Saturday, December 4, 2021

Snapshots: Decked Halls

Yes, I have decorated for Christmas, with my usual flair.

You could say I'm a decor minimalist.

Very minimalist.

I always wait to get our tree until about the middle of December, since it's a real one and it stays up until Epiphany.

Let's see what else . . .

Lately egg-carton ships are all the rage for the boys' unending war games. I appreciate their creativity, but my table always ends up looking like this.


Heating season is definitely underway. I make a fire pretty much every morning. 

The kids all wish we had one of those glass-fronted stoves so they could stare into the flames. We don't, however, so they have to content themselves with short stints of staring while I have the stove open to start the fire.

Very occasionally, if I know it's going to be a warm day and I need to clean the ashes out of the woodstove, I'll turn the furnace on in the morning instead. And then we have this:

A pose specific to heating vents.

We'll close with the traditional Morning Walk Photos.

Winter sunflowers.

And tumbleweeds in the barbed wire.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Friday Food: The Inevitable Turkey Leftovers


Short version: Turkey slop and leftovers

Long version: Turkey slop is something I learned from the MiL. It's just leftover shredded turkey re-heated in gravy. The resulting sloppy turkey is then served over leftover mashed potatoes or dressing.

Heating it on the stove is key, by the way. Leftover store poultry re-heated in the microwave is a terrible thing. Oddly, home-raised poultry meat can be re-heated with none of that leftover poultry taste. 


Everyone got to choose what they wanted as their sides.

I had a salad with arugula, leftover green beans, shredded cheese, and leftover bacon in it, because I really don't much care for leftover turkey re-heated in any way at all. Picky Mom.


Short version: Frankenpasta, leftovers, salad

Long version: We got several boxes of Annie's macaroni and cheese as a secondary commodities item, which I thought the kids would love. Cubby made a couple of boxes for lunch on Friday, and it was waaaay too salty. I mean, the directions say to use unsalted butter, and we only have salted, but still. The butter alone can't account for the excess sodium.

There was quite a bit left, so I made some more plain pasta, to which I added the too-salty macaroni and cheese along with some sauce from the freezer. The sauce was originally leftover spaghetti sauce from the school cafeteria, which has ground beef in it. I had added to it some leftover roasted tomato sauce I happened to have in the refrigerator that needed to be frozen, so the resulting sauce tasted much better than the cafeteria version.

The resulting mixture of pastas and sauces was eaten with great enthusiasm by the children, which was a satisfying recovery of some foods that on their own weren't all that exciting.

A. had a plate with the last of the leftover mashed potatoes, green beans, and some of the barbecue shredded bull meat with cheese on top, plus some turkey and gravy because there wasn't a lot of the beef. 

And then everyone had some of the fresh bread I had baked that afternoon. And Cubby and Jack got out the container of leftover turkey and started eating plain cold turkey. Okay.

I had the salad. Of course. It was more arugula and leftover green beans, one of the very last of the garden tomatoes from the counter, some kalamata olives, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced turkey. If I cut the turkey up small and mix it in with something strongly flavored like kalamata olives, it's okay cold. About the only way I will eat leftover turkey.

Oh! I think I never showed you my laughably giant barrel of kalamata olives:

Pint jar for scale.

This is what happens when I buy things online and therefore have no sense of its actual size relative to anything else. That's what 4.4 pounds of olives look like, in case you were wondering. (They are very good olives, though, and olives don't really go bad, so it's fine.)


Short version: Turkey enchilada casserole, carrot sticks with ranch dip, pureed squash, salad, chocolate chip cookies

Long version: Heavily spiced sauces are a good way to make the eternal post-Thanskgiving turkey more palatable. I made the enchilada sauce with a couple of cans of "low sodium pasta sauce" that are frequent secondary commodities items. Despite the name, it has very little spice in it and is mostly just a plain tomato sauce. I added cumin, chile powder, vinegar, onion and garlic powders, and more salt to it. 

The casserole was layers of sauce, corn tortillas, a bit of leftover black beans, chopped turkey, some randomly cooked onion, and cheese. Everyone enjoyed it.

The squash was the same kind I had used to make the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, except this time it didn't have any sugar, cream, spices, or eggs in it. Butter and salt are much more reasonable for everyday squash consumption.

I had the salad. Which was exactly the same as the night before's salad, and which used up the very last tomato from the garden that had ripened on the counter. 

So long, tomatoes. See you in 2022.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, leftover Thanksgiving dressing, fried mushrooms and onions, pureed squash

Long version: These mushrooms were getting pretty sad and definitely needed to be used up. I made Poppy's day by letting her wash them for me. It kept her occupied for a good fifteen minutes, including the ten minutes she spent washing and drying the blue plastic tub the mushrooms were sold in.


Short version: Ground beef tacos in homemade corn tortillas, frozen peas, pureed squash

Long version: I had about a pound of ground beef I hadn't used for the cheeseburgers the night before, which I simply browned and combined with some of the leftover enchilada sauce. 

Poppy helped me make the tortillas, too. 

She does love helping in the kitchen (for now).

Last of this squash! Time to cook another one.


Short version: Beef stir-fry, rice

Long version: We were getting pretty low on fresh vegetables, so I used a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables to make, uh, stir-fry. I only used one bag, plus leftover mushrooms and onions and the last of a bag of frozen peas, so it was a meat-heavy stir-fry.

No one complained about this.


Short version: Multi-cultural pizza, salad, leftover soup, carrots, dried cranberries

Long version: Multi-cultural because I put the rest of the ground beef taco meat on the pizza. It was actually really good.

The children ate the carrots and dried cranberries before dinner, while they were all in Cubby's room reading and listening to his CD player. Carrots and cranberries are the perfect party food, obviously.

A. ate the last of the turkey soup I had made on Sunday, thereby finishing the turkey exactly a week from the day it was cooked. Well, except for the five quarts of stock and meat I froze.

I ate the salad. Of course. Leftover hamburger, leftover black beans, roasted carrots, shredded cheese. Pretty basic.

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

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

T.T.: For Friday Food Fans

This year one of my duties at the school is taking care of the library. Our school is too small to have a real library and a real librarian. My only professional experience in libraries was as a page at the public library in high school, but I have been an avid library user my entire life, and I really, really love books.

So imagine my excitement when I was told that we had some money on hand for new library books. And I got to make the list of what to order.

Buy books? And not even with my own money? OKAY!

I pulled many of the titles I ended up ordering from the Common Core list of recommended supplementary titles. The new books came in over the Thanksgiving break, and when I went back to work yesterday, I had several boxes and envelopes to open, all full of new books. It was like Christmas came early.

I figured one of the perks of my job is that I get to read some of the new books myself, right? Right.

Although I was tempted to bring the entire box of new books home and read them all right away, I limited myself to just a few. And the very first one I read is the one I'm going to recommend right now. This one:

It's like this book was written just for me.

This is an extraordinary book. The majority of the book is a collection of profiles of families all over the world. Each family was photographed with all the food they eat in a week.

Say hello to the Aymes family in Ecuador.

The photograph is followed by a detailed breakdown of each food, its quantity and its cost. And following that is a two-page narrative about each family's life and food situation. 

In addition to the family profiles, there are many charts and graphs that show things like percentage of urban population for each country, the number of McDonald's restaurants in each one, average meat consumption, and on and on.

It is an extraordinary book. Despite the Common Core recommendation, I'm not sure it's really for kids. It's pretty long and detailed.

I'm sure enjoying it, though. And if you come here for the Friday Food posts, you probably will, too.

It's a relatively old book--published in 2008--so it might be at your public library. And if it's not, you can find it used at various online sellers for about seven dollars. 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Snapshots: A New Perspective

The horses have been moved from our neighbor's pasture across the road back into the paddack by our house. That means that when I go out in the morning for my walk, this is now what I see.

Spare a little hay, missus?

Bill goes straight to the hay window.

Most nights are below freezing, so the walks are getting colder.

I turned on my way to the schoolhouse and went down a different road. 

There's a windmill on this road, too, but it faces the sunrise, so no silhouette on this one.

The garlic and potato patch in front of the house is pleasingly tidy this time of year, with no weeds to mar its neatly laid out rows.

If only we would get some rain so the potatoes and garlic will actually grow. Then again, I guess weeds would grow then too, wouldn't they?

And last, but certainly most random, my sister shipped up some things in an old shoe box. The box was immediately claimed by Jack for a base for his guys.

Let no box go unused, is our motto.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.