A meal planner app has been an invaluable tool for staying organized, and assuring that a healthy, home-cooked meal is on the table at least five nights per week. For several years, I have made weekly (sometimes even monthly) meal plans, scribbled on little pieces of paper. Generally, I can keep track of that little scrap for the week, but then it is lost. Recently, I found a better system. I highly recommend MealBoard. This app has been added to my iPhone; meals are still planned a couple of weeks at a time. But with MealBoard they are
stored where I won’t lose them. Ummm…here’s hoping that my phone doesn’t suddenly go missing and this post is some sort of horrible foreshadowing of doom! With MealBoard, not only are my meal plans saved; they are also linked to recipes on many of my favorite sites, and most importantly shared in the cloud to the husband’s calendar. That’s right…just a quick glance at his phone and he already knows what’s for dinner. Bonus!
Well, (meal) plans change. Not only was tonight’s dinner listed in my calendar–so, too, was a work-related evening meeting and some kids’ activities. The meal plan was not going to happen–not enough time. This is when those quick sessions of preserving during the summer and fall seasons save the day. After grabbing a couple of items from the freezer, and a few more from the pantry, dinner was salvaged and on the table in 30 minutes. Thank goodness for…spaghetti. Everyone ate it (picky kids included) and enjoyed, AND I felt good knowing we were eating homemade, homegrown ingredients several steps above a jar of Ragu.
Last summer, I froze a dozen or so quart-sized bags of roasted tomatoes, seasoned with salt, olive oil and fresh garlic. After cooking on a sheet pan until lightly caramelized and their sweet flavors concentrated, they are given a quick whiz in the blender, poured into a freezer bag and popped in the deep freeze for a night such as this (tomato prep–10 minutes of hands-on time). Then, in late fall, the husband got a deer out in our little pasture behind the house. On a Saturday afternoon, ground venison was seasoned, packaged for the freezer and became another starter for tonight’s dinner–venison Italian sausage. Making homemade sausage with meat sourced from your own homestead (or other local sources) is so much better tasting and better for you than store-bought versions. Adjust the seasonings to your tastes–well worth the hour or so investment of time.
Venison Italian Sausage
- 3 lb ground venison
- 2 lb ground pork not lean--fat is flavor!
- 2 tbsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/8 cup dried parsley
- 1/2 cup white wine, chilled
Combine and thoroughly mix the dry ingredients.
Add spice mixture to remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Your clean hands work best for this job.
Form into patties or leave in bulk; freeze in 1 lb packages.
If your ground pork is low fat, substitute 1 lb of ground pork fat for the ground pork to balance the ultra lean venison. The texture of the sausage is dependent on the pork fat. The ground meat must be VERY cold while mixing for the best texture.