'can i freeze it' by Suzie Theodoru has one of the most accurate, informative, and catchy subtitles I've seen on a cookbook, which more than makes up for the catchy but less than accurate main title. The subtitle points out that while there are stacks of books on how to cook with blenders, food processors, slow cookers, pressure cookers, rice cookers, and sloppy cookers (See Martha Stewart's Housekeeping Manual), not everyone has a food processor, slow cooker, pressure cooker, or rice cooker. But, virtually EVERYONE has a freezer. And, I'll guess that only a minority really know all the tips and pitfalls of freezing.
My issue with the title is that a scant 10 percent of the book (the first 22 pages, in chapter entitled `Perfect Freezing Every Time') actually deals with the techniques of freezing. The remainder of the book realizes the subtitle to a tee, in giving one both common and relatively uncommon techniques with which to use the freezer (or freezing compartment of a dual refrigerator - freezer).
`Perfect Freezing Every Time' begins with a section on how freezing works, in order to explain why certain techniques work and why certain practices cause frozen food to go bad. Next is `freezing tips and techniques, which may be just a bit thin for the novice. I think a few good picture series demonstrating some basic techniques would have done well here. Next is `containers', which may offer information which is foreign to most people. I'm just a bit surprised that the author doesn't give a stronger warning against using water in glass in the freezer. In spite of the fact that I, Mr. Smarty Pants chemist for 10 years, have used due care in putting water in glass in the freezer, the glass busts virtually every time! Ms. Theodoru's advice is sound, but there should be a black border around being careful with glass and freezing. (Oils in glass, such as bacon fat, do not have the same problems, as fats do not, like water, expand on solidifying). In `organizing the freezer', Ms. Theodoru gives us possibly the two very best pieces of advice. One is that it is a `good thing' to keep the freezer almost full (75 percent). And, be careful about real freezer temperature (especially if your freezer is an automatically defrosting model). `maintaining the freezer' addresses manual defrosting and maintaining frost-free freezer units. `thawing' is a very nice reference on this procedure which may be hazardous to your health if done incorrectly. `how to choose the right freezer' is very nice, especially in its discussion of `integrated freezers', which can be built into a line of cabinets and opened like a drawer. I would have liked to see a picture of such a model, and know who manufactures them. The five pages from 17 to 22 give material which reflect the title of the book, and may be the most disappointing section. It deals only with a few very general categories of foods. A major improvement would have been a glossary covering freezing dos and don'ts for a large number of specific foods. Ironically, there is a glossary at the end of the book, and entries say little or nothing about the freezability of foods cited there, such as cracked olives, miso, and preserved lemons.
When I got to this point in the book, I was enlightened, but not impressed. Then, I turned the page to the first chapter on cooking techniques using the freezer to assist in prep work. Here begins what may be the real value of the book to people who know their way around the kitchen. The first major suggestion was the technique for combining the marinading and freezing for future use steps in preparing meats for stir-frying. This same theme is carried out for roasting, grilling, and broiling. If I were to suggest one basis on which one may wish to buy this book, it would be the eight meatball recipes, a perfect food preparation mode that has special heath risks the freezer can help to prevent.
The `cook once, eat twice' section is just a bit thin, and is covered in a host of other books, to which this book is a very worthy supplement.
Another very interesting chapter is the one on `Rice', which is notorious for going icky after the initial cooking, followed by refrigeration. Predictably, the first recipe for leftover rice is fried rice, but the introductory method on freezing rice is worth the price of admission.
`Crepes' are almost an expected subject, as freezing crepes is a part of virtually every good recipe, at least since Madame Julia Child's influence made itself felt.
`Cooking for a crowd' is also a natural subject for this book. Many of the recipes, such as Coq au Vin (Chicken braised in a wine sauce) are old war-horses, it's good to have expert freezing tips on these standards.
`Pastry' and desserts in general are also a natural freezer subject, even if you never get to do ice cream. This chapter opens with those two great Swiss Army Knife frozen pastry products, Phyllo dough and Puff Pastry, with far better than average introductory techniques. Choux pastry is another natural, as finished pastries are delicate and do well with freezing.
No surprise that the book ends with true frozen desserts such as sorbets, meringues and icebox cookies. Just a bit surprised that there is no treatment of ice cream makers, but then, that's another book.
The very reasonable price makes this a winner, even if you own lots of other cookbooks. It is especially worthwhile if you own few cookbooks and like to cook ahead.