Saturday, December 3, 2011

100 Lbs of Ground

Beef. My meat order just arrived from Sitkanak and I now have a total of 100 lbs of ground beef in addition to about 120 lbs of other cuts- all beautiful, flavorful, healthy organic and totally grass-fed. Beef + pig + lamb+ salmon = a freezer bursting at the seams.

When I purchased my beef, I opened the order to some other people at my kids' school. All together we picked up 917 lbs of meat at the airport last week. Several people have said "But what do you do with it all??"

At the moment, shoving it all into the freezer seems like a major accomplishment but I do have a master plan. My plan is designed to maximize freeze space and to address the three major issues of my culinary life:  Cooking supper gets old. Packing lunches has gotten even older. I am completely out of steam by 5:30 and more than a touch lazy to begin with. The key is bulk cooking. If you're going to spend several hours in the kitchen, drag all the stuff out and make a huge mess, why not get a lot done? This will be a two to three day project for me which I plan to tackle after Christmas but before my helpers head back to school. Here is what I will be making:

Meatballs - swedish and italian - 22 lbs
meat loaf - 6 lbs
taquitos - 4 lbs
tamales - 4 lbs
taco filling - 4 lbs
homemade hamburger helper - 10 lbs
Hambuger soup - 2 lbs
salisbury steak - 4 lbs
burgers - 14 lbs
chili - 10 lbs
pasties- 4 lbs
Shepherd's  Pie Base - 6 lbs

22 lbs of meatballs??? Yes. My kids absolutely love those little Aidells spicy meatballs in their lunches. Nutritionally, they are better than a lot of things normally packed into school lunch boxes but they aren't perfect and they are expensive. I can make them for a fraction of the cost and also have a stock on hand for kid pleasing suppers, potlucks, and church coffee hours. Since I also order my cheese in bulk blocks from Azure, I can even cube it up and freeze little pouches of meatballs and cheese cubes for those lunches. Meatballs also pair with rice spaghetti and tomato sauce or the Swedish ones go with a heap of dilled buttered potatoes or they can become a hot sub or into a crockpot with BBQ sauce and jam and garlic for a favorite finger food without all the chemicals.

Meatloaf is not a huge favorite here and 6 lbs will get me 3 loaves. Enough to be tolerated, not enough to inspire revolt.

Taquitos. My kids love the boxed ones with all the nasty stuff. I discovered that they also love them homemade and that I can make organic ones at home for less than a box at Costco. Browned spiced ground beef with a little sprinkle of cheese for a binder, rolled inside a con tortilla and fried. Once they have drained and cooled, they freeze beautifully. Two make just the right sized lunch entree. I have most of a case of organic (only way to be sure you are getting GMO-free!) corn tortillas in the freezer but I'm going to take a shot at making some as well. We'll need them for the tacos anyway.

Tamales- also good freezers, well liked and I have some masa that needs to be used.

Taco filling- beef, spices, onions, peppers. Pair with some shredded cheese, salsa, maybe a little sour cream and this goes well either in tacos or over re-fried beans.

Hamburger Helper - The 'real thing' is disgusting to me. It tastes like someone sprayed my food with herbicide. Of course, my little guys think it is AWESOME. That happy little hand on the box, powdered cheese, all that salt and sugar and MSG...Mine is essentially browned burger meat which is spiced and sauced. I freeze it all together and mix with rice noodles at meal time.

Hambuger Soup is a lot like stew only easier. I don't do turnips but I do add parsnips. And a nice splash of red wine. I put it all together except for the beef broth and freeze that way. I freeze my broth in 2 cup cubes for efficient use of space and it all thaws and cooks faster this way than freezing in a big block.

Salisbury Steak- steaks frozen in one bag, gravy in another. Speed and portion flexibility.

Burgers- spice them, patty them, divide them with wax paper for faster thaw time.

Chili- no beans because of Miss V's dietary needs. Eat it plain, over rice, with a batch of gluten free corn bread, over corn chips with some shredded cheese....

Pasties- a little meat turnover, sort of like stew in a pie casing. beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, herbs and a gravy from the juices baked into a pastry. I use the tiffins as the cutter so I'm sure that they will always fit in the lunches!

Shepherd's Pie Base- beef, onions, tomatoes, spices, & corn. I have a bag of organic mashed potato flakes (which are one of those convenient compromise choices) from Azure. If the base is done, I can have a shepherd's pie bubbling away in the oven in under 5 minutes


Christine said...

I have dreams of marathon cooking so that I have stuff on hand like this. You have inspired me...but I'll be waiting until AFTER my "helpers" are in school. :)

Steph said...

Christine- not only should you wait until the school-going helpers are in school, you should probably rent a big helper for the day to assist with your kids at home. And remember- I'm talking about 3 days to do it all if you are doing this much. And I have two grown and near-grown daughters to help me in the kitchen & my little guys are much nearer self sufficient than yours. Have you ever thought about partnering with another family or two and meeting (child free) to do this in the church kitchen on a Saturday? I have some serious parish kitchen envy!