Guns, Gear, and The Great Outdoors

Posts tagged “frugal

Freezer Foraging

IMG_0390Abstaining from grocery shopping for an entire month seems rather simple at first. As the days turn into weeks, however, creativity will undoubtedly need to increase in order to prevent shriveling up into a malnourished raisin. For now though, scavenging the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry has been pretty simple. For the first gourmet ensemble, I dug back to the infant years of my cooking experience. Though I have cooked professionally in the past, the roots of my culinary know-how were planted by my father. When I was a young boy, Dad and I would often have bachelor nights in which we were left to our own creativity in what, when, and how we would feed ourselves. From these nights came my first cooking lesson. Dad would layer the bottom of a deep baking dish with carrots, celery, and potatoes. A plump venison roast would be placed on this vegetable platform, followed by a braising liquid (usually wine). The roast was then baked until it reached the desired internal temperature. This recipe was simple enough for an eight-year-old to understand, remember, and master, yet it produced results that any preparer of food would be proud to display.
Thus, the nostalgic theme for my first grocery bill-free meal. Rather than the baking dish mentioned above, I decided to utilize the one kitchen tool that is rarely used in my home. Being a very hands-on type of cook, passive means of food preparation rarely appeal to me. However, for this dish, a slow cooker fit the bill perfectly. By cooking this recipe low and slow, not only do you gain the traditional pot roast initially, but the leftovers create a hearty stew much like bourguignon. The recipe was tweaked a bit more as noted below
  • 2 LB Venison Sirloin Roast, coated with fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4-6 green cabbage leaves
  • 1/4 cup of dry red wine

Like the original recipe, I layered the carrots and potatoes along the bottom of the slow cooker in order to create an elevated platform for the protein (as any delicious cut of wild game should be held above all other food alternatives…kidding…..but really though…). The roast was placed on the veggie platform, which then got a quick shower from the measured wine portion. Lastly, the cabbage leaves were nestled around the roast like a cozy nutritional blanket. The slow cooker was set to its high setting and allowed to cook undisturbed for four hours. The resulting smells and flavors are best explained by a common phrase used by a hero of mine , Ted Nugent: “Perfect”.

The added bonus of this meal is that the leftovers serve as an additional dinner or two additional lunches. bon appétit!

30 Day Challenge: Take 1

full-freezerOn February 1, 2003, Martin Spurlock initiated a challenge in which he consumed nothing but McDonald’s meals three times per day for thirty days. While he almost died in the process, this idea provides some promise in the way of self improvement and an adventure hidden in the daily monotony that can occur as we set routines for ourselves. To further that idea, a TED speaker challenged his audience to try something new for 30 days. He recommends trying something that you have always wanted to do but never took the initiative to begin. (the link to this video can be found on the previous post: “I’m Back”)

So here we are, February 1, ten years later. It is bitter cold, football is nearly over, and I am bored. Thus the beginning of my first 30 day challenge. How many of you open your freezer and immediately need to dodge an avalanche of frozen peas and prefab meatballs? How many of you have an additional chest freezer that is unusable because every square inch is filled with breads and ravioli and unrecognizable mystery meat? Yet we still go to the grocery store every week. Our pantries fill with pastas and rice, our cupboards with dusty cans of tomatoes and green beans, yet we find ourselves in line at the local food market over and over and over again.

And what happens when the power goes out? On October 28th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy turned the lights out on the ThriveOutside homestead. Two full freezers sat helpless as the protective cold seeped away from the roasts, fillets, and steaks of adventures past. Countless bulk-store purchases withered and were consumed by the darkness. Four days later, the power returned and the loss was evident. So while it is comforting to have a stash of frozen goodies in case of a rainy day, those rainy days could prove to be overwhelmingly destructive.

The Challenge: Prepare, cook, and eat only what is provided by the freezer(s), the pantry, the cupboard, and the great outdoors for 30 Days. No trips to the local grocery store, Sam’s Club, or the convenient mart (except for bud light….lets not get crazy here….) The goal is to not spend a single penny on food. Everything consumed will be provided by the bounties of chez moi and notre mère la Terre. ( ….you’re welcome)

Well, thats it…I’ll keep you posted with pictures and progress as this journey commences. Wish me luck!