Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spontaneous Cooking Fest :)

My darling bees!  How have you been?  Hopefully getting some GREAT ideas about doing some freezer cooking!  Don't be shy, feel free to post any and all recent tries, successes, even failures (which are just successes still in their early stages :) ).

Today Wonderbee had to work.  Usually I use Sunday for laundry and football, after Wonderbee does our Bible study with us.

However, today I was too restless to sit in front of the tv.  So I went to two of my freezers to see what mischief I could get into.

First place I hit was my chest freezer.  We buy most of our meat (pork and beef and roasting chickens) from a meat company down in Delta.  They grow their own beef, source well their chickens and pork, as well as a ton of other stuff (yak, buffalo, etc).  I usually place an order per year with them and get a quarter of beef and a side of pork.  Their beef has no antibiotics, no hormones, and is grass finished.  Their bacon is REALLY the best ever (I know I have mentioned this before!).

Well we are getting down to the bottom of the chest freezer where I keep my uncooked meat (I keep cooked stuff and frozen veg, etc in a different freezer).  So I grabbed two chuck steaks and an arm roast (which I had NO idea what to use for) and figured I would cook those off.  I placed them, still frozen, in my largest pyrex, poured in much quantity of water, wine, herbs, water, onion flakes, pepper, etc and sealed the top with tinfoil and placed it in a 350 degree oven to cook ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  The liquid and the sealed top should allow the meat to have a steam bath to make it more tender.  Later on in the day I added some brewed black tea to act as a tenderizer as well (I am REALLY fretting about that arm roast and wondering if it is going to be tough :) ). 

What I love most is that I can take all that wonderful liquid that the meat has been stewing in all day and save that for a starter for a soup (probably with the meat )! 

I am kinda bonkers for saving the broth, drippings, water from stuff that has cooked.  I cannot tell you how many times I save the water from homemade noodles (spaetzle).  I just look at it and think that it looks PERFECT for if someone needs a carb rich, mild broth to eat, or to use as a base for a stew or something.

Next,  I knew I was out of my previous batches of freezer chicken and dumplings, plus I had the bones, skin, and some meat of a chicken I had roasted a few days ago in the freezer.  So I got that out, and put it in one of my bigger pots.

When I had roasted the chicken last week, there were all those wonderful drippings at the bottom of the pyrex.  I had poured those into a container and froze those as well.  That was PERFECT because I went to the chest freezer and found some boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins that were past their prime (a little icy and a little freezer burned).  Now, because they had been frozen, they were not BAD, they just were not as great of a quality as non-freezer burned stuff.  So they went into my other big pot with water and the left over chicken drippings.  The flavor from meat to make soup, etc, comes from the bones, skin, fat.  But boneless, skinless chicken has none of that (and frankly, unless you deep fry them or smother them with butter or teryaki sauce or something, they do not taste like much either).  So with the drippings, I had a ready made start to the broth for the chicken and dumpings.

I let those two pots with miscellaneous chicken just boil and boil to get every bit of numminess out of the carcass.  Then I got the bones and skin out, had Superbee help me make dumplings, then put the pots back on to make wonderful chicken and dumplings.

THEN I wanted to try a mock sourdough bread.  I get into sourdough cravings from time to time, but cannot seem to a)keep a starter going and b)make the sourdough SOUR.  It is not as easy as one might think, but rather depends on length of resting, temperature the starter is kept at, temperature the dough is kept out, overhydrating, underhydrating, blah blah blah.  Truth is I have tried all the different variations that the internet promises me will make a sour bread and never really get it.

Besides maintaining a starter is a committment that I am just not into right now :).  So I wanted to find something easy. 

It is still a work in progress.  The first loaf I used malt vinegar, but it was entirely too astringent.  The second loaf I used balsamic vinegar, milk, and sugar and that was somewhat better, but still needs work.  I read that some people use yogurt, so I will try that as well.

My last project for the day, I think, is going to be frying up a bunch of chicken wingies to go in the freezer.  I LOVE fried chicken and the little chicken wingies are just the perfect way to get the fried food flavor without committing to a LOT of chicken or runs to Popeyes.

So that is what I have been doing (what I won't do to get out of folding laundry :D )...let me know what you have been doing!

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