Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday Food: Gone Fishin'

This post coming to you from the Gulf coast of Texas. Surprise! Our kids had never seen the ocean, and at least some of them were excited about saltwater fishing. So we decided to make the long (looong) drive to the nearest ocean to us, which is the Gulf of Mexico. That is why I am typing this from our rental house in Port Aransas, Texas. That is also why I don't have any photos. They don't seem to be loading.

Don't worry. We'll be home Sunday and I can post all the photos then. Until then, photo-less food!


Short version: Stir-fry, rice

Long version: I had taken out a couple of quart bags of already-cooked and shredded beef rib meat. I used one to make tamale filling, and one to make the stir-fry. The stir-fry also used up quite a lot of the vegetables I brought home from the school salad bar, including mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and carrots.

I got all the kids into the kitchen with me to actually make the tamales this day too, so I wouldn't have to do it on Christmas Day.


Short version: Baked ham, scalloped potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, chocolate roulade

Long version: This was a ham I bought before Thanksgiving when I was getting our turkey. Cubby had requested I cook it for Christmas, but the rest of the family was unwilling to give up their tamales. So we had the ham on Christmas Eve instead. 

It was a spiral ham, which I've never cooked before. Not as wet, but easier to dry out while cooking, as well. I baked it covered, and then poured over a mixture of mustard, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and water for the last half hour or so. I didn't have pineapple juice to make the Best Ham in the World that my family raves over, but it was still good.

Scalloped potatoes are definitely a special occasion side dish for me to make, because I really dislike slicing all those potatoes with the mandolin part of my grater. Since I was doing it, though, I made a full 13"x9" Pyrex of them (potatoes, salt, pepper, Parmesan, milk, and cream). And then I forgot to put a pan under the casserole, resulting in dripping milk/cream all over the bottom of my oven and SO MUCH SMOKE.

Rookie mistake.

Good thing it was warm enough to open the windows. Not warm, you understand, but warm enough. At least not as frigid as the previous two days.

I always make a chocolate roulade for Christmas or Christmas Eve, using the recipe in my old Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home cookbook. The recipe is online, too. Apparently, Martha Stewart has discovered it. She also posted a video of Jacques and Julia making the roulade, which is fun. 

This was the show that A. and I used to watch in our basement apartment in Albany, NY. That's where I got the cookbook, too, from the bargain bin of a Barnes and Noble.

One of these years I'll think ahead enough to get good chocolate to make it, but this year, as all previous years, I've just used store-brand chocolate chips, and it's still delicious.


Short version: Tamales, eggnog, molasses cookies

Long version: Tamales are a New Mexico tradition for Christmas, and a delicious tradition they are. I make mine with beef and beef tallow instead of lard and pork, because I find they re-heat better that way. Also, I have a lot of beef on hand.

I use this recipe for eggnog, which neatly takes care of all the egg yolks leftover from the roulade.

And this recipe for the cookies. Of course.


Short version: Carnitas, leftover scalloped potatoes, sauteed spinach

Long versio: A. brought home some giant packages of pork shoulder that I separated into pieces and froze. This was one of the pieces, cooked slowly in the oven in my enameled Dutch oven. When it was tender, I just pulled it into pieces and fried it in its own rendered tallow to crisp it up.

That in combination with the potatoes made for a pretty heavy meal.


Short version: Grudging chili, tortillas and cheese

Long version: We left about 7 a.m. this morning for Texas and didn't stop until around 5 p.m. in Eden, Texas. There was a microwave in our hotel room, but I didn't plan very well for dinner. I had grabbed a couple of containers of frozen chili and put them in the cooler, but our cooler is so good that they were still mostly frozen solid. And the containers weren't really microwavable. So I ran hot water on the outside of one container until I could gouge out bits and put them in a jar to microwave.

I managed to get enough for everyone to eat this way with their microwaved corn tortillas and cheese, but it was a battle.


Short version: Sausage sampler, crackers and swiss cheese, raw tomatoes and broccoli

Long version: I took Cubby and Poppy to the grocery store when we arrived at our rental house in Port Aransas, Texas, and Cubby requested sausage. This small store actually had a good sausage selection, so we ended up getting four kinds, including the two we ate this night: smoked beef sausage, and boudin. Boudin is a Cajun sausage of mostly rice and pork. I guess we were close enough to Louisiana for it to be in the store. 

It was quite spicy, but very tasty, and Cubby declared it his new favorite sausage.


Short version: Fresh whiting, yay!, and leftover french fries

Long version: We went fishing in the morning on a charter boat that took us out just beyond the bay and into the gulf. This isn't a great time of year for fishing, and the deckhands said last week's cold snap drove the fish away, so all we (I use this term loosely, as I do not actually fish) caught were catfish and whiting. The catfish were thrown back. The whiting were kept by the boat's crew for bait. 

But when we were disembarking, A. asked if he could have some for our own bait, as he was planning on fishing all day the next day. They obligingly gave him about a dozen, the largest of which were maybe 12 inches long. A. cut up the smaller ones for bait, but the three largest ones he cooked. He had some vague memory of hearing whitefish is used to make fish sticks and so forth, and is actually a good eating fish.

They were, indeed, delicious. Although I can only say that secondhand, because I didn't eat anything. Neither did Poppy or Calvin. After our fishing trip in the morning, we went to the seafood restaurant next to the wharf for lunch, and there all the boys absolutely stuffed themselves with enormous platters of various fried sea things. They ate every bit except the french fries. I brought those back to the rental with us and re-heated them in a pan on the stove in some butter. 

The three fish and the leftover fries were enough for the three who ate. 

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Very Special Tuesday

Because it's my birthday, yay! This is me 38 years ago.

Attired in the height of '80s fashion.

We're doing something very special today, but you'll probably have to wait until Friday for any photos or anything.

A birthday cliffhanger. Dramatic.

Have a nice day, and feel free to eat some cake in my honor.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Snapshots: The Christmas One, Of Course

A little late, because, well, Christmas. But lots of opportunities for photos!

Our priest celebrates Christmas Mass at five different churches that span a distance of over one hundred miles. So the services are split between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Mass at our church is at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.


It's hard for modern lights to not look very glare-y in photos. This one through the church window is slighly less harsh.

This is the Christmas tree Poppy and I decorated on Wednesday after work/school.

The children first tried to get up at 4 a.m. to open presents despite clear instructions to wait until 5:30 a.m.("You said we could get up at 3:30!""No, son, I assure you I DID NOT.") After being sent back to bed, the revelry commenced at 5:30 a.m.

Christmas early-morning stocking dump.

A blurry shot of the after-opening scene.

One of the gifts opened was a remote-control unicorn, specifically requested by Poppy. I was very hesitant to include this on the list for the grandparents, because I hate stuff like this (electronics+weird girly stuff), but I did and my parents got it for Poppy. It is, indeed, as weird and creepy as I feared.

And has to be plugged into the USB port on my bedside table clock. (In the mouth? Why?)

But she absolutely loves the thing*, so I don't regret requesting it on her behalf.

Things took a turn for the distinctly more labor-intensive in the afternoon when A. and I had to do some manual labor to get my washing machine working. After many days of The Arctic Blast, the drain pipe for the washing machine was not draining. It drains out of pipe that runs under our (trailer) house and into the back pasture. 

We figured it was frozen. So we cut it where it comes out from under the house and flushed it with hose water when it got warm enough for the hoses to run. This required me to hack out a drainage trench with an adze.

It worked! Yay!

This enabled me to do three loads of laundry that were desperately needed.

My gift to myself this Christmas was clean clothes. Because I am all about self-care.

As soon as the boys saw the water flowing into the trench as the water drained out of the washing machine, they were very enthused about expanding the drainage trench.

Inadvertant Christmas entertainment.

Our Christmas feast featured tamales, as is traditional in New Mexico. 

Also eggnog and molasses cookies, which are not traditional here, but who cares? They taste good.

We actually made the tamales two days ago and kept them in the refrigerator.

The picture looks like so many happy little elves helping in the kitchen. In reality, there was a lot of jockeying for space at the counter and complaining about sticky masa or breaking corn-husk ties. So festive.

We had a very nice sunset to end the day.

It never looks as good in a photo, though.

When I went out to take that photo, I heard the dogs barking from a distance and saw them in the neighbor's pasture, barking furiously at a completely unimpressed bull.

They were entirely unrepentant when they came home in response to my call.

There you have it! Our Christmas, snapshotted.

* Its name, in case you were wondering, is Fantastic Great Brilliant. Because of course, according to Poppy, it is all those things.