Friday, October 6, 2023

Friday Food: Handy Ham


Short version: Tuna/salmon patties, garlic bread, tomato/cucumber salad, watermelon, stabby cake with chocolate whipped cream

Long version: I still have a few cans of salmon from excess commodities. The best way I've found to use these is to combine one with two big cans of tuna--plus bread crumbs, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, and dill--to make patties. 

I used my own tomatoes to make the salad. Not my own cucumbers, but the salad also had finely diced red onion from commodities and mustard vinaigrette, and it was very good.

The watermelon also came from commodities. It had seeds, and it's one of the best we've ever had. So of course we saved the seeds. Someday we'll manage to grow a good watermelon in our garden. Someday.

This was the feast day of St. Michael, the archangel who led the armies of heaven in casting the devil into Hell when he dared to present himself as equal to God. Several years ago, I started a tradition of making a cake--supposed to be devil's food, but I just make Grandma Bishop's chocolate cake--and letting the kids stab it after we say the St. Michael prayer. Like St. Michael stabbing the devil, get it?


I rarely make frosting for the stabby cake. This year I made whipped cream to top it, but experimented with adding cocoa powder to it to make chocolate whipped cream. I really liked it--it tasted like chocolate mousse--but most of the family said they prefer plain whipped cream.


Short version: Bull and potato casserole pancakes, frozen peas, more watermelon

Long version: I decided to use some of the food processed bull meat in another casserole, this one with shredded potatoes. I also threw in the liquid I had drained from the jar of pressure canned bull meat, the last of a bottle of ketchup, a little mustard vinaigrette, some sauteed red onion, heavy cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.

I discovered after this had baked for awhile that I definitely should have squeezed the potatoes dry. The casserole was wet and gluey and very unappealing.

So I spread it out on a parchment lined baking sheet and broiled it until it was crispy on top.

Casserole salvage.

Despite the end result looking very much like dog food, it actually turned out well and I got several compliments on it. Yay me.

We finished the watermelon, which was on the small side for a seeded watermelon, this night. Sadness.


Short version: Baked ham, cornbread, mashed squash, cucumbers, rice pudding

Long version: This ended up being more of a Sunday feast than I had originally planned on making. The ham, a big bone-in one, I baked in the morning while the rice pudding was in the oven. Ditto the squash, which was a purchased one.

I made the cornbread because A. had been hunting with one of the boys in the morning. Said boy shot a big bull elk, which was a mile from the car and necessitated several round-trips to pack all the meat out. I figured they would need a very hearty dinner after hiking more than twelve miles with loaded packs. Ham and cornbread is pretty filling.

So is rice pudding. A hearty meal, indeed. And much appreciated by the hunter (and his dad).

Also, I definitely made that big ham with the idea that it would come in very handy for the rest of the week, which featured a lot of running around by me and not a lot of time in the kitchen.

Let's all enjoy the candlelight that now brightens our breakfast table before school:

Plus a lone sunflower and little bit of sage.


Short version: Split leftovers, cantaloupe

Long version: Half the family had the last of the leftover bull and sheep chili. Two children had the rest of the bull casserole, which I fried flat in a pan of butter to crisp it up. And I had two hardboiled eggs and a bunch of tomatoes with vinaigrette.

The tomatoes weren't mine. However, one of the teachers at school has a garden about an hour away that appears to be doing well, based on the fact that she's leaving produce on the counter in the front office for the taking. I am more than happy to take the tomatoes, since I have hundreds of green tomatoes in my own garden, but not many ripe ones yet.

The cantaloupe--from excess commodities-- was sweet, but still not soft. The disappointment of a crunchy melon is crushing, indeed.


Short version: Ham and cheese tortillas

Long version: I had to drive to a not-close city this day, so I wasn't here for dinner. A. fed the judo children in the fifteen minutes they had between getting home on the bus and leaving for judo. Based on what I found on the counter when I got home, I think it was leftover ham and melted cheese in flour tortillas. A very serviceable fast dinner.


Short version: Elk steaks, bread and butter, carrot sticks, double chocolate peanut butter almond cookies

Long version: Second son had a very successful elk hunt on Sunday, resulting in 200 pounds of elk meat chilling (literally) in coolers of ice all week to age. I had suggested to A. that he might take the tenderloin out and cut some steaks from it so we could try the meat. 

He ended up not having to continue driving the bus after getting to our house because some kids weren't riding, so he cut the steaks when we got home. And since he was cutting them up and I was already collapsed in my chair after work, I suggested maybe he could just go ahead and cook them.

So he did. And they were very fancy. There was beef tallow for frying and mushrooms and onions and parsley and heavy cream and some flat beer. Ta da! Fancy elk steaks.

They were very good. I was extremely relieved that this elk did not have the overwhelming musky flavor of an elk in rut like our last one did. It was so hard to get through all that meat. It will not be hard to get through this one. It tastes more or less like beef with a slight aftertaste that reminds you it's a game meat. 

I added the side dishes, because I'm mostly the only one who cares about balanced meals. And I was happy to slice some bread and carrots once all the real work was done.

Oh. The cookies. I used this recipe for this week's snack cookies*, except (there's always an except for me in following recipes) I used some white wheat flour, reduced the sugar by about a quarter, used chopped almonds instead of peanuts, and didn't bother with the salt on top. Winner.


Short version: Ham and cheese chimichangas, raw cabbage

Long version: I was subbing at school, so I didn't have a lot of time between getting home and getting kids out the door for judo. Handy ham to the rescue again!

Diced ham and cheese in rolled flour tortillas, fried in butter. Chunks of raw cabbage, and that's a wrap for the week.

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

* The two younger children still have a snack time at school, and I typically send in a wide-mouth pint jar of cookies for them to keep in their cubbies every week. For school snack cookies, I make somewhat heartier recipes with some protein, which means peanut butter, nuts, or oats. Or all three. And I usually slightly reduce the sugar, too.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Seeking Suggestions

Good morning, my fellow gardeners and vegetable enthusiasts! Today I would like to ask your help in my garden plans for next year.

We are still experimenting and refining what works best for us to grow here in our high plains garden. Some things I have eliminated just because we don't truly like to eat them. 

Swiss chard, I'm looking at you. 

Some things we have not figured out how to grow successfully here in our challenging growing environment.

Two things I have figured out are calabacitas and tomatoes. They will definitely always be in my garden.

But! I know there are some things that I probably could grow and would like, but I'm just not thinking of. Like the accidental rutabagas-that-were-really-turnips this year. I almost certainly would not have chosen to grow turnips, but once I had them on hand, I discovered the joy of sauerruben, and now I will probably grow them just for that purpose from now on.

This is where you come in. I need you to help me expand my vegetable gardening horizons. 

Hit me with your favorite things to grow, and your favorite ways to eat them, so that we may all learn from each other and possibly expand our seed ordering list for next year.

Thank you in advance for your assistance. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Snapshots: Shoulder Season Flowers

I was somewhat surprised when I took a walk on Tuesday and found that the sunflowers have almost entirely given up the ghost. I feel like that happened very quickly this year.

Seed heads in the morning light.

I managed to find a couple sunflowers that were in good enough shape for the table. The flowers on the table are now joined by candles, because it's dark when the kids eat breakfast before school, and candlelight makes them happy.

As happy as they're going to be at 6:35 a.m. on a school day, anyway.

The calendula is still bravely blooming despite the ravages of weather and grasshoppers.

I have some hope it might even set seeds.

Oh look, more early-morning walk photos.

Good morning, schoolhouse.

And a shadow self-portrait in the school bus door.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.