The side-by-side refrigerator and freezer unit wasn’t new in 2015 when my family moved into the house where we’re now living. In fact, guessing from the age of the other kitchen appliances, we were sure it was well past its younger days. So we weren’t surprised a few years ago when the freezer started showing signs of decrepitude. We nursed the poor thing along as best we could for a little while, but it became painfully clear last week that the time had come to buy a new model.
We got a great deal on a slightly damaged side-by-side. The only catch was that the unit couldn’t be delivered to our home for two weeks. We hoped against hope that we could manage to keep our dying freezer alive till its replacement arrived in our kitchen.
Alas! It wasn’t meant to be.
Yesterday morning when I arrived home from having breakfast with my dad, I discovered a puddle of sticky, raspberry-scented water spreading across my kitchen floor. With a sinking heart, I opened the freezer door to find a dripping, thawed-out mess.
First I cried hysterically, sure the entire store of food was spoiled. Then I collected myself and started pulling everything out of the freezer. Thankfully, the beef and a few other odds and ends of meat on the bottom shelf were still frozen. I sent those with my dad to store in his basement freezer. Then I laid out all the food that had thawed and was still salvageable–six chicken breasts, three boneless pork chops and two with the bones in, a pound of bacon, a pound of pork sausage, a cooked noodle meal with chicken and veggies in ranch sauce, a strawberry cream cheese pastry, and what I thought was a ham steak.
I had to toss out three trash bags of stuff that couldn’t be saved–ice cream, frozen pizzas, TV dinners and pot pies, veggies, garlic bread, and so forth. Wasting food gets me more upset than just about anything else on the planet. But at least the meat could be saved.
I boiled the chicken breasts and bagged them up to freeze. They’ll be good for later dicing or shredding when I want to make casseroles, tacos, or enchiladas. I seasoned the pork chops with garlic and honey mustard, fried them, and sealed them in freezer bags. I cooked the bacon in the oven on my stoneware pan and chopped it into bits. Then I mixed the bacon pieces into some jarred alfredo sauce and poured the sauce into a plastic tub. Some busy night, I’ll pull the sauce out, heat it up, and serve it over prepared spaghetti or ravioli. Voila! I sliced the sausage into patties and fried those up to have with eggs some evening when my family feels like eating breakfast for dinner. I’ll probably heat up the chicken and noodle dish tomorrow evening and bake the pastry to share with my writing group in the afternoon.
As for the ham steak, when I opened the package, it turned out to be very thinly sliced ham in the shape of a steak. I’d already started making split pea soup, though, so there was nothing to do but carry on with it. The weather was crisp and cold and I’d bought a new slow cooker–my old one was January’s kitchen casualty–and besides, split pea soup is a family favorite and something that freezes well. So there’s a big pot of it bubbling away on my counter now, making my house smell wonderful.
I’ve been ridiculously busy, and I’m bone tired. But if there’s a blessing in every calamity, the good that came out of my dead freezer is that I got a whole lot of cooking done at once. I’ll be free from most of the daily grind for the better part of a month, at least!
Split Pea Soup
2 cups (16 ounces) yellow split peas
1 ham bone (with some meat left on)
1 carrot, scraped and sliced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
8 cups (2 quarts) water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 or 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon, to taste
1. Combine all of the ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add more water as necessary.
2. Remove the ham bone. Cut the meat off, dice, and return the diced meat to the soup. (If you don’t have a ham bone, chopped ham will work just fine.)
Serves 8. Enjoy!
About the Author
Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader.
As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.
Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her teenage daughter, her guide dog Spreckles, and an aging family cat named Sam-I-Am.
Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.