Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday Food: Party Time!


Short version: Brisket, mashed potatoes, frozen green peas

Long version: This was the day I drove to the city for son's surgery. I had cooked this brisket the day before with the pork roast, knowing I would be very tired after my 3 a.m. wake-up and long drive to and from the hospital. 

I was. Hooray for pre-made brisket.


Short version: Frito pie

I had a fairly big container of chili in the freezer that I decided to use for Frito pie this night. We had all kinds of fun toppings.

Well, if you consider tomatoes and red onion fun. Which we do.

The tomatoes were two small ripe ones that my sister and Poppy had found in the garden this very afternoon. Tomatoes don't last long in our house.


Short version: Pizza, roasted green beans, sauteed calabacita and onion, strawberries and cream

Long version: One pizza, as always, was just cheese. The other had pepperoni, cooked mushrooms, and cooked onions. This was the day I had made pesto from the garden basil. So I made the pizza sauce with a jar of the roasted tomato puree I had made with the tomatoes my parents brought me last month, and some of the pesto.

I roasted the green beans--the ones my sister brought--while the pizza was in. The calabacita was a small one I found in the garden that looked slightly frosted on top, but was fine when I diced it. I cooked it with some more of that red onion, and it was very good. Also very colorful, with the green and purple together.

My sister had also brought a big container of fresh strawberries, which I hulled, sliced, covered in sugar, and then drowned in cream. As is proper for fresh strawberries.


Short version: Surprising sheep stew, rice, fruit shakes

Long version: We had yet another sheep die of bloat, this time one of the ram lambs. The problem was a particularly rich hay that was just too much for the sheep. Well, that, and the gluttony of certain sheep that ate too much of it.

In any case, this was one that was slated for the freezer anyway, so it wasn't a big loss. I was at work this day, so A. did all the butchering himself. I asked him to set aside some quick-cooking pieces, thinking I would just fry some tenderloin chunks or steaks when I got home.

Instead I came home to find a very appetizing stew on the stove. I didn't make it, so I'm not sure of all the ingredients, but I know it had mushrooms, parsley, and red wine in it. It was very good, and a lovely surprise to find dinner made.

I made some rice to go along with it, since there were now two children with sore throats. They had just the rice and broth. A very comforting sick-child meal.

The sore throats are also why I made the fruit shakes--smoothies to the rest of the world--after dinner. Well, sore throats and the fact that there wasn't actually a vegetable with dinner. Fruit is an acceptable substitute, I suppose.


Short version: Elk steaks, spaghetti, cucumber spears

Long version: I marinated the steaks with some mustard vinaigrette and then fried them. I also used some of the liquid from A.'s sheep stew as a sauce for anyone who wanted that.

I read the next day that Tuesday was National Pasta Day (seriously, who comes up with these random days?), and I thought it was amusing that I had served pasta on that particular day when it is not a very common side dish in our house. But I had a bit of pasta sauce left, which made excellent spaghetti when combined with a bunch of butter.


Short version: Birthday sausage, buttery rice, carrot sticks with curry dip, chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and a LOT of rainbow sprinkles

Long version: This was our new six-year-old's request for her birthday dinner. It had the great benefit of being very fast to make after my work day. I used the last two packages of Gianelli sausage A. brought me from New York, and there was leftover rice already.

The birthday girl helped me decorate her cake. She asked me to put an "L" (for her real name) and a "6" on there, which I did with strawberry-rhubarb puree. But then she almost completely obliterated that with sprinkles.

This Ugly Cake was a two-person effort.

The other pan is brownies with chocolate-peanut-butter frosting and yet more sprinkles for the treat she brought into school. I apologized ahead of time to her teacher for giving the kids something so messy to eat in class, but they were a big hit. At least with the students.


Short version: Guacamole and tortilla chips, sidecars

Long version: The three younger children were gone on a field trip and didn't get home until 10 p.m. I had three ripe avocados that my sister had brought that needed to be used, as well as tortilla chips and limes from the same source. Thus, guacamole.

She also brought the orange liqueur and brandy, so she basically provided this entire meal, such as it was.

We let the only child at home put some music on and we had a little party. 

Then A. put on the movie Syriana, which was very good but could never be described as a party movie.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2023


Today, my youngest turns six years old. That means that today is the day for this poem. 

Now We Are Six--by A.A. Milne

When I was One,

I had just begun.

When I was Two,

I was nearly new.

When I was Three,

I was hardly me.

When I was Four,

I was not much more.

When I was Five,

I was just alive.

But now I am Six,

I'm as clever as clever.

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

Happy birthday to my girl.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Growing Food: Frost Out on the Pumpkin*

Remember how I mentioned it was supposed to get right around freezing temperatures last weekend? It did, but I was so busy and exhausted from surgeries and sick kids and a guest that I just did not have it in me to fuss around with sheets and things to cover plants.

So the plants were left to their own devices. It never froze hard, but there was a little frost that settled right on the top of the plants. This meant pretty much the end for all the vined things.

Droopy calabaza.

Droopy squash.

The basil, which was planted right next to the house and therefore had some protection from the wall and eaves, survived with just a few leaves frosted, so I harvested most of it and made pesto. I ended up with ten cubes of pesto (I freeze it in ice cube trays), which is going to be the totality of the pesto to come out of the garden this year. Better than nothing, I guess. Which is pretty much my motto for this year.


The tomatoes also mostly survived, because they were so bushy that the top layers protected the bottom ones.

Frosted leaves on top . . .

But green underneath.

There were lots of tomatoes hiding under the foliage, and this week is supposed to be quite warm with no frost, so I have hopes for some ripening on the vines.

The remaining calendula plant doesn't mind the frost at all, and is very happy that the grasshoppers have been driven away by the cool weather.

Happy calendula.

We can have a hard frost at any time at this point in the year, so this might be the last week the plants have to produce anything. Fingers crossed, mostly for the tomatoes.

Tell me, my fellow gardeners: Is your garden still growing, or is your garden year at an end?

 * It's a song. And here it is. I just love YouTube.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Snapshots: A Surgery Story

Apologies for the late post today. It's been some weekend.

My sister arrived on Thursday for a weekend visit. As always, she brought flowers with her from the grocery store. It was a big bunch, and I separated them into an arrangement for the dining room table:

Pretty colors.

And one for the living room:

Fall flowers.

Unfortuntely, she arrived the day before my eldest son had foot surgery to remove an extra bone in his foot that has been causing him pain for years and had essentially crippled him in the past couple of months.

The nearest city big enough to support a podiatrist is 140 miles away. We were supposed to check in at the hospital at 6:45 a.m. So we left at 3:45 a.m. and I drove the whole way in the dark. That's a long way with not a lot of lights or people. There are only three villages between us and the city, and the largest of them has less than 1,000 people. So I was pretty much driving through rangeland the entire way.

I was very concerned about hitting a large animal somewhere along the way. We saw quite a lot of wildlife--a jackrabbit, two coyotes, a deer, a very fat badger, and a shrew--but they thankfully managed to get off the road before we got to them. Well, except the shrew. 

Sorry, shrew.

We made it to the hospital without incident, the surgery went well, and we came home that afternoon to begin recovery. It's a long one--a full month before he'll be 100% in that foot again--but I'm hopeful he's past the worst of the pain.

One child was home from school on Thursday because of a cold, and another one started complaining of a sore throat on Saturday. This meant that the only church attendees from our house this Sunday were Poppy, my sister, and me. I had to be there because it's a Church Lady month for me.

Morning light on the church.

And inside the church before I turned on the lights.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.