Friday, August 12, 2022

Friday Food: Everyone Fed, the End

Between the county fair last weekend, starting work for teacher in-service this week, and a pretty bad sprained ankle mid-week, my only goal was "everyone fed." 

I met that goal, but not much more.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, bread and butter, cucumbers and carrot sticks

Long version: I actually managed to make cheeseburgers from the ground beef I had thawed. Given that we spent another five hours at the county fair, I was quite proud of myself for the accomplishment.

Standards are low these days.


Short version: Extemporaneous tacos, cucumbers, hot chocolate with marshmallows, parade candy

Long version: It's our tradition to buy the kids dinner at the county fair concession stand on the last day after the kids' rodeo. There's only one concession stand, and by the end of the fair, they usually only have hot dogs and chips left, but the kids always enjoy it.


Just as the calf riding was getting underway, a storm blew in and the torrential rain put a quick end to the event. That's the last event of the rodeo, anyway, so we just went home. 

These young cowboys were very disappointed to miss their chance to ride. Disappointed to miss the hot dogs and chips, too.

Luckily, I still had a pound of ground beef from the day before that hadn't been cooked, so I browned that, added half a pint jar of pinto beans, garlic powder, chile powder, mild salsa, cumin, and salt, and put that in corn tortillas with cheese. 

I made the hot chocolate to console disappointed children, forgetting they had bags stuffed with candy from the fair parade. And then, when I was reading in bed after dinner--county fair exhaustion always drives me to my bed--they got into their bags and ate . . . a lot of candy.

Oh well. The fair is but once a year.


Short version: Pot roast, spaghetti with pesto, summer skillet, raw green beans, chocolate ice cream sandwiches

Long version: I made the pot roast in the morning, but I didn't quite let it cook long enough. So then I had to slice it and simmer it again just before dinner. Oops.

It was fine.

The ice cream sandwiches were left over from a social sponsored by a local group at the county fair. The lady who supplied them didn't want to take them home and offered them to me since we were about to head home. My children were more than happy to take them off her hands.

Once the calabacitas and tomatoes start coming in larger numbers, I pretty much always have some of this on hand.

This is the (uncooked) summer skillet. Sometimes I put onions in there, too. This time it was just the calabacitas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, cooked down until very soft and bit caramelized. So good. My children do not agree, but that's fine. More for me!


Short version: Leftovers skillet, raw tomatoes

Long version: And here's where the crazy really started. I worked all day, and then had to go pick up Cubby from his first football practice of the year. But since I wasn't sure how long their practices were going to be, I got there way early and sat there for over an hour. I didn't get home with him until about 7:30 p.m.

Luckily, I had started dinner before I left home, so A. could feed everyone else easily. 

I had baked half a dozen potatoes in the oven with the pot roast on Sunday, so I just chopped those up and fried them with the leftover taco meat and beans in butter, along with some more spices. I was going to add shredded cheese when I got home, but it was fine as it was.

Well, I thought so. The younger boys told me there were too many potatoes and not enough meat. 

Unrepentant carnivores, the lot of them.


Short version: Leftovers again

Long version: I was gone at an off-site training all day and didn't get home until A. was leaving with the kids for judo* at 5:45 p.m. So he fed them his own combination of leftover pot roast, spaghetti with pesto, and the summer skillet.

Pretty sure they picked around the calabacitas, but that's fine. I wasn't there to see it.


Short version: Bull tacos, cucumber spears

Long version: I had taken out a bag of prepared bull meat before I left for work. When I got home, I found most of an onion in the refrigerator from Cubby making an onion-heavy omelet for breakfast. So I used the onion, all the Roma tomatoes on the counter, and the bull meat--plus a lot of butter/oil, garlic powder, cumin, and chile powder--to make taco meat to go in corn tortillas with cheese.


Short version: Yet more leftovers, plus some raw green beans and giant donuts

Long version: I had to stop at the tiny store in the village to get milk, and while I was there, I saw a package of flour tortillas. I very rarely buy flour tortillas, but I did this time. They made for a very quick dinner when I put the leftover bull meat and some cheese in them and fried them in butter.

The donuts were brought to school by our very nice team of IT guys. They brought three dozen giant donuts from a city bakery. There were only 16 staff members at the school, and not all of us even eat donuts, so when I saw the boxes were still almost full by the end of the day, I figured nobody would mind if I took four of them home. 

I chose four identical chocolate-frosted donuts (because then there couldn't be any fights over who got what), each the size of a toddler's face, and the children were very happy.

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

* I think I haven't mentioned before they've started judo. The guy we used to buy milk from is an instructor and started classes for kids in the community center of the village about ten miles from us. All four of them have been doing it since about July, and they all like it and will continue. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

T.T.: Fair Footwear

Before I met A., I had never been to a fair. I had been to carnivals, with the rides and all, but I had never been to an agriculturally-based fair.

In the past twenty years, however, I have been to many. County fairs, state fairs, some very tiny (here), some very big (The Great New York State Fair--always in caps, always with the "Great" adjective). And one of the most important things I have learned is what to wear on my feet.

Comfortable, closed shoes.

County fair shoes, Day 1.

County fair shoes, Days 2 and 3.

This is no time for cute sandals. If you're going to a fair, chances are you're going to be walking a LOT. Hence the requirement for comfort. 

And where you are walking will almost certainly not be paved. It will probably be a combination of dirt, grass, dust, and mud. Or worse, if you visit the livestock barns. That's why the shoes should be closed.

So that's the main tip for today: If you're heading to a fair, make sure your shoes are comfortable and protect your feet.

A secondary tip: It always feels ten degrees hotter at a fair no matter what the actual temperature is. And you will almost certainly be in the sun at least part of the time while you're walking around. Therefore, you should either be fully covered by clothes--pants, long sleeves, and a hat that covers your neck--or wear sunscreen. AND, brings LOTS of water. LOTS AND LOTS. Water bottles that have been half-filled and put in the freezer the night before work well, because they'll stay cold.

Oh! And! Bring food. Especially if you will have children with you. You will not want to be buying them food at a fair all day. I mean, unless you want to spend a small fortune on funnel cakes and french fries. I never went to The Great New York State Fair with children, but I remember being a bit shocked at how much it cost just to feed A. and me. 

Okay, this was supposed to just be what to wear on your feet--remember: closed and comfortable--but then I remembered a couple of other important things.

So. Good shoes, sun protection, water, and food.

And probably a nap afterwards, because man, fairs are tiring. Fun! But tiring.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Snapshots: Summer's End

I go back to work tomorrow for the in-service week at school, and then the kids start back the week after that. So this is pretty much it for our summer break.

We took advantage of our last week off to go fishing at the lake near Cubby's friend's house.

And a little wading, too, of course.

Adventure Van waited patiently at the top of the hill.

Calvin caught the only fish, but it was too small to keep. (His hand is in a sling because he landed on it when he jumped off the pony. He's fine now.)

The county fair is the real culmination of the summer. It's a big deal in our county. A large percentage of the kids raise animals to show and sell at the livestock auction. My children don't do that, but they do all enter something for the indoor exhibits. 

This year we had a flower collage from Poppy; a diorama of a pig farm from Jack; a wood carving from Calvin; a forged pony bit and a wooden plane from Cubby; and canned pickled beets, sourdough bread, and calabacitas from me.

The family crafts (that's the pony bit on top of the diorama box.)

Every single thing up there got a first place ribbon. Poppy's collage got Reserve Champion (not sure of the category for that), Cubby got Reserve Champion for the pony bit and Grand Champion for the plane, and I got Grand Champion for my pickled beets. 

The first day of the fair is the day all the exhibit items are turned in, and is also when all the animals are brought in and weighed. That was the day of the horse show, as well.

I believe this is the gelding class, but don't quote me on that.

The second day is the rest of the livestock showing, including sheep, goats, bottle calves, and steers. All of my children had friends who were showing--even Poppy's friend, who is only five and showed a bottle calf way bigger than she is--and their friends all placed, so that was nice.

The last day is the parade, the horse racing events--barrel, pole, and flag--activities for the little kids, and the kids' rodeo.

The parade on Main Street, at which insane amounts of candy are tossed.

And Poppy's much-anticipated first try at goat dressing. That's her in the blue shirt on the left. All they have to do is get the t-shirt over the goat's head, and the little kids always get some help from the older ones. The little ones also all get a dollar for participating, which is very exciting.

The boys' highlight of the fair is calf riding, and this was Jack's first year trying it. He did well, and didn't get hurt at all.

As it happened, he was the only one of the boys who got to do it, as a big storm broke just after he had his turn. So the bigger boys didn't get to ride, and they were very disappointed. 

There's always next year.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.