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Good-bye…….and Hello

Yesterday I noticed the first of my snowdrops poking through the leaf mulch. And then I saw a robin hopping around searching for some nesting material. It can only mean one thing. Spring is nearer than today’s snowfall would have me believe. Change is in the air, and in the kitchen.

I spent some time thinking about various topics that we could explore in our next cookbook tour. Then I spent a fair amount of time checking books out from the library in order to find “the one”. This one got me really excited, and I hope it gets you excited too:

Ready to get cooking? Me too.

But first, my friends, we must bid a fond farewell to our current cook-with-me-cook-along-cookbook (I’ve never been sure what we should call these little explorations…) For the last few months we’ve been wandering our way through More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre. I felt it was time well spent, and I’m glad to have a new friend on my cookbook shelf.

Most of the recipes we tried were tasty and pleased nearly everyone at the table. I found all of the recipes to be accessible and affordable, and I mean that in every way possible. From the ingredients to the cooking methods to the serving, these recipes meet my requirements for weeknight dinner. They don’t take much planning, they don’t take much money, and they deliver pretty good results.

I took issue with some of the ingredients (like soy flour, margarine, and powdered milk, because I don’t think they are healthful ingredients) but the recipes were easy enough to adapt to my own preferences. And I do appreciate that if we ever ended up in darkest Peru needing to cook dinner, that we could probably find all of these ingredients and cook up a meal there almost as easily as we could here.

Here are the three recipes my family most enjoyed, ones that I plan to return to again:

I’m adding More with Less to the rest of my friends on the book shelf. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks of my cookbooks as characters with personalities? More with Less is that grandmother-ly person who gives you warm hugs, invites you to sit down on a slightly threadbare velvet couch, and serves you a casserole and chocolate cake for dinner. She’s not refined or sophisticated, but she does the simple things well and there is comfort in that.

And so, a fond farewell to More with Less. It was lovely getting to know you.

And a warm welcome to our newest friend, Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik (pronounced Ta-sic). This book was written by two moms, wanting to feed their families efficiently, but also nutritiously and affordably. Funny, those are the same things I want!

Lindsay was so kind to send me a review copy* of their book so that I could share my cooking adventures with all of you lovely people.

** Correction, the review copy was kindly sent to me by Storey Publishing, at the request of the dear author, Lindsay. So sorry for the mix-up in my crediting.  **

And she sent me a copy to give away to one of you!  (Keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks for your chance to win your own book.)

And (here’s the great news…) she gave me permission to share the complete recipes on the blog, which is really so generous of her. I hope that everyone is able to enjoy cooking along with me.

If you’re new to the concept of freezer cooking (or “batch cooking” as it’s sometimes called) here’s the gist: One recipe is multiplied several times, so that you make a huge batch. One can be eaten right away, and the others go into the freezer. Some people will have one day a month that they do all their cooking, and then eat from the freezer for the rest of the month. Others (like me) will just schedule in one or two meals during the week that will make enough for both dinner that night and the freezer for later. This method works well for folks without a lot of freezer space, or who simply can’t clear an entire day for cooking.

I’ve been searching for a while for a good freezer cooking book. I have four young kiddos. There is a myriad of opportunities in my day for my dinner plans to derail. When this happens, I tend to reach for the hotdogs (if we’re lucky, I have some buns in the freezer to put them on). But I really like the idea of having more than hotdogs in the freezer–something that would be a homemade meal, but that didn’t require me to make it right then.

I also have a firm belief that food is ministry. We all have occasions in life that consume us for a season–a new baby, sickness, moving to a new home. It’s a blessing to have a friend show up with a prepared meal. I want to be able to deliver meals without having to plan, shop and cook. Because sometimes by the time I get all that done, the crisis has passed. So I love that the authors included a few pages in the back titled “Food as Ministry”.

Other things included in this book that I think are wonderful:

  • a freezer inventory sheet that can be photocopied and hung on the fridge (at the top, of course, where your two-year-old won’t be coloring on it). On the sheet you can list what dishes are in the freezer, the date they went into the freezer, and a column where you can mark whether it’s still in the freezer, or if you’ve used it.
  • a few pages with tips on adapting your own recipes for freezer cooking
  • some pages with tips on how to fix mistakes (because I make a lot of mistakes)
  • lots of recipes that are either allergen-friendly, or adaptable to be allergen-friendly. Food that our family can eat together out of the same dish is hard to come by.
  • freezer labels for every recipe with the name of the dish and how to prepare it from its frozen state. These can be photocopied and then taped to the storage container. No need to pull out the cookbook again to track down the recipe instructions. It’s all right there.

So for the next couple of months, I’ll be exploring this freezer-cooking method. Care to join me? I think it’s going to be a worthwhile journey.

* Please be assured that while the book was a gift from the authors, my opinions are my own.

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