Friday, March 8, 2013

Exchange Description and Freezer Tip: Arrowroot Powder

End Product
For a lot of cooking we can trade starch thickeners (cornstarch, flour, tapioca, arrowroot etc) back and forth depending on what you have on hand. However, when freezing stay away from cornstarch. It may end up spongy. Tapioca and arrowroot normally work best for the freezer. I have avoided arrowroot because of cost but more and more I am seeing it reasonably priced. A good guide for starch thickeners is found here. This week I did the Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze (which is a favorite of our group) and it includes arrowroot powder in order to thicken the beautiful "cheese" sauce. 

We also exchanged: 

Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Vegan Spinach Ricotta Filling
Winter squash coconut curry soup and Muffins

Portioned for the Group

This was surprisingly easy to make. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Running Recipe Link List

This is the central resource page for all of the recipe links that we have used.

Single Serving or Flexible Portions Possible
Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa
Sweet Potato Burritos
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Spinach & Walnut Strudel
Vegan Breakfast Burritos
Vegan Taco Foil Packet 
Black Bean and Corn-Stuffed Potatoes

Soups and Stews
Vegetarian Groundnut Stew
Hearty Pumpkin Soup
Winter squash coconut curry soup
 Quinoa Barley Veggie Soup
 Black Bean Soup
Moroccan Lentil Stew
Split Pea Soup Split Pea Soup
Veggie Lentil Soup
Red Lentil Thai Chili
Spicy Thai Tempeh
Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Cold Carrot and Broccoli Soup
Dilly Stew With Rosemary Dumplings

Black Bean & Tomato Quinoa 
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze
Vegan Galumpkis and Pierogi 
Pesto Pizza
Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas, Lentils
Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage
Delicious Dal
 Spicy Cabbage Masala
Red Beans and Rice
Beans and Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce
Bombay Potatoes Meet Chickpea Tomato Curry
Spanish Lentils
Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Vegan Spinach Ricotta Filling
Meltaway Cabbage
Winter White Bean Salad

Spiced carrot lentil burgers
Jerk Sloppy Joes With Coconut Creamed Spinach
Carefree Curry Burgers
Veggie Burgers

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Orange cranberry muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Dessert Hummus

Fixings and Sides
Kale Pesto
Freezer Slaw
Vegan Spinach Ricotta Filling
Vegan Pesto

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Freezer Exchange was unintentionally a Forks Over Knives month. One person made the Spinach Vichyssoise from the Forks Over Knives cookbook. Another made the Winter White Bean Salad. (The cilantro pesto was an extremely nice balance to the sweet squash.)

I am always happy to find recipes with specific directions for the freezer. This recipe from Once and Month Mom for Black Bean and Corn-Stuffed Potatoes had wonderful directions for freezing success. I did a batch of Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls

On an administrative note, I'm working on a running master list of the recipes that we link to. I hope it will end up being helpful. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Exchange

It has been a month of changes and transitions for our group. We are saying farewell to two members as their schedules change.

With wonky schedules I find that the meals made up into essentially "single serving" pouches are convenient. Anything stuffed in flat-bread, a tortilla, or dumplings where you can easily heat a small portion and leave the rest is wonderful. "Meatballs" and cookies are good for this as well. I especially like to keep on hand flexible portion freezer items that do not require thawing. If I have surprise visitors for lunch then I can quickly turn out however much we need. (Veggie burgers and vegan ravioli are great examples of item that don't need to thaw before cooking.)

This month we exchanged:
Masaman Thai Curry Stew
Meltaway Cabbage
Roasted Fresh Tomato Soup
From Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker Bourbon Baked Beans and a Carrot and Parsnip Bisque

Friday, August 24, 2012

August Exchange

From this months exchange.
Even if our group were to lose interest in exchanging and I couldn't find another set of people to trade with I would still freeze quite a bit. Veggie burgers are a great example. If your family does veggie burgers often, and I don't know a vegan family that doesn't, then perhaps making a large batch once a month a freezing portions would serve you well. Breakfast burritos also are great to make monthly. 

Even if you don't want to end up with six gallons of chili, making a double batch and waiting a week to thaw a eat the other half may serve you well. Freezing like this is all about reducing overall cooking and prep time. You can scale up or down according to your needs, freezer space, and interest.

This month we exchanged:
Zucchini Carrot Muffins 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chest Freezer Organization

This afternoon's addition to our freezer:
Oh She Glows Veggie Burger
I have long resisted getting a chest freezer. I enjoy cooking freezer size batches (in case you couldn't guess). But I did not want to use the energy/money/space of a whole chest freezer. For a number of reasons I caved this month.

This may be strange but I really like packing. The couple days before a vacation where I get to plan and pack are actually something I look forward to. So in a weird way getting to organize a chest freezer, essentially "pack" a freezer, is oddly enjoyable. I found this and this source helpful and came up with this system:

You will need:

White Board and Pen
Reusable Grocery Bags of Different Colors

Example format from last month:

"July 2012: Red Bag
III Stuffed Shells in Al Bread Tins
II Gallon bags Butternut Squash Ravioli
IIII Quart Blueberries
I Gallon bag of bags of Breastmilk
II 2 cup Kale portions
III Quarts Chana Masala"

Why hash marks? Why not numbers?
Because if I take a quart of blueberries out all I need to do is erase a mark.

Red Lentil Thai Chili Frozen Flat

Why sort items by date?
To assure that nothing gets too old. I know some people prefer sorting by object type but the contents of my freezer are a bit too random.

Why bags? And why specifically different colors?
Bags have handles. Bags are cheap. Bags stretch. The colors are an easy visual cue as to which month or category you are looking for.

Why packaging size?
So I know what to look for.

A note on freezing flat:
Whenever possible try to freeze flat on a cookie sheet before transferring to a grocery bag for storage. In the case of a freezer group this is an important courtesy. You will always be able to see the writing on a flat bag and is often easier to find room for a flat bag.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July Vegan Freezer Exchange and the Beauty of Ethnic Grocers

Grand Rapids has been breaking one heat record after another this month. But I will be heating up my kitchen a lot less because I have a stash of freezer meals.  The exchange has been a great gift in this heat. 

This month we exchanged:
Wendy brought these.

Concerning Potstickers: 
Many premade potsticker wrappers you find in grocery stores contain egg. So check the ingredients label before you buy. Quite often a Asian grocery will stock vegan ones. (I get my vegan potsticker wrappers at the Asian Delight Market in Grand Rapids.) They are wonderful for making pierogi as well. I recommend freezing a single layer flat on a cookie sheet so they do not stick together. Later you can transfer them to bags or containers to save space.

If you have never been to a ethnic grocer I would recommend checking one out in your area. You will probably be amazed by the prices and quality of ingredients. I have also found them to be a great source of help and information. My other favorite grocery in Grand Rapids is Spice of India because of the amazing customer service. Recently, I had bought a new Indian cookbook online and picked out three recipes I wanted to try. I brought it in and they walked me through the store getting everything I needed and advising me on what to keep in mind while cooking. They are also extremely good for bulk items. Not only does it lower the cost to buy in bulk but you will be reducing your post consumer waste compared to smaller packages.