Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday Food: Leftovers Save the Week


Short version: Curried chicken with potatoes and carrots, rice

Long version: I took out the big bag of chicken leg quarters from the freezer and used about 2/3 of them for this. All I did was poach the chicken until I could pull it off the bone, then chop the meat up. In a separate big skillet, I fried onions and sweet yellow curry powder, then added chopped potatoes and carrots with the chicken, plus the liquid from poaching the chicken, and simmered that until everything was tender. Last I added some frozen peas (one-bowl meal! hooray!) and sour cream.

I always add sour cream or heavy cream or yogurt to curry. I'm sure that's not traditional, but it's what I like. And I certainly have no lack of sour cream right now, thanks to the THREE-POUND TUB A. bought.

This is what three pounds of sour cream (and a mug for scale) looks like.  Impressive.


Short version: Baked honey-mustard chicken, garlic bread, and frozen corn for the children, taco meat and mashed squash for the adults

Long version: I didn't have enough chicken for everyone to have some, but that's okay, because A. and I are not as enthused about chicken as the children are. We were happy with the taco meat I made a long time ago and took out of the freezer, and the children were happy with their chicken.

Well, except for Jack, who said the meat was "too sweet." Guess he's not a fan of honey-mustard (which I made by literally combining Dijon mustard and honey). But then he had three tacos after he ate about half his chicken, so he was happy in the end, too.


Short version: Fried pork, roasted potatoes, mashed squash, frozen green beans, apple crumble with cream

Long version: Another giant chunk of pork from the even more giant package I split up last week. We're getting another cow for the freezer in a few weeks, so I'm working on getting some of the bulkier items out of there. Those huge pork chunks are definitely bulky.

I made the crumble because I had a bag of apples that I bought just a couple of weeks ago, but that were already inexplicably soft and no good for fresh eating. Almost like they got partially frozen. I hate when that happens. So I peeled them all, sliced them up in a casserole, added sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice, and topped them with a combination of oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, and baked the whole thing along with the pork.

Is it a crumble if it has oats? Or is that a crisp? Who cares. The kids all liked it, and it used up the apples in what is actually a relatively healthy dessert, given the small amount of sugar I used in it. Win.


Short version: Bunless hamburgers, bread and butter, frozen peas, leftover mashed squash

Long version: More of the hamburgers I pre-made and stuck in the freezer. A good night for them, as we started back to in-person school this day, and it was a work day for me. We were all pretty tired.


Short version: Creamy green chili beef soup, cheese

Long version: I woke up this morning to this outside.

Well, actually, the sun wasn't up when I woke up, but the snow sure was blowing.

School was cancelled, and I thought, "Well, no point in cleaning up the house like I was planning on doing if all four of the children are going to be rampaging around. I shall make stock instead."

There were three packages of soup bones still in the big freezer from the last cow we got, three years ago. Better use those up before we get the next cow!

The bones were big enough that I needed to use my pressure cooker/canner pot anyway to cook them, so I decided to just use it as a pressure cooker first (not every pressure canner is also a cooker, but mine is) to make the stock, and then, while I still had it out, can the stock.

So I did. It took awhile, but at least it provided some distraction from the incredible mess and chaos that swirled around the house all day as the boys scattered every single one of their toys across every room of the house.

I just love snow days.


Those bones yielded about four cups of meat, so with that, some of the stock, onion, garlic,  tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, a lot of roasted green chilis, frozen green beans, and some sour cream at the end, I made a soup. Which we ate with cheese. Yup.

Oh! And I also put in about a cup of shredded calabacita from the freezer, and none of my children noticed. Ha! Now I know what to do with all summer squash: shred it, freeze it, and hide it in stews and soups in the winter. Sneaky.


Short version: Half tacos, half pork and sauerkraut, all frozen peas

Long version: It was a workday for me, which often means leftovers. This time I had some leftover pork, but not enough for everyone. And some leftover taco meat, but not enough for everyone.

I fried the pork with a jar of rinsed sauerkraut (hooray for the Megaton cabbages!) and heated the taco meat with cheese in corn tortillas.

Luckily, the half of the family that does not appreciate pork and sauerkraut does very much like tacos. Even better, Cubby was the only child who wanted the pork, and thus the only child who needed a separate starch. I had just one serving of leftover roasted potatoes in the refrigerator, which I fried for him along with the pork. 

I just love it when things fall into place like that.


Short version: More leftovers

Long version: I had an unusual Thursday workday because Charlie's teacher needed a substitute, so we had more leftovers for dinner. Some of the same leftovers as the night before, as a matter of fact.

The same three family members had the same kind of tacos with the same leftover meat, plus the same peas, also leftover.

The other three had leftover beef soup, with cheese. And thus did I reach the end of another successful week of carefully nourishing my family. Ahem.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

T.T.: How To Can a Bull

Not that I expect this information to be particularly useful for most of you. However, I feel like my purpose on the Internet is to keep a record of all the random and bizarre things I find myself doing, for that one person somewhere out there who may one day be staring down hundreds of pounds of very tough bull meat.

You never know. One day, it could be you.

So, let's get this party started!

Since my bull meat was stashed in the freezer, it first had to be thawed. This takes a really long time. I put the bags of meat in the sink overnight, and they still had frost all over in the morning. So then I filled the sink with water to help them thaw some more.


When I thought it was thawed enough, I hauled out the pressure canner and got my water heated in the bottom of it. Plus started heating the clean jars in the oven to sterilize them.

Blurry sterilized jars.

I had to trim some of those random cuts and cut them into smaller pieces.

And got bloody water all over the counter. Also appetizing.

Even with all my thawing efforts, the meat was still a bit frozen in the middle. No matter! That's what a microwave is for! At least, that's what my microwave is for at this particular moment.

Once all the meat was trimmed and cut (except for the stuff I had to do very hurriedly after I had already started filling jars because I underestimated how much meat would fit in my seven jars), I set up my prep station next to the stove.

Clearing the counter enough to set all this up is one of the hardest parts, honestly.

I did just a few jars at a time to allow the others to stay hot in the oven until I was ready for them.

So then I heated the meat in the microwave to make sure it wasn't freezing cold--cold meat in a hot glass jar seems like a fast track to cracked glass to me--and stuffed it into the jars.

The most appetizing thing of all.

Each jar got a teaspoon of salt in it, too. I used this flat wooden baton-like thing Cubby carved for me when we were still living in New York to slide down the inside sides of the jars and get rid of air pockets.

Then the rims were wiped, hot lids put on, bands screwed on, and into the canner.

Here we go!

Quarts of beef have to be kept at pressure for 90 minutes. Because I'm at a high altitude, I also have to adjust the pressure higher.

I used all the tips given to me by Karen. in the comments of this post to do this the last two times, and both times, all the jars have sealed. Hooray!

So! Here's what she told me. The meat is raw-packed with no liquid, just the salt. The canner is vented at about medium, rather than at a high temperature that results in crazy boiling. On my propane stove, I kept it at 5. When the canner lid is removed after the pressure is released, leave the lid ajar for a bit, and then take the lid off, but leave the jars in the canner for a couple of hours before removing them. Karen. said two hours, but I think I took them out after an hour and a half.

And with all of this . . .

It's a bull! In jars!

So there you have it. Next time you help your neighbors butcher an old bull, you know what to do.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Snapshots: Catching Up

Because last week's Snapshots featured only photos of our ice-fishing expedition, I have some older photos that I'm now going to drop here. Yay! 

I asked the MiL to send me some bay leaves from her (indoor in the winter) bay tree for my birthday. She obliged with a giant branch that filled an entire quart jar with bay leaves. And that jar smells SO GOOD. I might open it sometimes when I don't even need a bay leaf, just to inhale.

Christmas is over, all the decorations came down the day after Epiphany, and I never showed you what was on my front door. Let's remedy that now! Some of you might remember that I can't make wreaths, but a branch cut off the bottom of the Christmas tree with a fake pinecone and birds? That, I can do.

Having animals means moving hay.

And those animals were more than happy to clear up the loose hay left in and around the trailer.

Building a very small snowman with very long arms.

Under the watchful gaze of Samson (can you spot him?), who was sure we would shortly be tossing some of that delicious hay through the barn window.

And there we are! My life, snapshotted.