Friday, July 23, 2021

Friday Food: Summer Soup


Short version: One-pot pasta for the kids, leftovers for A. and me

Long version: I pressure-cooked the two rooster carcasses from the previous day this morning to make stock, and then ended up with a couple of cups of meat I picked off the carcasses. 

Also this morning, I made pesto.

I just love a giant colander of fresh basil in the morning.

I froze most of the pesto in ice cube trays for future use, but rather than scrape out the food processor, I left in the remants of the pesto and added a can of drained tomatoes, olive oil, salt, some cooked collard greens, the rest of the roasted garlic, and balsamic vinegar to make a pasta sauce.

That sauce I used for my dinner, which was a skillet of some of the chicken plus collard greens I had cooked the day before, plus frozen peas, plus asadero cheese.

I also used the sauce for the kids' pasta, which also included egg noodles, chicken, frozen peas, and cream cheese.

A. had a bowl with the remainder of the lamb, plus some collard greens, frozen peas, leftover roasted potatoes, and the last bit of the curry sauce.


Short version: Steaks, rabbit legs, boiled potatoes, frozen peas, carrot sticks

Long version: Cubby came running in around 2 p.m. to let A. know that the dogs had caught one of the meat rabbits (they escaped some time ago and are all over the place) and killed it. So A. decided it was an opportune time to show Cubby how to skin and clean a rabbit.

That done, I was left with a rather small carcass, most of which had been ruined by the dogs. The back legs were fine, though, and most of the meat is on those, anyway, so I just cut those off and cooked them for Cubby the Butcher. There was room in the pan with them, so I threw the peas in there, too.

The potatoes were from the garden. I really like having garden potatoes again. It's been several years since we've grown any, and they really are better.


Short version: Breakfast tacos, frozen peas, vanilla ice cream with chocolate shell

Long version: "But how can they be breakfast tacos if we're having them for dinner?" Calvin asked quite reasonably.

"Breakfast" in this case just means they had scrambled eggs in them. Plus cheese and salsa.

The ice cream was Calvin's choice for his Sunday dessert. Chocolate shell is simply chocolate chips melted in the microwave with a bit of coconut oil (.5 cups chocolate chips with .5 tablespoon coconut oil), and then spooned over the ice cream. 

It freezes and basically forms candy on top of the ice cream. It's fun. And tasty.

A. took Cubby to the airport this day to fly by himself to New York for a visit with the MiL.

Sending my eldest off by himself was actually a lot harder than I expected it to be. A very small taste of what's to come, I'm sure.


A. stayed near the airport, since Cubby left from Denver, which is not close to us, and his flight left in the evening. So no A. or Cubby for dinner, which is why we had basically scrambled eggs.


Short version: Barbecue bull, garlic bread, carrot sticks with ranch dip

Long version: It's going to take me a very long time to get through the gallon of barbecue sauce I got from Sysco. Especially because I have to adjust it with more mustard and vinegar to make it more palatable, which of course increases the amount of it.

Break for a random dog photo!

The children "taught" Jasper to shake, which really just means that he's constantly pawing whenever I sit down outside. Looks cute, but is kind of annoying. Thanks, kids.


Short version: Sausage-y meatloaf, leftover potatoes, roasted carrots, frozen peas

Long version: All meatloaf from here until eternity is going to have barbecue sauce instead of ketchup both in it and on top of it. At least, until I use up the gallon of sauce. So . . . a year, maybe? It's good, actually. Especially with the sausage in the meatloaf. Which I'm using with the ground beef because I only have a few packages of ground beef left.

Luckily, our neighbor said he has a few steers he's probably going to be sending to the processor soon, so we can buy one from him and replenish our beef. Benefit of living in cattle country.


Short version: Creamy green chile bull soup, cheese, bread and jam

Long version: Soup is not generally on the menu in the summer. 


I had two quarts of rooster stock that didn't seal when I pressure canned them, plus some liquid from tomatoes I had drained for pasta, and a really large bag of carrots that needed to be used pronto. And it was only 83 degrees and windy.

Soup it is! 

I used some of the green chile sauce I made on Mother's Day, as well as a jar of bull meat and finished it off with some sour cream.

Soup is definitely not the most popular meal with children, so I also let them have some bread with butter and the apricot jam I had made earlier in the day.


Short version: Leftover meatloaf, leftover boiled potatoes, cucumbers with salt and vinegar, roasted carrots

Long version: I bought two very large bags of carrots at the store when I went in to the dentist, and they were really terrible carrots. Kind of sprouty and nasty and most definitely not fresh. 

This is one of the downsides to living so far off the supply routes: Produce is often less than optimal.

The carrots were not any better two weeks later, so I roasted the remainder of the second bag while I was making spiced nuts and roasting a beet for my salads in the morning. Roasting doesn't totally mask the inadequacies of the carrots, but it proved to be the most palatable way to consume them.

Happily, the lady who runs our post office brought me some cucumbers from her garden when she heard I didn't have any yet. (She lives down the hill where it's about ten degrees warmer.) Those cucumbers were absolutely fresh. And delicious. Hooray.

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Remote Living, Part 10: Amazon and Remote Pets

Two more burning questions about remote living that must be answered before you all can sleep at night.

Or something.

How long does it take Amazon stuff to reach you? 

It used to be that I would actually get things ordered with Prime shipping in two days. Our UPS driver actually comes from a small city a couple of hours from us--I can't imagine doing that job with as much cheery goodwill as our long-haul UPS driver--and so there really wasn't a big delay getting anything.

Lately, it seems as if most shipping is a little wonky, so it might be an extra day or so.

I do not, however, often request the Prime shipping. I'm not in a big hurry for the majority of the things I order, so I usually go with the slower shipping that rewards me with digital credits. That way, the kids can eventually watch a movie on Prime for free. 

Is there a traveling veterinarian for animal needs?

No. At least, not for small animals. Our vet--who is 90 miles away--does large animal work, for which he necessarily travels to ranches. But small pets have to be brought to him.

That said, our dogs have been to the vet a grand total of three times in their two years--twice for vaccinations, once for neutering--so it's not a frequent issue. We have crates for each of them, and once they're in there, they just settle in. I'm sure they don't enjoy it, but it's not a big deal.

At home and chillin'.

What's more interesting, and something I never thought of until we got these dogs, is that they have never been on leashes. And I mean never. Not even once. They just don't need them. They come when they're called; they don't run off; and they have the run of a half-acre, fenced-in property that keeps them in away from cars.

I suspect it's because they're from a line of working ranch dogs, with strong instincts to follow orders from humans and stay with their human masters, so it just isn't an issue. We certainly didn't spend a lot of time training them, so it must be instinct.

Even on our recent trip to the Outside World, we never put them on a leash. We purposely stopped places and stayed somewhere without a lot of people, traffic, or other dogs, so they wouldn't be overwhelmed. 

They do have collars, so we can grab and hold them if necessary, but no leashes. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

T.T.: How To Arrange Wildflowers

Not that I'm an expert on this, but I do it multiple times a week, so I do have a few helpful tips.

First, make sure whatever you're picking is plentiful. You do not want to be pulling out a relatively rare plant just to have flowers on your tables. But if there are hundreds of the plants lining the road? You're good to go.

Second, don't bother with anything low-growing. There are lots of pretty wildflowers that grow as vines or ground cover, but you can't put them in a vase if they don't have a long-enough stem. So you're just looking for the ones that stand up tall.

And lastly, when you're gathering, make sure you shake the flowers and inspect them to make sure you aren't bringing in a bunch of ants or other bugs. Sunflowers in particular harbor a lot of ants, and no one wants those crawling all over their kitchen table.

Okay! So to put together an interesting assortment of wildflowers, I think there are two big elements: The background plants, and the anchor flowers.

The "background" plants are the tallest ones, ideally those that have smaller flowers in clusters or seed heads, so that they will form almost a screen of plants in the background.

In this bouquet, that's the yellow sweet clover and the long grasses in the back.

These provide the backdrop against which the anchor flowers will be framed.

In that bouquet above, the anchor flowers are the purple silver nightshade. The anchor flowers need to be bigger. Otherwise, the whole arrangement just looks kind of scraggly and weedy.

This arrangement is lacking an anchor. It's pretty enough, but weedy looking.

Just one sunflower helps a lot, though.

Sunflowers are obviously a really nice anchor flower. But if you can get two kinds of anchor flowers--like both sunflowers and nightshade--that's even better.

The coveted Double Anchor arrangement.

I like symmetry, so I always try to balance out the background plants on each side of the arrangement, as well as whatever anchor flowers are in there, both in terms of color and in terms of bulk.

I always make what I suppose could be considered a "flat" arrangement, meaning it's only meant to be viewed from one side. I have it in the middle of our table, so I arrange the flowers to be seen as I'm in the kitchen or walking in through the door. 

Also, I have a big table, so I can have a bigger arrangement. 

I will always be grateful to my grandfather for building a table with extra leaves that will comfortably seat six people.

If you're putting flowers on a small bookcase or side table, you probably don't want something out of proportion to the surface they're on.

You also have to consider your vase. The milk bottle I use lends itself to taller arrangements, but for a half-pint canning jar or something, I would make something less towering and more bushy.

For many years, I would just grab random flowers and throw them in a canning jar, and that was fine. I find now that I actually enjoy the process of putting the flowers together in a pleasing arrangement, but that's a recent development. If you have no interest in fussing with flowers like this and just want to throw them in a jar on the table, more power to you. All that matters in the end is that you're happy with whatever you're looking at in your own home.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Gather Ye Sunflowers While Ye May

Same flowers--sage, sunflowers, sweet clover, and silver nightshade--in two different arrangements.


I love purple and yellow together.

Such a nice, vibrant purple, too.

With all due respect to the yuletide season, wildflower season is the most wonderful time of the year. For me, anyway.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Snapshots: Begone, Hornworms

I am very sorry to announce that in this, my fifteenth year of growing tomatoes, I am finally face-to-face with tomato hornworms. And what disgusting faces they are, too.

The hornworms' faces, I mean. Not mine. 

If you've never been unfortunate enough to have personal experience with tomato hornworms, they're this gross caterpillar that eats tomato plants and grows obscenely large. Like four inches. They're squishy and repulsive. They squirt green goo out of their mouths when you tug on them to pull them off the tomato plant they've suctioned onto. And they will defoliate a tomato plant before you can say, "WHAT is THAT?"

I've enlisted my small army of boys who are enthralled with gross things to pick them off of the plants and either smash them with a rock or feed them to the chickens. This helps, but there are always more.

En route to chickens.

Poppy is happy to look for them and point them out to me, but she will no longer touch them after she grabbed one with her bare hand and got green goo all over her fingers.

I can't really blame her. I don't like touching them, either.

In far less disgusting news, our neighbor called to ask if I wanted any of the apricots from his tree.

I couldn't say yes fast enough to that question.

Our tree didn't even bloom this year, thanks to a really intense cold spell that killed all the buds. He only lives about half a mile away, but his tree must be a later blooming one.

Anyway. We all went up there and gathered the apricots, mostly from the ground. I was very happy to have fruit. They were very small and on the acidic side, which means really, really good jam.

I was very amused by this claim on the side of the box I happened to grab to collect the apricots.

"Jam-free," huh? We'll see about that.

Guess I showed that box.

Cubby's friend lives on one of the big ranches somewhat near us. There is actually a swimming pool on this ranch, and his friend's mom kindly invited us to a pool party with several of the families that work on the ranch. The house the pool is at is at the base of some cliffs that reminded me of the smooth, kind of wavy rock formations in Arizona.

I particularly like the plant opportunistically growing out of that little hole in the center.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.