Outside, that is. It's about 15 degrees Fahrenheit as I type. Of course, that's thirty or forty degrees warmer than the worst temperatures we had a few weeks ago. But still, it's cold, and I'm happy to be inside and comfortable. The freezing weather outside has inspired me to write about freezing inside - that is, freezing vegetables for later use.
This was a delicious meal - roast pork loin with sage rub, roasted butternut squash with cinnamon and butter, and French green beans. Thanks to the freezer, this meal was actually made on quite short notice and with little effort.
The pork loin, which was not frozen, did take some time to roast, but it was hands-off time so I could be productive elsewhere. The sage rub I used was actually a prepared seasoning mix, something I found in my cupboard and thought, "Why do I have this? I don't remember buying this. Oh well, might as well use it!"
Both side dishes came from the freezer. I had roasted, mashed, and frozen the squash from our winter CSA weeks before, so all I had to do was pull it out to thaw when I put the roast in and then put it in the oven to warm up during the last twenty minutes or so of roasting time. The green beans were originally from a summer CSA box. When they arrived, I knew we wouldn't use them that week, so instead I washed, trimmed, and froze them raw; when I wanted to use them, the frozen beans went right in to the steamer basket and cooked for about seven minutes.
The freezer is particularly essential for me in winter when I can't get fresh vegetables locally. Freezing the excess from the abundance of my summer CSA share means that food doesn't go to waste. I also buy a lot of frozen veggies from the grocery store. Most of these veggies are now flash-frozen right after harvesting, so they actually retain more nutritional value than the "fresh" produce that is shipped thousands of miles. Frozen vegetables are also better than canned because canned vegetables often have a lot of added sodium and the heat from the canning processes destroys some nutrients. Plus, frozen veggies are cheap: I stock up at my local PriceChopper when they go on sale for $1.00 or $1.50 for a two-pound bag, but even at the normal price, they cost about $1.00 per pound.
What's your favorite frozen vegetable? I just love having the little packets of mashed roasted squash on hand; also, lately I can't get enough broccoli!