Sunday, October 27, 2013

Frozen foods we can live without...

AND YESTERDAY'S WINNER IS: S.E. Warwick! Email me at hallie "at" hallieephron "dot" com with your mailing address and Ellen will speed you a copy of BURYING BEN.
 
HALLIE EPHRON: I was in the supermarket the other day, making my way through the frozen food section when I noticed they were selling bags of pancakes. Frozen pancakes.

I can't say why these strike me as more ridiculous than frozen waffles but they do. Maybe because not everyone has a waffle iron but all of us have pans.

Nearby were frozen donuts and frozen scrambled eggs and frozen ham and cheese sandwiches and frozen corn on the cob. None of these makes any sense to me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to frozen foods. Cousin to pancakes, I buy the occasional package of frozen cheese blintzes. Sautee them in butter (put the lid on at the end to be sure they're warmed through) and serve with a dollop of whole (not light) sour cream and a glop of cherry pie filling. Can't beat it for sheer decadence.

Frozen filo dough, just for example, is another frozen godsend if you ever moved to make turnovers or strudel or a yummy spinach and cheese pie. Which I often am.

And frozen veggies are fine by me, too. I grew up on frozen peas, lima beans, and corn. The only fresh vegetables I encountered before going away to college were iceberg lettuce and the occasional green bean. I thought squash was gourmet, and eggplant and brussels sprouts downright exotic.

I confess, in my youth a true guilty pleasure was a frozen TV dinner. Fried chicken and gravy, please, with a section for apple pie with foil over it that you ad to peel back.

So fess up, when you're in the frozen food section, how far do you stray from ice cream and frozen vegetables, and have you found something there that's really worth getting?

Anyone tried the frozen Chinese dumplings or edamame? Because if either of those is good, I'd be tempted.

31 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Edamame is indeed good, as are most frozen vegetables; fruit, not so much unless you’re cooking with it. Frozen bread dough also works well if you don’t have time [or the inclination] to make bread from scratch. We also like blintzes and Pepperidge Farms Chocolate Turnovers [chocolate filling wrapped in layers of flaky layers of puff pastry] is an absolutely divine dessert, definitely worth a place of honor in your freezer.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Certainly we grew up with frozen TV dinners in my house, probably once a week. I think I used to asked for the Swiss steak. We also ate frozen pizza, which tastes a whole lot like thick cardboard. Ugh.

Today it's pretty much down to ice cream and veggies, though the potstickers from BJ's are not bad...

Reine said...

We like the frozen dumplings—the kind you drop in hot water. The steamer packets of dim sum are quite good too.

I rely on frozen French fries for making poutine. Once the gravy and cheese curds are on you wouldn't notice.

Hallie Ephron said...

Ah, poutine. Canadian nachos. I can see using frozen fries in that. Though potato chips would be fine by me, too.

But Reine, do you make your own gravy? Because that's another thing that I scratch my head over during my brief forays into the canned foods section: canned gravy.

And can I just say a word about great French fries. Made by someone who knows what they're doing (not me)? Sublime.

Johnny Drazzle said...

Hallie, I think we grew up in the same household, foodwise, except we also had raw carrots. Once I went to a friend's house and they had a salad with purple cabbage in it. Delicious! Exotic! I came home and asked my mother why we never had that at home.

Trader Joe's has great frozen potstickers. I agree about the filo dough. And I sometimes grab a couple of frozen pie crusts just to have around for a quick quiche dinner, although Judy Copek recently turned me on to the premade rollout pie crusts in the refrigerated section. But that's about it other than ice cream and a few cans of frozen OJ or lemonade when the kids are coming to visit.

Edith Maxwell said...

No! That last comment was from Edith, not her son's blogger ID, Johnny Drazzle.

Kaye Barley said...

One of the first things I learned when we moved here was that we were too far out in the country for pizza delivery. EEK! Since pizza is one of those things I can't seem to go a whole week without, I got a little panicky. Now we always make sure there's a Palermo's thin crust frozen pizza in the freezer and we like them. It's not the real thing, of course, but it's perfect for a quick pizza fix.632

Hallie Ephron said...

Palermo's... writing it down. Though we have to walk an entire 2 blocks for really good gooey thin crust pizza, and another 6 blocks for 3 more not bad pizza places. What we can't get is poutine.

Catherine said...

We never had frozen anything in my house when I was growing up. My mother shopped everyday and bought what she was going to cook, fresh.

And, now I shop everyday and buy only fresh. The good news is I live in New York City and we have a large store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables and a supermarket right across the street, plus several fruit and vegetable stores and some wagons within a couple of blocks.

As for pizza, one of the world's best foods, there are several good places within a few blocks.

Karen in Ohio said...

How can one be too lazy to scramble an egg? They cost about 30 cents each, tops, and take five minutes. Which includes washing the pan afterwards. You can make them in the microwave even faster, and only use one dish.

I love edamame from the freezer, especially shelled. My husband likes lima beans, and so edamame are a nice change once in awhile.

Since I can't eat gluten any more, and since I dearly love pizza, it was the best day ever when I discovered frozen Glutino gluten-free pizzas. They are really good, and since they're small they don't take up a lot of room in the freezer. Hard to find still, but I suspect that will change. Even in the middle of nowhere in the Serengeti I was able to get gluten-free bread. (Yes, they asked! Isn't that amazing?)

danielle-momo said...

I like to eat fresh but as I live alone and far from the stores,I keep frozen vegetables. This way , I buy fresh only what I'm sure to use because I hate wasting. I also prefer frozen raspberries to supposedly fresh ones (taken from thousands miles from home) during winter; eating it with yogourt for breakfast,fairly good.
I have no use for prepared meals or stuff.

Hallie Ephron said...

So I'm at a hotel this a.m. and made the mistake of taking a waffle from the buffet. Blech. Stick to the roof of the mouth. Betcha anything it was once frozen.

Deb said...

Hallie, I usually go for the oatmeal on the breakfast buffet. The hard scrambled eggs and greasy bacon--ugh.

Frozen? Costco potstickers and springrolls are good. Other that that, I buy green peas--almost impossible to get fresh here. I love a Gordon Ramsay recipe for a spread made with blanched peas, olive oil, and Romano cheese. And I'll buy frozen blueberries where fresh are out of season to use in muffins and pancakes. That's about it.

Oh, and we buy ice. Does that count? We've never hooked up the icemaker in our fridge because we like the shape and texture of store-bought ice better. Weird?

Anonymous said...

Trader Joe's frozen green beans will amaze you. Mary Moody

Fran said...

Trader Joes has a frozen, breaded halibut that I love. I just don't have what it takes to bread my own fish, I'm afraid. They also have shrimp corndogs that are a rare treat for us. It sounds iffy, but they're really good.

Ellen Kozak said...

Some survey that crossed my desk last night asked me if I would buy frozen doughnuts. As though mass produced packaged doughnuts (think Hostess) weren't bad enough. If they don't come fresh from a bakery, why waste the calories?

I used to buy frozen o.j. back in the day, before you could get it in cartons (and tasting almost like oranges). I used to buy frozen berries before fresh ones came up from South America all winter long. I must admit to a taste for frozen pot pies (I have no other point of reference, since my mom never made real ones). Nowadays, I just make huge pots of chili and freeze single servings in flattened pint-size Ziploc bags. Much better than anything I can buy.

Yes, Trader Joe's frozen green beans (the thin French ones) are amazing. And Palermo's frozen pizza originated here; I used to patronize the restaurant where they originated. The ones in the restaurant were better, but I usually keep one or two in the freezer for emergencies when I am too tired to make anything else.

Kathy Reel said...

It strikes me as so funny now that as a child (born in 1954), frozen dinners were such a treat. My mother was a fantastic cook, one who considered fried chicken a staple of the Sunday meal, with the fixings of mashed potatoes and veggies. Her corn pudding still lingers so fondly in my memory, as do many of her dishes. She made pimento cheese from scratch, using a manual grinder for the cheese, and making her own mayo. And, yet in the midst of all this delicious food, it was the frozen dinner that was the treat. Gee, I've learned a thing or two since then.

Of course, I do use frozen foods myself today, probably more than I should. I used to be a real stickler about making one's own pies, but I am amazed at how good Edward's Frozen Pies are, including the pecan, which I thought I did a pretty good job on. One homemade pie I won't quit making is my pumpkin pie, as it is a unique recipe from my mother-in-law.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Trader Joe's--they have a frozen chocolate ganache torte that is incredible. Almost as good as making it yourself, except without the temptation to taste!

Marianne in Maine said...

Swanson's Salisbury Steak! In the foil packaging. Before microwaves. I thought that Salisbury Steak was to die for. What do you mean it's just glorified hamburger?

I love the frozen green beans and asparagus from TJ's. The nearest one is 2.5 hours away so I stock up when I can. I also get frozen berries - or freeze my own - to have in my greek yogurt.

And I just heard that Lou Reed passed away. There's a part of the soundtrack of my misspent youth gone.

Hallie Ephron said...

Fran are you out there SHRIMP CORNDOGS ??? Can you explain?

Hallie Ephron said...

Salisbury steak - there's a recipe for it in The Joy of Cooking. It's pretty good. But then, how good can salisbury steak be. Hospital food.

I saw the obit on Lou Reed on the Times web site just now. Did not realize he was married to Laurie Anderson. Huge talents, both of them.

Jungle Red Writers said...

Rice, rice! Frozen Brown rice! It works! It's saved me a million times.

Oh, I didn't know that about Lou Reed, either. Hey Babe, take a walk on the wild side. RIP> and thank you.

Jungle Red Writers said...

That rice post was from HAnk----it didn't sign me out. Grr.

Denise Ann said...

I grew up on canned vegetables, and vegetables we canned ourselves. Frozen vegetables were amazing to me!
Now I mostly use fresh, except for peas.

At the end of our street is "Pies a la Mode" where they make sensational chicken pot pie, and sell it frozen. But I don't really count that as frozen food.

When my husband was traveling a lot and my kids were gone, I found some frozen vegetarian dinners in Whole Foods that suited me -- ethnic stuff, Indian or Mexican. But most of the time, even alone, I "really" cook.

Thanks for the memories!

Lora said...

Costco has these chicken wraps that I absolutely love and so do my boys. They are absolutely no good for anything, but we can't stay away from them.

Susan D said...

My mom served TV dinners to us once only. We were all still pretty hungry after eating the tiny servings.

Reine said...

Hallie, I use the Québec standard, Les Rôtisseries St-Hubert Poutine Gravy Mix. Mail order or have friends bring back.

Potato chips actually sounds good, but they would lose their crisp fast.

Reine said...

My best fries ever were fresh, beginning of the season, for-real Maine potatoes from Maine, standard cut, bad for heart fat. But with poutine, it's not important. The flavor of St-Hubert gravy is different from any other.

Ellen Kozak said...

Reine: Krunchers are to die for, but I always wait until they are on sale-- they can occasionally be purchased for as little as $2 a bag, but the regular price is something like $3.79, waaaay too much for even the best potato chips (and why would one buy FROZEN ones when the bagged ones are so good?) 51 Osocals

Ellen Kozak said...

Jeez, somehow the captcha wound up in the message. I HATE those things, BTW. Half the time I can't make them out.

http://sport.croupiers.co/unde-pariem-volei-in-2014 said...

I was thinking of this for a long time. And I am pretty sure that is super healthy besides all stuff.