Friday, November 22, 2019

What Do You Want For Dinner?

I believe that almost every night for the past 51plus years, I have asked someone in my family "What do you want for dinner?".  Most of the time the answer I got was "I don't know".  Yet somehow we managed to find something to eat and never once starved.  Sometimes I imagine someone wished they would have spoken up and told me what they wanted because what I made wasn't all that great.  I would get on health kicks even when my kids were little when it wasn't in fashion to eat bulgar or lentils.  I would get so creative that my husband would give me the thumbs up or thumbs down.  As you can imagine a "meat" loaf made out of zero meat and bread made with sprouted wheat berries didn't get a thumbs up.  Even when we would go out for dinner, we usually didn't know what to order and often regretted our choice.

Tonight was no different.  We got home about 4:00.  I said, "what do you want for dinner?".  No response so I went into the kitchen.  I was cold and tired so I decided to make some hamburger soup.  I always have some fried out hamburger in the freezer for times like this.  Shoot, I couldn't find any.  Last December we bought a half of a grass fed beef cow.  Before that time, I would buy big family packs of hamburger and brown the whole package.  Then I would freeze containers of about a pound each.  Here is my best technique for browning ground beef.

Now our hamburger is frozen into two pounds lumps.

If you don't think about thawing it out in advance, you are out of luck or you have to figure out how to thaw it quickly.  We all know that a microwave defrosts meat but it also starts cooking it before it's totally thawed.  I figured out a little better way.  I use the same method as I use for boiling eggs.  I use the pressure cooker (Instant Pot).  I put one cup of water in the pot.  Then I put a steamer basket in the pot with the center spindle removed.

Next I put the cover on and pressure on high for 7-9 minutes depending on the weight of the meat.  This was two pounds, and it took about eight minutes.  The outside turns brown but the inside is thawed and still uncooked.  I removed the steamer basket and added the meat back in.  Next I browned the hamburger right in the pot.

While I was pressuring the meat, I peeled some carrots, cut up some celery and an onion.  I then used one of my favorite gadgets, the Vidalia, and cut the veggies into bite sized pieces.  I opened a can of diced tomatoes, opened a carton of broth, a can of tomato soup and set aside a 1/2 cup of barley with 2 cups of water.

When the hamburger was ready, I piled on the rest of the ingredients.

I mixed everything together with a half bag of frozen mixed vegetables and some seasonings. and set the pressure cooker on high for another seven minutes.  I let it stay on warm until we were ready to eat.

It was pretty good, warmed us up and made a big enough batch so tomorrow I may be able to get by with serving it again.

As for all the vegetable scraps, we compost.  For years we would throw anything compostable into a plastic ice cream bucket.  When it was full, we would take it outside and put it on the compost pile.

Now we have a Vitamix Food Cycler.  It is a contraption that looks like a bread maker.  It collects and stores all our compost until the container is full.  At that time, we push a start button, and it turns stinky compost scraps into dry deodorized compost.  It isn't cheap but it makes our life a lot easier and it smells a lot better.