After unloading the groceries from our rounds to Trader Joe’s and Rainbow Grocery, the fridge is full but not too bad. The dinner party fixings occupy much of the prime real estate.
Many of those bottles on the top shelf will get fizzed with the Soda Stream and used tonight. The cross-cut short rib roast from Prather Ranch wears a rub of ras el hanout plus chili powder. It will come out of the fridge at 5 pm and go into the oven about 6 pm. Later in the morning, I’ll bake the fig and fennel sourdough bread and put some russet potatoes in the oven as well. They will turn into porcini-potato gnocchi. Then I’ll clear half the third shelf of the fridge by baking the tart shell and make the lemon curd to fill it.
Lessons learned from a week of cooking family meals from the refrigerator?
1. Hopefully, you like leftovers and/or can reassemble leftovers into new dishes.
2. Time spent cooking basic foods—especially stock, tomato sauce, chili sauces to use for enchiladas, pesto, soups, etc—to freeze or can is time well rewarded later on.
3. A well-stocked freezer plays an important role in putting healthy meals on the table quickly. (On a recent freezer foray, I noticed a container of fennel-Parmesan broth. Coming up soon: a risotto to serve with fish.) Not only does a freezer hold those sauces you’ve made, it holds—in an ideal world—dried mushrooms, and a variety of nuts and organic vegetables such as corn kernels, edamame, and green peas. Not to mention those Parmesan cheese rinds.
4. Having staples such as herbs, garlic, oranges, lemons, potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, and pasta allows you to extend fresh ingredients and turn them into full meals.
5. Spices, too, can create instant variety and can even inspire a dish. For example, I had made the Moroccan spice mixture, ras el hanout, a couple of months ago. Then, when I was casting about for inspiration for the roast, I came across the mixture in the freezer and used it. Just be sure to buy small amounts at a time, store them well (in cool, dark locations or freeze them), and then use them up!