I just don’t feel like blogging.  I keep hearing Obama’s speeches telling us to just wait, and Ron Paul supporters wanting uninsured people to die.  I keep seeing executions and Pakistan and it’s hard to have much hope.  The whole family seems in a funk.  We are in a holding pattern and all starting to get noodgy.  The weather has been hot and humid and we are waiting for fall.  We are waiting for our car to give its dying gasp.  Waiting for someone to call and just offer a damn job.  Waiting and waiting to see which fork in the road we are going to take.  Will I be waiting tables at night?  Will we be on food stamps?  Will we ever be able to sell this house?  Move to Vermont?  Buy new jeans? Will we be able to pay someone to fix all our broken shit?  Or renovate the third floor so the kids don’t have to share a room into their 20’s?  Just trying to hold on, but the consistently high cortisol levels are taking their toll.  Four more weeks until we are cut off our unemployment insurance.

In the meantime.

I’m in squirrel mode.  I was so resistant to getting the freezer in the basement.  J talked me into it and I will begrudgingly concede that I like it.  We got a 13 cubic foot Energy Star model like this one and filled it fairly quickly.   We have had it for five years now, but never really depended on it.  It just sort of expanded our storage space is all.  Now that I’m in Food Hoarding Mode, It has become a lifeline.

Cheeto™ hoarding may lead to cat hoarding

Someone asked me the other day why I don’t do the extreme couponing.  Aside from the fact that I don’t want a full-time job that pays nothing but sixty jars of mustard and a gross of toothpaste, there are just never any coupons for anything I need, and that is because I don’t need much.  I’ll be doing a post soon about how I save on toiletries for the family, and how I make my cleaning products but generally I think most people, including myself, have far too much crap and don’t need more.  For now though, I’m cleaning out my freezers and stockpiling food as I make room for more.

There are certainly not coupons for half a cow, but I can still get healthy, high-quality, ethical food for a good price with a little legwork.  It is definitely worth my time to drive far with my coolers in tow and get a large measure of food.  My freezer gives me that freedom.  Right now I’m cleaning out the old stuff to make room for new so we can go into this depression with at least a bunch of meat and veggies.  Preferably in the form of half a cow.

I was able to make dinner tonight for the kids and for J and I with just the freezer and pantry items.  Per usual, I made tons- as much as I had time and ingredients for.  I left enough out for tonight’s dinner and lunch later in the week then repackaged it all into stackable pint containers to freeze again.  I estimated that the entire meal cost $5.00 for four people plus leftovers.  That’s not per person.  What allowed me to do that was the squirreling away of about six pounds of roasted winter squash purée from last year.  My father-in-law came to acquire something just shy of a Shit Ton of unidentifiable vegetable of the winter squash variety and couldn’t manage to eat it all himself, so he trucked it down from Vermont and we shared in the bounty until we were sick of eating it.  I roasted, puree and froze the rest in one pound bricks.

I also discovered a pound of apple cider caramelized onions from two years ago deep in the recesses of the freezer and a light bulb went off in my thinking parts.  I whipped up two batches of soup; one with apples and onions and maple syrup for the kids, and one with chipotle mecco powder for the grown ups.  I made about two quarts of each soup, using up the last of my amazing chicken foot stock.  I also discovered two pounds of ground dark meat turkey from a local farm in there, and thought some mini-meatballs might be nice in the soup.  The recipe I used required some futzing to make it Paleo, but they actually turned out to be just the best meatballs I have ever had.  And I hate turkey meatballs.

I wish there was some way to calculate how much money that freezer has saved us.  I am confident saying that its had the best return on investment of anything in our house aside from maybe the spray foam insulation in the basement.  Anyhoo, here are the recipes I invented today.  I’m very happy with the cost breakdown and the flavor of everything.  Please not that all measurements are approximate.  My cooking style is more like “cross fingers and throw shit in a pot”.  Those bitches, the Fates, decided to throw me a bone and make something work out in my favor for a change.

Inexpensive, not cheap.

Sweet Apple and/or Chipotle Winter Squash Soup 

2# winter squash, roasted and pureed

3c chicken stock (bonus for chicken foot stock!)

1c cider caramelized onions (or, just sliced yellow onion)

2 cloves garlic

2 apples, chopped (I leave skin on, but you can peel or use unsweetened applesauce)

salt, pepper, maple syrup (optional)

butter or ghee

Roast squash in your preferred way (I cut in half, cut side down in roasting pan with about 1″ water, roast at 400 or so for about 45 minutes or until soft).  Purée in food processor or with immersion blender.

Sauté onions until translucent and starting to brown (or just add caramelized onions), add minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant.  Add chopped apples and season with salt.  Cook just until apples are starting to get soft.  Add stock and bring just to a simmer on low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender, or in batches in your food processor.  Return to heat and bring back to a low simmer.  Season with salt, pepper and maple syrup.

To make it spicy, omit the apples and add a half a can of chopped chiles in adobo ( to taste), rehydrated chipotle mecco chiles or chipotle powder.  Serve with crème fresh.

Paleo Turkey Meatballs

2# ground dark meat turkey

2 eggs

2/3c almond meal

1 small yellow onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2c freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (optional, if you don’t do dairy)

1/4c paprika paste (or, tomato paste but the paprika paste is really incredible)

1/2c flat leaf parsley, minced

1 T olive oil or other cooking fat of choice

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together with hands just until blended.  Don’t over mix. Heat fat in heavy bottomed dutch oven or skillet.  Roll into medium-sized balls, about two inches in diameter.  Place in frying pan just until browned, flipping gently once.   Put the browned meatballs on a baking sheet into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.

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