Friday, May 14, 2021

Friday Food: A Green Chili Week


Short version: Roasted roosters, garlic bread, cucumbers with ranch dip

Long version: Our neighbor--the one with whom we butchered the bull--dropped by on Wednesday with three mean roosters her daughter wanted to get rid of.

I can't even count how many chickens we have gotten this way over the years. A. is a very accomplished rooster exterminator at this point. He long ago decided that plucking is really not worth the time and effort and just skins the birds, but this time, since they were young roosters, he decided to pluck them.

So I roasted them. 

I covered them all in green garlic puree and salt, and just roasted them at 400 degrees about an hour and a half. I also put some butter on the skin, since they seemed to be drying out.

I think I should have covered them with foil to start, though, because the skin was still dry even with the butter. The store chickens are really wet, so you don't want to cover those, but these birds could have used a little moisture trapping.

They also could have used more flavor. The garlic flavor was very muted after the long cooking.

Oh well. They were fine. And the resulting carcasses made a LOT of good stock in the pressure cooker/canner the next day. Plus, I pulled off about five cups of meat after pressure cooking them.


Short version: Ground beef tacos or skillet, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: The younger kids had their meat in corn tortillas with cheese. A. and Cubby had the meat fried with roasted bell peppers and onions, then mixed with cheese. I had mine in a salad.


Short version: Green chili chicken casserole, green salad with ranch dressing, chocolate fondue party

Long version: I was idly clicking through recipes in the morning when I came across a recipe for an enchilada casserole made with chicken and green chilis.

And who had already-cooked chicken and many, many bags of roasted green chilis in the freezer? THIS MOM.

The recipe I saw had a sub-recipe for the green chili sauce, which was just the chilis, onion, garlic, chicken stock, and cumin. I used green garlic, since I don't have any regular garlic cloves right now, and the green chilis Miss Amelia keeps giving me. The original recipe also called for using some jalapeno to add some heat, because that recipe assumed canned chilis from the store.

New Mexico chilis are nothing like that. They definitely do NOT need additional heat. In fact, the resulting sauce was so spicy that I added cream cheese to it to tone it down. And it was STILL way too spicy.

Because of the spiciness, I used a lot less of it than the recipe called for, and the resulting casserole, while tasty, was a bit too dry. The heat was reduced some while it was cooking--I suspect a lot of the bite came from the raw green garlic--but there was still enough to burn my mouth a bit.

Anyway. I made a GIANT batch of the green chili sauce, most without the cream cheese, so I froze a bunch of it and we ate it allll week in everything. That creamy green chili sauce is excellent in scrambled eggs.

Sunday is homemade dessert day at our house, but I didn't make a dessert. At least, not ahead of time. I was just going to give the kids marshmallows, but then I decided at the last minute to melt some chocolate chips and peanut butter (plus a tiny bit of cream to loosen it up) in the microwave and let them dip their marshmallows in that. I also found a lone graham cracker in the pantry that I split into four pieces for them. 

They thought this was the most thrilling dessert ever. And I thought it was great that I didn't have to bake anything. Wins all around.

Speaking of wins! I asked A. to make me a real, functioning gate for the garden. To replace the propped-up, splintery piece of garbage I've been battling for two years now. This was my only Mother's Day request.

Cubby helped.

New gate! On hinges and everything! YAY!


Short version: Green chili hamburger stew, bread and butter, cheese

Long version: I made this stew the day before while I was making the casserole, using the leftover ground beef taco meat and many of the same ingredients from the casserole for the rest of it. It was a lot less spicy than the casserole, though, and very good. A nice, warming dinner for a chilly and rainy (hooray!) night.


Short version: Rapee Morvandelle, baked broccoli

Long version: Cooking a big ham always means there will be leftover ham for daaays. I wanted to finally use up the last of it, so I made a dish I remembered making years ago from the MiL's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I don't have a copy of the book, but the recipe was easy to find online. I used this one, doubling it and substituting some things: cheddar for the swiss cheese, garlic powder for the fresh garlic (too lazy to dig some green garlic), no herbs because I didn't have any, and adding extra milk to use up the last bit of a gallon jug.

All except for one serving was consumed at the one meal. Guess they liked it.

I put the broccoli florets in a covered casserole dish with some water and baked that along with the casserole. It got a little overdone, but it was fine.


Short version: Chicken patty sandwiches, leftover enchilada casserole, sliced cucumber

Long version: Miss Amelia called on Tuesday to ask if A. could stop at her house on his way to school on the bus to pick up some food she wanted us to take. Because it was too heavy to carry home otherwise.

I braced myself for a ridiculous quantity of food, and it was indeed a GIANT box. Included in it was a bag of those dubious frozen chicken patties we got from the school maintenance guy many months ago. The kids love those in sandwiches, so that's what they had.

A. and I had the casserole.


Short version: Tuna and stuff

Long version: This was a crazy day. We went hither and yon and back again. I made tuna salad for dinner, which the kids ate with crackers and cherries. A. and I had it fried with cheese, like a tuna melt without the bread.

And then we all went to a very long Latin Mass that went until 8 p.m. But! After Mass there was food. So then the children had Frito pies* and barbecue sandwiches and salad and cake and cookies and Cubby snuck a Coke in there. At 9 p.m.

Craziness. Good food, though, and it was fun.

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

* This is a very regional thing. It's just Fritos topped with taco stuff--meat, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

T.T.: How To Shear a Boy

Some time ago, I got an e-mail from Andra, asking if I could do a tips post about cutting the boys' hair. And . . . here it is. Finally. 

I should start right off by saying that I am very (VERY) far from an expert. My goal is just to keep my three boys and my husband presentable, which I realize is not a high bar. 

But I do keep them presentable, with minimal effort from me. And how I do it is with the clippers.

That's what we call them, anyway. This is what they actually are: Remington Indestructible Hair and Beard Trimmers. "Indestructible" is almost certainly hyperbole, but I've been using them to do four haircuts a month for five years, so that's pretty close. 

A. remembers them being about 25 dollars at Walmart when he bought them in New York. The price apparently is now up to about 40 dollars, which is still a really good deal if you compare to a barber shop.


That set comes with oil, which I would encourage you to use. It keeps the trimmers from pulling so much on the hair while you're using them. I put the oil right along the edge of the trimmer's teeth. It just takes a couple of drops.

I find the most important tip for giving boys a haircut is bribing them to do it in the first place. Mine really do not enjoy it, but they know they get a treat of some kind afterwards--a Hershey's Kiss or a cartoon or, in the case of the most recent haircut, a fruit shake (smoothie) on a hot day.

When we lived in the Great White North, I had to do haircuts indoors, in our kitchen, which I hated. Cleaning up hair in my kitchen was gross. Here, I can do it outside year-round. Much better.

So when you're ready, set the victim up on a somewhat low bench or chair. Cubby prefers to take his shirt off. Calvin and Jack usually keep theirs on, to minimize itchy hairs on their skin.

Whichever way, make sure you have a guard on your trimmer before you start. The guard is one of the plastic comb-looking pieces that fit onto the metal trimmer head.

I repeat: Make sure you have a guard on your trimmer before you start.

If you don't have a guard, then you will shave that person bald. Unless bald is what you're going for, double-check for the guard before you begin. I have accidentally shaved without a guard with every single boy and A. when I failed to check before I started or the guard slipped off mid-haircut, so just know it will probably happen to you at some point. But check anyway.

The guards start at #0, which is the shortest--almost bald--and go up to #5, I think, which is the longest. I've only ever used the #3 and the #2. Now I just use the #2, since it doesn't grow out quite as fast with the shorter length.

Once you have your oil and guard on, you can start cutting. Position your trimmers so they look upside down, in the opposite direction of the hair growth, so the teeth on the guard are sort of combing the hair before its cut. Like so.

It's really hard to take a photo while working a trimmer, by the way.

You want to work in the opposite direction of the hair growth. So I start on the forehead and work up to the middle of the head, moving from center out to the sides. Then I go to the bottom, on the neck, and work up towards the middle. 

I'm sure there are professionals who can tell you a better order to go in, but that's what I do. You have to go over each portion several times, and in the middle of the head where there is likely to be cowlicks or other non-standard directions of hair growth, just do it in all directions until it looks even. Make sure to get all the way to the front in the forehead so there aren't long bits in the front.

When you're working around the ears, you can kind of bend them down out of the way.

Kids love this. Ahem.

Once the hair looks even all over, you can do the close trimming. To do this, take off the guard.

The two parts that need to be trimmed close are around the ears and along the edge on the neck. I cut the boys' sideburns (not that they have real sideburns--I just mean the hair next to their ears) even with the middle of their ears. That gives me something to line up with. Make it as even on both sides as you can. 

Then around the ears, bending them out of the way, because if you're going to draw blood, this is where it will happen.

Then continue on below the ear and around the neck in a curve, making an even curve all the way around to the other ear. Repeat the ear trimming there on the other ear, and you're done!

You can use a cloth at this point to wipe off all the little hairs stuck all over. I have the boys remove their shirts if they haven't already and use that. Works way better than trying to use your hand.

And then they have to have a shower. And I have to change my shirt. And sometimes my bra, because those little hairs get eeeeverywhere.

That's it! It's not that hard. I have been doing this now for about five years, and while it's a pain, it's much less painful than driving all four boys--I include A.--to an actual barber or salon and paying for it.

Lastly, if you mess up a little--which I have, multiple times--don't stress about it. It's hair. It will always grow back.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Snapshots: DIY Shearing

Happy Mother's Day! Cubby made me an origami tulip.

Not for Mother's Day; just because he remembered I liked them.

The very nice but somewhat old shearer --he had to have been at least in his mid-70s, probably closer to 80--who came to shear our sheep last year has stopped returning phone calls. I have to think it's related to his age, and I can't blame him, but A. still had some seriously woolly sheep that really, really needed to be sheared.

So he bought electric shears and readied himself for the woolly battle.

He sheared a couple of sheep with non-electric hand shears when he got his first sheep many years ago, and he had a very frustrating experience with electric shears last year that completely failed because the machine failed. Maybe because these are a Merino breed, which has incredibly dense wool. Or maybe because the shears were garbage. In any case, he was apprehensive about trying again.

However, the sheep weren't getting any less woolly on their own, so he fired up his new shears on Friday and, with Cubby and Charlie's assistance, sheared some sheep.

First, the smaller helpers herded the sheep into the old hog pen in the pasture.

These sheep had no idea what was coming.

Here we go. Merinos, unlike most other breeds, have wool down over their faces, which makes for some tricky shearing around the eyes and ears.

Jasper parked himself right here, about two feet from the action, and was literally vibrating with excitement. Chill out, dog.

This first sheep took about an hour to shear, as A. figured out how to adjust his shears and shear more efficiently. The next one took about 45 minutes, and the last about 30 minutes.

He did two more on Saturday. He's bringing some sheep to auction, so he doesn't have to shear those.

In other news, Howard is back.

Hello, Howard.

We had a predator of some sort around last week that forced open the door of the rabbit casita. A. found Howard in there, torpid from eating baby rabbits. He had incriminatory white fur around his mouth. A. wasn't too upset about losing some rabbits--they do indeed breed as fast as you've heard rabbits will--so he just brought Howard over to show the children, and then let him go.

For last week's state testing treat, I made flour-less peanut butter cookies for Cubby's and Charlie's classes. I'm always pleased by how they spread out in such a symmetrically round shape.

Well, except for the egg-shaped one in the front there. There always has to be one rebel.

In addition to being flour-free, they only have five ingredients, are incredibly easy to make, and are delicious. Yay.

Poppy volunteered to be quality control. The cookies passed her rigorous examination.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.