Cooking: Want a fun evening and… learn something?

There were great deals going on at the market. Do you ever buy meat and then forget to cook or freeze it? Maybe you delay or you’re just not in the same mood to eat it as when you bought it? I swore that would not happen again. I have no excuse, you see. I have a stand alone freezer and I have a FoodSaver. I live alone and those two items have saved me a ton of money. Big grin.

I bought 2.44 lbs of hamburger; 3.39 lbs of beef stew meat. When I got home, I promptly put them in the refrigerator and pulled out 16 chicken drumsticks to defrost. In my defense, I’d been craving southern fried chicken with homemade gravy poured over rice and fresh slices of white bread. The chicken was frozen solid, not a chance of separating them and putting eight of ‘em back in the freezer. I knew the mash potatoes were reserved for the meatloaf, so I pulled that out, too. I should state that I don’t trust the microwave to defrost meat. It always seems to cook a bit while defrosting… Eee-yuck. So, I defrost au natural, in the refrigerator, which was getting mighty cramped.

Well, long story short, time got away from me. There were other things I wanted to do and the deadline appeared to be this evening. Cook or cut bait and throw ‘em all out. I got caught up in the last 1.5 hours of the Super Bowl… So, now it is 7:00 p.m. and three rather large meals need to be cooked. As I write this, it is 12:12 a.m. I prepared the meatloaf and divided the enormous quantity of meat – half went for meatloaf and half for meatballs. My first meatballs. I love meatball sandwiches with the crusty bread, the marinara sauce and melted provolone or mozzarella cheese. But I have never made it before. Checked cookbooks and it seemed easy enough. I could cook the meatballs and freeze ‘em until later. I could cook them at the same time in a separate dish in the oven as the meatloaf. Done.

Next up was the beef stew. Hmm, I had some leeway here on time. Different due date than the hamburger. Mind, I like far more meat in my beef stew than I do the vegetables, but even I looked askance at the quantity before me. Okay, separate the amount into two bags, freeze one and do the other tomorrow. The chicken was holding its own, so I’m cooking that tomorrow, too. Half a second. Pause in typing…. who am I kidding? Threw the second bag of beef stew meat into the freezer as well. Maybe Wednesday or Thursday before the vegetables go limp. I am soothing my conscience that I will have frozen fried chicken leftovers as well.

Originally, I thought to put music on, but then I remembered the Hillsdale Dialogues with Hugh Hewitt and Larry P. Arnn of Hillsdale College. They have a new series called “A Survey of Great Books, Great Men and Great Ideas.” Every Friday afternoon, Hugh Hewitt in the last hour of his radio show will have Larry Arnn on and they will discuss some aspect of history and it is fascinating. I looked up the Hillsdale Dialogues ~ stand back! There are 31 hours of them. The particular one I clicked on went from the Bible to Socrates and Plato, jumped in to Winston Churchill and that is why it’s after midnight….

34 thoughts on “Cooking: Want a fun evening and… learn something?

  1. Aarghh! – all that MEAT, Huntie! I shall have to start posting about it when my friend Joanna occasionally brings me large amounts of vegies from a farmer she knows; and I spend a lot of time trying to work out what the devil to do with ‘em all. They usually end up as soup, as I don’t have the energy to cook huge amounts of dishes.

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    • See, my theory is to quickly separate ‘em into bags, freeze for later. I take great comfort in my freezer. I usually have a wonderful neighbor or two that likes leftovers. I like abundance. This time, I got a wee bit carried away… :)

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  2. Ahhh Huntie….you don’t have to cook the meatballs, you can make them and freeze them as they are. Several years ago, I invested in a pressuer canner big enough to cook a toddler in and I have never regreted it. I will buy chicken breasts on sale and cook abot 10 pounds at once in that bad boy – while it cools, I do other stuff – blog, watch cool stuff on TV, nap, maybe even clean or do dishes. when cool, I plop the canner on the kitchen table and put on a movie I like and make a huge fun mess of deskinning and deboning and bagging up the chicken. Freeze and then pull out for chicken salad, chicken casserole, chicken potpie, chicken tacos, chicken enchiladas. I have to stand on a step stool cause I’m only 4’10” and need to be able to reach into the thing. I’ve used it to make massive quantities of soups, brunswick stews, beef stews. I don’t put any veggies in the stew cause they aint too swift when frozen and then defrosted. When I heat up the stew, I add the veggies then. of course, the planets have to be in the right alignment, no movies with Hiroyuki Sanada playing, no movies with lots of explosions playing, no cool engineering/science shows on, no beautiful day to lure me outside…..know what I’m sayin’? Ahhhh, the best laid plans of humans, meat on sale, and etc. etc. etc. Alls I can say is, I’m glad for my slow cooker as well. I got crazy when I saw a lovely package of beef stew meat on sale for $1.19 a pound because……it expires today……so while I am here at work, beef stew is crankin’ on the kitchen counter – saved from my foolish – again.

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    • Kanzen, you are right! I loved my slow cooker (crock pot), but did too much of it and everything began to taste the same, so I went back to traditional cooking styles. Maybe it is time to revisit it again.

      I love the vision of you on your step stool tackling the gigantic pressure canner (got one of those, too – grin).

      I love how you tackle the beef stew – cook up the beef and freeze w/o the vegetables – later add the vegetables – that was always the drawback for me on freezing beef stew or anything requiring veggies.

      Enjoy tonight’s meal! Being a southern woman, how do you do your fried chicken? :)

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      • Here ya go…permalink to a post of mine: http://kanzensakura.com/2013/07/15/simple-sunday-dinner-carnal-pudding-and-fried-chicken Okay…..I buy a smaller baker/broiler chicken rather than those huge monsters for sale and cut at home. if you like certain pieces better than the others, then buy the pieces you like. Breasts nowadays, tending to Hollywood, are larger than they used to be. Fried chicken was traditionally a spring meal when chickens were smaller…so, you like breasts, cut them half. In a bowl of salted ice water, soak the chicken for about 20 minutes – draws the blood out. Drain. Lay out the chicken – use your own seasoning or, use a seasoning salt w/o MSG such as Lawry’s. Sprinkle the pieces well with a bit extra of paprika, black pepper, and just a kiss of garlic powder. Let sit about 5 minutes. Dredge the chicken well in all purpose, unseasoned flour. let rest about 5 minutes. Meantime, in an iron skillet (my greatgrandmothers is what I use – 90 years old and counting) or dutch oven. Use a good vegetable oil such as Crisco – no canola or olive. Let the oil get hot – about 335 – 345 – put in about 1 inch oil. You want to kick it NC style? Add some bacon grease. when hot (see my post), put the chicken in as follows: breasts at 10 and 2 o’clock, legs at 4 and six, thighs in the center. Wings, tuck them in or fry separately.. Fry about 10 – 13 minutes until you see moisture cominng out of the chicken. Carefully turn. I use tongs to put in and turn, and take out of the pan. Roll the chicken over in place with the tongs. The cold surface will make the oil reduce – crank up for a couple of minutes to compensate and then turn back to 340 – 350. Finish cooking. If you need to test and are using legs, with tongs, hold the leg and very very carefully cut a small slit in the fat part of the leg and standing on stepstool, check to see if liquids are clear or bloody. If clear – bingo! if not, a few more minutes. the second side will be darker than the first side – that’s natural. Put on paper towels to drain. any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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        • You are so awesome! I’ve always used a skillet. Any chance I could do this with a deep fryer – I’ve been wanting to see how that might work. :) Pushing her luck, HuntMode

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          • You could. I know lots of people/places do. I prefer the standard way – like slow roasting, regular skillet frying gives a different flavor and texture to the chicken. Plus, vegetable oil tends to start breaking down into harmful components past 350…..Unless you use peanut oil or more expensive specially formulated for deep frying oil. Deep frying does seal the crust and seal in juices which is good. But the flavor given to the meet from the seasoning you shake on does not penetrate to the bone for that extra flavor and the breading often becomes a crunchy armor rathern than a nice crispy in places, tender in others variation. it’s up to you. I will deep fry items that don’t require long cooking such as tempura, chicken wings, fried okra, spring rolls……but not my chicken. And people at church always want to make sure I’m bringing chicken to our potlucks – KFC, local food chain chicken…all the deep fried stuff stays on the plate or is eaten by strangers. Folks walk past to go straight to my chicken before they get anything else laid out on the table – unless its my deviled eggs or banana pudding. Those have caused arguments over who got the last.

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            • One of the best investments I ever made, and I think they are truly cheap at places like Walmart, and variety stores (one the east coast it is dollar general which is like what dime stores used to like) A round thingy that is screen and large enough to place on any size pot/pan. lets steam out, keeps grease in. You can also use a collander (metal one). Try the deep fryer. It is just my personal prference and I won’t tell anybody any differently. Throw some onion strings in there after you pull out the chicken and the fat is still hot. You will have a true festival o’ fried foods.

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            • I had one of the wire mesh screen dohickeys, but every time I had to remove it to turn the chicken, I’d get popped. Right up there with getting scratched by Elby! LOVE the onion string idea, hmmm – YUM!

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            • Of course, I’d love the recipe, but start a new comment, would you – this one didn’t even show ’cause we’ve run it down so itty bitty! Grin. I even expanded comments out to 6… I think it’s only good going forward!

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  3. We’re all birds of a feather here. I love grocery sales and do manage to divide and conquer as soon as I get home. Sometimes, I have my crockpot going full tilt and the stove or oven. For only me, I know I buy too much, but like Huntie, I love abundance in my freezer and pantry.
    If you make meatballs and not cook them, put them in the freezer soldiered up on a cookie tin till they are frozen solid then bag and plop back into the freezer.
    Some love their cars, I love my freezer. :-D

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    • Hi Tess – both you and Kanzen recommend freezing meatballs before cooking, as did the cookbooks (!). My concern was it was the very last day, so I cooked ‘em to be on the safe side. The other thought was I love meatball sandwiches, but I would never take the time to cook ‘em when I wanted a sandwich… clearly, as this was the first time of making meatballs! :)

      Finally, I meet someone as in love with their freezer as I am. Living in an apt, I didn’t know I could have a deep freezer – it sits right behind my couch! Grin. My three favorite appliances are the programmable coffee pot, my freezer and my kerosene heater (bought for emergencies, but does a fantastic job of heating – I have to discipline myself not to use it!).

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      • Even when you cook your meatballs, flash freeze them on a cookie sheet, then bag them. Then you can take out as many as you want whenever. Say you just bag and free 4 or 5 in a bag and they’re frozen together. A time comes you only want to take out two. See what I mean?
        I have a long loving relationship with my deep freezer, except now it’s an upright with drawers and I don’t like it as much as much as my previous chest freezer. :-(

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  4. Even though there were more than enough comments, I had to comment on this one ;-)
    Me and cooking – not good friends, so, if I buy any kind of meat products, it goes into the freezer immediately. Sometimes they stay there so long they start getting freezer burn!!!
    You are a way better person than me P!

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  5. Hunt, Fried chicken, white gravy on white bread, I have died and arrived in heaven. Then meatball sandwiches, lord how do you stay a 98 lb, ball oef fire? I could graze thru your leftovers. Thanks for making my mouth water. Take care, Bill

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