Using What’s in the Freezer and Disasters

It actually isn’t a total disaster, but . . . there were certainly disasterous moments! Because it’s early spring, asparagus is CHEAP (< $2/lb here). Time to GET some and freeze it. Except, I’ve still got 2 containers of it in the freezer.

Soooooooooo, plan B. Make my spring risotto (ham & asparagus) tonight and asparagus soup sometime this week. That should empty the 2 containers and I’ll then buy some and freeze a new stock. Great idea, yes?

I pull the 1st container out of the freezer, except it ISN’T asparagus, it’s eggplant. Okay put it back. I’d used up one of the containers of asparagus? Cool, I won’t have to make soup. Pull out the 2nd container — which is also eggplant. Sigh.

Okay. I search through the freezer until I find the asparagus, which I do, 2 trays of it.  And now of course, I have to put all of the other food back and since that’s true, I decide to label the shelves and be ORGANIZED!

Uh, no. The freezer tape won’t stick to the edge of the shelves, only the glass, where it’s covered up by the food; labeling it there is pretty stupid. So I put the labels on the freezer wall. That works — grin!

I weed out a few items I have no idea what they are or why I have them and smugly decide I’m smart to make the risotto, there are 4 packages of ham, 2 pkgs of bacon and 4 packages of sausage, as well as the two trays of asparagus.

Get one pkg of small ham slices out. (sized to go in sandwiches). Thaw it partially in microwave, cut it into bits, turn to stir the risotto, turn back to get the ham, knock the plate just wrong, and BOOM! The broken plate and cut up ham are now on the kitchen floor.

Okay, okay, this was half  the package. I stir the risotto, turn it down, then sweep up the pieces of dinner plate and/or ham I’d probably step on while cooking, wash my hands and get the other 1/2 of the package. My arm, the one with the on-again off-again nerve problem? Well, it decides my hand isn’t going to hold onto anything right now and BOOM! the other half of the ham winds up on the floor too.

I pick it up, toss it in the trash, scream for DH (with a few other well thought out words reflecting my Anglo-Saxon heritage while I wash my hands again) and get a large ham slice from the freezer. With DH’s help, 1/2 of that was cut into bits, the 1/2 we didn’t use is in the fridge, the floor got swept properly, and dinner got finished.

I don’t actually follow a recipe for the risotto any more. The amounts below, except the rice and broth vary. These are approximations — change the amounts to suit your taste.

1 small sweet onion, chopped; 1/2 ham slice, diced (precooked); 1 bunch asparagus, bottoms removed (tossed or frozen, not used in this recipe), tops removed, stems chopped, 1C rice suitable for risotto, 1 quart hot broth* (I use soup base, chicken mostly with a little turkey to add depth), about 2T olive oil, fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Heat olive oil, add chopped onion, saute. Add rice, stir until just starting to turn lightly golden, do NOT brown entirely. When rice is lightly golden brown, add 1C broth (beware of steam burns!). Stirring continuously, cook on low to medium, until there’s just a little broth not cooked into the rice, then add another cup. Repeat this process two more times once more. Add cut up asparagus stems and ham cubes. Cook a bit, add the last cup of the broth, cook it down to be a bit wetter than the previous occasions, add the asparagus tips. When the tips are dark green, pull off of the burner, it’s done!

Serve with salt, pepper, and fresh grated parmesan to taste. Taste it first, the broth and ham both add salt and so you may not need as much as you’d think!

Because of the protein, starch, green vegetables in this dish, we eat it as a one-pot meal. That is, we eat this for dinner and that’s it, except for whatever we’re drinking, usually water. These amounts will make two adult meal portions, and you’ll have enough leftovers for at least one person’s lunch.

*I use a 2 quart Pyrex measuring cup to make this and heat the water/soup base in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes before I add it the first time. The broth supposedly needs to stay hot between being added to the rice, and since I have a tabletop microwave, all I have to do is after I get the broth in the rice for this batch (happens in 4 batches) is put the measuring cup back in the micro and start it for 1 min or less.

2 responses to “Using What’s in the Freezer and Disasters

  1. I wanted asparagus tonight but the meat market I was at wanted $4.99 a bunch for it! We didn’t have asparagus tonight 😦 I’ll keep my eye out for cheaper asparagus and try your recipe, it sounds wonderful!

    • Try Shaw’s . . . my local one, today it was $1.88 a pound, or less. My target price is $2/lb, and I try and buy it then and put some away in the freezer! In the next 2 weeks, the price will go back up to around $2.25 a lb or so here, the window of cheap stuff is only about 1 week, then it goes up, except for sales! Peas work almost as well as the asparagus in the risotto, and they’re almost always cheap. Did you know that the difference in price between fresh peas and frozen is the largest of any produce item in the market? My brain is all full of weird food facts! 😀 If you try the risotto, let me know. The cheapest place I’ve found for the arborio rice hereabouts is joblots btw.


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