When our good church friend, Drema, passed away last month, the whole of the church body stationed themselves at the beck and call of her husband and two teenaged daughters. We visited, we baked, we helped throw the party for the graduating daughter.... not because it eased their sadness, but we all felt the need to love them "right" and that's what it seemed like we could do.
Several women (and one man) of the church had, in recent years, contributed to Fill the Freezer events, whereby we all helped one another out with quick, healthful meals - mostly casseroles and one dish meals - that we could pull out of our freezers at home and prepare for our families with very little fuss. Here's how it works: We had a sign up sheet in the lobby where we could sign up if we wanted to be involved. We'd also sign the name of the dish we were planning to prepare, just so that everyone wouldn't make lasagne. If 15 people signed up, then one would make 15 of one's choice of dish, like Tater Tot Casserole, or Chicken and Rice. On the designated day, we'd bring our 15 casseroles (in disposable pans) and everyone would take home one of every kind of casserole for their own freezers, their family's nourishment, and our leisurely meal prep time.
It was suggested that we put together a Fill the Freezer strictly to benefit Drema's family, with the cooks bringing just one meal to the church, all of which would go home with Roy and the girls. The drop off day was this past Sunday and, over the course of the morning, the church freezer spilled over with gestures of love wrapped in tin foil.
The point of this blog entry is threefold, I guess. One is to record how the people of my community can, and do, rally together to care for one another when there is a need. Another point is to record the church's Fill the Freezer days, which has given many of us new dishes to taste, and new recipes to track down. And I finally wanted to share what I've learned about freezer baking...
What the FtF'ers and I have routinely done is put our casseroles in disposable aluminum pans, which come in either 8x8 or 9x13 sizes. Once we've filled them, we cover them in foil, and slide them into zip sealed freezer bags. The 8x8 pans can easily fit into a one gallon freezer bag and the 9x13 pans need the two gallon size. The heating instructions can either be included on paper between the foil and the freezer bag, or written directly on the bag with a permenant marker.
Some of my "Green"-minded friends have suggested alternatives to avoid the disposable/wasteful scene. One could make a soup and freeze it in a glass jar. If you were just making in advance and freezing your own meals yourself, you could just use only your own real casserole dishes. That's what I did this spring, when I made several meals in advance of our crazy-busy Little League season.
Speaking of Little League, our last games were this past Saturday. That means more time at home and less meals from the concession stand.
Above: The walking taco - over-priced, disgusting, and seriously delicious.
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