Tuesday, September 21, 2021

T.T.: Efficient Food Processing

If you've been reading here a long time--a reeeeally long time, like 12 years--you might remember this post about Rita the Puppy and her nighttime potty issue. The MiL was out of town at the time, which is why I was taking care of Rita. And when the MiL got back, she felt so bad about the inconvenience caused by Rita that she bought me a food processor.

I have mentally thanked Rita many times for that food processor over the years.

However. 

As much as I appreciate having a food processor when it comes time to shred three gallons of cabbage for sauerkraut or whatever, I do not like hauling the thing out and washing its many pieces. Which is why I make sure that I make the most of it when I do.

I never, ever use the food processor for only one thing. A common sequence for me is making breadcrumbs first, then making pesto, then making a marinara sauce. I don't have to even rinse the food processor out in between, because I don't care if small bits of breadcrumbs are in the pesto, or if the pesto is in the marinara.

When doing this, keep in mind that the purpose is to not have to actually wash it in between uses. So the first use should be for a food that doesn't have fat in it, like shredding vegetables, because then it can just be rinsed out and re-used.

Last time I used the food processor, I first used it to shred cabbage and carrots for coleslaw, then I shredded asadero cheese to freeze. I had had shredding the cheese in the back of my mind for a few days, but I waited until I was using the food processor for something else before doing the cheese.


Coleslaw on the left, cheese on the right. And shreds of each all over the counter, because shredding is messy.

I suppose this sort of goes along with my habit of trying to use dishes more than once to save on having to wash so many. So I guess your takeaway from this can be that I'm always looking for ways to reduce dishes. And that efficiency makes me happy.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Monday Bouquets: The Sunflowers Soldier On

The sunflowers are definitely waning. They're smaller, and most of them are in pretty poor condition from insect damage. But I did find some for this week's table flowers.


One with the inevitable sage.


And one with just sunflowers.

I hope you have a lovely Monday, with or without flowers.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Snapshots: Morning Light and Stacked Animals

You know what the boys really love? When A. goes in to wake them, warbling "Morning Has Broken." He has no ear for music, but he makes up for it with volume and dramatic delivery. 

This is a much more pleasant way to start the day.


Much quieter, too.

I almost always take photos of the the road I walk on as I'm walking away from our house. This is what it looks like when I'm on my way home.


Hello, trusty bus.

The trumpet vines that are choking out my green beans by the front fence are annoying, but they put on a nice display for anyone driving by in the morning.


Unfortunately for them, I value food much more than aesthetics, so next year they will be severely curtailed.

We have a metal bunk bed on our covered porch that was left there by the previous owner. I think his nephews used to sleep out there when they visited, maybe? I don't know. It's ugly and weird and I really want to get it out of the porch. * 

The animals, however, find this bed to be very useful. Odin spends almost all his time either under the bed on the ground, or on the lower bunk. The chickens also find it a very comfortable place to lay their eggs. I came out the other day to find Odin under the bed, one chicken on the lower bunk, and yet another chicken on the top bunk.

It was hard to get a photo that showed all three animals, and the best I got was this one where you can just see Odin's paws underneath and the top-bunk chicken's tail.


It was very amusing to me, in any case. 

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* Yes, we have lived here for three years now. We've had more-pressing concerns when it comes to home improvement.
 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Friday Food: So Much Beef

Yeah, I accidentally published this on Thursday night. But that's okay, because I was done cooking for this Friday Food week anyway.

Friday 

Short version: Before, during, and after football food

Long version: Cubby had a home football game at 4 p.m., so we all went. Before we left, the three remaining children had some leftover cream of wheat. Calvin also had some leftover potatoes and pesto. A. had leftover steak, potatoes, and pesto, plus some tortillas and cheese. I had some yogurt.

During the game, we all ate cucumbers, carrot sticks, and raisins.

After the game, we stayed for the first half of the varsity game, and A. bought Cubby a hamburger at the concession stand. The rest of the kids had bread and peanut butter, and yogurt with maple syrup when we got home. 

I had the rest of the steak and potatoes. Cold, because woah it was HOT at that game, and I was not interested in raising my body temperature with hot food.

Saturday

Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, boiled potatoes, fried mushrooms, coleslaw

Long version: Hamburgers made with the first of the 150 pounds of ground beef* I got from our neighbor's steer. So much better than store ground beef. So, so much better. 

I used some of the small garden potatoes for boiling, and I did not bother peeling them. Too small and irritating. So when we sat down to eat, I announced it was a peel-your-own-potatoes meal, if anyone was offended by the peels.

Not a single child bothered to peel their potatoes. Alrighty then.

I made a half recipe of this coleslaw with the last of some pretty old store cabbage. I have a couple of heads of cabbage in the garden that are going to be ready to harvest soon, so I figured I'd better get rid of the old one first. The coleslaw was delicious. As always.

Sunday

Short version: Giant roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, roasted green beans, leftover broccoli, magic ice cream

Long version: There were two meat chickens left to butcher, and A. grabbed the rooster this time. It really was a giant chicken. We didn't weigh it, but it seriously looked like a young turkey.


Ready for Thanksgiving two months early.

The "magic" ice cream is a recipe from Cubby's ATK cookbook for kids. Calvin chose it for Sunday dessert and helped me make it.

It's ice cream that can be made without an ice cream maker, because instead of churning a custard base, the base is made with condensed milk. I had never tried condensed milk before, but I bought some just for this recipe. 

The recipe also includes a small amount of sour cream, quite a bit of softly whipped heavy cream, and a lot of melted chocolate chips.

I think the chocolate chips took it over the top in terms of sweetness, given the fact that the first ingredient in condensed milk is sugar. We'll try it again sometime (when I have 2.5 cups of cream on hand) minus the chocolate chips and maybe try flavoring it with frozen, unsweetened peaches or something.

Monday

Short version: Leftover chicken, bread and butter, leftover coleslaw, leftover ice cream

Long version: Look at all those leftovers. Must be a workday. I did at least fry the leftover diced chicken breast in olive oil, which makes it much tastier than microwaving or something. I also added lots of paprika, salt, and garlic powder, because that's what I add to almost everything.

Tuesday

Short version: Barbecue bull sandwiches, frozen peas

Long version: When I had the food processor out earlier in the week to make the coleslaw, I decided to experiment with processing the pressure-cooked bull meat, in an effort to further break it up and make it less stringy.

That worked. And that was the meat I mixed with barbecue sauce for the sandwiches. I also topped the meat with cheese, because the bull meat has no fat in it.

I made some buns for the kids while I was making bread earlier in the day. Unfortunately, I baked them too long and the bottoms got a little singed, but nothing a little scraping with a butter knife couldn't fix.

Wednesday

Short version: Ground beef tacos, carrot sticks

Long version: I had some ground beef left from when I made hamburgers earlier in the week, so I cooked the rest of it on Tuesday with salsa and chile powder to make taco meat that I could heat up for dinner when I got home from work. 

Corn tortillas, meat, cheese, and a can of kidney beans I accidentally opened when I was making roasted chickpeas awhile ago, and there's dinner.

Thursday

Short version: Roast beef, roasted potatoes, green beans

Long version: I happened to pull a rump roast out of the freezer, mostly because it was in the box that was on the top of our stuffed-full-of-beef freezers. So I made it into roast beef, with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme, and roasted the potatoes along with it. And I made a sauce for it with Dijon mustard and heavy cream.

I put some green beans right on the pan with the beef and potatoes, too, because using only one cooking dish makes me happy.

I needed to get everything out of the pan while I was making the sauce, so I transferred everything to the cutting board.


Insta-worthy! If I, uh, had Instagram.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

* This may sound like a lot of ground beef to you. It is. My philosophy with the processing of animals is that if I'm going to pay someone to do it, I'm going to have them do as much processing that requires time and equipment as possible. I can make stew meat easily from any of the animals we butcher at home. I cannot (and do not want to) make ground beef. So I get mostly ground beef instead of stew meat and big roasts.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

T.T.: An Escape to the Past

I don't watch television. Like, ever. We don't even have a television. 

This is a source of continual amazement at the school. Most of the students in the elementary have been to our house to play with one or another of the kids, and they go back to school to report to everyone else that no really, we don't have a TV.

Shocking.

We do, however, have one desktop computer and two laptop computers. The screens may be smaller, but anything you can watch on a smart TV, we can watch on our computers.

And, very unusually, I have a recommendation for you if you're looking for something to watch on your computer. (Or smart TV.)

When A. took the kids on their quasi-camping trip last weekend, I thought about watching a movie. I couldn't find anything that seemed like it would be worth two hours of my time, but I did find a show to watch on YouTube: Wartime Farm.  

This is a BBC show from some time ago that features my favorite trio of historians: Ruth, Peter, and Alex. They did several of these shows for the BBC, in which they essentially re-enact particular periods of history from an agricultural perspective. There was a Victorian farm, an Edwardian farm, a Tudor monastery farm . . . you get the idea.

I've seen most of those on PBS in the past, but the only one that has all the episodes on YouTube is the Wartime one. The war in this case is World War 2, and the entire show is the three of them using the equipment and doing things as farmers did in Britain during that war.

That may sound boring to you. I find it interesting, but most of all, relaxing. The three presenters are so relentlessly cheery and enthusiastic. It's a relief to watch someone slogging through mud behind a tractor and still insisting that those beans will make a good crop yet. There is nothing at all negative about it, but it somehow escapes being cheesy.

I think we can all agree that that's a rare thing these days.

So if you're looking for something soothing to watch, try that one. (And then let me know if you can find The Victorian Kitchen streaming for free anywhere online, because that's the one I was really trying to find.)


Monday, September 13, 2021

Monday Bouquets: The Autumn of the Sunflowers

More sunflowers! More sage!


But . . .

By the end of the week, I had to search pretty hard for a sunflower that was in good-enough shape to go on the table. I ended up using just one small sunflower and some of the small yellow flowers that are growing in the thousands in the sheep pasture.


Plus the sage. Of course.

The next time I make an arrangement, I might not be able to find sunflowers at all. Oh well. It was a good run.

I hope you have a lovely Monday, with or without flowers.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Snapshots: It's Adventure Honda!

Yes! You thought there was only Adventure Van who was willing to carry us to our family outings in the middle of nowhere. You were not aware there is also Adventure Honda.


But only because Adventure Van has been stuck at the mechanic for over a month now and I really don't want to talk about that.

And where did Adventure Honda take us?


To a canyon to jump around on a giant rock playground.

Jasper came with us, too, and decided he wanted to ride shotgun on the way home.


I wasn't too keen on having my faithful companion at my feet for the whole drive home, however, so he was evicted to the back again.

I've been helping out a friend by watching her five-year-old daughter two days a week, and it's been very interesting watching how girls interact. Because of course, my only experience is with a tribe of boys. Those boys do not play by setting up all the stuffed animals and having them talk to each other.


There was also some singing.

I mean, I'm sure some boys might do that, but my boys do things like this:


No singing here.

And last, but certainly not least, my last baby has started school.


With a very tropical backpack provided by the MiL.

She only goes two days a week, but still. All four of my children are now in school. When I mentioned to Cubby that this was a little bit sad for me, he offered the very practical suggestion that I should just have another baby then. 

Right.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.