Friday, July 30, 2021

Friday Food: Pizza Hut at Home


Short version: Pizza, cucumber spears with ranch dressing

Long version: I made an extra baking of bread so I could give some to neighbors with the apricot jam I've been making, so rather than making garlic bread again with some of the dough, I made pizza. One was just cheese, one had the last of the leftover meatloaf and some cooked beet greens.

I cooked the meat one in a cast iron skillet, and it came out looking just like a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza (only a little bigger).

All we needed were those blood-red plastic cups filled with Pepsi to complete the experience. (If you know what I'm talking about, you are probably in your forties.)


Short version: Stew meat tacos, raw green beans, chocolate peanut butter milkshakes

Long version: A. left  in the afternoon to stay near the Denver airport so he would be on hand to pick Cubby up early the next morning. The rest of us went to church at 4 p.m. and had tacos when we got home. They were just some beef stew meat I had cooked the morning before with no particular purpose in mind, plus cheese and salsa in corn tortillas.

I made the milkshakes because I needed a good bribe to get Calvin and Jack's room really picked up. Like, everything all around the edges and in the corners and all. I ensured cooperation from the children by promising a milkshake.

None of them even knew what a milkshake would taste like. Shocking. Guess it's been awhile since I've made one.


It was vanilla ice cream, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and milk. Calvin said it was as good as a good smoothie, but not as good as plain vanilla ice cream with chocolate shell.

The fact that he doesn't see much difference between a milkshake and a smoothie is also shocking. But handy, as it means he's just as happy drinking something containing plain yogurt and fruit as something containing ice cream.


Short version: Tuna patties, bread and butter, frozen green peas, apricot popsicles

Long version: This was the day Cubby came home from New York. A. had prepared one of the meat chickens for his welcome home dinner--Cubby can eat astonishing quantities of chicken--but we actually met A. and Cubby on their way home from the airport in the town an hour from us where our mechanic is so we could drop off the van for some work. 

We didn't get home until 4 p.m., which is too late for roasting a chicken for our usual 5 p.m. mealtime. So I went with another of Cubby's favorites: fish.

I made the apricot popsicles out of some apricots from our neighbor's tree that I had just pureed with honey, plus extra maple syrup, a bit of orange juice left from a treat we got the kids during a long drive awhile ago, and heavy cream. They were good, but they needed a bit more sweetener. They were a little tart.


Short version: Roasted chicken, potatoes, garlic, carrots, green beans, watermelon

Long version: So the first meat chicken we ate ended up being 7.6 pounds when it was all ready to go in the oven.

That's a big chicken.

I even had some left over for chicken salad the next day, which is not usually the case when we have chicken.

The chicken was obviously one we raised ourselves, but so were all the vegetables.

All collected twenty feet from my front door. My favorite kind of produce.

All of that roasted in the oven along with the chicken.

The watermelon was one that A. and Cubby bought from a roadside stand in Colorado. That seems to be the only way to get real watermelons anymore. And by "real," I mean "with seeds." Because you all know how I feel about seedless watermelons.

This is the first real watermelon we've had this summer. It was delicious.


Short version: Beef pot roast, rice, frozen peas, watermelon.

Long version: A nice big chuck roast cooked in the morning before it got too hot. 

Which is pretty much all I have to say about this meal.


Short version: Beef, pasta, green beans

Long version: Anytime I use the food processor to make a smoothie for lunch, I always find something else to make with it. This time, that was pasta sauce. I had a can of tomatoes in the refrigerator--the juice of which I had put in the the pot roast--so I used that, plus olive oil, two heads of garlic I roasted with the chicken with no particular purpose in mind, balsamic vinegar, and basil. I added that to the pasta for the kids, plus some diced beef and asadero cheese.

A. and I had the leftover pot roast with some sauce and cheese.

Green beans from the garden. Yay!


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, curried split peas, leftover rice, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: Last time I made the curried split peas, I froze a quart container of them without any sour cream in it. So all I had to do was add that before serving. Freezing can make things mushy when they thaw, but since split peas break down when they're cooking anyway, it's not an issue. And it was very convenient.

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Remote Living, Part 11: Utilities and Remote Kids

And the questions march on . . .

Any utilities?

Water (more on that below), electricity, high-speed Internet. That's it. No garbage pick-up or sewage.

Do you have a well? 

Our almost-ghost-village has a well, put in in the 1980s I think. It supplies three houses and the post office. We pay a very low flat fee monthly and have no restrictions on use.

We have good and plentiful groundwater here, which is the reason the town was built here. Before the village well, everyone had their own wells, and/or used windmills to pump water up. The two neighbors who don't use the community well still use their own wells.

Our water association (which is a funny name for something with four members) is run by our neighbors. The husband of the pair is very handy and takes care of the maintenance, and the wife does the paperwork and finance part of it.

Since we've lived here, we've never been without water for more than half a day. (Knock on LOTS OF WOOD.) 

But, if we need to, we can always haul water from our neighbor's stock tank*. 

The tank is also a favorite place for our kids to visit when there's no livestock in the pasture, because the tank has many goldfish in it. Water supply and aquarium in one. (That white fence in the background is our house.)

It's in the pasture across the road from our house, and there's a gate right there that opens so you can drive a vehicle to the tank. It's supplied by a windmill, so power loss doesn't affect it. We've only had to use it once, but it's nice to know it's there and we can get water if we really need it.

Do the kids like living in the middle of nowhere?

In the interest of accurate reporting, I posed this question to the kids in question. (Cubby wasn't there when I asked this question.)

Poppy: Yes.

Jack: Yeah.

Calvin: Yeah. It's better than the other places we lived. (Editor's note: Neither of which were exactly bustling urban centers.)

Of course, they haven't really known anything different, since they've lived rural their entire lives. But whenever we visit family in more populous areas, they all remark on the traffic and noise and seem relieved to get home.

They don't really understand how unusual it is here.

I mean, how many other kids do you know who regularly ride a horse to the post office?

This may change as they get older, and I think there will probably be some culture shock when they move elsewhere as young adults. But for now, they're happy.

* Another example of how our good relationships with our neighbors is key to living here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

T.T.: Reducing Dishes

If you like to do dishes*, this post is not for you. But if you, like me, are always trying to minimize the number of dishes requiring handwashing because you don't relish another half hour in the kitchen after all the previous kitchen time required to actually prepare the food, here are some tips for you.

I use cast iron skillets every day. Often the same one multiple times in a day. A skillet might start out the day frying eggs. I don't bother washing that skillet out, and will find ways to cook other things in it for lunch or dinner. So I might use it to saute whatever vegetable I was planning on making, or cook extra onion, or put potato cubes in it to roast in the oven.

I might also use that skillet twice just during my dinner preparations. Say, to cook an onion, which will then be removed from the pan to be replaced with the potatoes to be roasted.

If whatever I'm cooking on the stove needs a lid to steam or something, then I look first to see if I have a larger pan or skillet already in use or dirty that can be used as a makeshift lid. That way, I don't have a separate lid to wash.

Here's a visual:

Careful food styling is my primary concern, obviously.

The skillet with the peas in it had been used to make omelets in the morning, and then used to roast the carrots that are in that bowl. The bowl was my salad bowl from lunch. I needed something to cover the peas while they steamed, so I used the half-sheet pan with the meatloaf on it, which also had the benefit of keeping the meatloaf warm while the peas cooked.

Not as precarious as it looks, I promise.

I could have used a separate pan for the carrots, or a clean bowl to store them in, or a separate lid. But then I would have two or three more dishes to wash.

I'm also constantly grabbing random spoons or forks that have already been used to stir things or turn bacon or whatever. If they're rinsed off and then end up in a pot of boiling water or a screaming hot pan, there's no issue with sanitizing.

None of this saves a ton of time every day, but over the course of many, many days of cooking, a couple fewer dishes to wash is probably a lot of time in all.

Plus, it's a fun challenge to see how few pots and pans I can use to prepare a full day of food.

* I'm not entirely convinced these people exist. Do they? Are you one of them? 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Anniversary Edition

Today A. and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. I got him some flowers. 

Teleflora's got nothin' on me.

I think A. must have taken to heart that adage about teaching a man to fish, except he went with, "Give a woman flowers, and she'll enjoy them for a few days. Move a woman to the middle of nowhere on a dirt road with wildflowers everywhere, and she'll enjoy flowers every summer for months."

Or something.

For the other arrangement this week, I went with something a little different:

Beauty in simplicity.

If you are wondering why on earth I would choose to put a beer bottle in the middle of my table*, rest easy: That's a Topo Chico bottle. 

Topo Chico is a carbonated mineral water from Mexico. I liked the colors of the bottle with the sunflowers.

That's all. Have a nice day!

* My children asked me this very question. It does look a lot like A.'s bottles of Rolling Rock, but give me some credit for class, kids.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Snapshots: Captions Only

I'll forgo the onscreen chattering today and stick to succinct captions.

Another beet harvested (hooray!), and the very first of the green beans (hooray again!).

A very nice pink hollyhock that came from some seeds I dumped out of my seed box with no idea what would come up. A happy surprise.

More garlic and potatoes from the garden.

And on my morning walk: moonset ahead . . .

Sunrise behind.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.