I may be a grandma, but I still remember standing in the kitchen, asking my Mom what we were having for dinner. Her classic answer was “Fried Farts and Onion Tops”…which I later learned was code for one of two things: either “Go away and let me cook” or “I have no idea, and it’s 4:45pm so I am making this up as I go”. Fortunately for us, she was an expert at making up recipes on the fly. Sadly, she is SO good at it, she seldom actually uses a recipe, so it is sometimes tough for me to replicate her natural gourmet tendencies.
Because my mom was a nurse working evening shifts, I had to learn to cook dinner at a fairly early age. She started me out easy with instructions like “Turn Crock Pot ON”. From there we advanced to Hamburger Helper, and then onwards and upwards. By the time I went off to college, I could follow most recipes without breaking a sweat.
Fast forward several decades, and I have several thousand meals to my credit. I learned how to make most of the same meals (using recipes) that my mom made for us, plus adding all of the favorites we acquired along the way from friends, relatives, restaurants and, of course, Pinterest. I figured out the easiest way to menu plan, figured out the basics I need in my pantry to be able to survive a 4:45pm panic when I have not made a plan for dinner. I have arrived at the place where I make most everything from scratch, even canning and freezing most of our garden harvest.
If you told me I need to feed an entire football team, I wouldn’t blink an eye. Been there, fed that, cleaned up the dishes. I have carbo-loaded swim teams, fed a high schools’ worth of teachers breakfast and had at least a dozen large groups over for a meal, because food is love. It is a normal mom thing to feed half of the neighbor kids from time to time, and after all of those teachers, teams and hordes of hungry teenagers, I imagine most moms have earned the “Cooking Badge of Honor”. It is what we do.
Tonight I went out to the freezer to start thawing and menu planning for next week. Digging under frozen loaves of bread, I found a ziplock bag, filled with something red. No date. No label. Hmm. A UFO: Unidentified frozen Object. Could be spaghetti sauce. Could be soup. Could be something completely unexpected. I really hope it is spaghetti sauce. I took it out and dug a little deeper. I found three bags of a beautiful frozen orange…something. Might be squash. Might be peaches. Pureed something. Oh dear. What was I thinking?
Actually, I know exactly what I was thinking: I worked so hard on this, I will surely remember what this is. I am sure, whether it is peaches or squash, I did work hard. I am sure the whole kitchen was sticky with “it”. The other serious question I am now asking myself is “Why did I think I needed three GALLONS of this?” Mental note: when I am going to freeze pureed orange ANYTHING, label it, and put it is SMALLER BAGS.
In a slight panic to clear out some space in the freezer, I will be doing a lot of thawing in the next few weeks. Summer is coming, and it will soon be time to put more stuff IN there, so the old has to go. If the orange bags turn out to be squash I will be hunting down recipes on Pinterest to find ways to use up all three gallons. If it is peaches, everyone better decide they like peach sorbet, because we will have it for days at a time. I sure do hope it is peach. I seriously think it is squash.
Digging even deeper into the freezer, I found more frozen berries than I ever realized I had. My Mom said it was the tradition in her childhood to take all of the berries out of the freezer in the spring, and make jam or jelly. Then this years berries can be frozen for smoothies, pies and desserts to use all winter, repeating the cycle in the spring. It is a good system, and so jam making is definitely on the agenda.
The worst find in all of my digging: mystery meat. Some is wrapped in white paper, so I know it is either elk or beef, and the rest is white, so it must be chicken…or fish. Frozen in clear, unmarked gallon zip lock bags. WHO would have frozen meat without dating or labeling it?! How am I supposed to know how to use them if I don’t know what they are? Oh, wait, it was probably me.
Proversbs 16:8 says “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Isn’t it wonderful how God can tell when we need to be humbled a bit? I may have earned my cooking badge, but I doubt it would take many meals of mystery meat with pureed squash sauce to get me put on probation. I need to use those things up before they are freezer burned, and I hate for things to go to waste…but it sure makes me blush to realize the pickle I am in with all of the bags of unidentified something currently thawing.
I am going to give it my very best to use them all…but it may take some real creativity and quick recipe hunting. As for the menu plan, I am not sure what to write on the board we normally post it on…I think I will just write “Fried farts and onion tops”. Or I could put “Baked UFO”. I am 55 years old. I can do this.
But I think I will call my Mom.
PS. I did thaw one of those orange bags, and opened it with fear and trembling and it was………….. pureed yellow tomatoes! Spaghetti sauce it is! Now to convince the grandkids that I am not trying to poison them with yellow tomato sauce.
Photo credit: Goh Rhy Yan via Unsplash