Freezer Burn

November 15, 2007

I mean no offense to those with busy schedules. I understand the toll today’s world puts on families, but I simply don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to make a nice meal for their family and to sit down and eat together. I’m at Giant, in a lengthy checkout line with my two bottles of $4.59 wine, (relax, it’s for cooking) when I can’t help but notice the grocery cart in line ahead of me packed full to the gills. An attractive woman is pushing it along with her three plump boys, I’m guessing ages ranging from 6-13. At first glance, I assess that the cart contains nothing found in nature. Prepared frozen foods dominant the cart including a Stouffers frozen spaghetti that the oldest boy digs out and announces to his siblings that this is his dinner choice for the evening. Hungry Mans, frozen pies, frozen French fries, frozen pizzas and hamburgers, and the list goes on. Not even a frozen vegetable in the lot. At the bottom of the grocery cart abyss, at long last, was one organic item, packaged and pre-washed baby carrots.

The grand finale was a quick rummage through the point of sale items and magazine rack with a quick selection of our country’s finest rags, People, Us and In Style pulling up the rear. Food for body and mind I surmise.I’m at a loss to understand why we are so obsessed with Angelina and Brad, Jen and Vince, the Alien baby born to Roseanne Barr or, my wife might disagree with me here, with the season’s shoes and bags, but we terminate all education as to what we put into our bodies. We hold the FDA as gospel. The same people that brought you that wonderful “Best Used Before” dates on dairy products. Having nothing to do with the freshness of milk but more about ensuring that the American Dairy Farmer can be assured of a product inventory rotation. An idea that everything including Pepsi and Coors Light caught on to. Making the USA one of the most repugnant nations for the amount of food we throw out based on a dim-witted date that is for marketing purposes. Really, has anyone ever had a bad can of soda? Now the FDA had an epiphany that we need smaller portions!

What brain trust figured this out? Could it be that 64% of the US population is overweight and that 30% of those individuals are vilely obese?It’s not my intention to make fun of this woman at the Giant check-out. I understand in this day and age the absence of time or the national obsession with eating what you want right now. Why is food shopping and the preparation of food considered a chore? The social equivalent of taking out the trash. This bothers me. In European countries food brings family and friends together. It all begins with the conscious preparation of it, shopping for it, preparing it together and sitting down and enjoying the fruit of one’s efforts. To me, life is about breaking bread together, communicating and connecting with the people we care about. Parents can teach their children to appreciate and hold sacred the ritual of eating well and sharing the whole experience consciously.

These recipes are my attempt to create a meal in the same or less amount of time it takes to cook a Hungry Man, to provide a level of healthy nutrition and to make a better tasting meal. We are what we eat. Real Salisbury Steak: I’ll be honest and say the first time I made this was a few days ago. I must say I awed myself. You’ll be pleased to discover that it tastes much better than the frozen version and is much healthier and nutritious.

Salisbury Steak

  • 1 ¾ lbs Beef, finely ground lean chuck
  • 1 ½ tbs Chives, chopped
  • 2 tbs Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs Red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • Pinch Paprika
  • Pinch Thyme
  • 1 clove Garlic, mashed
  • Sprinkle Seasoned Flour – flour, salt & pepper
  • Dollop Olive Oil

Gloria Swanson Sauce Knock Off

  • 3 tbs Butter
  • 1 tsp Mustard, yellow
  • ¼ cup Tomato ketchup
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 tbs Lemon juice
  • Pinch Black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash Tabasco sauce
  • Dash Dry sherry wine
  1. For steak: Mix all ingredients together and shape into 6 individual small steaks, about 3/4″ thick. Sprinkle with seasoned flour and brush with olive oil. Broil them for 5 to 6 minutes or more on each side, depending on degree of doneness desired.
  2. For sauce: Melt butter with the rest of the ingredients. Blend well and bring almost to a boiling point. Arrange steaks on a hot platter and pour sauce over them.

Fresh Expeditious Pasta Sauce.

You can make a dozen of these ahead of time and freeze them in Ziplocs. Use different herb combinations (just basil and tomatoes is great!). Make the kids real spaghetti for god sakes.

  • 6 Tomatoes, ripe
  • ½ Onion, small
  • 1 Olive Oil
  • 2 tbs Oregano, fresh
  • 2 tbs Basil, fresh
  • 1 tbs Thyme, fresh
  • When cooking:1 tbs Butter
  1. Dump everything into a food processor and pulse chop a few times until you get to desired consistency (chunky or smooth). Label and dump into a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze.
  2. To cook: Thaw, place in saucepan with butter and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Longer simmering will yield less but make a more intense sauce. It may be broken down with water, wine or my favorite, V8.

High-Speed Beef and Noodles

  • 8 oz Egg noodles
  • 2 Beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 can Mushroom soup
  • 1 can Mushrooms (small- 4 oz.)
  • ½ stick Butter
  • ½ lb Ground beef lean
  1. Boil noodles according to cooking instructions.
  2. Add bouillon cubes to boiling water (follow directions on bouillon cube jar).
  3. Pan fry ground beef in a skillet with mushrooms and drain. Drain noodles.
  4. Mix together noodles, butter, mushrooms, ground beef and soup. Salt and pepper to taste. Since soup is condensed, taste before adding salt.

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