Freezer Cooking – Meatloaf Recipe

Sorry about the late posting today.  We had a surprise trip to the ER.  Solveig fell off a chair in the kitchen and hit her head pretty bad.  She was lathargic and though conscious, very unresponsive so we brought her in.  She was her normal self by the time the doctor saw her, so everything is good.


Today I’m sharing my mom’s slightly modified meatloaf recipe that I use in my freezer meal rotation.  This recipe is for 1 meatloaf.  However, you are saving yourself no trouble or work if you just make 1 of these for the freezer.  You can sure make one for supper, and be no worse off.  Really, in order to save you time you need to make a few of these at the same time, in the same bowl.  I make this recipe x6 on a freezer cooking day, but I need my RBB (Really Big Bowl) to fit all that.

A couple of preliminary notes:

-it’s best to buy your ground meat the day before or the day of preparation, or at least take the meat from your freezer the night before.  You don’t want meat that has been thawing that day, or it seems to not mix quite as well.

-the recipe calls for ground beef, but I often do half ground beef and half ground pork.  Not always, but sometimes. It adds some great flavor, and actually saves a few dollars.

-this produces a meatloaf that is more on the dry side than other recipes I’ve tried.  I don’t like a really wet meatloaf, mostly because this is the one I grew up with.  If you have a favorite meatloaf recipe, just use your ingredients, and follow the preparation instructions below.

-If you use the options of oatmeal or salsa, I recommend you pulse them in your food processor before adding them.  It’s not terribly necessary, but it makes the meatloaf a bit less crumbly. I often pulse my diced onions too because Knut and I like onions, and my kids hate them.  When they don’t see them, they don’t complain!

Meatloaf -1 batch

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup of quick oatmeal or bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small onion diced
1/4 cup ketsup or salsa of choice

Mix all ingredients together in bowl.  Mix very, very well.  My grandma and I used to wash our hands up to our elbows, and mix with our hands to get it really good.  She always said that was the secret.  Today I use a wooden spoon, because it’s seriously a lot of meat in the bowl.

When all the ingredients are mixed together, simply separate loaf-sized portions into gallon sized Ziploc freezer bags.  Label and freeze.  When ready to use, thaw, press into greased loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

It’s lovely because when you want meatloaf, you don’t have to track down the ingredients.  You don’t have to dirty any dishes besides the loaf pan.  It’s really good with baked potatoes, brown rice, or cous cous on the side, along with your favorite garden vegetable or two steamed.  It’s also yummy to lay bacon across the top as it’s going in the oven.  I’m sure that’s not very healthy.  Dinner is served.

Teacher Notes

I’m not entirely sure what to write this week about our school.  Things did not go as planned.  I feel as though I should proclaim the week a success or a failure, and that may depend on whose plans were fulfilled, and whose plans were foiled.  Did my kids learn stuff?  Lots!  I should probably be satisfied with that.

The big success to the week was a trip to the library.  I have the kids pick from a list of categories (science, crafts, geography, poetry, etc) and they love picking out their own books as well.  What saved this week is when my plan failed, my kids read tons and tons of library books, and did an oral report on each one.  (We’re talking 50+ books here…they did a TON of reading.  They were aching to read all their new books and I just let them because it was easy.)  Silje studied bald eagles and multiple cook books (specifically historically based cook books that she discovered at the library) and David got new chess strategy books.  Silje read tough books to David, and David read tough books to Elias.  They all had a ball.

They were really very good, so I tried not to let my stress level rise when my spreadsheet plan fell by the wayside.  I really, really want to get back on it.

Thursday night I had my monthly “Mom’s Night Out” with our homeschool group.  The discussion topic for the night was character development in our children.  They opened with something about how most days we probably feel like we’re spending most of our time on our child’s character, not math.  It rang so true, and it really was a necessary reminder that “school” for a parent must have a broader meaning than that of a traditional teacher.  If my only job was to teach my kids character, then I could say we worked on it every minute of every day this last week.  Actually, it made me feel much better.

It was also nice to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this school year.  Either everyone was nodding to what I had to say, or I was nodding to what they were saying, knowing exactly what they were talking about.  It takes away so much loneliness and discouragement to know that these struggles are part of the journey… all of our journeys.  I’m not the only one who isn’t perfect, or struggles to attain the standards I set for myself.

If I were to name the successes of this week, it would be that we have climbed some big attitude mountains.  We got over the hump.  My kids are still complaining, but I feel for the older 2, they are at least listening, and the screaming has become minimal.  We have overcome some big trust issues, and we’ve gotten through some responsibility lessons.  Most academic subjects were covered, but we never got to memory work, or Latin, and we only did about half of our Native American study.  We’re also a bit behind on David’s grammar lessons, but we have been on top of his reading and phonics.

I’m still eager for some rhythm to our day, although it’s gradually improving.  In talking with some other homeschooling moms last night who are also farmer’s wives, I learned that we started our school year about the worst time possible.  We started the same week of harvest.  Add to that, we started right when I had a big publishing project due.  It would have been wiser had I started a few weeks earlier or later.  I’m hoping to apply that lesson to future years.

A relative called me this week for some homeschooling advice as this is her first year.  She called me “seasoned” and “experienced” and I had to laugh.  I literally told her, “Do you have any idea how many times I thought of quitting this week?”  I don’t mean to sound deep in discouragement because I’m not.  It’s just hard.

On a side note, if you don’t homeschool, or if you never intend to homeschool, etc., there are a few things that you should never tell a homeschooling mom.

The big one for me is: “I’m not patient enough to homeschool.”

First, I didn’t ask why you didn’t homeschool. There is no need to give me excuses because you just don’t answer to me.  Second, there is no way I’m patient enough to homeschool either.  Patience is not my virtue.  However, God is working on me.  Why?  Because he called me to do this.  I saw on facebook this week a little plaque that said: “Sometimes the hard thing, and the right thing are the same thing.”

I don’t choose hard things because I like it.  I choose it because it’s what God has called me to do.  For that reason, there is joy. 

Our homeschool isn’t a success because I’m just supermom.  It’s a success literally by God’s grace.  Any other reason is insanity.  However, knowing that, and leaning on that, deflates the frustration from the hard things.  Hard things simply are hard. 

My heart has not been anxious this week.  God has walked with me every moment of every day, and I’m not sure how many times in my life I can say that I have felt Him right there next to me, guiding my next words.

It is hard.  It has also been so good.

Things I’m Learning from My Midwife

As I’ve briefly mentioned before, we’re using a midwife for the first time this pregnancy.  We made this decision not from dissatisfaction exactly with our doctor.  It was more we wanted something different.  We wanted to work within a system that was more “us.”   I like doctors when I’m sick.  I like them when things go wrong.  I think there’s a good number of them that are good at preventative care as well.  However, I’m learning that they deal with so many emergencies, so many sick people, that often when you’re pregnant, you get the treatment of a sick person.  Throughout my 4 previous pregnancies with a variety of doctors in a variety of clinics and hospitals, I’ve had consistent issues with doctors giving me things that I don’t need because it’s routine, and those things ended up causing me problems.

I’m not sure if my body is just sensitive.  For instance, my body does not handle synthetic hormones well.  I also don’t handle narcotics well.  Over the years, I’ve found that handling my issues through diet has been the most effective.  Medications must be a last resort for me.  Diet has been first choice, natural supplements have been my second choice as they seem to absorb better in my system, and synthetic supplements are my 3rd choice, but often pass straight through me with little effect.  Don’t even get me started on how my body responds to antibiotics.  I mean, they get rid of the infection just fine, but I’m a bit weathered afterward.

As much as I like doctors, natural remedies aren’t their specialty, or at least most of them aren’t trained in it.  My current OB is about the most knowledgable that I’ve found any OB when it comes to natural remedies, but I think he’d be the first to say that wasn’t his specialty either.

My midwife is full of information that I’ve never had access to before.  I’m learning so much about diet and nutrition that I’m not sure how I managed other pregnancies without her.  I immediately go home and tell Knut all I learn during our lengthy appointments, and he often changes his diet as well.  My parents have shown some interest in it as well.  I feel like our whole family is getting healthier this time around.

So here’s some things that have been different for me in this pregnancy that is all because I went to my midwife.  She’s very individual in her help, so I don’t want anyone to think that what she said for me is for everyone.  However, I’m hoping it will give some people some information that may lead to help for them.

I would like to say that I don’t believe we have to be either/or when it comes to herbs-nutrition and medicine.  Treating symptoms through diet does not mean you hate medicine, or think it invalid.  Herbs may be a religion for some people, but I believe there might be some merit to them.  I’ve always thought at the back of my mind that the cure for cancer is somewhere in the rain forest, and if we knew more about natural remedies, (not just me, but modern scientists).  However, the funding for studies in this area always seem to go to drug companies, and medication producing labs.  If you want an “expert” in nutrition and natural medicine, even if you like modern medicine, you kind of have to search.  As always, I research everything either a doctor or a midwife recommends I take.  It’s their job to advise me, and it’s my job to make good choices because I’m the one who will have to live with my body.  Anyway, here’s what’s new this time around.

This is my first pregnancy that I’m not anemic. 

I’ve just gotten used to the fact that being pregnant meant feeling like you wanted to sleep constantly.  I assumed that’s just how it was.  I have taken prescribed iron supplements in previous pregnancies.  Never once did it effect my numbers.  One pregnancy I learned that Cream of Wheat cereal might increase my iron.  That worked fairly well, as long as I had a bowl every morning.  We also tried cooking on cast iron, and that helped too.  During my 4th pregnancy one nurse suggested I take orange juice with my supplement and that helped too.  It got my numbers at a safe place, but never to a normally functioning place.

My midwife was the first one to point out that the TUMS I was taking for my constant heartburn and acid reflux I tend to get when I’m pregnant was limiting the absorption of iron in my system.  She recommended that I replace the TUMS with Papaya Enzymes.  Now, I research everything to death, even things my OB recommended.  Turns out they are very safe for pregnant women to take, and they don’t taste half bad either.  What really surprised me is I think they work about twice as fast as TUMS in my opinion, and I have to take less of them.  My iron levels have also returned to normal.  Normal levels…in pregnancy.  I never knew that my body could do such a thing.

She also strongly recommended that I eat yogurt every day to help my stomach control the acid causing my heartburn in the first place.  I started taking the papaya enzymes first, and I was taking about 4-6 tablets a day.  Once I started eating yogurt every day, I only needed to take about 1-2 a day.  That really helped as well.

So cross that off my list.  No heartburn this pregnancy, and loads of energy.  I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

I’m learning about the benefits of Kefir.

I’ve tested positive for GBS in every pregnancy except Solveig where I tried a different natural remedy involving garlic that actually worked so I didn’t need that antibiotic during birth.  That was huge for me to be able to avoid that antibiotic that had consistently given me problems post-birth in previous pregnancies.  This time my midwife would like me to add kefir to my diet about a month before my GBS testing as a preventative measure.

For those who don’t know, GBS is a bacteria that many women (about 40%) are carriers of, but it does not make them sick.  However, the baby can contract the bacteria while passing through the birth canal and it can be very serious if they do.  So everyone agrees (both midwives and doctors) that this bacteria should be killed off before the birth. 

The way she explained it was that Kefir is “like yogurt on steriods.”  Researching online, I see it has more diverse good bacteria than yogurt, as well as yeast.  She said that when you take an antibiotic, it kills both the good bacteria and the bad bacteria in your stomach, which is often the cause of the side effects of antibiotics.  She said certainly antibiotics are sometimes necessary, and if I find myself needing them in the future, I should be sure to start drinking Kefir as soon as the antibiotics are done so that the good bacteria is restored in my stomach as soon as possible.  That was good to note should I need that nasty antibiotic in the future.

Anyway, GBS is cultivated in the body pretty far down the digestive tract.  So while yogurt is like a daily pick-me-up for the stomach, kefir works to restore each part of the digestive tract piece by piece.  So it starts restoring the good bacteria to prime levels in the stomach.  As you continue taking it, it moves to restoring good bacteria in the intenstines, and so on.  She said it will take about a month of taking kefir for it to work it’s way to restore the good bacteria all the way down to where the GBS is being produced in my body. 

She did point out that kefir has not always worked, but in about 90% of her clients who normally test positive for GBS, and start adding kefir to their diet, they will test negative for GBS after about a month.

So I just started taking it, and let me tell you, this stuff is awesome.  Knut has started drinking it too, because he said it just makes his stomach feel so good.  That’s pretty much how I’d describe it too.  Reading up on it more at home, we’ve found that studies have been done that of people who are lactose intolerant, their symptoms are decreased by 70% when they add kefir to their day.  It’s known to help your body digest things that are tricky to digest.

Other studies have been done on lab rats of the effects of kefir, but they are inconsistent.  In some lab rats, kefir has lowered cholesterol, in others, it has lowered blood pressure, and in some, it has killed cancer cells.  The data is so inconsistent that it would not be right to claim that kefir does any of those things.  However it is proven to be safe to drink, and it is proven to really help the digestive system.  So it’s not a bad thing.  The only argument among nutritionists/scientists is how much it can actually do. 

So we’ll see what the results of my GBS test is in a few weeks.  The proof will be there for my system.  In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy drinking it.  The kind I bought at the health food store tastes like a strawberry yogurt shake.  It’s very yummy.  I was only planning on drinking it 2-3 times a week, but it’s so yummy I’m drinking it every day, but limiting myself to about a 1 cup portion because it’s pricey.  Well, not too bad.  A small jug for the week costs a bit more than a Starbucks.  If it will help me avoid that nasty antibiotic during birth, I’ll drink it!  Well, actually, I’ll drink it, pour it over granola, or dip fruit in it.  It’s our new favorite food in this house.

I could go on to talk about some of the herbal teas she has been recommending for this last trimester to prepare my blood for birth and is supposed to help prevent hemorrhaging, but I think I’ve already rambled enough for today.

Who knew that as this is my 5th time around making it this far in a pregnancy, there’s still new things to learn. 

It’s the Season…for Growing Up

Like my Autumn fireplace display this year?  I do.  It makes the whole room feel fallish.

The running joke around the house these days is how much I’m nesting.  I feel like I’m cleaning all the time, or trying to get the kids to clean all the time.  Yesterday was a bit hectic as we had choir and chess club, and errands to run in town in the afternoon.  So in the morning, I had to decide if we would do school, or if I would clean.  Yesterday I chose school.  It’s amazing how messy the house gets when I don’t constantly clean for 3-4 hours in the morning.  Even that short amount of time of letting the little kids play while the older kids do school undoes so much work.  It’s quite astonishing.

Today I think we’ll recover the house from the disaster it became in a matter of hours yesterday.  I think when I’m pregnant, there are always big projects that I get set in my mind just MUST be done before the baby is born.  I stress over it, and drive everyone in my house crazy until said project is done.  At first it was the upstairs bathroom.  That is complete except Knut still has some towel hooks to hang up when harvest is over, and I think the light fixture might get a makeover.  As this project got done so timely, my mind has moved on.

Now I’m obsessed with the girls’ room.  I have some major storage issues going on in there, and it’s not pretty.  Silje has one very small dresser, and that’s it.  It holds socks and tights and underclothes for the girls, and Silje’s p.j.’s.  That’s it.  The rest of Silje’s clothes folded on closet shelves or hung up.  Solveig’s clothes are stacked on another shelf, which gets tricky when you’re dealing with those tiny little shirts and sweaters that like to tumble over. 

When Silje grows out of something, I’ve just been shoving it (literally) onto an empty shelf, and now I have about size 3T-6 clothes all mixed together and shoved in no method whatsoever to all the corners of her closet.  There are no more shelves for the new baby’s clothes.  There is no more space for anymore of Silje’s too-small clothes.  The floor is starting to clutter.  We need a good sized dresser.  We need some storage.  This must get done before the baby comes.  It’s my new obsession.

My quest for a decent used dresser is not going well, so as I try to be patient, I’ve turned my thoughts to the rest of the girls’ room, and to Silje.  She’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Everything with her is new for me.  She’s entering a new stage that is so foreign, and I feel a bit lost.  A new baby coming?  I can handle it.  My little Silje turning tweenish?  I have no idea.  I’ve been sensing some withdrawal from her.  I’ve been sensing a frustration in her work and play.  I’ve been praying for a way to reach her heart, and for her to know that I see her.  When it feels like I’m always just giving her another job to do, and when I have to deal with a whiny toddler, or a sick baby when we were supposed to have our tea party.  I get that she is disappointed that I turn down some activities that she wants to be in because it’s during her younger siblings’ nap, and therefore won’t work.  We skip naps about once a week for activities, but I hesitate to do more.

I don’t want to victimize her.  She doesn’t have it rough, and I won’t give in to thinking that, or letting her think that.  She has quite a few privileges, and in my opinion, a very blessed little girl.  My intent is not to feel sorry for her.  However, I want her to know I see her struggles.  I see she’s growing up, and it’s something I’m delighted over.  I want to show her I’m excited about the lady she’s becoming, and I appreciate her obedience when I know sometimes it’s hard.  I see her character, and I appreciate it.

I know one of her major struggles is keeping her room clean.  I can relate.  She has trouble throwing anything away and loves collecting things.  Every surface in her room is covered with stuff, to the point where you walk past anything and stuff starts falling.  She tries to clean it every day, and every day it gets terrible again, without much effort.

The plan is to redo this room for the boys in a year or two, and repaint the boys’ room for the girls.  The boys’ room is bigger, and will fit 3 girls better than 2 boys.  Until then, I think what her room might need is a makeover. 

I proposed the idea that I do a makeover on her room.  I knew she had trouble getting rid of stuff, so I asked her permission if I could do the makeover when she was not in the house.  We planned a special date with Grandma for this event.  I told her that I would go through her things and take away a lot of the clutter, and replace it with some fun new things. 

When I brought up new things, she was all on board.  I told her I was just going to make space.  I said everything that I removed from the room would go into a box for 6 months for safe keeping.  If she missed any of it, she could simply ask for it (specifically…not just get the whole box).  However, if she wanted anything in the box back, she would have to give back one of the new things so that she doesn’t just have a clutter problem again.  She’s totally on board.

She’s at the age where pink is baby-ish and purple is cool.  When I asked how she would like to see her room a few weeks ago, and it was “Purple!”  She also wanted lots of zebra print and bright colors.  She didn’t want a single stuffed or ceramic kitten removed from her room, as that is her favorite collection.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly collecting things.  I’ve scoured ebay, craigslist, Target clearance, Hobby Lobby, Goodwill, etc.  I’m really excited about her seeing it all come together for her.

Last night we went through all of her clothes together, and took out everything that she just hates.  She’s getting to the age where I buy her clothes and they never get worn because I have no idea what her “style” is.  We cut her pile of clothes in half and she was really excited with the extra space on her shelves.  I asked her a lot about what her style was, so I could keep that in mind more when we shop.  She was so excited to talk about it.  We talked a bit about modesty, which isn’t a huge problem yet.  We talked more about what types of clothes look good on her, and which colors suit her best.  She was so animated and excited the whole conversation to talk this all out.

I removed all of the 3T-6 size mess to my room to go through and sort and organize before the big makeover day.  I know tubs won’t work in this closet like it works in the boys’.  Silje suggested vacuum (compressed) bags, and I think it might work.  I hadn’t thought of that, but I think it’s a good idea.

We then talked more about the style of the room.  I told her a bit more about what the room transformation was going to involve.  I didn’t show her anything, but we just talked about some of the things she does in the room, some things she’d be more than willing to part with, and we just talked about growing up.  Letting go of the baby toys, and making space for the toys we use. 

It was the conversation for which I’ve been praying for weeks.  It’s not the room, or the clutter, or the mess that’s truly been on my heart.  She opened up to me and really talked for the first time in awhile, and I could see in her eyes that her heart was fed.  I was walking on clouds for awhile over that.  I felt that especially before a new baby comes, and I’m distracted and have a lot on my plate, I needed to connect with her and let her know I saw she was growing up.  I saw her frustrations.  I may be busy, but I still see.

The makeover is planned for this weekend.  I’ll have to post the final results.  It’s not the shabby-chic style that I’ve always decorated her room in the past.  It’s moving up to bold, flashy, “tween” which is the category that my online searches tell me is the style I’m looking for.  “Tween” is such a weird word.  I don’t really like it.  Apparently online shops have it as a category, though.  It’s certainly not my style.  I love where we’re going with it, though.  I love that she’s embracing this makeover, and I hope to be relieving some burden off of her. 

Moving forward in this direction of growing up is a scary, but very exciting place place to be.