Friday, December 16, 2022

Friday Food: A Custard Hat Trick


Short version: T-bone steaks, rice, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: The steaks from the most recent cow we got are perfect. Perfect thickness--I got 2-inch steaks last time and that was too thick, but this time I went with 1.5 inches--perfect size, perfect marbling. So good.

I forgot I still had some ranch dressing in the refrigerator that was actually made with the last of the fresh dill that had been hanging out in a jar of water for weeks. Which means I can make fresh dill last until almost Christmas. 

I find these sorts of things fun, yes.


Short version: Pizza, carrot sticks

Long version: Anything interesting about this pizza? Not particularly. I used a bag of roasted tomato sauce for the sauce on them, which is always a good idea. One of them had diced leftover steak on it, so that was pretty fancy.

And I had just enough ranch dressing left for the one child who likes it with his pizza. So long, dill. See you next year.

An old photo of exuberant green beans, just for auld lang syne.


Short version: Bull enchilada casserole, baked custard

Long version: Soldiering on using the bull, even though our new, shiny beef is much more appealing. I had a bag of prepared bull in the freezer. "Prepared" means it was pressure-cooked until tender and then food-processed to shred it up. Even then, it can't be used in anything where you're going to get a big mouthful of it. It's just too chewy.

Enchiladas are a good use for it, because the meat is a thin layer. And enchilada casserole is way less trouble than actual enchiladas.

A. always likes more sauce than I do, so this time I indulged him and used an entire quart jar of pureed tomatoes to make the sauce (onion, cumin, garlic powder, chile powder, green chile, vinegar) for a 15"x10" pan of casserole. Some of the sauce went in with the bull meat and a can of black beans, and then I layered sauce, meat, corn tortillas, more sauce, cheese, etc. 

Everyone likes this, and I really should make casseroles more often. They feel like a lot of work to put together, but it can be done ahead, and making a big one is almost no more time than making a smaller one. And then there are leftovers. Which you know will be featured later on a work day. 

Any casserole recommendations for me? I have about two hundred pounds of ground beef to work with.

I did not overbake the custard. Yay for me!


Short version: Leftover enchilada casserole, cookies

Long version: I found a container of snack cookies I had forgotten were in the small freezer over the refrigerator, so I took those out and the kids had a couple after dinner. Because why not? Every Monday is improved by cookies.

A. had leftover steak and rice, to make sure there was enough of the casserole for the kids. And because he likes steak.


Short version: Shepherd's pie, maple custard

Long version: Cubby had been sick and not eating much since Thursday. No stomach troubles, just a limited appetite and a bad sore throat. I was trying to make relatively soft things he could eat. Shepherd's pie worked.

As did the custard. This custard is much different than the baked custard I usually make. It only has four ingredients--milk, maple syrup, whole eggs, and salt--and is a much thinner, softer custard because there's no cream or extra egg yolks. I don't think it's as good, but it's certainly much easier to make. And I didn't overbake this one, either. 


Short version: Baby shower food, leftover shepherd's pie

Long version: Poppy and Jack stayed at school with me for a baby shower. There we had smoked beef sandwiches, coleslaw, fruit kebabs, pigs in a blanket, and an impressive variety of tiny cupcakes.

The three at home had the leftover shepherd's pie. Also some of the cupcakes we brought home with us.


Short version: Birthday Frito pie, pumpkin custard with whipped cream

Long version: Happy birthday to A.! I didn't actually ask him what he wanted for his birthday dinner, since I was somewhat limited by the fact that I was at Cubby's basketball game with all the kids and we all got home around 6 p.m.

I knew I wouldn't be there to make dinner in the evening, so I made chili in the morning so we could have dinner ready ten minutes after I walked in the door. Not the most elegant of birthday dinners, but tasty.

The pumpkin custard was a double recipe of the filling for this pumpkin pie recipe, baked in a 13"x9" Pyrex. I used our own pureed squash, of course, and it was very good. Very rich too, what with the six eggs and almost three cups of cream in it.

Custard is sort of hard to festively decorate, but it will at least hold birthday candles.

A. was obviously not turning six years old, I just put a row of candles for each digit.

With the pumpkin custard, I was officially three for three in not overbaking my custards. A notable feat for me, indeed.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Tradition Carries On in Song

For the eleventh year in a row, we must sing to the birthday boy. 

That's A., in case you didn't know. And the song we always sing is one I write every year to the tune of "The Candyman Can." I call mine "The Woodchuck Man Can." 

The previous ten versions start here, and if you really want to, you can click your way through the past decade of songs. It might take awhile. That's a lot of songs.

Okay! Here we go!

Who can drive a schoolbus

Through the snow and ice?

Who can build a wall so my garden will look nice?

The woodchuck man

The woodchuck man can

The woodchuck man can

'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him. 

Who can build a truck cage

To transport several lambs?

Who can fix the neighbor's chimney high above the rangeland?

The woodchuck man

The woodchuck man can

The woodchuck man can 

'Cause he uses what he has and makes it work for him.

Happy birthday to A., the most useful woodchuck I know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Season's Greetings from the Wild West

I never did do a Snapshots post on Sunday, but since many of my photos were of Christmas decorations, let's start there.

The wreath truck-loving Jack made at the school crafting event last week.

Saying he made it is kind of stretch, as in actuality he just chose the things to put on the wreath and pointed where he wanted them, and then I attached them. Because I didn't want him wielding a hot glue gun.

Ditto Poppy and the jars she made into candle holders.

The three in the middle are her new ones, and the two on the outside are older ones her brothers made a couple of years ago.

The jars are painted with glue, then rolled in Epsom salts.

I shocked all the women present by admitting that this was the first time in my life I had ever used a hot glue gun. What can I say? I dislike crafting. And although this was a fun event, I still don't have any great desire to hot glue things.


Although we have several festive decorations up, we do not have our tree. As you may recall if you've read here for awhile, we cut a real tree from a friend's ranch every year. But, since we leave it up until Epiphany--12 days after Christmas Day--I don't want to get it too early. So we usually wait until pretty close to Christmas.

I guess Cubby thought that was too long to wait, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He brought in one of the many (MANY) tumbleweeds that are choking the fences everywhere . . .

So. Many. Tumbleweeds.

Propped it in an industrial-sized pinto bean can with some rocks, and decorated it.

The other children all contributed an ornament as well.

And then, of course, we had to adapt the song for the occasion. The best I could come up with was kind of lame, but the children liked it.

O Christmas weed, 
O Christmas weed
You blew across the prairie
O Christmas weed, 
O Christmas weed
You blew across the prairie

We brought you in
Inside a can
To celebrate
God as man . . .

I was informed that this cannot take the place of a real tree, and we must still get one of those so there's enough room for the presents underneath, but until then, we have a Christmas weed.

If I may appropriate another carol . . . It's beginning to look a lot like a Western Christmas.