Cooking up a storm

Susan Manzke
A blanket of new snow gives the Manzke's front yard a pristine look.

As I work on my laptop, a winter snow storm is roaring through our area. Even so, I’ve been counting the days until the spring equinox arrives on March 20th. In Wisconsin though the days are getting longer, winter has a bad habit of cropping up well past spring’s entrance.

So what do I do? Work in the house.

One chore that Bob and I tackled a bit ago was cleaning out our chest freezer. Since this model isn’t frost free, once in a while, we have to melt or chop our way through accumulated ice.

I really appreciate our chest freezer. It can store more food than our old upright. But it does have a big problem. Too many items fall to the bottom, out of our baskets, and get lost in the depths of the appliance.

While cleaning out the freezer this time I found meat I had long forgotten at the very bottom. Wrapped in white butcher paper was a beef heart and a beef tongue.

I had passed over these delicacies many times in the past ten years—yes, I said ten years. No one in our family wanted to eat this meat. I doubt if my dad would have even tried them and he was one who liked oxtail soup. We rarely ate organ meat when I was growing up.

Sunny checks out the new fallen snow.

When Bob raised cattle to butcher, the organ meat was the last to be used. It was passed over for roasts, steaks, and hamburger—I have a feeling I’m going to get letters from people who absolutely love eating tongue and heart meat. I know you are out there.

Anyway, these packages were badly freezer burned. A third package had soup bones. I boiled those bones up first. You won’t believe this, but they made great soup, even after all this time in our freezer. Seasoning hid the taste of the freezer, that and onion and garlic made the soup yummy.

No way was I going to throw out the organ meat even though neither Bob nor I would eat it. It had to be used so I slow-cooked the tongue.

It took hours to make it tender. I didn’t season it, so it continued to smell of freezer burn. But we had animals that would eat it, freezer burned or not.

After it was cooked, I cut it up. Even my sharpest knife didn’t want to slice through that tough tongue skin! But I made my way through it and sliced everything into bits for the barn cats. Since a cow’s tongue is huge, the cats had enough food to last for a couple feedings. They loved their treat and grumbled at each other as they munched. Unlike dry cat food there weren’t any leftovers.

Barn cat waiting for its supper.

A week later, I went back to the freezer and brought out the heart. It was huge and slow cooked all day, too. Again our barn cats had a couple feasts out of this piece of meat.

One thing about living on a farm with animals, leftovers never go to waste. If the cats hadn’t eaten all the meat, our chickens would have. They are omnivores after all.

Now our freezer has more room. It’s easier to find frozen containers of soup. Since it is snowing, I think I’ll thaw out some for lunch. I really don’t want any other item to be lost in the depths of that freezer, though I don’t think our cats would object. We feed them well, still they really loved getting their special treats.

Right now I’m watching the snow fall while waiting for my soup to heat. I’m not bothered too much by the snow because it won’t last too long. Spring is around the corner after all. Yay!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;