Beef, It’s What For Dinner

Thursday night – weekend agenda time. The graphic above gives you a little clue what’s in store. But first things first, we are sleeping in both days. Never mind that sleeping in constitutes laying in bed half awake until 8:30 at the latest now. It’s still better than 6:50. And the alarm clock will never go off, which is like getting a small reprieve in and of itself.

The family has shuffled some vehicles around so that we can have one of the spare cars for the next three weeks while we are officially on baby watch. I guess this means my son has a near-zero chance of being born in the back of a taxi or on the el. Which for the record, sounds completely unappealing and horrifying to me, but would make a cool story later on. Having the car also makes it easier for me to get to my now weekly prenatal appointments while still in this blasted cast. And easier to run pre-baby errands, which is why I’m blathering on about the car in the first place. We’re going to attempt a little excursion out to suburbia on Saturday morning to collect the last baby odds and ends and food storage things for the great freezer fill-up. And if I get tired and sore hobbling about in my walking cast, maybe I can ride one of those carts with the shopping baskets. I’ve always wanted to try one, and now I have a legitimate double-whammy reason to – nine months pregnant and in a cast!

But I digress. While sleeping in and running errands is completely fun, the real agenda this weekend revolves around ground beef. Yes, you read that correctly. While the canner may be tucked back into the closet for the season, the stockpiling of food has not quite ended. I don’t want to get stuck eating take out four nights a week after we bring the baby home because we’re too tired to grocery shop and cook. And we couldn’t even afford it anyway. Comfort food is what I’m after, and I’d like a freezer full.

So to maximize my limited mobility, energy and time, this week’s star ingredient is ground beef. And ground pork, but I couldn’t think of catchy title that incorporated both. I’m doing four recipes for the freezer that use one pound each of ground pork and ground beef – bolognese sauce, meatloaf, sweet and sour meatballs and Norwegian meatballs.

The bolognese needs additional prepped veg and whatnot that gets cooked with the meat into the sauce, but I’ll put that one on first so it can perk away in the background. The other three dishes are just a combo of ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs and various seasonings. The meatloaf will probably get a little Milwaukee Iron for spice. The sweet and sour meatballs will actually get frozen plain, because the sweet and sour sauce takes all of two seconds to whip up and is better fresh anyway. So I can actually make one giant batch of meatballs, then divide them in two – one half plain and the other half with the spices that make them into Norwegian meatball goodness.

All of the dishes can provide 2-3 meals in of themselves since they’re generously proportioned. So that’s 8-10 dinners in the freezer for an hour or so of work! And they can all be reheated simply in the oven or on the stove top and served with quick and easy pasta or rice or potatoes. I love great things that come together easily. And it will be so good to sit down to home cooked family favorites, even if – well, especially since – we’ll be totally exhausted with out of whack schedules while we’re adjusting to our new family routine.

In other food related projects, I’ve also got to make pesto from our basil this weekend. I’ve got the pine nuts in the fridge, and I’m whipping out the never-used blender to make up a cheese-less version for the freezer. I wish I could do it up properly in a mortar and pestle, but the only one I have is about the size of a tablespoon. Need to put a larger version on my wishlist for sure. But I guess the blender will finally get a chance to earn it’s keep. And if I don’t do the basil this weekend, we’re going to lose it for the season – it’s been wanting to flower so badly, and we’ve had to go nuts to keep up with pinching back the blooms. If it flowers, it’ll get so bitter we won’t be able to eat it. It’s a touch bitter now, but not so much that it’s a write off. But it’s pesto now or never this weekend, since it got delayed last weekend after the hot pepper situation.

So that’s my Saturday plan. Suburban shopping in the morning and ground beef in the afternoon. And since I’m hoping those only take a few hours a piece, copious amounts of time sitting on the back deck with a good book and napping. And Sunday – nothing. I promised husband a zero-honey-do weekend and I intend to deliver (the suburban shopping excursion was his idea!).

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