Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Convincing Ray otherwise....

[week of 11/16/08]

He thinks meatballs are bunk. He'll come up with rich cafeteria style descriptions of how awful they can be. [not sure if cafeteria style descriptions is quite what I mean - but, what Ray is thinking about, when he thinks about meatballs, are the kind they sling at you when you are travelling through a line with a plastic tray in hand]

He could be right, but, I'm not ready to surrender the point. Wanted to do some searching and experimenting still.

So, I read around, in Joy of Cooking and on epicurious, and tried to find some meatball recipes, for my first try at this way of preparing beef.

Ended up settling on this recipe.

It calls for sausage, not beef. But, I saw that many people used 50/50 sausage/beef, and a few did just beef. So, I tried it with just beef. In the future, I would like to try it again with the 50/50 combination.

They were pretty good, I thought. And, I will say this: very easy to make. No cooking of any ingredients, hardly any chopping or dicing. Pretty much just mixing it all together.

The hard thing was that I also needed to make a tomato sauce to serve them with. Having read all the reviews that accompanied the meatball recipe, which also had a tomato sauce recipe, I opted for a different sauce - the sauce that went with these meatballs was universally disliked by the reviewers.

So, I picked Spicy Tomato Sauce. Again, not hard to make at all, BUT, it does take time. Need to leave several hours for this to cook, after getting it going.

Ray commented very highly on the sauce, and, he was way more receptive to the meatballs than his initial commentary would have suggested. And, by receptive, I mean that he not only ate them with a certain amount of enthusiasm (I think this might be a place where some would say: he ate them with gusto), but he also even said that they were pretty good.

Here's my summary: they were good, but, not good enough to make exactly the same a second time, in the near future. But, good enough to want to try with the sausage/beef mix at some point. In the meantime, before that even, there are some other meatball experiments I want to try, including another potentially universally reviled but cafeteria style classic: beef stroganoff. I'm giggling just thinking about it, but, really, I'm serious. Just wait and see.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Candlelight Supper

[week of 11/09/08]


1 Rib Steak
French Fries - from local potatoes
Splendid Table Cookbook's Carrot and Cabbage Slaw - local cabbage, local carrots, local garlic
Applesauce - local apples

note: this was a meal full of local ingredients, which made it seem extra special.

[I'll admit it - the kids ate tofu hot dogs; though Alden had a few bites of steak. Verdict: he prefers bacon.]

My big question, going in to this one, was, what's the difference between rib steak and rib eye steak? I think that it might be about bone/no bone. This steak came with a bone...

All signs pointed to grilling, so that's what we did.

Meat was tasty, albeit on the tough side.

Specs: a 1 lb 6 oz. steak, measuring about 1.5 inches thick.

Joy's recommendations for longer cooking times made Ray feel better, as his comment starting off was, "I'm always wondering why it takes so much longer to cook than I think it should..." or, something like that.

Sorry - no good pictures. We had candles, to celebrate the lovely meal, and Alden insisted on turning the lights off, so, conditions were bad for photography. Plus, Alden had drained the batteries on the camera by taking endless movies of his hotwheels cars performing tricks on the hotwheels tracks.

The meal went south and the children were sent to bed when Alden lobbied one too many times to build a track across the dining room table.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beef Chili

[week of 11/02/08]

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what else you can do with ground beef, besides just burgers. Not sure why it seems so hard to generate ideas about this, sometimes. But, the other day, I had an aha moment, and realized: chili. Beef goes in chili.

So, I started searching around, and settled on Half-time Chili. With its nearly 300 reviews (many with lots of positive things to say), I sort of figured it might be a good first attempt at chili.

Really easy to make, minimal effort, though you do need to start a few hours in advance of the meal, as it takes some time to simmer/cook.

The recipe calls for 3 lbs of meat and 1 can of chili beans (I did not even know such a thing existed, and was all worried about finding them at Hannaford, and if unable to find them, what would I substitute with??. But, not to worry, Hannaford has them, and upon reading the label, you discover it is just a pre-mixed combo of pinto, black and kidney beans. What a scam, really, since I am guessing you pay a bit more for their efforts).

I changed that to be 2 lbs of beef and 2 cans of beans.

Secret ingredient: bottle o' beer. Ray claims it was a waste of a good beer, though he seemed to enjoy the chili...

We had Emma and Steve over for supper; they brought Trader Joe's cornbread, which turned out to be yummy (I initially disclosed my personal dislike of cornbread), I had also made applesauce, and we tucked into a quart of frozen custard for dessert.

Note: I had been assuming that each package of burger meat weighed a pound, and was not even bothering to weigh them. E and S said they found big variabilty across packs. So, all I really know at this point is that I used two packages of meat for this recipe.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Burgers :: take one

[week of 10/26/08]

[okay, really it is not take one, given that, since we moved to Maine, I've been occasionally buying burger meat and experimenting with burgers. But it is take one with this project...,]

Pulled a package out of the deep freeze on a Monday, to thaw for Tuesday.

Did these in the most simple way: on the grill, with just a bit of salt and pepper mixed in to the meat.

Made burgers twice during the week, Tuesday and Thursday. So, this one package actually yielded two meals.

Each time, Ray and I each had one burger, with cheese.

Both times, I think we had some sort of veggie sides, fries in one case, carrot salad the other time.

Questions now are: how much did that package weigh, and therefore how much was each burger? are we talking about a standard quarter-pounder or not?

also, larger question: how long to cook, to get it "just right" for each of us, meaning rarer for Ray, and a little more medium for C. This is what we'll be working on figuring out, as we return to burgers again and again.

Finally, what to put in the meat, if anything, to "spice it up." If you read around, there are so many fancy, funky ways to do burgers. Some definitely worth exploring, some, not so much...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ski Season: Right Around the Corner

[week of 10/19/08] (the very first week...)

Date: Oct 25th.

Location: Emma and Steve's barn.

Activity: ski movies. Who knew they could be so fun? I was totally excited to see snow and all the crazy skiing. My kids were, too. [in fact, the next morning, Milo woke up asking if it was time to go skiing.]

Food: among other things (really, the array of food was amazing: salad, chips and salsa, beer (I know, not a food...), pretzels, applesauce, french fries, courtesy of fry-cook extraordinaire RFVought, and so on and so forth), BEEF STEW. Made with the happy beef. By Steve. Very yummy.

Hoping he'll post more about it at some point.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First post: in which we get the beef

It's a cold day in mid-October.

As per our arrangements, I meet Ellen in the parking lot of the BLC. you know, it's sort of like a drug deal (not that I've ever done such a thing. Really).

I drive up in my car. She's already there, in her Subaru Forester, which she points out is a mobile refrigerator, because of all the frozen meat she is hauling around.

We transfer something a little under 100 pounds of beef into four, yes, FOUR, coolers I had brought for the deal.

I think to myself, what the hell are we going to do with all this beef???

Thus begins the adventure.