Friday, August 11, 2023

Friday Food: So Long, Summer Break


Short version: Meatball subs, potato chips, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long version: I took the younger kids to the county fair in the afternoon. We didn't get home until around 5 p.m. Luckily, I had already baked my bread, and had used some of dough to make buns. They were slightly bigger than hot dog buns, which was good, since I ended up using them to make meatball subs with the meatballs left over from the day before.

Before heating up.

The cheese on top was completely frozen, but I was not about to turn on the oven to melt it. Way too hot. So I just microwaved the whole thing. No one complained.

I seem to have taken a photo of A.'s plate.

And here it is.


Short version: Eggs, bacon, spaghetti

Long version: This was the last day of the fair, and we didn't get home until just after 6 p.m. I had kind of been thinking of cooking the Hofmann's hot dogs A. had brought home from New York, but I felt like everyone had eaten enough sodium-laden snacks at the fair already.

So instead, I cooked half a dozen slices of bacon. More sodium, yes, but at least not the main course. I chopped some of those up and added them to leftover plain spaghetti along with frozen peas, butter, garlic powder, pepper, and Parmesan. The children had that with fried eggs.

I had bacon and eggs with leftover sauteed zuchinni.

A. was out working on sheep fence while we were eating. When he came back, he had corn tortillas with cheese, pinto beans, and bacon in them.


Short version: Oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, s'mores

Long version: I hadn't made oven-fried chicken in a long time, but it was actually cool enough this day to run the oven without wanted to close myself in our chest freezer. Of course, by the time I finished baking chicken and making and reducing chicken stock with the extra chicken, I had managed to raise the temperature of the kitchen to 81 degrees and I was sweating anyway.

The chicken was good, though!

I baked the potatoes with the chicken and then mashed them.

The corn was just frozen kernels. Not as exciting as corn on the cob, but certainly not refused.

We had two chocolate bars, half a bag of marshmallows, and most of a box of graham crackers left from the s'mores supplies the MiL sent home with A. So that's what the kids had for Sunday dessert.


Short version: Chicken and rice casserole

Long version: I made this casserole the day before while I was making Sunday dinner. I cooked the extra chicken pieces in water with onion, celery, and carrot, and pulled all the meat off the bones. I added this to cooked rice, along with cooked onion and garlic, frozen peas, cream, chicken stock, and grated cheddar cheese. 

The whole reason I made this ahead of time is because I was at school all day for in-service meetings and knew I would not be in any kind of mood to cook when I got home. Turning the oven on and heating up a casserole was about my limit.

I added a cup or so of extra stock before I baked it so it wouldn't dry out in the oven, since the rice had absorbed all the liquid overnight, but I added a bit too much stock and it could have used more cheese.

It was still eaten without complaint, however, which I admit is a low bar but is also my reality.


Short version: Lamb chops, roasted potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette, chocolate chip cookie bars

Long version: I perhaps was a little optimistic about running the oven at high heat for almost an hour. A rainstorm came through (yay!) and cooled everything down juuuust as I was about to start cooking. And then by the time I finished cooking, it was over 80 degrees in the kitchen and muggy from the rain.

Oh well. Tasty food, in any case.

I screwed up the cookie bars when I realized I didn't have any brown sugar, so I added some molasses* but failed to add extra white sugar in the quantity required for the brown sugar part of the recipe. I did add the white sugar specified, but the majority of the sugar in the recipe is brown, and that meant that more than half the sugar was missing.

Interestingly, the cookies were sweet enough, it was the texture that suffered. They didn't hold together well and are kind of crumbly and dry. It was a triple batch, too. That's a lot of crumbly cookie bars.

Again, still eaten without complaint. And it does make me wonder if I could reduce the total sugar by maybe a quarter without impacting the texture. Then again, it's a cookie. I'm not sure the extra sugar really matters.


Short version: Sloppy joe sandwiches, green salad with vinaigrette

Long version: I made these sandwiches with ground sheep, so should I call them sloppy shepherd sandwiches? No? I thought not.


Short version: Pork chunks, black-eyed peas, rice, cucumbers

Long version: What are pork chunks, you ask? Well! I took a photo for illustrative purposes.

And here we have some chunks. Of pork.

I cut the chunks off another pork sirloin roast and just fried them in butter with salt, garlic powder, and paprika.

The black-eyed peas were from the freezer. I took them out a couple of days previously and kept forgetting to serve them, so I really just made the pork--and rice--to go along with the black-eyed peas.

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

* I learned several years ago that molasses+white sugar=brown sugar. It's an easy way to make up for running out of brown sugar, although I have to be sparing with the molasses, as the flavor comes through pretty strongly.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Flowers, Finally!

Some of you may remember a few years ago when I had a regular Monday photo of the wildflower arrangement in the middle of my dining room table.

Those arrangements typically start in June, with yellow clover flowers and the purple silver nightshade flowers. Those got beat up in the first hailstorm we had, and I didn't get any.

The sunflowers are usually starting to bloom in July. This year everything was delayed thanks to our weeks of cold rain in the beginning of summer, and then the sunflowers that were just beginning to form buds were flattened in the big hail storm in July.

The ornamental sage I often put together with the sunflowers got almost entirely destroyed in that same storm, as well.

But finally, I'm starting to see just a few sunflowers blooming. Unfortunately, the cucumber beetles are already in full force, and they chew up the blooms. So it wasn't until this morning that I found a sunflower that had just opened and therefore wasn't yet in tatters.

I pulled a few of the long grasses with fluffly seed heads on them and put those together with the sunflower and the dried purple flowers that have been sitting on the table for months while I waited for fresh flowers.

And finally, FINALLY, I have wildflowers for the table again.

Happy flower times are here again.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Growing Food: Stand-Up Comedy

Given the very unfunny state of my garden at the moment--the plague of locusts continues unabated--I thought I would share with you a list inspired by one of my children and the fact that I'm old enough to have seen Jeff Foxworthy live in The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

If your children sit down to a chicken dinner and ask suspiciously while glaring at the drumsticks on their plate, "Who is this?". . . You might grow your own food.

If a fifteen-minute recipe takes you seven hours . . . You might grow your own food.

If you can't start dinner without putting on your shoes and going outside . . . You might grow your own food.

If dinner preparations often leave mud in your sink . . . You might grow your own food.

If none of your vegetables have ever touched plastic . . . You might grow your own food.

If you know the names of more than one variety of beet . . . You might grow your own food.

If this photo inspires great excitement . . . 

You might grow your own food. And really love tomatoes.

Can you think of any others?

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Snapshots: County Fair Time

The county fair weekend is really the end of summer for us, as I start back to work tomorrow for in-service, and then school starts the following Monday. So the fair is the last summer hurrah.

Ready to gather candy and Otter Pops at the parade.

Cora waiting to be saddled for the horse events at the kids' rodeo.

Heading over to the rodeo arena.

I was there, too, in proper fair attire. Which, for me, includes the world's dorkiest hat. Gotta have it, though, if I'm going to be at the fairgrounds for hours and not end up beet red.

I also spend the week before I start back to work trying to finish some of the things I meant to do over the summer and somehow never got to. It's kind of like nesting, I suppose, just instead of a baby at the end of it, I have to go to work.

Definitely not as much fun.

Anyway! One of things I did was empty one of the drawers in the cabinet under the microwave in which I store canning jar lids and rings. 

It was very full and very messy. Good thing I had a helper.

Much better. And now I know that I will not need to buy rings for, well, years.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.