Friday, October 14, 2022

Friday Food: Meat and Potatoes


Short version: Pizza, green salad with ranch dressing, ice cream

Long version: Another bread baking, another opportunity to make pizza. This time I made one with some of the Sysco breakfast sausage, which made the carnivores among us happy.

The ice cream was one of those big gallon-size tubs that A. got when he was at the store this day. The kids were excited to see that much ice cream. I was excited to have that highly useful bucket for chicken scraps when the ice cream is all gone. 

I'm easy to please, obviously.


Short version: Sausage-y meatloaf, baked potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette, cookies

Long version: Since I had to take the big logs of Sysco sausage out to slightly thaw and cut them into more manageable sizes, I left some out and mixed it with a package of ground beef to make meatloaf. This is a good combination because not only does it stretch our small amount of remaining ground beef, it adds some much-needed fat to the lean beef.

Cubby made the cookies because it was 50 degrees and rainy and he wanted to bake something. I had half a can of condensed milk left from making the arroz con leche last week, so I looked up a recipe for cookies using that and found this one.*

They're a type of thumbprint cookie, though the dough was more like biscuit dough or shortbread. Kind of crumbly and dry. He filled some with the last bit of remaining condensed milk, some with the last bit of a jar of peach jam, and the rest with apricot jam. Given that all of those things are pretty runny--I don't use commercial pectin in my jams, so they're runnier than store jam--he filled them first, and then baked them.

The apricot (the darker orange ones in the back) looked the nicest, if you're into aesthetics.

They were very good. Not too sweet, as I was fearing, and the apricot gave a particularly good sweet-tart flavor. A good recipe to have, as it's relatively easy, and doesn't require any eggs.

You might notice that I did actually use parchment paper on the cookie pan, contrary to my usual practice. I figured with all that sugary stuff in somewhat precarious little cups, the likelihood of a spill was pretty high, and I did not want to be scrubbing baked-on jam and condensed milk off that pan.

Good call. And then I used the same parchment on the same pan to cook some winter squash, and then yet again to bake the meatloaf. So I feel I really got all the use out of that one piece that I could. It did make clean-up easier, but the dogs missed out on some delicious fat that soaked into the parchment paper instead of ending up in their dinners.


Short version: Beef and gravy, noodles, green salad with ranch dressing, ice cream

Long version: I took out a package of tenderized round steaks and cooked them with onion, garlic, parsley, diced tomatoes, and beef stock. This is what made the gravy, in the Italian sense. I did thicken the gravy a little bit with cornstarch.

Egg noodles for the kids, with butter, garlic powder, and Parmesan. Those who wanted it could have gravy on their noodles, too.

I figured Cubby checked the homemade dessert box with the cookies the day before, so the kids got to have more ice cream from the giant tub. They were happy with this.


Short version: Leftovers, posole, fried potatoes, raw green beans, milkshakes

Long version: A. had his posole again. This is the last big container from the freezer, finally.

I had baked some extra potatoes on Saturday, so I chopped those and fried them. The kids had these, along with leftover meatloaf and the green beans. I had a salad with the meatloaf in it.

The kids also had milkshakes, because Dad is fun and makes milkshakes on a Monday. As he noted, "I didn't buy that ice cream for decoration."

A. apparently considers Ovaltine to be an essential part of milkshakes. So he put some of that in there. The children approved. 


Short version: Pot roast with potatoes and carrots, green salad with vinaigrette, rice pudding

Long version: A big shoulder roast, pot roasted with onion, garlic, tomatoes and parsley. It looked very festive before it all cooked down.

A very Christmas-y roast.

We've had a really good run of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers for salads this fall. Hooray.

Rice pudding because I had the oven on for so long for the pot roast, anyway. I only made a double recipe this time. Should have made the triple recipe.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: The kids had pot roast, noodles, and raw green beans. A. had his posole. I had eggs with some sauteed calabacitas and tomatoes. 

There was also some leftover rice pudding, but not nearly enough. Definitely should have made the triple recipe.


Short version: Steaks, mashed potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, candy corn

Long version: Candy corn courtesy of my sister, who arrived this day for a weekend visit.

Of course I made an herb butter for the steaks. Most of the family prefers it, and we could have our killing frost at any time now. Which is also the reason I used fresh dill in the ranch dressing. Gather ye herbs while ye may, right?

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

* When I'm looking for a recipe online, I just do a search and almost always use the first hit. Unless it looks really strange, that is. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

T.T.: Just Call Me the Reduction Evangelist

Much like it took me years to come up with the bright idea of seriously reducing my stock before canning it, it took me until, um, now to realize I could do the same thing with tomatoes.

I have canned a lot of tomatoes. Gallons upon gallons. And just this summer did I think to reduce them to about half their volume before canning them. Just like with stock, there's really no need to have all that liquid in the tomatoes. Almost half the jar will be a watery liquid when tomatoes are canned. This means more jars needed to can the tomatoes, and that means more lids. Which are getting harder to find, and more expensive when I do find them.

What I've been doing this summer is sticking a pan of halved tomatoes with nothing but salt into the oven when it's on for something else and baking them uncovered until the tomatoes have reduced by about half. The amount of time this takes depends on how hot the oven is. 

Before . . .

And after. Water, begone!

After the liquid is mostly gone, I puree the tomatoes, most often with my immersion blender. A regular blender or a food processor work, too. Then I can it, using the Ball Blue Book times for tomato puree. I usually end up with four pints, which I can juuust fit covered with water in my largest pot without having to mess around with the giant water bath canner.

This is much easier than prepping and stuffing seven quart jars full of whole tomatoes, and anyway, I never want whole tomatoes in anything I cook. I always end up mashing them when I cook with them. 

One of the greatest benefits to this is not peeling. I really, really dislike peeling tomatoes. Making a puree that includes the skins means no peeling, but also no curled up bits of skin in the food. Bonus.

What do you think I'll discover I should be reducing next? Probably something I should have been reducing all along.

I may be slow, but I get there in the end.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Snapshots: About that Schoolhouse

Many weeks ago, more than one person asked me about the schoolhouse that I sometimes show in my snapshots. And . . . I never answered.

Mea culpa.

Since I appear to have zero photos to share from this week--I guess my life gets less photo-worthy as the school year goes on--I thought I should get back to that interest in the schoolhouse. So here we go!

This is the schoolhouse. 

Bathed in the lovely light of an early morn. Back when there was still light in the early morn.

As you will have guessed, being the highly intelligent people that you are, it is the old school in our ghost village. It's about a hundred yards from us, down one of the village lanes.

It's a very nice two-story brick structure. I don't know the exact year it was built, but I think around the turn of the twentieth century. Several of our neighbors and acquaintances attended this school. It closed in the mid-1950s, and the students from it began attending one of the other schools in the county, which are ten miles in opposite directions from this school.

Unfortunately, the building was purchased by some guy about twenty years ago who started to tear it down and then stopped. So now it's partially dismantled and falling apart. Literally. The kids heard one of the chimneys collapse a couple of months ago. So it's obviously not safe to be in there, and it's really a shame that it wasn't left intact.

The old gym right next to it, however, is intact, and is a beautifully built stone structure. 

That will be the next building on the tour of our mostly-abandoned village. But probably not soon, given my track record.