Saturday, September 2, 2017

Adventures in Beef

It's the time of year when our beef order is ready. I had a grand adventure in squeezing him into the freezer. It involved wrestling the water jugs I had frozen in the bottom of the freezer out. I'd done this to help the chest freezer be more efficient and provide a backup should we lose power. Lesson of the day, water jugs with ample space going in will be a MUCH tighter fit once frozen, and significantly harder getting out.  After taking a poll,  the consensus is that it does in fact count as cardio.

Here's our haul

We got 1/4 cow. Our portion was 139 pounds hanging weight. This was the total before processing. This year, I was partnered with someone who opted for more steaks than roasts. I also chose to have most of our ground beef frozen in packs of 8 - 1/4 pound patties. I elected to get bones for broth, big brown bag shown in back. I'd say we ended up with at least 20 lbs there. Most people don't take what they consider "off" cuts, leaving them as our gain.

Our final tally:
• 4 - 1.5 lb packs ground beef
• 8 packs ground beef patties
• 1 beef tongue
• 1 eye of round
• 4 sirloin variety
• 2 arm roasts
• 8 packs stew meat
Bone-in cuts -- these are between a steak and a roast and do best in the crockpot
• 6 plate
• 3 shank
• 3 short ribs
Steaks -- ours are cut 1/2 inch thick with 2 per pack. Some will be grilled for a treat. Others will be sliced into strips and used for things like taco and sandwiches
• 3 cube steak
• 6 NY strip
• 2 flank
• 4 sirloin
• 6 chuck eye
Misc items
• 5 portions beef liver -- my mom loves these, so we gave them to her
• 1 oxtail
• broth bones

By getting as much as we could out of our portion, it worked out to be just over $3.50/pound. I can find beef on sale for less, but not at the quality I'm getting. The cows are farm raised, on pasture and hay with a bit of grain over the winter, and well-cared for. We still had 22 packs left from last year. All together, this will be enough beef for us to have it once a week or so over the next year for our family of seven. I won't buy much more beef, if any, beyond this.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Our new adventure has begun. After months of planning and waiting we've finally combined households.

Combining households is exciting. Having everyone together in the same house -- minus the expected growing pains -- is just what we wanted. That said, combining everyone's stuff is for the birds. I've been amazed at how much stuff had piled up in my tiny house and how much stuff had been hiding in Shay's small apartment. We've gotten rid of so much stuff, but we still have quite a ways to go.

We've got the bedrooms traded that needed switched. Both sets of bunk beds are built. Two new mattresses and a new set of sheets have been purchased for the boys who needed them. The boxes and broken furniture have been disposed off. Now begins more of the decluttering process and getting the house all tidied up and ready for repairs. We've done a great job of thinning the boys' clothing. The amount of clothing they had accumulated was unreal. Most of the excess will be donated. Those items that are worn out will become rags or tossed.

We have just about 750 sq ft, three bedrooms, one bath. With seven people, staying organized is a must. That will be our focus this week. We'll finish the tidying and help the boys find "homes" for all of their things to live. We'll deliver our donations. Small clothes will go to the daycare. Bigger items will go to the clothes pantry at school. This way it will benefit families who need them. Extra home items will go to a niece who is preparing to move out on her own. Big items will be sold with the money to be used for repairs.

Once the sorting is done, we can work on the little things that make the house a home. OUR home. That is a wonderful thing.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dairy-free Green Bean Casserole

We had a lovely Easter weekend. We ordered the boys a basketball goal. It arrived on Friday evening, and Shay got straight to work putting it together. All five boys had a blast playing with it. They played until dark Friday evening and went out as soon as they were up Saturday and Sunday. We spent Easter Sunday scattered. My oldest was with his grandma while my younger two were with their dad. The rest of us spent time with Shay's aunt. They had an enormous egg hunt for the kids. The weather turned out perfectly.

Next weekend we'll host a belated Easter dinner at home. We'll still only have a couple of kids -- just my younger two. We'll host our cousins for a ham dinner with lots of sides. This green bean casserole will be one. My oldest is allergic to dairy, so this is an adaptation we've come up with for him. It's a family favorite and one I'm often asked to bring to family potlucks.
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans, or 2 14 oz cans, drained
  • 1 c mushroom sauce (see recipe below)
  • 1 c french fried onions 
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. If using fresh or frozen green beans, trim to desired size.  Then steam in 2-3 TBSP of water until tender. Drain well. Pour drained green beans into a greased casserole. Add mushroom sauce and 1/2 of the fried onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining fried onions. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes until the onions on top are golden brown. 
  • 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 c broth or milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until soft. Add basil, salt, and pepper. Stir in flour. Mix well to combine. Slowly stir broth into the flour mixture to remove any lumps. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute to thicken. For a thinner sauce to use with pasta, potatoes, or meat, use 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP flour.
Notes: We use dairy free "butter", but the same amount of oil will work as well. I prefer to use broth in the sauce, but plant milk works just as well. You may have to increase the salt a bit to counteract the sweetness if you're using plant milk. Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. Have fun and make it your own.
xx Beulah

Monday, March 20, 2017

When planning ahead doesn't pan out

My younger two boys have birthdays that are just 9 days apart in February. We generally do a bowling birthday party for them in early March. This works well for us for many reasons. We have a small house and a big family. Most days trying to fit all seven of us in a ~750 sq ft house is a stretch. Add in close friends and extended family, many with heaps of kids of their own, and we're bursting at the seams. It's manageable in the warmer months when the kids can go outside. It doesn't work quite as well in the winter. Plus, I really like the idea of built in entertainment and minimal cleanup at a reasonable cost.

Yesterday was our day, but it didn't go without a hitch. Normally I am a procrastinator. I mentally think about what needs done and how I'm going to accomplish it, but I delay the final action. This year, I was ready. I called and booked our party two weeks in advance. I called the pizza shop and ordered our pizzas ahead for pickup. I was too lazy to bake cupcakes, so I got up early and went to the grocery for the cupcakes, drinks, and remaining snacks hours before the party. I even made it to the venue early to set up before everyone arrived.

I was so proud of myself. Until I arrived at the bowling alley and found the doors locked.

I figured we were scheduled for the first opening of the day. No big deal. As looked around the lot though, I realized there were no other cars. Panic started to set in as I got online and realized the hours I was told for the party didn't match the actual business hours, less than 10 minutes before guests were set to arrive. I made the decision to try to squeeze everyone into our house while we waited for business hours. My boyfriend got busy trying to tidy the house for visitors while I started notifying guests of the error.

Then my wonderful friends suggested we go to their house instead. They have a large home with lots of space for hosting guests. They hooked up a dance game and bubble machine for the kids and put the kettle on for the adults while I laid out pizza, snacks, and drinks. It worked out perfectly, and the kids had so much fun while the adults chatted. After a couple of hours, we were able to return to the bowling alley and get a few lanes at the birthday rate. As to the reservation, no one knows what happened there. I'm not sure if we ended up on the wrong calendar or under the wrong name because they couldn't find it anywhere.

In the end, we had 16 kids who had a blast, including two happy birthday boys. I was again reminded just how great my little circle of people are. Nothing beats loved ones who can lift your spirits in the chaos. I'm one lucky girl.

Bonus points for the almost-tidy house done in a mad panic when OH thought we were about to have a house full of guests. ☺

xx Beulah

Friday, March 17, 2017

And so it begins

After much procrastination, I've decided to dive into blogging.

Here, I'll share my family's journey as we push to live our dreams in a simple life.

Thanks for sharing our dream and journey with us.

xx  Beulah