This was supposed to be a post about camp fires. We've been having a lot of them lately, and I thought you'd enjoy hearing about them. That was my plan, and we had planned to go to the river last night and have another fire, and I charged my camera up and everything, just for you! But then it rained. And then I felt a little bit "rainy day-ish." So much so that when my husband came home for lunch, he suggested that it was the perfect day to forget about housework, turn on the "fireplace" and curl up on the sofa with a warm highland blanket, a cup of coffee, and the new Everyday With Rachel Ray. I decided he was right, and as soon as he left I gathered my stuff, switched on the electric fireplace, and snuggled in. When he called to check in a little while later, he mentioned that this would be a great night to cook the homemade lasagna I had stashed in the deep freezer. I also agreed with this; nothing is easier than having something cooked and ready to pop in the oven, especially on days when you are feeling less than inspired.
I spent the first little while reading blogs. It was nice. The rain was falling gently, the dogs were snoring softly in front of the "fire," and I was warm and happy. Time for a second cup of coffee and my magazine! As I crossed the room to the kitchen, I checked the clock and noticed that it was 4:00, the perfect time to pop a frozen lasagna in the oven to eat around 6:00. I jogged down the stairs to the freezer and breezily reached down to pick up the lasagna. I stopped. I felt my eyes widen, blink, squint, and then go really wide. No.
The entire contents of my deep freezer had thawed.
I gasped. I felt faint, then sick, then faint again. I grabbed the phone and called my husband and squeaked out something about "Freezer....meat....thawed....ackkkkk...wah...no!"
There are many times when I am particularly grateful that my husband is a law enforcement officer. Often those times are because he is trained to STAY CALM whereas I AM NOT!!!! Through my wheezes and squeaks, I heard him tell me to "STAY CALM, I'll be home soon, everything will be fine. Just go check the meat."
Check the meat, check the meat! As some of you will recall, this winter we purchased a quarter of a cow. And although we have eaten a lot of it, there was still quite a lot left in the freezer. Including most of my better cuts, which I had been saving for the grill. I took a deep breath, and went back to the freezer.
|You know it's good when your butcher draws a smiley on it!|
I started unloading, and relief flooded through me. Ice! There was ice between everything!! The phone rang again; it was my husband checking in. Upon the news that the remainder of our cow was OK, he was happy too. We had a quick conference, and decided that the best thing to do was start cooking. He would be home shortly to run and buy ingredients and storage materials.
Crisis (somewhat) averted, I loaded a basket with meat and hauled it up the stairs. I went back and grabbed the lasagna. I walked it upstairs. And then I stood there for a few minutes, trying to figure out how, exactly, to start cooking an eighth of a cow. I stared at the brown paper wrapped packages. I sighed. I grabbed my Betty Crocker Cookbook, with all it's wonderful cooking charts, put it on the table, and stared at it. Then I turned around, turned on the oven, and put the lasagna in. Right about then, my husband came in the door. I may have been flapping my arms. At the sight of me floundering around my sea of meat, he took over and we headed back to the basement to clean.
Not for the first time I was happy we decided to buy an upright freezer because I don't know how one would clean up after this kind of mess in a chest freezer. Working together, we got it cleaned up very quickly, and then we headed back upstairs to make our plan of attack.
I had had the presence of mind to sort the meat. We had:
- 10 packages of ground beef
- 2 packages of stew beef
- 6 soup bones
- 2 T-Bone steaks
- 2 Sirloin Steaks
- 2 Tenderloins
- 1 Large package of short ribs
- 4 Cross Rib Steak
- 1 Sirloin Tip Roast
- 1 Round Roast
- 2 Standing Rib Roasts (aka Prime Rib)
- 1 HUGE Standing Rib Steak
|Ladies, start your Crock Pots!|
It was like our own version of "Kitchen Stadium." "Battle: Thawed Beef," I thought to myself as I simmered, stewed, roasted and braised. I mixed, stirred, chopped, and patted. I chopped many, many onions. The house started to smell like The Keg. The dogs were thrilled, especially when we sent them out into the yard with my soup bones. The neighbors dogs got a few, too, and soon the night air was full of the sound of dogs ecstatically snacking. At one point I heard my husband laughing hysterically and, when I went to see what was going on, he pointed out our diminutive Yorkie trotting across the back yard, holding aloft a beef joint that had to weight as much as he did. And throughout the evening, any time I sat down, one of the bigger dogs would come over and lick my arm. Apparently, I tasted delicious.
|Fat & Happy Dogs|
Yup, it was a wacky night. I was reminded of Wednesday's post, where I noted how virtuous I was feeling about making a plan to eat well, and how great I've been feeling since eating a lot of vegetarian dishes. Well, this should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who gets a little too big feeling on their blog. The silver lining, aside from the fact that we caught it in time, was the fact that I do love to cook and this was as big a cooking challenge as I've faced in awhile. At the end of the evening, I had prepared the following:
- Five meat loaves
- A pot of stewed beef chunks
- 2 batches of Italian seasoned ground beef (for pasta dishes)
- A large batch of pasty filling
- A batch of Molasses Mustard saucy ribs
- A roast beef
- A pot roast
- 2 grilled T-Bones
- 2 grilled sirloin steaks
- 2 roasted beef tenderloins
- 4 braised cross rib steaks
- Beef and onion broth (from the braising) that will become French Onion Soup
|Meat loaves, ready for the (now running) freezer.|
By midnight it was all done. I had used my Foreman Grill, my Crockpot, 3 roasting pans, 5 loaf pans, and all 3 of my dutch ovens, twice. All that was left to cook were the three Prime Ribs. We had recruited our neighbors to come for supper the following night to help us eat them; I had shed a tear as I cooked my T-Bones on the indoor grill, there was no way I was cooking and freezing Prime Rib. I actually think there are laws against that, at least there are in my world. Then again, my world has talking salt & pepper shakers in it, so the laws are shaky.
My sweetie was a wonderful sous chef. He ran up and down the stairs more times than I can count, took garbage out to the barn, corralled the dogs when they got too enthusiastic about Meat-Fest, and even ran to the store to keep me in sugary snacks and fizzy drinks until the job was done. He cleaned the freezer, did laundry, and tidied the rec room. He cheered me on when I got tired and waxed enthusiastic at everything I pulled out of the oven and ladled into freezer bags and plastic tubs.
After a hot shower to wash away the beef smell that had seared and steamed itself into my pores, I finally collapsed into bed with my magazine. However, Everyday only made it as far as my bedside table. Eight hours of non-stop cooking caught up with me, and I needed to sleep. But tonight, tonight is looking good...
Oh, what's that? What happened to the freezer? The switch on our power bar mysteriously flicked off. We're blaming the cats. That's our story and we're sticking to it. They're pretty strong and good with their paws. They could do it! Especially if the dogs helped! It certainly wasn't one of us! After all, they made off like bandits from all this; they ate better than most people did last night! All joking aside, we've decided that it doesn't really matter how the switch got flicked; we caught it in time, it won't happen again, and all's well that ends well. As my honey pointed out to someone who wanted to know who's fault it was, no one wins when you play the blame game.
Now, how many of you are going to go check your freezers RIGHT NOW? I know I'd have to! Have a great weekend!
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