Meal Plan; 17-22 July – More water, better food, and a new outdoor kitchen toy

Last week was different. Not hard or challenging, just different due to circumstances created by the flash flooding, destroyed infrastructure, and having to spend more time in traffic because it was being rerouted.

I do not mind commuting to/from work, but I’ve always said I refuse to spend more than an hour each way. Last Monday, I spent 1 hour and 40 minutes going to the office, thanks to detours, and over an hour going home.

So, I spent the rest of the week working from home, hoping that the hardworking DOT (Department of Transportation) people get an opportunity to clear and fix the roads.

The Girl Scout camp was closed all week due to flooding, so I had to opportunity to witness our two daughters wake up around midday, only to crawl to the sofa and play Xbox games or feed their social media addiction.

The Magic of Broth

Many of you might wonder about the difference between broth and stock.

  • The broth is made from bones with meat still attached. No huge steaks or lumps, but meat stuck to the bone. You tend to boil the meat and bones for a few hours.
  • Stock, however, is only made from clean bones and is boiled for several days.

Either option is super delicious, and you can add herbs and vegetables to the mixture to spice up the flavors and taste of the liquid.

I took 3 lbs of clean bones and 2 lbs of beef tail with meat and prepped them on a tray by sprinkling some BBQ herbs. I then smoked the bones for 3 hours at 225F.

Broth, stock & tallow

Once done, place the bones in a large stock pot, cover them with water, and let them simmer for 48 hours. A strong aroma spread in the house, causing our dogs to go crazy. They could smell delicious food constantly.

Afterward, I removed the bones, poured the mixture through a colander to remove minor debris, and fed the leftover meat to the dogs. They loved me at that moment!

It yielded 4 quarts of pure broth and 1 quart of tallow. I will use some of the broth for the Beef Pho that we are having for dinner this week.

Protein and Iron Booster

My wife has experienced low iron for many years, so the broth can help regain some iron levels, but the beef spread I made over the weekend is even better.

I sliced some beef liver and fried it in the pan with garlic, pepper, butter, and thyme. Only a few minutes on each side, as you do not want it to be crispy and dry.

Once ready, I threw it all in a blender and pureed it. It can be eaten as a spread on crackers and bread.

Flank Steak Jerky

I made a fresh batch of jerky as if the broth and beef spread weren’t enough.

I sliced a large flank steak into thin strips, placed them in a large bowl, mixed in a few spices and sauces, and might have used a little beer too. I let it marinate for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

Then I gently placed each slice on grates and dehydrated the meat for 6-8 hours at 140F.

Building An Outdoor Kitchen

I love to spend time outside cooking and hosting friends and family. It is an extension of our living area, and sitting outside enjoying life and food is perfect.

My knucklehead friends and I have spent many joyful hours around the fire pit, eating a shit load of nice food, but the outdoor space is not looking as nice as I want it to.

I invested in a Blackstone griddle, 28-inch sear plate a few years ago, which has served me well. Simple to use. Great results, and relatively easy to clean.

For Father’s Day this year (2023), I upgraded my Blackstone griddle to the pimped-up model, which comes with a fancy stand, side burner, deep fryer, and two side tables. Oh, I forgot, the special bundle included a small pizza oven. How cool is that?

I spent several hours assembling the new outdoor kitchen this past weekend and will season the plate next weekend. The result was an impressive new shiny outdoor kitchen unit.

However, it puts pressure on my outdoor plans to rejuvenate our outdoor living and entertaining area so we can store and use the Blackstone and Traeger without getting soaked.

Cooking and Prepping Time

Besides the excellent iron & protein shakes, spreads, and snacks I made during the weekend, I also had the opportunity to prepare lunches and dinners for the family.

This week I will be attending two evening events, so my time having dinner with the family is limited to 3 nights during the week.

I’m a sucker for Vietnamese Pho and treasure when we visit a local Vietnamese place. I’d gotten to know the owner, and she makes the food from scratch, including the broth used for Pho. It is such a beautiful and filling dinner.

With a few quarts of homemade broth, I will serve beef Pho to my family, using organic sliced beef, green onion, Brussels sprouts, and Momofuku noodles. It’ll be huge!

In addition, I made a simple Spanish-inspired fried rice dish with red pepper, spicy sausage, and grilled chicken thighs spiced with Cajun rub and cut into pieces. A simple 20-25 minutes dish.

Lastly, I made a family-sized lasagna that can be consumed over two nights. And whenever I cook Italian dishes, I need to use red wine. “Unfortunately” you only use a little red wine, so I have to finish the rest of the bottle so the wine doesn’t go bad. I’m taking one for the team!

I made a batch of roast beef and sauerkraut sliders with American yellow cheese for the lunches. I grilled chicken breast for the Caesar salad. I assemble the Caesar salad in the morning, ensuring it is fresh and not a day-old salad.

Meal Plan

MondayRoast beef, sauerkraut, and American yellow cheese slides.Chicken & Chorizo fried rice
TuesdayCaesar salad with grilled chickenBeef Pho (homemade broth)
WednesdayRoast beef, sauerkraut, and American yellow cheese slides.Lasagna – part 1
ThursdayTomato wrap with lettuce, tomato, salami and mozzarellaLasagna – part 2
FridayPeanut Butter & Jelly (jam) Friday delightSimple Seafood over the fire cooking

One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!

Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is much easier to make food in advance, although you must invest several hours preparing meals during the weekend.

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