Beautifully photographed with 200-plus pages of recipes, “From Freezer to Table” is a guidebook for freezer cooking with practical tips for planning Freezer Cooking Parties or starting Freezer Clubs.
Lake native Polly Drover Conner, now a resident of Columbia, is partner in a lifestyle blog centered around stress-free cooking for a family.
She and her friend and business partner Rachel Niemeyer work together to create Thriving Home and recently published their first cookbook. Beautifully photographed with 200-plus pages of recipes, “From Freezer to Table” is a guidebook for freezer cooking with practical tips for planning Freezer Cooking Parties or starting Freezer Clubs.
The Lake Sun caught up with Polly just before Thanksgiving to ask her a few questions about her work and holiday cooking. She even shared a recipe with us.
Q. First, tell me a little about your background. You grew up in the Lake area?
A. Yes, I grew up in Camdenton. My parents, Janny and Gary Drover, still live in the area. Now that I have three kids, we make frequent visits since the lake area is a grandchild paradise for them. In high school, I played volleyball and was involved in the theater program. After graduating high school, I went to the University of Missouri. I graduated with a degree in Communications and then went on to get my masters in Educational Counseling Psychology. I worked in youth ministry at my church, The Crossing, for 4 years after that. When I had my first child, I worked part time for the church and started my website, Thriving Home. I have three children: Adelyn (6), Tyler (4), and Clayton (1.5)
You are a partner in a lifestyle blog. Describe Thriving Home and how it came about.
In 2011, I co-founded Thriving Home (thrivinghomeblog.com) with my friend Rachel Tiemeyer. We both had our own personal blogs at the time and thought we could further our reach if we joined forces. Our hope was to create content that would equip and encourage moms to thrive in their homes. We also wanted to create a job for ourselves in which we could be available to our families but provide a supplemental income.
Blogging as a job is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a TON of work but it is pretty much the best job ever. It is incredibly flexible, allows an outlet for my creativity, and challenges me to keep learning.
Our blog currently gets around 500,000 page views a month and we work with local and national brands. Around two years ago, publishers began to notice us because of our niche in freezer cooking recipes.
We published our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table, in September 2017.
Where did you learn to cook? Do you have a cook or chef who got you interested, influenced you?
Learning to cook has primarily been a self-taught a process for me. It started pretty much out of necessity when I began to have kids. Since I was only working part time and my husband in seminary, our budget was tight. We had to eat at home for most meals. At the same time, I was learning more and more about the value of eating real, whole foods made from scratch and experiencing the health benefits of cutting out processed foods. There was a lot of trial and error. Don’t ask my husband about the “hockey puck biscuits” that I one made. I’m still learning tons and love trying new recipes.
You and your partner Rachel just published a new cookbook, “From Freezer to Table.” Where do you get inspiration for recipes and how do you develop them?
Rachel and I jokingly refer to ourselves as “Freezer Cooking Evangelists.” This is because we have both experienced the time-saving, money-saving, sanity-saving benefits of freezer cooking in our own homes and genuinely want to share about it with anyone we know. Cooking this way has become a lifestyle and has been an absolute game-changer in our home.
We pretty much wrote this cookbook and the recipes for ourselves. We wanted real-food recipes that can be eaten fresh or from frozen. They also have to be delicious or our picky kiddos won’t eat them. The recipes are approachable and doable for the average cook. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me, “THIS is a freezer meal?!” Our recipes are full of flavor and texture.
Freezer cooking isn’t just for young families though. I’ve had so many people tell me that as empty nesters, they have loved the benefit of meals that can be frozen. Many use the recipes to make for the elderly or college students in their lives too. There are so many ways that freezer meals can be used. We made the book both beautiful and useful so that it would be a great gift.
Where can people pick up a copy of your cookbook?
To learn more about our cookbook, you can visit fromfreezertotable.com. You can also get it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble as well as at Country Crossroads in Osage Beach. It’d be a great gift this holiday season!!
Do you have any recommendations for all those Thanksgiving or other holiday leftovers?
Freeze them! Shocker, I know. I love to freeze leftovers and use them again in different recipes though. Or to simply have for a lunch a few weeks down the road. One idea for all that leftover turkey is to use them in our Turkey Pesto Paninis! (Cookbook recipe)
Do you have any tips for home-cooking your way through the busy holiday season?
I am an advocate for meal planning. Once a week, I sit down and look at our calendar for the week. From there I build a loose menu plan and grocery list. I keep my menu plan on our fridge so that I know what I am making that night or what freezer meal I need to put in the fridge to thaw. There is a lot to juggle in the holiday season so the less brainwork I have to put towards meal time, the better.
I also love to make things ahead in bulk. For example, when I make a muffin recipe, I always double it and freeze them. I almost always have frozen meatballs in our freezer too. If I need a last minute dinner, these thaw out fast and bake in only 20 minutes. I throw them on pasta or in a sandwich with some marinara and cheese.