Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cooking with Chef Jo: Stretching Ground Beef

Well, it's been one of those weeks where the slightest hiccup snowballed. I got my stimulus check. Yippee! I gave Mel cash to pay the bills and the extra amount to get 100 lbs of propane ($310) so I can really cook again. While cooking in the air fryer, on a two burner electric cook top, crockpot, and toaster oven is doable, I missed my stove. It's almost canning season again too.

So, I'll bet you're wondering what the hiccup was? The battery in the Blazer died. Yes, it's a fairly new (3 months old) battery, but something drained the battery so much that it wouldn't start. Mel put the battery on the charger. After a few hours, she tried to start the car again...nothing. Everyone around us had essential jobs so they were at work. Mel tried charging the battery again. Still nothing.

I did a quick inventory of what meats I had in the refrigerator, stores building, and freezer. It was quick because there was so little. The only meats I have left in jars was six half pints of bacon and one jar of ham. In the freezer was twelve shrimp and a 1 1/2 of ground meat. This would have to last until, somehow, the car was fixed. So I had to make do. This was one time I was thankful there's only two of us on the homestead.

I pulled my last jar of Pasta e Fragioli for one meal.  I added a little extra macaroni to stretch it so the dogs could have a tablespoon each with their dinner and more filling for us. Normally, I'd open two pint jars. I added some leftover broccoli, poached eggs, and onions to the shrimp to two packets of ramen noodles to make another meal. Bacon and lettuce sandwiches made up two meals (I loaded the sandwiches with bacon) to up the protein count. I made pizza on the cook top with 1/4 of the ground beef, a forlorn half pack of pepperoni (it had been laying in the meat bin for months), veges and the last 1/2 oz of Swiss cheese. We'd run out of milk.

 Mel figured out that the battery charger was defunct. It was only 25 years old. She put the battery on her trickle charge set up that she made after watching a Youtube video on it. It would take a while to charge the battery on it.

So I was left with a pound and a quarter of ground beef. One night I made hamburgers leaving me with 3/4 of a pound of ground beef. The next night I served meatballs in gravy over smashed potatoes with broccoli and a salad.

Jo's Meatballs and Gravy
Makes 6 man sized meatballs

What you'll need
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 cup onions, small dice
1 rib celery, small dice
1 egg
1/4 cup rice, raw
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 TBS ketchup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pint beef bone broth, or 1 beef bouillon cube reconstituted to 2 cups

1 TBS Clear-gel or cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 TBS oil

Putting it all together
  • In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the broth, oil, and clear-gel.
  • Combine well, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • In a deep skillet, heat oil to smoking over medium heat.
  • Add meatballs to the skillet. Brown on all sides.
  • Pour in broth, scrap the bits from the bottom of the pan, and reduce heat to simmer.
  • Cover skillet and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Mix clear-gel and water. Add to the skillet.
  • Stir gently until the gravy is thickened. 
  • Taste gravy and add salt and pepper if needed
You can substitute the beef broth with tomato sauce for a variation of this recipe. Serving suggestions
were given above.

The battery showed that it was charged so Mel put it back in the car. After dropping one of the bolts and a few choice words uttered by Mel, the car was fixed. We headed off to the grocery store. I stayed in the car with it running while Mel shopped...just to be safe. Now fully stocked with meats, milk, and a few other items, I'm just waiting for the propane delivery truck.

They say food shortages will be hitting the stores now with processing plants closing because of the virus. Well, we have chickens and quail we can butcher for meat and eggs. I've got a contact for lamb/mutton. There's even a grass fed beef operation in this county for beef. Pricey but it's an option. Now if only I knew a pig farmer. Worse comes to worst, I'll snare some of these cotton tails, shoot some squirrels, or a deer in or out of season on my property. There's always foraging, and the garden. A little knowledge goes a long way in providing food for the table.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Chef Jo


  1. Yep, our battery died last month. We had to buy a new one. You are lucky to find meat in the stores. We have very very very little and we are rationed. Thanks for the recipe have a great day.

    1. We can always kill off a couple chickens if the need arises. Luckily, I can take any meat available and make do. There's always egg dishes too.


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