The VPR Table: Freezer Tetris
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This is the last episode in this season's series, The VPR Table. Marialisa Calta takes us on a journey to the cold land of mystery commonly known as the freezer. Don't be fooled by appearances. That gallon jug of what looks like cider could be a last winter's venison broth.
Share your freezer revelations and tune in next week for "The Vermont Garden Journal" with Charlie Nardozzi.
Freezer Tetris with Marialisa
I recently cooked a pork roast that I froze in 2006. It tasted like I imagine Styrofoam tastes.
It happens in March each year: The larder seems empty, but the freezer is still half full of stuff. Odd stuff. There's benighted gingerbread men from Christmas that have lost heads and limbs. There's a package of goat meat - from who? From when? Cottage cheese that I bought by mistake. Half-loaves of bread rimed with ice. Large yogurt containers full of dark substances - Soup? Stew? Tomato sauce? Frozen lumps that, upon close inspection, are found to contain shrimp.
Every year we take the pledge: We will package foods well. We will label them clearly with contents AND date. Every year, as we look hopefully toward a new growing - and freezing - season, we discover just how profoundly we failed. We are repentant. We are cheap. We will eat this stuff, no matter how bad it looks. Or tastes.
This leads to interesting culinary moments. I defrosted a jug of what I thought was our own, home-pressed cider -and took a swig, only to find out I was chugging chicken stock. YUCK does not begin to cover it. We THINK we stewed up a beef ragout, but it might well have been venison, not that we care. Our morning toast requires an overnight on the counter before we discern if it's white, wheat or rye.
The yearly mining of the freezer contents also leads to some happy surprises: cherry tomatoes harvested as recently as LAST FALL that cook up into a killer pasta sauce. Ramekins of pate that I made from livers from my neighbor's chickens. Lemongrass and cashews that we can use to make that shrimp taste palatable.
It's almost rhubarb season. It doesn't matter that no one in my family likes rhubarb, except me. The freezer will be ready. Spring is a new beginning.