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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Mini Bulk Cooking Session

My husband is gearing up for his annual trip to hunt camp.  Although he doesn't hunt himself, enjoys helping to organize and cook the food for the camp.  It has become tradition for me to make a batch of chili, a tray of lasagna and a piece of peameal bacon for the guys to enjoy at hunt camp.  I decided to do a mini bulk cooking session on Sunday since both the chili and lasagna are cooked from scratch then frozen to keep well during the long drive to where the hunt camp is.

my largest stock pot with moose meat chili
Traditionally some of the previous year's catch is taken to the current year's hunt camp but they guys were unsuccessful last year.  One of our friends is a avid hunter who seldom eats any domestic meat. He brought in a very generous amount of ground  moose meat for a chili.  I like working with moose meat.  It is leaner than beef, with a deeper colour and richer flavour but lacking the gameness of venison. 

I used my largest stock pot (10" high, 11" diameter) to make a nice sized batch of moose meat chili.  As with venison, I added a little ground pork to the meat mixture.  All of my chilies take a bit of pre-planning as the dried beans need to soak overnight.  This is one time that while the quick soak method could be used, the time is needed for the long, slow simmer of the chili.  I really need to do up few cases of home canned beans!

trays of moose meat chili
Once the moose meat chili was finished, I removed it from the heat then allowed to cool on the deck before moving the pot to the refrigerator for the night.  We've had frost a few mornings so the air is quite chilly in the evening making the deck a perfect cooling spot.

The next day I ladled the moose meat chili into containers for freezing.  The two larger containers are 12¾" x 10¾" x 2½".  Each tray is enough for 10 to 12 servings of chili.  One will be used for hunt camp while the other will be used one of our larger events this winter.  The two smaller rectangular containers hold 9½ cups.  Each container is enough for 6 good sized servings.  One went into the freezer for ourselves while the other went to one of our kids who was elated to get homemade moose meat chili.  The smaller bowl was put into the refrigerator for my husband's lunch.

trays of lasagne ready for the freezer
Before I start talking about the lasagne, check out one of our new outlets.  My husband and I spent almost the entire day on Saturday replacing electrical receptacles and switches on the main level.  It was a chore and we still have part of the master bedroom and guest room to do.  The ones on the back splash are a bit fancier with larger than standard cover plates and the outlets have a safety feature to prevent foreign objects from being inserted.  The three kitchen outlets on the back splash are split receptacles so I can run more than one small appliance at a time without worrying about blowing a fuse!

My lasagne starts with homemade spaghetti with meat sauce made from scratch using fresh tomatoes (in season) or home canned tomatoes.  Once the sauce is put together with everything but the seasonings and secret ingredients, the cooking begins.  When the sauce gets to the right point I stir in the the remaining ingredients and continue with a low, slow simmer tweaking the flavour as the sauce cooks.  Nothing is measured!  After the sauce is cooled it is ready to make the lasagne.

My record number of lasagne made during one bulk cooking session is 19.  Yes, that is 19!  This was a rather tame session making two large trays and one small tray with the remaining sauce left plain for a later meal of spaghetti with meat sauce.  I used a blend of 8 cheeses in this lasagne with the remaining cheese divided into two zipper freezer bags.  One lasagne and bag of cheese will go to hunt camp.  The cheese is destined for ranch sticks there [I'll post about those later this week.]  The other large tray and sauce went into the freezer, the remaining cheese into the refrigerator and I baked the smaller lasagna for dinner.

smallest tray of lasagna freshly baked
Lasgne (plural) when made from scratch is rather labour intensive but it freezes nicely which is why anytime I make lasagna (singular), I make more than one tray.  I use my homemade meat sauce, cheese blend and regular lasagna noodles made with 100% duram semolina flour.  I don't care for the no-cook lasagna noodles at all.  The bottom layer is always meat sauce followed by cheese and the first layer of noodles.  That noodle layer is topped lightly with the cheese blend, cottage cheese and spinach, then the rest of the layers follow as sauce, cheese, noodles, sauce and ending with a cheese layer.  There are usually 2 noodle layers in the shallow trays (pictured) and 3 or 4 noodle layers in the deeper trays.  I bake at 350ºF with the top tented with tin foil removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.  I increase the baking time if baking from frozen as there's no need to thaw first.


4 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

I thought you said your hubby was cooking. ;-)
All I can say is wow. They better appreciate it!
Safe trip to your hubby and his buddies.

Garden Gnome said...

LOL! They are gone for six days so my husband does a lot of the cooking. The chili, lasagna and peameal bacon just makes it a bit easier for him :) You should see the menu he has planned! Honestly, no one will go hungry.

Thanks for the well wishes :) Here's hoping they have a successful hunt camp!

Kim said...

Did you kow you are not supposed to cook tomato products in tin foil as the acid in the tomatoes actually eats into the tin foil. Ever notice the tin foil on top getting that greyish/black cast to it? That is the acidic reaction. I know foil is convenient, but glass is better when tomato is involved.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Kim. I have done tomato products in the heavy foil pans for freezing for many years. I've never had a problem with the foil pans themselves. I place a piece of waxed paper on top of the food before putting on the foil top. Any acidic food will cause tin foil to darken and pit so the waxed paper prevents this from happening.