Ahh January - my least favorite month of the year. Generally speaking I don't feel the need to escape anywhere - I just simply don't want to go outside any more than absolutely neccesary - like not even to the grocery store. The out-of-doors is cold and snowy and icy and I would rather be warm, drinking tea and reading a good gardening/farming/how to raise better chickens book. It's has therefore become my annual EAT-TO-THE-BOTTOM-OF-THE-FREEZER-MONTH.
This is also my reality check whilst I am reading seed catalogues. Every year I fall in love with all the pretty pictures - things like kaleidoscope swiss chard are just so enticing but what does one actually DO with swiss chard. It's one of those things that end up at the bottom of the freezer in little plastic baggies that in their frozen state could easily be mistaken for rhubarb - I can assure you it does not taste like rhubarb no matter how much sugar you add!
I used to have a chest freezer for my main freezer. We put it on cement blocks when we moved here because of it's location in a basement - better safe than sorry if the basement ever flooded because there's no moving a full freezer in a hurry. The extra height made it next to impossible to deal with the contents on the bottom even for a tall person like myself - after the first foot or so - food just disappeared into the black pit never-to-be-seen-again.
My least favorite month is also usually a lean one for our family - it seems our business invoices get buried on someone's desk around Christmas time and they don't get un-buried (and therefore paid) until February. This has led to some of the most creative meals I have ever put together being presented for our dining pleasure in the cold month of January. It's a good thing stews, chili and soups are comfort foods designed for this time of the year. They are tailor-made for hiding items like swiss chard- we don't really EAT swiss chard I just spend my time using every trick I know figuring out how to get rid of it!
Every EAT-TO-THE-BOTTOM-OF-THE-FREEZER-MONTH challenge is different. Some years we did it out of sheer financial necessity and others out of a desire to save money for something else but the rules were mostly the same - no shopping at the grocery store except for fresh fruit and veggies. It's become a habit - a good one I think. I remember nearing the end of one of our challenges and finding several bars of good chocolate - no doubt put away for a special recipe at Christmas and forgotten - after a month without easy access to store bought treats we all agreed it was heavenly!
We recently bought a more energy efficient upright freezer - oh what a glorious improvement on both fronts! It saves us money on electricity and you can actually see what's in it - imagine that! But the EAT-TO-THE-BOTTOM-OF-THE-FREEZER challenge will remain for old-times sake and because I've grown to love the challenge of it.
Now back to my cup of tea and my Veseys seed catalogue. Oohhh look... wouldn't you know it - they now have one called Rhubarb Organic Swiss Chard...and aren't those Bulls Blood Organic Beets beautiful!!