Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday Food: More Beef, Forever and Always


Short version: A Leftover Skillet Special

Long version: Leftover taco meat + leftover pot roast liquid + rice + frozen peas + cheese = dinner


Short version: Roast beef, garlic butter, baked potatoes, roasted carrots and onions, accidental okra

Long version: For the roast beef, I used a free Penzeys spice rub sample that came with my Christmas pepper mill. It had salt, pepper, sugar (why?), and turmeric in it. It was kind of reminiscent of curry, what with the turmeric. It was okay, but I much prefer the salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano combination.

Let's pause for a beauty shot of my new pepper mill and salt shaker:

With which I seasoned those carrots in a most aesthetically pleasing manner. Thanks, MiL!

The only reason we had okra is because I accidentally bought it instead of frozen green beans. The bags look almost identical. Except for, well, the photo of okra on the front. Ahem. I didn't notice this until I started dumping out what I thought were green beans into a bowl and I was all, "Those are some really big green beans."

Yup. So then I had to cook okra, which not only have I never cooked, I have never eaten except in gumbo. I looked up some recipes that claimed to mitigate the slime, and then decided to just throw them in the oven with some of the garlic butter to roast.

They tasted pretty good--much like raw green beans, actually--but I have discovered that I am one of those people who is definitely put off by the strands of slime that stretch out when stirring the okra around. Also not a fan of the mucous mouth feel when chewing. I mean, I can eat it, but I'm not going to seek it out.

The kids mostly liked them--except for Charlie, of course--and A. even took a second serving. Nevertheless, once the bag is used up, I will not be buying okra again on purpose.

When I opened the new bag of potatoes to scrub some in preparation for baking, I pulled out this:

Vampire potato has been slain.



Short version: T-bone steaks, oven fries, green salad

Long version: The best thing about buying a whole cow--other than never having to worry about being out of meat--is casually deciding on T-bone steaks for dinner. I would never, ever buy a steak at the store after seeing the price on the sticker, but when the entire animal is the same price per pound? Then I can cook three T-bone steaks for dinner and not feel like I'm just grilling away our life savings.


Short version: Fried rabbit, garlic bread, beef and vegetable soup

Long version: A. FINALLY finished the last of his ponudo that I had taken out of the freezer. A momentous occasion, indeed. I thought we'd never see the end of that.

I had quite a bit of roast beef left from the sirloin tip roast, as well as a very awkward bone that still had meat on it I couldn't cut off easily. So I simmered the bone most of the day to make stock, then added the stock and the leftover beef to make a vegetable and beef soup.

I made the garlic bread because I was making bread anyway and ended up with a bit too much dough for my four loaf pans. So I shaped some of it into a round loaf, poured melted butter of the top, shook salt and a lot of garlic powder on it, and baked it in a cast iron skillet. I was careful not to overbake it, so it was nice and soft and really, really good. I should do that more often.

This rabbit was a cottontail A. got. It sat in the fridge for a couple of days and I kind of forgot about it until right before I was about to serve up dinner this night. It really needed to be cooked, so I quickly cut it into four pieces--the two back legs, and the middle part hacked in two--and fried it.

I fried it too quickly, apparently, because A. noted while the children were eating their bread that Cubby's piece was dripping blood. Whoops. I took it all back and cooked it some more. They all loved it. After it wasn't, you know, bleeding. Ahem.

Baby's first rabbit leg. (Please note the sparkly sweater she wore for our rockin' New Year's Eve. Next year maybe she'll brush her hair, too.)

"Why do you only take pictures of the baby eating?" asked Jack. "Take a picture of ME." Okay.


Short version: New Year's Day health, wealth, and happiness

Long version: See this post.

The maple snow ice cream was really good, by the way. It reminded me of the shave ice we would always get in Hawaii on our way back from the beach. I always got vanilla, which for some reason was electric blue at this particular shave-ice stand. Though the maple snow cream tasted like that, it was lacking the excitement of the blue color. For the best, I suspect.


Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, fried cabbage and onions, green peas

Long version: This was our last day of really cold weather, so we re-organized the meat that had been in the Woodchuck Freezer. I managed to get everything that was in the exposed and uncovered tub either in the freezer or in one of the coolers. Except for thirteen packages of ground beef that had frozen right to the bottom of the tub. Sigh. So I had to bring the tub into the kitchen to thaw to get that meat out. 

And that means that I now have thirteen pounds of ground beef to use in the next five days or so. Thus, meatloaf. Or rather, meatloaves. Three of them. 

Oh, you want to see something really exciting?

Re-usable produce bags my sister gave me for Christmas, which I had really been wanting. She didn't even know that, but she sent them to me anyway. Does she know her crazy hippie sister, or what?


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers; leftover rice, black-eyed peas, and collard greens; raw grape tomatoes

Long version: Nah

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Health, Wealth, Happiness, and Enchantment

Yes, I have brought my New Year's Day tradition with me to New Mexico. This year's health-bringing pork is a pork butt that is currently in a 300-degree oven to cook slowly all day.

In a spectacular example of very forward thinking, I actually bought my bag of black-eyed peas while I was in Tucson for Thanksgiving. I hadn't yet seen any in the stores around here, so when I had to go to the grocery store in Tucson, I went ahead and got some to bring back with me. How's that for planning ahead? Can't jeopardize this year's happiness by striking out on the black-eyed peas, now can I?

I forgot to look for a ham hock to put in with the peas, but A. did get a GIANT BOX of bacon at the grocery store last time we went. Seriously. Giant. Ten pounds of bacon for twenty bucks.  It's supposedly the ends and pieces, but it mostly looks like regular bacon to me. Good deal.

Anyway. I'm obviously not lacking smoked pork, albeit in thin strips. So I rolled a few pieces up and secured them into a ball with a toothpick for easy fishing out (and crisping up) when the black-eyed peas are done.

Nothing like a good bacon roll-up, I always say.

I put the black-eyed peas in the oven with the pork instead of on the stove. No sense running an extra burner.

I have no dearth of greens this year, once again thanks to A. The collard greens he planted for me produced a LOT of greens.

The collard greens in a warmer, less snowy time.

Harvesting those greens was the very last thing I did at our rental house in the village. I was exhausted from moving and a two-hour mad cleaning rush, but by God, I would get my collard greens. I cut two huge bags full.*

Good thing, as it is currently 13 degrees outside and looks like this:

Even collard greens aren't happy in this weather.

I have about three gallon bags of blanched collard greens in the freezer, which will be duly cooked later (with more bacon!) to ensure wealth in 2019.

We're also going to use some of that freshly-fallen snow to make maple snow ice cream. I've never made it before, but it can't be that hard, and we might as well make good use of the snow, right?

Right. Happy New Year, my lovelies.

* I pulled the plants in the front bed in the picture there, but A. asked me to leave in the ones in the back bed so we could drive by later and see if they started re-growing. We didn't know if anyone would be moving in after we were gone, but it turned out that the school cook and her family moved in. So I told her there were collard greens in the back bed, and she exclaimed, "Oh, great! I love collard greens!" I feel that house--and those plants--ended up with the right people.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Furnace Curse

It's December 31st, and we know what that means! It means while the rest of the world is gearing up for a night of champagne-fueled revelry to ring in a new year, the Woodchuck Family is cursing and scrambling to fix a furnace.

Oh yes. Again. What are the odds this would happen to us again a year to the day that it happened last time? In a different state! With a different furnace!

Low. The odds are low. And yet . . .

When I was up at 2:30 this morning for the third time with Poppy, it sort of blearily dawned on me that it was pretty cold in her room. So I checked the thermostat. It was set for 65 degrees, but it was 54 degrees in the house.

I just stood there for a second in my pajamas staring at the read-out before realizing that meant the furnace wasn't working. At which point I thought to myself, "You have got to be kidding me." With a very profane adjective before "kidding," I'm afraid.

Anyway. At least I knew why she kept waking up. Nothing to be done at that hour except bring the baby into bed with us. I told A. the furnace wasn't working and he got up to get the woodstove going again. This took the chill off the kitchen at least, but it was still too cold to put Poppy back in her crib.

I laid there listening to the furnace trying to start over and over again before eventually getting up at 4 a.m. to turn it off entirely. I didn't bother going back to bed. I wasn't going to be sleeping anymore, anyway, and I figured that way I could keep the fire going.

Since I was up, I checked the weather forecast, which was a winter storm warning starting tonight: high winds, 3-10 inches of snow, five degrees . . . How's that for timing?

We really needed to get that furnace going.

At first I thought we might be out of propane, as we had been getting low, but the propane-fueled stove was still working, as was the propane hot water heater. Then I thought maybe the furnace needed a new air filter, as that was part of the problem last time. The previous owner had left behind a new air filter (thanks, Dale!), so I slid that in there. Nope.

A. eventually got up and climbed up on the roof to be sure the vent wasn't iced over. Nope.

Next I started many rounds of phone calls to the propane company, trying to find a service guy that knew anything about newer furnaces like this one. No luck. One eventually told me to call a heating and cooling contractor he knew, and it was that kind man who diagnosed the problem over the phone. The drain was frozen.

So A. disconnected the drain hose and let the accumulated water drain into a jar. The furnace started working. Hooray!

Of course, it was still frozen underneath the house somewhere, which was not something we could easily remedy, but he just left the jar under the disconnected hose and we can dump it occasionally.

The important thing is that we have heat. Happy new year, indeed.