Friday, November 5, 2021

Friday Food: A Night Out


Short version: Beef stir-fry, rice, strawberry-rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream

Long version: I had pulled out a couple of packages of beef rump roast, forgetting that I had told the butcher to cut those into steaks and pound them, as for chicken-fried steak.

I didn't have any desire to chicken-fry the meat, though, so instead I cut it into strips, marinated those, and used them with mushrooms, carrots, onions, and frozen green beans to make stir-fry. It was good.

The pie is the Village Piemaker pie that is always left for my parents by the owner of the lodgings they always rent while they're here. Also good.


Short version: Dinner out

Long version: This was the night of the village Halloween party, at which there is food provided by the local restaurant (singular). So everyone had baked potatoes and chili and enchilada casserole and a LOT of desserts.


Short version: Pickled radish appetizer, beef, guacamole, tortilla chips, still-frozen green beans, foraged dessert

Long version: My mom brought a very large bag of very spicy radishes with her. They were too spicy for me and a couple of the children, so I sliced a bunch of them and put them into some leftover brine I had saved from making refrigerator dill pickles with the summer's cucumbers. I just warmed the brine in the microwave and added a very small amount of sugar to offset the spice a bit, then put the sliced radishes in for a day or so. 

Pickling is magic: fiery radishes went in, delicious pickles with no hint of fire came out. 

Perhaps it all leached out into the rather fiery-looking liquid.

Everyone loved them, and they ate all the radishes in the jar.

The beef was more of the tenderized rump steaks that I cut into pieces. This time I just fried them in tallow and added salt, chile powder, cumin, and a small amount of vinegar to make something like taco meat. Yum.

And of course, because this was Halloween, the children had to go door-to-door to beg for their dessert. They did not return empty handed.

Jack sorting the night's takings. Is there anything better when you're a kid than being surrounded by candy?


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, leftovers, carrot sticks with ranch dressing

Long version: The cook at school makes a hot breakfast for the children on Monday mornings, which this week was scrambled eggs and sausage, plus biscuits and cream gravy. She sent me home with the leftover eggs and sausage, as well as quite a bit of gravy. 

I had actually taken breakfast sausage out to thaw for dinner, so anyone who wanted it had the gravy on that. A. ate the leftover eggs and sausage. 

There was also leftover rice and some lentils I had pulled out the freezer.


Short version: Roast beef; tomatoes, onions, and green beans; frankenmacaroni; squash

Long version: I used the rest of the cream gravy--which is really just a very thick white sauce with lots of pepper--as a base to make the macaroni. To the gravy I added some heavy cream and water to thin it out a bit, then shredded cheese, some pureed calabaza, two pieces of bacon left from breakfast broken into small pieces, onion powder, and a tiny bit of mustard.

It really needed more cheese, but I was running kind of low. It was still fine, though, and Cubby ate three helpings.


Short version: Leftovers, carrot sticks with ranch dip

Long version: "What do we need?" 


"When do we need them?"


Sorry for the lapse into cheering. But we did indeed have leftovers, because it was indeed Wednesday, a.k.a., one of my work days.

Leftover sausage and roast beef, macaroni and cheese, and carrot sticks for the kids. Leftover roast beef and squash for A. and me. 

Plus leftover Halloween candy, because the kids each get to choose two pieces after dinner every night for the week after Halloween.


Short version: Pizza, scrambled eggs, frozen peas

Long version: I was making bread, so I figured it was time for a beef break. That's why I stole some dough to make pizza.

It was just one (half-sheet pan) pizza, with asadero cheese and bacon. But! I did have quite a few tomatoes on hand, because one of the intersting and somewhat frustating things about gardening here is that I get more tomatoes after the growing season than I do during it. These are all the green tomatoes I stripped off the plant before the colder temperatures settled in at night, and those green tomatoes have been slowly ripening ever since.

So while I was baking bread, I roasted a pan of tomatoes with a head of garlic, and then pureed that in the food processor with dried basil and a bit of balsamic vinegar to make the pizza sauce. So good.

The scrambled eggs were for A. and me. I fried some tomatoes and arugula (from summer plants that bolted and seeded and re-grew for the fall) in bacon grease, then added the eggs and a bit of feta cheese. We had a couple of pieces of pizza each, too, because pizza is hard to resist, but we mostly had the eggs.

You can tell the garden is mostly done for the season when frozen green peas and beans become more prevalent in these posts.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Remote Living: Halloween

I'm sure someone out there is wondering how a family with children handles Halloween a hundred miles from anywhere. The answer, as with so many other things, is we drive.

A little, anyway.

Our children do go trick-or-treating. In pre-COVID years, all the kids from the school would actually ride on a flatbed trailer and go all together. This is in the same village where our kids go to school, which is ten miles away from our house.

Starting last year, though, the separate groups went on their own, and we are the only ones who make our kids walk.

Yup. We're those parents.

It is, in our defense, a pretty small village. But definitely not as small as the number of inhabitants (less than 100) would indicate. 

We visited exactly nine houses this year. Two of those houses were ones we stopped at in the car on the way in to the village, but the other seven were the ones we walked to. It took us a little over an hour to get to those seven houses.

The village is surprisingly spread out, and also more than half of the houses are unoccupied. So it takes a lot of walking to get to the houses that give out candy.

But! Lest you are imagining the kids sadly trudging between houses only to come home with exactly nine fun-size Snickers, please feast your eyes on Jack's haul.

Not too shabby.

So few kids trick-or-treat in our village--this year there were exactly 13 kids, which is a pleasingly appropriate number--that at each house, they get handfuls of candy. Or they get offered a full bowl and are told to help themselves. And then they get some more thrown in their bags. So their actual take from those nine houses is pretty good.

Most kids on the surrounding ranches go to larger towns for trick-or-treating, and they no doubt get more candy. But I don't really think kids need much more than ours get going around that tiny village. And they LOVE running through the darkened streets. That village is just as exciting for them to trick-or-treat around as a densely populated suburb or city street. A lot safer, too.

Superdancer's pile made her plenty happy.

So there you go! Halloween in the sticks: still plenty of Fun Dip to go around.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

T.T.: For Clean Brownies, Use Plastic

Short and sweet* today: If you make brownies or another soft kind of bar cookie for an event, and therefore care about the presentation, cut them with a plastic knife. Like the kind you get at a fast food restaurant.

Or filch from a drawer of plastic cutlery at school for teachers. If you, like me, find yourself a hundred miles from the nearest fast food restaurant.

Something about the ultra-smooth plastic slips right through the brownies without pulling at all and making a bunch of crumbs.

Of course, if you're just cutting brownies for your feral children, who don't care in the least if their brownies have ragged edges, stick with metal. But for a clean cut, plastic is the way to go. 

This is probably the only time you will ever see me endorse anything plastic, but when it works, it works.

* Did I use this phrase deliberately for the pun? Maybe.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Monday Bouquets: Fall Colors

My exotic visitors are dropping one by one, but several of them soldier on.

Somewhat reduced in number, but still pretty.

And right outside my front door, another explosion of color:

The apricot tree always puts on a good fall show.

I hope you have a lovely Monday, with or without flowers. (Or autumn leaves.)

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Snapshots: The Dying of the Light

Happy Halloween! I have no photos of my children in their costumes yet. Those will have to wait until next week. 

So for this week, let's start with the obligatory Walk Photo.

Featuring, as always, the dogs.

I took that photo after 7 a.m., and it was still barely light. I rarely manage to be out anymore for the nicest golden orange first light when the sun actually comes up. It's coming up too late, and by that time I need to be on hand for waking children and breakfasts.

With the waning of the daylight hours, however, comes the time of increasing light indoors. I don't wait for December to put up "Christmas" lights. 

This is my view from the end of the table where I sit after all the children are in bed. It's a central location from which I can intercept any escapees and respond to any questions.

I tried to find the "warmest" white lights I could, and I bought incandescent ones. Those LED lights hurt my eyes. Even so, I feel like these are much whiter than the more-yellow older lights I have.

Above me at the table is my favorite light fixture in the house by far.

A. calls it the harem light.

I bought it on Amazon, but it was made in Turkey, out of brass and many, many small beads. I love how colorful and exotic it is. It's hard to get a good picture of it when it's lit up. But even when it's not actually on, it's still very noticeable. It is always remarked upon by small children visiting our house.

And there you have it! My life, snapshotted.