Chest Freezer Organization

We just bought a new chest freezer at Costco in preparation for the side of beef that will arrive later this fall.  (Yes, this is our awesome basement with a red floor. It’s an old house and the basement is where it shows the most.)

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I am really excited to pack it full but wanted to be sure all the food was accessible, not just the top layer.  Since it’s fairly deep, that’s a real problem.

We opted to buy some smaller bins that stack even when empty to fill the main part of the freezer.  That way if I want something all the way at the bottom, I just have to take out the few baskets on top instead of removing every small package of meat.  The medium ones worked out just right to fit two across and four deep.

The freezer came with a basket that I’m using above the compressor area, so there’s only a small space between the bottom of the basket and that shelf.  Since it was basically impossible to find a basket for such a narrow space, I’ve decided to keep my large packages of meat there, like the bags of shrimp or fish that I buy at Costco.

Just a side tip: we also opted to tape the special freezer defrosting tool directly to the freezer so we’ll always know where it is. Good thinking, Gavin!

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Coming Soon: A Side of Beef!

We’re finally biting the bullet and buying a side of beef! This is something I’ve dreamed of doing basically since college and now that we’re in our own house, this was the right time.  I’m going to sell a little of it (about 20 pounds) to my parents, but the rest is all ours.

Why did we decide to do this?

  • I want to try new cuts of beef (and consequently new recipes and maybe even techniques).  This includes growing in appreciation for the traditionally less-desirable cuts.
  • I want to shift more of our food budget to buying grassfed (and local) meat and this is a much more affordable way to do so than buying individual cuts. I think it’s important to do this to support local farmers and also for our health.
  • We’re the kind of people who love paying for things in a lump sum. I know that’s pretty unique, but I think it’s easier to budget this way.  I lowered my grocery budget for the next year and I’ll shop the freezer instead of the store.

There are a few things you have to decide before making this purchase.  Mainly, where are you going to buy from? It will help you choose a farm if you can prioritize your wants.  Here are some of the things we considered when choosing a farm:

  • Is it important to you if the beef is grass-finished?
  • How local do you want to purchase your meat?
  • Are you able to pick it up or have it delivered?
  • How will the meat be packaged?
  • How much does it cost? What is the pricing structure?

I looked at a few places (it should come as no surprise to anyone that I put them all in a spreadsheet to compare) but ultimately wound up picking a farm that made the process extremely easy.  Their beef is 100% grassfed and they’re located about 2 hours from St. Louis.  I had a choice of having my meat vacuum-wrapped or shrink-wrapped (I chose to pay extra for vacuum-wrapping so it will last longer) and will have it delivered to a drop-off location in St. Louis.  Their pricing was a flat rate instead of paying a deposit, butcher fee, the hanging weight, etc. I appreciated how simple the process was, including payment via Paypal.

They also had a worksheet on their website for me to fill out specifying the cuts I wanted.  I was able to go through it and choose what we wanted. I erred on the side of more roasts, since I figured those could be cut into stew meat or ground at home if I decided I wanted to something else with them, but not vice versa. I even got to pick the thickness of each kind of steak!

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We’ll be picking up the meat at the end of October.  Until then, we’re trying to eat the last few pounds of beef I had frozen and have purchased a chest freezer. I can’t wait for pick-up day!

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Zucchini Spaghetti

This past weekend, Katey made Zucchini Spaghetti. Zucchini Spaghetti is a tasty dish that is fairly easy and quick to make, and is a great low-carb option.  It’s also a great way to get rid of some of those zucchini! Lets get started.

Gather the ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 medium-large zucchini
  • Salt
  • Whipping cream
  • Pepper

First, cut up the zucchini. Cut off the ends, and then cut it in half so it’s easy to put in the mandoline.

Set your mandoline to julienne …

… and go at it making strips of zucchini until you’ve processed all of the vegetables.

After you have the zucchini sliced, put the strips in a strainer and add some salt. Then let it sit in your sink for about 15 minutes. This step is important to get all of the water out of the zucchini. Nobody likes watery spaghetti.

After the salt has extracted most of the water out of the zucchini, use your hand to squeeze it some more to make sure you got as much as possible.

While the zucchini is sitting, you can get your ground beef and cheese ready. We used half of a 1 lb pack from Katey’s bulk beef purchase.

First brown the meat. Then add the zucchini and get it all going.

Finally, add the grated cheese and enough cream to make a sauce. Get this warmed up and melted, stirring frequently.  Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper!

The final product will look great and taste just as good! Enjoy.

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Mini Cheesy Meatloaf

Apparently nobody in my life likes meatloaf, but mini meatloaves with a non-traditional recipe are a crowd-pleaser for a tough crowd.

I made these for Gavin coming to visit.  He hates meatloaf.  But he liked these.

The line-up:

We’ve got panko breadcrumbs, ground beef, green onions, eggs, pepper, salt, dijon mustard, honey, and cheddar cheese.

First, cut your green onions up and put them in a bowl.  I cut them in half lengthwise and then into little bits crosswise so the pieces would be smaller.  This is two big ones.

Then add a pound of ground beef.  This is some of the grass-fed beef I bought from a local farm.

Then add a handful of panko breadcrumbs.  I’m sure regular ones would be okay, but this is what I had in my pantry.

Then add a handfull of shredded cheddar cheese.  This is sharp, the only kind of cheddar I buy.

Then you add salt to taste–I used a big pinch.

And add some pepper.  It’s impossible to get a picture of yourself grinding pepper, fun fact.

Then crack an egg on top.

Mix it up with your hand(s) until it looks like this:

and your hand looks like this.

Your hands are amazingly efficient and they wash easily. Wonderful things, hands.

Anyway, then you shape your meatloaf mixture into four little meatloaves, like this.

Cute, right?

After you have those all set up on a foil-lined baking sheet, you can make the glaze.  It’s just a mix of honey

and dijon mustard

stirred together.

Brush this onto your meatloaves.

You can now see why we are using foil.  Top the meatloaves with a little more cheese.

Then bake them at 450˚ for about 15 minutes.  They should be cooked almost all the way and the top should be nice, bubbly, and golden like this.

I served mine with roasted brussels sprouts. Super-tasty.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 scallions, chopped small
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 handfull panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 handful cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 spoonful honey
  • 1 spoonful dijon mustard

Directions

Mix together scallions, beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, and egg.  Season with salt and pepper.  Shape into four small meatloaves.  Combine honey and mustard.  Brush meatloaves with honey mustard.  Top with cheese.  Bake in 450˚ oven for 15-18 minutes.

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