I daydream about having a giant deep freezer to fill with harvest-time bounty and made-ahead meals for babysitter nights. The reality is that my freezer is the size of an accordion and is carefully jammed full with a menagerie of odds and ends: just enough frozen fruit for smoothies, a couple of random meats (goat cubes! a rabbit!), no more than one container of homemade ice cream at a time, and two mini ice cube trays. The door holds some leaf lard for pies, a few bags of nuts, a few sacks of grains, and the occasional bag of peas for boo-boos.
This doesn't mean I'm a stranger to cooking for freezers; a person in my age-group knows all too well the midlife cycle of births, deaths, and moves. Having babies, moving house, and nursing aging parents and all prime-time opportunities for homemade frozen meals and a new book called The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook will help you think outside the chicken soup, pesto, and lasagna box.
• Who wrote it: Ghillie James
• Who published it: Kyle Books
• Number of recipes: Over 100
• Recipes for right now: Applesauce, Spicy Carrot Tomato Chorizo and Cilantro Soup, Pork Chops with Mustard Apples and Cider, Lamb and Prune Tagine, Eggplant and Lentil Moussaka, Quick Double Chocolate Sheet Cake
• Other highlights: This isn't the first freezer cookbook I've seen but it's the most appealing. It has a great chicken stock recipe—essential for anyone with room to store stock—but also some really original recipes using frozen foods, like a Pork Belly with Cracklings, Fennel and Shallots.
The photographs by Tara Fisher, a UK-based photographer with whom I was not familiar, are bright and fresh. Nothing is over-styled so all the recipes look approachable and yet elegant. A partly eaten Chicken Ham and Tarragon pie is encased in ripples of puff pastry, with an invitation to dive in. This is a testament to the entire team behind the book.
There are also several helpful short sections on how to use up gluts of fruit, how to store and thaw properly, and the top leftovers to freeze. Without a doubt, this is a book to give to yourself if you foresee cooking ahead with frozen fall bounty, either for yourself and your family or for others who need an extra meal here and there.
• Who would enjoy this book? New parents, people who have friends having babies or taking care of someone who cannot cook for themselves, nice neighbors, entertainers who want to hang with their guests rather than cook, cooks who like to store up for the winter and have a sizable freezer.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook: Prepare-ahead meals, Stress-free entertaining, Making the Most of Excess Fruits and Vegetables, Feeding the Family the Modern Way by Ghillie James
Related: New Baby Taco Box
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)