Friday, July 21, 2023

Friday Food: Atypical Treats


Short version: Soft tacos or chimichangas, green salad with vinaigrette, vanilla ice cream

Long version: I made taco meat with ground beef, ground sheep, and canned beans, and then let the kids choose whether they wanted corn tortillas for soft tacos, of flour tortillas for chimichangas. 

That sure was a run-on sentence. Oh well.


Short version: Bunless cheeseburgers, fried mushrooms, oven fries, roasted sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, carrot sticks, watermelon and Mexican wedding cookies

Long version: So many options for this meal! White potatoes or sweet potatoes?

I had to take some of the sweet potatoes off of this pan, though, because it was too crowded for proper browning and crisping.

Watermelon or cookies? Both, of course!

The real excitement for this meal, though, was the corn on the cob. This is the first time this summer we've had it, and the children were thrilled.

Little things, right?


Short version: Nachos, carrots, Australian chocolate blocks

Long version: I had gone to the nearest town the day before to get fly spray for the horses, and of course stopped at the grocery store while I was there. I had a couple of kids with me, and we got some things that are not typically part of our groceries. Things like the aforementioned corn on the cob. And blue corn tortilla chips, which I used for nachos with some of the leftover taco meat. 

Also, two blocks of chocolate from Australia.

These come from the land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder*.

These were by the register. I remarked to the children how interesting that they were from Australia. "Oh, we have lots of Australian candy," said the cashier.

Really? A lot of Australian candy in a tiny grocery store in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, U.S.A? The next obvious question of course was, "Why?" but I didn't ask. Instead I just bought the chocolate.

These weren't really chocolate bars, because they were so big. Almost half a pound. The packaging on one was labeled "chocolate block," so that's what I went with.

Everyone got to try both kinds.  I didn't think either were particularly great, but the children were very happy with them. And I didn't have to bake anything for our Sunday dessert. Yay.


Short version: Tuna melt sandwiches, dilly beans, Australian chocolate

Long version: This was the day I realized that the carpet in my bedroom that got completely soaked in the Severe Weather Event was not going to dry. I realized this because my bedroom started to smell like a wet dog. 

So I spent the hour or so before dinner pulling up the carpet in my bedroom, including the crumbling carpet pad underneath, and vacuuming the wet particle board sub-floor. 

So nasty.

This activity made me hot and kind of grossed out, but I still went ahead and made the tuna salad into hot sandwiches instead of just smushing it between slices of bread and calling it good.

Yes, I expect my gold stars for this superior show of selflessness any day now.

The dilly beans were the very last ones from last year. And will almost certainly be the last ones until next year, as my green bean plants got flattened by the hail. Maybe a couple will revive, but I'm certainly not anticipating any great harvests this year.


Short version: Fried pork, leftover noodle, green salad with vinaigrette, vanilla ice cream

Long version: This was pork I had put in the freezer last time I made a pork shoulder. I just shredded it and fried it in bacon grease with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

The noodles were plain egg noodles leftover from the birthday dinner that I heated up with butter, Parmesan, and garlic powder.

And the last of the vanilla ice cream, because we hit 100 degrees this day. 


Short version: Pork fried rice, Otter Pops

Long version: I was planning on making barbecue pork sandwiches . . . and then I went into the kitchen at 3:30 p.m. and made some rice so I could use the pork to make fried rice.

Why? Who knows. It just happens that way sometimes.

We are rapidly approaching the county fair. Which means the parade. Which means dozens of Otter Pops thrown to my children. Which means I need to finish the Otter Pops that are still in the freezer from last year's parade.

I had just enough for all the children to have one, and now we are ready for the next influx.


Short version: Lamb chops, leftover noodles or rice, corn on the cob, peanut butter/almond cookies

Long version: One child specifically requested red meat. I guess we had been eating a lot of non-red meat lately. So I took out a couple of packages of lamb chops and fried those. 

These cookies, which are definitely the best. But with chopped almonds added, because I am still working through the many bags of commodities almonds I got like two months ago. 

I always think I'll never get through the huge quantity of things we get at once from commodities, and then one day I realize, "Oh man. I don't have anymore chickpeas." Even though I had literally dozens of cans of chickpeas at one point. I always do manage to use it all eventually.

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

* It's from a song. This one. And wow, that video sure is . . . something.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Growing Food: Setbacks

Well. You've already seen the state of some of my plants after they got pummeled by golf-ball-sized hail. Here's some more.

The formerly impressive tomato plants with a volunteer lettuce carpet.

Denuded carrots.

The remains of the green beans that were juuuust starting to produce.

It's been quite a year so far. We had the three weeks of constant rain and cold temperatures that delayed any real growth. A hail storm in June that knocked back any harvests for a few weeks. The invasion of destructive harlequin bugs. This hail, that flattened everything. 

AND, as if all that isn't enough, we have thousands of grasshoppers. There are so many around that when I walk through the garden or pastures, it looks like popcorn popping as they jump out of my way. The green beans were suffering already because of them. They ate all the potato foliage and were eating through the rhubarb leaves, two things which I considered immune to pest damage.

I must admit, I feel as if we're getting a taste of the plagues of Egypt. I can only hope we stop at hail and locusts.

I do think that at least some of the plants will recover from the storm damage and manage to produce something to harvest. Not a lot, but something. 

Gardening is a lesson in hope if nothing else.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: What's the state of your garden? 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Snapshots: Storm Damage

Last night at 8 p.m., just as I was getting the kids ready for bed and they were already in their pajamas, two things happened at once: Our cell phones started screaming to alert us of a dangerous storm coming our way, and we saw out the window that the sheep had gotten out.


Luckily, the sheep were on the road right next to the gate to our closest pasture, so we drove them in there and secured them relatively quickly. And then we went to the old gym.

This alert had confirmed a tornado associated with this storm, along with large hail and high winds, so we thought it prudent to wait it out in a large stone structure. We drove the Honda up to the old gym, went inside, and waited.

It was pretty much dark by this point, but I had brought a solar lantern with us, so the kids used that to make shadow puppets.At least, they made shadow puppets while we were waiting for the storm to hit. When the storm actually hit, they were doing nothing but huddling and praying.

Never have I heard such a noise. The gym has a metal roof. Hail hitting it at that speed and in that quantity makes a sound that I imagine is akin to a gun battle. It was so loud we couldn't hear each other yelling from a foot away.

This was not popular with the small children in our group, as you might imagine. 

Investigation revealed hail about the size of a golf ball.

The alert had warned of hail up to 3 inches, so I guess it could have been worse. But still. Yikes.

As soon as the hail was over, we braved the 30-foot dash to the car, getting completely soaked in the process and discovering when we got there that the back side window of the Honda had been broken out, and there were several cracks in the windshield.

I managed to get us home, though, where we dashed through the soaking rain again and reached the sanctuary of the house . . . only to find that the hail had broken out four of the five windows on the north side of the house.

There was water and broken glass all over the floor of the kitchen, dining room, and my bedroom. It was an unbelievable mess. And of course, the power was out, so all we had were the lanterns for light.

I got the kids to put on dry pajamas while we taped trash bags over the smashed windows. I started sweeping up shards of glass and water and dumping the mess in buckets as well as I could in the limited light I had after they went to bed.

The little kids went to sleep, but Cubby went out to check on the sheep making a racket in the adjoining pasture and came back in with the news that the horses were out.

Thankfully, they were just in the vineyard pasture next to their corral. Investigation revealed that a section of fence had blown over in the storm, so they just walked out. We put the fence back up as best we could and lured the horses back into their corral with some horse food we have.

After that, I went back in to continue cleaning up as much as I was able. I also brought the food in the small freezer above the refrigerator to the giant chest freezer, got a bag of ice out of that freezer while I had it open, and put all the most perishable refrigerated things into coolers with the ice. 

Then I plugged in our landline phone and went to bed, first taking the precaution of putting on socks to sleep in in case I was startled awake and jumped out of bed and right into the shards of glass embedded in my bedroom carpet.

That is exactly what happened when the power came back on at 4:30, so thank goodness for socks.

The rising sun enabled me to make a tour of the destruction outside.

Boards missing in the backyard fence.

Half the horse shed roof peeled up.

And of course, the windows.

The garden, as you might imagine, did not fare well.



So that's kind of sad.


No one was injured, our roof didn't leak, all the animals are okay, and the power is back on so I can clean up properly.

There you have it. My storm-damaged life, snapshotted.