Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Food: Pie for Breakfast


Short version: Beef stir-fry, rice

Long version: Nah.


Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, baked fennel, green salad

Long version: I remembered to add extra fat to the meatloaf (this time some lard rendered off the pork roast I had made a few days before), and it was good. Yay me!

The fennel also had extra fat in it, inadvertently. I got the fennel in my Misfits Market delivery, and the children immediately claimed the stalks. They like to eat it like celery. That leaves me with just the bulb, which I sliced and baked in the oven with cream and butter. I did it the day before when I was baking bread, and then re-heated it with the meatloaf. 

Unfortunately, whether because of the rest and re-heating, or because of our fake "cream" with all its additives, the end result tasted good but was very greasy. Like all the milk solids had been absorbed by the fennel and the oil had rendered out. Kind of strange, but tasty. I do love fennel.


Short version: Pot roast with potatoes and carrots, garlic bread, pureed squash, peach/blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream

Long version: I had just a little ice cream left from the week before, so Cubby and I made the pie to go with it. We used frozen blueberries and peaches, because that's what I had. They have to be thawed and drained, lest they make the pie all soggy, and the resulting juice made a nice little treat. There was just a bit, which meantI didn't share it.

I had just emptied the small jug I use for maple syrup, so I shook some warm water in there to get the last bit of syrup out and then put that in the juice.


The pie crust came out perfectly. Unfortunately, frozen peaches are nowhere near as flavorful as fresh peaches. The filling was a bit bland. I put a little more sugar on it, and that helped. 

And yes, I did allow the children to have the leftover pie for breakfast the next morning with heavy cream. Healthier than Pop-Tarts, anyway, and it made for a good start to the school week.


Short version: Spaghetti for the kids, leftover meatloaf for the adults, frozen peas

Long version: I had made marinara sauce on Saturday, knowing I would need something easy after work on Monday. I used that sauce for the spaghetti, along with some pressure-canned bull meat that I broke down further with my handy-dandy immersion blender, and some Latino cheese (our local Parmesan substitute). 

The children loved it, and wished I had made more. Why I only made half the box of spaghetti is a question yet to be answered. You'd think I would have learned by now that there really isn't any such thing as too much pasta.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, lentils, leftover rice, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: I had made some lentil soup over the weekend. I love lentil soup, but the children were only lukewarm on the soup by itself. The lentils make a good side dish with sausage, though, so I scooped out the lentils from the broth for them, and ate the soup myself.


Short version: Extremely sloppy joes, carrot sticks with ranch dip

Long version: This was a long day. I had a meeting after work, so the children stayed at school with me, and we all didn't get home until almost 5:45 p.m. We typically eat between 5 and 5:30, so this was a very late night for us.

Given the time constraints, I decided to go with the path of least resistance, which meant dumping barbecue sauce in with the rest of the blended canned bull meat, then adding shredded cheese and heating it all up together. 

This mixture looked an awful lot like canned dog food, but its unaesthetic appearance is not so not noticeable when it's between two slices of bread. It was quite wet and sloppy, though, for sure.


Short version: Ground beef taco meat, homemade flour tortillas, homemade refried beans

Long version: I redeemed myself from the day before's lackluster meal with a Mexican feast. I didn't have any particular reason for making all of this on a random Thursday, other than I actually went to the effort to make the tortillas (using this recipe), so I figured I might as well do the other stuff.

Most frequently when I say the kids have "tacos," what I mean is storebought corn tortillas heated with cheese and whatever meat I've made with taco spices. That's it. Maybe salsa and sour cream if they're lucky. But this time, thanks to my produce delivery the day before, I had lettuce AND tomatoes. 

On REALLY special taco nights, we have avocados, too, but even this is pretty exciting for us.

I did use a can of secondary commodities black beans this time to make the refried beans, instead of my own home-canned pinto beans, but even canned beans are good when made into refried beans. Recipe coming soon to a Tuesday Tips near you.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

T.T.: Reduce, Reduce, Reduce

I make a lot of stock. I have spent years making a lot of stock. This is what happens when you raise animals and butcher them: There are lots of bones, and therefore, lots of stock.

The big problem with stock, however, is that it takes up a lot of space. If you freeze it, you end up with big quantities of stock in the freezer. If you pressure-can it (my preference), you end up with dozens of jars of stock.

It's just a lot of real estate for meat-water, you know?

Given my continous making of stock, and therefore continous problem with storage of stock, you'd think it wouldn't have taken me literally years to realize that because stock is mostly water, I could reduce the water significantly and make a stock concentrate that would then take up significantly less space.

Years! But better late than never, I guess.

So now whenever I make stock, I continue simmering the stock after I've strained out the solids. I do this for however long it takes to reduce the stock by half, usually at least a few more hours. That way, I only have seven quarts to can or freeze, instead of fourteen.

Stock reducing after pressure cooking the roosters and straining the liquid out . . .

Until it fits in my 8-quart pot, at which point I have just about enough for a pressure-canner load of 7 quart jars.

This makes a very, very concentrated stock. And it is delicious. The water can be added back when you drink it or cook with it if you want, but really, the stock is so much better when it's left pretty strong.

And that's it! Reduce your stock, both for space-saving purposes and much better flavor. 

(Still can't believe it took me so long to think of this.)

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Snapshots: Little Squirrels

My friend received a giant bag of pecans in the shell, third- or fourth-hand from someone's tree. She wisely concluded that there was no way she was going to be cracking all those shells to extract the pecans, and asked if I would like some. 

Sure! We have a nutcracker, and I have four little squirrels who enjoy nuts. 

The great benefit of nuts in the shell is that it's not just a snack, it's an event. 

Plus, it's a handy indicator of if a child is truly hungry, or just whiny. Because they'll only spend all that time cracking nuts if they really need the calories.

Of course, you can see that cracking nuts makes an incredible mess. But that's all part of the entertainment! Because then they have to spend some time cleaning up.

And in this way, a snack can stretch over a half-hour time period.

I noticed the other day that A. and I had both happened to leave our current books on the table together. The contrast was so amusing that I took a picture for you.

Bet you can guess which is A.'s and which is mine.

A. and I very, very rarely read the same book. Although those particular books are a bit misleading, as he is more likely to have the non-fiction book and I to have the fiction.

And now, walk photos.

The sun is always spectacular as it crests the horizon to the east . . .

But I appreciate the subtle tiers of more-muted color to the west just as much.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.