Friday, March 31, 2023

Friday Food: Salvage Cake


Short version: Spanish tortilla, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: It had been awhile since I had made a Spanish tortilla, and apparently it was long enough that everyone liked it again. Even though, as one child remarked, "This looks a lot more green than I remember."

That's because I put about half a cup of finely chopped beet greens (from the freezer) in it along with the potatoes, onions, eggs, and a lot of grated cheddar cheese.

I should have served this on St. Patrick's Day.

The best part for the children is they get to choose mild salsa, hot salsa, or green chile to put on top. The boys all go with hot. Poppy and I stick to mild. She appears to have inherited my sensitive mouth.


Short version: Vaguely Asian ground beef, rooster rice

Long version: I had taken out a package of ground beef to thaw, but with no clear idea what I was going to do with it. And we had our monthly Saturday Mass, which meant I needed to have it cooked before we left so could just eat when we got home.

I had a tentative plan to make fried rice, which is why I made the rice with rooster stock. I also cooked the ground beef with some onion, and then added garlic powder, ginger powder, soy sauce, and vinegar.

When we got home, I simply heated up the meat, added some frozen peas and the last of a jar of (rinsed) sauerkraut that had been in the refrigerator, and called it done.

And then, of course, not a single child complained about this very slap-dash meal. That's the way it goes sometimes.


Short version: Pizza, green salad with ranch dressing, failed pudding

Long version: I was too lazy to get bacon out of the freezer to cook for one of the pizzas, so it was just one cheese pizza and one with some cooked onions on it.

I experimented a bit with the pudding. I usually make a cornstarch pudding, but I have a LOT of eggs on hand at the moment. However, I hate separating eggs and ending up with a bunch of egg whites, which I definitely would making a double batch of pudding. Also, I wanted to use more cocoa powder than chocolate chips.

It probably would have worked, if I hadn't heated it too fast, thus curdling the eggs. Also, the finished pudding lacked flavor, so I ended up adding some more chocolate chips after all, as well as a bit more salt and some maple syrup.

It tasted good, but it definitely did not have the smooth texture you expect from pudding. The children were not pleased. I wasn't, either. Never fear, though! I salvaged it later in the week. Stay tuned . . .


Short version: Meatloaf, leftover pizza, frozen peas, chocolate cake

Long version: This was how I salvaged the pudding: cake. I unfortunately woke up at 4 a.m., so I went ahead and mixed some of the grainy pudding with flour, baking soda, oil, more sugar, salt, and one more egg. I was literally just throwing things into a bowl, so when the batter seemed a bit thick and like it needed some more flavor, I also added some maple syrup and a bit of the coffee I was brewing.

After it was baked, it seemed a little dry, and still needed more flavor, so I poked holes in it while it was still hot and poured over it a glaze of milk, powdered sugar, and salt.

This made it look sort of diseased, but it improved the flavor and texture quite a bit.

Success! The kids got to have chocolate cake for breakfast, so my unfortunate early waking was a lucky break for them. 

And I got to sing, "Mom is great, give us the chocolate cake," which was highly amusing to me.

Bill had hay for breakfast. No song for that. Yet.

I had actually made the meatloaf the day before when I was baking bread anyway, just to have it for an after-work dinner. Handy.


Short version: Pork, baked beans, rice, green salad with vinaigrette, peach crisp or cake

Long version: I really wanted to finally use up the industrial-sized can of pinto beans we got from the school in, um, 2020. Yeah. So I made one last giant batch of baked beans with them. I froze three quarts of the beans for later and we had some this night with the pork shoulder I cooked in the oven at the same time as the beans.

The last Tuesday of the month is the day the commodities food is delivered, so it's the day I always end up with a bunch of random stuff that was left over. This time, that included six peaches of questionable usefulness. They were definitely not good enough for fresh eating, but since I had the oven on anyway, I peeled and sliced them and put them in a casserole with maple syrup, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice to bake. 

Just as I was about to put them in the oven, I remembered all the packets of maple-flavored oatmeal that had also come from commodities. So I used a few of those, with extra sugar, spices, and butter, to make a crisp topping for the peaches. It came out surprisingly well. 

I mean, it obviously was not as good as would have been with Nick's peaches, but it was at least edible, which is more than I can say for these peaches in their original form.


Short version: Barbecue pork sandwiches, leftover baked beans, cucumbers

Long version: Last month's excess commodities included huge bags of onions. Those are now getting pretty soft and somewhat sprouty, so I've been working on not only cooking the onion, but freezing the excess. 

This is a good idea.

I used some of those cooked and frozen onions in the barbecue pork. Chopping and sauteeing onions is a step I avoid on work days, but if the onions are already cooked and frozen flat in a bag (like the shredded cheese), so I can just break off a chunk and put them in with the meat with some barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mustard? That, I can handle. 


Short version: Sirloin steaks, leftover rice, carrot sticks with curry dip, banana chocolate chip cake with chocolate peanut butter frosting

Long version: More pudding to use up! I still had almost half the pudding left, and that means another cake. With one completely made-up cake under my belt, I knew that I needed more sugar, oil, and chocolate flavor. So I added more sugar and oil, plus a few chocolate chips, to the actual cake, and then made this frosting for the top. I also added two mashed-up bananas because I had them and they were getting overly ripe.

The cake had a much better texture, and the frosting was A+. Definitely remembering that one.

Our lesson for this week is that if you end up screwing up pudding, don't throw it away. There are no recipes anywhere for it, but you can totally make a cake from otherwise unappealing pudding.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Growing Food: Foiled Again

The weather is not cooperating with my planting schedule. You know, the one I totally made up based on St. Patrick's Day and its affiliation with cabbage? 

I mean, how inconvenient that since St. Patrick's Day, which I had arbitrarily decided is the day I plant out my cabbage starts, we've had an unbroken streak of coldcoldcold, WINDWINDWIND, coldcoldcold, hey how about some SNOW?

Also, work.

I was all set to plant the cabbages and kohlrabi today, which is the only day that didn't feature winds above twenty miles an hour all day and is a day I don't have to work. It was supposed to be 31 degrees tonight, which is fine if the plants are in their snuggly plastic milk jugs. I was going to show you the milk jugs! I had a plan!

Then I woke up to a changed forecast calling for 17 degrees tonight. AND wind.

And that means no gardening today.

The next even halfway decent day for planting that I can see is Saturday. If we get out early enough, A. should be able to dig before the wind starts and blows all our topsoil away. And it's not going to be below freezing at night for at least the next few nights, which would give the plants time to get established.

Assuming no change in the forecast between now and then, which of course we can never really assume.


I did plant some cubanelle pepper seeds this weekend in an old mushroom container. Why cubanelle? Because that's what A. found at the store when I asked him to look for banana pepper seeds. I know nothing about cubanelle peppers, but I guess we'll see how they work.

Overly large cabbages in the background, ready to be liberated from their confining pots. 

The peppers are on a heating pad to help them germinate. It's just our regular, oh-my-aching-back heating pad covered in aluminum foil* to protect it from water. I've found that peppers really will not germinate at all without a little heat boost, but since I don't want to have to buy and store a separate heating pad just for seeds, I modified the one I already had.

Of course, those peppers are a long way from being outside, but God willin' and the temperatures don't plummet, those cabbages and kohlrabi will be out this weekend.

* Ha, I just realized I can make a really good joke here about the heating pad being foiled again. And then my post title is a pun. Okay, maybe not a really good joke, but a joke, anyway.

Sunday, March 26, 2023


I just today realized that March 23 is the anniversary--or is it birthday?--of Going Country. 

That means that as of last Thursday, I have been writing here for fifteen years.

Definitely just blew my own mind.

Bill is shocked, too.

I guess I'll just carry on then, shall I?

Snapshots: Spring Things . . . and Cold

I cribbed the title from the sign I put up in the school library, yes.

The signs of spring are all around! Including blossoms on the apricot tree.

Which will almost certainly perish in the next couple of nights when the temperatures get into the low twenties. Happens every year.

Spring here means high winds. And that means I must now use the laundry lines in the more-sheltered backyard.

Not so good for clothes to be whipping around in 30-mile-an-hour winds.

It looks as if all of the rhubarb plants are coming up.

This precocious plant was the first to come up.

Rhubarb is fairly cold-hardy, but I think 20 degrees will be too much for it. We'll have to cover the plants for a couple of nights, at least.

Cubby is part of the livestock judging team in his FFA chapter. This involves judging a whole bunch of different animals (bulls, steers, pigs, ewes, goats) for different marketability characteristics. They have to give their reasons for their judgements, too. His team went to the district judging contest last week and he left this instructional sheet on the table.

I speak English well, but this might as well be Greek to me.

They did well enough that they're going to the state competition this next week in Las Cruces. He has to iron his clothes for FFA competitions, and he requested laundry starch for a more professional result.

Poppy was not a fan of the smell.

Good thing she was prepared with goggles and a mask.* 

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* Yes, he is ironing on the table. I don't own an ironing board, because I iron maaaybe once a year, and I don't want to store one.