Thursday, May 21, 2009

End-of-Grad-School Dinner

Symbolically, food is important to me. Otherwise, why would I be writing a blog - about food? Y'all know I've finished grad school. The last year entailed a year-long internship, starting in August and ending last week. At various points during the internship, I made food and froze it, with the intention of eating it all together in one big meal at the end. I did this three different times:

  • August - vanilla spice muffins (from a mix bought on clearance at Williams-Sonoma)
  • January (end of Christmas vacation) - Neapolitan Sugo di Pomodoro (smooth tomato sauce), from Arthur Schwartz's excellent cookbook Naples at Table
  • March (3/4 way through) - Irish colcannon (mashed potatoes mixed with greens - in this case, cabbage), made around St. Patrick's Day, from the Helen Walsh cookbook Irish Country Cooking
To weave all these frozen foods together, I settled on a meatloaf. The spaghetti sauce covered the meatloaf, and the colcannon was a side dish, along with some of Ina Garten's wonderful roasted broccoli (I also added red bell pepper strips). The muffin was eaten on the side.

The meal

The thing I was unsure about was exactly how well the food would stand up to two or four or nine months in the freezer. I have pulled foods out of the freezer before that survived several months pretty well (like a deer stew I made a few months ago), while others really did not hold up well at all (like some pieces of roasted chicken I stocked away - it's as wonderful out of the oven as it is inedible after six months in the freezer). So how did these foods stand up? Firstly, all of these items were stored on the door of my freezer. Sometimes, items placed there hold up better than they do in the main part of the freezer.

Vanilla spice muffin (total freezer time: nine months) - It tasted fine. The only problem I had was that it fell apart easily, which actually did not ruin the texture since it tended to fall apart anyway.

Tomato sauce (total freezer time: four months) - It was still as tangy and spicy as I remembered. I wish I had poured over the potatoes, too, but they were fine either way.

Colcannon (total freezer time: two months) - I was surprised at how good it tasted. The colcannon included not just potatoes but also butter, cream and boiled cabbage. What surprised me was how well the cabbage froze. It actually tasted and felt the same as when I made it!

Overall, the food froze well. Plus, I know now how well potatoes infused with cabbage turns out after being frozen for a while!

Now I'm going to freeze some of last night's meatloaf and eat it once I find a job!