Friday, September 3, 2021

Friday Food: Brownie Pie, Anyone?


Short version: Bunless hamburgers, leftover spaghetti, raw green beans

Long version: The rest of the ground beef from earlier in the week that I never cooked, more of the spaghetti from the cafeteria, more cucumbers from the garden.

Unexciting, but tasty.


Short version: Leftover spaghetti, leftover chicken salad with crackers, cucumbers, Larabars

Long version: Cubby had his first football game this day. It was an away game. Very away. Three hours away, actually. A. went, so he and Cubby were gone for dinner.

That's why we had leftovers.

Also why I gave the kids the Larabars for dessert. I had mentioned to them that I had given Cubby a couple to bring with him in case he needed to eat something, so of course they wanted one, too. I usually have these on hand. They're really good. Not exactly health food, but not total junk, either.


Short version: Pork and gravy, garlic bread, Holy's cabbage, roasted carrots, raw cabbage, double chocolate brownie pie

Long version: I found a random bag of what looked like pork loin in the freezer, so I sliced that into kind of medallions, fried those with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and then made a milk gravy for the pork in the pan. 

For those who have no idea what's so holy about cabbage, you can read all about it here. Three of the four children prefer their cabbage raw, but Cubby LOVES Holy's cabbage, so I can be assured the family recipe will live on.

It was Cubby's turn to clean the toilet, and thus choose dessert, and he chose brownies. I made these brownies (though I never bother with the parchment paper lining), and added a few chopped dark chocolate truffles of unknown age that I found in the back of my baking cabinet. I also baked it in a nonstick round cake pan and cut it into wedges. Hence, brownie pie.

It was popular. Obviously.

Oh look! An action shot of many things!

Brownies, cabbage, garlic bread, and roasted carrots. Looks like a balanced meal to me.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, mashed potatoes, beet greens, carrot sticks

Long version: Nah.


Short version: Pork stir-fry, rice

Long version: When I cut up the pork on Sunday, I cut some into smaller pieces for stir-fry. Even though I have probably enough vegetables from the garden right now to make the stir-fry with fresh vegetables, I still used two bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables.

Lazy? Guilty as charged.


Short version: Curried rooster slop, leftover mashed potatoes, raw green beans, leftover beet greens

Long version: We must've gotten at least half a dozen roosters from various people this year. I guess a lot of people got chicks this spring, and of course, when anyone gets chicks they're bound to get excess roosters.

This one came to us Tuesday, A. killed it and skinned it Wednesday morning, and then I pressure-cooked it. It was pretty shreddy when it was done, so I just pulled it apart and added some curried split peas I took from the freezer as a sauce.

This rooster had a lot of very dark meat, and the brown of the meat with the yellow of the curry made for a pretty ugly dish.

We do not always eat with our eyes in this house.


Short version: Very late chicken burritos

Long version: Cubby had a home game this night, so we all went. It went a lot later than I thought. We didn't get home until 7:40 p.m., by which point, of course, everyone was starving.

I hadn't actually made anything ahead of time, but I had saved some of the rooster's breast meat for some undetermined use. So I heated that up with salsa, and then put it in flour tortillas with cheese.

There were no vegetables with dinner, but the kids all ate apples while they were watching the game, so I called it good.

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

T.T.: More Books, Less Internet

The Internet is an insidious thing. It's so useful and can be a great tool for learning, sharing, and entertaining.

But it can also sneakily subvert your life in ways you don't even notice.

I have always been a reader. Sort of inevitable given a childhood when gaming and computers were still so rare as to be a novelty. We had a computer when I was young, but all I remember doing on it was playing some game that involved apples. (Maybe? My memories are hazy on this.)

We had a Nintendo when I was slightly older, but I also don't have any really clear memories of that.

What I do have memories of is lying in my bed reading with my reading light. I have very clear memories of the books I read, and when.

Books and reading have been part of my life and identity from a very early age. So imagine how disconcerting it was when I realized I wasn't really reading books much anymore.

It is, of course, entirely possible to read on a computer. And I was actually going days without reading anything that wasn't on my laptop screen.

But this is not a positive sort of reading for me. This is the sort of reading that only requires a minute and a half of attention and focus. It's the sort of reading that involves a lot of negativity--in the news cycle, in confrontational commentary, in political disagreements.

It was not making me happy to read the news or other people's "takes.*"

So, I stopped.

Not that I stopped reading online entirely. I mean, I have a blog. I'm online every day for sure. But I'm also in books every day again, because I'm not looking at news sites or Twitter comments. Instead, I'm looking at these:

The left book is good so far, the middle I've read before and would recommend, and I haven't started the right book yet.

So if you're feeling anxious and unsettled, I would gently suggest closing whatever screen you're looking at right now (which would be, uh, this one) and finding something printed on a physical piece of paper to occupy your mind instead. It doesn't solve anything in the larger world, but it can make your own small world feel calmer.

* I hate that word. Have an opinion, please, not a "take." 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Small but Mighty

Although there is still a profusion of sunflowers lining the roadsides, the blooms tend to be much smaller than the ones we saw earlier in the summer. 

A portent of fall, no doubt. 

I decided to take my cue from the diminutive blossoms and make much smaller arrangements. I used a little four-ounce jar Cubby found somewhere as my vase.

It was nice having a less towering arrangement on the table. I didn't have to move it off the table so I could see Cubby across from me during dinner.

First I went with just the sunflowers.

And then with some sunflowers and sage. Because sunflowers without sage is like peanut butter without jelly. Or something.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Snapshots: In the Garden

Who wants a garden tour? Thought so!

Did you know that carrots are on a two-year cycle for producing seeds? They grow the root we eat the first summer, and then if you leave the plant in, they'll make seeds the summer after that. And when they make seeds, they make A LOT OF SEEDS.

Three carrots, approximately 300,000 seeds.

Of course I saved some to plant next year.

I have these beautiful trumpet vines (I think) that come up every year by the front fence. The flowers are very nice, but they choke out the green beans I have planted against that fence. Next year, I will have to be ruthless in pulling them as they appear.

Pretty, but not edible.

This has been an absolutely brutal year for pests in the garden. Everything has been eating my plants. First it was the flea beetles that attacked the brassicas, then the tomato hornworms, then these nasty tomato fruit worms I was picking off plants by the dozens every day, then swallowtail caterpillars all over the dill, and now grasshoppers of every kind.

These poor cabbages I started about a month ago were plagued by the flea beetles in their infancy, and then the tomato fruit worms after I planted them out. I lost a few, but the survivors seem to be doing well now.

The weeds, of course, are unfazed by any kind of pest.

We put in rhubarb plants this year, which are doing very well, although they also have some holes in them courtesy of the tomato fruit worms.

We'll get a rhubarb pie out of this yet, disgusting worms or no.

Then there were the cabbage looper caterpillars that ate the basil. Basil! I didn't think anything ate basil!

These things sure did, though. They killed two of the plants, but two of the others that I thought were goners are coming back.

Take that, stupid cabbage loopers. (Basil only grows here if I plant it down in these sunken feed tubs, to protect it from the wind.)

The tomatoes, of course, have sustained the most damage. Everything eats tomatoes. Unfortunately, the tomato fruit worms eat the tomatoes before they're even ripening. So even though the worms are gone now (I suspect eaten by these black centipede-looking insects that started appearing under the tomato plants), almost every tomato I pick has holes in it.

It's very discouraging. I spy a hopeful glimpse of red, pull the ripe tomato off, and . . .


Some are only partially damaged, though, and I can just cut the holey part out. So I am getting some tomatoes.

Also on the positive side, the cucumber beetles that are swarming the squash plants out in the pasture seem mostly uninterested in the actual cucumber plants inside the wooden fence. So I'm getting some cucumbers, too, which is very exciting. This is the first year I've sucessfully grown cucumbers here. 

I've even harvested enough to make two quarts of refrigerator dill pickles, which is really the reason I grow cucumbers.

I win!

And there you have it! My garden, snapshotted.