Friday, August 19, 2022

Friday Food: Hangin' in There


Short version: Pork chops, rice, tomato and cucumber salad

Long version: The pork chops were still frozen in a solid lump when I put them in a skillet with a bit of water, salt, a few Roma tomatoes, and the rest of an onion from Cubby's morning onion omelet. I simmered them until they were tender, and then poured off the liquid. At dinnertime I fried the tender chops in bacon grease with some of A.'s rib rub on them to make them crispy and more flavorful.

I used the strained liquid from the pork for the rice, plus a bunch of butter, and got many compliments. Easy audience.


Short version: Fried bottom round steak pieces, garlic bread, raw green beans, summer skillet

Long version: I always get a package of bottom round steaks out intending to make chicken fried steak and . . . then I don't. Too lazy, I guess.

This time I just cut the steaks into small pieces and fried them in butter with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. 

More calabacitas, tomatoes, and garlic? Yup. Until the freeze, anyway.


Short version: Meatballs; spaghetti; raw green beans; roasted calabacitas, green beans, and sweet potatoes; chocolate-covered peanut butter balls

Long version: It was too hot to have the oven on for meatballs, but I did it anyway. Mostly because I had made pesto this day, and then used the food processor to also puree some tomatoes and cooked those down on the stove. So the meatballs were baked with some of the tomato/pesto sauce, and the rest went onto the spaghetti with some heavy cream.

Because I roast meatballs at a high temperature in the oven rather than frying/simmering them, I also put a bunch of vegetables to roast at the same time. If they are cooked, they will be eaten. And a couple of the children discovered that they actually really like roasted calabacitas. Hooray. We have PLENTY to roast.

Also tomatoes and green beans in larger quantities.


Short version: First day of school celebration! With leftovers.

Long version: The first day of school is also a work day for me, and this one was a doozy. I was very glad there were lots of leftovers that just needed to be heated in the microwave.

Meatballs, spaghetti, rice, and roasted vegetables got everyone fed. Hooray.

I also brought home two leftover cinnamon rolls that had been in the office since last week's teacher in-service, so each child had half a cinnamon roll. Who says I don't do anything special to celebrate the first day of school?

Well, I say. But they did appreciate the cinnamon rolls. And I was very proud of myself for not stress-eating the cinnamon rolls or doughnuts that were in the office all day as I ran in and out. It wouldn't have really helped anything, so I'm glad I didn't.


Short version: T-bone steaks, boiled potatoes, sauteed calabacitas, raw tomatoes

Long version: I had a pan on the stove with some bacon grease still in it from breakfast, so I used it to cook some more calabacitas. This time it was just the calabacitas and garlic. No tomatoes. Still good.

I had intended to make an actual tomato salad, but forgot about it until I was actually dishing up dinner. Thus, small tomatoes put directly on children's plates. Fine with them


Short version: Leftovers, green salad

Long version: One more dinner of cobbled-together leftovers for my second day of work. 

The children had some diced round steak I had fried plain just to cook it and have it on hand. I heated it up with some barbecue sauce for them. They also had bread and butter.

A. had some of the leftover steak, plus three fried eggs and the rest of the boiled potatoes.

I had salad with the last leftover meatball in it.

And when Cubby got home from football, he had the rest of the steak, bread and butter, and some cucumber.


Short version: Pot roast, spaghetti with tomato sauce, sauteed calabacitas, raw green beans, calabacita bread

Long version: I cooked the pot roast in the morning, as well as a casserole full of tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a clove of garlic. Because I had the food processor out anyway to shred a bunch of calabacitas for freezing, I used the food processor to also puree the tomatoes with basil for a spaghetti sauce.

Pre-puree tomatoes and garlic.

While the oven was on for the pot roast, I also made two loaves of zucchini bread, but with calabacitas*. Of course. It was a nice bit of efficiency that also resulted in a celebratory treat for the children finishing their first week of school.

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

* Other changes from the original recipe: I skip the sugar crust on top, used half white whole wheat flour, and added some walnuts. It's very good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

T.T.: A Modern Switchel Recipe

Cubby started football last week, so of course I bought him a case of Gatorade to bring with him to his three-hour practices.

. . .

If you believed that, you have not been reading here long enough.

I don't like the disposable plastic bottles or the ingredients in Gatorade. But there is no denying that it goes down easy for boys who have been running around a football field in the sun for over three hours. They can't drink too much cold water without getting cramps.

So what to do?

Grandma Post knew!

Grandma Post was the MiL's mother. She was the daughter, wife, and mother of farmers, all of whom spent many, many hours haying in punishing upstate New York heat and humidity every summer. She knew how to keep them hydrated. And how she did it was switchel.

My first experience of switchel was at her house in the summer. She had some in her refrigerator for her son who was running the farm. Switchel is the traditional drink for summer hydration because it can be consumed in larger quantities than plain water. 

The primary reason for that is that it has ginger in it. That's what allows a person who is exerting himself to drink it without getting cramps, as he would with plain water.

The traditional ingredients for switchel are water, vinegar, ginger, a bit of lemon juice, and a sweetener like maple syrup or honey*.

 I made traditional switchel for Cubby last football season, and he really didn't like the vinegar in it. 

He never would have made in on a haying crew.

I suspect the vinegar was mostly a lemon juice stand-in for farmers who didn't have access to fresh lemons, anyway, so now I just use all lemon juice. Not from fresh lemons, though, because I also don't have regular access to fresh lemons. Also, you would have to squeeze a LOT of lemons. The bottled stuff is fine.

All of my switchel ingredients come in bottles actually, but if you have fresh ginger and lemons, knock yourself out.

The resulting drink is pretty much like a slightly gingery lemonade. Very palatable for those of us not raised on traditional switchel, and just as refreshing.

So if you, too, have a child sweating their life away on a field somewhere (or it you yourself are the sweater), give switchel a try. No plastic bottle, no food dye, no strange ingredients. Perfect.

Modern Switchel


1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (if using honey, you'll probably need less, but I haven't tried it)

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 quart water (warm if using honey, to dissolve it better)


Add all ingredients to a quart-size canning jar and shake it all up. Either keep the jar cold in the refrigerator, or pour the switchel into a big water bottle filled with ice to take to the football or hay field. Cubby has a 32-ounce insulated water bottle that I fill with ice in the morning before adding the quart of switchel to it, and it's still icy for afternoon practice. 

Although I measured so I could write out a recipe for you, it will probably not surprise you that I don't actually measure anything when I make it myself. I just go by taste. As should you. Start with the measurements if you want, but add more or less sweetener, more or less ginger. You can even try some apple cider vinegar in place of some of the lemon juice if you want it more traditional.


* Molasses is also traditional, but the one time I made it with molasses, A. was absolutely horrified and actually spit it out. So I guess it wasn't traditional for his family. Molasses does have a very strong flavor, so unless you're a fan of molasses already, I wouldn't recommend it.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Snapshots: What Have We Here?

What we have is whatever I found that I had already taken pictures of and not yet posted, because I have not done much worth photographing this week, what with working and gimping around on a swollen ankle.

So! Let's see what I found.

Some nice carrots from the garden.

Two cowboys and a dog.

Funny dog photo.

Why do I have this photo of laundry? I think to show how tall the asparagus behind the line will get. 

And . . . yeah, that's all I got. That's my life, snapshotted.

I'll do better next week. I hope.