Deborah Taylor-Hough's website Once A Month Cooking has provided many folks around the world with an introduction to the benefits of bulk cooking. Her initiation to home-prepared freezer meals came following the premature birth of her first child when friends from her church congregation filled her freezer with over two weeks of frozen meals. Having those meal available greatly removed some of the stress from the new mother. From that incident, Taylor-Hough realized a linkage between frozen meals and bulk cooking which has not only saved her time but proved an economic benefit to her growing family as well.
Taylor-Hough has captured the essence of that site in her book Frozen Assets: How To Cook For A Day and Eat For A Month. In her words: Whether you're a stay-at-home mom creatively trying to make ends meet; a working parent searching for more hours in your hectic day; a single person looking for ideas for preparing homecooked meals without leftovers; someone interested in the outreach opportunities frozen meals can provide; or anyone who needs to save money or find a few more hours in their day; Frozen Assets could be your answer.
Having once owned a large freezer, I remember well the many benefits we derived from bulk purchases and preserving fruits and vegetables grown at home or by local farmers. We also would toss the bones and left-over meat from the Holiday turkey into the freezer to use for soup stock throughout in the winter — often supplemented by home-baked bread. But when I was asked to review Frozen Assets, I thought it would be a purely academic exercise since today I have only the refrigerator freezer for food storage and it is mostly filled with bread and typical freezer foods.
However, seven pages into this delightful book, Deborah Taylor-Hough had answered my concerns over my lack of freezer space. "You might want to consider twice-a-month cooking at first until you get used to the method and used to packing your freezer tightly."
Frozen Assets consists of ten chapters along with six very useful appendices. The book includes a whole range of bulk cooking recipes to try. I feel this is quite important because following them gives you a feel for cooking large quantities if you are not used to doing so. I recently realized that I have become so accustomed to cooking for two, and occasionally three, that cooking for more people has become mind-boggling. Bulk cooking is, in fact, just like cooking for a large group rather than just a few, only you get to eat it all over the course of several weeks. After you get the hang of large quantity cooking, I am sure you can easily adjust your favorite recipes for your personalized frozen assets.
One of the best aspects of the book to me is that the author first tells you what is attractive about bulk cooking/freezer storage and then, in Chapter Two, answers a number of frequently asked questions on the subject. Many books leave such discussions to the latter chapters or to appendices. By dealing with questions early, Deborah Taylor-Hough allays some of the concerns of some readers.
In Chapter 3 A Day In The Life Of Frozen Assets, Taylor-Hough takes us through her personal routine for a bulk-cooking session. (Actually it is a 2-and-a-bit day routine when you include meal and shopping planning, buying supplies and the actual cooking.) Chapter 4 provides the reader with some Ins and Outs of Meal Planning gleaned from the author's experience and dialogue with other practitioners. She provides a 30-day meal plan and a two-week meal plan (for those for whom a 30-day plan is not feasible) along with the required recipes in Chapters 5 and 6, respectively.
In Chapter 7 Taylor-Hough gives an innovative idea for the holidays. "Could you imagine a relaxed Christmas and New Year without needing to cook any main dinner recipes — only side dishes and desserts? If that sounds like a great gift to give yourself this year, plan ahead this holiday season using our Ten-Day Holiday Meal Plan."
When our family was young, my wife felt cheated that she spent much of Christmas Day cooking the Big Meal while the rest of us played. Our solution at the time was to dine out. But Christmas Day is not a prime date for dining out as most restaurants are closed. Taylor-Hough's idea and menu are wonderful alternatives for not only one day but for the whole holiday season.
Chapter 8 gives more main dish recipes, and Chapter 9, recipes for breakfast, lunches, desserts and mixes. Deborah Taylor-Hough ends Frozen Assets with one hundred money-saving tips and ideas for grocery shopping.
Six Appendices to the book cover topics such as: Foods That Don't Freeze Well, Foods That Change in the Freezer, Recipe Equivalents, Tips for Singles, Reducing Fat in Recipes, Creative Uses for Freezer Meals, and Recommended Resources. I found them very useful, particularly some of the alternate uses for freezer meals such as for gifts, as a means of helping others unable to cook for themselves, and as a way of sharing the joys of food and cooking with others.
I have but one complaint with the book: the recipes are heavy in meat dishes. Deborah has told me that she agrees and is working to collect more vegetarian recipes for her website and perhaps a sequel book.
Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough will eventually find its way to my cookbook shelf alongside John Robbins' May All Be Fed: Diet For A New World and my basic 1944 cookbook. Every time I thumb through it, I warm up more to the concept of bulk cooking and freezer storage.
Reviewed by Keith C. Heidorn
July 19, 1998
Originally published in Living Gently Quarterly, Volume 2 Number 3 (Autumn 1998)
Living Gently Quartery Review: Frozen Assets©1998, Keith C. Heidorn. All Rights Reserved.
Frozen Assets: How To Cook For A Day and Eat For A Month by Deborah Taylor-Hough, Champion Press, Ltd, Beverly Hills CA, 1998, ISBN: 1-891400-61-4
For Other Great Books, Visit The Living Gently Quarterly Bookstore
Living Gently Quarterly is published by Keith C. Heidorn. ©1996-2002, 2003. Correspondence may be sent to: email: email@example.com.