Friday, July 14, 2023

Friday Food: Beef 'n' Sheep


Short verson: Shepherd's pie, green salad with vinaigrette, brownies

Long version: I used two pounds of ground beef and one pound of ground sheep for this shepherd's pie. Well, actually, two shepherd's pies. I made a small one for our new priest, who is quite young and trying to learn to cook. And also doesn't eat wheat. Shepherd's pie is a good option for such a situation.

My children were happy because we got a can of corn from I think Rafael, so I used that with the frozen peas instead of carrots in the meat. 

They were REALLY happy about the brownies. Did you know July 7 is World Chocolate Day? I didn't either, until one of my kids clicked on the little icon on the bottom task bar of the Windows desktop when they were putting on a video and told me. "We should have chocolate!" they said.

I am not typically one to celebrate these "Days," but I had the oven on anyway to bake the shepherd's pie, so I quickly made a pan of these brownies to general approbation.


Short version: Smoked sausage, bread and butter, frozen peas

Long version: I spent most of the day at a going-away party for our neighbor children with my youngest two kids. The party was at the closest public pool, which is 100 miles away. 

The distance meant it really was a full day. Of course, since we were in a (small) city, I stopped at the grocery store. That's where I got the sausage. It was a smoked sausage from a Texas company. It was tasty, but spicy. Too spicy for me to eat by itself, but good in my salad.

I think we need a photo here.

How about one from last week of my pizza helper? Sure.


Short version: Roast chicken, garlic bread, carrot sticks with curry dip, oatmeal-chocolate chip bar cookies

Long version: A whole chicken, salted, rubbed with butter, and squirted with bottled lemon juice. I didn't overcook it this time, which is always a win. I tend to overcook chicken because I'm sort of paranoid about it being undercooked.

I made bar cookies because I really didn't want to make anything at all, and bar cookies are easier than regular cookies. There were no complaints.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, bread and butter, fried mushrooms and onions, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I used half ground beef and half ground sheep again. That really is a good combination. The sheep meat has a lot more fat than the beef, and just generally makes for a more flavorful and richer end product. 

Getting a sheep professionally butchered doesn't actually make as much financial sense as getting a cow butchered--there's just so much less meat in the end that it ends up being more per pound--but I really like having the ground meat and chops.


Short version: Middle Eastern-ish meatballs, rice, green peas, watermelon

Long version: I used the rest of the ground beef/sheep to make the meatballs, along with the tomatoes left in the can when I drained off the juice into the shepherd's pie meat. I also used frozen onions and za'atar in the meatballs, which is what made them Middle Eastern. Ish.

They were good, anyway.

The watermelon was one I got at the grocery store on Saturday. Encouraged by the children, I got the biggest watermelon in the bin. It was HUGE. A. estimated 25 pounds. I trust I need not tell you it also had seeds.


Short version: Chicken fried rice, more watermelon

Long version: My plan all day was to scramble some eggs and make breakfast tacos. But then I went into the kitchen and made fried rice instead.

I obviously had leftover rice, to which I added a can of commodities chicken, cooked onions from the freezer, frozen peas, eggs, garlic powder, soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger.


Short version: Birthday sheep ribs, pasta with pesto, carrot sticks, ice cream, Mexican wedding cookies

Long version: Our new eleven-year-old requested this meal. 

A. made the ribs on the grill again.

I've had a lot of trouble with my basil this year. None of my seedlings came up to start and I had to re-start them, and then they almost died while we were in Arizona. The plants are not really big enough for harvesting yet, but by getting three or four leaves from each of the ten remaining plants and combining those with the tops from the carrots I harvested for the carrot sticks, I had enough pesto for the pasta.

The only problem with having ice cream and cookies for a birthday dessert is the candle situation. I mean, I guess you can stick candles in ice cream, but I went with a different option: peanut butter.

With a cookie wreath.

I tried a New York Times recipe for the cookies this time, but I wasn't too enthused about it. Luckily, I tasted the dough* before I chilled it for baking, so I knew it wasn't right. I added more than double the amount of walnuts called for in the recipe, and quite a bit more salt. They ended up being very good, although they spread quite a bit and look more like regular cookies than the ball-shaped Mexican wedding cookies I'm familiar with.

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

* I highly encourage doing this, by the way. Just like with cooking, it allows you to fix a problem before serving the food. Except when baking, you have to fix it before you bake it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Growing Food: Vindication

Remember when I showed you my rutabagas-that-were-really-turnips? 

The roots in question.

Well, I e-mailed Seeds 'n' Such to let them know that they should check into that lot of seeds, as they had packaged seeds incorrectly. I actually received a return e-mail from Kim, who asked if I had a photo of what I grew. Wasn't it lucky that I did?

I sent her the above photo and received a response saying, "I'm not 100% sure, but those look like turnips to me."

Well, yes, Kim. That's what I was saying.

I AM 100% sure they are turnips, but I appreciated the confirmation.

Anyway, she offered to either send me another package of the rutabaga seeds or a refund. I asked for the refund, because I have no confidence I'll get the right seeds this time, either.

And thus ends the saga of the imposter rutabaga.

Also on the topic of growing food: The sauerkraut I put in the crock last week is ready to be canned, but it's going to have to wait. I will not can anything this time of year except first thing in the morning, in order to avoid the heat. But I also need to water my garden, which also only happens (for me) in the cool mornings. Watering takes precedence, so the sauerkraut will wait until tomorrow.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: Anything exciting happening in your gardens?

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Snapshots: Tornadoes and Rainbows

Let's see what we have this week . . .

Girl in pasture.

I discovered this year that the big rolling pin my dad made me works perfectly for smashing down cabbage for sauerkraut. Thanks, Dad!

My cell phone started beeping insistently on Wednesday evening, informing us that a storm bad enough to spawn a tornado was tracking right towards us. Our house is a mobile home with additions, so it's not the safest in such a situation. We decided to go over to the old gym down the road, which is solid stone. 

We brought the dogs with us, and watched the storm from the west-facing windows in the gym. It looked pretty ugly for a few minutes there, but a tornado never formed, so we just waited out the rainstorm and then went home.

You can just see poor Odin there, cowering by the door.

We came out to a double rainbow.

Overzealous bell ringing at church resulted in the rope getting wrapped around the bell, so the bell couldn't be rung. A. climbed on the roof of the church to fix it.

Flying high into the sun . . .

Climbing up was the worst part. Once he was up there, he just needed to unscrew the access grate on the outside of the bell tower (is it a tower if it's only five feet high?) and unwrap the rope.

Ding dong bell.

And last, a morning walk.

To infinity and beyond.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.