Friday, September 15, 2023

Friday Food: The First Stupice


Short version: Lamb chunks, mashed potatoes, carrot sticks

Long version: Our school has a four-day week (with longer days), so we typically don't have school on Fridays. However, we are required to have the Monday off for Labor Day, so we always have school the Friday after Labor Day to make up for that. That means I was at work.

I wasn't really planning on cooking, but I had the boneless leg of lamb roast I had taken out a few days previously that wasn't getting any younger. To cook that faster, I cut it into chunks, which I fried in bacon grease with salt, garlic powder,and zaatar.

And then one of my children was sick and had a terrible sore throat, so I had to make some mashed potatoes. I peeled six small potatoes before I remembered I had a jar of instant potato flakes in the pantry, so I decided not to bother with more peeling, instead cooking the ones I had already peeled and then adding the potato flakes to bulk them up.

Four out of six family members actually preferred them this way. I am not one of them, but then, I don't usually eat mashed potatoes.

In related news, I ate the first Stupice tomato this day.

Butter knife for scale.

Obviously, that tomato wasn't really enough to do much with, so I just sliced it and put it in the pan with my eggs in the morning. I love eggs and tomatoes.


Short version: Tuna salad sandwiches, raw cabbage

Long version: This was not my plan for this meal, but then the one child was still sick and A. was in Santa Fe running errands, so I made a very easy meal for the three children eating.


Short version: Pork, American potato salad, steamed carrots and broccoli, chocolate ice cream

Long version: The pork was a giant package of two sirloin roasts I had taken out the day before. It was much too much meat for one meal, so I did some prep work to make my life easier in the future. Some of the pork I cut into chunks and put back in the freezer. Some more I cut into thin pieces for stir-fry and put back in the freezer. The meat that was too awkward to cut off the bones was what I cooked this day.

I stuck them in my Dutch oven with salt and water while we were at church and cooked them in the oven until they were tender. Then I pulled off the meat at dinnertime and spread it on a pan with some of the rendered fat, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and maple syrup and broiled that until it was crispy.

While the pork was in the oven, I also baked several potatoes. Those were for the potato salad. I make American potato salad about once a year, because only about half the family likes mayonnaise-based potato salad. I decided to make it now because I had dill pickles in the refrigerator (thanks, MiL!), and a proper potato salad must have dill pickles in it.

It was very good.


Short version: Leftover pork, starch variety, raw cabbage, peaches and cream

Long version: I thought there was more potato salad than there was. It ended up being only enough for one child. I had two baked potatoes I hadn't used in the potato salad. I quickly microwaved one more and sliced two potatoes to fry in the pan while I re-heated the pork. The fried potatoes covered two more people.

The other baked potato was scooped out and mashed with butter for the still-sick child.

And the last child got the last bit of macaroni and cheese from a weekend lunch.

A. had bought the peaches at a roadside stand on his way home from Santa Fe. They weren't quite ripe enough to use for dessert on Sunday, so we had them this night instead. Peeled, diced, covered in sugar and cream. 

These were the first--and likely, the last--good peaches we'd had this year. Covered in sugar and cream is an excellent way to enjoy them.


Short version: Spanish tortilla

Long version: Another nuts Tuesday after school meant a make-ahead meal saves the day. Spanish tortilla--this one had potatoes, eggs, bacon, onions, and cheese-- is a very good option for that.

I did not serve a vegetable. The salsa everyone puts on it will have to count.


Short version: Bull 'n' bean chili

Long version: I made this the day before when I was in the kitchen anyway. I used some of the ground bull meat, which I think is STILL too chewy for burgers or whatever. It's fine in a long-simmered chili like this, though, which also had black and pinto beans in it, as well as frozen calabaza from last year's garden.

The calabaza and tomatoes in the chili were our vegetables for the night. Ahem.

But hey! I did manage to dice onion and grate cheese for toppings! So inspiring, I know.


Short version: Pork stir-fry, rice

Long version: Another nuts day after school. I was at school with Poppy, who was cheering at her first volleyball game. A. took the judo run. Another kid was off doing FFA stuff all day and didn't get home until after 9 p.m.

Since I wasn't there when the judo crew were home for dinner, I made the pork stir-fry and rice ahead of time and left them on the stove for them to eat when they got home. 

Most of my food photos are noticeably less colorful and aesthetically pleasing.

I wasn't there because I was with the cheerleader at the first volleyball game she cheered at.

At home, of course.

The cheerleader had a tuna melt sandwich when we got home.

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Will We Make It?

This has been, to state the obvious, a highly unusual year in my garden. According to my previous posts--which is the only way I ever remember anything anymore--this is the time of year I would have quantities of tomatoes, green beans, and calabacitas.

However, thanks to the hail, grasshoppers and other insects, excess rain, and then drought, all of those are quite a bit behind.

I have a couple of green bean plants that are producing a few green beans, but not enough for a side dish.

The remaining tomato plants actually have a lot of flowers on them right now:

Floral arrangement.

And even quite a few actual tomatoes:

These are Stupice, which are typically my First Tomato.

We had two winter squash plants that survived the storm and cucumber beetles. They have half a dozen little squash on them.

This is the biggest one. It's about the size of a soup bowl.

The calabazas I replanted have a few tiny calabacitas on them, too. This is the biggest one of those:

It's about four inches long.

The random watermelon plants A. put in also have some watermelons of the vines.

Two of which decided to grow right next to each other.

This would all be very appropriate and hopeful if it were the beginning of August. But it's not. It's the middle of September. Our nights are already getting cooler. Our days are getting shorter. We can have a frost anytime in October, and none of these plants are cold hardy in the least.

So will we make it? I'm gonna say, barring a reeeeally long and warm Indian summer this fall . . . probably not.

I will certainly get some calabacitas, but I doubt we'll get a fully mature calabaza to store for winter. That one biggest squash might have time to mature, but I don't think any of the others on the plants will. We've already passed the really hot weather that the watermelons need to grow well.

That leaves the tomatoes. I will get some tomatoes this year. I will probably not get as many as the plants would produce, because I think it will get too cool, if not downright cold, for them to grow quickly and ripen well.

We'll see, though. All I can do is wait, because in this situation, as in so many others in gardening, it's all down to nature.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Snapshots: Plants and Chickens

I was bringing the sheep some hay when I noticed a very odd plant flowering in the back pasture.

It had very pretty flowers and a particularly striking seed pod.

Curioser and curioser.

When I went back inside to get my phone to take a photo, a child followed me back outside, and when I showed him the plant, he said, "It looks like the devil's claw we picked up in Arizona."

Ah ha. A quick online search confirmed that identification. I expect one of the children dropped their seed pod and it opportunistically grew in our pasture.

I haven't decided yet whether it's something I want to allow to continue growing on my property. The mature seed head is pretty frightening looking, although apparently parts of the plant are edible.

Anyway. Lookit the flowers!

Lots of roadside sunflowers to choose from. Although most are damaged by cucumber beetles.

And the ornamental sage is staging a comeback. Hooray! That means I can have . . .

Sunflowers 'n' sage on the table.

And last, some free-ranging chickens at sunrise.

The early chicken gets the bugs. Or something.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.