Saturday, May 13, 2023

Tips: Doing Windows

The problem with my habit of (over) alliteration is that when I change the day I post something, it doesn't make sense anymore. This, for instance, is a tip. But it's not Tuesday. How annoying.

So I guess we now have non-alliterative tips on whatever day I feel like posting them. 

The chaos is coming for us.

Anyway! It's a good tip! So let's carry on, regardless of the day.

I always seem to have extra-dirty windows. Especially in the kitchen. There are many children putting their grubby little mitts on them, of course, along with, occasionally, their mouths (why do children do this?). So there are many smears on the lower part. 

And then there's the soot from cleaning out the woodstove in the winter, the abundance of swatted flies that smear filth all over in the summer, dust and whatever from open windows in warmer weather . . . 

It's a lot. They just get really gross. And that makes cleaning them something of an operation. But I have a good method for doing it.

Because they are SO dirty--especially the dried smears of fly guts that adhere to the windows--I can't just spritz on some cleaner and quickly wipe it off. I need to scrub them with quite a lot of cleaner first. And then I wipe them clean and get rid of the streaks.

This requires two separate cleaning tools: one for scrubbing, and one for the finish work of de-streaking.

What I have discovered is the best way to do it is to use a small rag for the scrubbing part, and then a paper towel for the second pass.

I often use a piece of cut-up t-shirt to scrub the window, taken from my stash of toilet-cleaning rags. Old socks work well, too, especially if they're turned inside out so the nubbly inside part can be used for scrubbing. In any case, the idea is to have something pretty sturdy to scrub with to start.

I spray the window liberally with a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water, and then scrubscrubscrub until all the solids are off the window. Whatever cloth I'm using will absorb most of the liquid, and the little that is left can be buffed off with a paper towel.

As I move on to more windows, the cloth for the initial scrubbing with get more and more damp, but I can keep using it, because I have the paper towel to do the final shine.

In this way, I can clean five or six windows using the one cloth and only one paper towel. If I were to do this with just paper towels, I would need new paper towels for each window, and as soon as they got damp, they would start to fall apart. A damp cloth doesn't do that.

Now, of course, I could use only another dry cloth to do the second part and not use a paper towel at all, but I find the paper towels really do get all the remaining streaks the best. Since I'm only using one, I don't feel too guilty about it.

And then, when I'm done, I have clean windows free of fly guts through which I can view my drying laundry.

So satisfying.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Friday Food: Boring, Boring, Boring, SNAKE!

One child was having persisent mild stomach upsets, and his dad prescribed a diet of primarily ground beef and rice. That's why A. took out ten pounds of ground beef on Sunday, and I've been cooking it all week.

And then there was Thursday. We did not have ground beef. And if you're easily grossed out, you should probably skip reading about our Thursday meal.


Short version: Bull enchilada casserole, guacamole and chips, margaritas

Long version: Feliz Cinco de Mayo! I actually thought ahead enough to ask A. to get the ingredients for the margaritas and guacomole and chips when he was at the store the week before. Yay, me!

We had the guacamole and chips and margaritas around 4 p.m. Then the kids watched a movie so A. and I could drink our margaritas without interruption.


I made the casserole ahead of time so there would be dinner without me having to cook it right beforehand. Because I find cooking to be a big buzzkill.

It's sort of ridiculous how much planning goes into my having a drink, but I did very much enjoy my margarita.

Incidentally, Cinco de Mayo is not as big a deal here in New Mexico as it was in Arizona. That's because the Spanish people here actually left Mexico about two hundred years before the event celebrated on Cinco de Mayo. They don't consider themselves Mexican at all. They consider themselves Spanish. They don't take any notice of Mexican holidays. 

But I still like to celebrate it, because it's fun.


Short version: Pork ribs, rooster rice, coleslaw

Long version: I overcooked the ribs, so they were kinda dry, but they were still all eaten. I don't usually cover them, but next time I might. It would give me a larger margin for error in my timing.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, leftover rice, sauteed asparagus and mushrooms, leftover coleslaw, ice cream

Long version: I appreciate that coleslaw tastes even better the day after it's made. Not that I ever make it a whole day before I'm planning on eating it, but leftovers that actually improve with age are always nice.


Short version: Ground beef tacos

Long version: Just ground beef with salsa, spices, and onions in store-bought corn tortillas. 

Walmart Lady would not approve.


Short version: Fried rice

Long version: Leftover rice+ground beef+freezer onions+peas+garlic powder+soy sauce+vinegar+ginger. That's it.


Short version: Leftovers

Long version: Hamburgers with bread and butter, or fried rice. Those were the choices. Everyone ate.


Short version: Fried snake, tacos, baked custard

Long version: And here we are. Stop reading now if you're squeamish.

In the afternoon, Cubby shot a bull snake that was coiled right around the eggs in the chicken coop. As he was carrying the snake out, he wondered aloud if it was edible.

The answer, of course, is yes. In actual fact, apparently almost all snakes are edible. Even the venemous ones, provided you chop off the head pretty far up so as to dispose of the venom sac behind the eyes.

Who's hungry yet?

He wanted to cook the snake. Of course he did. He is his father's child.

I stayed inside while he was doing the skinning ("It pulls right off like a sock!") and gutting ("It's pretty gnarly smelling, but it's not as bad as a chicken."). And then I went outside while he dredged it in egg, then in seasoned cornmeal, and then fried it in corn oil.

He plated it up and prepared for the great unveiling.

The suspense was terrible.

Because I was not present for any of the preparations, I was not prepared for the fact that he had not actually cut the thing into smaller pieces. So it really looked like . . . fried snake.

Not our typical dinner fare.

The bones were all still in it, and snakes have a lot of bones, so he had to chop it into smaller pieces with a cleaver. 

The verdict is . . . tastes just like chicken. Very chewy chicken. Almost anything deep fried tastes most like the breading, but I pulled off a bit of plain meat to taste and really, there was no discernible taste at all. Everyone ate it.

There isn't a lot of meat on a snake, though, so I also provided some corn tortillas with cheese and leftover taco meat.

I had made the baked custard for the one child with a sore throat. However, I had also made rhubarb/strawberry jam earlier in the day (I used purchased frozen strawberries, and about twice as much rhubarb as strawberries), so two children chose to have yogurt with jam instead of custard.

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Growing Food: Proper Attire

Have you ever heard of the UV Index? It is, essentially, a number on a scale that tells you how strong the sun is. The higher the number, the more likely you are to get sunburned. You can see a map of it here.

What that map will show you is that the entirety of New Mexico is one big UV lamp. It's worse than the deserts of southern Arizona. Especially at higher altitudes like ours, you just do not mess around with the sun here. 

I unfortunately have a great sensitivity to almost all types of sunscreen, which means that when I go outside, I have to cover up with clothing. And that means that whenever I go out to the garden, I wear this:

Super chic.

What you see there is the world's dorkiest hat, but it shades my entire face and neck AND it has one of those cords to tighten under my chin so it doesn't blow off in our horrible wind.

The shirt is just an oversized thin button-up cotton shirt I bought on Amazon. I put it on over whatever short-sleeved shirt I'm wearing, button it at the neck, turn up the collar, and go about my merry way in our blazing sun.

It ain't pretty, and it certainly isn't fashionable, but it works.

So tell me, fellow gardeners: What do you wear to work in the garden?

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Snapshots: Cute Things

I know you all want to see the lambs first, don't you? Of course you do. They're at the cutest stage now. There are nine so far, and they all hang around in a lamb gang and will randomly pop straight up in the air and then race around with each other. 

Good thing they're not this cute when they get to the eating age.

Bill the pony isn't as cute as the lambs, but let's give him some attention, shall we?

Morning greeting with Odin.

Poppy IS as cute as a lamb, especially when she requests her hair be put into two buns.

This is known as "pig buns" in our house.

It was also very cute when I announced we were having a Cinco de Mayo party, and she ran off to change into her "party clothes."

Watching salsa dancers in a flouncy dress and gold sparkly shoes.

Of course, if it's a party, we have to use the PARTY BLENDER.

What, this doesn't look like a party to you?

I made virgin margaritas for the young ones, non-virgin margaritas for the old ones, guacamole and chips for all. And we listened to salsa music while I made the guacamole. 

It was a pretty low-key party, but fun nonetheless.

And speaking of Mexican things! I bought this cookbook that is curiously called "Mexican Cookbook," even though the recipes are actually New Mexican. The book was written in the 1930s, and the author explained that these traditional recipes date from when New Mexico was still part of the country of Mexico. Given that New Mexico didn't enter the union until 1912, that's not actually too far back.

Anyway, the funniest part of the book is the extremely worried-looking pig on the cover.

Bad luck for him ending up in a lard-loving Mexican kitchen. 

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.