Thursday, August 3, 2023

Friday Food: Hooray for Tomato Salad!


Short version: Sloppy joe sandwiches, tomato salad

Long version: I mostly made the sloppy joes because A. brought home my favorite barbecue sauce, which can only be purchased in New York: Dinosaur BBQ's Sensuous Slathering Sauce.

Could I make something similar myself? Of course. But it's better if I don't have to.

Even more exciting than the barbecue sauce was the tomato salad. A. also brought home a few big tomatoes from a roadside stand, and I cut one up for the salad. It was just the tomato, garlic powder, a few precious leaves of basil from the tiny and battered plants in the garden, salt, and the rest of a jar of vinaigrette.

Simple, but spectacular.

It was so good. So, so good. The liquor left in the bowl at the end is the best part, too.

It is possible this is the only tomato salad I will get this year, which made it a little bittersweet. But mostly sweet.


Short version: Lamb chops, spaghetti, cucumbers, carrot sticks 

Long version: A child who shall remain nameless had declared the day before that he wanted to cook steak for dinner. Unfortunately for him, I had already taken out the ground beef for sloppy joes, and we don't have any steak left from our last cow.

I did tell him he could make dinner this night, though, and choose whatever meat he wanted from the freezer. He chose sheep loin chops. He started them on the grill, but didn't have enough charcoal to cook them all the way, so we finished them under the oven broiler.

The spaghetti had I think cream, cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and a lot of pepper on it.

I added the vegetables. Because I'm a Mom with a capital "M."


Short version: Brisket, mashed potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing, pots de creme

Long version: We had our new priest over for dinner. I wanted to make something that could mostly be done ahead, so I actually cooked the brisket overnight and sliced it in the morning before re-heating it with the juices at dinnertime.

I added a garlic clove to the mashed potatoes, since it was a company dinner. And garlic in mashed potatoes is delicious.

I didn't have quite enough of the oakleaf lettuce left from the commodities this week for a salad for seven people, so I scavenged some not-too-beaten-up beet greens and the least bitter of the garden lettuce to mix with the oakleaf. There was also tomato, and carrot shavings.

Our guest had seconds of everything, so I guess he liked it. 


Short version: Pork escalopes with sauerruben, rice, carrots, frozen grapes

Long version: A. had bought a package of two pork sirloin roasts that were inconveniently frozen together. I thawed them just enough to separate them, and put one back in the freezer. The other still wasn't completely thawed at dinner, so I just sliced off very thin pieces--I'll call them escalopes to be fancy--and fried those with paprika, garlic powder, and a little salt to brown before adding some of the sauerruben (fermented turnips) to cook with the pork.

This was very tasty. I really can't tell much of a difference between sauerruben and the more common sauerkraut, except, as A. remarked, the texture is different. The sauerruben holds up to cooking better than sauerkraut, which just kind of melts down. 

We had the frozen grapes because we got an entire case of green grapes from commodities. Like twenty pounds of grapes. I froze a bunch of them individually on pans to use in fruit shakes, but frozen grapes are also very good to eat plain in the summer. So we did.

Also in the kitchen this day, I made switchel.

That's how you know football practices have begun.


Short version: Last-minute pizza, carrots

Long version: My plan had been to cook the rest of the sirloin roast I had cut pieces off of the day before. I did it slow in the oven in the morning, because the bone on those is really awkward and the meat has to be tender enough to pull off the bone to get it all.

I did indeed cook it, and then I realized it wasn't enough meat for all of us.

However! I was baking bread that day, and then when I was at the post office I picked up a can of spaghetti sauce (they often have excess commodities things for the taking at our post office), and the kids were asking randomly about pizza . . . 

Pizza was foreordained. So I made it.

I made two, and one had like eight pieces of pepperoni on it because that's all that was left in the package, so they were mostly just cheese.

Carrots from the garden. We'll call them personal-sized carrots. Ahem.


Short version: Skillet thing, cucumber, tomato, yogurt, granola

Long version: I had been kind of planning to make fried rice, but we just had that and one of my kids is not a huge fan. So instead I browned about a pound of ground beef and added some pressure-canned beans, onion, garlic, and the juice from a can of tomatoes, cooked that for awhile, then added leftover rice and grated cheddar.

I was going to add chile powder and cumin to make it sort of Mexican, but it tasted pretty good as it was, so I didn't. And then all the kids exclaimed about how good it was and got seconds and thirds.

I just never know what's going to be a hit.

I had one tomato left from the ones A. brought back from his roadtrip. The cucumber was one I got at the tiny store in the village. The owner has a small garden out back and sometimes has produce on the counter. I had a little bit of ranch dressing left, so I just chopped up the cucumber and mixed it with the ranch.


A. got some yogurt after dinner, which inspired a second round of eating in the children. They all had either yogurt (plain), yogurt with granola, or granola with milk, according to preference.

I don't care if they want to eat after dinner, as long as they've eaten their actual meal and get their secondary food themselves. After the main event, I am done with food prep.


Short version: Spaghetti and meatballs, sauteed zucchini, carrots

Long version: I had used only the juice from a can of whole tomatoes for the previous night's skillet meal, so I used the actual tomatoes to make the sauce for the meatballs. There wasn't a whole lot for the spaghetti, but I added some extra garlic powder and butter and it was fine.

The zucchini was from the CSA box we got from commodities. I just sauteed it in olive oil with garlic.

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Growing Food: Or Am I?

This sure was quite a year to choose to document my garden with all of you. I'm beginning to think that titling these "Growing Food" is a bit misleading of me, since the actual amount of food out there is pretty pathetic.

I did harvest a few things yesterday, though. Five tiny carrots that didn't have any foliage left on top, ditto one beet the size of a golf ball, and a hot pepper that had been on the plant my neighbor gave me and was all that was left on that plant once the grasshoppers were done with it.

We had some of the carrots for dinner. Butter knife for scale, I guess, although you can trust me when I tell you these were very baby carrots.

The grasshoppers are completing the destruction begun by the harlequin beetles, cucumber beetles, and hail. They are eating everything. Even the perennials. A. has resorted to spraying pesticide in our garden, which we have never done, just to keep the asparagus and rhubarb alive for next year.

I actually had a semi-ripe tomoto on one of the bigger plants that was protected enough by foliage it survived the hail storm.

A Stupice, because they are always The First Tomato.

It was foolish of me to leave it on the plant to ripen. The grasshoppers ate that, too.

Oddly, the one thing they haven't touched is the watermelon vines A. planted on a whim this year. And of course, that's the thing we are least likely to get an actual harvest from.

It's pretty grim, I gotta say.

At this point, I'm just trying to keep as many weeds from setting seeds as I can* and get the perennials through until next year. 

Next year is the hope of all gardeners. Especially when this year has been so wretched.

* Of course the weeds are flourishing. That is always the way.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Snapshots: Pickles and Views

The MiL's cucumbers were just starting to produce when A. was there, so she sent him home with a bag of them. We ate a couple fresh, but I had to use some of them to make refrigerator pickles. My own plants are currently about two inches high and probably going to be devoured by the swarms of cucumber beetles everywhere, so this seemed like my best shot to ensure at least a few pickles this year. 

I had to use dry dill weed in them, because my own dill is dead, broken stalks in the garden. It's been quite a year.

I used the extra brine, to which I added a little sugar, to pickle the remaining daikon radish from commodities.

I have no idea where this packaging came from. So far as I know, we have no toy like this. But the image on the bag made me literally laugh out loud.

Specifically, the face on that top little guy. He doesn't appear to enjoy being shaken.

One of the boys was reading My Side of the Mountain, and announced he wanted to make acorn pancakes like Sam. And of course, since he did, everyone did. We don't have any acorns on hand, but we do have a lot of raw almonds. So I handed over my molcajete and told them to have at it. 

They ground and ground and ground, gaining a new appreciation for modern appliances and pre-ground flour. They watch a lot of YouTube videos about developing countries with their dad, and nearly all of them show women grinding some sort of grain with stones. Now they know how hard that is.

A lot of labor for not a lot of calories. That pretty much sums up pre-industrial life, I suppose.

We added a tiny bit of water to the resulting ground nuts, formed them into patties, and baked them. They were tasty and their makers were pleased with them, but they haven't asked to do it again.

And last, a couple of photos from when I had to travel down the hill, but still in the middle of nowhere.

A very early settlement that is now a private ranch.

And the range under cloudy skies.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.