April 10, 2008

the important part is at the end, so skip to there if you don't want the rambly bit

i really love the internet. and i really love blogging. there are so many people - nonbloggers, obvs - who don't "get it," don't "get" why i write about my boring daily life to a bunch of people i've never met and who are probably dirty old men jacking off to my pictures, DON'T I REALIZE THAT? also the punks are probably stealing my social security number while we speak. TEH INTERNETZ ARE DANJERUS.

but i love this community. i love having somewhere to go when i have a question, when i need support, when i want to be a part of someone else's joy when she gets engaged, or to learn that i'm not alone in feeling like a cat jumping into my shower is kind of awesome.

but mostly, i love how much i've LEARNED since i started reading blogs. if it weren't for dooce, i would still probably secretly think that depressed people should just sort of try harder, and "shake it off" already. i would have SUCKED as a friend to anyone depressed without reading the honest, painful writing of everyone who's ever blogged about mental illness. i'm really, really grateful that while i still don't really know what to do or what to say, i at least am no longer stupid enough to think this is a choice some people make.

and without bloggers like sundry or swistle and everyone else who's ever written honestly about motherhood, i never would have realized how HARD it is to have a baby. i mean, we all know the physical having a baby part is no picnic, but i honestly had no idea it was so hard during those first few months, when you've got a wailing, angry, squishy ball of human who only has needs needs needs and that only you can fulfill. i didn't know how draining it was, how much despair could be involved, how some days you can't even pee without everything going to hell. my friends are jusssst now starting to have babies, so without all the bloggers, i would never have known this until it was my turn.

one of my best friends from college recently had her first baby, just over a month ago. i called and left a voicemail for her about a week ago, checking in to see how it was going, how the baby is, how she is. i got a voicemail back a few days later, where she said everything was fine... tiring, and hard.. but you know, good. two years ago, i probably would have called her back and chatted about my love life. this time, i sent her an email letting her know that unless she told me no, i was showing up at her door on saturday morning to hold the baby the entire dang weekend if that's what would be helpful, and i'd do her laundry, make her food, give her time to shower and pee and sleep and whatever else she wanted to do. and i am SO GRATEFUL to the internet that i knew that ANY of those things would be helpful to an overwhelmed mom.

i also know (now!) how food - for the mom, anyway - is often the very last thing that gets taken care of, and how the hell are you supposed to make dinner with a cranky baby who needs to be held 14 hours a day, anyway? so i'd like to bring her some frozen / freezable food she can pop out and nuke for dinner when she needs to.

so this is where you come in, internets! i'm sort of a newbie on the whole cooking scene, and as of yet have never made the foray into freezable food. so! tell me! what should i make for her, that's easy to prepare (remember i'm new at this, ok?) AND also freezes well?


  1. I don't know what to make, sorry - even as a mom I still am not big on the whole cooking thing. ;) BUT - I totally agree with you about cyberpals being the BEST. And writing a blog is fun and therapeutic and I need to do it more often! Lastly? A cat in the shower? TOTALLY awesome!!!

  2. You are a sweetie to be bringing your friend freezable food.
    Make a big pot of spaghetti sauce or chili - it freezes well and it doesn't take a long time to make a huge quantity.

  3. You are so very right about all of this!

    2 pkgs. lasagna noodles (DO NOT COOK)
    2 (15 oz.) containers ricotta cheese
    3 pkgs. Mozzarella cheese, grated
    3 pkgs. sharp cheese, grated
    2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
    Sugar, to taste
    Ground beef
    Prego or Ragu spaghetti sauce

    Cook ground beef until well browned, add spaghetti sauce and sugar. Heat.
    In 13 x 9 x 2 inch tin foil baking pan, spoon a little sauce in bottom of pan evenly. Layer noodles, ricotta, Mozzarella, spaghetti sauce and Parmesan. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with sauce and Parmesan.

    Cover with tin foil and freeze. Thaw. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes 2 lasagnas. Can make meatballs and put around on top before freezing.

  4. Lasagna. You can use the oven ready noodles which saves time.

    Just about any casserole type dish will freeze and reheat well.

  5. Another very easy, freezable meal is quiche. You can buy the frozen pie shells, fill with a mixture of eggs (about 6 for a 9-inch pie), milk, shredded cheese and then add whatever you think she might like: ham, spinach, broccoli, onions, mushrooms... you get the idea. Then season with salt & pepper and bake until the egg is set and the crust is brown.

    Also, people often think to bring dinner foods, but other items like muffins and quick breads are also very nice to have on hand.

  6. I'm here through 3carnations, and I'm sure your friend is weeping with gratitude at your offer to stay with her. Cookies freeze extremely well, and if you don't have time for homemade, Betty Crocker mixes (esp. Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Choc Chip) are extremely good. Make a couple of batches and she can wrap some in aluminum foil and freeze them. The lasagna's a great suggestion, and tacos are also another really easy thing you can make. Just get taco shells and some seasoning, and some ground turkey, whatever vegetables you want to include, shredded cheese, salsa and sour cream. Saute the turkey in a saute pan (after heating a tablespoon of vegetable oil), add some seasoning, warm the taco shells, cut up the veg, and serve. It doesn't really freeze, but if you make extra ground turkey and cut extra vegetables, she can have leftovers a day or so later. You're doing a really kind thing for your friend, I hope someone does something nice for you

  7. Dang! People beat me to it. I was also going to say lasagna.

    I know what you mean about the Internet community. Jason used to make fun of me when I'd talk about reading someone's blog. But after his uncle died and everyone made such nice comments on my post about it, he said, "Wow. People online are really nice."

    Now he's even up for meeting one of my online friends in person when we travel to Denver next month.

    (Plus, he really liked your cat stories. He said, "Now I know someone else has a pyscho cat."

  8. You are an amazing friend to offer this! And flibberty and lorid stole my food suggestions, so I'll steal one of Swistle's - muffins. Easy and yummy for breakfast. She posted several delicious sounding recipes!

  9. I'm not a big recipe user (I tend to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and hope it's not too droopy on the other end). But, you should check out Smitten Kitchen. An awesome blogger with relatively easy stuff to make (pictures to boot!).


  10. Oh, you are awesome. The very nicest thing that anyone did for us after our son was born was show up with food. And yes, we did need it. I froze some meals before my son was born, but we went through them within days. Then we started buying frozen prepared meals.

    Does she have a separate freezer? Space can be an issue. If it is not, lasagna is an awesome thing to give. Not only does it freeze and reheat well, it's pretty easy to make, and lasts a lot of meals.

    Make dessert, too! (if it's not too much to ask). :)

    You are a great friend. :)

  11. I didn't read the other comments before I posted mine. It appears a person (or ten) has already suggested lasagna.

    But really...lasagna. :)

  12. lasagna is definitely a great one to do. one change that i would make to flibberty's recipe would be to substitute turkey Italian sausage for the ground beef. it gives it a little more flavor and classes it up a bit.

    one thing that i made recently for one of my friends that just went through chemo/radiation for breast cancer is chicken enchiladas. i made a bunch of them and they froze really well

    here is the super easy way (but a little more on the expensive side)

    - Rotisserie chicken from grocery store deli
    - Can of green chili's (Mexican foods isle)
    - Can of refried beans
    - Can of enchilada sauce
    - bag of shredded cheese
    - large flour tortillas

    Chicken Part
    Peel shred chicken meat into a bowl (discard skin)
    Add chili's to desired spicyness level
    Pour in a little of the enchilada sauce into the shredded chicken to add a little more flavor

    Bean Part
    Heat up refried beans (can do on stove or in microwave). You do not have to heat them up all the way. The main purpose of this is that its easier to spread out the beans when they are warm

    Assembly Part
    Spread out tortilla, then put beans, chicken, and cheese. Roll up and place in pan. Once you fill up the pan pour rest of enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle remainder of shredded cheese.

    When she wants to eat them put tin foil on top and then its 350 in the oven for 45min or so (I'm not exactly sure on the timing if its frozen)

    When you give the enchiladas be sure to also give a thing of sour cream and some chips!

    This is also a very easy recipe to double (or triple, or quadruple!)

    If you want to save some money, the best way would be to forgo the rotisserie chicken and just bake a whole chicken (just olive oil salt and pepper it and then throw it in the oven). it takes more time, but cuts down on the cost. Another side note - this recipe is a great use for thanksgiving turkey leftovers!

    And then some final notes about giving food to be thrown in the freezer.
    1) There are some excellent disposable pans out there that are good for freezing and then baking. Use them! The last thing you want is for her to feel bad about forgetting to give you your pyrex dish back

    2) When getting pans go for the smaller ones and give 2 or 3 pans of the same meal instead of one big pan. This will allow her to eat one meal for a day or two and then do something different, rather then eating chicken enchiladas day in and day out until she finishes off the pan.

    3) Protection against freezer burn is key! The pans I got had a plastic lid that could go on them, but it seemed a little flimsy to me. I then just wrapped the thing in a bunch of layers of saran wrap to keep everything out.

    i think that's it, and best of luck to you and your friend you are doing an awesome thing for her!

  13. I know nothing about freezing food after it's been cooked into, you know, a real dish, except that I am always reading about people taking lasagnas out of freezers, so there's that?

    And also, you are the BEST FRIEND EVER, and also, now I'm a little scared about the fact that I may well be the first of my friends to have a baby, because THEY WILL NOT KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW AND WHO WILL SAVE ME?

  14. ooh, freezable food, I made this: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_lasagn/ the other day, and my god, it was amazing. It looks kind of involved, but it's so not. And it was giant. I made the whole thing for me, and then froze it in sqares and pulled one a day out for lunch or dinner. Mmm lassanga. Even after eating it for a week straight, I could still go for another serving.

  15. I usually eat fresh food, but would have to agree that lasagna is really good to freeze and eat as leftovers. Tzaziki is also good to keep as leftovers. Some cucumber, plain yogurt, fresh dill, regular oil (no evoo), and salt. Really good to have with just pita bread. Should last you a week.

  16. My wife takes food to moms with new babies at our church ... yes, they do let me go to church. Usually, it's very simple stuff. Her standard dish has cream of chicken soupl a couple of cans of chicken or a coupe of breasts and some sour cream all mixed together and topped with ritz crackers. Then they can just stick it in the oven for 20-30 minutes and it's done.

    I think the point is to find food that has only 3-4 ingredients so it can be prepped and cooked quickly. Crock pot stuff is good as well because it's easy to put stuff together and then the cooking is done by the crock pot. There are lots of sites that have recipes for stuff like this. Campbell's soups used to have a ton of 4 ingredient meals.


  17. You made me kind of teary-eyed with this.

    Here's what I got when I asked people for good freezer food.

    I also nearly cried when someone brought me brownies after the twins were born. They brought a big pan of pasta and meatballs (which re-heated GREAT), and a loaf of bread, and a pan of brownies.

  18. Ooh, spinach lasagna is tasty and freezes well. So does homemade mac and cheese.

    Your love for the bloggy world is cute! I love it too (most of the time).

  19. I was going to say lasagna ;)

    If it's just your friend and her spouse (assuming she's married) who will be eating, you might want to split up whatever you send into portions that would last for two days worth of meals (for both of them.) Same amount of food, just split into smaller containers/bags.

    FYI: If your friend is breast feeding, try to stay away from anything that would be too gassy or spicy since it'll be passed onto the baby. If she's bottle feeding, give her whatever you want! ;)

  20. Soup. Pretty easy, freezes well.

  21. what a great friend you are!

    I sometimes forget what a great community we have ... you are right to remind me.

    If you have a crock pot, you can make an easy pot roast, which is delicious reheated. This will serve 4+ people:

    1 1/2 lbs. shoulder roast
    1 cup raw carrots
    1 celery stalk
    1 cup mushrooms
    1 cup green beans, with the ends cut off
    1 1/2 cups of sm. red potatoes, halved
    1 can of beef broth
    some salt and pepper
    some olive oil

    If you have a dutch oven (a pot that can go from the stove into the oven) with a lid, you can cook everything in there. If you have a crock pot ...

    use the olive oil to sear the meat on all sides. sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over all sides as you turn it to sear (2-3 minutes on each side, including the edges).
    Put the meat in the crock pot and turn on low/med. Add 1/2 can beef broth. Cook for 7 hours. Take out meat and slice into big hunks. Put meat back into pot. Add all veggies and cook for another 1 1/2 hours, until veggies are soft-crisp. When you put into containers (ziplock makes disposable containers that work great) cool stew first before covering/freezing.

    If you use the dutch oven, brown meat then add whole can of beef broth. Put tinfoil on pot, then cover with the lid (to keep it nice and hot!) Cook in oven set for 350 degrees for 1/2 hour for every pound of meat. Approx. 1 hour before done, add all veggies. At this time, you can also slice the meat so it gets a little extra done in the middle.


  22. Here's my lasagna recipe:


    It's fantastic if I do say so myself.

    Soup is always good. Cooking Light has great soup recipes.

  23. As far as Melissa's suggestion for avoiding spicy food - I always ignored that advice and ate spicy foods while I nursed. It didn't affect my son, and now he loves spicy food. :)

  24. I don't believe I've ever commented here before, but I had to tell you how awesome & wonderful this post is - and how genuine you sounded when you wrote it. You make a great friend, and regardless of where the knowledge comes from (bad internets!)- it's all good!! Have a wonderful weekend, and everyone's suggestions kick ass!

  25. I eat cereal for dinner about 70% of the time. I am definitely not the one to ask!

  26. I feel the same way about this little internet community I've stumbled upon. It surprised the hell out of me. I also owe Dooce a thanks in helping understanding what depression really is. And I think I've avoided totally pissing off my sister - a brand new mom - because of the honesty and humor or Swistle, Sundry, and all of the other mothers' blogs I read.

    It is cool, isn't it?

    Um...freezeble. I agree with everyone about lasagna. I think most casseroles would work out well.

  27. First of all, I'd like to think that I've taught you the value of poor writing and "borrowing" copyrighted pictures...

    As for freezing, the only thing I ever make and freeze is pasta sauce. Easy to microwave...

  28. Coming in a bit late here, but KUDOS to you for jumping in to help out your friend.
    I always make at least a double batch of lasagna, so I can freeze one. Before my family grew to the size of consuming the entire pan in one meal, I'd freeze the leftovers in individual portions. Any kind of chicken or taco casserole usually works this way, too, along with most soups--the heartier, the better. It's always nice to have something solid for lunch or supper when no one is around to help.

  29. Coming in a bit late here, but KUDOS to you for jumping in to help out your friend.
    I always make at least a double batch of lasagna, so I can freeze one. Before my family grew to the size of consuming the entire pan in one meal, I'd freeze the leftovers in individual portions. Any kind of chicken or taco casserole usually works this way, too, along with most soups--the heartier, the better. It's always nice to have something solid for lunch or supper when no one is around to help.

  30. Pasta Fagioli! http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_29041,00.html

    Lots of protein and very good. Freezes well. You could also do a Shepard's Pie or a Chicken Pot Pie, but can be super, super easy. I would recommend looking on epicurious through recipes until you find one that you're comfortable with.

    Paula Deen on the food network has TONS of easy, yummy recipes, like this chicken Florentine http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_104811,00.html
    or her chicken pot pie http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_33268,00.html

    She has tons of recipes and an undying devotion to butter, so it has to be good.

  31. Late to the party here (you've doubtless already visited said friend, and my advice is thus useless, but here I am PROCEEDING ANYWAY):

    -lentil soup is easy and freezes really well
    - turkey chili, too
    - mexican-ish shredded chicken (you can email me for a recipe) is something i like to have in freezer bags for last-minute tacos, salad topping, enchiladas, etc.

    And I feel you on the blogging community. Friends/spouse don't really get it, but I've gotten a lot out of it.