Friday, November 18, 2022

Friday Food: Going Pro

Our school cook was out sick all week, and I was asked to sub for her. So I got paid to cook this week. Not something I have ever had a great desire to do, and not something I really want to do again in the future, but I got it done. So this week's post will have the added bonus of what I cooked at school, as well as what I cooked at home. All I did was follow the menu already planned out.

I'm very tired of cooking now.


Short version: Pot roast with potatoes and carrots, frozen green peas

Long version: Still working my way through the big roasts in the freezer in preparation for filling the freezer in a couple of weeks with the cow we bought from a neighbor. 

In related news, I didn't actually ask for any roasts except brisket for this cow we have coming. My cut sheet for the butcher asks for pretty much steak and ground beef. Plus bones for stock and all the gross stuff for the dogs.

Because what's the point of custom butchering if I can't get exactly what I want?

Maybe I'll find I get tired of steak and hamburger, but since those are the things I get most excited about actually using, I figured I'd go for it.


Short version: Beef soup, cheese, blueberry muffin cake

Long version: All the leftovers from the pot roast, plus some extra onion, a jar of beef stock, and some green chile. Tasty, if unexciting. 

I made a double recipe of these muffins, but spread in a 13"x9" Pyrex instead of in muffin cups. It's supposed to be a muffin recipe, but I just call it cake, because that's pretty much what it is. Delicious, but questionable as a healthy breakfast option. It is good for dessert, however, and much appreciated by the children. Especially after a dinner of soup.


Short version: Roast chicken, roasted potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, math cookies

Long version: These were the two chickens from the four A. butchered awhile ago that he thought were young enough for roasting, rather than just for stock.

The math cookies were a recipe for no-bake cookies Cubby brought home from school. His math teacher had his class make the cookies because they were working on doing stuff with fractions, so they had to convert decimals into fractions and double it. Or maybe halve it. 

I'm not clear on the actual mathematical functions that were involved, but the end result was cookies. Cubby liked them so much that he asked for the recipe to bring home, and that's the one I used. They only have peanut butter, honey, oats, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and vanilla in them (and coconut, which I didn't have), and were much less sweet than any other no-bake cookie I've ever had. That, in addition to the protein in the peanut butter and nuts, actually makes them a pretty respectable cookie, nutrition-wise.

I love that he actually titled it "Math Cookies."


Short version: Leftover beef soup, pizza, carrot sticks

Long version: I had made the crust for one (half-sheet-pan-size) pizza the day before while I was baking bread. The crust was baked, and I had baked some of the sauce on it, too. I stuck the whole pan in the refrigerator, and then when I got home from work, all I had to do was grate asadero cheese to top it and bake it all another ten minutes or so.

This works well, although it does require a lot of space in the refrigerator.

At school this day, all I had to do was boil some hot dogs and heat up an industrial-sized can of pork and beans. 


Short version: Cafeteria hot dogs, chicken-stock rice, frozen green peas

Long version: There were some hot dogs left from school lunch on Monday, which I brought home. I fried them in butter to warm them up. I didn't have any buns, so I made rice instead, with some of the chicken stock I was simmering on the stove from the two chicken carcasses.

At school this day, I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal for seventy people. Granted, most of it was pre-made, but it was still a lot. Turkey (just breasts) and gravy (from a packet), mashed potatoes (not pre-made--it takes about an hour to peel and chop potatoes for seventy people, in case you were wondering), mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows (yuck, but a specific request), rolls (frozen), and pumpkin pie (fully cooked and frozen) with generic Cool Whip. 

It was very odd to be "cooking" all that pre-prepared food, but I wasn't about to volunteer to make half a dozen pies and several dozen rolls from scratch, so frozen it was.


Short version: Chicken slop with peas, leftover rice, peaches

Long version: I had pulled the rest of the meat off the chicken carcasses after simmering them for several hours to make and reduce chicken stock. I chopped up that meat and heated it with some of the stock--thickened with corn starch--and frozen peas and served that over the rice.

I wasn't sure anyone would really eat that much of this, but of course they all loved it and wanted seconds and thirds. There wasn't enough for that, though, so I got out a jar of peaches and everyone got some of those after dinner.

At school, I made nachos, which featured cheese sauce from a can, ground beef, and pinto beans. And some chips that were stale because the bags had apparently popped open due to the elevation gain getting to our school. They weren't stale when I served them, though, thanks to the MiL's trick of spreading stale chips on a baking sheet and baking them in a low oven until they're crispy again.

In this way, I saved two large bags of tortilla chips. Thanks, MiL.


Short version: Lotta stuff

Long version: Cubby's team was playing in a basketball tournament in a town an hour away. We got out of school a couple of hours early for our Thanksgiving break, so Poppy and I hopped in the van and went to the tournament. Poppy got a corndog at the concession stand there, and Cubby got a cheeseburger and chips. 

When we got home around 7:15 p.m., we all had some of the leftovers from the school lunch, which were mashed potatoes and meatloaf. A. had some of that, too.

A. brought the other two home after school and fed them quesadillas with canned refried beans and cheese before they went to judo.

They got home around the same time we did, and the children all got a small sliver of the last piece of cafeteria pumpkin pie with the fake whipped cream that was also from the cafeteria.

At school, I made meatloaf and re-heated the mashed potatoes and rolls from Tuesday. 

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

A New Mexico Tradition

I have learned many new things since moving to New Mexico, a place with a very long and unique history. One of those things is the job of a church mayordomo. 

There's a little history of the word and its associations here, but in the present day, the mayordomo is what is referred to as a sacristan elsewhere. Mayordomos care for the church and prepare for the service. So, cleaning, turning on (and off) the heat in the winter, opening and closing the church for services, ringing the bell, making sure all the proper materials are on hand before services, and so on.

Our very small church only had two ladies doing this, and they really wanted some more help. Which is how I ended up being a mayordomo in a tiny village in New Mexico.

Because I have to get there early and stay after Mass, I go in a separate vehicle. A. brings the kids later. This means that when I unlock the door at 7:15 a.m., I get to go into a completely silent church.

A bit dark, too, since I have to turn on the lights, obviously.

As I was sitting in there Sunday morning before anyone else showed up, I was thinking how rare it is nowadays to be in a building that really is completely silent. No humming machines or movement of any kind. When the heat is off in the church, it is really silent. 

So restful.

And then I shatter the silence by ringing the bell, which is actually pretty fun because it's a real bell with a long rope to yank on. How many people get to do that anymore?

Although I am a somewhat reluctant mayordomo, there are some compensations. Silence and bells. Both rare in the modern world, but still appreciated.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Snapshots: Seasonal Decor

Okay, so I'm actually not really into "seasonal decor" because I have nowhere to store it when it's not in-season. And because I just can't be bothered to change things like that out all the time. I can barely keep my house picked up and clean, much less with seasonal decoration.

But if I have to move all the squash into A.'s office anyway so it doesn't freeze in the 18-degree night . . .

Seasonal! (My mother gave me the metal Pilgrim turkey almost 20 years ago. Yikes.)

"Why am I seeing pumpkins everywhere?" Poppy asked. Because they're seasonal decor, child! 

Most of the squash were too big to be used as decorations, though, so they got stored in a festive (and seasonal!) pile under the front of A.'s desk.

The wires are not seasonal. They're always there. 

Not pictured are the seven GIANT calabazas that also went into A.'s office. I'm sure all this squash in there will increase his productivity. Ahem.

Another change to the house due to the season is the addition of two lights in the dining room part of the kitchen. There has never been quite enough light in there, despite two wall lights and a light over the table. I spent a LONG TIME looking at light fixtures online before buying two matching plaster ones that we hung on either side of the dining room. 

Let there be light.

It's hard to photograph lights, and it looks kinda weird in that picture, but I love them. Just enough light added to the room that I don't feel as if I'm squinting into the gloom while we eat, but not so much that I'm squinting from the glare. Yay.

And last, basketball season begins Monday.

The requisite huge shoes have been purchased, and we're ready to go.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.