Friday, June 23, 2023

Friday Food: And Then It Got Hot

We've definitely left behind the unusually cool and rainy weather and are having much drier and hotter weather. Which means it's 80 degrees in my kitchen in the afternoon, and I've started doing more of my cooking in the morning. It's the summer schedule.


Short version: Fried pork, leftover rice, raw cabbage, pureed calabaza, baked custard

Long version: This wasn't canned commodities pork. This was a pork shoulder I cooked for awhile in the morning. While the oven was on, I made custard too, because I definitely have children that need the extra calories.

I still have at least half a dozen quart bags of pureed calabaza in the freezer that I need to work through before fall. The only way to do that is to thaw them and have it taunting me in the refrigerator, daring me to let it go bad.

What, your food doesn't have an attitude? Weird.


Short version: Meatloaf, baked potatoes, frozen peas

Long version: Nothing to report here, except maybe that the potatoes A. got last time at the store were so huge that I split one into four pieces for the kids, and that was plenty potato for them. Seriously large potatoes.


Short version: Father's Day steak, dill potato salad, pureed calabaza, raw snow peas, rhubarb/strawberry slump with whipped cream

Long version: Last package of rib steaks, more or less this potato salad (I use less sugar, more bacon, and regular onion), and the same rhubarb/strawberry dessert from last week that A. declared perfection. Except of course, since I didn't measure last time, I couldn't measure this time, and I apparently didn't get the fruit quite sweet enough.

Oh well. I made up for it with the whipped cream, which I did add enough sugar to this time. This is the hazard of cooking without recipes. 

I didn't intend to stage a shot of the Father's Day food, it's just that I use the top of the woodstove as an extra counter in the summer, so a lot of things end up here.


Short version: Fried pork tacos, raw snow peas

Long version: A. went to Kansas to buy a horse trailer.

A cute little two-horse one that was made in the '70s. You can tell from that totally '70s orange color.

It was just me and the three younger children here for dinner. For them, I mixed some of the leftover pork with salsa, put that in folded-over corn tortillas with cheese, and fried them to make crispy tacos.

I had some of the pork in a salad. Because it's garden lettuce season, hooray!


Short version: Leftover steak, rice, raw snow peas

Long version: Nah.


Short version: Chicken and rice skillet, fresh bread and butter

Long version: It was over 90 degrees this day, and I had to bake bread in the afternoon, which always raises the temperature of the kitchen at least five degrees. All the way until pretty much dinnertime, I was planning on tuna salad with the bread. But then I changed my mind last-minute and used the leftover rice with a can of chicken from commodities, plus onion (from the freezer), garlic powder, mayonnaise, grated cheddar, and frozen peas, to make a hot skillet of food.

A very popular dish, it turned out. A. also had some leftover steak.


Short version: Spanish tortilla, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I have to space out my serving Spanish tortilla, or it loses its appeal for the children. It had been awhile since I had made it, though, so they were all happy to eat it. This was a basic one of just diced bacon, onion, potatoes, eggs, and cheese.

And it is definitely garden lettuce season, which means salad every day. Even if I don't serve it to the children, I have one.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Growing Food: Watering and Weeding

Now that our unexpected and unusual stretch of heavy rain is over, I am back to my usual practice of watering every other day in my garden.

Over the past four years we've been gardening here, we have learned that consolidating the garden as much as possible is one of the keys to our success, and that is because of the way we water.

I know some people here--and other places, of course--use a drip system, with timers and everything. I don't want to run all the plastic pipe through the garden, or deal with the maintenance. We tried a sprinkler a few times, but find that our very warm, dry air leads to too much evaporation and not enough water on the plants. 

As with so many other things in the garden, I go with the simplest option. In this case, a hose.

Or rather, several hoses connected together. We have three hoses connected so that we can reach all of the plants in our garden with it. On the end of the hose is a shut-off valve, so I can turn it off where I am rather than going all the way back to the actual tap. And then after the shut-off valve on the very end of the hose is a watering wand attachment. It makes a rain sort of spray with the water.

An old photo of the tiny peas getting watered with the watering wand attachment.

It's most important to have that watering attachment on the end. Without it, the flow of water is too strong and will wear away a hole right in the soil.

When I water, I just work my way around the garden, setting the hose down in each cell or trench and letting it flood that area. I leave the hose in there until there's at least an inch of standing water. 

Flooding the salad bed. That is, the tomatoes and lettuces.

I do occassionally need to move the hose in these places, because even a slight elevation in the soil will result in some plants not getting flooded. This is why I stay in the garden while I'm watering. 

It takes me about two hours to water everything thoroughly. Because I stay there to move the hose around, that means I have two hours to work in the garden as well. And "work" of course means "weed."

I do use a hoe in larger areas around the beds or between them, but I've lost a lot of plants accidentally to hoeing, so I prefer hand weeding when I'm close to the plants.

When I water is the only time the ground is soft enough to weed properly in these beds, by pulling weeds up by the roots. I weed by hand partially because my plants are spaced close together and so there isn't room for a weeding tool. But also so I can really see what I'm doing. 

If I'm right down in the bed pulling the weeds by hand, I can see the volunteers right when they come up and avoid pulling up a calendula plant that came up in the rutabagas. I can also see when the swallowtail caterpillars have arrived to decimate my dill plants, or the june bug grubs are infesting the cabbage beds.

The time and the close proximity of hand weeding are what allow me to monitor the garden closely. And the time is dictated by the time I have to be out there watering. They go together for me. I find this helpful, as it guarantees time spent weeding. 

I don't usually spend the whole two hours weeding--I take breaks to hang up laundry while I'm flooding the beds, and I usually get interrupted by children--but there's probably at least an hour or so every other day that I'm actively working in the garden.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: How do you handle watering and weeding in your gardens?

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Snapshots: Look Out, Marie Kondo

We've been doing a lot of cleaning out and organizing lately of some pretty neglected areas. Like A.'s office/the laundry/storage room. And the barn. And the porch.

Organizing things like this are very far from tidying up a closet or something. Cleaning out places like these involves things like mice skeletons and packrat nests. It's disgusting and exhausting, but all the more satisfying when it's finally done.

I didn't take any before photos of these areas, but I got some afters.

This is in A.'s office, where the washing machine also lives and I had stored some extra canned foods. The foods had been in crates and boxes on the floor, but we got a bunch of shelving that was being discarded at the school and used it in here. I got one of the shelving units for my very own.

So of course, I put some food on it. I was unreasonably excited by this.

 We also cleared out a very junky corner of the porch so we could set up a spot for all the horse tack we have now. With the new horse, there's been a lot more riding happening, and our tack had been living on top of the bunk bed right inside the door of the porch that the previous owner had left there. This was, obviously, a less than ideal situation. So A. built some saddle racks out of spare wood, we moved some extra hanging racks into that corner, and . . .

Never in my life did I think I would have something like this at my home, but here we are.

There has been a lot of riding lately. A. is usually occupied with keeping Bill the Chuffy Pony under control, leaving me to lead sedate Cora.

My view on these rides is literally eye-to-eye with Cora.

I didn't take a picture of the barn, but I can walk in to give the horses hay now without climbing over sheet metal and buckets, so that was a definite improvement.

Let's see what else we have . . .

I've been working on some annoying things indoors, too, like my linen situation. I don't have a linen closet, and the sheets and things have been scattered in various locations. I decided the time had come to pull it all out, see what I actually have, and then put it all back in a more consolidated fashion. So I did.

Piles of sheets.

I found that I have 24 pillowcases, but not a single extra non-flannel twin sheet, despite having three twin beds in the house. Some re-stocking might be in order.

I looked out the kitchen window the other day to see this:

Poppy is the only child who has ever taken laundry down for me. I was touched.

Let's see what animals besides horses have been up to, shall we?

The sheep have been very happily grazing the green pastures.

And the dogs have been in alert guarding positions at all times, as is proper.

Jasper has alerted us to two bull snakes in the porch just in the past couple of days, actually, which A. has disposed of. And I saw another one just brazenly slithering out in the open in the driveway towards the dogs' water dish that A. also got rid of, so I guess it's bull snake season now. No pictures of those, though.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.