Friday, September 23, 2022

Friday Food: Leftovers and Lettuce


Short version: Steak, mashed potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: Did I make an herb butter with parsley and basil for the steak? Why yes, I did. Because I am something of a broken record in the kitchen. And we still have fresh herbs.

I made the mashed potatoes in case there were any children still complaining of a sore throat who didn't want to eat the steak. Sure enough, one child had nothing but mashed potatoes and cheese for dinner. 


Short version: Pizza, cucumber spears with ranch dip

Long version: Baking bread and making roasted tomato sauce while the oven was on, so, pizza. We still don't have any asadero cheese (our mozzarella substitute), but I did have the last of A.'s salvage ricotta in the freezer. So we had a three-cheese blend: ricotta, cheddar, and Parmesan. 

The asadero is better, but no one complained.

Oh, and regarding the ranch dip: It's a dressing when I put it over salad, and a dip when there's a little puddle on everyone's plate. Same thing, though. Just so you know.


Short version: Fried pork, spaghetti, green salad with vinaigrette, maple custard

Short version: More commodities pork (fried in butter), more spaghetti with more roasted tomato and garlic sauce. And you're going to see a lot more lettuce in the near future because there is a veritable carpet of lettuce out there, thanks to A. shaking out the lettuce plants gone to seed when he was digging up the fall garden beds. Lettuce EVERYWHERE. So exciting.

I way overbaked the maple custard, and it separated. Boo. That is definitely my most frequent kitchen failure.


Short version: Leftovers, raw tomatoes

Long version: There was enough leftover steak for everyone, which I re-heated in a skillet with the rest of the herb butter. Also leftover rice. 

It's a workday dinner, for sure.


Short version: Odd meatloaf, baked potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: The meatloaf was odd because I didn't have enough bread crumbs and didn't want to haul out the food processor to make more, so I used some quick oats. This definitely does not have the adhesive power of bread crumbs. It was pretty crumbly.

I also forgot to add extra fat to the very lean ground beef. And I didn't add enough salt. So, while it was fine, it was certainly not the best meatloaf I've ever made.

I was very happy with the salad, though.

I've been growing vegetables for almost 20 years now, and I still get great satisfaction when I'm able to say, "I grew all of this myself." (Here lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.)


Short version: Leftovers, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: The leftovers this time were the fried pork and extra baked potatoes, which I diced and fried in butter.

The salad this time was only the lettuce and tomato. One of the cucumber vines is staging a comeback, but still doesn't have any cucumbers on it big enough to eat yet.


Short version: Leftover meatloaf, tuna salad, rice, raw tomatoes, chocolate chip cookie bar rejects

Long version: I thought I had a lot more meatloaf than I did. I suspect a little mouse named Cubby had been nibbling on it before bed, as is his habit. 

In any case, there was enough for A. and me. The children had the tuna salad.

They also had the chocolate chip cookie bars, which were my contribution to the silent auction bake sale that happens during the school play today. One edge of the pan got a bit overdone, so I cut that off and the kids had that. No complaints from them.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

T.T.: Non-Medicinal Comfort

We just went through the first illness of the school year. It was just a cold, and everyone had it with varying degrees of sore throat and congestion.

It was nothing major, but it always feels major to a child. They don't really get the concept of stoicism. The younger they are, the less stoic they are, and the more insistent they are that I should just fix it. I should do something. Even though, in the case of a cold, there really isn't much to do other than wait for it to go away.

However, over the past decade or so of dealing with ill children, I have discovered a bunch of things I can do to make them feel better, at least temporarily. 

1) A hot bath. Are you congested? Have a hot bath. Do you have a headache? Have a hot bath. Have you had a hard day and are feeling a little emotionally delicate? Have a hot bath. Have you been doing mad dog drills (don't ask--I didn't) at football practice every day and every single part of your body is sore? Have a hot bath with Epsom salts.

2) The heated sheep. This is one of those microwaveable heated bags filled with rice or something. We got ours many years ago from my sister-in-law. She got it for us because it is in the shape of a sheep, but let me tell you, that thing is invaluable. 

A well-loved heatable sheep is a wonderful thing.

Any child with a sore neck or an upset stomach gets the sheep to curl up with. An actual heating pad works, too, but the sheep has the advantage of not having a cord. Plus, it's fuzzy and in the shape of a pillow, and is therefore much more comforting than a hard, flat, plastic bundle of wires.

3) Honey water. For sore throats. This is the lazy mom's answer to tea. Kids don't really want to drink actual tea, anyway, so why bother. They just want the honey. So I just put hot water in with a spoonful of honey, stir around to dissolve the honey, add a few drops of lemon juice to cut the sweetness just a little, then top off with a bit of cold water so they don't burn their mouths. I make SO much honey water when there is sickness in our house. It's one of the reasons I bought a 12-pound bucket of honey.

4) A steam tent. For those awful, dry, barking coughs. Also sometimes for congestion. All you need is a bowl of hot water on the table, scoot the sickling up to the table in a chair, and drape a thin blanket over the top to trap the steam. A couple of my children hate this, but a couple of others request it when they don't feel well. A really hot shower would do the same thing, but young children do not enjoy scalding hot showers. 

5) Soft foods. When you've got a sore throat and you're so congested that chewing interferes with breathing, soft foods are the way to go. Custard requires no chewing at all. Rice pudding doesn't really, either. My children's favorite sick soup is a potato soup, which I usually make with bacon, onion, carrots, potatoes, and rooster stock, cooked and pureed and finished with sour cream. Even easier is mashed potatoes with grated cheese stirred in. A lot of soft food tends to be sweet, so potatoes are a good option for a soft but more substantial food that feels more like a meal. Scrambled eggs with cheese are good, too.

What non-medicinal options do you use when you're feeling poorly?

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Snapshots: Fruit and an Owl

Last week was a whole lotta fruit processing.

Two and half gallons of apple/pear sauce.

Peach/pear fruit leather, phase one.

I did all of this canning in one day. One long, completely exhausting day. (16 pints peach jam, 7 quarts applesauce, 7 quarts peach halves in syrup, and a half-gallon jar of extra peaches in syrup that didn't go into the canner because my canner only fits a maximum of 7 quarts.)

Poppy made an owl mask at school, and supplemented it with wings when she got home.

I was, of course, reminded of Cubby's infamous Owl Game. Man, that was a long time ago.

I haven't had any sunrise photos lately because I haven't been taking morning walks lately. A combination of my wonky ankle, school mornings, and later sunrises all mean that I got out of the habit. But here's a sunset photo.

Night falls on the high plains.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.