Friday, February 5, 2021

Friday Food: So Much Ground Beef


Short version: Pork ragu, pasta, green salad with vinaigrette, mashed squash

Long version: I used the other chunk of random cooked pork to make a kind of ragu with tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrot, celery, and some balsamic vinegar. I think traditional pork ragus are made with something like a pork shoulder, which would get nicely shredded and make a very rich sauce. The cut I had was a lot more lean, so I diced it into the sauce, then simmered it for a few hours and mashed it with my potato masher to break it up. 

Some of the pork sauce I put into pasta for the kids, with parmesan cheese. The rest I topped with asadero cheese for A. and me.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, leftover rice, coleslaw, Grandma Brown's baked beans, mashed squash

Long version: I had a cabbage--not one of ours--that had been in the refrigerator for, um, maybe a month and half? In any case, it needed to be used. And all the children like coleslaw. I used half the head for the coleslaw, and the rest was sauteed with carrots and onions in butter. We didn't eat any of the sauteed cabbage this night, though.

To go along with the summery coleslaw, I also took out the last container of Grandma Brown's baked beans from the freezer. No more Grandma Brown's until someone goes to New York. 

It's gonna be awhile.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, individual garlic/herb breads, leftover coleslaw, leftover steamed carrots

Long version: I took out the last giant log of Sysco ground beef we got from the school cook before Thanksgiving and made it into three different things: shepherd's pie for Monday night, taco meat for whatever night I need it, and hamburgers for this night.

The bread dough was in the big pot to the left of the cutting board. 

I was preparing for my long week of work, you see. Having food on hand and ready to go makes everything much calmer for me.

By popular request, I let the children each have a piece of bread dough to knead in their chosen spices. Because I am nothing if not an indulgent mother. Ahem.


Short version: Shepherd's pie

Long version: And here is where I bask in my own brilliance in making this ahead, so when I got home, all I did was turn on the oven, put the dish in the oven (very important to put it in from the refrigerator as soon as the oven is starting to heat, rather than putting a cold glass dish into an already-hot oven), and eat 45 minutes later.

I thought I would have leftovers from this. However, it is apparently a very popular offering in this house. There was only one portion left over.

You know what's going to be really fun? When I have boys ages 13, 15, and 17 to feed every day. Plus A. And Poppy. (And myself, of course, although that's not so daunting.)

I'm gonna need several more 13x9 pans.


Short version: Very Exciting Tacos

Long version: And what made them Very Exciting? I made the tortillas for the first time in a loooong time. I was only making them for the children, so I only had to make eight, which turns out to much more reasonable than making 20. I didn't even set off the smoke alarm! Although, that was more because it was warm enough to open the window near the stove.

It was also warm enough--70 degrees--that I allowed Poppy to FINALLY wear her new (well, secondhand new) sandals outside the house. With socks, but still. She's been waiting for this ever since they arrived two weeks ago. It was thrilling. 

Sandals on the feet, Christmas-themed sweatsuit on the top. About right for New Mexico in the winter.

A. and I got to have some excitement, too, with even without the tortillas, because we had guacamole. Hooray! The last time A. was near a store, it happened to be the one that always has cheap avocados, so he bought five large avocados. They all ripened at once, and that was the main reason I made tacos on this day.

So. Here's the thing about avocados. They are good in salads, and good in sandwiches, and yes, good on toast. But I'm going on record right now in stating that the highest calling for an avocado is guacamole to top Mexican (-ish) food. There's just something about those mashed avocados with lime juice that brings tacos--or taco bowls--to a whole new level. YUM.


Short version: Various foods for various people

Long version: The children had grilled cheese sandwiches, the last of the Grandma Brown's baked beans, and green salad.

A. had leftover hamburgers and salad.

And I had a salad with leftover taco meat, cheese, and the very last half an avocado.

Have you noticed that work days for me often feature random assignments of food? Yup. I like to call it "customized food." It sounds much more intentional that way.


Short version: Yet more customized food

Long version: For the children, I microwaved leftover taco meat, leftover rice, frozen corn, and grated cheddar cheese. One bowl and done.

For A., I microwaved leftover taco meat, grated cheese, and salsa, and topped it with half an avocado.

But wait! Didn't I say I used the last half of an avocado the day before? Yes, I did. But then A. had to go pick up our beef from the butcher, which brought him right past a grocery store. So he stopped in to get some things, and those things included avocados. One was ripe, so I used it.

He also got some asparagus, which I cooked in a pan on the stove that had bacon grease in it already. Because that's about the level of cooking I'm willing to do when I get home from work. A. ate some of that, and I ate the rest.

I also had two fried eggs topped with salsa and the rest of the avocado. 

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Mid-week Validation

This is a long week. I normally only work two days a week at the school. This week, I have to be there four days*. 

But at least my stove is clean.

The reason my stove is clean is because I got sick of the blackened rings around my burners and spent 45 minutes on Saturday night scrubbing the hell out of them with baking soda and vinegar.

Because Saturday night's not just alright for fighting. It's also alright for scrubbing. Or something.

It hurt my hands. But I got the stove almost all the way white again!

I didn't get a "before" photo, but this is an "in progress" picture. One side is done, obviously. The other is . . . not. Gross.

I have no idea how a stove that I just bought new six months ago got so nasty. I mean, I wipe the thing down every single night when I do dishes. 

But I don't actually scrub it hard. And I do use it quite a lot. 

By "quite a lot," I mean that I have cooked dinner on that stove every single night for the entire time I have had it. Plus all the breakfasts, lunches, desserts, canning, yogurt-making . . .

Well, it's a lot. And it obviously takes a toll. So yes, I guess I DO know how it got so gross.

I finally decided the time had come to address that situation. So my trusty nylon scrubby kept for filthy jobs and I dove in.

It was hard. And I didn't get every last little speck of black stuff, but I got almost all of it.

Perfect? Definitely not. Better? Definitely YES.

So tell me! What unpleasant and unappreciated task have you done lately? Allow me to bear witness to and acknowledge your efficiency and general awesomeness.

* I know. Four whole days in a week? Cry me a river, right? What can I say. I'm spoiled.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

T.T.: Bananas Two (Sugar-Free) Ways

We don't have bananas with any regularity, due to their relative perishability and their location at stores 90 miles away from our house. We only have them for the few days after a trip to the store, and then we always have two or three that need to be used right away before they pass the point of no return. 

Bananas freeze well, of course, for future baked goods, but almost all those goods involve adding a LOT of sugar to the bananas, along with flour. I like banana bread as much as the next person, but the "bread" descriptor is a bit misleading. Let's be honest: That's a cake.

If cake is what you're going for, then there are a million recipes around for using up bananas. But if you're trying to use elderly, spotty bananas without adding any sugar to them whatsoever, here are the two ways I use the most.

Way Number One

Fake ice cream. I know you know about this. Everyone knows about this. But just in case you don't . . .

Freeze the bananas in about inch-thick chunks, then drop the frozen chunks into a food processor with a tiny bit of milk or cream. Really, just a little. You can always add more if you need to, but you don't want to make the bananas soupy. 

The texture is surprisingly similar to a Wendy's Frosty, and the bananas all by themselves are sweet enough to make it taste like a dessert. You can eat it just like that, or you can add flavorings. I always add some cocoa powder. I also like a little peanut butter in there, too, although I am sometimes vetoed on that.

Note: This melts way faster than regular ice cream, so be ready to eat it as soon as it's done.

Way Number Two

Fake pancakes. Well, not fake, exactly, just without any flour.

This is another banana recipe with exceedingly minimal ingredients: bananas, eggs, and a teeeeeny bit of baking powder. And I think the baking powder is optional.

Mash your bananas well with a fork or a potato masher. For each banana (I use at least three to feed my four kids), add one egg and a tiny pinch of baking powder, then mix it all together until it's completely combined.

Cook like regular pancakes on a well-oiled pan, with this important tip: These are very soft and delicate to flip until both sides are cooked, so make them small--I only put about two tablespoons on for each pancake--so you can get your spatula completely under them to flip, and make sure they are well browned on the first side before you attempt to flip them.

And even then, they may get a little wonky in the pan. No worries. Just kind of squish the pieces back together.

I top these with peanut butter for my children, for two reasons. Well three. One is that peanut butter is always good with anything banana. Another is it ups the protein content. And last, these are sweet enough from the bananas that they do not need maple syrup.

The slightly melty peanut butter makes them really goopy and kind of messy, but they are quite tasty.

Okay, I think that's enough banana talk. Have a nice Tuesday.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Breaking: A Very Special Snapshot

Well, looky what Cubby found in the pasture this morning:


The very first lambs of the year--twins--have appeared. They were both already up and nursing when Cubby saw them just after sunrise, and they seem to be doing well without any intervention. Hooray.

A. thinks they're both female, but he has a pretty hands-off policy with new mother sheep, so he hasn't actually been close enough to examine them very closely.

In any case, the current lamb count can begin.

So! Current lamb count: 2--two girls (we think), no boys, and five ewes left to deliver.

Snapshots: Seeeeds!!!

Let's get right to the most exciting part: Gardening Season 2021 has officially begun.

Mixing water into potting soil.

And very carefully filling the pots.

We planted 12 cabbage seeds, thereby beginning the cycle of sauerkraut anew.

Nothing will top that, but let's see what else we have.

A frosty sunrise on the range after a cold fog the night before.

Unfortunately, I had chosen to hang clothes the night before to avoid hanging them in the strong winds we were supposed to get in the morning. They did not dry overnight. Instead, they got frosted. (They did dry during the day, though.)

And a completely random shot of dishes in progress. A snapshot of a very significant part of my life.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.