Friday, March 11, 2022

Friday Food: A Restaurant and a Ram


Short version: Restaurant for me, crepes at home

Long version: This was the night I was gone for my overnight hotel stay. I ate a salad with avocado and some french fries for dinner, because it was a Friday in Lent.

A. made crepes for the home crew, which were very popular.


Short version: Fried pork, mashed potatoes, cucumber and tomatoes

Long version: Two cans of commodities pork fried in tallow with spices. Better than it sounds.


Short version: Rooster-rice soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, pots de creme

Long version: I made the soup with a jar of concentrated rooster stock plus the last bag of rooster meat from the freezer labeled "chicken for soup" that I had pulled off the carcasses when I originally made the stock. It was really good. That rooster stock is key.

Cubby made the pots de creme. Yay.


Short version: Ram chile, rice, pinto beans, artichokes, tomatoes

Long version: We finally butchered the ram this day.

Jack and Poppy wanted to help, so I set them up with some smaller, easier to cut boneless pieces and let them make mince out of them. 

I pressure-cooked the shanks and mostly-stripped bones so I would have stock and meat to make chile. To the chile I added green garlic, onions, tomato, lots of green chile, cumin, some red chile, paprika, and pigs' feet.

Yes, pigs' feet. A. loves them, and we had two bags in the freezer. It made for a very strong soup. Not all the the children could eat the highly-spiced chile, so those children had the ram meat I pulled from it and plain rice with butter.

After spending much of the day dealing with meat, I elected to have a salad with cheese, pinto beans, beets, and tomatoes in it.

The children had the artichokes before dinner. I got two from Misfits Market the week before, and the kids were VERY EXCITED about them. I don't trim them or anything. I just steam them whole, make a vinaigrette with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt to dip the leaves in, and let the children scrape the edible part off the inedible leaf with their teeth. 

Artichoke party at the very table that was holding a ram carcass a few hours earlier. (Obviously, a very well-scrubbed table.)


Short version: Impromptu international foods, raw cabbage

Long version: Very unusually, I did not have a clear idea of what I was going to make when I went into the kitchen at 4:30 p.m. to make dinner. I did have quite a few different things in the refrigerator to work with, however, and I ended up with three separate things.

The easiest thing was the chile, which just had to be heated up.

I also made egg noodles, to which I added some of the commodities pasta sauce, an extra packet of cheese powder from when I've made two boxes of macaroni and cheese but only used one packet, butter, oregano, garlic powder, and finely chopped fried pork.

And last, I made fried rice with leftover rice, the rest of the pork, some asparagus I had already steamed, chopped green beans, an egg, vinegar, soy sauce, and powdered ginger. That was supposed to be for me, although it made quite a bit in the end and turned out to be the most popular thing I made.

A. and Cubby had chile, and then Cubby had both fried rice and two servings of noodles.

The other three children had both the fried rice and the noodles. And I was advised by all members of the family that I should make fried rice again, and a lot of it. 

Fine with me. I think it would be a good use for the pressure-canned bull meat.


Short version: Lamb tenderloin, roasted potatoes, pureed calabaza, frozen green peas, Toblerone

Long version: The MiL arrived this day for a weeklong visit, and she got here just in time for dinner. To celebrate her arrival, we had lamb tenderloin, which is among the best meat on the animal.

She brought the Toblerone bar with her. The children had never had this particular kind of chocolate before, and they approved. Of course.


Short version: Carnitas tacos with homemade corn tortillas, pinto beans, Cadbury Creme Eggs

Long version: The MiL bought the Creme Eggs on a whim at the store before she came, and they were the most exciting thing that has happened to the children in some time. 

Those low expectations again.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

T.T.: Ditching the Bottles

A month or so ago, I finally decided to buy a shampoo bar to replace the bottles of shampoo that I've used for . . . well, my entire life.

A shampoo bar looks just like a bar of soap. I mean, shampoo IS a kind of soap, so it makes sense that it can easily be made in bar form.

I did this for a couple of reasons. One is that I hate plastic. I grudgingly acknowledge its ubiquity in modern life, but if I can avoid it, I will. 

Another is that I've come to really dislike anything scented. Fragrance-free shampoos tend to be really expensive.

I looked on Etsy first, because I always do that. Although there are some re-sellers on there, many of the soap-makers are quite obviously just people working out of their homes, and I will always try to choose an option that gets the most profit into the hands of the makers rather than a corporation.

Even on Etsy, there weren't a lot of fragrance-free options. I found this one, though, and while I was at it, I decided to try the conditioner bar too.

They came in little cardboard boxes that could be burned or recyled, although they were unfortunately wrapped in a bit of plastic wrap. So not entirely waste-free, but pretty close.

They look really similar when they're unwrapped, so it helps to put them where you can tell what's what. (Obviously, I do not keep them on a rose-patterned napkin in the shower, but it made for a better photo than a background of my avocado-green plastic shower wall.)

I've been using them now for some weeks, and I can give them a pretty strong recommendation.

The shampoo bar is very easy to use. It lathers up just like a bar of regular soap and distributes quickly through hair. It makes for a very "squeaky" kind of clean. My hair is long and very curly, so I don't really need shampoo that strips cleanly*, but A. does and he particularly likes this.

I found the conditioner bar to be a little trickier to use. Of course, it doesn't lather, since it's essentially a combination of oils, but that does make it harder to distribute throughout the hair. At least, throughout long hair.

After some experimentation, I found the best method to be getting the bar wet and then rubbing it directly on the hair in different directions all over the head. I also twist my hair and pull it up so I can rub the bar all over the underside of my hair. 

This takes about a minute, which is of course not a long time, but definitely feels like a bit more of an effort than just squeezing conditioner out of a bottle and rubbing that in.

In any case, both of the bars work, and I think work pretty well. The bars are pretty small, but I haven't noticed the bars to have reduced in size very much, even in more than a month of use. I suspect the bars will last longer than a bottle.

Shampoo and conditioner bars have become mainstream enough that they can readily be found places like Amazon as well, but I didn't actually see any price difference between Amazon and Etsy. So I would recommend looking on Etsy if you want to try them. There are lots of different scented ones if that's what you prefer.

I'm not sure how many people are aware that these bars are an alternative to bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but now you know. Do with the knowledge what you will.

* In case anyone is thinking, "Why don't you just try the no-shampoo thing?" I have. I did not like it, and since I only wash my hair every few days or so, I figure it's fine.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Monday Bouquets: The Return

First, happy birthday to my dad! Here, have some dead plants.

I bet you forgot about these weekly updates of what's in the middle of my table!  It has definitely been awhile since the last time I had any sort of plant arrangement on my table, and the reason for that is that for most of the winter, I elected to go with light rather than plants.

Our dining area is just a tiny bit dark, and with the early sunset that meant we were eating dinner after dark, I decided to get candles for the middle of the table. I didn't think the dried plants that were my only option for an arrangement would be a good combination with live flame, so my table for the past few months has just had a tray with five low candles on it.

But! It is now light when we eat dinner, so I thought I could survey the roadside on my walk this morning and see what options I might have for a pleasing arrangement.

I found some.

Ta da!

The colors are so subtle, it's hard to see them even in a close-up.

That's sunflower seed heads, the yellow berries of the silver nightshade that has those lovely purple flowers in the summer, some kind of grass that is now tipped with red, and the buffalo gourds that line the roadsides here.

It makes me very happy to have an arrangement on my table again. Even though none of it is green or notably colorful, it's beautiful in its own muted way, and it carries with it the promise of new life to come. 

Life is beginning again for the plants, be it ever so slowly. I'm ready.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Snapshots: Away From Home

Some of you may remember that more than two years ago, I went to a near-by-ish city to stay at a hotel overnight all by myself. Being an introvert who craves quiet is no easy thing with four young children at home, and it helps to occasionally absent myself from home.

I decided it was time for another 24-hour break, so I went on Friday. And I took pictures!

My room this time was not quite as large or as nice as the one I had a couple of years ago. It didn't have its own bookcase in it, but there was . . . 

A small collection of books right outside my door. Included in this small collection was an Elizabeth Peters book. She is my favorite author, and I brought that book with me when I went . . .

To the hotel restaurant for dinner. The food was nothing special, but I didn't have to prepare it, serve it, or clean up after it, so that was nice. I elected not to have a drink with my dinner, because . . .

I brought my own bar with me. And I was very glad I did when I saw the night's drink special at the restaurant was a Sazerac for $14 dollars. Yikes.

While it was still light, I wandered around the old plaza to an antique shop and a bookstore. I didn't do much of anything else, though, which is of course the point.

At home, we still have sheep.

With lambs.

My own little lambs were very, very happy to have me back when I returned from my brief absence. And I was very glad to be back.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.