Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wine Cubes in a Steamy Kitchen

A frantically domestic kitchen mood overtook me this afternoon and I found myself baking rusks for the first time in ages. I used to keep a tin on the go at all times in those days when I was ‘only’ a full time mother and didn’t have the distraction of work and computers. It used to be one of those things that would keep me and two toddlers busy and flour-dusted for half the afternoon, a huge juggle to get them in the oven before the baby woke up and needed feeding.

Today, after I’d thrown together a batch of ginger oat biscuits too (domestic halo gleaming!) with visions of full tins of home-made rusks and biscuits on the counter ensuring domestic goddess status for at least a week, I progressed onto something I’ve been meaning to do for about ten years and never have…

We are beset by half bottles of leftover wine. I like wine but don’t drink more than a glass at a time and my husband hardly ever drinks it any more, so any occasion like our festivals will leave a line of unfinished bottles on our kitchen counter until they are too vinegary to drink, and the depressing waste of once-good wine going down the drain always annoys me.

In one of those annoyingly efficient household tips books, I once came across the idea of boiling up leftover wine, reducing it by half and freezing it in ice-cube trays, so that whenever you need a dash of wine for cooking you can just add one, without needing to open a bottle of wine especially. Brilliant idea, I thought, and promptly ignored it for the next decade. Until the line of bottles left from this last festival looked back reproachfully at me today and I finally took action.

I nearly overdid the reduction, returning to the pan just before it caramelized the wine completely by boiling it dry, and from just under a half bottle I'm now left with four big ice cubes of deep red wine flavour to freeze. Perfect for adding to gravy or the mince for shepherd’s pie or something.

So now I resolve never to waste good wine by pouring it away again. It’s all going to be stashed away in the freezer and my halo will gleam and smell gloriously bacchanalian in the steamed up kitchen. What are your best domestic goddess tips? Just in case this mood lasts and I need more inspiration!


  1. This is a brilliant post. I love those days when I feel like a domestic goddess!- although not as much as I do my Jodi Picoult books!
    I love my freezer and use it for left over bits and bobs all the time.
    I always make a huge stack of pancakes - a whole afternoon job and then freeze them for later.
    I also always have left over dough bits from pizza and bread, which I can whip up into a flat bread in minutes.
    Cup cakes also go well in the freezer (un-iced), I have even frozen a batch chelsea buns.

  2. Great tip Kit, and anything that ups the domestic goddess quotient in my book is cause for celebration and a sit down with a good coffee or a glass of wine...

  3. I like this tip!! Will defintely give it a try next time we have people around and are left with half-bottles. I always end up with half a baguette that goes completely stale and hard. Bash it up into smaller pieces, put these in your food processor and break it up into breadcrumbs. These freeze really well and are great for sprinkling on things for a quick crispy topping.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!