Monday, January 24, 2022

Of Waste Puritans and Freezer Gods


In this household, 'waste' is a dirty word. Neither of us approve of it and try to reduce wherever we can. Vegetables looking a bit ropey? Soup! Leftover pasta or rice? Bake! Remnants of a roast? Pies! Mysterious jars of things that have been open too long? 

Oh. Okay. Some things have to be thrown. Please do not use that 3-year-old open jar of chutney in anything

In general, I'm quite good at remembering to freeze things at the time of discovering there is too much. Partly because we are Waste Puritans, doomed to poke through fridges and hold things up in an accusatory way, intoning our chant "Did you mean this to be a complete waste of money?" We scourge ourselves with the last wrinkled spring onion from the vegetable drawer and you bet we get invited to all the parties. 

Also partly because I then have meals 'in the bank' for those days where I cannot face another session at the kitchen counter. Usually on a Monday and Thursday when I'm late back in from Pilates/college, and I'm cold with all my senses urging a bath, not an hour cooking. 

And so it was, last Friday, I found myself with a mass of veg, a mostly picked over chicken carcass and, lo!, a wodge of homemade pastry in the freezer. I duly defrosted this and set to.

Leeks, mushrooms, celery, garlic and courgette were chopped into tiny pieces and cooked gently for a long while in a ladleful of stock with thyme thrown in for good measure. I picked over the very last of the chicken and shredded the pieces, throwing them in to seethe and simmer with the veg. It smelled amazing. 

I rolled out the pastry and laid it carefully in the quiche dish, muttering under my breath and patching as I went because if there is one thing gluten-free pastry does not have, it's structural integrity. It will break and tear and you will be forced to patch it regardless of your best efforts at delicacy. 

Let the mix cool slightly while you blind bake the pastry case for however long at whatever temperature. In my case, that was for the duration of time it took me to win that day's Wordle and walk to the postbox, and at 150 fan oven. 

Carefully tip the mix into the pastry case, avoiding the bit where it's shrunk away from the dish. Smooth over and then bake for another 30 mins. Serve with salad or extra vegetables of choice and roast potatoes because the world is always better for roast potatoes. Eat. 

At the eating point, I became aware of something I am not particularly good at. Labelling items in the freezer. 

Yes, friends. That was sweet pastry I had lovingly defrosted and used, all the while patting myself on the back with the Parsimonious Parsnip of Smugness. Specifically the sweet pastry I had used to make mince pies last year but neglected to label as I put the leftover in the freezer. 

Reader, I ate it regardless. And didn't mention it to N, who also ate it regardless. It was not bad, just ODD and I certainly wouldn't do it again (unless the Freezer Gods dictate that I shall) but it was edible. Which was the main thing and allowed me to continue to wear the habit woven from stale breadcrusts handed out to all us Waste Puritans. 

I find the trick is to not tell anyone about the pastry until it's all been eaten. So I might tell N later today. After his lunch. 




4 comments:

  1. Brilliant. I am also a fan of No Waste and have been known to try a bit of Sell-By Date Roulette. There are always one or two surprises in the freezer and I try and build them up with a lot of enticing rhetoric beforehand. Exciting Mystery Pasty! That sort of thing. I can usually carry it off. CJ xx

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    1. Exciting Mystery Pasty! I like it! I also have a creation I like to call Spadge Pie where I take all the odds and ends of things in the fridge and cover it in pastry. Providing there's enough gravy, no one notices the odd combination of things. Gravy covers a multitude of sins. Txx

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  2. I am glad it is not just me that has items in the freezer that you are sure you will remember what they are so don't label them. My dad calls them UFOs unidentified frozen objects. I have been known to take a load of them out of the freezer and defrosted them and made some weird random dish out of them all. We are a no waste household too although some of the things I keep are frowned at by the rest of the family as to them it is a long way past its best, black bananas anyone?

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    1. You can only get a decent banana bread from the blackest of bananas, so I'm with you on that one. My mum once tried to make an apple crumble out of some mashed swede she'd frozen and forgotten to label. I have not yet reached that stage but Mystery Dinners are definitely the way forward!

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