Friday, April 16, 2021

Friday Food: Man Food and Mom Food

This was a weird week, because I was in Arizona for part of it. So of course, the home crew ate different foods. I'm not entirely sure what they ate what night, but I do know that I had left a bunch of cooked rice, mashed potatoes, and peas in the refrigerator, along with a few packages of raw ground beef and steak. With these, A. made dinner. He generally combines meat, starch, and vegetable all together in one skillet, and everything is labeled as "man food." So that's what they ate, in various combinations, until Monday.

Here's what I ate, though, courtesy of my mother.


Short version: Chicken parmesan, roasted asparagus

Long version: This was pounded chicken breasts browned then baked in marinara with provolone on top. Very tasty.

My family went for a walk every morning in Arizona. And every morning, we all wore the dorkiest hats imaginable.

My sister, who took this photo, sent it to me with the label "Goobers." I can't disagree.


Short version: Grilled steak, roasted vegetables, green salad, chocolate roulade and pudding

Long version: It's really nice leaving home but getting to eat as if I were still at home. This is exactly the kind of meal I would make at home. I did, in fact, make the desserts. This was my sole contribution to all of the food served for three days.

As you can see, I didn't bother serving the roulade* beautifully. No one refused to eat it because I didn't sprinkle it artfully with sprigs of mint and fresh raspberries. (That's my dad in the background, by the way.)

I made the pudding (the same one I always make after making the roulade) because I didn't want to leave my mother with seven egg yolks sitting in her refrigerator. I figured it would get eaten eventually by someone. I mean, does pudding ever get wasted? Certainly not. About half of it was eaten this very night as a second dessert, so I don't think any of it will be thrown out.


Short version: Southwest Airlines snack mix, spiced almonds, Kit Kat

Long version: My plane landed in Albuquerque at 4 p.m. and I got right in the car to start driving home. It's a long drive and I wanted to get home before dark. So I didn't stop anywhere except a gas station, which is where I got the Kit Kat. I brought the almonds with me. And I went to bed shortly after getting home, so that was the entirety of my dinner.

I considered stopping at the grocery store in a city I passed on my way home, but I really wanted to get home before dark. So I didn't stop. Given the state of my refrigerator, that was a poor choice.

At least I have frequent opportunities to easily wipe it down.

And here's the door, just for fun.


Short version: Rinsed chicken barbecue sandwiches, leftover lamb, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: I had to work this day, and knew I would be in no mood to cook anything requiring much effort. So I took out a bag of frozen pulled chicken in barbecue sauce Miss Amelia gave us awhile ago. The chicken tasted okay, but there was way too much sauce on it. So I dumped out three quarters of the chicken into a sieve and washed off most of the sauce before putting the rinsed chicken in a saucepan with the remainder of the sauced chicken to heat up. The kids enjoyed it on bread. 

I had some of the chicken in my salad with some leftover peas.

A. had the very last of the Easter lamb. Yes, it was a week old. It was still fine. I had eaten some in my lunch at work, so I knew it was okay.


Short version: Chicken legs, mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans with onions, tiny carrots, brownie cookies

Long version: Big, cheap chicken legs with my Special Spice Blend--salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika--browned, then baked in the oven until done.

The tiny carrots were the ones I dug up a couple of months ago and forgot about in the refrigerator. The ones I missed digging up are the ones that re-sprouted and are growing again. I don't know if they'll make an edible carrot that way, but I guess we'll find out.

While I was gone, Cubby took it upon himself to ensure that there was dessert every night. One of the things he made was brownies, except he followed the recipe I hurriedly wrote out from this one, which, since I already know how to make it, is pretty terse. And doesn't specify the pan size. 

It's supposed to be made in an 8x8 pan. He used a 13x9 Pyrex, which resulted in extremely thin and crispy brownies. They're good, actually, like the cookie part of an Oreo, and there has certainly been no lack of willing volunteers to consume them.

This girl included, here modeling the rad shades I got her in Arizona.


Short version: Shepherd's pie

Long version: I took out the frozen shepherd's pie filling from the giant batch I made last week and topped it with the rest of the mashed potatoes on Tuesday. So when I got home from work, all I had to do was bake it.

As Jack noted, it was a smaller shepherd's pie than the 13x9 Pyrex that I usually make, but it was just enough for everyone.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, bread and butter, frozen green peas

Long version: A good way to close out a long week.

Incidentally, I hope everyone noted that we ate pretty well even when it looked in the refrigerator photos like we had "no food." Behold, the power of chest freezers, stocked pantries, and planning ahead. If I have no other purpose on this Earth, I feel like my life serves as a good example that "running to the store" is definitely not necessary.

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

* I discovered the recipe is online, not just in my cookbook. You can find it right here if you want to try making it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

T. T. : Cultivate Your Crazy

I have returned from my not-too-distant travels to the neighboring state.

And here I am at my parents' house, wearing my grandfather's fire helmet. Because why not.

The first thing I did upon my return to our rural outpost was enjoy my family's obvious happiness at my being home. The next thing I did was go to bed. The next thing I did was go to work. But then the next thing I did was go outside to visit my baby plants.

I realize this might not be high on the list of priorities for most people after an absence, but I have a history of doing it.

It's so fun to see how much they've grown since I left, and there are always some surprises.

Surprises like . . .

A very cheery row of daffodils.

Sprouting broccoli is finally sprouting. (This is a fall-planted variety that is supposed to overwinter and then grow little florets in the spring.)



And some carrots I apparently missed digging up that are starting to re-grow.

Okay, so I mostly just wanted to share photos of my precious plants without waiting until Sunday, but also, there is a tip in here somewhere. And that tip is this: Find what makes you happy and do it*, even if it seems weird to other people. 

For me, that's visiting my plants and gazing at them like an adoring parent for minutes at a time. What is it for you?

* Within reason, that is. If it's destructive to you, or harmful to other people, obviously don't do it.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Snapshots: Homeward Bound

 I should be on my way home from Arizona when you're reading this, but I made sure to schedule this so you wouldn't be deprived of your weekly snapshots.

You're welcome.

First up: Easter Things

Early morning egg hunt.

Thanks for the work gloves, Grandma!

Investigating baskets.

And eating chocolate for breakfast. A fine Easter tradition.

Let's see what other random things we might have been up to . . .

You've heard of cowboys. These are the sheepboys.

A. spent a full morning wheelbarrowing the waste hay from the rabbit casita over to the garden for mulch. It also had quite a bit of rabbit poop and pee in it, which caused A. to dub it "ferti-mulch." So clever with words, that A.

O give me a home, where the chickens roam . . .

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Friday Food: A Big Surprise at the End


Short version: Tuna melt sandwiches, tuna melts minus the bread, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I made the sandwiches for the kids, and then dumped the rest of the tuna salad right on the griddle pan with some shredded cheese to get browned and melty for A. and me. I also out some toasted pecans on top of ours, and it was very good.


Short version: Beef goulash with carrots, leftover rice, frozen green beans

Long version: I had stew meat still in the refrigerator because I didn't have the energy to cook it on Thursday. And I had the paprika sludge left on the bottom of the bowl from our egg-dying adventure

So I made goulash. Seems reasonable, right? I mean, spices are expensive, and I had about a tablespoon of wet paprika to salvage.


Short version: Easter leg of lamb, oven fries, frozen peas, chocolate roulade

Long version: Calling it leg of ram doesn't sound nearly as appetizing, but that's what it was: the last boned-out back leg of the ram A. butchered in November. I marinated it in olive oil, vinegar, salt, and lots of garlic (breaking my garlic press while preparing the garlic--HULK SMASH), then just roasted it and served it with yogurt/lemon/garlic sauce.

The roulade is a kind of flourless chocolate cake rolled around whipped cream. The ingredients are extremely simple--the cake part is nothing but cream, sugar, chocolate chips, and whipped egg whites, and the whipped cream is, well, cream, vanilla, and sugar. The execution of it is little more complicated, but it is delicious and not nearly as heavy and sweet as a standard chocolate cake with frosting.

The slices look like this:

Sort of like a Little Debbie Swiss Roll, only not gross.

I find it amusing that the recipe calls this a "big dessert," and yet my family has no trouble finishing it off. I could probably make two, and they'd still all be eaten.

Then again, I guess we do have a rather big family.


Short version: Sick-children soup, chocolate pudding

Long version: Four out of four children had a cold. Thus, soup. I used the remainder of the goulash, to which I added more onion, celery, carrots, green beans, a quart jar o pressure-canned bull meat, and a quart jar of pressure-canned beef broth. It was very good.

When a chocolate roulade is on the menu, it means that a double batch of this chocolate pudding will be on the menu shortly. Because, you see, the roulade requires seven egg whites, which then leaves me with seven egg yolks to use. The pudding is certainly a popular way to do that. 

Plus, kids with sore throats particularly appreciate cold, sweet, smooth pudding. As do we all.

Two of the four sick ones taking a very rare daytime nap together in my bed. Pre-pudding.

The only tricky part of making a double batch of this pudding is the precarious pot situation.

Believe it or not, I didn't spill a drop of this. Small victories.


Short version: Lamb curry, rice, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: We had quite a bit of lamb leftover from Easter, along with about a tablespoon of curry powder sludge from dying edge. Add onion, tomato, and the remainder of the yogurt-garlic sauce from Easter, and you have a delicious curry.


Short version: Shepherd's pie, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: I had made the shepherd's pie the day before, along with an extra one for our priest, and some additional meat mixture I froze for later.

Altogether, it was six pounds of ground beef. Combine that with the vegetables and tomatoes and other things that go with the meat, and there's another precarious pot situation.

It was a theme this week.


Short version: I don't know

Long version: Wait, WHAT? I DON'T KNOW?!

No. And the reason I don't know is that I am not there.

Yeah. This just gets weirder and weirder.

See, I left this day for Arizona to see my family. My sister had a trip already planned to visit my parents, and she decided to take it despite her recent bereavement. So I decided to go to Tucson to see her, as well as my parents and my brother, who will be coming down from Phoenix.

I'm only in Arizona for the weekend, and while I'm gone, A. will be getting food on the table for the locusts. I left plenty of leftovers in the refrigerator for him. I'm sure it'll be fine. Even though this is the first time in nine years that I have not been there to feed the crew.

Oh wait, I take that back. I was gone that one night last year when I stayed at a hotel by myself. I seem to be becoming quite the gadabout.

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

T.T.: An Update

I'm sure you've all been consumed with curiosity about the fate of the purple balloon. Has it been replaced by something more permanent, but less amusing? Or is it still fulfilling its admittedly strange life purpose of keeping the toilet working?

Well. Let me show you.

Over seven months later, and still as purple as ever.

I have found the fountain of youth, and it is in a toilet tank. At least for balloons.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Snapshots: Baby Plants! And Easter Prep

Happy Easter! Let's see what we have this week, shall we?

My hair was getting long, so I made an appointment with my stylist.

Meaning, I presented myself to A. with a comb and a pair of scissors and asked him to cut my hair. And of course, monkey see, monkey do.

Such a cute little monkey, too.

We dyed our eggs on Friday. I don't buy the kits, so I experiment with different ways to dye them with things I have on hand. This year, that was paprika (orange), curry powder (yellow), and beet skins (I expected pink, but got more of a purple).

I actually had the beet skins in the freezer from when I roasted beets in, um, January.

Yes, I thought far enough ahead in January to save the skins from my roasted beets, specifically for dying Easter eggs. I asked A. if that meant I should get a medal or be committed. "Commended or committed? That's the question," he replied.

I just thought that was funny.


I let the kids color on the eggs with crayons to make patterns, and then put them (the eggs, not the kids) in bowls with the spices and beet-y water.

In process. The egg on top of the liquid was a half orange, half yellow one.

The finished product is definitely less technicolor than the results from one of those kits, but I like them better.

The yellow curry (the dying agent in it is actually turmeric) makes the brightest color, although you can't really see it in this photo.

This year's Easter baskets are not as sparse as last year's Pandemic Special.

The chocolate crosses were sent by my mother just after Easter last year, and I stuck them in the big freezer until, uh, now. The random other candies are from Halloween, also stored in the freezer. Each child also gets a balloon, a package of Model Magic, and a book. The only thing I bought was the books.

And now, baby plants! Whee!

Baby beets.

Baby spinach.

Baby carrot.

Baby snow peas.

Slightly bigger baby cabbage. Toddler cabbage?

And a daffodil! Yay!

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Friday Food: Cook Once, Eat for Days


Short version: Cheese omelets, fried leftover roasted potatoes for the kids, cucumber slices

Long version: Omelets definitely take more time and effort than just scrambling a bunch of eggs, but omelets are also eaten without complaint by everyone in the family. The same cannot be said for scrambled eggs. 

So, extra effort upfront is sometimes worth it to have a meal in which I am not listening to anyone complaining about the food.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, rabbity rice, frozen peas

Long version: I had some rabbit stock left from the week before, with which I made rice. Thus, rabbity rice. Alliterative, amusing, and tasty. 

Somewhat relatedly, Jack's class did a craft last week where they had to come up with a word for each letter in "Easter," and one of his classmates, for the final "e" and "r," chose "eat" and "rabbit."

Look out, Easter Bunny. They're coming for you.

Cubby was required to pick up his room before dinner this day. He enlisted the help of his siblings by promising them a cheese party in his room after dinner for anyone who helped. And he made a poster for the party.

They did have music. Irish jigging music, because what else would you eat at a cheese party? They did not, however, have hot milk. They had water, which of course got spilled on Cubby's floor. And that is why they did not have hot milk.


Short version: Meatloaf, leftover rice, cucumber slices, mashed squash

Long version: Sausage is my new secret weapon in meatloaf. Our good ground beef is pretty lean, so the sausage adds some more fat, as well as more flavor. It also seems to help it stay together even without breadcrumbs, which I prefer not to use.

Meatloaf was not actually my plan for dinner. I had cooked a big piece of pork butt and also had the ground beef out. I had thought to have the pork Sunday and form the meatloaves to put in the oven Monday after work, but at the last minute I switched it up.

Wild, crazy, and unpredictable, that's me.

The reason I had so much meat prepared on one day was because I worked on Tuesday this week, too, so I needed three days in a row of easy dinners.


Short version: Carnitas-style pork, bread and butter, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: And here's the pork! Incidentally, even though it's not Tuesday, here's a tip for you: If you cook any sort of large roast that has fat on it, always save the fat. Particularly with things like pork butt, the fat rendered out of the meat is the best for frying the meat in to reheat it. It tastes like it was just made, instead of like reheated leftovers.


Short version: Leftover meatloaf, leftover rice, frozen green beans

Long version: I made three meatloaves, and there were two left over. So there was plenty for this night, as well as for my lunches at work this week. Meatloaf is good that way.


Short version: A melange of meats, sandwiches for the kids, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: Some of the leftover pork made into pulled pork sandwiches for the kids. The rest of the pork fried in more rendered fat for A. and me. A. also ate the last of the leftover brisket from awhile ago, and the last piece of leftover meatloaf.

I hadn't made curry dip in awhile (literally just mayonnaise and sweet curry powder), but it really does elevate plain old carrot sticks quite a bit with minimal effort.


Short version: Not takeout

Long version: I really, really, really (really) was not into cooking dinner this day. I had taken stew meat out, but never worked up the necessary energy to actually cook it. At 4:45 p.m., I told A. "Get out the takeout menus. I don't want to cook tonight."

"Ha ha," he said. "April Fools'."


Anyway, in the absence of takeout options (of any kind), I put together a low-energy dinner from the freezer and pantry.

First, a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables dumped in a skillet, plus some extra onions from the bag in the freezer, plus a jar of pressure-canned bull meat, plus some extra frozen green beans, finished off with soy sauce, vinegar, ginger powder, and peanut butter.

I also made some rice, so it was just like Chinese takeout. Well, except for the actual cooking of it. And the dishes. It didn't produce nearly as much trash, though.

It didn't look like much, but it tasted good.

Tasty dog food.

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