Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Food: In Which We Just Keep Eating

And so, I keep cooking. Thusly . . .


Short version: Beef soft tacos, steamed carrots and broccoli

Long version: I had two small neck roasts and one tiiiiny flat-cut brisket left from our half cow. The neck roasts had too many bones in them to do anything but simmer them until I could pull the meat away from the bones. There's no carving a neck roast.

So I just dumped the three pieces of meat in my enameled dutch oven with a piece of onion and some salt, barely covered with water, and simmered until they were tender. Then I pulled them out, drained off the resulting beef broth for future use, and pulled the meat into pieces to fry in tallow with chili powder, cumin, and some green garlic from some of the many garlic bulbs A. planted last fall.

We ate the meat in corn tortillas with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and salsa. Or rather, everyone else did. I had mine in a salad.


Short version: Non-charred lamb ribs, baked potatoes, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, green salad, stewed rhubarb

Long version: A. did not send the grill up in flames this time when he made the last package of lamb ribs. Success! He raved over them, and the boys competed to see who could eat the most. And then their hands were so covered in lamb fat that I had to turn the door knob for them when they went outside to get sticks to roast marshmallows over a fire. No one left the table hungry, at least.

I put the potatoes in the oven while the lamb ribs were doing their initial slow cooking in the oven, along with some rhubarb the MiL had sent up from her plant. We have a rhubarb plant here, but it's very small and has barely started growing. And I do love rhubarb. Thanks, MiL!

I had a salad again, with the remaining leftover taco meat, 'cause Mama don't do lamb ribs.


Short version: Celebratory Italian sausage, fried garlic bread, pan-fried sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions

Long version: Yes, I cooked my own Mother's Day meal. It's just easier that way. I made the bread by taking out the sausage from its cooking skillet, draining the grease, and using that skillet to fry thick pieces of bread with butter and garlic powder spread on them. I took a very small taste. They were really good. Obviously.

And now! A Mother's Day photo:

When this is the best mommy+kids photo we can manage, you know it's a challenge.


Short version: Country-style pork ribs, boiled potatoes, cucumbers with ranch dip, fried cabbage and onions

Long version: A. made the ribs on the grill, the way they are meant to be (paprika, garlic powder, salt). Charlie, covered in orange grease and working on his second enormous rib, announced with satisfaction, "Now this is a prime dinner." Indeed.


Short version: Bland meat, bland rice, bland broccoli, roasted sweet potatoes and onion, curried potato soup

Long version: I had two packages of beef stew meat left, which--thanks to sick, fussy baby and sick, fussy toddler and sick 8-year-old home from school--I just dumped in my biggest skillet and simmered with water, onion, and a bay leaf until they were tender. Then I put them on a pan and broiled them in the oven to get crispy with olive oil and garlic powder. They needed to be fried in tallow with a ton of fresh garlic, but I didn't have any tallow, and I was lazy, so they were bland. And dry. Bah.

I made the rice with the remainder of the beef stock from Friday. It needed more salt.

I didn't add anything to the steamed broccoli except salt. Why break my bland streak now, right?

I made the potato soup with some of the roasted onions, diced potatoes, the liquid from cooking the beef, curry powder, and a little sour cream. Cubby ate three mugs full and then retired to the couch to moan some more that his head still hurt, and now his stomach did too.

All of this made way too many dishes, which made it a doubly disappointing meal.


Short version: Cornell chicken, boiled potatoes with green garlic, sauteed mushrooms with green garlic, carrot sticks with ranch dip, The Nourishment

Long version: Cornell chicken is a New York State thing, and one of my favorite chicken dishes. Probably because the marinade is mostly vinegar. I'd never made it at home, but it's dead simple, and I will be making it again. Chicken always takes way longer on a grill than you think it will, so I always plan on it cooking at least 45 minutes longer than I think it should. This time, with whole legs, it took almost two hours.

Luckily, A. had company while he was grilling.

Yes, my daughter's shirt says and has a picture of a truck. Gender-bending clothing is her lot in life.

When A. was a boy, his pediatrician was an Italian immigrant who propounded the miraculous curative properties of garlic. In honor of Dr. Gioia, I treated A.'s cold with green garlic in both the mushrooms and potatoes. Charlie also ate the green part of the garlic plant (I only used the white part) and then ran around exclaiming, "I feel like I'm breathing fire!" I bet.

The Nourishment is a baked custard recipe from The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook. I've been making it for years, and it's A.'s most-requested food when he's sick. Cubby and Charlie can put away astonishing quantities of it, too. Jack doesn't like it much. Oh well. More for the others.


Short version: Pork chops, pan-fried sweet potatoes, fried cabbage and onions, steamed broccoli, cornbread

Long version: I made it; they ate it; the week is over, hooray. (That was the shorter version, actually.)

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Clearing Away the Straws

I find that when I have days like yesterday--days in which it feels as if it's all too much--it's the small things that really seem as if they will break me.

The straws, if you will.

In this scenario, I am the camel.

During yesterday morning's little pity party, it was spoons.

We had no clean spoons. This is a sure indicator of sickness in the house, what with all the tea drinking and soft-food eating. So every time I would open up the silverware drawer to get a spoon for administering yet another spoonful of honey to a coughing child, I would confront the devastating fact that we had no clean spoons.

And then my dramatic internal monologue would go something like this, "WHY IS MY LIFE SO TERRIBLE? WHY IS EVERYTHING SO HARD? WHY CAN'T I JUST FIND A CLEAN SPOON?" (All caps in my head, yes.)

Luckily, I am old enough to have learned a few things in my time on this Earth (38 years brings a lot of wisdom, obviously). And one of the things I have learned to do is, first, stop thinking in all caps. That never helps anything. And second, to ask myself, "What can I do right now, this very second, to make things better?"

The answer is almost always something very small. I can pick up the living room, because the fireman's hat in the middle of the floor has been tripping me up every time I go to the kitchen. I can take Poppy and Jack outside, because everyone's always happier outside.

Or, as I did yesterday, I can wash some spoons.

So I did. I washed some mugs, too, while I was at it, because those were all dirty too. And just like that, one small straw that was threatening to crush me had been removed and things seemed more manageable.

Obviously there are many large things that have yet to be resolved (I see you, disorganized closets* that need to be packed up) and other things that I just can't do anything about (sick children waking up over and over), but clean spoons are a start.

* Funny thing: After years of wishing for closets while living at closet-less Blackrock, I am now of the opinion that closets are nothing but a black hole for disorganized junk and I don't actually like them much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Whelming Is Close To Over Levels

Five out of the six members of the family are now sick with a nasty cold. I am the sole holdout, which I suppose I should be thankful for, since I would still be up all night with the sick baby and toddler, preparing tea and soup, and generally coddling all the sick ones even if I were sick myself.

I am very tired.

Poppy had another eczema flare-up. The only thing I had started eating regularly again was eggs. So either she's allergic to eggs, or it has nothing to do with what I'm eating. On the off chance that it really is what I'm eating, now I have to go back to meat and vegetables (almost literally ad nauseam)to see if it helps.

Baseball season rages on, with games or practices six days a week after early dinners. Though at least when kids are sick I have a good excuse to skip some of the games.

We're moving in five weeks. I have all of three boxes packed, and I am at something of a loss as to how I'm supposed to pack everything else and get this rental house clean with four small destroyers on the loose at all times.

It will happen, though. Somehow. The colds will go away; the eczema will eventually clear up; baseball season and school will end (at almost exactly the same time); and we will pack all our belongings into a truck and drive away.

I just have to get from here to there. Send some positive vibes my way, okay? Thanks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Poor Old Pincushion

Yesterday morning Jack, Poppy, and I were just returning from our walk when I heard A. exclaim, "Oh no! Mia got into a porcupine!"

Oh no, indeed.

Not only had she encountered a porcupine, she apparently tried to bite it. I know this because she had at least two dozen quills all over her nose and inside her mouth. She couldn't close her mouth, and she was dripping saliva and blood all over. It was gruesome.

It got a lot more gruesome when A. started pulling the quills out and the blood started coming faster. I pulled out a few that were in her feet, and I was shocked at how thick and stiff the quills were, as well as deeply embedded. My previous experience had been with removing cactus spines from our dog in Arizona. This was much, much worse.

After a few minutes trying to remove them ourselves with hands, tweezers, and pliers, I asked A. to just take her to the veterinarian in the village. He put her in the car and took off, not even calling first. Three hours and $80 later, Mia was back home and weaving drunkenly around as she worked off the last of the anesthetic.

And through all of that, she didn't make a single sound or try to bite. Still the best dog.

She appears to be fully recovered this morning. I think she's learned her lesson about porcupines. I just hope she doesn't encounter a bear next.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Just a Mother's Day in Paradise

I know, I know. Yesterday was Mother's Day. I was supposed to be posting pictures of my breakfast in bed and telling stories about the cute cards my kids made for me.

No can do, my lovelies. Sorry.

I did get some cards and things made at school, but I got those on Friday because Cubby and Charlie couldn't wait to give them to me.

I did not have breakfast in bed (nor did I want it), but I did sleep in until 6 a.m. And I did make my own breakfast without making anything for anyone else, AND manage to eat it before anyone came circling around demanding to eat what I was eating (bacon, eggs, and a rice cake with blackberry jelly--toast stand-in, as I'm not eating wheat still).

Poppy has a cold, and thus was fussy and drippy at church. The others were . . . spirited. It was a challenging service to get through.

I did get a picture of me with all the kids before church, though. That was my Mother's Day request. A. took them on his phone and hasn't sent them to me yet, so I can't post one, but I think they came out okay. If they did, it's only because I bribed my stubborn sons with candy to act normal for thirty seconds during the photo shoot.

I took a nap in the afternoon, talked to my brother and mom on the phone, and had a gin and lime. Then I made dinner and let A. clean it up and put the kids to bed.

It was a day in which I was a mother. A day designated as official Mother's Day, but still just a day among every other day in which I am a mother. No matter what Hallmark may have you believe, this is how the official day looks with very young kids.

Happy belated Mother's Day to all my comrades. I hope yours looked just as you hoped it would.