Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday Food: Fair Photos!

This was a crazy week, with the county fair, me at work most of the week, Cubby at football practice most days, and way too much heat. But everyone was fed.


Short version: Leftover beef goulash with egg noodles, frozen peas

Long version: Not much to report, except that egg noodles are much better than eggless pasta. In my opinion, anyway.


Short version: Fair food, and PBJ

Long version: This was our big day at the County Fair. 

This day of the fair starts with a parade at which much candy is thrown. Thus, the bags.

The line-up for the National Anthem before the kids' rodeo.

At which Cubby the Cowboy rode a steer. Calvin did, too, but he didn't have the hat and boots.

All the excitement isn't over until around 6 p.m., so we got the kids dinner at the 4-H concession stand. The only thing available was a hot dog meal that came with either chips or a full-size candy bar. So that's what they all got, and they all chose the candy bar.

Calvin was the only one who didn't want a hot dog. He came home and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

I was so hot and tired, all I ate was some cottage cheese.


Short version: Sausage in tomato/cream sauce, leftover noodles, Blue Ribbon carrots, raw green beans

Long version: Breakfast sausage fried in small patties, to which I added some pizza sauce I had made and then some heavy cream. 

We brought home the three carrots that A. entered into the fair, for which he got a first-place ribbon. They were pretty bendy and wrinkled after sitting out in the exhibition hall for three days, but I certainly wasn't going to throw them out. So I roasted them. They were delicious.


Short version: Pizza, leftover goulash, carrot sticks

Long version: I went back to work this day for a full day of teacher in-service stuff, so I prepped all of this ahead of time. I made the pizza dough and pre-baked it the day before when I was baking bread, plus made pizza sauce. So when I got home, all I had to do was top the dough with the sauce and my handy pre-shredded asadero from the freezer--plus the two leftover sausage patties diced up to top the smaller pizza--and bake it about fifteen minutes.

A. and I had the goulash. It wasn't as good as the pizza. But then, very few things are.


Short version: Hamburgers, leftover pizza, steamed broccoli

Long version: Cubby started playing football this week, with the first two days of practices from 6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

That's a LOT of calories burned. 

I knew he would be coming home starving (once he had recovered from all the running in the heat--the heat this week was the reason the practices started so early), and I was at work all day so I wouldn't be here to feed him when he got home.

So I had A. buy some ground beef when he was at the store and I made pre-made hamburger patties to keep in the freezer that A. could cook for Cubby when he got home.

There were some of those left, so I made those for dinner.

Our neighbor is bringing a steer to the butcher for us next week and I will be sooooo happy to have not-store ground beef again.

These were on display on Main Street during the county parade. They are real, and kind of terrifying.


Short version: Cafeteria food, omelets, ice cream

Long version: There was a bunch of lasagna, corn, and garlic bread left from the teachers' provided lunch at school after this in-service day that the cook asked us to take home. And I was very happy to do so, because that meant I didn't have to cook for the kids.

I had a little ice cream left, which I promised the kids they could have if they behaved themselves at school for the whole four hours A. and I both had to be in a required CPR/First Aid training. They did--mostly thanks to a couple of teachers who already had the certification and kept them occupied--so they got the ice cream.


Short version: Meat and potatoes, cucumbers with salt and vinegar

Long version: Diced potatoes boiled in the juices from a jar of bull meat, then I added the meat, plus garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika.

Cucumbers from the garden. Finally.

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Remote Living, Part 13: Trash Talk

Just a quick one today, with two questions.  Because "Let no questions be left unanswered" is my motto.

What do you do with garbage if you have no garbage pick-up?

As with so many things here, we do it ourselves. 

The villages have what are called transfer stations. These are places with really big dumpsters where locals bring their trash, and then the trash is trucked out eventually.

We go about every other Friday and bring a few bags of trash to the transfer station about ten miles away. And when I say "we," I mean "A. and Poppy." Poppy LOVES going to get rid of trash. The stop at the small store in the village for a treat that she usually manages to charm out of Daddy might have something to do with it.

Edited to add: The comment from Linda reminded me that I should have said I do burn cardboard and paper in a burn barrel. Burn barrels are, uh, barrels. Made of metal, so they won't melt while you're burning things.

What about recycling?

Unfortunately, that does not exist here. As far as I'm aware, the closest recycling center is a two-hour drive. So we don't recycle.

Edited to add because man, I was tired when I wrote this and forgot stuff: Except! All food waste is taken care of either by the chickens, the dogs, or the compost pile. I consider that recycling. The chickens recycle the scraps into eggs, the compost recycles it into garden fertilizer, and the dogs . . . okay, the dogs don't really recycle it. They just eat it. But they keep the coyotes away, so they're worth a few scraps.

Let's end with a photo, shall we?

We may not have garbage pick-up, but we can ride a horse anytime we want. Trade-offs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

T.T.: DIY Shredded Cheese

There are many foods that I don't buy. Bread. Yogurt. Pasta sauce. And shredded cheese.

Let's talk about that last one, shall we?

I have never in my life purchased shredded cheese. There are a couple of reasons for this. 

One is that it has added ingredients that are meant to keep it from molding and sticking together. While these ingredients are not necessarily harmful, I also don't really need them in my cheese.

The other is that shredded cheese costs a lot more. And we eat a LOT of cheese, so the price difference would make a very big difference in how much I spend at the grocery store.

I get that it's convenient, though, which is why I am here to make home-shredded cheese just as convenient!

Okay, no. You do still have to do the shredding, so it's not just as convenient as buying those little flat bags of pre-shredded cheese, but it's more convenient than having a block of cheese in the refrigerator mocking you for not having shredded it.

Does your cheese not do that? Weird.


Tip one: If you have it, use a food processor. Mine has a shredding disc that goes on top of the turning thingie, so I can feed small blocks of cheese down the tube and the machine shreds it for me. 

If you don't have a food processor, you're stuck with a grater. Box graters are sturdier and work better for grating a lot of cheese at once, in my opinion.

Once the cheese is grated, it's on to step two: Store it flat in the freezer.

If you only have a small amount, you can put it in a quart-size zip-top freezer bag. I usually use a gallon-size bag, because I'm dealing with a lot of cheese. Either way, after it's in the bag, distribute the cheese evenly in the bag so the bag is flat.

You require a visual? So happy to oblige!

Look! Flat cheese! (This is asadero cheese.)

The reason this is crucial is that you want to be able to remove just some of the cheese when you need it. Even we, prodigious cheese-eaters that we are, do not use a gallon of shredded cheese at a time. And if I were to freeze it in a big lump, I couldn't easily remove just part of it. It's not as if you can quick-defrost in the microwave, since cheese has that tendency to, well, melt.

If it's flat, though, you can just whack the flat bag of cheese on the edge of the counter to break it up a bit and remove what you want. 

It's fun. Releases aggression, you know.

You can also freeze the shredded cheese in a flat layer on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and then transfer it to the bag, but I try to avoid extra steps like that whenever possible.

So! Next time you're at the store and find a good price on block cheese, just take it home and shred it yourself, store it flat in the freezer, and pat yourself on the back for your thrifty ways every time you take your very own shredded cheese out of the freezer.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Monday Bouquets: County Fair Flowers

It was County Fair Weekend!

That's a big deal here. 

There were many things I could have entered for judging--for me, that would be mostly baked goods or canned things--but in th end, I brought flowers.

I did the initial arranging outside as the sun was coming up. Dramatic, no?

I added a couple more things to it when I got it inside. 

It basically got a Participation ribbon, which is fine. I wasn't all that pleased with how this one came out, and there were several very nice arrangements there.

Since my usual Fancy Vase (ahem) was at the fair over the weekend, I used my Less Fancy Vase to put some sunflowers on the table.

Topo Chico and sunflowers: A perfect match.

I actually didn't have anything on the table for a whole half day, a fact that was noted by Poppy, who informed me I needed some flowers. She's in for a rude shock this winter. 

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Snapshots: All Roads Lead To Butter

There is no way to get to our county without driving some pretty rough roads. Paved, but bumpy. The highway department knows this, and wants to alert drivers to this fact before they venture into the great emptiness.

Can confirm.

Once my mom brought me some heavy cream when she came to visit, and by the time she got here, it had been agitated enough in the cooler that it was almost butter.

A road AND a churn! Now that's efficiency.

I forget what prompted this next photo. Other than persistent hamminess.

If the camera is out, she will want it to be taking a picture of her.

A campout in the kitchen.

We're at the height of roadside sunflower season right now. Both in terms of their actual height, and their quantity. (That's the moon up there setting.)

This last picture immediately makes me let a deep breath out and relax. Because it is what I see when I come out of Poppy's room after putting her to bed. It means my day is done. (Well, assuming she actually goes to sleep and doesn't require more tucking in or water or other classic toddler sleep-delaying tactics.)


And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.