Friday, March 3, 2023

Friday Food: Some Failures


Short version: Tuna melts, carrot sticks, gritty fudge

Long version: The only children home with me were Cubby and Poppy, as A. had taken the other two to a judo tournament. The children at home implored me to make tuna melts for dinner. I was happy to oblige with such an easy dinner.

I had a salad with fried eggs and pecans in it.

I made the fudge because I had half a can of evaporated milk left from making the pralines. I've never made fudge before, and I don't have a candy thermometer, and I also didn't have the chocolate chips called for in the recipe I used. I substituted cocoa powder and butter. I don't know if it was that, or my lack of thermometer (and expertise), but it turned out very gritty. Tasted okay, but the texture was not creamy.

The kids ate it anyway, of course.


Short version: Ground beef and bean chili, cornbread, improvised chocolate cookies

Our monthly Saturday Mass was this day, and that means we don't get home until about 5 p.m. I made the chili ahead of time, obviously.

I mostly made the cornbread ahead of time, too, by mixing up the wet and dry ingredients separately, and then combining them when we got home. I used this recipe for the first time. It was okay, although a little gritty. I think it would have been better with half cornmeal and half masa (the finely ground nixtamalized cornmeal used for tortillas).

Anyway, it was convenient to have it all ready to go when we got home, and also convenient to have on hand when A. got home with the other two around 7 p.m.

The cookies were pretty much completely made up. I needed to fill the cookie jar, and still didn't have any chocolate chips. So I had the idea to melt the gritty fudge and use that to make chocolate cookies. I also added some peanut butter and walnuts.

They didn't come out particularly well. Sort of stodgy and with not enough chocolate flavor. So I melted more fudge and kind of frosted the top of the cookies with that, which helped.

Oddly, after sitting for a day in the cookie jar, the cookies were much improved and actually pretty good. They got more moist somehow. I don't know how that works, but I'm glad it did.

Salvage cookies.


Short version: Pizzas, green salad with vinaigrette, supposedly-maple/mocha custard

Long version: One cheese pizza, one with bacon and onion. 

And now, the custard.

Cubby got me a book at a library discard sale that is a collection of recipes from the lady behind the Storey books (the ones that are all about raising animals and other homesteading kinds of things). He got it for me over a year ago, and I had never made any of the recipes in it. So I decided to try one.

It was a custard recipe that used maple syrup as the sweetener and main flavoring agent, with the addition of a small amount of cocoa powder and coffee. It looked interesting, so I made it.

When we tasted it, however, it was oddly flavorless. Definitely needed more sweet, and I think also a bit more salt. When I thought about it, though, I couldn't remember actually adding the maple syrup. 

Yeah. I forgot the maple syrup in a maple custard

I added syrup to everyone's bowls and stirred it in, which of course improved it quite a lot. Since it didn't actually have any sweetener in it at all to start with. 



Short version: Bunless hamburgers, leftover hot dogs, leftover pizza, bread and butter, frozen green beans

Long version: I had a few cooked hamburgers left from the ones I made the night before just for me, so I wouldn't have to eat pizza.* And then there was enough uncooked ground beef to make a few more hamburgers. In the pan with the cooking hamburgers, I also put in some of the hot dogs left from the school lunch. 

One kid wanted hot dogs, the rest wanted hamburgers. A. got both. Everyone got one slice of leftover pizza, and then bread and butter if they were still hungry.


Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, raw cabbage

Long version: If I actually cook, it's because I'm not at work. Funny how that works. (Ha.)

The kids ate the raw cabbage, as is their preference. A. and I prefer it cooked, so we ate the sauerkraut. I still have at least half a dozen pints of sauerkraut. I just need to remember it's there.


Short version: Leftover meatloaf and hot dogs, fried potatoes, raw cabbage . . . again

Long version: Well, at least I cooked the potatoes even though it was a work day. I baked extra potatoes so I could use them this day. Which I did, by chopping them and frying them in butter and olive oil.

So energetic of me.

Want to see where I work?

The view from my desk. Although this is misleading, as my desk is just kind of stuck in a corner of a room that is used for a lot of other things, and I'm only at my desk for about half an hour out of the whole day. I move around a lot, which is nice, actually. I wouldn't want to stare at this all day.


Short version: Steaks, rice, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I did work this day, too--subbing--but it was an early release day. Good thing, as the MiL arrived for a visit, and although I'm sure she wouldn't have made any disparaging comments about leftovers, it's not really the welcome dinner anyone hopes for. Steaks are better.

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

* Not that I don't want to eat pizza. It's just that I shouldn't.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Growing Food: The Nopes

I have grown quite a wide variety of different vegetables in gardens over the years. Although it's always fun to experiment, now, as an older and wiser (and more tired) gardener, I have less patience to devote to things that are a consistent challenge or that I just don't like that much. 

I'm going for maximum food for minimum effort, true, but I also have no interest in having bushels of kale on hand, even though it's easy to grow, prolific, and long-producing. I just don't like kale much. So I don't grow it. Along with these things . . .

Swiss chard--I feel about swiss chard the way I feel about kale: I should like it, but I don't.

Ground cherries--I got a free packet of these with a seed order years ago and finally tried them a couple of years ago. I really wasn't fond of the flavor. Off the list and out of the garden.

Mushrooms--I actually really wish I could grow mushrooms, but it's way too dry here. I just don't have the perseverance necessary to keep an inoculated log damp in this climate. I can barely keep the drought-hardy plants watered.

This sun is no friend to mushrooms.

Broccoli--I do love broccoli from the garden. I do NOT love the cabbage worms that are inevitably in the broccoli from the garden. Even soaking in salt water won't get them all. They hide in the florets so well you don't see them until they're floating in the steaming water. Gross. After one too many meals featuring worms, I gave up. Actually, the breaking point was probably the time A. found a cabbage worm in his broccoli, and, to the delight of our toddler sons at the time, ate it.* Kind of ruined garden broccoli for me.

Onions--I never succeeded in getting onions of any reasonable size from the garden. And there are few things more irritating than having to peel and chop a dozen tiny onions just to have enough for a recipe. Give me those baseball-sized store onions every time. Although I am going to try some green onions this year. I like them in my salads, and they're stupid expensive (and perishable) to buy.

Celery--I never grew this myself, but I remember the MiL growing it a couple of years, and it was always much greener, tougher, and more bitter than store celery. I suspect the issue was lack of water. Since that issue is much more of a problem here than New York, I'm not even going to attempt celery in my High Plains garden.

Of course, the great thing about growing a garden is that you can grow whatever you want (and have the patience for). So while I think it's worth it to devote a bed to space-hogging kohlrabi and will persevere with watering beets, you might think those are a total waste of space and time.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners! What vegetables have you banished from your garden, and why?

* And then remarked drolly, "The worm tasted better than the broccoli." Such a card, that A.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Snapshots: Let's See . . .

A whole bunch of random shots this week. 

Cubby invented a game using the money from our old Game of Life. There were countries and revolutions and invasions and it all sounded very complicated and aggressive. But they all played it for hours, so I guess it was a hit. 

Oh, and the GIANT box in the background of this photo was a spaceship Cubby made. Unrelated to the game, but also very popular this day.

Popular with the children, anyway. Not so popular with me, as it made it somewhat difficult to get to my chair in the far corner of the room.

Cubby also finished the knife that I showed you on his birthday.

Styled after a Mexican fighting knife, which was in turn based on a Bowie knife. And if you know what any of that means, you would love it at my house.

How about something less combative now? Yes. 

Let's check in on the famous windmill.

Standing tall at sunrise.

We are at the dead, dry, brown part of the year when I start to really yearn for any hint of color on my morning walks. Unfortunately, we're still a few months out from any wildflowers, so all I got is dead sunflower heads.

They do glow nicely in the light from the rising sun, at least.

And last, back to combat! 

A. took the two younger boys to the state judo championships in Colorado this weekend. It was their very first tournament. They both fought well, and, more importantly to me, didn't get injured.

I was home with the other two children, so I don't have any photos of the battle at the Colorado dojo (as A. kept calling it), so here's one of their judo gis drying on the line.

Getting these washed and dried takes considerable planning, because they're incredibly thick and take forever to dry, even on a sunny day.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.