Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Food: Dwindling Provisions

I started out the week with limited fresh produce, and it didn't get any better from there. That is why we ate carrots in some form almost every day this week. And why I currently only have one carrot, two stalks of celery, and frozen peas left. It's even worse than the last time I was running low.


Short version: Grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable soup, ice cream

Long version: I trust you are all familiar with grilled cheese sandwiches.

The vegetable soup was a boring-but-tasty mix of onion, already-roasted garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, and peas, plus beef broth from the freezer.

After dinner the boys all had haircuts--buzzcuts, that is--with the promise of ice cream after they were all bathed and de-haired. The best part of haircuts for them is they get to have dessert afterwards while wearing their pajamas.

I encourage cultivating low standards in children. Makes it easy to generate excitement.


Short version: Sirloin steak, pasta with tomato sauce, boring broccoli

Long version: I know! Sirloin steak instead of ribeye! Such variety! The sirloin was from the half cow we got when Poppy was born, and that is almost gone. (It was a really small cow.) I ate my steak in a salad with random leftover cooked vegetables.

The tomato sauce for the pasta was left over from last week. Instead of grating Parmesan for it--why is grating Parmesan cheese such a daunting task?--I stirred in a little heavy cream.

The broccoli was just steamed. Butter, salt, whatever. Boring.


Short version: Stir fry and rice

Long version: Not being a fan of leftover meat, I usually try to disguise it with some sort of strong sauce. In this case, a peanut stir fry sauce. My standard stir fry sauce is soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, some sort of sugar (this time I used a little of an almost-used-up jar of peach preserves), and powdered ginger, plus corn starch for thickening. I'm out of cornstarch, though, so I used the peanut butter to make it thick. And delicious, because peanut butter makes anything delicious.

The only vegetables I had were onions, carrots, and broccoli, but I cut the carrots into matchsticks instead of rounds, so, you know, points for fanciness. Add the leftover chopped sirloin steak and some basmati rice for the kids, and that's dinner.


Short version: Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato soup, stewed rhubarb

Long version: I had one piece left of an enormous picnic roast A. bought a few weeks ago (are you seeing a theme of A. and giant pieces meat?) and cut into three pieces. I chunked up an onion to put on the bottom of my enameled Dutch oven, put the still solidly frozen pork on top of that, poured on a little juice from a half-used can of tomatoes, added salt and pepper, and put it in a 300-degree oven for a few hours.

Haute cuisine, here we come.

While I was at it, I dumped a bag of frozen chopped rhubarb from last spring into a Pyrex dish, added brown sugar and maple syrup to it, and put that in the oven to stew. The thing with rhubarb is, you always need more sweetening than you think you do. If you're asking yourself if there's enough sugar, there isn't. If you think you put too much sugar in it, add more. I love rhubarb, but it takes a LOT of sugar. This time we ate it with heavy cream, but vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt is also good.

Making coleslaw makes a damn mess, because of the grating of the cabbage and carrots, but I absolutely must have coleslaw with pulled pork if it's at all possible. I only had a quarter of a medium-sized cabbage left, so it was a small batch. To that, I added two grated carrots, a small amount of very finely diced onion, and the life-changing coleslaw dressing that I will share with you: One cup buttermilk or plain whole yogurt, 1.5 tablespoons each of mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar, about a quarter teaspoon of celery seed, and enough salt and pepper. Be sure to use enough salt. That's a half recipe for the small batch I made, which was about four cups of grated vegetables.

I've been making this coleslaw for years from a recipe in the book Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman. It is, bar none, the best coleslaw ever. Every person I've ever made it for has asked for the recipe. This was the first time I used yogurt instead of buttermilk, because I can't seem to find buttermilk in stores anymore but I always have yogurt. It wasn't quite as good, but still tasty. You just have to make sure you get the right balance of sugar, vinegar, and salt. That's what makes it so good. I can, and will, just drink the buttermilk dressing straight. Yum.

So at dinnertime all I had to do was shred the meat and add barbecue sauce. I've made my own barbecue sauce before, but I like this local-ish Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce (with the unfortunate name of Sensuous Slathering Sauce) so much, that I don't bother making it anymore.

I made the potato soup because Cubby came home complaining of a sore throat, and he always wants soup when he's sick. I had limited ingredients on hand to make soup, so I ended up boiling some diced potatoes in the liquid from cooking the pork, then adding some roasted garlic I had on hand, mashing up the potatoes, and adding sour cream. It was tasty, if unexciting. Cubby took a bite, made a sulky face, and said, "Did you even put anything in this? I can't taste anything." Pardon me? He ate it anyway, because he knows what's good for him. And what's good for him is not ticking off the cook. He liked it better the next day for lunch, when I added curry powder.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: Pulled pork, coleslaw, rice, broccoli . . . you know. Leftovers.

And now, a break for a completely unrelated photo of Charlie and Jack being ninjas:

My brother actually made and sent a video tutorial on how to turn your t-shirt into a ninja mask. This is the result. Judo CHOP!


Short version: Ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes, frozen peas, sauerkraut

Long version: Yes, ribeye steaks again. I told you it was a huge piece of cow.

I put an already-roasted clove of garlic into the mashed potatoes, and man, they were good.

Frozen peas and sauerkraut because that was pretty much my only option. No paradox of choice here!


Short version: It's up to the weather

Long version: If I don't make it to the grocery store today, I have three eggs, one can of tuna, potatoes, and cheese with which to make a meatless Lenten meal. Plus frozen peas for a vegetable. If I DO make it to the store today, then the world is my oyster. Or rather, my stir-fry. We shall see.

Okay! How about you this week, my lovelies? What'd you eat?

Edited to add: If you're looking for something to make for St. Patrick's Day (besides corned beef, which we will not be having because I didn't corn a brisket and no longer bother with store-bought, even when I can get to the store), you could try this American Irish Soda Bread from King Arthur Flour. Apparently, traditional Irish soda bread is only flour, buttermilk, baking soda, and salt. The American version with butter and sugar is more appealing to me, and anyway the secular celebration of St. Patrick's Day is an American invention. I've made it twice this week--once for us and once for Cubby's St. Patrick's Day party at school. I used the milk+yogurt substitution for buttermilk, and I didn't bother with all that nonsense with making a moat to drizzle milk and sprinkle with sugar. Just sprinkle the sugar right on top. The dough is wet enough. That moat business looks to me like a Cook's Illustrated instruction. And I don't mean that as a compliment.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Enter Wind, Stage North

The snow actually coming down from the sky has slowed, but not stopped. Now the wind is howling, which means drifting, and a lot of it.

The front steps are under there somewhere.

School was delayed for two hours this morning, though I'm not sure that's enough time to dig out from this. Especially because the wind isn't supposed to stop for days.

Thankfully, everyone slept in this morning. Well, everyone except Poppy. Let's not be silly. She was awake at 5 a.m. 

We had lots of bonding time before the next child emerged at 7 a.m. That was Charlie, who informed me he had caught Cubby's cold.

He is thoughtfully keeping his distance from the baby, but it's only a matter of time before I'm suctioning her nose out again.

His insane behavior this morning, however, tells me he's not at death's door, so both he and Cubby are at school. A. very nicely shoveled a path through the drifts so they could get to the road to catch the bus. 

So now it's just me and the tiny crew. And the drifting snow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Slogging Along

Hey, look! It's March 14th! Must be time for an enormous, depressing snowstorm!*


Although we don't really expect spring on the Canadian border in March, that's still an unpleasant sight to wake up to. Kind of over it.

Mia thinks so, too. To my knowledge, she has yet to leave the porch to take advantage of the latrine area A. cleared for her.

I can't blame her. I wouldn't want to squat in a foot of snow to pee, either.

It's still snowing now, and is supposed to continue all day. Cubby and Charlie of course don't have school, so Cubby decided to make everyone eggs for a second breakfast. They went through ten eggs between the three boys.

All that snow makes for a powerful appetite.

Meanwhile, Eczema Baby continues to demand satisfaction for her own powerful appetite.

She also continues to grow her cheeks at a rapid pace.

And that's the news from the frozen snow globe that is our house. Over and out.

* Although, thankfully, not as big as last year's apocalyptic March storm that also, interestingly, started on March 14th.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Practically Health Food

Currently in my refrigerator is a six-pack of Chillin' Cherry Squeezers. I guess you would call them juice? I think they're a juice product in the same way Velveeta is a cheese product.

The reason they're in there is because A. stopped to help an old lady shovel her driveway last week after a pretty good snowstorm, and she decided to thank him by bringing by Skittles, M&Ms, and the Squeezers for the children.

Apparently, neighborly snow removal=sugary thank-you gift.


The drink is, of course, disgusting. Jack got to try some with his lunch and it smells exactly like cough syrup. I didn't taste it personally. The smell was enough for me. Cubby, who has an active and vocal loathing of anything flavored with artificial cherry, is going to be very disappointed.

Anyway again.

The hilarious thing about this beverage, though, is the two prominently displayed announcements on the packaging that proclaim "certified gluten free" and "no high fructose corn syrup*."

Well! Practically a health food!

Despite these obviously superior health benefits, however, I think we'll stick with milk.

* It has sucralose in it instead. Plus a hell of a lot of food dye.