Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nothing new for Christmas

Its just an idea.  The idea that with the exception of the gifts already purchased, I will buy nothing new for Christmas.  Left are friends and a few family members that are wonderful enough to realize that handmade is essentially heart-made. 
At this stage of the game, 4 weeks left, that puts me a little behind.  Ok, a lot behind.  I'm good under pressure though.  I've perfected that skill due to being a life-time procrastinator.  Besides I really do love to cook, sew and knit which is exactly what all of this would entail.
(Spoiler Alert!)
Some ideas of what I can gift are:

Canned bread- I have a monkey's load of bananas to freeze today that will be perfect for bread.
Frozen dinners- Sloppy Joe's, soups & chilis, pancakes and French Toast
Mixes- Jambalaya, pancake

Snuggies- Don't laugh, they're warm and come in handy and I have a bunch of fleece and flannel in the sewing room
Placemats, pot holders and aprons
Eco-friendly grocery bags that aren't ugly or free advertising for a store because there's about 80 tons of fabric in the closet
Recycled sweater mittens, hats or scarves.  I've got a ton of sweaters that don't fit or some small flaw that can be cut around

The Trifecta- fingerless mittens, scarves and hats

Along with whatever hair brained, crazy, crafty idea that springs forth because that's just how this red-head rolls.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Freezyer Meat

I got quizzed on my previous post about how and what I used to do this so I will let y'all in my secrets:

Ground Beef
1.  I use a 80/20 blend because too lean a ground beef tastes like cardboard.  Fat may not be your friend but damned if it don't have flavor.
2.  I cook it in one or two batches in the biggest pot I've got.  I can do about 4 lbs at once.  It takes a lot of stirring to get everything browned evenly but just look at it as an upper body workout.
3.  I lightly drain the meat by pouring it into a colander.  I don't want to lose all the fat because it will lose flavor and dry out when reheated.
4.  I don't season the meat.  What?!  Freezing changes the flavor of some things.  Things like onion and peppers can become overpowering and bitter.  When it's time to be used I can just saute up what I need in the time it takes to defrost  the meat in the microwave.  This way I can make sure the flavors and seasonings for the dish I'm making are just right.
5.  I thoroughly let the meat cool before freezing.  This will keep the freezers temperature from plummeting when I put it in and also help when packaging.  Don't want to burn those fingers!
6.  Don't skimp on the packaging.  I am lucky enough to have a FoodSaver machine.  But if you don't, don't worry.  Cheap freezer bags are just that- cheap.  I've found that I had to double up on them which doesn't save any money in the long run.  Use a good name brand freezer bag like Ziploc Freezer Bags.
7.  Air is the enemy.  Don't overstuff your bags, 3/4 full at the most and about 3/4 lb of meat per bag.  After filling the bag, lay on its side and flatten the meat.  Open one corner of the bag and smooth out as much air as you can.  Then reseal and freeze flat.  This not only helps you fit more in the freezer but also makes defrosting quicker.
8.  Date and label.  No one like mystery meat.

1,  I use boneless, skinless breasts.  I also trim them of any fat.
2.  I put the breasts; however many I have or will fit, into a crock pot along with 1 to 2 cups of water and whole bunch of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute.  I cook this on high for 4-5 hours or until the breasts fall apart.
3.  I drain the them in a colander and let them cool completely.
4.  I use two forks to shred the meat.
5.  Package the same as the ground beef.
6.  Date and label.

Hope this answers some questions!  If you have more, just leave a comment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I cooked up 6 lbs of ground beef.  What will I do with all of this loose meat, you ask?  Well:
1. Spaghetti sauce
2. Lasagna
3. Sloppy Joes
4 Shepherds Pie

I also cooked up 7 lbs of chicken breast in the crock pot to shred.  This will be used for:
1. Chicken enchiladas
2. Chicken and dumplings
3. Chicken noodle soup
4. Tetrazini
5. Salads
6. Chicken chili

I know, not very interesting.  Sorry.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jump on the real food is over rated train straight to hell, it's called pre-school.

I do my damnedest to make sure Gryffin has healthy, delicious food to eat.  Not only at home but to take to school as well.  A nutritious wide range of good, whole food is what I teach Gryffin to consume.  This is being undermined by school.  The one place where all children should learn this!
This morning one of the mom's was sweet and brought breakfast for the entire class, unfortunately this breakfast consisted of (gasp) McDonald's pancakes.   Parents are to supply snacks and beverages once a month for the class.  Today that consisted of a popcicle, Koolaid and individual bags of Doritos.  Where is the food in this?
Well, there isn't any.  It's just sugar and shit.
Maybe I'm doing my child a disservice in making his diet chock full of veggies, fruit, whole grains and lean meat.  Maybe I should be feeding him pre-packaged, pre-processed, pre-digested, food-type stuffs where they have to use a 'Z' when spelling cheese because there really isn't any cheese in it.  Maybe then my child wouldn't come home from school bouncing and crashing, moodier than me with PMS.  Maybe then I wouldn't have to worry about his lunch going to waste because he gets to fill up on crap at school.  Maybe then I wouldn't have to spend time making a menu, shopping and cooking for it when I could just pull a box out, boil water and call it dinner.  Maybe then I could just sell my nutritional soul to Chef Boyardee and make life easier... until we all end up fat, sickly and on so many medications we rattle when we walk.  Not that we would walk because that would be too much to ask from our vitamin starved bodies.
If you couldn't tell, I'm really peeved.  I want to change this.  I want to start a garden at the school then at snack time the kids could all go pick their own carrot.  I want to bring in home made granola bars or zuchinni bread but the school doesn't allow any home made food.  WTF people?!
I have a hang up about eating food from people's kitchens that I don't know are clean, but at this stage in the game I would rather eat food from a dirty kitchen than a food like substance from a non-biodegradable crinkly wrapper.  Then again, I might get just as angry to learn that what came from the dirty kitchen also came from a commercially produced box mix or can.
What happened to real food in America's diet?  What happened to family not only eating together but preparing meals together?  
It's time for me to stop bitching and get to making dinner.  A real dinner, with real food and fresh ingredients that takes only about 5 minutes longer to make than the microwaved, pre-packaged crap.