Friday, January 7, 2022

Friday Food: Health, Wealth, Happiness, Harmony, and Joy


Short version: Oven-fried rooster, baked potatoes, frozen green peas

Long version: The roosters we got last week were young ones, and we were able to hang them to age and further tenderize. So I figured they would be okay baked rather than stewed.

I spent about an hour prepping these roosters for cooking. The easiest way to do this is to separate the legs at the hip joint, which allows for cutting the legs off without splintering bone. Then I cut off the breast meat from the bone and froze that separately. The rest of the carcasses went into the pressure-cooker to make stock.

I used the legs to make the oven-fried chicken. Again I separated the joint to cut through, this time at what would be the knee, so I had separate drumsticks and thighs. (It takes a lot of strength to separate joints on a home-raised chicken, by the way.) To further tenderize the pieces, I marinated them in yogurt and spices all day, then shook them in a bag with corn flour and spices and baked them at about 400 degrees on butter-coated pans until they were done. 

They still weren't as tender as store-chicken--which is, frankly, not so much tender as mushy--but certainly easy enough to pull off the bone and chew. Any home-raised animal will require teeth to eat. As it should be.


Short version: New Year's Day pork, greens, and black-eyed peas, plus rice, and hot chocolate with candy canes or marshmallows

Long version: Our last celebratory holiday meal is always my family's traditional New Year's Day meal. A.'s family has their chocolate cake, pots de creme, and molasses cookies. My family has pork, greens, and black-eyed peas to ensure our health, wealth, and happiness in the coming year.

This year's pork was a chunk of pork butt, baked in my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven until it was tender and crispy from frying in its own fat. Yum.

Greens were collard greens from last summer's garden, blanched and frozen, then chopped and cooked with bacon grease and onion.

Black-eyed peas are made with a roux, in which are cooked the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery. This is cooked with the peas in chicken (or, in this case, rooster) stock, along with some ham I diced and threw in there, bay leaves, and some kind of tomato product. This time I just used one of those cans of "low sodium pasta sauce" we get from secondary commodities.

The combination of all the things--pork, rice, greens, black-eyed peas--is always so good. 

The New Year's Day stove.

Children, by the way, love the idea that each food represents something. We all agreed that since I make rice with this meal every time, it also needed to stand for something in the coming year. We decided on harmony. Sounds good with the others, anyway: Health, wealth, happiness, and harmony.

I didn't really make a dessert, so I made hot chocolate after dinner--1.5 parts sugar to 1 part cocoa powder, dash of salt, heated with a bit of water to make a paste, then add the milk and heat through--and let the kids choose either a candy cane from the Christmas tree to stir it with, or two marshmallows. About an even split in their choices. Good thing, since we didn't actually have enough candy canes left for everyone to have one.

The cocoa, by the way, was assigned to represent joy in the coming year. Seems about right.


Short version: Improved mac and cheese, leftovers, crispy rice treats

Long version: I still have a bunch of boxes of Annie's mac and cheese that we found far too salty when made according to the directions.

So I didn't use the directions.

I used two boxes of the macaroni, but only one of the cheese powder packets. I did add some of the butter called for, but no milk. Then I added some of that canned pasta sauce, then some garlic powder, and some water to thin it out. Last a bunch of finely chopped chicken pulled off the bones after making rooster stock, and frozen green peas.

The children ate this very happily. Cubby also had a couple of leftover oven-fried rooster drumsticks, because he can never get enough chicken.

For A. and me, I fried leftover pork and greens together, then added a bit of the black-eyed peas as a sort of sauce. A. ate this with rice and the last piece of oven-fried chicken.

I almost didn't make a dessert--because what is December but a month of continous dessert?--but I did decide to stick with our traditional schedule so that I can firmly declare that yes, children, you will get your dessert on Sundays, but no other days from now on.

I decided on the crispy rice treats myself. Because when in doubt, go with crispy rice treats. No one ever thinks to ask for them when it's their turn to choose, but everyone likes to eat them.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, personal bread, peppers and onions, squash, frozen peas

Long version: When we were at a store a couple of weeks ago, one of the children--while wistfully eying a loaf of store-bread in a bag--told me next time we came, he would bring some money so he could buy a whole loaf of bread to eat.

Which is why I promised to bake bread when we started our week of Zoom schooling after Christmas break, with the express purpose of each child getting their very own loaf of bread. They were SO EXCITED about this.

Low standards coming to my rescue yet again.

I did tell them that the bread is supposed to be a supplement to their actual food, not their sole source of nutrition for two days or whatever. So they all had a piece of their own bread with their dinner, and then, if they finished their dinners, they could have more.

The boys all had one more piece and declared themselves full. Poppy didn't even want a second piece. 


Short version: Beef and potato skillet, frozen peas

Long version: The rest of the uncooked ground beef from the day before, plus diced potatoes, the rest of the tomato sauce, chile powder, garlic powder, cumin, and cheese. 

Unrelated-photo break!

This girl's Rainbow Brite snow apparel is a far cry from her brothers' black boots and blue mittens.


Short version: The Best Ham In The World, egg noodles, cucumber spears

Long version: "What kind of ham is this?" A. asked after a bite. And then, after I said it was just the grocery store ham he had bought last month, "What did you do to it?"

Guess I'd better write it down, huh? I used the juice from a can of pineapple I had given the kids earlier in the day--it was just juice, no sugar--maple syrup, and dijon-style mustard, poured it over the bone in ham, and baked it a couple of hours. 

That was it. I didn't measure anything, but I don't think it matters. Everyone loved this. Everyone had seconds. Some had thirds.

The kids also had seconds or thirds on the egg noodles--butter, cream cheese, pepper, garlic powder--and cleaned up the entire spread of food that I had thought would make leftovers.


While they went into raptures over their ham and noodles, I was in a state of quiet bliss over my salad. And why is that? Because I found out that Misfits Market delivers to me*. To me! In the middle of literal nowhere! And what did they deliver? The produce I ordered, which included lettuce, beets (with greens!), cucumbers, and radishes (among other things), all of which went into my salad along with ham and cheese.

I cannot even TELL you how excited I am that a box of produce shows up at my gate. This is a big deal for me. A. called it "life-changing," and that isn't even an exaggeration.


Short version: Fajita meat, rice, raw radishes, squash

Long version:  I took out fajita meat, and then realized I didn't have enough tortillas.


Of course, I could have made tortillas, but instead I took the lazy option and made rice. I mean, I'm sure everyone would have appreciated home-made tortillas, but they all ate the rice. So.

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

* Yes, I will be doing a whole post on this soon, but in the meantime, if you want to try it, I can give you a referral code that will mean $15 off for you, and more vegetables for me. Fun. Should you feel inspired, you can click here on the blue text to order and it will automatically apply the referral code to get you the discount. I think. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

T.T.: Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies

This is not really the traditional time of year to be trying out new cookie recipes--New Year's resolutions? what're those?--but someone asked for my molasses cookie recipe. And so I must, of course, oblige.

So! Who here has ever even eaten a molasses cookie? Anyone? Bueller?

Yeah, I hadn't, either, until the MiL made them some years ago. It is, as noted in the post title, an old-fashioned kind of cookie. It's more spicy, less rich than modern cookies. It's the sort of cookie I can imagine keeping in a cookie jar so kids could have a few every day*. 

Did you ever wonder why "cookies and milk" used to be considered a wholesome snack for children? It's because it would traditionally be cookies like this, not "monster cookies" or whatever. 

This recipe came to me, of course, from the MiL. She got it from her mother, who got it from her mother. And that was Grandma Bishop, of chocolate cake fame.

Grandma Bishop's recipe would make a huge quantity of cookies. Even the half recipe that I'm posting here for you will make about 50 medium-sized cookies. The original recipe is obviously the sort of thing meant to fill a cookie jar for a week's worth of cookies for a big family. If that sounds good to you, by all means, double this.

This recipe requires the dough to be chilled very well so it can be rolled out and cut, like sugar cookies. So you can make it ahead and either bake all the cookies after chilling the dough for a few hours, or keep the dough covered in the refrigerator and bake it in batches over a couple of days.

Grandma Bishop's Molasses Cookies


1/2 cup lard OR 1/2 cup plus a tablespoon more of butter or neutral oil (the MiL noted that if you use butter, you need more fat because of the milk solids in the butter--she's a smart one, that MiL)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

pinch of salt

2.5 cups-3 cups flour (might need more or less depending on humidity)


1) Cream together the fat and sugar, then mix in the egg.

2) Mix in the molasses.

3) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

4) Chill before rolling out. I usually stick it in the freezer for a half hour or so, but you can put it in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.

5) Pre-heat the oven to 375 degress.

6) Roll out the dough, not too thin--as if making sugar cookies--and cut in whatever shapes you wish. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it is too dry and is cracking, add a bit of milk.

7) Bake about ten minutes, but keep an eye on them, because you don't want to overbake them. I think mine were in for more like 8 or 9 minutes. You want to pull them out before you see any browning on the edges.

8) The MiL noted that you can sprinkle sugar on top if you'd like. I didn't, but I bet that would be good.

9) Store in an airtight container. Put a piece of bread or a piece of apple in the container with the cookies to keep them soft. If storing for longer than a day, replace the bread or apple with a fresh piece as needed to keep the cookies from drying out.

The hearts and shamrocks got a bit overbaked. The circles were perfect.

This is not a particularly fast recipe, but it does make for some delicious cookie-jar cookies. I would say they're even suitable for these days of New Year's resolutions. Enjoy!

* Not that I do this. I don't need to have a supply of cookies on hand for my children, who are not working on a farm every day.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Snapshots: New Year, Old Photos

Happy new year! Most of these photos were taken before Christmas, I just haven't posted them yet. And many of them, unusually, are of animals.

I even got one of (some of) the chickens, which doesn't happen often.

And the sheep. Hi, sheepies!

And the horse and pony show at sunrise.

This is a the table for a treadle sewing machine over at the casita. I don't think we have the machine that goes with it, but it might be somewhere over there.

Poppy and I sorted seeds and found that I actually don't need to buy any more. Hard to resist all the seed catalogs that have started showing up now, though.

The setting moon . . .

And some very cool clouds lit by the rising sun.

And last, snow to start the new year. The first precipitation we've had in literally months.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.