If the most miserable stretch of summer is known as the dog days, then what is this dreary lull between New Year’s Day and the first whisper of spring?
It seems appropriate to call these the cat days of winter, because all I want to do is stay curled up in bed, bask in any little patch of sunshine I can find, and have someone respond to my whining by serving me a bowl of food.
So far, this dream has not come true, but my hopes remain high.
Meanwhile, I survey the contents of my refrigerator and freezer every weekend trying to decide what I will put in my own food dish. The other day, while my head was stuck in the chest freezer, it occurred to me that although ground beef has lately gotten a bad rap, few ingredients are easier to fashion into a respectable supper.
Name a popular dish made with ground beef – now there’s a great “Family Feud” survey question. Spaghetti would score high, as would meatloaf, chili, tacos and sloppy Joes (and hamburgers, of course). When I was a kid, my mother and grandmother always seemed to be dishing up steaming plates of goulash, lasagna and other beefy favorites.
Those were the blissfully ignorant days, before terms such as pink slime, E. coli, grass-fed and sustainable were part of our culinary lexicon.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore those issues, but they shouldn’t preclude us from turning to pinch-hitters such as meatball subs and stuffed peppers when we need an easy supper idea that’s sure to be a winner.
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That’s also where you’ll find recipes for Gyro Burgers with Tahini Sauce, Chinese Ground Beef with Noodles, and Pakistani Beef Curry. Please note that, as I say later in the column, you can make these recipes with any kind of ground meat you like. So if you are trying to lighten up for the new year, consider ground turkey, chicken or venison.