Friday, June 16, 2023

Friday Food: So Many Herbs


Short version: Bullburgers on homemade buns, baked beans, coleslaw, rhubarb/strawberry slump with whipped cream

Long version: Well. This meal is new heights of "homemade," even for me. And my bar is pretty high.

The meat was the bull meat we ground. 

I made the hamburger buns with some of the sourdough because I was making bread anyway.

I made the coleslaw with the first cabbage from the garden, with yogurt I had made myself. (I didn't grow the carrots, though. That will have to wait for later in the summer.)

Shredding vegetables makes such a mess.

I made the baked beans from one of those giant cans of Sysco pinto beans.

And the rhubarb of course came from the garden. I actually threw the fruit in last-minute while the bread was baking. It was however much rhubarb I harvested--maybe three cups?--plus a 12-ounce bag of whole frozen strawberries. I added brown sugar, maple syrup, white sugar, vanilla, and a tiny bit of salt and baked that at 400 with the bread for . . . awhile. Maybe thirty minutes. 

There wasn't a ton of fruit after it cooked down, so I decided to stretch it by making slightly sweetened baking powder biscuit dough--this is a recipe I have memorized from long ago, which makes it easy to put together quickly--that I just dropped by spoonfuls on top of the fruit and baked more until the biscuits were brown.

I was informed by one of my cookbooks that this type of fruit dessert is called a grunt or a slump. Neither of those are appealing names, in my opinion, but I suppose slump is slightly less off-putting than grunt. And of course, since I didn't measure anything and thus will never be able to exactly re-create this, A. declared it perfect.

Anyway. It was quite a meal, if I do say so myself. And I do.


Short version: Fried fish sandwiches, leftover coleslaw and baked beans.

Long version: I spent allll afternoon at a kids' rodeo in the village.

Thankfully, at an indoor arena out of the sun.

I had already suggested to A. that he could fry the cod fillets he had bought some time ago, so those were thawed. I was planning on making oven fries to go with them, so we could have fish and chips, but by the time I got home after 5 p.m., all I could manage was slicing bread for sandwiches and setting out the leftover side dishes. 

How nice that they were so complementary for fish sandwiches. Very summery.


Short version: Goulashy cube steaks, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, asparagus, raw cabbage, baked peaches and rhubarb with cream

Long version: I didn't have a particular plan for the cube steaks I had taken out of the freezer, and then I ended up kind of rushed for preparation time when some friends came over to play for awhile. Just before they got here, I managed to get the cube steaks browned and put in the oven with tomato, onion, and bay leaves. They cooked in there while our friends were here, by which time I had decided what to do with them.

I added lots of chopped parsley and dill, plus paprika, cooked it some more in the oven, and at the end added sour cream to make something like goulash. They were good. Especially with the sauerkraut. I still had a pint and a half of last year's sauerkraut, and I'll be making this year's sauerkraut in a few weeks, so it was time to finish up the old sauerkraut.

I made the mashed potatoes with three large potatoes I baked while the goulash was in the oven. It's somewhat embarrassing that although I've been cooking for three decades now, it just now occurred to me that I can use an already-on oven to bake potatoes to mash rather than using a separate pot to boil them, which also requires peeling and chopping. Because the potatoes aren't in water, I actually prefer the texture of the mashed baked potatoes as well. They're lighter and drier. It wouldn't be worth it to run the oven just to bake potatoes for mashing, but if the oven is on already, might as well use it.

That is also why I made the baked peaches and rhubarb for dessert. I used the last bag of Nick's peaches from the freezer, which wasn't quite enough for everyone, so I added some rhubarb. Plus maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch each of salt and cloves.

Sadly, Nick told me at church this very day that all of the many blossoms on his multiple peach trees got zapped by frost, which means he will have no peaches this year. BOO.


Short version: Pizza, garden salad with herby dressing, rice pudding

Long version: Who cares about the pizza (one pepperoni and onion, one cheese, if you must know), I made this entire salad with things from the garden: lettuce, beet thinnings, snap peas, asparagus, plus dill, green garlic, and parsley for the dressing. 

It's always fun to see how much the herbs shrink when they get all chopped up.

The starting pile . . .

And the end pile.

I made the rice pudding because it was a chilly, misty day and I had the oven on for several hours to cook a pot of black-eyed peas. The combination of pizza and rice pudding made for a heavy meal, but no one seemed to mind.


Short version: Leftover pizza, black-eyed peas, raw cabbage

Long version: Kind of a weird combination of foods, but I had not quite enough pizza for full servings, so I used that more as the fat/starch component, and the black-eyed peas provided more protein.

I guess. Really it was just what I had on hand, and I had spent all day helping A. clean out the complete disaster that was the office/laundry/storage room, so I was tired.


Short version: Sloppy joes on homemade buns, green salad with herby ranch dressing, canned fruit

Long version: Actually, not only were the buns for the sloppy joes homemade, so was the barbecue sauce. Sort of. I ran out of barbecue sauce awhile ago and hadn't gotten anymore, so I used this recipe to make some. It's really just shaking things out of bottles, but it worked okay. I ended up adding more ketchup, some salt, and a little mustard. And no hot sauce.

The family liked it a lot, so I guess I should make up a jar of it to keep in the refrigerator, as the point of barbecue sauce for me is an instant flavor boost.

I stuck one can of pineapple and one can of peaches in the freezer while we eating dinner so they could chill, and then everyone got to choose which they wanted. Satisfying.


Short version: Fried pork, rice, leftover black-eyed peas, raw cabbage

Long version: I fried one can of commodities pork with paprika and garlic powder, made some rice, and heated up the black-eyed peas. Done. And tasty.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Growing Food: ' Tis the Season To Be Thinning

I only realized this yesterday when I went out to pull some weeds and saw that I needed to thin the beets before the plants got so big that pulling one out might uproot the next one over. 

Of course, it's recommended to snip off the plant you want to remove with scissors at ground level, but I always just pull 'em out when I see it's time. I don't typically have scissors on my person, and apparently am too lazy to go alllll the way inside to get any.


At this very small stage, I only pull plants that are RIGHT next to another one. If there's an inch or two of space there, I'll leave them and thin them later. In this way, I can get a baby carrot/beet/whatever later but still leave room for a full-size plant to grow there.

Since I was pulling the tiny beet plants, I also went ahead and thinned some of the very numerous volunteer lettuce plants carpeting the tomato bed. And THEN, since I had the beginnings of a salad, I prowled around until I found enough things to make a proper salad.

Left to right: Parsley, dill, green garlic (for the salad dressing), snow peas, lettuce, beet thinnings, asparagus.

The lovely thing about thinning these plants is they're all edible, of course. So when I'm pulling them out, I'm really harvesting food. And that, my friends, is what this is all about.

The first entirely garden-grown salad of the year is a glorious thing.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: Are you harvesting anything from your garden yet?

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Snapshots: Plants and Animals

Plants first!

It's very handy to have children who always have a knife on their belts. Whenever I'm working outside and need a knife, I just yell to the nearest boy and he brings me his knife.

In this case, a giant handmade bowie knife that was more than adequate to cut the year's first cabbage.

As to more general plants, all the rain we had for weeks has made everything wonderfully, startlingly GREEN.

It has also made the mosquitoes hatch, but we won't talk about that.

And now for animals.

Cora the New Horse had her trial ride last night. She got all saddled up without any issues--except for the fact that she was not enthused about the bit going into her mouth, but A. got it in the end--and then A. took the maiden voyage. He always does with new horses, figuring if there's going to be a problem, he'd rather it be when he's riding than one of the kids.

Ready to roll.

The first test drive.

In the end, there were no problems except for the fact that, as advertised, Cora is indeed lazy and is disinclined to move without some firm direction from her rider.

This may not be a positive for a working ranch horse, but it made me feel considerably better about my young children riding her. It seems very unlikely she's going to run away with them, since she, well, doesn't like to run.

In fact, we were so reassured by Cora's placidity that we let every child ride her, in descending order of age.

The younger two didn't so much ride as get led around by A., but they were perfectly happy with this.

I don't ride, so while all this equestrianism was happening, I was holding onto Bill the pony so he could graze near the corral and keep an eye on the proceedings.

He was highly dubious of the whole thing, but calmed down enough to eat some weeds in the vineyard pasture next to the corral.

Also dubious of this whole experience were the dogs, who had to be shut away in the porch out of the way so they wouldn't run the fenceline the whole time, barking and distracting Cora.

Not helpful, dogs. Not helpful at all.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.