Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cooking - Cookies that Last 6 months

A quick note on this post: I have a deep freezer (small size). That is how I freeze so many things. I choose to freeze things because I find it easier than canning 99% of the time. I kind of moan and groan if I have to can stuff. (Except jam, that is awesome or pickles which I'm attempting this summer).

We got our freezer on Craigslist (caution! danger!) for $75 the first week I came to New York. I looked at my fiance's tiny messy freezer and said 'this is not going to work'. Thus, a freezer was acquired.

If you don't have the space or money for a freezer, you could still follow this post! But maybe not everything I post for freezer stuff is something that will fit into your life. Just pick and choose of course!

I love homemade and I love working smarter instead of harder. That being said, we also don't eat a lot of desserts. All things in moderation! The girls and I do have lots of little tiny tea cookies to go with our tea, but we don't really do the over indulgent desserts after every or even every other meal.

So how did we get cookies that last 6 months? And how stale were they?

If you haven't put it together yet, I mixed up a 3 dozen batch of cookies with the 5 (then 4) year old in December. This was a LOT of mixing - I don't have a mixer! But cooking that many cookies and then freezing them or eating them...not the best of ideas. And I was CONVINCED (still am) that these are the best cookies (those fabled Neiman Marcus cookies) I've ever had. I'm sure it's due to all the butter.

Instead of baking 3 dozen cookies and making the family sick with so much wonderful, the 4 year old and I made cookie balls and set them out on baking sheets and froze them. As each sheet was frozen fairly solid (about 20 minutes) I would pop the cookie balls off the baking sheets and toss them into a freezer ziplock bag. We did this for an hour or two until all the cookies were frozen into little balls. Of course we baked a few :D

So here it is in June, 6 months later, and we have 4 cookies left! We are a family of 4 and anytime we felt like a 'treat' we just popped the cookies in the oven (4 at a time!) for 20 minutes at 325 F.

This was such a success after only a few hours of work that I plan to make a few more batches of frozen cookies soon! This is a great way to bake - one time that lasts you 6 months. And this is my cooking strategy. I try to find ways to batch cook without killing myself (these cookies were pretty easy! though I might change my mind after mixing again) that pays off in 'dividends'.

Things that I like to batch cook in this way:

Cookies (duh) - I recommend at least 2 dozen or more at a time not more than 4.

Hand pies - With fruit or leftovers in them! It's all about finding an easy dough recipe and having your filling pre-selected and pre-made!

My Breakfast Mix - Instead of cutting vegetables every morning, I cut a few things up once, fill a ziplock bag, and have a mix that will last a month.

Breakfast Burritos - a stack of tortillas and some scrabbled egg mix. Fold up those burritos and freeze them! The trick is not overfilling them - my struggle!

Bread - This one seems strange but I like to double rise my bread, form it and then freeze the rolls or little loafs. This makes bread with dinner super easy. I set the dough out on the counter and let it thaw - I pop it in the oven for 30 minutes or so and we have fresh bread with dinner! Takes a bit of work but if you're already making bread - making extra is easy!

The trick is to find something your family would want to eat regularly (who doesn't love cookies?!) and something that can be frozen for a while and pulled out as needed to suit your needs!

How can you become like the Minimalist Martha? Find something you could make in bulk and freeze - and make something every week or two. Soon enough, you have a Baking Day (like Saturdays!) with the family and you are pulling a long list of 'homemade' things out of the freezer whenever you want. Guests coming over? Tell them "It's all home made" and choose to keep or spill your secret on how you manage the time!

Once a week or once a month, it's the little things that make life a little easier. I haven't made cookies in six months, but we eat them all the time and they are always fresh out of the oven every time!

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