Saturday, December 10, 2022

Farewell To a Good Old Horse

Sadly, today we had to say good-bye to Samson

He was the horse all our children learned to ride on. He was extraodinarily well-trained, and had a remarkably gentle and steady temperament. I trusted him with my children, even when they were toddlers, and he never hurt any of them.


However, he was very, very old. We don't know exactly how old, but he was probably in his mid-20s, which is notably old for a horse as large as he was.

He came to us because his old teeth were no longer up to rangeland grazing. He spent his final years with us eating hay and senior horse feed, taking the children on rides, sometimes herding sheep, and hanging around with Bill the pony.

A pretty good horse retirement. But it had to end sometime, and now it has.

So long, Samson. You will be missed.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Friday Food: Catch as Catch Can


Short version: Pot roast, rice in chicken stock, coleslaw, pureed squash

Long version: I used the very last of the garden tomatoes in the pot roast.

Sayonara, my friends.

I also used the last two small cabbages from the fall garden in the coleslaw, leaving the squash as the only fresh produce left from this year's garden.


Short version: Barbecue beef, garlic bread, rice, leftover coleslaw

Long version: Leftover pot roast became the barbecue beef. I had made the garlic bread earlier in the day when I was baking bread, but then it all got eaten in the late afternoon, so I actually served rice with dinner.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, oven fries, canned corn, blueberry muffin cake

Long version: The first of our new beef I tried was ground beef to make cheeseburgers. They were really good. This cow we got actually had some fat, so the ground beef isn't too lean. YAY.

I used saved chicken fat to make the oven fries and they, too, were very good. Fat is the secret to everything.

I'm still trying to use up the old Sysco blueberries in the freezer, so I made a double batch of these muffins in a Pyrex pan. Because it was meant to be a dessert, I made a glaze for it with powdered sugar and lemon juice, which not one child liked. And half of them announced they don't like the blueberries, either.

Okay, then. Guess I won't make that anymore.


Short version: Leftovers, bread and butter, peaches

Long version: Pot roast, hamburgers, baked beans from the freezer, supplemented with bread and butter and, after dinner, canned peaches.


Short version: Breakfast sausage patties, tomato soup, leftover french fries

Long version: Poppy and I went to the dentist this day, and then out to lunch afterwards.

At a very old, and very cool, Mexican restaurant.

I got tacos, which had the option of additional "burnt cheese" listed on the menu. I suspected this would be something like frico, and sure enough, the waitress told me they fry the cheese on the pan, then add the tortilla, and then the taco fillings before folding it all up. 

I had to try it. It was delicious, although I think the extra fried cheese was unnecessary. Especially because the corn tortillas were obviously homemade and didn't need anything to make them tasty.

So much food.

As can see, my tacos came with a pile of french fries, none of which I needed after eating three tacos wrapped in fried cheese. Poppy's chicken quesadilla also came with fries. We brought all the leftover fries home, and I re-heated them in a skillet for everyone else to enjoy.

I myself was so full from my lunch that I didn't eat again for 24 hours.

The tomato soup was a big pot Cubby had made over the weekend. Three of the four children will eat it, which is pretty good for a soup.


Short version: Bean and cheese quesadillas, leftover sausage, peaches and cottage cheese

Long version:  We didn't get home from Mass until 5:45 p.m., after a work day for me. Which is why I made quesadillas for the kids with flour tortillas, canned refried beans, and cheese. They were happy with this.

Also happy with the peaches and cottage cheese. These were my canned peaches, which are WAY better than commercial canned peaches. Unsurprisingly.


Short version: Snacks, chowder, pasta

Long version: The family split for dinner this night. A. brought Calvin home from school and fed him before judo. He had pasta with meat sauce. I made it earlier in the day to use the rest of the ground beef from a couple of days earlier, and the last of the bag of roasted tomato sauce that had been hanging around for several days, along with just the pasta from two boxes of macaroni and cheese. This made something that looked very much like Hamburger Helper.

A. ate some salmon chowder I had made earlier in the day for Cubby, who was sick with a bad sore throat. He managed to eat some of the pasta, though.

Poppy, Jack, and I went to a holiday "make and take" event at school. We made different crafts--ornaments, wreaths, etc.--and ate finger foods, popcorn, and hot chocolate.

The finger foods: mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, and pizza rolls.

The two kids also ate some of the pasta when we got home.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

This One Is Better

I was so pleased that several of you also know of and love "Still, Still, Still." Particularly that the anonymous someone with Austrian grandparents now knows the name of the song her grandparents used to sing. That's so great.

It's not a very well-known carol. The only reason I know it is because my mom and I had a tradition of going to my university's choir concert/dinner every December, and they always sang it there. 

As I mentioned yesterday, though, I find it very hard to find good performances of the Christmas songs I really like. I don't enjoy large choral arrangements, but it's difficult to find solo artists that sing carols traditionally. Especially the less well-known hymns.

But! I found a version of "Still, Still, Still" I like better than the a cappella version I posted yesterday. I really appreciate how the woman singing (Sarah Gregory) has a very pleasant voice but doesn't sound overtly trained. Sort of like if your friend with the really good voice was singing it in your living room.

And while we're on the subject! One of my other favorite Christmas hymns is "O Holy Night." Josh Groban has a good version, although his voice is, obviously, much more trained.

I guess although I appreciate professionals and their fantastic voices as instruments, I feel like Christmas carols should be accessible to anyone to sing. Hearing someone like Josh Groban sing is sort of intimidating for an average singer like myself.

As for the Christmas carol I most enjoy singing myself, that would be "Joy to the World," without question. It's so fun to sing, and really does sound, well, joyful. It's impossible to be down while singing this song.

How about you? What are your favorite Christmas songs? And do you have any recommendations for really good Christmas albums for me?

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Sound of Silence

When you look at this picture, what do you hear?

Nothing, right? It's just a picture! There's nothing to hear!

Except that's what I actually heard when I took this photo in that spot.

It's not usually silent on my morning walks. In the summer, there's a cacophony of birds and far more traffic on the paved road a half mile away. Any time of year, there's likely to be at least some wind whistling past my ears.

But in the winter, before the sun is even up, if there is no wind and no one happening to drive on that paved road while I'm walking, I can stop and hear the blissful sound of . . . silence.

I don't know if you've ever really heard silence before. It is certainly pretty much impossible in a man-made environment. It's not very common even in nature. The only times I've experienced true silence are in winter, often after a snowfall, when everything is muffled and the animals aren't moving around**.

But here, even when there isn't any snow, I can sometimes go out for a morning walk and stand still in perfect silence*.

Bliss. And the perfect counterbalance to a season that is, despite all the joy, a very loud one.

* What's funny is that perfect silence actually sounds a bit like faint ringing, I suppose because at such times it's actually possible to hear my own blood moving.

** Which reminds me of my favorite Christmas carol, an Austrian song called "Still, Still, Still." It's hard for me to find good versions of carols like this, because they tend to be sung by large choirs, which sounds beautiful but makes it hard to actually hear the words. Here's an a cappella version by a men's group in which you can hear the lyrics, although it's not my favorite version. 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Snapshots: Meat!

Tea, rye crisps, and Hop on Pop. Living our best lives, for sure.

Battle gear for a horribly windy day that was blowing dirt all over. Everyone needed a shower when they came inside. Gross.

We used a new butcher this time for the cow we bought from our neighbors, and the meat came back to us in these feed sacks. First time I've ever seen it not in boxes. Not that it matters, actually. Boxes or bags, it will still drive Odin crazy.

This freezer has most of the fruits and vegetables, all the older meat to be used*, and now, a couple hundred pounds of ground beef. Yay!

The other freezer has all the rest of the beef--mostly steaks--a random box of bell peppers, and the box with all the bags of tomato sauce. 

And last, some of our minimal Christmas decorations.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* All that was left of the steer we got last year was the tongue and a package of brisket. I still have about fifteen pounds of bull meat, though.