Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday Food: Reunited, Finally


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: The children had leftover sausage, curried split peas, and rice. Plus frozen green beans. Cubby remarked as we were sitting down, "Leftovers can be either great or horrible. They're great if it was something delicious. They're horrible if it was something not good."

Luckily, this meal fell into the first category.

I had a salad. Who's surprised?


Short version: Waffles, bacon, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: The kids had the carrot sticks while I was making dinner which was, yes, waffles.

A. and Calvin were supposed to be home for dinner this day, but American Airlines canceled their flights and rescheduled them for Sunday. This made no one very happy, so I thought it would be a good idea to use the remainder of the waffle batter from breakfast on Friday and let them have a treat.

Jack had requested the waffles, and I finally found a recipe I like. This one does indeed make very crispy waffles, as promised. I used about half yogurt and half milk, and I definitely did not whip the egg whites separately. I see this direction in a lot of waffle recipes, and although I'm sure it makes for ethereal waffles, I can't imagine going to that much trouble first thing in the morning.


When I pulled out the leftover batter for dinner, there wasn't quite enough, so I added a bit of extra flour and milk, but nothing else, and they were still crispy.

"It looks like a picture in a magazine," said Jack. Possibly the first time anyone has ever said that about my very, um, rustic cooking.

I had the last of the pot roast with some frozen stir-fry vegetables. 


Short version: Cubby's tomato soup, salami and cream cheese roll-ups, peanut butter balls

Long version: Since Calvin wasn't here to either clean the toilet or choose dessert (he and A. were stuck in Washington, D.C. overnight), I let Poppy choose. She chose peanut butter balls, which I had mentioned once we used to have when I was a kid. I have no idea how my mother made them, though I clearly remember the chocolate chips in the peanut butter and that the balls were rolled in granulated sugar. So I just mixed peanut butter with powdered sugar to make it less sticky, then added chocolate chips, formed the balls, and let Poppy roll the balls in sugar.

Not as good as the chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, but definitely eaten with no complaints.

I was going to make bull-meat stir-fry for dinner, but I always put peanut butter in my stir-fry. I figured that might be a bit of p.b. overload, so I let Cubby make the tomato soup from his kids' cookbook. The one that's thickened with bread. It has no protein in it, so the kids also had slices of salami rolled around cream cheese.

I had . . . yeah.

And now a break for a portrait of the salad-eating cook:

In the world's dorkiest (but shady!) hat.

Short version: Leg of lamb with potatoes, roasted carrots, frozen peas

Long version: A. and Calvin were supposed to get home on Saturday. But thanks to a series of unfortunate events courtesy of American Airlines, they didn't get home until this day. They were very, very tired, and I thought they needed a good, hearty meal to recover.

This was hearty.

I thought we were done with the leg of lamb roasts, but I forgot that the back leg roasts that A. boned out of the ram we butchered last November were so big that he halved them. So we had four of them, not two. I marinated this one in olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and a lot of garlic, and just roasted it with some potato pieces around it until it was done.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, garlic bread, green salad with ranch dressing, homemade ice cream sandwiches

Long version: This was Calvin's birthday dinner request. Luckily, I had everything for it. I bought the ice cream when I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago. I have to plan out that far for things like birthdays.

I didn't know he would want salad, but I managed to get just enough lettuce and beet greens out of the garden to make a salad.

I used this recipe for the ice cream sandwiches. It wasn't hard, but I think maybe I overbaked the cookie part a bit, because it was sort of dry. To be honest, I like purchased ones better.


Short version: Lamb curry, leftover rice, vanilla ice cream

Long version: I had quite a bit of lamb left after Monday's dinner, so I used that to make curry with a bunch of random stuff in the refrigerator--half an onion, the carrot sticks the MiL sent with A. and Calvin, a bit of Cubby's tomato soup, some of the potatoes we dug out of the garden (hooray!), frozen peas, the remainder of a jar of rooster stock from when Cubby made his soup, and sour cream.

It turned out very well.

I had promised ice cream to all children who cooperated with our unexpected afternoon trip to the mechanic an hour away to pick up the van. Because bribery is an integral part of my parenting philosophy. 

No one was pleased about that trip, but they all cooperated, so they all got ice cream. Everyone but Calvin had maple syrup on their ice cream, because maple syrup on vanilla ice cream is delicious. 


Short version: Roasted chicken with carrots, roasted potatoes, carrot sticks for the kids

Long version: Our elderly neighbors brought us two more roosters their daughter didn't want to deal with. Luckily, they brought them by on the very day A. arrived back home. He killed them Tuesday night, plucked them on Wednesday, and I cooked them this day. 

I squeezed lemon juice over the skin, then rubbed on butter and olive oil and sprinkled them heavily with salt. In the cavities I put the spent lemon skins, fresh rosemary from the garden, and a clove of garlic. Then I just roasted them until they were done. In the same pan were carrots--the remains of the carrot sticks I had brought to the pool party I took the kids to earlier in the day--and a head of garlic to roast along with the chicken.

The potatoes--our garden potatoes, with just olive oil and salt--roasted in a separate pan. I find when I roast them in the same pan as the meat, the meat juices keep the potatoes from getting crispy enough.

It was really good chicken. They were young roosters, so they were quite tender. As Calvin was eating his, he paused and asked, "Is that a feather?"

I shrugged and said, "Well, it's a chicken. They have feathers."

He nodded and kept eating. (Although he didn't eat the skin.)

And that's what it means to know where your food comes from.

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Remote Living: More Questions!

These aren't specific to remote living, but I'll answer them anyway . . .

What made you move from New York to New Mexico? 

Two big reasons: One is that the majority of our families live in Arizona now. We wanted to get closer to the cousins, aunts and uncles, and most of the grandparents (the lone exception being the MiL, whom we sadly left behind in New York).

The other is that the cost of living is SO much lower in New Mexico. This enabled A. to work less, and us to buy a house that we now own outright, and just generally not deal with the financial strain of living in a place with high taxes and multiple fees for things like vehicles.

How did you find your house and the area you wanted to live in?

A. drove through here a couple of times years ago on his way to and from college, which he attended in Tucson, Arizona. He had a favorable impression of the area, and so when we started trying to find a place within a day's drive of Tucson, he thought of here. 

He also did a lot of research about cost of living, schools, climate, etc., because he's really into data. The school issue eliminated a lot of communities we were considering.

The school district here maintains a couple of houses that are technically "teacherages" that they can rent out. So the first house we lived in was one in the village that we rented from the school. The house we live in now was for sale then, but we wanted to rent first to make sure we wanted to stay here. The house we bought was literally the only one for sale in the county, so that made it a pretty easy decision.

Random photo of the old schoolhouse as the sun rises.

And lastly, although this wasn't phrased as a question in Monica's original comment . . .

How did you overcome fear of the unknown and the obstacles to moving cross-country to an entirely unfamiliar place?

This is something I have much more trouble with than A. does. He thinks of new places and moving as exciting adventures, and simply assumes that he will deal with any obstacles as they present themselves.

I, on the other hand, worry and fret and really, really hate feeling unsettled.


It was my great good fortune to grow up as a military child. Thus, I saw my parents move a family every three years, often very long distances (Hawaii to Alaska, for instance). They bought and sold houses; my mom found jobs; and my siblings and I went to new schools, found friends, and all turned out pretty well.

Having had that experience as a kid means that, although moving is not my preference, I know it can be done. I knew I could do it, and I knew my kids could do it. So when it seemed as if moving was the best option for us, I did it despite my natural inclination to avoid big changes.

Okay! I would say this is the end of this series, but we all know by now it will never end until the questions do. So tune in next Wednesday to see what comes next.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

T.T.: Come Over To the (Maple) Dark Side

(Today is Calvin's birthday. He is nine. Although I usually post a picture of the birthday kid on the day, he is definitely not okay with me posting a picture of him, so I won't.)

One of the culinary carryovers from my decade and a half of living in New York State was a deep and abiding love of maple syrup. I had never even had real maple syrup before moving there--we always used Aunt Jemima for our pancakes and so on when I was a kid--but it didn't take me long to decide that I could never be without it again. 

We even made it ourselves for several years at Blackrock, which is very fun and also means syrup in enough quantity that it can be used for things other than just pancakes or waffles. 

We use maple syrup in many, many ways. On oatmeal and cream of wheat, in yogurt, as a sweetener in applesauce or fruit crisps, and on and on. Almost anywhere you can use brown sugar, maple syrup is just as good, if not better.

I even sometimes add it to milk for the kids. They've never had chocolate milk made with Hershey's syrup, but they love maple milk.

When it comes to maple syrup, I prefer to think outside the waffle/pancake box.

And then we moved to New Mexico, where sugar maples are in short supply.

I decided, however, that it's worth it to me to still have maple syrup in large quantities. Thanks to the Internet and modern shipping, I can have it. And because I buy it in such large quantities, it costs the same for me to order it and have it sent to me as it did for me to buy it from the maple farm up the road from us when we lived in Northern New York.

I order it four gallons at a time from a Vermont syrup company. But I don't get the same syrup you're likely to be buying at the grocery store, which is what they used to call Grade A, and is now called Amber. I much prefer the Grade B syrup, which is now called Dark Robust.

Whatever you call it, I think the dark syrup is vastly superior to the lighter syrup. It has a much more complex flavor, like caramel. The lighter syrup tastes very bland in comparison.

It might not be available where you are, and you might not be crazy enough to buy it gallons at a time like I do, but if you ever get the chance to get some of the dark syrup, definitely do it. It makes life so much more delicious.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Sunflowers!

Hooray! The roadside sunflowers are finally blooming here and there. Just a few. Soon, though, there will be hundreds. I can't wait.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Snapshots: Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood*

Poppy got so exhausted watching me take down the laundry, she had to lie down.

Amazingly, there are no dogs licking her face. They must've been off barking at the horse or something.

Remember those six Buff Orpington chicks we bought to keep the solitary black School Chick company? Yeah. Those are NOT Buff Orpingtons. It became clear within a couple of weeks that they were more white than buff, and were growing at an alarming rate.

What we thought were Buff Orpingtons turned out to be undeniably meat chickens. 

I have heard horror stories of these meat breeds being unable to forage or even walk, but these don't have any trouble running around. Albeit slowly and with a bit of a waddle, because they are HUGE already.

Some of the giant meat chickens with their much more normal-sized adopted sibling.

One night after dinner, Cubby, Jack, and Poppy decided to put on a play. They went with the classic "Little Red Riding Hood."

Can you guess who played the title character?

The costume department really came through on the red theme.

She also played Grandma, as there were only two actors. Jack was the Big Bad Wolf. And Cubby was the director/narrator. 

It was very funny and kept them entertained for a whole 45 minutes of costuming, rehearsing, and performing. A major win in a week of solo parenting.

Jasper the Sentinel doggedly (ha) sticks by my side, even if he would rather be hiding in the shade instead of panting in the sun.

Meanwhile, Odin lurks in the tall weeds, alert and ready to spring.

He's on the move and licking his chops! What fearsome enemy or toothsome prey does he spy?

Ah yes. His brother. The most fearsome enemy, indeed.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* It is quite possible that my sister is the only person who read that and immediately sang in her head, "You sure are lookin' good . . ." But if you don't know the song, you're really missing out. It's by the excellently named Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, and you can listen to it here.