Friday, September 9, 2022

Friday Food: A Rib-ful Week


Short version: Beef rib meat, spaghetti, raw green beans

Long version: I only have a few boxes of beef left in the freezer, and almost one whole box was all beef ribs. So I decided to cook some.

I filled my big pressure canner about 3/4 of the way with ribs and pressure-cooked them for 45 minutes. Then I spent almost as long picking meat off bones and pulling off fat. So tedious.

At dinnertime, I fried that meat in olive oil with dried oregano and garlic powder, then added the last of a can of spaghetti sauce that had been hanging out in the refrigerator.

Also in the refrigerator was some roasted tomato and garlic sauce I had made the day before. That went on the kids' spaghetti.


Short version: Pizza, rib meat, cucumber

Long version: I spent all day--almost literally--in the kitchen dealing with peaches, canning beef stock, and baking bread. While I was at it, I made one pizza crust, which I topped with the rest of the roasted tomato sauce, some of A.'s salvage ricotta that I had frozen, and grated cheddar.


Short version: First dinner--pork ribs, cornbread, tomato/cucumber salad; Second dinner--Rib meat, leftover cornbread, peach pie and ice cream

Long version: A. asked me to take out the rest of the giant package of pork ribs I had frozen. I put them in the oven on low heat with A.'s rub on them (garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and chili powder) while we were at church in the morning, and when we got home, A. declared them done.

He couldn't wait to eat them, and also thought maybe he could save me from having to cook dinner, so he announced to the children that we would have our main meal at lunchtime and then they could have peach pie and ice cream for dinner.

Of course, I ended up cooking for lunch and then frying more rib meat for dinner, because the adults and one child were not that enthused about only eating dessert for dinner. But it was very easy cooking, and the three children who ate nothing but pie and ice cream for dinner were thrilled.

And then, of course, there were many more peaches to be stowed away for later. This time I froze them, Some peeled and sliced, some just pitted and unpeeled.


Short version: Trout, rib meat, potato salad, carrot sticks

Long version: A. took the kids fishing for the day in the mountains.

I'm still not over how unreal any photo taken in New Mexico looks. Even with a cheap phone and no filters or editing. It really just looks like this.

They returned with one rainbow trout. I fried that and served it with melted butter and parsley. There was enough for every kid to get a small serving. 

I had taken out some steaks, but I didn't want to cook them until the fisherpeople got home, and they didn't get home until pretty late, so instead I just fried yet more of the rib meat.

I made Real American Potato Salad as a Labor Day treat. I only make it when I have pickles, which I never buy, but now I have refrigerator dills made with the Armenian cucumbers. 

So! Boiled potatoes (boiled whole and dressed while still warm), mayonnaise, pickle juice and pickles, onion powder (I don't like crunchy bits of raw onion in potato salad), salt, and pepper. So good.


Short version: Rib steaks with herb butter, rice, leftover sauteed calabacitas, raw green beans

Long version: I didn't have any steak sauce left, so I sent two children out to the garden to gather basil and parsley, which I chopped fine and mixed with soft butter to top the steaks. And then they all told me they like that better than steak sauce anyway. Yay.


Short version: Spaghetti sauce and rice, leftovers, raw green beans, alliterative popsicles

Long version: I had slightly more ambitious plans for dinner, but when I got home I couldn't muster up the energy for much. I had brought home a bunch of the leftover spaghetti and meat sauce from the school lunch, though, so I just mixed the sauce with leftover rice and microwaved that for the kids. 

I got several compliments on this, which was pretty funny.

A. ate the rest of the steak and some rice. I ate some leftover steamed green beans with spaghetti sauce. 

I made the popsicles to celebrate Poppy's first day of preschool (they always start later than the older kids). I had a lot of peach and plum jam I had made with the fruit given to us by neighbors, so I pureed that and a little cream with my immersion blender to make peach and plum popsicles.

I do love alliteration.


Short version: Judo food!

Long version: The kids' judo instructor gave a party for all the students who passed their belt test last week, and the families. He provided all the food: tortilla chips and nacho cheese, hot dogs, Puerto Rican rice (there was a name for this that I don't remember, but I do remember it had pigeon peas in it), and freshly-made funnel cake. And I didn't have to cook any of it. Hooray.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

T.T.: Riesens for the Win

Do you know about Riesens? If you don't, I am sorry and am now going to educate you. Because anyone who loves chocolate and caramel should know about Riesens.

Riesens are chocolate caramels, you see. That is, they are chocolate-flavored caramels with a chocolate coating. Sort of like Rollos, which I suspect are a more well-known version of this sort of candy. But Rollos are vastly inferior to Riesens. 

And the reason (Riesen/reason, ha) for that is that Riesens are not made by Heshey's or Mars. They are not American. They are made by a German company. That's why the chocolate is actually good dark chocolate and the caramel is actually a very chewy, not too sweet caramel.

In fact, Riesens are made by the Storck Company, which also makes Werther's Original, about the only hard candy I consider worth eating. 

I had not had Riesens in many years, but I saw them at the grocery store in Taos and bought a bag on impulse. They proved to be just as popular with the rest of the family as they are with me. 

At ten dollars a bag, they are definitely not cheap, but there's actually almost a hundred caramels in a bag, and the bag lasts a long time. It's kind of hard to overeat them, because they're so chewy.

Despite their relative priciness, I think they're definitely worth it. They're all gone now, but the next time I see them at a store, you can bet I'll be getting more.

Auf Wiedersehen, my tasty little friends.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Snapshots: Fun With Produce

So much produce. So much processing. But so much fun, too! How can produce be fun? Allow me to show you.

I grew two new-to-me varieties of tomato this year: Cherokee Purple and Chocolate Cherry. When they're ripe, both are a distinctive purplish-red color. I harvested some of each this week, and noticed that the cherry variety looks just like a miniature version of the Cherokee Purple.

So of course I set them up in a little tomato tableau and called all the kids over so I could tell them: "Look! It's me and you four kids, but tomatoes!"

Only Poppy was very enthused about this. The boys just rolled their eyes at me.

One of those eye-rollers then appropriated the tomatoes to make this freaky bird-looking face.


And then I used the big Cherokee Purple--plus lettuce from the garden, bacon, Duke's mayonnaise, and toasted sourdough bread--to make my annual BLT.


Remember last week when A. started fermenting a bunch of our neighbor's grapes to make wine? He ended up adding some rhubarb and apples to up the acidity in the notably sweet and not acidic Thompson's grapes he was working with. After fermenting the mixture in an open container for a couple of days (to allow the majority of the carbon dioxide to escape), he strained out the solids and put the liquid in old wine bottles with airlocks.

The airlocks allow the bubbles of carbon dioxide to escape, but keep oxygen from getting in.

When they weren't bubbling anymore, the wine was done fermenting.

So how was it?

In a word, rough.

It tasted very much like the cider A. used to make, which has a very funky, strong flavor. I am not a fan, but it was certainly alcoholic. And as A. noted, you can't make peasant wine in an old tub and expect it to taste like fine wine aged in oak barrels or whatever.


We got a call on Friday morning from a guy who lives in the village and goes to our church asking if we would like to come pick peaches from his tree.

I trust you don't need me to tell you that we most definitely did.

The tree was right next to an old adobe chicken coop with a flat roof, so the kids actually climbed a ladder onto the roof and picked up there.

They thought this was the most fun thing ever, as I usually forbid them from climbing roofs.

A. and I picked from the ground.

Okay, so actually only I stayed on the ground. A. climbed a ladder.

We came home with about fifty pounds of white peaches.

That's a lot of peaches. Only one thing to do!

The next morning, as soon as I had fed everyone, I fired up the burners and got to canning.

Small pot in the back for the sugar syrup, red pot with boiling water to facilitate peeling, giant pressure canner full of water to function as my water bath canner.

One reason canning peaches is a pain is because they have to be peeled. Well, they might not have to be, but I know for sure that A. would be very disappointed to open a jar of peaches and find skins on them. And honestly, peeled peaches canned in syrup are one of the great joys in life. Might as well do it right.

Luckily, I was only a fraction of the peaches into peeling when I was discovered by a couple of small people who were delighted to help me divest the peaches of their skins.

Slightly less delighted by peach #200 or so, but they valiantly soldiered on with their puckery fingers.

Two jars of peach halves broke in the canner (the. worst.) but I still ended up with this.

Twelve quarts of peach halves in syrup and six pints of peach sorta-jam (sorta because I didn't add commercial pectin, just a few apples, so it's a bit runnier than a traditional jam).

In case you are wondering, processing that many peaches takes approximately five hours of continuous kitchen work. As I assured the children, it will all be worth it when we open those jars in the dead of winter.

Due to the fact that I had cooked a bunch of beef ribs the day before, I also had a lot of beef stock to deal with. Just as I had that in the pressure-canner and was thinking I was FINALLY almost done with the canning, A. and the kids returned from the neighbor's house with this.

Pears, grapes, and some sort of small plums. Guess I'm not done yet.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.