Friday, May 19, 2023

Friday Food: A Canned Food Week


Short version: Sloppy joes, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: We went to our neighbor's canyon property in the afternoon to cut firewood. He had yanked up a bunch of cedars by the roots.


The exposed roots look very cool.

These trees were taking over this pasture, so he pulled some out. He had said we could cut whatever we wanted for firewood, and he would burn the rest in the winter.

Cutting wood here looks a lot different than it did in New York.

Anyway, by the time we got home a little after 5 p.m., everyone was very hot and hungry. I made a very fast dinner with the ground beef in the refrigerator by simply frying the meat and adding some of my frozen onions, plus barbecue sauce and ketchup. 

This batch of sloppy joes FINALLY used up the gallon of Sysco barbecue sauce I bought almost exactly two years ago. 

A significant achievement.


Short version: T-bone steaks with caramelized onions and herb butter, spaghetti with pesto, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: The caramelized onions were the ones I made a few weeks ago and put in the freezer. Some of them I froze in small piles on parchment paper. The rest I froze flat in a gallon bag. 

The ones in the gallon bag froze into a solid mass and there is no separating them without thawing the whole thing. Lesson learned there. The small piles are the ones I used for dinner this night. All I had to do was take out two pucks of onions and microwave them for a minute to thaw.

The parsley came back with a vengeance this spring, which is why I made the herb butter. It was just soft butter mixed with finely chopped parsley and a leaf of green garlic from one of the plants that volunteered in the garden. 

The herb butter and caramelized onions were a stellar combination on the steak. As you might imagine.


Short version: Fried pork, oven fries, green salad with ranch dressing, chocolate pudding with cream

Long version: When I was ten years old, all I wanted to eat at restaurants was salad and french fries. And now here I am, a few decades later (ahem), and that's still all I want to eat. So that's what I made myself for Mother's Day.

I threw two cans of the canned pork we get from commodities in a pan and fried that with some spices as a grudging concession to being an adult and needing some form of protein in there. It did cross my mind that perhaps I could count the pudding as protein--so much milk!--but in the end, I am just not ten years old.

A highly satisfying meal, however, even with that boring and responsible addition.


Short version: Leftovers at home, brisket 'n' stuff out

Long version: I went to the school sports banquet with our athlete. We were provided with smoked brisket and rolls, and then everyone brought a side dish to share. I chose a little bit of creamed corn--pretty sure it had a LOT of cream cheese in it, and was thus delicious--and salad to go with my brisket. And I contributed carrot and celery sticks with homemade dip. The dip was basically the same ranch dressing I always make, but instead of yogurt, I used sour cream to make it much thicker for scooping. I also added a little finely chopped parsley, because I really have a LOT of parsley right now.

Almost all the carrots and celery were gone by the end of the evening, so I guess that was a good choice.

The home crowd had leftover pork, steak, bread and butter, and I left some of the carrots and celery for them, too.


Short version: Triple-can patties, rooster rice, frozen green peas

Long version: I have a few cans of the commodities salmon left, as well as several cans of commodities chicken. I combined one of each with a can of tuna--along with mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, bread crumbs, dill, salt, and pepper--to make patties. They tasted just like tuna patties, so I guess I'll keep doing that to use up the commodities stuff.


Short version: Chicken fried rice, pineapple and peaches

Long version: This fried rice kind of just happened last minute when I went into the kitchen to make dinner after work. I had a bunch of leftover rice, so I added a can of the commodities chicken--they're big cans, so that was about half a pound--frozen onion, frozen peas, the rest of the carrot sticks that I nuked for about a minute to mostly cook and then diced, garlic powder, soy sauce, vinegar, and eggs.

I had a can of pineapple in the refrigerator, along with two store-bought cans of peaches, that I had in there for breakfast. There was quite a lot left, though, so everyone got to choose one or the other for their dessert.

As you can see, between the canned meats and the canned fruit, we were all about the canned things this week.


Short version: Chimichangas! Margaritas!

Long version: Last day of school! A. and I had some celebratory margaritas with the remainder of the Cinco de Mayo supplies.

The return of THE PARTY BLENDER!

Before making the margaritas, I made some taco meat with ground beef. A. had bought flour tortillas last time at the store, along with my requested corn tortillas. (I'm sure Walmart Lady still does not approve). So at dinnertime, I made burritos with (canned) refried beans and the meat, plus cheese, for the children, and then fried them in corn oil.

This was very popular. Unsurprisingly.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

The Soundtrack of an Era

Today is Poppy's last day of preschool. Our preschool is two days a week (but long days--from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), so she's been going only on Mondays and Wednesdays for the last two years. Those are also the days I work. That meant that Tuesdays and Thursdays were days when her brothers were at school, and she was at home with me.

Lately, our days at home together have always included music. I typically spend the mornings working in the kitchen or cleaning the house, and Poppy was always ready to put on music for us. She got quite adept at finding her favorites (heavily influenced by my own childhood in the 80's) on YouTube. Now, of course, YouTube remembers what we listen to most frequently and queues it all up for her.

She would often spread out two big blankets on the floor to make a dance floor and then ask me to dance with her. Of course, I did.

All dressed up for The Stray Cats. (She was trying on her Easter outfit.)

I know we can still dance, but it's no fun with a bunch of boys rolling their eyes. She starts kindergarten next year, which means our regular girls' days are at an end. YouTube might even forget our playlist of songs. 

But I won't. I won't ever forget.

P.S. You want to know our playlist, don't you? Of course you do. It always starts with Poppy's favorite song.

"Girls Just Want To Have Fun"--Cyndi Lauper

"Stray Cat Strut"--The Stray Cats

"La Isla Bonita"--Madonna

"I Wanna Dance with Somebody"--Whitney Houston

"Rock This Town"--The Stray Cats

"Conga"--Gloria Estefan

"Walking on Sunshine"--Katrina and the Waves

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Growing Food: Musical Milk Jugs

Last Friday was tomato day! Yippee! We finally got the right weather to plant the tomatoes out. They were actually a little bigger than I would typically have them still inside, but I needed a day that wasn't too hot or windy. Also a day I wasn't working.

Ready to spread their wings and fly. Or rather, spread their leaves and grow. 

I don't harden off my seedlings, meaning gradually acclimate them to the vagaries of outdoor conditions after a lifetime of temperature control. Frankly, I'm not good at this. I tend to forget about them outside and they get too cold or fried in the sun, or something. I prefer to let the milk jugs shelter them and create a stable environment right off the bat.

All of the milk jugs had already been removed from the cabbages and kohlrabi:

And replaced by the small walls.

I can re-use the milk jugs as many times as I wish, but only for one season. After that, the plastic gets too brittle and they break when I push them into the soil.

I was left with about a dozen jugs ready to go. I had 26 tomato plants, so I sawed the bottoms off 14 more milk jugs while A. dug the bed for me. After hoeing and raking the bed smooth, and then building up the earth berms all around it to hold in the water, I flooded it.

And then, after the water soaked in, I could finally plant. Plants in the mud, milk jugs firmly anchored over the top, and . . .

The jugs go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah . . .

I had two more plants than I had thought I did, so the bed ended up a little crowded, but that's okay. Makes it easier to mulch and water them.

We haven't quite figured out staking yet. With this configuration, we could put cattle panels in the middle and tie the plants to that, but that would require buying more cattle panels, and I always find tying tomatoes to be much easier on individual stakes. A. got some cedar pieces for me that he's going to try to split into stakes, so we'll see how that goes.

I didn't stake my tomatoes last year, which was fine insofar as they don't rot here, thanks to our dry climate, but it's a mess of vines and hard to find the tomatoes. Staking is a lot of work, but I like it better.

Next step for the tomatoes is putting in the stakes--I learned early in my gardening life that I should do this when the plants are as small as possible--and mulching with the waste sheep hay that's right on the other side of the fence from the tomato bed.

Oh, I forgot to tell you what tomatoes I'm growing! Thirteen of those plants are Romas, and then the other half are Stupice, Cherokee Purple, and Chocolate Cherry. 

Anything exciting happening in your garden lately, fellow gardeners?

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Snapshots: Mom Things

Happy Mother's Day! Here are some woolly moms:

Ravenous for hay. Which is what happens when you're nursing, as I well remember. Although for me, it was peanut butter, not hay.

Some of my own little lambs brought home Mother's Day gifts from school for me.

The one on the right that says "You're the Bomb, Mom" is a homemade (schoolmade?) bath bomb.

And what might be in that little booklet entitled "I Love My Mom because . . ."?

"I love my mom because if she was not there I would not be alive." Can't argue with that logic.

I also got some very pretty paper flowers, the petals of which were formed by trace-outs of that child's hands. They went right into my Special Mom Jar, where I keep all the treasures--rocks, feathers, etc.--presented to me by my children.

It's a pretty full jar at this point.

I gotta say, Mother's Day gifts from little ones are one of my favorite things, and I will be sad when I no longer have small enough children that I'm getting these. Also, to all the teachers who make these things happen: It is truly appreciated. Thank you.

And last, a vaguely Mom Thing in that one of my children is in this photo:

Little pink hat in the little blue truck.

There you have it! My (mothering) life, snapshotted.

Happy Mother's Day to all my sisters-in-arms. I hope your day is just as you wish it to be.