Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Food: Beef for Days

One of the inevitable results of buying meat a whole (pig) or half (cow) at a time, is that you end up with a lot of one kind of meat in your freezer, and not much variety. At least, we do. Someday when the children are bigger and we're eating even more than we are now (eek), I'll probably have two freezers and therefore enough space to buy whole pigs and cows at a time, and then we'll have both pork and beef. At the moment, however, it's almost all beef, with some supplemental grocery store pork.

And now, let us jump right into the feeding trough. So to speak.


Short version: Ribeye steaks, onion, rice, broccoli with cheese

Long version: More of the ribeye steaks that I hacked off the ridiculous log of cow flesh A. brought home last week. Except this time I cooked them on my cast iron griddle in the house, which has a grill on the other side. Still good, if not quite as deliciously smokey. I had a little room left on the griddle, which I filled with thick slices of onion. In my experience, you will never be sorry if you cook some onion.

The rice was left over from the previous week.

The broccoli was steamed, and then I drained it and threw some butter and cheddar cheese pieces in the pot and covered it to let the cheese melt. I had plans to make an actual cheese sauce, which is much better, but then the Subaru broke down entirely a couple of miles from the house (luckily, only A. was in it at the time) and I was dealing with roadside assistance and tow trucks, so no cheese sauce. No baked apples for the same reason. Boo on many levels.


Short version: Carnitas, black beans, carrots

Long version: The boys ate their meat in corn tortillas with cheese, beans, lettuce, and sour cream. A. and I ate our meat with all those things plus salsa, as a salad. If you have never had the joy of consuming a carnitas salad, I urge you to do so at the first opportunity. Delicious.

The carrots were just random chunks I threw on top of the meat to steam, so we would have a vegetable besides lettuce. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask A. to get the big bag of carrots from Quebec (our local store carries several kinds of produce from there, since it's just over the border) when he went to the grocery store for me, so he got the standard Green Giant carrots from California and they taste like bleach. Even when they're cooked. Gross.

The beans are Goya brand in cans (the only kind I'll buy), drained and heated up in the microwave with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and vinegar. Yes, I know I should cook my own beans instead of buying them in cans. I don't.

This guy helped me finish up the leftover meat the next day for lunch. I had another salad, he had another taco, and both of us were very happy.


Short version: Un-American goulash with carrots, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, frozen peas

Long version: American goulash is a pasta dish with ground beef. My goulash is beef cubes with a ton of onions and paprika, plus tomatoes. I add carrot chunks about halfway through the cooking, too, and sour cream at the end. I used to always add the sauerkraut to the goulash, but certain of my offspring are displeased with that addition, so now I serve it separately. This was the last jar of sauerkraut from last year. Sad.

I always add some sour cream or buttermilk to my mashed potatoes, for a little bit of tang. Not that it matters to me, since I rarely eat them anymore. Also sad.

And we eat a lot of frozen peas. So convenient, so easy to stock up on and have on hand, and so palatable to every member of the family.


Short version: Pork chops, fried cabbage/carrots/onion, leftover rice and mashed potatoes, microwave baked apples

Long version: Charlie's favorite thing is "meat with lots of pafreaka." That would be "paprika," but he says it that way because, "I freak out when we have it." Right. So pork chops in our house always have lots of paprika on them. A. cooked them this time, so I'm not sure what else he put on them. I always also put on lots of garlic powder and salt and pepper. For years, I didn't season pork chops enough and didn't really like them. I now know they take a lot of seasoning.

The cabbage mixture was thinly sliced cabbage and onions and shredded carrots cooked slowly in a lot of butter, until a little bit caramelized. My mom made this when she was here after Poppy was born, and now I make it frequently, too. Proof you're never too old to learn from your mother. Too bad it still tasted faintly of bleach because of the carrots.

I only had a little left of both the rice and the potatoes, so the boys got to have small portions of each. Cubby was delighted to have both rice and potatoes. That boy sure does love his starches. Definitely his mother's child.

I make baked apples in the microwave if the oven isn't on already for something else. I don't think they're quite as good, but certainly still enjoyable with cream. What isn't, right?


Short version: Bacon cheeseburgers, random eggs, vegetable soup, cheddar cheese, bread and butter

Long version: The last package of ground beef was pretty small and only made five small hamburgers. A. probably could have eaten them all himself, but as we all needed to eat, I also made bacon and a couple of eggs for him, so he could make his alarming Towers of Power.

The vegetable soup was the standard mix of vegetables--onion, garlic, celery, carrots (damn Chlorox carrots again--gotta use 'em up), mushrooms, cabbage and green peas--but instead of broth and tomatoes, I used the remaining liquid from the goulash, out of which almost all the meat and carrots had already been eaten. It was a good combination, actually. I ate soup plus cheese instead of hamburgers, as did Cubby. Everyone else had a small amount of soup and the hamburger patties. And everyone got one piece of bacon.

Bread and butter is just what it sounds like: A cop-out when I need a starch for the children (A. and I typically don't eat this part of the meal), but don't want to dirty another pot or make anything else. At least it's homemade bread, so I did put in the effort at some point in the past. But still . . . bread and butter. Yup.


Short version: Ribeye steaks, pasta with tomato sauce, roasted butternut squash/onions/garlic, salad, baked apples

Long version: Yes, ribeye steaks again. A. told me that if I were somehow not around and he was in charge of cooking, he would just keep one of those whole ribeyes in the refrigerator to cut off steaks to eat, fry them in a cast iron skillet, and eat them with his hands. Then there would be no dishes except the skillet, which can be re-used without washing. He was completely serious.

Luckily for the children, I am not such a savage, so they got to have pasta with their steak. I even generously grated Parmesan cheese for it, which I don't always bother with. The tomato sauce used up the last half of a jar of tomatoes I canned last summer. I didn't take the skins off before I canned them, but I found that I can pop the skins off pretty easily when I'm cooking them. Still, I prefer my food to be as prepped as possible before I start cooking with it, so in the future when I'm not pregnant and don't have a toddler underfoot, I'll probably peel them before canning.

Anyway, I threw the tomatoes in a dish with some olive oil, a bay leaf, and basil and shoved it in the oven, which was on to roast the butternut squash. When the tomatoes had reduced, I mashed them with a potato masher and added some balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic (more on that later).

I also put an onion with the squash (remember, if you have room in a pan, always fill it with onion), plus four heads of garlic. A. had requested I roast some next time I was roasting something else. The garlic isn't going to last much longer, so I did a bunch. Also the apples, because the oven was on and I have quite a few left in the big box of utility apples A. brought home. They won't last much longer, either.

The salad was romaine hearts (the only leaf lettuce available at the store in non-bag form and man, I am really missing homegrown lettuce now) with homemade ranch dressing, which means it was a salad really only in the academic sense. I added the roasted vegetables and some of the steak to mine. A. slathered his first steak with the roasted garlic and his second with the tomato sauce. So obviously he doesn't mind when I bother with more than hunks of meat, even if he wouldn't.


Short version: The Church says no ribeye for you.

Long version: I am not a menu planner, so my dinner plan tends to evolve over the course of the day (or devolve, depending on how challenging the day is). I have more of the tomato sauce, so maybe I'll make all the children's dreams come true and give them pasta two nights in a row. Crazy indulgence. Then again, I have to bake bread this afternoon, so I could also give them fresh bread.  I could make cheesy omelets, or I may go even lazier and just scramble a whole lot of eggs (sixteen at a time for the five of us, which is why we go through five dozen in a week). I might steam some broccoli, or maybe again be lazy and throw some more frozen peas in the microwave. One way or another, though, I'll cook and we'll eat. It's as certain as the sun rising and setting.

Your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Typical Photo Shoot

Every once in awhile I think, "Man, I really need to take some new pictures of the baby. Poor fourth child. Her infancy is going undocumented."

So I find the cell phone (no real camera anymore, though I'm probably going to get one soon because I hate using a phone that half the time isn't charged or that I can't find) and set the baby up somewhere. And then this happens . . .

The first step is actually getting her to look at the camera. I would say sit up straight, but her core strength isn't really there yet. She can barely stay propped up.

We have eye contact! Maybe we can coax a smile out of her.

Not the expression I was going for.

Then Jack and his giant head arrive, and it's all over.

A pretty accurate photographic portrayal of her life, now that I think about it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

On Acceptance

This past Sunday was a rough day for me. I was very low on sleep, there were some issues with my children's behavior at church, it snowed all day, the kids seemed particularly crazy and loud . . . and then this photo shows up in my e-mail.

My dad outside a Mayan temple in Belize.

He also sent a video of the beachside resort they were staying in, featuring palm trees, blue skies, and my mom relaxing on the patio of their private thatched hut. They're currently on vacation in Belize and Guatamala, and my dad has been very good about sending photos for me to show the kids, so we can follow along on their adventures.

I showed the video to A., making some remark about how it couldn't be much different from our current messy house/loud kids/perpetual snow situation, and he said something like, "Kind of wish you were there instead of here, huh?"

I reflected on that for awhile. And my reflections brought me to this: Yes, it would be nice to be relaxing beachside with a book and a cup of coffee (or something stronger . . .), but you know what? I am not 70 years old. That is not my current stage of life.

My parents weren't taking tropical vacations when they were 38 years old, either*. They were working, and shuttling their three children to various sports and activities, and listening to an awful lot of sibling fighting in a messy house.

They were, in short, pretty much where I am right now (minus the snow). That's reality. 

Messy house, messy paints, happy toddler. Daily life.

Our time will come for exotic trips without children, but that's not where we are right now. And that's okay. Where we are now is pretty good.

* Although we were living in Hawaii at the time, so they did spend a lot of time at the beach. However, I know firsthand how relaxing it is to go anywhere with three little kids, and I can't imagine the beach is any different. So it wasn't exactly the tropical vacation most people dream about.