Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday Food: A Single Sunflower and S'mores


Short version: Pizza, carrot sticks

Long version: It was actually not only below 90 degrees this day, it was below 80 degrees. This hasn't happened in some time, so of course I took advantage by baking bread. And of course I used some of the dough to make pizza.

I made one cheese and one pepperoni. And I made the same two half-sheet-pan pizzas I always make, even though two of our biggest eaters weren't home. This way, I could plan on leftovers. Which there were.


Short version: Meatballs, leftover rice, frozen peas

Long version: I used ground sheep for these meatballs, so I seasoned them with zaatar. Then I cooked them in the liquid I drained from a can of tomatoes used for pizza sauce, and added more zaatar to the tomato juice.

I guess that's all. How about a photo?

The lone sunflower that survived the hail. I hope more will bloom soon, but so far, this is it. No table bouquets this year. Boo.


Short version: Leftover pizza, green salad with vinaigrette, rhubarb-strawberry-cream popsicles

Long version: I actually had enough leftover pizza that I consolidated the leftovers onto one pan and just covered it with foil and stuck it in the refrigerator. This took up a lot of space, but made it very easy to just put that pan in the oven to re-heat the pizza this night.

I used the rhubarb-strawberry puree I had made a couple of weeks ago for the popsicles, to which I also added a little maple syrup and heavy cream.

They were too sweet, I thought. They definitely didn't need the syrup, and I think would have been better with a little yogurt added to cut the sugar a bit. My children did not agree, however, so I guess it was fine. And I didn't have to bake anything, which was more than fine.


Short version: Bean and cheese quesadillas, scrambled eggs and rice, carrot sticks

Long version: Just me and two kids, which means not too much cooking. They had the quesadillas. I had the scrambled eggs and rice. 

I was so lazy, I actually cooked the scrambled eggs in the microwave in the glass container the rice had been stored in, just so I wouldn't have a pan to wash. It worked pretty well, actually.


Short version: Tuna salad sandwiches, sirloin strips and vegetables, carrot sticks, fruit shake

Long version: Still just me and two kids. They really wanted the tuna sandwiches, so I made that for them.

They also had the carrot sticks and fruit shake--a smoothie to the rest of the world. Mostly because it was hot.

I don't much care for tuna. I had taken the sirloin steaks out just to have them ready to cook, so I sliced off some thin strips from one of them and cooked that with onion, carrot shavings, frozen peas, and sauerruben.

Let's talk about that last thing, shall we?

Sauerruben is pretty much sauerkraut, except instead of fermenting cabbage, you ferment turnips. And who accidentally had a bunch of turnips and no great desire to eat them? I did!

I decided fermenting them couldn't make them any worse, so that's what I did. It's just shredded turnips in a brine of water and salt, put in the crock I use for sauerkraut. I left it four or five days, and then tried it.

Woah. The fermented turnips were some strong food, for sure. I did not care for it raw, but then, I don't much like sauerkraut raw, either.

So, in defiance of every health guru who chides us for cooking fermented foods because it kills the beneficial bacteria, I cooked the sauerruben. Specifically, I put it in with the sirloin.

It was very, very good. There was no turnip taste left. It served the same function as sauerkraut. That is, it was a salty flavor enhancer. So I guess I can use the rest of those turnip seeds I have to grow more turnips and then make sauerruben.

Next year, anyway. The garden is pretty much a loss this year.


Short version: Anniversary sausage, fried potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, s'mores

Long version: A. brought back several packages of Italian sausage for me from New York. But not just any sausage: Gianelli sausage.

Gianelli is a central New York company that makes the best Italian sausage. And it is not available anywhere outside the northeast. So A. bought it and kept it on ice for the three days it took him to get home.

True love.

So that's what we had for our 20th anniversary dinner. 

My favorite way to cook Italian sausage links is actually roasted in the oven with potatoes, but it was too hot to have the oven on that high for so long. So I fried them in a skillet in butter instead.

We did have potatoes, too. For those, I microwaved a few potatoes until they were mostly cooked, then chopped them up and fried them in butter as well.

The salad was courtesy of the excess commodities brought to us this day. Included was a CSA box of New Mexico products. This box had a bag of green oakleaf lettuce in it. My lettuce either got obliterated by hail or is starting to bolt and is inedibly bitter, so I was very glad to get this lettuce. 

A. had also bought me some tomatoes at a roadside stand somewhere in Oklahoma, so we even had tomatoes in the salad. Luxury, indeed.

He had also bought a watermelon that I was very much looking forward to. Unfortunately, it cracked in transit and was fermenting by the time he got it home. Sadness.

However! The MiL had purchased the makings for s'mores for Jack, who went with A. to New York. They never made them while they were there, so she sent all of it home with them. So A. built a little fire in the outdoor grill, the kids all sharpened their own sticks, and they made s'mores.

S'mores pan ready to be transported outside. (And the anniversary card sent to us by my parents.)


Short version: Beef stir-fry, rice

Long version: I used the rest of the sirloin steak for this, cutting it into small pieces that I cooked in the morning before it got hot. I find the sirloin needs to be cooked for awhile in liquid to get less chewy, so it's not really stir-fried, I guess.

Another of the things in that commodities CSA box was daikon radishes. I have never had a daikon radish. The box came with a little informational sheet about them. It claimed they are milder than red radishes.

I tasted one raw, and I beg to differ.

The sheet also gave a recipe for "sweet and spicy daikon radish fries." I did not make this, instead cutting small sticks from the biggest one and adding it to the stir-fry. After cooking, it had a very unpleasant bitter taste, so I can't think fries made from them would be very good.

Not a fan, I guess. But now I know!

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The China and Platinum Anniversary

Today A. and I are celebrating twenty years of marriage.

And here we are on the blessed day of our nuptials!

A little Behind the Music for you about that photo: We had our wedding reception at Blackrock, which means that tent was set up on the very lawn I would labor on for ten years picking up black walnuts every fall.

My mother and the MiL gathered all the flowers for the church wedding and the reception from the gardens at Blackrock, and arranged them all, too.

The cake was made by A.'s aunt, who is a very accomplished baker. It was so hot that day that the frosting was too soft and the cake was starting to slump.

The bride and groom topper on the cake is surrounded by an ostrich egg. Because our first date was to the Ostrich Festival* in Chandler, Arizona.

A. just got back from New York last night. The traditional gift for the twentieth anniversary is china. The modern gift is platinum. He went with a different kind of gift, though: Despite his exhaustion, he set two rat traps before he went to bed to catch the rat that was running around IN MY BEDROOM yesterday morning.

I don't really want to talk about that. I'm still cringing.


A. has now been my chief rat-catcher for twenty years. An enviable position, clearly.

Here's to another twenty.

* When I went to the website to link to it, I saw the aerial photo of the festival as it is now. That is not what it was like when we went. Twenty years ago, it was not really a carnival so much as an ostrich-themed collection of oddballs selling emu oil and so on.


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Growing Food: Lessons

A few days ago, my elderly neighbor--the one we butchered the bull with--stopped by with two tomato plants and two pepper plants for me.

The bell pepper plant already had a pepper on it, so I had to tie it up to keep it from flopping over.

She lost all her plants in the storm as well, and went to town to buy some more at a nursery. She picked up a bunch of extras, though, and went around delivering them to everyone she knew who had a garden that was damaged in the storm.

She is old enough to remember when the loss of the vegetable garden literally meant less food for a family. Although that's not really the case anymore, not even here, she also knows the sadness of a gardener who watched all her hard work get pounded into the ground in a matter of minutes.

I had just that morning re-planted some seeds, as well. For some reason, the dill plants got absolutely obliterated. Unlike other plants, they are not going to put any new growth on the remaining broken, bare stalks. None had yet gotten to the seed stage. So although I haven't had to plant dill since the first year I had a garden here, I had to do it this year if I wanted it to self-seed as it always does.

While I was out there planting the dill, I also planted a couple of short rows of lettuce. There is time for that to get to harvest before frost, for sure. It doesn't do as well being summer-planted as first thing in the spring, but I should get something.

Most of the rest of the things I grow need more than a couple of months to go from seed to food, but I did replant the calabaza. It won't have time to make a fully mature winter squash, but it should have time to produce a few calabacitas for eating. Especially since one of the seeds sprouted literally two days after I put it in.

A seed with a powerful will, for sure. (The ground there looks so rough because I worked horse manure into the rows. I figure those seeds can use all the help they can get to grow well.)

I continue to water and weed what was left after the storm, despite all the damage. There are several lettuce plants from the carpet of volunteers in the tomato bed that are still growing and will set seeds. This will ensure lettuce next year.

And the lettuce plants that died made a surprisingly thick mulch in this spot. Bonus.

Optimism and hope for the next season are sort of essential for a gardener.

I did have to pull up some carrots and beets that sustained too much damage and had no new growth at all after a few days.

A very small harvest.

Almost every other thing in the garden has new growth on it, though.

New rhubarb leaves.

New asparagus spears.

New watermelon flower.

Even a new tiny Roma tomato.

And most surprising of all, new leaves on the two-inch, bare, broken vine of the last remaining calabaza plant.

They may be broken, but they are not dead. 

If any of us (ahem, ME) needed some lessons in tenacity, these plants will provide it.

My neighbor can teach us all about generosity and kindness.

And the garden in general can serve as a lesson to us all about hope for the future. There's always another growing season and another chance for growth. All is never lost, as long as there is life.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Snapshots: Order from Chaos

The majority of my week was spent in cleaning up from the storm last weekend. So that's what most of these photos show.

Most of the plywood used to board up the two windows that smashed all the way through came from a piece that was in the bunkbed made for my cousin by my grandfather thirty years ago. It's still got the stickers on it that my cousin put on so many years ago.

This plywood has traveled far from its Wisconsin roots to protect the windows of my trailer in New Mexico.

We had a little rain this week, and I'm pleased to say that the plywood on the outside and the plastic bags on the inside were adequate to keep anything in the house from getting wet.

Half the horse shed roof peeled up in one big piece of tin and wood crosspieces. It was incredibly heavy, and was perched somewhat unstably on top of the shed. It needed to be pulled down and the roof patched enough to provide shade and rain (and God forbid, hail) protection to the horses.

A. has been in New York all week (on his way home now, yay!), so many of the tasks that would have fallen to him have now fallen to me and my junior work crew. Luckily, they really are old enough to work now. Every one of them helped me clean up all this mess, and although I did most of the heavy pulling of the old roof to get it off and supervised the patching, I didn't actually go up on the roof myself.

I delegated that task to a much younger and lighter person who is also much better with tools than I am.

The Honda runs fine, but sustained enough damage to the windshield that I'm not very comfortable driving it. A. took the van to New York, which left me with the two trucks. 

I don't much like driving a stick shift, and the Ranger is not only a manual but also very small in the cab. So I've been driving the F-250 Heavy Duty when I have to go anywhere. It still has the giant racks on it, so this is my view when I'm driving.

Not my usual style, but it gets me where I need to go.

There were many, many piles of branches and leaves on the driveway that we raked up. I let them dry out for a few days, and then we had a bonfire one morning on the edge of the driveway.

Should've made s'mores.

All 18 sheep survived the storm just fine. They sheltered in the abandoned adobe house next door we own.

And the rising sun, of course, just keeps on coming up, storm or no storm.

There you have it! My post-storm life, snapshotted.