Friday, October 22, 2021

Friday Food: What's the Ugliest Cake of All?


Short version: Filet mignon, oven fries, green salad with vinaigrette, strawberries and cream

Long version: Cubby and A. were camping in advance of their hunt the next morning, so they had a packet of hamburgers and boiled potatoes to heat up in their campfire.

We had the much fancier version of meat and potatoes at home, in honor of my sister, who very much likes steak. I made the oven fries with some more of the rendered fat from our last meat chicken, which makes for some extra crispy fries.

My sister brought the strawberries. Happy children.

Bill the Pony probably would have been happy with strawberries, too, but he had to settle for dried corn.


Short version: Barbecue meatballs, garlic bread, coleslaw, baked pears with cream

Long version: I got three quite small heads of cabbage out of the garden last week, and used one to make coleslaw. It made just enough for the five of us.

The pears were some we had gotten from the gentleman at church. A bunch were ripe, and my sister had made a ginger syrup for cocktails (sliced ginger root steeped in simple syrup--yum), so I baked some peeled and diced pears in the ginger syrup. Very good.


Short version: Taco feast, the ugliest cake in the land

Long version: My sister had also brought avocados, limes, and tortilla chips. They were GIANT avocados, the biggest I'd ever seen. Just three of them made a ton of guacamole, which we ate with chips and then used liberally on our tacos. Those were ground beef taco meat and homemade corn tortillas.

And now . . . the cake.

Poppy wanted to bring cupcakes to school on her birthday, so I made six cupcakes for her class and then a thin cake with the extra batter (Grandma Bishop's chocolate cake, of course) and frosting (half a recipe of this one). 

I had some trouble getting the cake out of the pan, and I didn't really have enough frosting left to cover the sides of the cake, so it was . . .

The Ugly Cake to end all Ugly Cakes.

It was, however, delicious, and Poppy was delighted with the "L" in pink sugar. So there.


Short version: Lots of leftovers, raw cabbage, brownies with vanilla ice cream

Long version: We had steak, meatballs, and taco meat left over, as well as lots of guacamole and chips. So everyone had various combinations of those, plus some raw cabbage on the side.

As we had had cake the night before, and Poppy had her cupcakes at school, I made brownies Sunday to have on her actual birthday. It was a day I had to work, so it was good I could make something ahead. I had some ice cream we bought a couple of weeks ago that I had been saving, and she was very happy with her birthday dessert.  


Short version: Italian sliders, pasta with pesto, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: One of these days I should actually post a "recipe" for Italian sliders, just so I can link to it and not have to explain every time that it's just very small hamburger patties seasoned like meatballs, then fried and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella (or, in our case, asadero, cheese). 

This time I didn't want to dirty another bowl to mix the meat with spices, so I just salted and peppered them right in the pan as they were cooking, and I couldn't even tell a difference. Lazy win.

I used some leftover pizza sauce, too, which means it was extra lazy.

The very last fresh pesto from the very last fresh basil I pulled out of the garden last week. I do have some frozen cubes of pesto, but not enough. It's never enough.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, fried mushrooms and green beans, bread and butter, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: How many days of ground beef in a row is too many? Probably this many. Too bad! 

I had taken out about six pounds of ground beef on Saturday, and needed to use it up. I was going to just have tacos with the leftover taco meat, as it was a work day for me, but the kids had ground beef nachos at school, so I made cheeseburgers instead. And fried mushrooms! AND curry dip!

I know you are all awed by my great efforts in the kitchen.

And why did I have green beans in with the mushrooms? Because I had some frozen green beans and room in the pan with the mushrooms and garlic. That's pretty much how my kitchen works.


Short version: Roast beef with tomatoes and onions, baked potatoes, fried cabbage and onions, still-frozen green beans

Long version: I figured it was time for a break from the ground beef. So we had roast beef instead.

This is the sort of thing that happens when you buy a whole steer for your freezer.

I actually went to all the work of larding the meat with slivers of garlic, which I usually consider too tedious to bother with. It is kind of tedious, but delicious.

I filled the perimeter of the Pyrex pan the meat roasted in with tomatoes, onions, and olive oil. Why? Because there was room in the pan. Are you seeing a theme here?

Also, I had some tomatoes I had pulled out the garden last week on the same day as the basil that were starting to look kind of sad, so they needed to be salvaged. It made a kind of sauce for the meat, which was a nice side benefit.


I had half a very small head of garden cabbage in the refrigerator that I sliced and fried with the other half of the onion after I had put onion in with the meat. Because you should always just cook the onion

Still-frozen green beans for the children who do not like cooked cabbage. 

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

T.T.: Good Dogs

A few nights ago, just as we were about to get ready for bed, I heard both dogs barking frantically outside. Jasper barks at everything, so I don't pay too much attention to him, but when Odin joins in, it's a safe bet there really is something notable going on outside.

Jasper is the canine equivalent of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. The Dog Who Barks Coyote? Sure.

So I went out with the big spotlight to see what was happening.

I found that both dogs had launched themselves over our five-foot perimeter fence and were circling a patch of weeds on the side of the road about fifty yards from our house.

It was a raccoon.

This is the first raccoon we've seen here--they prefer places with more trees--and I can't say I've missed them. We had raccoons around alll the time at Blackrock, constantly trying to get at our chickens. That's what this raccoon was doing, too. Cubby had noticed just that afternoon that our rooster was missing his long tail feathers, and we found a dead hen in the chicken coop.

And now we knew the culprit.

Raccoons are nasty creatures, very aggressive and well able to badly injure dogs. So I called in The Man with the Gun, and that was the end of the raccoon.

All of this got me to thinking how much we have depended on our dogs over the years. At Blackrock, our pack of collies was constantly on the alert for raccoons, woodchucks, deer, coyotes, and possums. 

Here, Jasper and Odin are our alert system for snakes, ringtails, coyotes, bears, and apparently raccoons. They also let us know when the horses and sheep are somewhere they are not supposed to be, and will actually herd the animals into a corner and keep them there until we take care of the situation.

Always alert.

We need fierce dogs, and we have them. But we also need dogs that we can trust with children--both our own and other people's--and our domestic animals. It's no good having dogs that will attack a raccoon but will also attack a chicken, or one of our children's friends. 

Which brings me to a tip!

It is very, very important to choose a dog that will fit your life. Maybe that means you need a dog that is happy hanging out in your house and taking one walk a day. Maybe that means a dog that loves running long miles. Maybe that means a dog that will bark. Or one that won't.

A dog that isn't a good fit for your life will cause constant problems. I can't imagine our dogs, for instance, living in a suburb. They--and whoever they lived with--would be miserable. They're very good dogs for us, but they wouldn't be good dogs for everyone.

And, well, that's all. I should have a clever closing here, but I'll just leave it there.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Birthday Flowers for the Birthday Girl

Today is Poppy's fourth birthday. My sister brought her some flowers for her very own.

In her favorite colors, of course.

And here's the birthday girl getting her hair french-braided by her flower-bearing aunt.

Too bad the birthday girl's mom has no idea how to do fancy hair like that.

Happy birthday, Poppy. Long may you reign.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Snapshots: Sunrise, Sunset

In a bold departure, I took a sunset walk with the dogs last week, rather my typical sunrise walk. Because at sunrise it was blowing a gale, while at sunset it was calm and dry.

This meant all the dramatic light was behind the old schoolhouse, rather than the windmill you're accustomed to seeing. 

Kind of moody, as the sun was actually behind that low cloud.

It did make one last glorious appearance before going down for real, though.

I live on the corner of Fourth and Madison, which amuses me no end as it sounds like a New York City street address, but is actually . . .

Quite obviously NOT New York City.

All the other days, I had my usual (before) sunrise walk.

There's the windmill silhouette we all know and love.

Fall has definitely arrived. As proof, I present the following evidence.

Yellow-spotted apricot tree.

Morning woodstove lighting.

And the squash harvest.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.