My freezer is a strange and wonderful place, filled with the ends of some happy food memories and the beginnings of others. I say, freeze liberally -- even a few tablespoons of leftover stew can be repurposed into a fantastic base for a pasta sauce a month later when there's nothing in the house for dinner.
The trick is to remember what you've got in there, and to rotate things often. If you haven't used it in 3 months, toss it and make room for something else. And always, always label everything. It's amazing just how much your leftover black bean chili can resemble chocolate sauce if you're rifling through unmarked containers when a chocolate craving hits.
2. Heirloom tomatoes in a plastic bag leftover from summer. I thought about canning them, then gave up. I will use them for soup or stew at some point in the depths of winter when I'm desperate for summer.
3. Kaffir lime leaves. Buy them fresh, store them frozen.
4. Bones: A ham bone for soup. A picked-pretty-clean leftover roasted chicken carcass for broth. A prime rib bone waiting patiently for a hungry dog.
5. Freshly milled emmer flour from the farmers market because it keeps better there.
Tell us: What useful things are stashed in your freezer right now?
Photos by James Ransom
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Melissa Clark writes about cuisine and other products of appetite. After brief forays working as a cook in a restaurant kitchen, and as a caterer out of her fifth floor walk-up, Clark decided upon a more sedentary path. She earned an M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University, and began a freelance food writing career. Currently, she is a food columnist for the New York Times, and has written for Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Every Day with Rachel Ray, and Martha Stewart, amongst others. All told, Clark has written over 30 cookbooks.
Clark was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she now lives with her husband, Daniel Gercke, their preschool daughter Dahlia, and their formerly cosseted cat.