Friday, May 26, 2023

Friday Food: Pretty Pie


Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, roasted asparagus, sauerkraut, raw cabbage, Mexican wedding cookies

Long version: Apparently, Mexican wedding cookies are my children's most favoritest cookies ever. I used the same recipe as last time (but with almonds instead of walnuts), but the dough was too dry, so I added a bit of milk. 

Unfortunately, that made the texture of the baked cookies much less like shortbread. They tasted good, but the texture is definitely an important part of these cookies.

Not that anyone refused to eat them or anything, but still. Kind of disappointing.

Actually, as I was writing that out, it occurred to me maybe the problem was that almonds have less oil in them than walnuts. Perhaps I need to use a bit more butter if I use almonds. Next time . . .


Short version: Hot dogs on homemade buns, green chile hamburger stew, gingersnaps

Long version: I found this stew very satisfying to make. The stock from roosters given to us, the green chiles Ms. Amelia gives me frequently, the tomato sauce, the potatoes, and the onions all came to us free from friends or commodities. From my garden last year I used frozen cubes of pureed green garlic, shredded calabacita, and some overly large green beans I had stashed away as "soup beans," and from the garden this year, parsley. The only things in it that I bought were the ground beef and carrots.

Oh, and I had to add some sour cream at the end, because I overdid the green chile a bit.

Everyone had the hot dogs, some had the stew. And everyone had gingersnaps, of course.


Short version: Stir-fry, rice, strawberry-rhubarb pie with whipped cream

Long version: I used this recipe for the pie. It was pretty good, but I thought it had slightly too much vanilla and salt in the fruit filling. The only oranges I had were not very flavorful, so I didn't use their juice, instead using a bit of zest. I used equal parts rhubarb and strawberries, too, which was a good change. It made for a fuller pie, and it wasn't overflowing or anything.

So pretty.

The recipe quite clearly stated that it should be served with vanilla ice cream. I suspect this is why when I made just whipped cream for it, I thought it needed more sugar. A. always says I don't put enough sugar in whipped cream, and in this case, he was right.

I inevitably screw up my latticing. OH WELL.

The recipe also said to discard the accumulated juices at the bottom of the bowl after mixing all the filling ingredients.

Say what? Throw out a delicious mixture of fruit juices and sugar? That's crazy talk. Does the recipe author not know that that is beginning of a homemade soda? Just add seltzer. Yum.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, bread and butter, green salad with ranch dressing, leftover pie

Long version: This time I had A. make the whipped cream to top the leftover pie. He added a lot more sugar, and it made the pie much better. Lesson learned.


Short version: Polish sausage and onions, baked beans, cornbread, carrot sticks, oatmeal/raisin/almond cookies

Long version: I built this entire meal around the baked beans. These were from the huge batch I made awhile ago with the last can of Sysco pinto beans. I had frozen them in quart-size containers. I had taken one of these out on Saturday to serve with the hot dogs and totally forgot. Forgot again when we had the cheeseburgers. So I was determined to finally remember to serve them, and came up with other things that would go with them.

I don't know why I chose this meal to take a photo of a plate of food, but here it is!

The Polish sausage was the very last package of sausage from my Texas stock-up. I roasted it in the oven on a bed of sliced onions while the cornbread was baking.

The cookies were standard oatmeal-raisin, but I added some finely chopped almonds. Because given the amount of almonds I have in the freezer from excess commodities, no cookie can remain almond-less.


Short version: Chili, leftover cornbread

Long version: Still using up frozen pureed calabaza from last year. Chili is a good use for it, because no one knows it's in there. Sneaky.

Also, since I use beans, too, it's a good way to stretch one package of ground beef to feed us for a whole meal plus some for lunch the next day.


Short version: Ribeye steaks with herb butter and caramelized onions, leftover rice, pureed calabaza, raw broccoli

Long version: Didn't I just make herb butter with green garlic and parsley for steak? Yes, and I will continue to do so until I run out of steak.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Growing Food: Calling All Volunteers

In my garden, I welcome the chaos that volunteer plants bring. If it will come up on its own, I will let it grow. This is how I end up with potatoes in my cabbage bed, or carrots in . . . well, every bed.

The only edible watermelon we ever got out of our garden was a volunteer that grew in the compost pile. The only reason I have hollyhocks is because they self-seed and come up wherever I water. 

Our environment is hard enough to grow plants in that I reward any plant hardy enough to grow on its own. This means, of course, that my garden is somewhat chaotic, but it's not as if I'm ever going to have a catalog-worthy garden anyway. Besides, I like to look at it as delightful surprises at every turn. Look, there's a garlic plant in the green beans! Or, hey! A tomato plant under the clothesline!

You never do know.

Anyway. This year's volunteer award goes to the lettuce that has come up in the tomato bed. I was just thinking it was about time to mulch the tomatoes, and then I see dozens of lettuce plants coming up all around them. They self-seeded from the carpet of lettuce A. produced last year by shaking around lettuce plants that had gone to seed.

See all those tiny lettuces coming up around this tomato?

Am I going to mulch over volunteer lettuce? Of course not! It's a whole salad in one garden bed! It will, of course, make it slightly harder to weed and water, but that's a trade-off I'm willing to make for dozens of heads of lettuce.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: Do you embrace the chaos of volunteers, or do you insist upon order in your garden?

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Snapshots: The Rainrainrain Came Downdowndown*


A much different sky than our usual intense and cloudless bright blue. Which is good, because it brought us . . .


I hope all the exclamation points and annoying running together of words are conveying to you how exciting all this rain was. We haven't had enough precipitation to get the grass growing in the pastures yet this spring, which is kind of disastrous for a county that almost exclusively raises beef cattle.

The storms were very localized. Nine miles from us, they got an inch and a half when we got this 3/4 of an inch. Our neighbors two miles away only got 2/10 of an inch, although they got more later.

All in all, we got a total of an inch and a half over about five days, which should be enough to get the grass growing. Really hoping we can stop buying hay soon.

Happy as I was about the rain (rain!), I was not so pleased about the mud. The kids were also very excited about the rain, and spent a lot of time playing it. Unfortunately, I appear to have accidentally left their rain boots behind at our rental house in Texas, so they just went out in their shoes. ALL their shoes.

Yesterday was the first day with any significant sun to dry out said shoes, so I spent some time removing insoles and spreading them all out.

Flashing back to New York, when this was a very common activity for me.

My children seem to have forgotten that it's imperative to remove those filthy shoes outside on the porch before they come in the house. Usually it's so dry, it doesn't matter. This week, though . . . hoo boy. So much mud tracked in.

Poppy and I spent some time on Thursday morning before the awards assembly at school cleaning up my nemesis the entryway before summer break commenced. It's much harder to get anything cleaned up with four children in constant attendance.

So long, clear floor. See you in August.

And now, something non-rain-related but also exciting for both the children and A. 
He bought a new truck.

Although "new" is perhaps not the best adjective.

It's an F-250 heavy duty. I'm not sure of the year, but I think maybe a '94. So, yeah, not new at all. It is, however, very beefy. It was used by a plumbing company, so it has these crazy welded racks on it, presumably for moving large lengths of pipe.

Jasper likes the truck, too.

A. bought it so he can haul more hay in the winter for the sheep. I think it will have no trouble with that. The children think it's the coolest thing ever.

For those keeping track, we now have four vehicles: Adventure Van, the Honda Pilot, this F-250, and the Ranger (which is, amusingly, a mini replica of the 250).  I told the children I'm just going to give them each one of these vehicles as they reach driving age and buy myself a nice new Mini Cooper or something.

Unlikely, but fun to dream, right?

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* This is a song from the original Winnie the Pooh movie that is stuck in my head forever and that I sing anytime we get rain.