Friday, April 06, 2007

Fill that freezer!

It's upon us. The last Big Meat holiday for a while.

Okay, Easter means more to me than that, but for the budgetary-minded there's a few great deals to watch out for, especially if you have freezer space.

Corned Beef: if your local supermarket overstocked for Saint Patrick's Day, they might have corned beef really cheap. Up here this week Safeway has points for $1.29 a pound. For some reason points (which is just the pointy end of the brisket) is considered an inferior cut, but I've never noticed a huge difference. And points can run 30 cents a pound cheaper than the other cut. Corned beef is vacuum packed these days, so it won't freezer burn. If you're not into corned beef and cabbage or boiled dinner, just cook it like any pot roast and make it into sandwiches. I have four corned beef in my freezer right now!

Ham: Easter is a big ham holiday. The less expensive hams will be uncooked, un-spiral-sliced, and whole or shank. The shank is the skinny end of the ham. I think the butt end (the bigger end) has tastier ham, but again it's a difference of 30 cents a pound. I tend to buy shank halves as a whole ham is a lot of meat, and I end up re-freezing it after cooking. Also, I freeze the ham bone (leave lots of meat on it) for split pea and bean soup, and the whole ham bone is really big if you have no bone saw to cut it.

My quick-and-dirty ham directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Take the weight and divide by three - this gives you your approximate cooking time. For safety you're supposed to cook ham to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and I find I always need a half an hour longer than I calculated, so add 30 minutes for every 10 pounds. (Sorry, that sounds complicated, it's not. 20 minutes per pound, plus an extra 30 minutes per 10 pounds.) Put the ham in a roasting pan on a rack. Put it in the oven. Note the time and walk away.

For more detailed instructions, try the Hormel site.

Strawberries: the spring strawberry crop is in, and even when shipped to Alaska they're a good deal. Fred Meyer has strawberries at $5.88 for the first half-flat (6 pints) and my Rewards Card gave me $2 more off. What do you do with them? Eat them! Did you know two tablespoons of completely fattening whipped cream is only 25 calories? Freeze them! It's very very easy to freeze strawberries cut or whole, you just need enough containers. Here's some instructions. Make Jam! I've been making sugar-free strawberry jam (as all my friends know, since I've been going on and on about it). Here's some instructions. But if you buy a package of Sure-Jell Sugar-Free Pectin you'll find easy instructions for jam, including freezer jam for folks who don't have a canning set-up.

Eggs: Eggs are on buy-one-get-one-free all over the place up here. Okay, they're hard to freeze, but here's your chance to make egg salad, have omelets for dinner, try making souffle, make rice pudding, or maybe a breakfast casserole. Eggs are cheap protein, and if you don't have a cholesterol issue there's no real reason to avoid them.

Oh, let's not forget ham and eggs, perhaps with corned beef hash and strawberries on the side....


Anonymous said...

Love the new look :)

RavinRed said...

I was feeling spring-like!

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