Friday, September 16, 2022

Friday Food: Soup in Summer


Short version: Cafeteria spaghetti and meat sauce, improvised soup, raw green beans

Long version: Because I was at work on the last day of the school week, the school cook sent me home with a bunch of stuff that was otherwise going to be thrown out. That included a couple of bags of meat sauce. I still had spaghetti in the refrigerator from Wednesday's school lunch, so I just put the sauce over the spaghetti and that was for the kids.

For A. and me, I made a soup by adding a bunch of things to the last of the leftover rice, including the rest of the sauteed calabacitas, tomato, and mushroom; some of the meat sauce; onion powder; and some of A.'s wine that I was leaving out to see if it would turn into vinegar. 

It made a surprisingly tasty soup. 


Short version: Fried bull meat, fried potatoes, carrot sticks with ranch dressing, custard

Long version: I had half a dozen potatoes left from the ones I had boiled whole earlier in the week for potato salad. So I peeled those, diced them, and fried them in tallow and butter.

All of the children elected to have the ranch dressing drizzled over their bull meat. It adds to the flavor, but nothing can make the bull meat really tender. Oh well. Only ten pounds or so to go.

I made the custard for two reasons. One was that I had three gallons of milk in the refrigerator that were already a day past their best buy date. The other was that I didn't have enough cereal for everyone to have their customary bowl of cereal before church on Sunday morning.

So I made a double batch of custard. They ate half this night, and half it the next morning before church.


Short version: Chuck eye steaks, mashed potatoes, raw tomatoes, chicken noodle soup, rice pudding

Long version: I had never cooked chuck eye steaks, but the Internet told me to be careful not to overcook them. I was careful, and they were good. Very flavorful. I served them with the same basil/parsley butter I made for the steaks last week.

The chicken noodle soup was mostly for Cubby, who was sick and had a sore throat, but then two other children elected to have it for dinner as well. I had several quarts of rooster stock on hand, as well as a gallon bag of frozen chicken pulled off the carcass of the last rooster we got from a neighbor after I made stock with it. Makes it easy to make soup. 

Bonus of the soup was that it provided a good use for the greens from the two beets I thinned awhile ago. My children are not enthused about cooked greens in general, but chopped fine and added to soup is not so objectionable.

Unfortunately, I managed to slice the top of my thumb pretty good while I was chopping the greens, which resulted in me having this on my finger for the rest of my many kitchen tasks.

Awkward. And painful.

Rice pudding because it uses a lot of milk, and it was only in the high sixties most of the day, so having the oven on for four hours was actually welcome rather than punishing. Plus, it's Calvin's favorite dessert.


Short version: Leftovers and quesadillas, carrot sticks with ranch dressing

Long version: Steak and mashed potatoes with cheese for A. and Cubby, who was feeling somewhat better and was of course famished since he hadn't eaten anything but applesauce and soup the day before.

The other three children had quesadillas made with flour tortillas someone at school was giving away, cheese, and some of the fried bull meat.


Short version: Leftovers, ham, green salad with ranch dressing, chocolate pudding

Long version: The days I'm not at the school are usually the days I cook extra to have for the days I am at the school. But I spent literally all day in the kitchen canning applesauce, and preparing and canning peach jam, peaches in syrup, and peach fruit leather.

Halfway through peeling the peaches given to me by the same guy we got them from over Labor Day weekend. He has three peach trees. This should be it, though.

Thus, leftovers.

I had some ham slices I had brought home from the cafeteria the day before, so I diced those and fried them in butter.

Three children had the chicken soup with some added ham. One child was sick with the same cold Cubby had and disappeared to lie down during dinner, only to miraculously re-appear when I was dishing up the pudding. So that's what he had. A. had the ham, plus mashed potatoes and cheese. I had a salad with ham.

The only reason I made the pudding was because I still had a lot of milk to use up, so after I used a gallon to make yogurt, I used the last half gallon or so to make a double batch of chocolate pudding. It was much appreciated.


Short version: Fried bull, rice, raw tomatoes, peaches in syrup

Long version: I fried the rest of the bag of bull meat in tallow with spices, and then added some shredded cheese. It was serviceable, at best. I just can't get into that bull meat.

I had half a gallon of peaches and syrup that didn't fit in the full canner, so I just put it in the refrigerator, figuring it would get eaten.

It did. Almost all in one day. Prepared fruit in sugar syrup disappears like magic.


Short version: Pot roast, leftover rice, sauteed calabacitas, raw tomatoes, potato soup, Otter Pops

Long version: A rather small rump roast for the pot roast. Luckily, the older two boys stayed at school to watch the volleyball game and ate at the concessions stand there, so there was enough meat.

The younger two were the latest victims of the cold, so they had to stay home. I had stuck a few potatoes and carrots into the casserole with the pot roast, so I added those to a quart of canned beef stock, plus some of the calabacita mixture (mostly because that had onion and garlic in it) and sour cream, then pureed it with my immersion blender. The sicklings ate that, some buttered rice, and the Otter Pops.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

T.T.: Very Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is something that I had never in my life eaten until I had the MiL's. Hers is still the only recipe I have ever eaten, because I make it the way she did, using her recipe.

Her recipe, in turn, came from her father. He used to make it when the cows on their farm were in full milk, which, as anyone who has ever milked a cow can tell you, means A LOT of milk. That's what this recipe uses: A LOT of milk. 

Although we have no cow, I also make this recipe when I have too much milk. That happens when I have a gallon (or more) that is on the verge of going bad. Making a triple batch of this rice pudding uses more than half a gallon.

I was made aware somewhat recently that this is a rather unique recipe for rice pudding. It calls for a lot more milk than most, and that is because it cooks for so long in a low oven. Baked rice puddings--as opposed to stove top--appear to now be considered a British version of the pudding. 

The MiL told me her MiL made it the same way. It might just be such an old American recipe that it originally came from Britain and has been passed from generation to generation, mostly surviving in its original form on farms, which had the quantity of milk to make it at certain times of year.

So! The method for this is a long time in a low oven, with a lot of stirring. This means that you must be present and attending to it for some hours. It is not a strictly hands-off recipe. But the large quantity of milk that reduces in the oven, along with the stirring that keeps a skin from forming and distributes all those rice starches, will result in an unbelievably creamy pudding that has no actual cream in it.

It's best to make this when you have something else in the oven at the same time--like a brisket or stew--so that you can make your oven do double-duty. 

The recipe as written is for a single recipe. I triple it and bake it in my 10"x15" Pyrex casserole dish, which is almost completely full with that quantity of ingredients.

Very Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding


1 quart whole milk

1/4 cup short grain rice (I just use the cheap stuff we get from commodities)

1/4-1/3 cups sugar (I prefer the lesser amount, but you might like it sweeter)

pinch of salt

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla

grated nutmeg


Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and butter your casserole dish. You want a relatively wide and shallow one, so there's a large surface area. For a double recipe, use a 9"x13"casserole and, um, something smaller for a single recipe. (I've never made a single recipe, so I don't know what size would work.)

Pour the milk into the buttered casserole, then sprinkle the rice, sugar, and salt into the milk.

Bake uncovered for 1.5 hours (3.5 hours for a double or larger recipe), stirring every half hour.

After 1.5 hours, stir in the vanilla and raisins, and sprinkle the nutmeg on top, and bake for the remaining half hour.

Remove from oven and let cool. You can serve it warm, but I chill it until cold.


If you don't care for raisins, you can leave them out, but I would increase the sugar a bit. And, if you have a family disagreement about the desirability of raisins, you can do as I do and only sprinkle them into half of the pudding.

You want to remove the pudding when it still looks a bit liquidy. The rice and raisins will continue to absorb the liquid as it cools, so if you leave it in until all of the liquid is absorbed, the end result will be too dry and stodgy. It should be a bit saucy when it's cool. 

If you forget to stir it for awhile, it will form a skin on top that will then brown. You can just remove this and give it to your dogs or chickens, and then carry on with your stirring.

Or I suppose you could throw it away if you're lacking in livestock to eat it.

The finished product. 

Amazingly, my family will eat that entire giant quantity of rice pudding in one sitting. I hope you love it as much as they do.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Snapshots: Books 'n' Stuff

Our Saturday Book Talk kind of dropped off the cliff there when I had gone through all the categories of books I could think of. You want to see the library that inspired all of that, though?

This is the (very small) library for the middle school and high school students that I created out of nothing.

It's on the stage in the old gym, which is why the walls are black.

The other side of the stage has a kind of lounge set-up with a pool table and foosball, plus a table with art supplies and some chairs and things for hanging out.

And here's a rather impressive crane that Calvin created out of blocks and Magna-Tiles.

Inspired by a crazy German engineering documentary they watched on YouTube.

Poppy was very excited to start school last week, and carefully laid out her outfit for the first day, to make sure it looked okay.

This is not something my sons have ever done.

I still have a bouquet on my table, even though I haven't been featuring them every Monday like I did last year.

Sunflowers and sage, of course.

A. decided the time had come to replace the leaning and unsightly back steps to the fenced garden area.  He used stone, of course.

The in-progress view from the back door.

And finally, last night around 8 p.m. the dogs started barking to announce someone at our gate. It was Miss Amelia's daughter, who lives in a village about an hour away. She stopped by to bring me . . .

Apples! Suitable for saucing, yay! Good thing the new jar lids I ordered arrived on Friday.

I am quite clearly the person to know if you have excess fruit hanging around that you can't bear to throw away.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.