Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday Food: Turkey, Etc.


Short version: Chinese food (at a restaurant!)

Long version: This is where we stopped on our way home from the zoo, etc. for dinner in a small city about 90 miles from our house. A. and Cubby have a particular fondness for cheap Chinese food, so that's what we got. A. ordered one of the family meals for four that came with hot tea, fried shrimp, egg rolls, rice, sweet and sour chicken, spicy garlic chicken, beef with bell peppers, and some other kind of chicken dish with vegetables.

It was a lot of food. None of it particularly good, but certainly plentiful, and the children enjoyed themselves very much. It was pretty fun to eat out with them for once.


Short version: Beefed up (heh) Chinese leftovers

Long version: I had brought home all the leftovers from our Chinese meal. To that I added the rest of the tenderized beef bottom round steaks (do you appreciate my joke up there now? yeah) that I hadn't cooked on Thursday, plus some broccoli, more soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger. I just fried it all together to make something like fried rice. It was better than the original version, honestly.

Tasty, but not photogenic. Which describes most of my cooking.


Short version: Brisket, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, pureed calabaza, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls

Long version: Brisket cooked with half an onion, mustard, vinegar, and some more of the tomato juice from Miss Amelia.

These peanut butter balls (but you only need half the amount of chocolate). Always a favorite.


Short version: Sloppy bull sandwiches for the kids, leftover brisket and potato for A., salad for all

Long version: A couple of months ago, I put a pressure-canned jar of bull meat through the food processor (not in the jar, though), to further break it down. I froze that the resulting finely shredded meat, and it was this that I used to make something like sloppy joes.

I added some extra tallow and bacon grease to the meat, because the bull meat is very lean and therefore dry. Then I put in the other half of the onion I had cooked the day before, and then some barbecue sauce. 

I was making bread, so I made some rolls for the children, and they had their meat in the rolls. It turned out well.

A. had the last half of a leftover baked potato, fried in bacon grease, with the rest of the brisket.

While I was cooking, this was happening on the kitchen floor right behind me.

A Magna Tile ramming ship, constructed by Poppy and handily located exactly in the middle of the kitchen.


Short version: Taco meat skillet, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: I had about a quart of ground beef taco meat in the freezer, which I combined with rice, arugula, some salsa, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream to make a skillet meal. It was fine.


Short version: Fajita tacos, carrot sticks, pureed squash

Long version: Fajita meat, but no peppers. I did add the rest of the cooked onion, but it wasn't real fajitas. Good meat, though. I marinated it in oil, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, cumin, and chile powder. Marinating definitely makes a difference.


Short version: The whole Thanksgiving shebang

Long version: Well, maybe not the WHOLE shebang. But quite a bit of shebang.

Of course I made the stock first thing with the neck and all the innards except the liver. Have to have that first because it's used for so much else.

Turkey--onion, celery, thyme and rosemary from the garden, and a wrinkly apple just for fun in the cavity. I also dry brined it the day before and basted it a few times with turkey stock while it was baking.

Gravy--standard turkey juices+cornstarch

Mashed potatoes--the usual butter/sour cream/milk

Dressing--a whole loaf and a half of sourdough bread with lots of onion and celery, even more butter (like a cup, plus some more on top), sage, and some of the turkey stock

Green beans--my garden beans from the freezer, with finely diced onion and bacon

Cranberry sauce--whole cranberries simmered with sugar and the juice from half an old orange I found in the refrigerator. Mashed when the berries got soft, but not strained.

Pumpkin pie and pumpkin custard with sweetened whipped cream.


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

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

The cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are made . . .

As is some pumpkin custard with the remaining pie filling.

And there is a 25-pound turkey ready to go in the oven.

It was the same price as a turkey half the size, which is why A. bought it. And it's been taking up a quarter of my refrigerator ever since, because a 25-pound turkey is REALLY BIG.

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, full of whatever makes you grateful.*

*And of course, this goes for those of you who aren't in the U.S. as well. I still hope you have a day full of good things, holiday or no.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Remote Living: Going To the Zoo

Heads up: This is a very long post. Just thought I should warn you to settle in.

Going to the zoo is sort of a cliche for parents of young children, right? Zoos are fun! They're practically made for kids! It's a perfect place for a family-friendly outing!

All true. But most people don't drive 400 miles round trip for that outing. We do. So I thought I would explain how any sort of family outing for our family looks*. 

This particular outing came about because I was reading a book about sharks to Poppy and Jack, who were enthralled with a photo in the book of one of those underwater tubes that go through a big tank in which the sharks swim all around. "I wish we could see one of those," Poppy said wistfully.

I actually had no idea where the nearest aquarium was, so I looked it up. Okay. Albuquerque. Where there is also a zoo and botanical garden.

That's not close to us, but it is at least within the realm of possibility for a day trip. I considered that Thanksgiving break was coming up. And that I now have four fully mobile children who do not require strollers, diapers, or too much special care. And that they can all handle a three-hour+ drive without complete meltdowns.

We could actually do this. So I talked to A.--who is always willing to take a trip anywhere--and we decided on the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The zoo/aquarium/botanical garden complex opened at 9 a.m. I wanted to get there as early as possible, so we wouldn't be getting home at an unreasonably late hour. To get there at 9 a.m., we would have had to leave at 5:30 a.m. I decided to shoot for a 6 a.m. departure.

The night before, I had all the kids pick out a book and two toys to take with them in the car. I added a couple of books of mazes and puzzles that I had intended for Christmas but figured could be put to better use on this trip. I also put together a backpack with masks (required for indoor exhibits), snacks, and sunhats to carry around the zoo.

I got up at 4:30 the morning of and put together a bag of food for car snacks and a cooler of food for either lunch or dinner (tuna salad, bread, carrot sticks). I filled a water bottle for each person and made sure we had the extra gallon of water in the car, because we don't go ANYWHERE without the extra gallon of water. Last, I made some fried egg sandwiches for breakfast in the car.

While I was doing this, A. was putting food out for the chickens for when it got light, feeding the dogs, and filling containers with water to bring to the sheep.

I woke the kids up around 5:45 a.m., helped them all dress appropriately, and loaded everyone up. It was 6:15 a.m. when we pulled out of our property.

We stopped at the pasture down the road where the sheep are so A. could fill their water. We stopped at the village pump house to turn off the water pump A. had turned on the night before to fill the well. And then we had to turn around when we were about two minutes down the road because I forgot the zoo backpack.


But! We were still on the road by 6:30 a.m. And then we drove drove drove. I judiciously apportioned snacks and the entertainment to make sure I had something to appease the troops in hour three when everyone reeeeealllly wanted out of the car.

We got to the aquarium a little after 10 a.m. The kids were so excited by the giant tanks.

River otters!



Next we went to the botanical gardens.

Giant wisteria tunnel!

Children's garden with little caves!

And a slide!

We had to drive over to the zoo, and considered getting lunch on the way somewhere. However, we didn't want to take the time, because it was already 1 p.m. and we had a long drive home (obviously). So instead we ate our tuna sandwiches on a bench next to some somnolent crocodiles and started the zoo rounds.


Ducks to feed!

A carousel!

After seeing everything--and completely exhausting that little camel rider up there--we got back in the van at 3:30 p.m. And drove drove drove.

We took a break in the small city 90 miles from home to eat dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It added an hour to the trip home, but the kids were so thrilled to be eating in a real restaurant. They never, ever do this, and it was a big deal. In fact, it was the first time in Poppy's entire four years that she ever actually sat in a restaurant to eat a meal. It did mean we didn't get home until about 8:30 p.m., though.

So for those of you keeping track at home, our outing was about 14 hours, 400 miles, and 4 extremely tired but happy children.

Worth it.

*Mostly I just wanted to post a bunch of pictures, though. Because it's my blog, and I can.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

T.T.: Something To Watch

A. is much more likely than I am to find something on our desktop computer to watch at night. Actually, I literally never do that, because watching anything with our insane children running around the room drives me crazy. He's more able to tune them out, though, so he will not infrequently put on a YouTube documentary about, say, ship breaking in India, or the wildlife of Andalucia.

I don't find those subjects interesting enough to make the effort of watching over and around the running children, however, so I rarely watch with him.

This week, though, he found something interesting enough that I actually sat down and watched it.

It's a 1977 documentary called World Safari filmed by an Australian guy and his friend who spent six years just wandering around the world--on sailboats, buses, trains, and one tiny Dutch car--and ended up in the most unbelievable situations. It was filmed on a Super 8 camera (I think), and is the most incredible collection of adventures I've ever seen.

It is very real, and therefore sometimes hard to watch. Such as when they ended up in the middle of a drought-stricken African nation and witnessed the starving children. But it's not sensationalized at all. It's just what they actually saw as they traveled.

Nothing was planned, they just went here and there following means of transport as they came up, and sometimes jobs when they needed money. It's certainly not at all scripted. 

Despite some of the unpleasant situations they found themselves in, it's mostly upbeat and fun to watch. The older boys watched it with us (the younger ones were doing the aforementioned running), and there wasn't anything where I felt like I needed to get up and skip through.

So! If you need something to watch and this sounds interesting, you can find it here.

(There are at least two more volumes of it, but I haven't seen those.)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Monday Bouquets: A Plethora of Turkeys

We had a very low temperature forecasted overnight on Wednesday. So I cut the last of the hollyhocks and brought them inside.

One last jolt of color for the table.

Jack decided to embellish my simple and somewhat unseasonable arrangement with something more appropriate for the upcoming holiday.

With so many children in school doing Thanksgiving crafts, I have accumulated a veritable flock of turkeys for decorating the table.

I hope you have a lovely Monday, with or without flowers (or construction paper turkeys).

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Snapshots: A Frozen Walk

We definitely had some below-freezing mornings this week. 

Cold cows.

Cold windmill.

Cold dog water.

The dogs didn't mind the cold.

Neither did the school bus.

The school bus is parked for the time being, as we did the week's schooling before Thanksgiving break on Zoom*.

The only child who actually begs to do schoolwork. My other young Zoom scholars are less enthusiastic. (A great understatement.)

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* The school had already planned on being on Zoom for the week after Thanksgiving break, too, but I won't think about that now.