August 2017
Your Next Meal From the Wildside

Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family

Preparing ahead can be the key to healthy eating.

 

 

 

Jason Kirk prepares some ears of corn to be frozen. Corn isn't from the wildside but it sure goes well with all of them ... no matter how it's fixed.

My mother’s mother, my Grandma Helen, became a widow at the age of 51, and she lived alone until she passed away at 69 years old. My mom first learned to cook from Grandma Helen, so they used many of the same combinations of ingredients in their recipes. They also had similarities in what they served at meals.

When either of them cooked, instead of serving up a meat-and-three, both typically served a minimum of five sides for supper. No matter what the meat was, there might be squash, broccoli, corn, potatoes, peas, carrots and more. Hand-chopped slaw, sliced tomatoes, deviled eggs, and buttered rolls or cornbread were not reserved for Sunday dinners and were routinely on the table at my house for supper during the week.

As children, my sister and I didn’t cherry pick from all the vegetable choices; we had some of everything. My plate would be so full that my food, gravies and juices overlapped, and it made everything taste even better.

Not long before Grandma Helen’s death, she had become sick. My mom and I had gone down to Anniston from Huntsville to stay with her until she got better. A few days before we arrived, my grandma had shucked and cut ears of sweet white corn for creaming. Even though she was not feeling well, she already had most of it bagged and frozen. Although we ate grandma’s from-scratch creamed corn at her house all the time, I had never seen the effort she put into having it on hand all year.

Grandma’s preparation wasn’t just for her family, though. Living alone, she made sure to look after her own health, always having plenty of nutritious vegetables on hand.

"Just because you live alone don’t mean you can’t cook good just for yourself," Grandma Helen told me. "You have to take care of you and eat healthy."

When Grandma Helen passed, there were bags and bags of creamed corn in her freezer. Some would have been used for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but most would be eaten by her throughout the year. I was only 20 years old, but the lesson I got from that was: Don’t skimp on your own nutrition and health, and prepare ahead for future meals for both yourself and your family.

This summer, Jason brought home a big bag of sweet white corn. He got most of it in bags ready to freeze still on the cob and then cut some off the cob to make creamed corn. Each bag has six pieces of corn in it, just enough for the four of us at dinner.

Sometimes when Jason starts preparing meat or fish for the freezer, it looks like too much for just us, but like Grandma Helen’s corn we will eat it for an entire year. One pound of meat might be just enough for the four of us, but as Rolley Len and Cason get older, they go back for second servings more and more. So when he grinds deer meat for freezing, he puts about 2 pounds of meat in each freezer bag to make sure we have plenty.

Whether we are making hamburgers or browning meat for recipes, we usually cook the whole 2 pounds to eat over a few days. Cooking the meat ahead cuts down on my prep time for the rest of the week, but I realized the key to dinnertime success was making sure the kids don’t feel like they are eating heated-up leftovers for two or three days. Although I may cook all 2 pounds of meat at once, I try to use it in at least two different ways.

If you have limited time in the kitchen because of work or other obligations, you may not be able to serve a meat-and-three every night, but there are other nutritious options that are quick and simple.

Having a variety of wholesome choices for your next meal isn’t just for growing children. Grandma Helen said that, when it comes to your health, taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of others.

Whether you live alone or cook for a large family, here are a few recipes for ground deer meat that are nutritious, delicious and will add variety to your menu each day.

 

CREAMED CORN

About 3 cups fresh corn, kernels cut from cob*
Water, enough to cover corn
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon sugar

In a saucepan, cook corn in water to boiling. Lower heat to medium-low. Cook corn until pulp begins to thicken. Add butter and flour. Add a little milk at a time while stirring. Cook until it thickens. Add salt and pepper, and sugar if you like it sweeter.

Note: This is one of those recipes that my mother would say, "You will know when it’s ready, when it’s ready."

* For each additional cup of corn, add an additional tablespoon of flour and butter. 

 

SPAGHETTI PIE

 

Spaghetti Pie

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles (4 cups cooked)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-4 Tablespoons milk
½ cup chopped green onions
Cooking spray
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Meaty marinara sauce, enough to cover the top of the casserole (recipe included)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. While noodles cook, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, milk and onions. Set aside. Coat bottom of 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. When noodles are cooked, drain and place in dish. Spread cream cheese mixture over noodles. Sprinkle about ½ cup of cheese over cream cheese mixture. Top with marinara sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Note: To adapt for dietary needs, you can use skim milk, low-fat cheese and cream cheese, and whole wheat noodles without any change in taste.

 

MEATY MARINARA SAUCE

2 pounds ground deer meat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 (24-ounce) jar chunky spaghetti sauce with tomatoes, garlic and onions
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

Garlic powder, to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the deer meat. Drain and return to skillet. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

 

CALZONES

½ pound (about 1½ cups) ground deer meat
¾ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
¾ cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Cooking spray
1-2 cups marinara or meaty marinara sauce (recipe included), for dipping or pouring over calzones

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook deer meat, onion and garlic until meat is brown. Drain and return to pan. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Onto a baking sheet, unroll the pizza crust. Cut dough into 4 even pieces. Press into rectangles. Spoon beef mixture in the center of each rectangle. Sprinkle with cheese. Bring opposite corners of rectangles together, pinching to seal. Spray tops of calzones with cooking spray.

Bake for 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Heat marinara or meat sauce and serve with calzones.


DEEP DISH TACO PIZZA

1 pound ground deer meat
½ cup chopped onion
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (drained)
1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning (I usually use a taco mix)
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Preheat oven to 425°.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook meat with onions until browned. Drain and return to pan. Stir in tomatoes and seasoning. Cook 1-2 minutes until heated through. Set aside.

Coat a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust dough and press into the bottom of dish and halfway up sides. Spoon meat mixture onto pizza dough.

Bake for 12 minutes. Top with cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust edges are browned. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

 

Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.