Living cheep. It surprises me how much work that can be. The process of feeding my family with as little income as possible is satisfying. I did not think of it as being a lot of work until I had to go back to the class room full-time. There are so many tasks that I once just went out and did that I now have to “squeeze in” with less energy and day light. Baking bread, cooking pots of beans, turning compost, all take time and energy that I do not have much of any more. I was almost frantic about what to eat without succumbing to processed or convenience foods.
I blew the dust off of “Don’t Panic, Dinner is in the Freezer” and chose a turkey recipe. Why turkey? It is November and Turkey is available. Turkey Pot Pie.
A 20 pound bird gave us Sunday dinner and enough left-over meat to make nine pies. Onions and mushrooms, with Parsley and Sage from the Toy Box, a huge bag of peas and carrots from Cash and Carry (I wish they were from the Toy Box). If I had been thinking I would have made turkey bone soup before I made the pot pies. Instead I used chicken base and water. The one ingredient I would not normally buy is the pimento. They are good but seem too much like the kind of processed food I avoid. But just this once I have jarred peppers instead of fresh or frozen from my freezer.
I have made large meals before. Making nine pot pies at one time is not like making a large meal. I thought my stock pot would be large enough but not even close. My water-bath canner looked like over kill while I considered what pot would provide my size solution.
One thing I loved right away about this recipe is that there is no cream of mushroom soup. There is a lot of butter, there is bullion, but no mushroom soup. Next time there will not be bullion either. A whole pound of butter was melted to saute nearly 5 cups of chopped onion and mushrooms. Before they brown, a few cups of flour and just under a quart of skim milk is added with tablespoons of chicken base and over a gallon of water (this is where the turkey bone soup stock will go next time). This was heated while stirring over medium high heat for almost 20 minutes before it started to bubble, all the while getting thick. The home-grown sage gave the house a lovely scent.
Ray chopped nearly the whole bird, into the pot it went with all those pre cooked peas and carrots. One of the two ingredients from the Toy Box, the parsley, went in by the double fist-full. These final ingredients needed to come back to a gentle bubble. I thought, “Maybe 15 more minutes. Almost an hour later I started seeing bubbles.
The house was starting to smell like a holiday. Ray found a spoon to taste and see if the pretty pot of stew tasted as good as it looked. His eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head with bliss. That was a better reaction then I imagined. Next, this pot that took so long to get hot enough had to cool enough to package into plastic freezer bags. We set the pot on a board to protect the table top while we watched Revenge on whatever it is that lets us watch shows without taping them. (I know, we sound old, we are, but we used to be kewl and know all these things).
One deep-dish pie holds about 3 and a half cups of filling, which, by the way, fits nicely into a 1 quart zipper freezer bag. We got 10 to 12 quart bags of filling for the freezer. There was still enough to fill a pie dish and feed the dogs well.
Something I like about this book is the attention to freezer space. Making the pastry fresh for each pie allows me to freeze the filling flat in the bag which uses less room. The filling goes into the fresh, double crust pastry, or puff pastry or even just store-bought pie crust; and into a 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
We are excited to try another recipe from the book. We noticed that the Cash and Carry had fresh, boneless chicken breasts for $1.49 a pound. Humm.