gills with various foods.  None of us is a hoarder but I do think that it's a dominant family trait to get twitchy when the second-to-last container of anything is opened.
With this in mind, you can imagine how tough my current project is for me: we are striving to eat all the food in our cupboards and freezer.  Not eat as in competitive eating eat but, you know, use it all up.
You actually see the back of our freezer now.  Did you know that freezers had stickers inside them on the back wall??  Or that they had a back wall? 
For the past few weeks whenever I make something, like pizza, cream of asparagus soup, smoothies, or cherry-almond scones, it's with the intention of using up the ingredients in the house. 
1. Fresh, local ingredients are starting to appear at the local markets.  I can't justify buying the fresh asparagus or strawberries if I have some from last year squirreled away in the house somewhere. 
2. I need to start putting away this year's crop for the winter.  Yes, it's only May but if I don't preserve rhubarb now we can't have any in November.
3. Home-canned items are best in their first year so we need to eat the stuff.
My next job is to do an inventory of my canning shelves and make a plan to use some of it up.  Figuring out what we did and didn't use will help guide my decisions for summer preserving.  My goal last summer was to put up 400 jars of food.  Due to our quickie engagement I fell short of that goal.  I'm re-evaluating last year's goal (I can get as fixated as a lab on a tennis ball when it comes to canning) but already know some of the things I want to put up and that I want to try some additional preserving techniques.
Do you preserve foods?  What are your plans for preserving summer's bounty?  Drying?  Canning?  Freezing?

1 comment:

  1. we use all three methods, In fact today I was looking around online to see a DIY Solar dehydrating thing. I was concidering it for strawberries, tomatose, chili's...etc. We also have a DIY root cellar dug into the ground since we don't happen to have one on our house. Esentially it is a straw lined trash can dug into the ground used to store potatoes, carrots, beets, etc. That was found online as well.
    Melissa Engeseth