Friday, August 25, 2023

Friday Food: Down and Out

I am uncharacteristically late this morning because I'm sick. But the show--and the food reporting--must go on.


Short version: Bull and potato casserole

Long version: I had to get the food processor out to chop up another bag of the commodities almonds I use for granola and cookies, so I also used it to process a jar of pressure-canned bull meat. And why is that? Because I never use the food processor for just one thing.


I had six potatoes in the refrigerator that I had baked a few days previously just to have on hand, so I chopped those up, added the last of already cooked diced onion from the freezer, the bull meat (processed with bacon grease and garlic for extra flavor), frozen corn, the last of a some tomato juice in the refrigerator, some heavy cream, grated cheddar, and a little ketchup.

I actually baked it in the morning while I was making the granola and a sour cream-chocolate chip pound cake, and then when it was even hotter at dinner time, I re-heated it in the microwave.

It turned out better than you'd think, given the total randomness of its assembly.

And did I count the corn as a vegetable? Yes, yes I did. Not sorry, either.


Short version: Sandwiches, pickles, faked beans, chocolate ice cream

Long version: A. went to the store on Friday and I had asked him to get deli ham and salami. These are very rare purchases for us, and I decided to take advantage of having them by having sandwiches for dinner. I really didn't feel like cooking, so it seemed like a good idea.

And then I ended up cooking anyway, to make the faked beans. These are baked beans, except they're not baked at all. I used two jars of pressure-canned pinto beans, two pieces of chopped bacon, diced onion, the very last of a bottle of Dinosaue BBQ Sauce rinsed out with water, ketchup, yellow mustard, and maple syrup all simmered together for about 40 minutes.

Passable baked beans, actually.

For the sandwiches, I set out the last of the tuna salad, the two kinds of deli meat, slices of cheddar, lettuce, sliced onion, mustard and mayonnaise, and let everyone make their own.

Sandwich bar ahoy.


Short version: Quesadillas, leftover vegetables and ranch dip

Long version: We went to a church potluck in the early afternoon at which there was a LOT of food. Only a few people were hungry at dinnertime, so for them I made cheese quesadillas with flour tortillas. The vegetables and dip were my contribution to the potluck, and there were enough left for those kids to have with their dinner.

This is obviously a Before Photo.

When I make ranch dip for vegetables, I make it the same way as ranch dressing, but I use sour cream instead of yogurt. This makes it much thicker, so it doesn't just drip off the vegetable being dipped.


Short version: Crepes, eggs

Long version: I had been planning to make eggs for everyone when I got home from work, but then a few kids didn't ride the bus, so A. didn't have to continue his bus run after getting us home. Since he was home, I asked him to make crepes for the children. Two had them with butter and syrup; two had them with sour cream and rhubarb-plum jam I had made.

A. and I had the eggs. And A. also had the rest of one of the previous night's quesadillas that wasn't finished. He had to eat it because it had pickled jalapenos in it, and I will not eat jalapenos in any form. Too owie for my sensitive mouth.


Short version: Chicken and rice casserole, carrot sticks

Long version: A. had bought a package of enormous bone-in chicken breasts. The entire package was about five pounds, and there were only three breasts in it. Those are some seriously well-endowed chickens. Kind of alarming, to be honest.


I poached two of them in the morning in water with the ends of an onion, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns. Then I used the resulting broth to cook some rice. The rest of the onion was all sauteed in a pan. Some of the onion went into the casserole with some of the rice, and the shredded chicken. 

I made a cheese sauce, too, with cheddar cheese, but it needed a LOT more cheese sauce. Like double the amount. It was a bit dry and bland. Still okay, but could definitely have been better.


Short version: Chicken fried rice

Long version: The third chicken breast I had de-boned the day before. I cut the meat into smaller pieces and left it in the refrigerator. I used that, plus the rest of the onion, the remaining rice, some frozen peas, and eggs, to make the fried rice when I got home from work.

The one child who doesn't much like fried rice was in luck this evening: I had just enough leftover baked beans and plain rice for one child-sized meal. I do not typically offer alternatives to whatever I've made for dinner, but I wanted to finish off those beans, so that worked out.


Short version: More cheesier chicken casserole

Long version: I was up and down all the previous night with a sick child. The sort of sick that requires a bowl at hand at all times. I wasn't quite as sick, but neither of us were in great shape. I was still feeling functional enough in the afternoon to make some rice with rooster stock, just in case either of us felt strong enough for solid food. (We did not.)

For the rest of the family, I added some of that rice to the leftover chicken casserole, along with extra butter, salt, and shredded cheese. 

Shortly after that, the fever began and that was pretty much it for me. But at least I got dinner made!

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Growing Food: Tenacious Flowers

Although some things in the garden are a total loss--alas for the basil--some of the plants are staging a comeback. And in plants, that looks like flowers.

A single hollyhock.

Calendula buds. Unfortunately, the grasshoppers REALLY like calendula blooms, so it's hard to get to enjoy them as flowers before they get devoured.

Volunteer lettuce. Oddly, the grasshoppers don't eat lettuce at all.

Green beans. I have exactly seven green bean plants left, and I have eaten exactly two green beans from them so far.

And tomatoes. There are even wee tomatoes on the remaining eleven plants. Thankfully, the grasshoppers don't seem to eat the foliage off the plants, although they do eat the fruits when they start to ripen, so I'll have to be vigilant.

We have about two months before our first frost, give or take a couple of weeks, and my fingers are crossed that some of those flowers will turn into food in my kitchen.

So tell me, my fellow gardeners: How does your garden grow?

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Snapshots: Hot Peppers

The owner of the tiny store in the village asked if he could buy two loaves of sourdough bread from me. I give away a lot of bread, and I didn't really want to take payment for these two, so when I brought them to him, I said I would rather have produce from his garden than cash. 

He said he didn't have much right now except jalapenos, and he didn't think I would want those, because how many jalapenos can one person use?

A lot, if they're canned.

So I took the jalapenos in exchange for the bread (plus two tomatoes and a cucumber), and did some pickling.

They didn't look like a lot when I dumped them out in the sink.

Although they were a nice size.

But when I started slicing them, * they magically expanded into six pints of pickled peppers.

Not picked by Peter Piper, however.

Did I perhaps re-use lids for this canning project? I sure did. And all but one jar sealed tightly. 

If my kitchen photos are looking a little dark, it's because I still have trash bags and boards over my windows.


The window repair company has ordered our new windows, but we don't have a date for installation yet. Boo.

I bring sunshine in, though, in the form of the sunflowers on the table.

Top flower courtesy of Poppy, who found it on her walk and brought it to me.

And last, a random sunset picture for you.

Sunset in the vineyard.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

* I dislike wearing gloves when I'm working with my hands, but I make an exception for slicing hot peppers. Luckily, we had just had our first aid training at school, and part of that is practicing the proper way to take off rubber gloves to avoid contact with biohazardous materials. I kept my practice gloves, and that's what I used for slicing the peppers.