I could lament the fact that I spread the prep work tasks of making ONE meal over the course of 3 days. Dang after I wrote that I realize that’s pretty pitiful isn’t it? Three days-really? It could have been 2, then again, I used to do the whole enchilada in one afternoon. Let me explain.
I have loved chicken pot pies since I was 10 years old. Gravy, chunks of chicken, veggies and lots of crusts. What’s not to love? Mom’s discovery of this delicacy was secondary. She worked every other weekend and Dad and I were on our own for meals. TV dinners were relatively new and by golly we both liked them. When Mom was home she’d usually put a roast in the oven before we left for church on Sunday. But when it was just the 2 of us, we’d opt for Swanson’s (I was adamant, it had to be Swanson’s Brand) Salisbury Steak (Dad) and a turkey dinner for me. I’d carefully remove the tin foil cover off the cranberry compote compartment before sticking it in the oven and waiting the long half hour before it was scalding hot. Clean up was our silverware and glasses. Then Dad went somewhere for the afternoon to save souls and I headed over to Char’s house. The Schelhaas’ had their big Sunday meal at supper time and I was usually invited to join their family before heading for another round of church.
Anyway, not long after my new found fondness for TV dinners when Mom bought a couple of frozen pot pies at Koster’s Market. Not as filling as the TV dinner but I liked them. A lot. Beef, chicken and turkey. From then on, Mom kept a couple in the freezer for lunches or if she was doing some time consuming chore after she got home from work like going to the laundromat which took all evening. I wouldn’t say TV dinners or pot pies were a normal occurrence at the Gerritson home after that, but I ate them with some regularity and gusto through my teens.
Even after the Hubs and I eloped there was usually one or the other in our freezer for our first few years of marriage. The Hubs tolerated the fried chicken dinner. But heck, I eventually learned how to cook and by the anniversary of our tenth year we had blossomed into a family of 5 and the TV dinners and pot pies had been replaced with cheap frozen pizzas for after school snacks. Swanson’s brand turkey dinners and chicken pot pies disappeared from my life.
It didn’t take me long to appreciate the fine art of bulk cooking. If you’re gonna have a mess in the kitchen, might as well have something to show for it. After I learned how to make spaghetti sauce (thanks Wilma Duits) I don’t think I ever made just one meal’s worth. I’d make a triple batch and freeze 2 for nights when I was busy, didn’t feel like cooking or everyone was home at a different time to eat. Same with meatloaf, meatballs and soups.
You’d think my tactics would have changed once we were empty nesters but it hasn’t. I still cook in bulk-just not AS bulky. Whereas I used to cook 50 pounds of split chicken breasts at a time, (they have to have skin and bones to get flavor for the broth) deboning, dicing, vacuum sealing, freezing in quart bags to be used in soups, casseroles, quesadillas or creamed chicken. Then I would strain, freeze the broth for soups. Now I do about 10 pounds at a time. Which brings me to my comfort food. Comfort foods are different than my favorite foods.
Favorite meals: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cranberry sauce or spaghetti with garlic bread.
Favorite foods￼: popcorn, pies, pizza, pretzels (soft like Auntie Anne’s), Penuche & Pepsi (diet). It’s all about the P’s.
Comfort foods: beef stew, vegetable beef soup, bean soup, chicken & dumplings, hot beef sandwiches and chicken pot pie.
I’ve reverted back to my childhood. Just without Swanson’s. Chicken pot pie has been a staple on the menu again-much to Hubs chagrin. I could easily eat my chicken pot pie a couple times a month-him a couple times a year. Same with spaghetti or turkey and all the fixings. He prefers hamburgers on the grill at least once a week. Sigh. Who is this guy?
I have found some clever ways to combat our differences in food choices. Take pot pies for instance. My recipe is big. (Of course it is). Many of the foods which I consider a pain in the butt to make are of the larger size so I’m not making it all the time. (You all know I’m lazy right?) The pot pie recipe makes 3-9″ pies, so we’d eat one and I’d freeze 2. I’m very fond of leftovers, the Hubs is not. But I’m not crazy about leftover pot pie. If you zap it in the microwave, the crust isn’t flaky and the oven tends to dry it out and there’s not enough gravy. Much like my childhood I now make pot pies-one serving at a time. Bought some 5″ pans which has solved a lot of problems. If I’ve got a hankerin for pot pie and John is craving Beef Stroganoff (not my fave), we each eat our own choice. Doesn’t happen very often, he’s amiable about most dishes I fix for supper, but on those rare occasions when my craving gets the best of me, I just take out one little pot pie for me.
Now about this one stinking meal which took me 3 days. Started by cooking 10 pounds of chicken breasts and dicing the meat up on Thursday. I used 3 quarts of the broth and made chicken soup in a half hour for supper. Took some of the diced chicken, mixed it with some seasonings, divided and froze 4 small packages for quesadillas. The rest of the chicken was for pot pies (I do this once a year￼). Froze the remainder of broth, leaving out a quart for my recipe.
I asked Ari and Jovi if they were available to come over for pot pie? We settled on Sunday noon. Friday I did nothing and we went out for a fish fry at Our Lady of Fatima. (Pretty cute story about Our Lady of Fatima called, Friday night fish fry’s, 3-17-18). But I didn’t want to leave the rest of my prep work for the meal until Sunday morning because I’m slow-and lazy, so I diced the onion, celery & carrots and measured the flour, salt, Crisco for the crusts. I took out a cup each of frozen peas and corn to thaw in the fridge and measured the flour, salt, pepper and sage together for the gravy part. Set up my counter to roll out the crusts and called it a day. That was day 2.
Sunday morning I threw an angel food cake in the oven, mixed up my crust dough and started to sauté the onion and celery. Divided up the dough for one 9″ pot pie and 6 individuals. Finished my pan of pot pie fixings, filling the pie tins. Took out the cake to cool. Plopped on the 9″ top crust, threw it in the oven, rolled out 6 tiny top crusts and slid each of them into quart freezer bags. Cleaned and sweetened my strawberries, started a sink of soapy water. Looked at the flour spills on the floor, turned around, left the kitchen and jumped in the shower.
Swept the floor, damp mopped the worst, set the table and welcomed 2 of my favorite people in the world. Enjoyed pot pie and angel food cake together, then read some new books to Jovi. Cleaned up the kitchen, read the Sunday paper and have not lifted a finger since. Although I’m not thrilled many of the things I do these days are now done in segments, I’m grateful I can still do them and enjoy it. So no negativity about my 3 day journey to make a simple chicken pot pie…