Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Food: School Days


Short version: Lamb ribs, curried split peas, garlic bread, roasted carrots and green beans

Long version: I'm trying to clear some of the bulkier packages of meat out of the freezer in anticipation of having an entire steer to cram in there in a few weeks. The lamb ribs qualify a bulky.

All I did was marinate them in lots of apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper, then cook them covered for a few hours until they were tender.

Cubby tells me lamb ribs are his favorite meal, and if he had a million dollars, that's what he would buy.

We don't have a million dollars, but we do have the sheep from which we can harvest ribs. Lucky Cubby.

I doubt there are many millionaires who eat lamb ribs, anyway.


Short version: Bull and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans

Long version: The other thing I'm working on from the freezer stock is pressure-canning more of the bull meat. It's much more useful to me in the pressure-canned form, since that means it's tender. Since I had the pressure canner/cooker out, I used it after I did my canning to pressure cook about ten pounds of bull steaks. 

The pressure cooker obviously seals in all the juices, so I used the liquid from the cooker to make gravy ("lots," at Cubby's request), and then just sliced the meat and covered it with gravy.

Gravy=meat juices, onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cornstarch, and milk.

I rarely make gravy, but both Jack and Cubby wish I would do it much more often. It is pretty good.


Short version: Roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, cucumbers with salt and vinegar, cow patty cookies

Long version: A. butchered another white meat chicken for me. We're down to three. I'm trying to just eat them fresh, rather than freeze them, to conserve freezer space for the steer.

Potatoes and cucumbers from the garden. Yay!

And . . . the cookies.

Cubby was looking over my shoulder a few days before when I was looking up a recipe and saw a video for these cookies. And then he chose them for his Sunday dessert choice.

I don't know why my children never choose anything basic like chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies or something.

Anyway. The recipe is flourless, which means almost the entirely of the cookies is powdered sugar and chocolate chips. And egg whites.

There is much discussion of the egg whites, with the recipe calling for two or three depending on how dry the dough is as you're mixing it. I apparently don't have the same definition of "too dry," because I added the third egg white and ended up with something less like cookie dough and more like cake batter. That is, wet.

The dough is supposed to be rolled with your hands, but there was no way my dough/batter was rollable. So I just plopped it right onto the cookie sheets, where it promptly started spreading. And then it spread even more in the oven, until . . .

Yeah. Like I said, Cow Patty Cookies.

They ended up pretty tasty, although very sweet. As you would expect given the ingredients. The rest of the family enjoyed them quite a bit. Calvin even said they tasted like pots de creme, which I'm pretty sure is the highest compliment he can give.

I wouldn't make them again just for me, but Cubby wants to try again to see if we can make them more cookie-like and less . . . cow-patty-like.


Short version: Leftover chicken and gravy, leftover mashed potatoes, bread and butter, frozen peas

Long version: First day of school for the boys, first day of work for me, leftovers for dinner.

You'll see this a lot on Mondays and Wednesdays, which are my work days. Rummaging in the refrigerator and re-heating is the best way to get dinner on the table in short order.

I feel just like Poppy looks when I'm riding home on the bus at the end of the day. The bus aide is discouraged from napping, however. More's the pity.


Short version: Rooster tacos, carrot sticks

Long version: Our elderly neighbors brought us two more roosters, which A. killed and skinned for me, and I pressure cooked.

Then I picked the carcasses clean, shredded the meat, and combined it with salsa, garlic powder, and chile powder to make very fast taco meat. It was good.

Those young roosters always look they have no meat on them, but after the meat is stripped off, it's a surprisingly large amount. I really dislike picking meat off bones, but it's always worth it.


Short version: Barbecue beef, chicken tacos, carrot and cucumber sticks, bread and butter with apricot jam

Long version: Another workday! Hence, the random foods.

The last of the pot roast simmered with barbecue sauce for A. and me. That meat also went into sandwiches for Jack and Poppy.

Calvin had the tacos. And so did Jack. He ate two tacos after his sandwich. Jack is currently eating more than Cubby, who is quite a bit larger and also has three-hour football practices every day.

Kids' eating phases are weird.

All the kids had the bread and jam after Cubby got home from practice. Because sometimes, you just need to fill in the corners with bread and jam.


Short version: Chicken stir-fry, rice

Long version: Surprise work day, to sub for the other teacher's aide. Luckily, I had made rice on Tuesday to have on hand for this dinner.

After getting home and lying down for a half hour or so--the first week of school is exhausting for everyone--I put together two bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables, the last of the leftover roasted chicken, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, and peanut butter, and called it dinner. 

Forgot the ginger. Bummer.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Remote Living: Alas for Italian Sausage

More questions!

Has your cooking changed much since the move?

In some ways. It was a good thing that I already had some experience with growing, harvesting, preserving, and butchering, because those things are obviously much more important out here where our access to high-quality food is greatly hampered by distance. I mean, we can buy food, obviously, but it's not always what I might want or the quality I wish to have.

As for the differences in actual ingredients . . .

Is it more because of what you have access to, or what you don't have access to?

Both. I have always allowed my environment to dictate what's in my kitchen. So in New Mexico, it was inevitable that I would end up using green chiles in my cooking, which is an ingredient I had never in my life cooked with.

Likewise, I'm sure I would never have started making my own tortillas if I weren't living somewhere with ten varieties of masa at the grocery store. 

Also, although we have always made an effort to buy cows wherever we have lived, it's so effortless to do here in cattle country, we have and eat more beef. 

Cows are so numerous here, they're often the only impediment in the road when we're on the school bus.

What I do not have access to here that I used to rely on a lot more are quality dairy products and Italian sausage.

Upstate New York is a paradise of dairy. It's easy to find unpasturized heavy cream and real aged cheddar cheese. It is not easy to find those things here. It is, in fact, impossible to get real cream without milking your own cow.

Italian sausage is something I always had on hand in New York for a quick meal. Here, it's not an option. I don't like spicy sausage, and that's the dominant kind of sausage here. Also, it's not really high-quality sausage. It tends to be too much fat, gristle, and salt.

Oh, and apples. There are some local apples, but they tend to be kind of dry and tart. Not good for applesauce or baking, so I don't make the same quantities of applesauce I used to make, which the children miss.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

T.T.: Don't Fear the Fat

I feel like these could really just be called "cooking tips," since that's what 90% of the tips are about. Stick to your strengths, I suppose.

So! Let's talk about bacon.

I grew up draining bacon of accumulated grease as it cooked, and then laying it on a paper-towel to drain further after cooking. Plus actually blotting the bacon with the paper towels to remove as much of the grease as possible.

I no longer do any of those things. I am now of the opinion that if I'm going to eat bacon, I really can't be worried about the grease. I mean, pretty much the point of bacon is fat.  

Plus, it cooks way better in all that grease.

First bacon tip: Lay the pieces out flat. A. has this habit of just tossing the bacon in all tangled up and basically stirring it around, but that makes it hard to cook it evenly and the pieces won't be uniformly crispy. So I lay it flat. I do kind of layer over more pieces than will fit in a single layer, because they shrink so much as they cook that they will eventually all be in a single layer.

Second bacon tip: Don't drain the grease as it renders out. I just let all the fat build up until the bacon is almost deep-frying in its own grease. This prevents scorching and lets the bacon pieces cook more evenly.

Third bacon tip: Don't bother with paper towels; just put it right on a plate. There will be a little bit of grease that accumulates on the bottom of the plate, but at least I'm not wasting paper towels. Because we all know how I feel about that.


Of course, when the bacon is all out of the pan, I save the majority of the grease in a small bowl, leaving the rest in there to fry eggs. I leave the bowl right next to the stove. I don't bother refrigerating it, because we'll go through it quickly enough that it never goes bad.

So tell me, how do you cook bacon?

* Do you remember the dog in the commercial running around looking for the bacon? No? Well, here it is. You're welcome.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday Bouquets: "B" for Effort

Although I did manage to keep flowers on the table this past week, the busyness of this particular week meant I didn't have as much time or effort to spend on arranging them. 

I only got to take the dogs for their morning walk a couple of days. Since those walks are also my flower-gathering walks, that meant not so many opportunities to refresh the flowers.

But there was still color on the table. Sunflowers and sage forever. (Or at least until the killing frosts.)


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

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Snapshots: Equine Bonding, School Supplies, and Fair Fun

Let's see what happened this week, shall we?

Samson and Bill had their first official meeting not separated by a barbed wire fence.

It went well. No problems. Which is good, since they will be spending all winter together in this paddock.

Cubby decided the Honda was too disgusting to bear after many days parked under the apricot tree and thus, under many birds. It was liberally decorated with bird droppings and was pretty gross. So he washed it.

Poppy thought it looked fun and helped.

Needless to say, I was all about this free car wash.

The time had finally come to sort the big box of school supplies A. had purchased at Walmart several weeks ago. Since we're starting school on Monday. So I got one box for each of the boys, and Poppy helped me put the appropriate supplies in each box.

She was disappointed to learn that she doesn't have to bring any of her own supplies for preschool, which supplies everything for her. I was not so disappointed to have one fewer child to buy things for. 

And last, here are our entries for the county fair. Everyone in the family entered something.

A drawing from Calvin, a mini flower arrangement each from Poppy and Jack, a carved spoon from Cubby, and A.'s carrots there in the bag. My flowers aren't in this photo.

Cubby was the only one of us who won anything. His spoon got Reserve Champion in wood crafts. This is his second year getting a Reserve Champion award (last year he got one for his garlic). Maybe next year will be his year and he'll get Grand Champion for something.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.