"Freezer Frenzy" : Dec. 2010 - Apr. 2011

Today is December 1, 2010.  It has been a long year of cooking fun, and I currently have an overstuffed freezer to show for it.  I plan to use up as much as possible over the next  5 months.  That sounds like a long time, but considering I can't stop cooking entirely (I love it!) and that I like to stockpile things (hence how we got here in the first place) AND that I have a bunch of ingredients in the freezer in addition to prepared foods... it's not going to be empty.  And it's not going to be easy!  I don't want to part with my Smoked Tomato Bisque.  It will be fabulous on a snowy winter day to have that taste of the last nice days, with a big grilled cheese sandwich... but I tend to associate things with special experiences.  I won't heat up that soup on a night like tonight, where I came home late and want to get a quick dinner on the table (tonight's dinner is some frozen eggplant rollatini that I didn't love the first time), so that's part of the challenge for me - accepting that the food itself is that special experience.  So, this is officially a challenge to myself - a "freezer frenzy" of sorts.  The goal is to have a sparsely populated freezer by the end of March April so that I have plenty of room to store local fruits and vegetables for next year.

UPDATE 2/5/11 - Well, I'm about halfway through time-wise, but not getting far in terms of clearing space.  I've got a few ideas for meals that would use up a bit of what's given me the biggest problem, which, unfortunately, is the veggies.  I've found that prepared foods vanish quickly, but only when they were really great the first time.  Giving things away works really well for me too, but I'm sure people will get sick of it.  I'm also adding too much!  Yesterday I noticed a spot on the door that had only one lonely thing left in it - and I promptly provided it with the company of some butter and ground beef.  What I have noticed is a few things that cycle in and out fairly quickly, which I plan to keep as staples once I get this thing under control.  I hope to have some better news when I get to the end of March!

UPDATE 3/13/11 - I've made a lot of progress since my last update, but I've realized that I have a little more time than I thought to get this done.  The opening day of the earliest-opening market is the last day of April, so I'm extending my challenge through the end of April!  Since I'm starting a new job this week, I'll definitely be eating from the freezer a bit more than I'm used to, and I've also got a few things planned to help me use up some of the stubbornly lingering items.  My goal is now not only to have as much space as possible, but to try to use up as much of the black (oldest) items as possible.  I've finally gotten to see the back of the freezer and I believe I have every item listed on here now.  I think I can do it!  Wish me luck!

THE END - 5/1/2011 - It's over!  I think I did pretty well overall.  I can FEEL the added space in my freezer.  It's nice to see the back of it again, and to know what you're going to end up with when you reach in to pull something out.  I learned a lot while doing this.  First and most importantly, having this list is an immense help to me.  Otherwise I would have no idea what's in the depths.  So I'm going to move this list over to a new page and clean it up a bit so I can keep on keeping track of what's going on in there.  Next, I need to freeze more already-prepared foods, because I used those the most and the fastest.  4 sliced eggplants (still in there, by the way) do not make dinner for me quickly and easily, so that's probably the last thing I'm going to grab.  And finally, I made way too much soup this year.  :)

Here's what's in my freezer - this list will be a guide for me as to what I have, and when I eat something, I'll make a note.  Unfortunately, this list is not comprehensive, because I can't even dive far enough into the depths of my freezer to inventory it.  I'll add things as they are discovered, and from now on, I'll be keeping track of any additions.

- Two 3-cup containers of eggplant rollatini (Giada recipe)  [12/1/10, 12/19/10]
- One (or two?) quart bags of eggplant rollatini (Williams-Sonoma recipe; contains meat)  [12/11/10]
- One pint of mushroom bourguignon [12/9/10]
- One pint of mushroom bourguignon [1/20/11]
- Two quart bags of Swiss chard and pork dumplings [12/12/10; 12/30/10]
- Two pint containers of stuffed cabbage [12/19/10; 3/4/11]
- Three 12-16oz containers Confetti Chili [1/4/11; 1/7/11; 1/18/11]
- 2 pint containers of meatballs in sauce [2/27/11; 4/10/11]
- A few vegetable potstickers [3/22/11]
- 1 quart beef bourguignon [4/18/11]
- Two 12-oz containers Vegetarian Black Bean Chili [2/17/11; 3/1/11]
- 4 slices french toast [4/16/11]
- 1 quart Confetti Chili [3/28/11]
- 1 package kalamata and feta ravioli

- One cup cooked brown jasmine rice [12/29/10]
- Two quart bags (2-cup portions) cooked wild rice [2/19/11; 3/6/11]
- Two 1-cup containers of cooked long grain brown rice [3/3/11; 4/17/11]

- 1 gallon bag full of assorted nuts (pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, hazelnuts, blanched slivered almonds, sliced almonds, raw cashews, flax seeds, crushed walnuts, pine nuts) [pumpkin seeds 12/9/10, 12/24/10, 3/21/11; flax seeds 12/16/10, 4/4/11; crushed walnuts 12/16/10; pecans 12/19/10, 3/16/11; sunflower seeds 1/7/11; slivered almonds 3/10/11; 3/22/11]
- 1 large (open) 3 lb bag of walnuts [12/8/10; 12/30/10; 1/7/11; 1/31/11; 2/2/11; 2/6/11; 3/14/11; 4/16/11]
- 1 large 3 lb bag of almonds [2/20/11; 2/26/11; 3/6/11; 3/21/11]
- 1 lb bag of pecans 
- 1 quart bag of sunflower seeds
- 1 quart bag of pepitas
- 1 8oz bag of blanched slivered almonds
- 1 7oz bag of unsweetened large flake coconut
- 8oz (2 cups) sliced almonds
- 2 lbs (approx) walnuts 
- 1 container Marcona almonds [4/17/11]

- One quart of Apple Squash Soup
- One quart One pint and one 1-cup container of Coconut-Red Lentil Soup [2/7/11; 2/28/11; 3/7/11]
- Two pints of Roasted Eggplant Soup [Gave one away 2/1/11]
- One pint of Winter Squash Soup (smitten kitchen recipe) [Gave some away 12/11/10; 12/15/10]
- One quart of Orange Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Soup [12/8/10; 4/10/11]
- Two pints of Smoked Tomato Bisque [12/6/2010; Gave some away 12/11/10; 3/2/11; 3/20/11]
- Two pints of Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Hazelnut Brown Butter [Gave one away 2/1/11; discovered it was all gone 4/13/11]
- 8 quart bags (2-cup portions) of Ribollita [12/8/10; 12/13/10; 12/20/10; Gave one away 12/11/10; 3/7/11; 4/11/11]
- 3 quart bags (2-cup portions) of Mixed Mushroom Soup [Gave one away 12/11/10; 1/23/11; Gave one away 2/1/11]
- One pint and one 3-cup container of Rustic Cabbage Soup [Gave some away 12/11/10; 3/2/11; 4/13/11]
- One 12 oz container of Adzuki Butternut Squash Stew [3/3/11]

- Two pints of Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce [1/26/11; 4/16/11]
- 27 (seriously) cups of Roasted Tomato Marinara [Gave away 6 cups 12/5/10, 4 cups 12/23/10; 12/18/10; 12/28/10; 3/11/11; 4/2/11]
- One pint jar of tomato sauce from Andrea and Chris [4/27/11]
- Two 8-ounce jars of Fresh Fig Jam
- One 8-ounce jar of Peach Rum Sauce
- Five 4-oz containers of basil pesto [4/26/11]
- One partial pint container of arugula pesto [4/27/11]
- 2 small containers of 3 chipotles in adobo sauce [2/6/11; 2/27/11]
- 1 small container (4oz?) tomato paste [1/9/11; 2/1/11]

Desserts/Baked Goods
- 3 mini-loaves of zucchini bread [Gave 1 away 1/8/11, 4/23/11; ]
- 1 partial quart of watermelon/cantaloupe granita [3/6/11; 4/11/11]
- 1 Ginger Peach Muffin  [12/2/10]
- 9 Butternut Squash Muffins [12/4/10, 12/12/10, 12/19/10, 12/21/10; 2/6/11; 4/12/11]
- 2 mini-loaves of Roast Banana-Pumpkin Bread [12/10/10; gave 1 away 1/8/11]
- 12 Espresso Banana Muffins [Gave 4 away 1/8/11; 1/27/11; 3/29/11; 3/30/11; 4/2/11; 4/20/11; 4/29/11]
- 6 pieces cornbread [1/4/11; 1/7/11; 1/18/11]
- 9 corn muffins [2/9/11; 2/11/11; 2/17/11; 2/27/11; 2/28/11; 3/1/11]
- 4 Millet Muffins [3/11/11; 3/12/11; 3/22/11; 3/23/11]
- 9 corn muffins [3/4/11; 3/28/11; 3/29/11; 3/30/11]
- 10 Steel Cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins [3/13/11; 3/23/11; 3/24/11; 3/25/11; 4/7/11; 4/12/11; 4/21/11; 4/28/11; 4/29/11
- 3 quart bags of shaped Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookie dough [3/14/11; 3/19/11; 3/20/11; 4/9/11