On the menu – fun with the freezer

Saturday

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I’m having surgery next month (and the month after that and probably a few months later too, sigh), so Mr. Lacer will be in charge of the cooking, which means it will be a ready meal fest, i.e. the sort of food I don’t normally like cooking (too much of) for the family and that everyone else consequently really misses. So whilst the rest of the family are working their way through Birds Eye’s greatest hits, I don’t necessarily want to be eating that sort of food. I want to stick to eating home cooked food, in fact I want to eat more home cooked food, as I think the best way for me to recover from surgery will be some good, healthy grub.

The first op may make it uncomfortable for me to eat solid food for a few days, so I thought lasagne would be good (I’m thinking about lots of soups too but I thought lasagne would be good so that I can get some protein, something this semi-herbivore can struggle to get sometimes). I’ve always remembered an old episode of a Nigel Slater series ‘Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen’, where Nigel set out to prove that you could batch make a whole load of lasagnes from scratch to freeze and they would be much nicer than supermarket ready meal lasagnes, so I thought it was finally time to give the recipe a go.

Now the recipe is so un ready meal-ish that you even make the pasta for the lasagne from scratch and I wasn’t going to go quite that far, so I bought some fresh lasagne sheets, I also didn’t use the pork ribs (thinking about it I could have just added some pancetta instead). I also didn’t make the basil oil (although it sounded nice) as I’d forgotten to water the basil again (my house – where supermarket herb plants go to die). I also divided the ingredients in half, as I don’t really have space for the twenty lasagnes the recipe makes. Instead, like I say, I halved it and I made one large lasagne for the family to eat today and there was enough left overs to make three small lasagnes for the freezer.

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Now I have a couple of lasagne recipes I normally use which can not fail, (Annabel Karmel and Tana Ramsay) so I was a bit nervous about trying something new. I normally have more veg in my ragu sauce and whereas normally I make the normal bechamel sauce, this recipe was just double cream with cheese and mustard melted in, which at least was simpler I suppose. On tasting, the ragu was missing my normal additions I think, the cheese sauce was nice, not really bechamel though, although Mr. Lacer did comment appreciatively that it was creamier. The thing that attracted me to the recipe was the fact that it can be cooked straight from frozen, as I am absolutely rubbish at remembering to take stuff out in time to defrost and I hate defrosting stuff by microwave and besides our microwave packed in recently and me and Mr. Lacer decided we could cope without. But I suppose the same principal could be applied to the normal lasagnes I make, so although I am certainly going to enjoy the three lasagnes I’m going to stick in the freezer, as it has to be a really bad lasagne to be not nice and this lasagne is nice and certainly nicer than a supermarket lasagne, I think if I were to bulk make lasagnes again, I would go back to one of the recipes I normally make, sorry Nigel.

Tuesday

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Girl Lacer starts secondary school in September and they’ve set her a number of fun challenges to do over the summer. One of these was design and make your own ice lolly. Girl Lacer thought blackberry and blueberry and when we were shopping for those we noticed blackcurrants were on special offer, so we added those too. Using the People’s Pop book as a guide, we whizzed up the fruit and pressed it through a sieve, we then added a sugar syrup and lemon juice, with Girl Lacer tasting on each addition to check the taste. She decided on not too much sugar syrup, specially as blueberries are meant to get sweeter when frozen anyway. The result, which she’s called Black Berry Blunder, is lovely, much richer in taste than say a normal ice lolly which is just made up of flavoured sugar water, and better for you.

I need to make more ice lollies, I went through a lolly inspiration phase last year, after much searching (and frustration at poor alternatives), I found the perfect ice lolly mould and I added two good ice lolly books to my collection and then I stopped pretty much as soon as I started, ah I am fickle. I need to get at it again, as it occurs to be ice lollies would be good for poorly necks too and with all that fruit, rich in healing vitamin C too, so I’ll be adding some in with my stock of lasagnes.

Thursday

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You know that lasagne was somehow even nicer after a stint in the freezer and then cooked and eaten out of it’s foil tin or maybe it’s just a lovely combination of home cooked food with at the time almost zero effort, just switching on the oven, ready meal bliss. My freezer will definitely never be without homemade lasagne again.

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4 thoughts on “On the menu – fun with the freezer

    1. Berries are always good, choose your favourite and then blend in a blender or food processor. You may want to press through a sieve afterwards to get rid of any seeds or tough bits of skin, but you don’t have to. Then mix with a simple sugar syrup, by controlling how much sugar syrup you put in, you can make it as sweet as you like. Sugar syrup is simply equal volume sugar to water (measure using cups), simmered until the sugar dissolves. Be careful with the sugar syrup as it will be very hot and can cause nasty burns. Let the sugar syrup cool a bit before you add it to the fruit. Ooh and a squeeze of lemon juice with the fruit is always good too!

      1. That sounds yummy – I do have a glut of raspberries in the freezer to use up. Maybe I will just let the girls do the blending bit though as they are five and under.
        I was looking for recommendations on a brand of mould though as I don’t want to give up after the first go (which I probably will if it doesn’t go well) thinking its too much faff. Do’s or Don’t Buys always good!

      2. It took me a while to find a good mould, I went through a number of very plasticy brightly coloured ones but they never seemed to feel like proper ice lollies to me (I may be fussy). Also a lot of moulds were only big enough to make four lollies, whereas the two recipes books I’m using gives instructions and ingredients to make ten or twelve. I got my mould eventually from Amazon, I did have a look to see if I could find it again so I could post a link but I couldn’t find it. however this looks very similar http://www.amazon.co.uk/Norpro-Frozen-Ice-Maker-Multi-Colour/dp/B0002IBJOG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437747820&sr=8-1&keywords=norpro+ice+pop+maker, it might be worth having a note of the reviews though

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