I thought I would write a quick post to give you a little insight into my process. Maybe you can use some of my techniques.
Why cook for 2 when 10 will do?
Today I am taking advantage of one of my favorite techniques for stocking my freezer. I always cook extra of freezable meals. Earlier in the week I made cabbage rolls. I used 3 pounds of ground meat for making the filling. Plus I had a huge cabbage with huge leaves. It made a pretty large batch. Naturally Handy Hubby and I didn’t come close to eating all of them. So this morning I got out the handy vacuum sealer and divided the portions into 2 different meals and voila! Now I have 2 ready made meals in my freezer.
I do the same thing when it comes to soups. I love making soups and it is definetly the best time of year to make soup. Sometimes I will make REALLY large amounts and can them using my pressure canner. However, even when I make a regular size batch it is often more than we can eat before it spoils. If I just have a quart or 2 I will ladle it into freezer bags and pop it into the freezer.
There is one more thing I am working on this morning. Let’s talk about the holidays. Yes they are upon us. It was signaled by my purchase of 10 pounds of butter when it was on special this week. The Handy Hubby thought I was a little nuts. But I am starting to think ahead to the family celebrations headed our way. With my work schedule I cook as much in advance as I possibly can. One holiday staple you can make in advance and freeze is the stuffing.
With that in mind, when I purchased my butter I also purchased 4 large loaves of bread to make my stuffing. My mother, who often hosted both sides of the family for the holidays, would have to make 3 different types of stuffing for the holiday table.
The first was what I called the hillbilly dressing. It was a sage dressing like my father’s mother made. My father’s family came from deep in the West Virginia coal fields, hence the name hillbilly dressing. It was my favorite. The second was the Amish dressing. It was very similar to the hillbilly dressing, but it did not contain any sage. Much like the Amish it was very plain in dress. It was her favorite dressing.
Finally she would have to make oyster dressing. This was basically the hillbilly dressing, but you mixed raw oysters into the mix and baked it. This was my father’s favorite and if it wasn’t on the menu he’d say, “You’re not going to make oyster dressing?” in a sort of childlike voice. It was not my favorite and my childhood palette refused to eat it.
My mother never used pre-made stuffing mix. She always prepared her own bread and added her own spices. It was one of the reasons her dressing was so good. She did this by first frying the bread. She would butter both sides and put it in a skillet and brown it on both sides. When you are making that much stuffing it is a long and tedious process. She would spend the entire night before the meal frying bread for the dressing. But it was this fundamental step that made it so delicious. But who wants to stand in front of a stove frying bread for hours on end?
Less work, same great taste
However, I have discovered a short-cut. It wasn’t the actual frying that made everything so yummy, it was the 1/2 tub of butter that she used to butter the bread. I discovered that I could get the same great taste if I toasted the bread in the oven, cut it into cubes, and then poured melted butter into the mix with all the rest of the ingredients. Absolute genius!
As part of my holiday preparation, today I am toasting all of my bread. I will cut it into cubes and then I will vacuum seal it to freeze. When I’m ready, I just need to thaw out the bread, mix up the ingredients and then bake. I pack it into amounts needed for a small 8×8 casserole dish. This is the perfect size for Handy Hubby and me. If making a larger amount I just use more than 1 bag.