Friday, October 7, 2022

Friday Food: Work and Enchiladas


Short version: Breakfast tacos, tomato salad, Otter Pops or root beer

Long version: A. took Cubby hunting for elk, which meant an easy dinner for the three kids left at home with me. Cubby is the only one who doesn't like breakfast tacos, so I thought that was a good idea. It's just scrambled eggs in corn tortillas microwaved with cheese, and salsa.

I made the tomato salad because I had half a tomato left from making BLTs for lunch, plus another tomato I had harvested that had a hole in it that was drawing fruit flies. So I just diced those, sprinkled on some onion powder, and added some vinaigrette I had already made.

My parents had left some soda with us when they left, and only one can of root beer was left. So I let the kids choose if they would rather have soda or an Otter Pop (left over from the county parade) after dinner. Two chose the root beer, so they split that, and one had an Otter Pop.

Have an Odin picture, just for fun.


Short version: Cheater's pizza, raw green beans, sauteed calabacita/tomatoes/beet greens with chicken sausage

Long version: We got a bag of something labeled "hoagie rolls" from the excess commodities. They were smallish, oblong white-flour rolls. I had a pan of tomatoes in the oven reducing for canning, so I used some of those to make pizza sauce by blending the tomatoes with basil, parsley, and roasted garlic, using my immersion blender.

I cut the rolls in half lengthwise, poured some olive oil on them, and baked them at high heat until they were crisp. Then I spread on the pizza sauce and grated mozzarella from the block we also got from excess commodities this week.

Not as good as my pizza, but not bad.

I still had a few of the unpopular commodities chicken sausages left. I was sauteeing some calabacitas anyway, so I added to that the greens from the two beets I had harvested and roasted along with the tomatoes, some of the pizza sauce, and the chicken sausage diced fine. I sauteed all of that until it was a bit browned, then added some of the extra mozzarella. It was pretty good. Definitely better than eating that sausage on its own.


Short version: Beef, mashed potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, St. Michael cake with whipped cream, late-night peaches and cream

Long version: I took out a package of stir-fry beef, but I didn't stir-fry it. Instead I cut it into smaller pieces, browned it in bacon grease, added sauteed onion and garlic, then a quart of beef stock, and simmered it until the meat was tender and most of the liquid was gone. To that I added a bit of mustard, a lot of fresh dill, and some sour cream.

Fresh dill and garlic in the ranch dressing, too. I'm very pleased that some of the dill plants re-seeded in time for another round of dill before the freeze.

The cake was Grandma Bishop's chocolate cake. We traditionally have this on the feast day of St. Michael, and the kids get to stab the cake with toothpicks. It's supposed to be a devil's food cake, because St. Michael defeated Satan and threw him from heaven. The feast day was Thursday, but I forgot, so we were a few days late. I don't think St. Michael will mind too much. The kids didn't. They always enjoy stabbing their cake. And eating it, too.

A. and Cubby returned from their hunt at 8 p.m. (minus an elk), just as the other kids were getting into bed. Of course, dinner had to be provided to the hunters. There was plenty of mashed potatoes and meat left. Since A. doesn't eat cake, I gave him some canned peaches with the whipped cream. And then I gave some peaches to the other three kids while Cubby was eating his cake, because it seemed kind of mean to have them sit there watching him eat his cake while they had nothing.


Short version: Breakfast tacos, posole, leftovers, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: A cobbled-together after-work meal. The younger kids had the scambled egg breakfast tacos. A. had yet more posole from the never-ending containers in the freezer. Cubby had leftover beef and mashed potatoes when he got home from football practice. 

And all the kids got to have leftover chocolate cake. No more whipped cream, though. Things get pretty barebones on work days.


Short version: Chicken with curried split peas, rice, raw tomatoes

Long version: I had some chicken still in the freezer from the last rooster we had, so I took that out to thaw while I was at work subbing for the other teacher's aide. When I got home, I just heated the chicken in with the rest of the curried split peas and made some rice.


Short version: Tuna quesadillas, posole, raw green beans

Long version: Third day in a row of work, and my options for leftovers were pretty limited. A. had the last of his posole (not the last in the freezer--just the last of the container I had taken out) and I made some tuna salad. I didn't have any bread, though, so I made some quesadillas with it instead, with just corn tortillas, cheese, and the tuna salad.

This is actually surprisingly good. Like a tuna melt. It's much more appealing on a chilly, rainy night like this one than a pile of cold tuna salad.


Short version: Bull enchiladas, arroz de leche

Long version: A. had mentioned that he thought the processed bull meat would be good in enchiladas.  I didn't have enchilada sauce, so I made some with tomatoes, onion, garlic, green chile puree, cumin, and red chile powder. I didn't have enough, though, so I also used the last bit of roasted tomato and garlic sauce in the refrigerator. The basil in it was undetectable at the end.

And then I still didn't have enough sauce for the top, so I used some pureed salsa.

Making enchiladas with corn tortillas is a pain, because you have to fry each individual tortilla in oil so they don't just dissolve into mush when they're baked in sauce. And then the tortillas are dipped in the sauce before being rolled, so your fingers are just a mess the whole time.

It makes a mess of the kitchen, too.

They are good, though. And A. was right: It was a good use for the bull meat. 

I need more sauce next time, though.

I made arroz con leche because I had four cups of milk that the kids informed me was starting to go off. I didn't want to spend the four hours to make our usual baked rice pudding, so I just made a stovetop version with condensed milk and cinnamon.

It was quicker, but I didn't like the method as much. My stove doesn't cook very low, which was probably most of the problem, because I couldn't get the rice cooked all the way without it sticking to the bottom of the pot. And I didn't want to add a bunch more water. It could have been softer, but it was okay. Tasted pretty good, anyway.

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

T.T.: Refrigerator Dill Pickles

This time of year, my refrigerator has several jars of dill pickles in it. I don't actually can cucumber pickles, because they tend to get softer that way. I like how crisp the refrigerator dills are, so I save my pickle canning for dilly beans and use my cucumbers this way.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles (makes 5 quarts)


6 pounds cucumbers

5 heads dill (or 1 1/4 cup fresh dill or 5 tablespoons dried dill weed)*

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

4.5 cups water

3.5 cups vinegar of 5% acidity 

1/2 cup salt (canning or kosher)


Line up five clean quart jars. They don't have to be actual canning jars, so you can reuse other jars for this. Wide-mouthed ones are easiest, though.

Heat the water, vinegar, and salt--either in the microwave or in a pot of the stove--until the brine is hot and the salt is dissolved.

Into each jar, drop 1 head of dill (or 1/4 cup fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill weed) and one garlic clove.

Wash your cucumbers and slice off the blossom end, then cut them into whatever shape you like. I usually do spears and then top off the spears with rounds of cucumber to fill the jars all the way. Stuff the cucumbers into each jar until they're almost to the top and cover with the hot brine.

Put on the lids and leave the jars on the counter until they're not hot anymore, then put in the refrigerator. Leave at least a day before eating.


This makes a very strong, vinegary pickle. If you open a jar and find it too strong, just pour off a bit of the brine, fill with water, shake it up, and leave it in the refrigerator for another day. The extra water will leach out some of the vinegar in the cucumbers and they'll be milder.

These will keep in the refrigerator for months. At least four months, which is as long as we've ever had them before they were all eaten.

You can re-use the brine/dill/garlic one more time after all the pickles are eaten. Just heat the the brine, etc. again and stuff it with cucumbers again. You can only do this once, though, before the water in the cucumbers will water down the brine too much.

You can also eat the pickled garlic. It mellows a lot over time, but will be pretty fiery at first. My children (and A.) fight over this.

 * The head is the starburst of flower buds that form on the top of each dill plant. If you don't have heads of dill, you can use fresh dill weed or dried dill weed. The dill will float around and stick to the pickles, so it's not as aesthetically pleasing, but will still taste good.

Happy pickling!

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Snapshots: Fall Is Coming

Thanks to my parents, Poppy's bike has been upgraded from a tricycle to her cousin's old bike with training wheels, so there have been many bike rides down our caliche road.


With her faithful attendants, of course.

That road is still providing sunflowers, but not for long.

A. harvested some of the calabazas. There are more, heaven help us all.

We have one gray hen that the other chickens beat up on, so when we locked the chickens in the coop for the heinous crime of pecking at my ripe tomatoes in the garden (off with their heads!), we let her stay out. So now she hangs around the porch with the dogs. Sometimes a little closer than they would like.

Can you see that gray lump in the far right front of the crate? That's the hen. In the crate with poor, long-suffering Odin.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.