Taking stock

There comes a time in February when you have to deal with the contents of your freezer, or else. That time is now.

Paw through, and you will discover you have stashed away enough to feed a small army for many, many months. Yesterday, I took stock and discovered the following: chicken livers, turkey stock, chopped rhubarb, sliced strawberries, pesto, tomato sauce, pork sausage, green beans, corn, carrots, blueberries, venison, lobster mushrooms, steak, celery leaves, applesauce, homemade grape juice concentrate, tomato juice, and a ten pound box of blue cheese. I'm fairly sure I'm leaving something out, because you name it, we've got it. Oh! There was flounder. And bay scallops. I think we'll leave it at that.

When the inventory is this large, a mandatory shopping moratorium must be introduced. Ours went into effect last week, with the only exceptions allowed being butter, flour, sugar, and anything else necessary for making use of this monstrous heap of frozen goods. On the bright side, emptying the freezer is a sure sign that spring is on the way.

Not so incidentally, this is also a good time for a shopping moratorium based on the rather empty, sad state of many Cape Cod bank accounts (who knew winter could make you miss waiting tables so much?). On top of that, there is currently very little to buy locally when it comes to food, and I for one am not sure how many more bowls of winter squash and cabbage I can eat.

And so yesterday I did my weekly shop downstairs. Among other things, I picked up a pint of high bush blueberries, which ended up being just the thing for a batch of Saturday morning muffins. They don't pouf up like the big muffins you find at bakeries, which are coated in sugar and have such distinct regions as muffin and muffin top, but rather rise into small, peaked, more serving-sized-appropriate mounds. They are very much homemade and delicious warm with a little pat of butter.


adapted from Dishing up Maine by Brooke Dojny

1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh or frozen high bush blueberries (If frozen, do not thaw. This will prevent the berries from bleeding juice into the batter and falling apart.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity per muffin) with butter or line with paper liners. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt. In another medium-sized bowl whisk eggs until combined, then whisk in milk and melted butter. (Be sure to let it cool down a bit, so that it doesn't cook the eggs.) Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, whisking until just combined. (Do not overmix, or the muffins will be tough.) Fold in the blueberries, and spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tins.

Bake until the muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch, roughly 20 minutes. Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and enjoy warm.


50sgal said...

I just discovered your blog and really love it. I am doing a project this year were I am living as a 1955 housewife. The cooking and baking I am learning is wonderful and exciting. Looking forward to catching up on your blog.

Andrea said...

Time to use up already? I'm still feeling like I need to ration out our stocks. I'm afraid the blueberries will be gone way before the 2009 strawberries and rhubarb are ready. Then again, there are quite a few frozen peaches that are begging for attention.

Elspeth said...

50sgal: What a cool project. I would imagine the cleaning and cooking are quite different...an adventure!

Andrea: There's just so much! Sounds like you did a better job of not going overboard ;)

settierama said...

I made the muffins. they are awsome!

Elspeth said...

yay! we will have to get together for breakfast sometime soon.

Corey said...

Hi. Just found your blog and I love your list of where to shop. That is exactly what I was looking for! I especially love that you mapped it! My question though was - You wrote that you were taking stock and found a lot in your freezer still to use, how did you know how much to freeze? I did a lot more freezing this past summer, yet it still doesn't feel like enough. Related, do you have an extra freezer where you keep all your food? I have been wondering if that is the only way to hold enough frozen food to get through the winter. Thanks!

Elspeth said...

Hi Corey:

I'm so glad you found your way here. We do indeed have another freezer—my fiancĂ© owns an ice cream stand so we have an old chest freezer they used to use at the store. It's probably about 2 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 3 or 4 feet long? I'm not very good at those sort of estimates, but that sounds about right. I didn't really know how much to freeze, so I aired on the side of freezing too much.

I froze the most strawberries and blueberries, as we really don't have much in the way of local fruit around here come winter and both of these are great over yogurt or oatmeal. Most of the other items in there are tomato sauce, chicken and turkey stock, and meats along with some other random vegetables.

The veggies I'm not sure have been worth it—they're simply not nearly so good frozen and there are still plenty of fresh root vegetables around—but the fruit definitely is.

I'm not sure how much a chest freezer costs, but I have a feeling that if you put up an ad or looked around on Craig's List you could find something affordable.

Best of luck!


Corey said...

Thanks for responding! I am thinking that freezing seems to be the easiest way to start preserving. I just way under estimated how much we would eat in the winter. Mostly I think I forgot about extra food for entertaining :) I have had the most success (as in pull out of the freezer and use!) with
- carrots - we put them in pork fried rice, minestrone soup, and a new indian peas and carrots recipe
- leafy greens- into all sorts of soups, although good too on top of pasta with feta and olives
- broccoli - this went early in the winter and I am definitely going to freeze more next year
- and probably blueberries, which like you I've been putting into muffins.
I think this year I want to learn a few other methods of preserving than freezing. Like maybe dehydrating or canning.
Anyways, thanks for telling me about your freezer. We have been contemplating buying one, so it's helpful to know how others are doing it! Have a great day!

Ford 7.3 Powerstroke Injector said...

Someone at work made this a few months ago and it was SO delicious. Maybe I'll try this this week :)


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