Friday, August 6, 2021

Friday Food: Four Food Photos


Short version: Mystery meat, bread and butter, frozen peas

Long version: I pulled out two bags of red meat from the freezer that were labeled "neck roast." The question is: The bull's neck, or the ram's neck?

If it was from the ram, it would get tender in a reasonable amount of time. If it was the bull, it would, um, not. So I decided to play it safe and pressure cook it. That way, it would cook in a reasonable amount of time no matter what it was.

I cooked it with onion, garlic, and some of the leftover pasta sauce. Then, at dinnertime, I fried it in the tallow rendered while it was cooking and added the rest of the pasta sauce, plus some asadero cheese.

It came out well, and A. positively identified it as sheep meat.

I really need to start labeling meat more specifically.


Short version: Tacos, raw green beans, pinto beans. collard greens

Long version: I didn't have quite enough of the ram meat left for everyone, so I added a can of commodities beef we got from someone.

Canned meat seems sketchy, but the ingredients are literally just the meat and salt. So it's just like the meat I pressure can. 

Well, the texture is a little different--shreddier--but that's probably because that meat wasn't from a mature bull.

The collard greens have definitely been an unsung hero in the garden this year. They volunteered, and while every other plant is bolting in the heat or getting eaten by various species of caterpillar or grasshopper, they keep soldiering on.

I need to remember to use more of the jars of pinto beans I pressure canned some time ago. I still have at least 12 pint jars left, and plenty more dried beans in the pantry.


Short version: Roast chicken, roasted potatoes and onions, roasted garlic, green salad with ranch dressing, pots de creme

Long version: Poppy always goes with A. to feed the chickens. When one of the meat chickens pecked her in his zeal to get at the food she was carrying, she declared "Off with his head!"

Maybe not those exact words, but she was of the opinion that he was ready for the oven. A. was happy to oblige. He did the actual killing, as well as the scalding (dunking it in hot water--makes it easier to get the feathers out) and singeing (with fire, to get the little hair-like feathers off), but Poppy and Jack did most of the plucking, and Cubby did the gutting.

A.'s ultimate goal is to turn the entire butchering process over to the children.


I cooked it with butter, garlic, lemon, and rosemary. Once again, it was a very big chicken.

Very tasty, too.

We dug the potatoes earlier in the day. Not as large as some potatoes we've grown in the past, but certainly a good return on the dozen or so potatoes we put in the ground last fall.

Also tasty.

The salad was mostly beet greens, with a token amount of lettuce and spinach from the small plants I currently have in the garden. Summer-planting greens really does not work here. Too hot and dry.

Cubby chose the pots de creme. That is far and away the most-requested dessert since I've started letting them choose.


Short version: Chicken and vegetable curry, rice, garlic bread

Long version: Pretty basic curry with leftover chicken, onion, carrots, and peas, with the interesting addition of green tomatoes. I had several green tomatoes on the counter that had come off the plants while Poppy and I were hunting for caterpillars (the pest situation this year is OFF THE CHARTS--post coming soon). They were green enough that there was no possibility they would turn red on the counter, so I chopped them all up and threw them in the curry. They cooked right down and were unnoticeable in the finished product.

Before they cooked down, though, they looked very pretty:

I just love colorful vegetables.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: For the kids, I made chicken and gravy with the last of the leftover chicken and the juices, plus cornstarch and milk. I added some peas to that, too, and put it over leftover rice for them.

A. and I had the last of the ram/beef taco meat fried with leftover collard greens and some onion I had roasted with the chicken.

And then we all had cherries, because I had an appointment in the Outside World this day, and never miss an opportunity to take advantage of the all-too-fleeting season in which cherries are available at the store. These were particularly good ones, too.


Short version: Scrambled eggs, pinto beans, quesadillas, raw green beans, collard greens

Long version: A. had scrambled eggs with feta, plus some leftover collard greens.

The children had the eggs, beans, and cheese quesadillas I made with the very exciting flour tortillas purchased at the grocery store.

Flour tortillas are a rare treat (their ingredient list is a bit alarming), so that made a meal of scrambled eggs a bit more acceptable to the children. They also had the raw green beans.

I had a salad, with this exciting addition:

The first of what I hope will be many. If I can fend off the many, many insects bent on tomato destruction this year.


Short version: Beef goulash with sauerkraut and carrots, mashed potatoes, carrot sticks with ranch dip, vanilla ice cream with chocolate shell

Long version: I actually made the goulash the day before, when it was cool and cloudy. The sauerkraut was some I had made from a store cabbage awhile ago. There wasn't enough of it to can, so I just put a couple of bags in the freezer.

The kids got ice cream because I needed to bribe them so I could cut the boys' hair. You may recall bribery was my most important tip about cutting boys' hair. Ice cream is an excellent bribe.

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

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Remote Living: Gifted Animals

As you might have gathered from my "Vitals" column over there on the right, we have a lot of animals. And many of them were given to us.

Most of our chickens were given to us by neighbors.

Our meat rabbits were given to us by a neighbor.

Samson was given to us by a teacher at the school.

And now, from another teacher, we have . . .

Everyone, meet Bill.

Bill is a Welsh mountain pony. I think of ponies as stocky, furry little things, but Bill really just looks like a miniature horse. He belongs to the teacher's son, who used him for his very young daughter a few years ago.

We weren't sure how much training Bill had. Turns out, almost none.

He may have been fine for leading a little child around a few years ago, but it's clear that whatever training he had then has been forgotten. It took A. fifteen minutes to catch him in the smaller paddock just to get a halter on him. It seems a safe bet that he's been running around in a pasture for the past few years with no contact with a halter, much less a saddle.

Luckily, he seems to have a very good temperament, which will help. Because A. is going to have to train him. And Cubby is going to have to ride him during the training. Bill is too small to carry A. around, so Cubby is our most experienced rider Bill can comfortably carry.

Cubby and Calvin are happy to have a more lively horse to ride, because geriatric Samson pretty much tops out now at walking a quarter mile to the post office with Poppy on his back. He's a great first horse for a small child, but the older children are ready for more of a challenge.

And I think Bill is just the pony for the job.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

T.T.: Beware the Curry

Although I am generally an all-cast-iron-and-wooden-spoons sort of cook, I do make one important exception: curry.

The combination of strong spices in curry powder permeates everything it touches. It will sink into a wooden spoon and make it still smell like curry days later. Don't stir curry with a wooden spoon unless you don't mind everything you stir with it for the next several uses to be faintly touched with curry.

The smell and taste of curry will also linger in cast iron for a few washes. I mean, it's not necessarily bad to have a fried egg that's faintly yellow and tastes of curry, but it might be unexpected.

For this reason, I use stainless steel pans and spoons when I make anything with curry powder.

Onions and curry powder: a potent combination.

Leftovers go into glass containers, not plastic, for the same reason.

So just remember, kids: Cast iron and curry* don't mix. Break out the stainless steel and glass for your curry and thank me later.

* And wood and plastic, but that would have spoiled the alliteration.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Monday Bouquets: A Flower Tower

The first arrangement to grace the table this week: 

I was not entirely happy about the way this one came out. It was sort of uneven, with that big open space in the center at the top. Sunflowers are a bit floppy and sometimes resist going where I want them to be.

And the second:

"The sunflowers look like eyes," said Poppy. "There are three of them, and they're looking at us." That's inventive, I guess, albeit also creepy.

I hope you have a beautiful Monday, with or without flowers.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Snapshots: The Labors of A.

A. has been working on scything the tall weeds outside our property. 


Sharpening the scythe properly is key.

And away he goes.

The scythe works better on tall weeds than the gasoline-powered trimmer does. It also has the advantage of being almost silent, so it's much better for spectators like Jack.

He's mostly doing the roadsides outside our fence. When he did the side of the road right outside our side gate, he thoughtfully left all the sunflowers for me.

A table bouquet, just steps away.

He also spent some time up on the roof, checking for damage and using a roof-coating material on some of the spots in the porch roof that leak.

Access to the roof via the apricot tree.

A. working on fixing the roof; Cubby working on killing a giant grasshopper.

A. actually did something similar for the MiL when he was at Blackrock a few weeks ago, but that is a much more terrifying roof to work on.

Historic, aesthetically pleasing, and dangerous.

Summer is definitely not the time for relaxing around here.