Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bulk food & cold storage

Sometime soon we’ll be getting an ice-box. The original plan was to put a propane fridge in the kitchen, but they aren’t always easy to find, or affordable. Most of the propane refrigerators we saw were too big for us, designed for restaurants or camps. The delays given us a chance to think a bit about what we really want, and generally that leads to a more “off grid” choice. In this case, it helped us decided to attempt refrigeration without propane - the ice-box. Eventually, I’d like to invest in a solar-freezer, for meat and ice cream, but for now, I’m just looking forward to being able to keep milk in the summer. An ice-box would meet our immediate needs, and keep within the aesthetic requirements that govern our life here. I love the thought of big blocks of ice, pitchers of raw milk, and quart mason jars of fresh yogurt.

Without consistent cold storage, we eat a primarily vegetarian, bulk food diet, except when we slurge on good meat, or take-out, or some other amazingness. Beans have been a huge staple this winter: beans & rice, white bean stew, and tomato-bean soup being regulars in the meal rotation. My favorite is the white bean stew, made with vegetable stock and spices, and left to cook into a creamy perfection on the stove all day. With bread and butter, it’s completely satisfying and soothing to the winter soul.

I’ve attempted a large, stove-top tart recently, with preserves from summer picking, with amazing success. We also managed to succeed at stove-top pot-pie and a few stove top pizzas. We were glad to have an at home, non-pudding dessert option, glad to play with traditional over recipes and actually enjoy the results! This coming summer, with a working kitchen at my command, I’m excited to think of the extra canning I can do and the real baking - the croissants, ciabatta, muffins, & whatnot that I can make in abundance.

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