Friday, September 1, 2023

Friday Food: Definitely Not Vegetarian

I was very sick for the first about half of the week, so it was a bit of an unusual food week in our house.


Short version: Hofmann's hot dogs, bread, rooster rice

Long version: This is what I heard being eaten at the table right outside my bedroom door while I was in a feverish haze in bed. Needless to say, I did not have any.


Short version: T-bone steaks, rooster rice, strawberry jell-o

Long version: I didn't eat any of this but the jell-o, which I made. Not from a box, though. I used frozen strawberries, cooked with sugar and water and then strained, to make the jell-o with my gelatin powder. It was very good, although too stiff. Most recipes for homemade jell-o are by people who into it for the health benefits of the gelatin, so they call for a lot of gelatin in proportion to the other ingredients. I think this had about 7 cups of fruit juice and 3 tablespoons gelatin. Too much.

All the photos in the post are courtesy of Poppy, who was thrilled I let her take exactly four photos with my phone.

First up, a very blue outside shot.


Short version: Fried pork shoulder, mashed potatoes, fried mushrooms, carrot sticks with ranch dip, gingersnaps, blueberry jell-o

Long version: I did make this dinner! I even ate a few bites of meat! Although I mostly ate the jell-o. I did the same thing to make this as I did with the strawberry, except I used slightly less gelatin. I liked the texture a lot better, but blueberry jell-o just tastes weird. 

Not a fan. 

The gingersnaps were for a school event that required cookies. We made extra, of course.


Short version: Pork chimichangas, frozen fruit or canned peaches

Long version: Just the leftover pork, shredded and heated with salsa and then put in flour tortillas with cheese. I didn't manage a vegetable, so I gave everyone their choice of frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, or canned peaches.

A very bright window in the living room.


Short version: Cube steaks, mashed potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette, granola

Long version: Let's see . . . I cooked the cube steaks with the liquid left from the pork shoulder and five Roma tomatoes from the village store owner's garden. 

And I managed an actual vegetable. We were pretty light on vegetables this week.

A fan action shot.


Short version: Fried eggs, leftover mashed potatoes and cheese, carrot sticks with curry dip

Long verison: I had been planning to make barbecue pulled pork sandwiches for dinner with the rest of the leftover pork, but when I pulled out the big container with the pork in it, I found it had been steadily disappearing over the past few days and there wasn't enough left for everyone.

Plan B: Eggs. Not too exciting, but the leftover mashed potatoes re-heated with cheddar cheese filled it in a little.

And an unusually clear desk.


Short version: Barbecue meatballs, cornbread, frozen peas

Long version: A. and I spent a couple of hours in the morning grinding the last of the bull meat from the freezer. Or rather, I did all the trimming and cutting, and A. did all the actual grinding. The grinder is much easier to clean if a couple of slices of bread are run through it at the end to get all the meat and fat out. So I used that bread, plus the meat, to make meatballs.

I actually got the meatballs all made and realized shortly before dinner that I forgot to put the eggs in them. Whoops. So I squished them all back up again, with the eggs this time, and formed the meatballs again.

That was a close one.

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Growing Food: The New Mexico Wrap

Many moons ago, when the gardening season was still a time for starry-eyed visions of big boxes of tomatoes and crisper drawers full of cucumbers*, someone in the comments recommended I try the Florida weave to support my tomatoes.

I had never heard of it, so I looked it up. There are, of course, many videos showing it. I watched this one. Which is actually from the LSU Ag. Center, so maybe that's a Louisiana weave?


I tried it this year. 

A. split some cedar posts for me and pounded them into the ground about three feet apart. For the twine, I used the innumerable pieces of baling twine that are always hanging around after we cut them off of hay bales. I had to tie them together, of course, but it pleased me to use something that is otherwise just a nuisance to be thrown away. It's not going to win any design awards, but I enjoy such re-use.

Tomato post with very aesthetic baling twine.

The video shows the man just going on alternate sides of each post as he goes down the row until he gets to the end. This is presumably the "weave" part. I tried that the first pass, but then realized there is absolutely no point in that when it works much better to wrap the twine around each post a couple of times, ending up on the alternate side from the previous post and then continuing. 

This makes for a much tighter length of twine, and the tighter the twine, the better it holds the tomato plants upright. I have no idea why the video I saw didn't show this. Maybe everyone does it like that? Dunno.

This is why I'm re-naming my method The New Mexico Wrap. Catchy, no?


As the plant grows, more courses of woven twine are added above the existing ones to support the plants. The plants themselves can just be gently pulled inside the twine to hold them up. No tying.

This very sickly tomato plant allows us to see the plant inside the twine. The other plants are thankfully so robust that the twine has pretty much disappeared inside the foliage.

This has not been a year of really exuberant growth for my tomato plants (or, well, anything), but the tomatoes I have left are actually fairly big now, and the twine is holding them up. So I will do this again next year.

A couple of things I learned for next year, however.

As previously mentioned, do not just weave the twine in and out. Wrap it around each post as they come before continuing.

Smaller posts are better. The smaller the diameter of the posts (within reason), the closer together the two lengths of twine, and the better they hold the plants upright. 

This old stick where one plant died is about the right diameter. You can see the wrapping here, too.

I thought it would be great to have bamboo posts like I had at Blackrock, but then I remembered how slippery those bamboo posts were. I think the twine would probably slide down on them. Small diameter rough wood, either large sticks or small split wood, is better.

More posts are better. No more than two plants between each post seems to work pretty well.

So! To whoever recommended the Florida version to me, thank you. And to anyone else who wants to try it, feel free to make your own modifications and name it after your own location. It's fun.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Snapshots: I Live

I felt in some doubt of that in the past three days. I haven't been that sick in yeeears, and it was Very Not Fun.

However! I do think I may finally be recovering. I slept through the night last night; I might actually be able to eat some solid food today; and I even have some photos for you. Because life goes on, even when I'm mired in misery.

First, because this is truly the most exciting thing to happen all month:


The window company called Tuesday asking if they could come that day to install our windows, but they didn't actually show up until Friday. Kind of annoying, but hey, at least they came! And now I can see my dead asparagus from the kitchen again. 

The second most exciting thing this month:

I HAVE A TOMATO! (And a green bean.)

Because I am me, the first thing I did when I became even slightly ambulatory again yesterday afternoon was go check on the garden. And there I found a red tomato. It's a Roma, which is slightly less exciting than a really good eating tomato like a Stupice, but it's a tomato! And I found that one green bean, too, so the grasshoppers haven't eaten everything.

And last we have two table bouquets: One from before the Great Pestilence.

I changed it up a little by using the Topo Chico bottle and removing the dried purple flowers.

And one from after:

Poppy actually made this one for me, at my request. She did a good job. Takes after her mother. And the lighting is weird because I didn't get a picture until this morning, when the sun wasn't up yet.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.