Friday, March 19, 2021

Friday Food: Onion Salvage


Short version: Tuna noodle casserole for the kids, scrambled eggs with feta and caramelized onions for the adults, frozen peas for all

Long version: So why did I make such fancy eggs, with caramelized onions of all things? Because I found three bags of onions in A.'s office that I had forgotten about and that were starting to rot.

Don't all your fanciest recipes start with rotting food?

The nice thing about onions is that, due to their layers, it's possible to peel off the rotting layers, do some trimming, and salvage most of even a really nasty-looking onion.

I had, um, quite a few of those.

That is a GIANT casserole dish, and it is three-quarters full of sliced onions.

After cooking those onions in the oven for a very long time with butter and salt, this is what I ended up with.

Where'd all the onions go?

Those were the onions I used for the eggs. I seriously love caramelized onions--I can eat them just by themselves--and I also love feta cheese. They were really good eggs.

The tuna noodle casserole was in no way fancy. I mostly made it because I had not one, but two cans of cream of mushroom soup given to us by different people. So I used those, with tuna, pasta, cheese, onion, and celery to make a HUGE casserole of tuna noodle. I filled my 9x13 Pyrex alllll the way to the top.

Cubby has eaten an astonishing quantity of that casserole this week. 


Short version: Roast beef and onion gravy, fried potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: The roast was a sirloin tip. I was careful not to overcook it--always my downfall when roasting large cuts of meat--and it came out very well. 

I made the gravy with--you guessed it--more of the caramelized onions. It was tasty, but too salty. It always seems that if I season the meat enough so it tastes good on its own, then the pan juices are really too salty to make good gravy. Maybe I'm just not making enough gravy, so it's not diluting the juices enough? Maybe I shouldn't season the meat so much and instead should rely on the gravy to season it more?

Any input on this issue would be appreciated.


Short version: Chicken legs, rosti, steamed broccoli and carrots, peach and blueberry pie with maple whipped cream

Long version: Cheapo chicken legs seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and paprika, browned, then roasted in the oven, with some barbecue sauce smeared on at the end. Everyone except one child loved these. He declared them "too sweet."


Now for the rosti, which is a Swiss dish that is basically a giant hash brown in a pan.  I should let reader Claire, who actually lives in Switzerland, tell you how to make it. And if she wants to chime in in the comments, she should. How I made it was to grate two giant potatoes, squeeze them with my hands and wring them out in a dish towel to get out most of the moisture, then dump them into the cast-iron skillet I browned the chicken in, with a bunch of coconut oil and vegetable oil, lots of salt, pepper, and some dried onion flakes. Then I put that in the oven with the chicken to cook at 400 degrees. 

The most intimidating thing about rosti is flipping it, so it will brown on both sides. You have to put a plate on top of the skillet, then flip the whole thing so the rosti drops out onto the plate, then slide the rosti back into the skillet to brown on the other side. The couple of times I've tried this in the past, it has stuck and fallen apart. But I did it this time! Hooray!

I win rosti-ing. (Yes, I just created a terribly awkward verb. Such is the beauty of the living language of English.)

Also, with the rosti, I inadvertently created a sort of potato pie. And we all know March 14 is Pi Day! 

Oh, you didn't know that? Of course not. That's because it's another of those made-up "days." The only reason I know about it is because many women online celebrate this day by making pies and posting about it.

There's only one person in our household who really likes pie. I speak, of course, of Cubby. He loves to make pie and also received a very nice pie pan from his grandma for Christmas that he hasn't even gotten to use yet. Since Pi Day happened to be on a Sunday this year, I decided it was as good a time as any to shepherd Cubby through pie-making again.

I had lots of frozen peaches and blueberries on hand, so we made a peach and blueberry pie, using this post for some help but mostly winging it with the filling and using the MiL's crust recipe. I did need the video in that post to figure out how to do the lattice top, though.

Happy Pi Day!

Cubby declared peach-blueberry pie his second favorite, after strawberry-rhubarb. It was pretty good, although the crust was a little tough. We need the MiL here to instruct this boy. I am a very poor substitute.


Short version: Many leftovers

Long version: Three of the four children had leftover tuna casserole and leftover broccoli. 

Charlie had leftover roast beef, the last bit of leftover rosti, and leftover broccoli. 

A. had leftover roast beef and carrots.

I had some of the leftover roast beef with the gravy that I had diluted with water. I added some of the leftover carrots and broccoli, plus leftover frozen peas, to make a sort of soup. Surprisingly tasty.

Can you tell it was a work day?


Short version: Extemporaneous meatloaf, baked potatoes, calabaza, frozen green peas, baked custard

Long version: I made the meatloaf with about 2/3 ground beef and 1/3 the cheap pork sausage from Sysco, along with eggs and about half of a half-pint jar of ancient rhubarb sauce that moved here with us from New York. No bread crumbs, because I didn't happen to have any in the freezer and was too lazy to haul out the food processor to make any.

Surprisingly, it turned out really well. Hooray.

I had two egg yolks left from making two batches of spiced almonds, plus the beaten egg from the egg wash we used for the pie, so I made a batch of custard. Good call.


Short version: Not-Irish food, but soda bread!

Long version: Somehow, it has become our tradition to have pesto on St. Patrick's Day. I think I made it several years ago, not realizing I had made green food for St. Patrick's Day, but then decided to pretend I did it on purpose. And from then on, I did do it on purpose.

So! This year, it was standard pasta with pesto. I still have about a dozen cubes of pesto from last year's garden. I planted a lot of basil seeds this year, in hopes of getting enough for pesto throughout the winter. We'll see.

I also used the same sausage and ground beef from the night before to make a meat casserole. It was 2/3 sausage and 1/3 beef, browned with garlic, which I topped with a bag of Finny's tomato sauce from the freezer, then grated asadero cheese from the freezer. I mixed in a bag of chopped calabaza--also from the freezer--in half the casserole dish, for A. and me. The children wouldn't touch such an abomination. I also randomly sprinkled on extra basil and garlic powder, then baked it until it was all hot and the cheese was browned. It was very good.

I actually made that ahead of time and just had it in the refrigerator, since Wednesdays are work days for me. But then our Winter Weather Advisory resulted in the call at 5 a.m. that we were going to do "remote learning" for the day.

Let me tell you how happy my children are about the school laptops and Zoom cheating them of snow days anymore. For that matter, let me tell you how happy I am about that.

However! On the bright side, me being home allowed me to make this soda bread. And the children being home allowed them to eat it. It's very American soda bread, but then I'm very American Irish, so I suppose it's appropriate. 

I mostly made it because I found no less than four partially emptied jars of yogurt in the refrigerator, at the very moment that more yogurt was incubating in the kitchen. So I decided to use up some of the older yogurt in the soda bread. 

We ended up with a lot of desserts this week. I heard no complaints about this.


Short version: Beef sandwiches, coleslaw

Long version: I cooked an arm roast in the morning, using the last of the rhubarb sauce to season it. So I decided to pretend it was like barbecue sauce and shred the meat to serve as sandwiches. I added some Dijon mustard, too, to tone down the sweetness a little. Between that and the coleslaw, it was a pretty sweet meal for the children.

I had some of the plain meat shredded with Holy's cabbage, and A. had leftover meatloaf.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Milk Jugs for St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I celebrated my Irish heritage* a day early by planting out the cabbages. It has become my own little tradition to plant them on or as near to St. Patrick's Day as I can. The appropriateness of it pleases me. 

But since Wednesday is a work day for me, and our forecast for Tuesday night was for rain, I decided to do it the day before.

So! Yesterday my lovely assistant and I went out and planted nine cabbage seedlings.

She took care of the milk jug placement and the watering after the planting.

The end result, while pleasing to me because I can envision our summer coleslaw in these beds, is not actually aesthetically pleasing.

We decided to try a new crop this year: plastic milk jugs.

Just kidding. The milk jugs protect the tender young plants from the overly aggressive sun and wind. Kind of like individual greenhouses. Except not as attractive. The rocks keep the jugs from blowing away.

We've learned some lessons in our three years so far of gardening here.

Unfortunately, our forecasted rain changed to a Winter Weather Advisory. I can't un-transplant the cabbages, so we'll just have to cross our fingers and trust to the milk jugs.

And if those fail, I suppose I can always start more seeds.

* I actually do have quite a lot of Irish ancestry. My love of potatoes and cabbage is genetic.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

T.T.: Two for One

I am sure everyone who reads my (very, very long) Friday Food posts has noticed that when we have broccoli, we almost always have carrots, too. And why is that? Well! I will tell you!

One reason is that the children like broccoli very much, but their father is not such a fan. He prefers the carrots. 

But the main reason is that I discovered a few years ago that it's entirely possible, and actually even preferable, to cook the two vegetables in the same pot.

See, if you put chunks of carrot in the bottom of a pot with broccoli florets on top of the carrots, and then add enough water to cover the carrots most of the way, they will cook in the same amount of time. The carrots cook faster, because they're actually in the water, but the broccoli, suspended above the water, steams. 

A broccoli blanket, with some cozy carrots peeking out from underneath.

This also means that the broccoli doesn't get waterlogged as it would if it was actually sitting in the water. The carrots take the place of a steamer insert, which I do not have. 

So, the details for what I do are as follows: About half-inch chunks of carrot in the bottom of a pot, with big broccoli florets on top of those. Sprinkle on some salt, add water to come about 3/4 of the way up the layer of carrots, and simmer, covered, until both vegetables are done.

Better cooking, two vegetables instead of one, and only one pot to wash? Works for me. I hope it works for you, too.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Snapshots: RAAAAIIIINNN!!!

Did that title adequately express our excitement about the main event of our week? No? Perhaps you require more exclamation points.



I literally do not remember the last time it actually rained significantly here. Some snow this winter, but nothing remarkable, and it was depressingly dry all summer and fall. We're in a bad drought right now, which is disastrous in a place that relies on natural pastures to feed livestock. As everyone here does, including us. 

That is why the big storm that moved in Saturday morning was such a big deal. And that is why we were SO HAPPY to look out the door in the morning and see this:


We ended up getting half an inch of rain.

We know this because of our handy rain gauge, which has not had any measurable rain in it since I bought it for A. last year. For Father's Day. Yeah. That's a drought, all right.

The rain ended around noon and it turned into a pretty nice day, so we shooed everyone out the door.

Odin was already out the door, and happy to see the humans out, too.

Three-fourths of the children elected to go for a bike ride.

Into the great wide open.

Which ended as almost all bike rides do when Daddy the Indulgent is there:

Mommy the Mean has neither a belt to tow the girl with, nor the inclination to indulge her in this way.

This week was the boys' spring break off from school, and it unfortunately featured absolutely terrible winds almost every day. Luckily, the wind is usually bearable right at sunrise, so I instigated a lot of early-morning walks so the children would get outside before it became unpleasant.

The dogs were never reluctant. The same could not always be said of the children.

That golden light just as the sun clears the horizon is my favorite.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.