Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Food: Starting Summer with Sniffles

School ended, and the kids immediately all got sick. By Sunday, all four were hacking and dripping. Appetizing.

We're mostly all better now, though!


Short version: Bull tacos, sick-boy potato soup, still-frozen peas

Long version: Just a jar of pressure-canned bull meat cooked with salsa, chili powder, and garlic powder. Three children ate theirs in corn tortillas with cheese. A. ate his topped with melted pepperjack cheese. I ate mine in a salad.

The very day after school ended, both Jack and Cubby woke up sick. Cubby had a terrible sore throat, so I made him his favorite soup: potato. Just a few pieces of fried bacon, onion, carrots, potatoes, and sour cream. I used these little tubs of sour cream the school cook gave me the day before, because she didn't want to throw them away.

We're always a good repository for excess food.

Anyway, I pureed all of the soup and Cubby managed one bowl before he went back to bed.


Short version: Stewed beef, garlic bread, roasted bell peppers and onions, still-frozen peas

Long version: I was organizing the two chest freezers and found that I seem to have already used all the ground beef from the cow we got in February. I asked the butcher to give me 3/4 ground beef and 1/4 stew meat (the same cuts are used for both of those), but it looks as if they did the opposite.


So there's going to be a lot of stew in our future. Perfect for summer. Ahem.

For this round of stewing, I just dumped the meat in my enameled dutch oven with four cubes of green garlic puree and a quart of pressure-canned chicken stock--plus salt--and cooked it until it was tender. Then I added two cubes of frozen basil pesto and about a cup of grated asadero cheese.

It was really good.

Random photo break!

'Tis once again the season for wildflower bouquets presented to me by my children. This makes me very happy.


Short version: Roasted chicken pieces; bread and butter; curried cauliflower, green beans, and peas; sprouting broccoli; leftover Crispy Rice Treats and brownie crumbs

Long version: A. bought a package of chicken thighs and a package of split chicken breasts at the store, and I used both for this meal. I salted the chicken a couple of hours before cooking, then cranked the oven up to 475 degrees and roasted it plain for awhile (so it could release juices without the sauce all sliding off), and then sprinkled on paprika and garlic powder, and THEN spread on a mixture of ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, and quite a bit of vinegar. It came out pretty well.

I made the curried cauliflower because I had some cooked cauliflower that really needed to be used up. And then I put way too much curry powder in accidentally. So then I added some cooked green beans, and then a bunch of frozen peas. Plus a bunch of sour cream and cream. It ended up being a lot of vegetables, and the curry didn't really go with the barbecue-ish chicken, but I enjoyed it.

The desserts were both left from different end-of-school events. The brownies were impossible to get out of the pan intact because I baked them right before we went to the school on the last day and they didn't have time to cool enough. Thus, brownie crumbs. The kids didn't mind, though.


Short version: Leftover stewed beef, bread and butter, leftover baked beans, frozen green peas

Long version: We seem to have eaten bread and butter for several dinners in a row, unusually. Well, the kids did. I didn't hear them complaining about it, either.


Short version: Re-purposed chicken, green salad with weeds (and ranch dressing), pomegranate

Long version: I had the food processor out to make fruit shakes (smoothies) for lunch, so I rinsed it out and made some marinara sauce with a can of tomatoes that were in the refrigerator, along with some green garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dried oregano. 

I made pasta for the kids and used that sauce, plus some finely diced leftover chicken (they can't eat around it that way--ha) and some asadero cheese.

For A. and me, I fried some chunks of leftover chicken with leftover roasted peppers and onions and a bit of the tomato sauce, plus some asadero cheese.

The salad was MY LETTUCE HOORAY, to which I added some lamb's quarters because the kids found some out back and brought it to me. Plus this ranch dressing.

The combination of all the vegetables made for a very colorful plate.

Professionally styled food photos are my primary concern, obviously.

The pomegranate was the one that A. bought some time ago so he could save the seeds. He gave each kid a bowl and a chunk of pomegranate and they had a great time spitting seeds and smearing red juice all over themselves.

Like so.

That same child observed while eating his pomegranate: "This kind of looks like bear poop."

I had to acknowledge the truth of this (bears eat a lot of seedy things), but it doesn't seem like the sort of visual that would really improve the appetite.


Short version: Stew meat tacos, pinto beans, carrot sticks with ranch dip

Long version: The latest iteration of the stew meat, this time with frozen green chili sauce and green garlic puree, plus chicken stock, simmered until I could break it apart, and then I added some sour cream. From the little tubs I got from the school cook, of course. Those little tubs held a surprisingly large quantity of sour cream all together.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, curried split peas, rice, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: I found a quart jar in the pantry that was about half full of yellow split peas, so I cooked those until they were done on Wednesday. Then I used the cooked split peas to make the curried split peas by simply sauteeing onion and sweet yellow curry powder in coconut oil, then adding the peas and a couple of those little tubs of sour cream.

Still haven't used all that sour cream. And of course, I haven't even begun to start cooking the three giant jars of dried split peas I showed you the other day. 

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

T.T.: Remote Living, Part 2 (School!)

Several of the specific questions some of you had involved schooling, so that's what I'll focus on today.

How far is the school? 

Although there are many students at our school who travel an hour or more to get to school--because of the large size of our district or because they chose to come to our school from out of district--we are only ten miles from the school.

How do your kids get there on the days you don't work?

Same way they get there on the days I do work: On the school bus. 

A. is the bus driver for one of our school buses. Our small (but mighty!) bus lives at our house. Currently, we all get on the bus in the morning on the days I work, pick up a few more kids on our way to the school, and that's it. On the days I don't work, it's often just our boys on the bus in the morning. However, A.'s bus route does actually include much farther homes, it's just we don't happen to have any kids right now that live out that way. 

Our house is not on the main road, but is visible from it, so whenever anyone is coming who hasn't been here before, we just tell them to look for the school bus parked in front of our house. A handy marker.

The one other bus starts its run at the very edge of the district and picks up a lot more kids along the way. "A lot more" meaning . . . 15.

Is there a high school in your area?

The school our kids attend is actually pre-K through 12th grade, in several buildings on one campus.

If you have to be away while the kids are in school, do you coordinate with someone ahead of time to take them if you get held up? Or would you just call someone from the road to make arrangements?

It's very, very rare that A. and I both go somewhere while the kids are in school. When we do, we don't make any special arrangements. If our car broke down or something, then yes, we would call the school on our cell phone. Cell service is good enough to make a call most of the places we go around here. (Although our cell phone doesn't work in our actual house, so I have to go outside at home if I want to use it.)

Anyway, I don't worry too much about the kids at school if we have a situation that keeps us from being there when school lets out, because most of their friends have a parent who works at the school. So if we couldn't get there for whatever reason, they could just go home with one of those staff parents and we would pick them up when we could. The community here is very, very supportive and accustomed to helping each other out. It wouldn't be a problem.

What about college?

There is no college nearer than 100 miles away. If they decide to go to college, they will not be living at home while they do. Unless they do it online, which a lot of people do nowadays, anyway. 

And a bonus, non-school question: Who is Miss Amelia?

Miss Amelia is our elderly neighbor. She lives alone in the same house she's lived in for probably sixty years, about half a mile from us. She loves children and is just about the sweetest woman ever. She's constantly sending food over to us. Luckily, she LOVES my bread, and also garden vegetables, so I can return the favor.

More answers to your burning questions about remote living coming next week! And if you have anymore, just put 'em in the comments and I'll get to them, too. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Snapshots: Snakes 'n' Summer

Most of the time when my mom brings the kids random toys and other diversions, I save them for some later time. Last time she came, those diversions were water guns and water balloons. Those I saved for the last day of school, which was conveniently 83 degrees.

(Swim) suited up for battle.

And look who we saw when we were getting on the bus to come home on the last day of school.

It's Howard's cousin!

Instead of a coffee maker on the counter, we have an electric kettle, which I use with a french press to make my coffee. Our five-year-old kettle melted down in a rather spectacular fashion a couple of weeks ago, so I had to order a new one. The one I got is glass, and when it's on, the base is surrounded by a blue light. 

When it's at a full boil in a dark kitchen, it looks pleasingly like a lava lamp.

My coffee is so much groovier now.

And lastly, here is a bowl of fresh fruit. I do not usually have enough fresh fruit to have a fruit bowl of the sort that seem de rigueur in carefully styled kitchens, but I happened to have a very photogenic variety this week. And a photogenic bowl, too.

A. bought the pomegranate so he could plant the seeds and grow a tree. Isn't that why you buy fruit?

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.