Friday, November 3, 2023

Friday Food: 5/7 Elk


Short version: Sheep sliders, sausage, rice, carrot sticks

Long version: I was out of dog food, so I thawed some of the ground sheep that I found to have a strong taste for the dogs. But then I ended up using some of it for the people, too. At least the people who didn't seem to mind the taste of it. All I did with it was make it into tiny patties, brown those, then add some chopped tomatoes, za'atar, onion and garlic powder and cook that down to make a sauce.

The sausage was just one package of smoked beef sausage. Everyone who ate the sheep ended up having some sausage, too, so I guess the variety was appreciated.


Short version: Elk and potato skillet, tomato salad, pineapple

Long version: This was a very last-minute meal. I had taken out a bag of ground elk that I thought was seasoned for chorizo, but it was just plain. Luckily, I had baked potatoes this day when the oven was on to bake a squash. So instead of having chorizo and scrambled eggs, I fried the ground elk with the potatoes and some cooked onion from the freezer, and then added paprika, chile powder, garlic powder, and a little shredded cheddar.

Could have used more cheese, but I didn't want to open a whole other package after I grated the last of the open one. Lazy.

The tomato salad used the very last basil from the garden that I had pulled out the day before in anticipation of a freeze.

And the pineapple came from the commodities lady. Some had it with cottage cheese, some had it plain.


Short version: Elk stew, cheese, baked apples with cream

Long version: We ended up with a lot more stew meat than I prefer to have when we butchered the elk. That's because all the children wanted to help, and cutting up stew meat is much easier than cutting steaks or trimming stir-fry meat.

So, I made stew. I don't love stew, but this turned out well. I added some soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the liquid, along with about a cup of sauteed and pureed tomatoes and a bunch of parsley. That helped a lot with the flavor. 

The apples were also from commodities. They looked like the dreaded Red Delicious, and they were mealy. Adding maple syrup, sugar, and a bunch of cinnamon and cloves to them and baking them improved them quite a bit. As did drowning the resulting baked apples in heavy cream.


Short version: Leftover elk stew, cheese, cracker selection

Long version: The cracker selection was an effort to make the leftover stew somewhat more fun. It worked reasonably well. At least, everyone ate their stew. And their crackers.

Starting at the top, we had: Unpleasant (in my opinion) Wasa sesame-flavored flatbread crackers sent by mistake when I ordered the Wasa sourdough crispbread, which is the next one on the plate. Then there's store-brand club crackers, and store-brand Triscuits. 


Short version: Chili, cornbread, lotsa treats

Long version: Our school cook makes a cake--served with little ice cream cups--on the last day of every month to be the birthday cake for every kid who had a birthday that month. This is a very nice tradition, except on the last day of October. Which is Halloween. Which is not a day any kid needs any more sugar.

They had it anyway, however, in addition to all the treats at the elementary Halloween party. And all of this before the candy bonanza of trick-or-treating.

I signed up to bring vegetables and dip to the party. Because I was in the city for the post-surgical check-up last week, I was able to get fancy vegetables.

Fancy! And pretty. (Dip not pictured, but it was this, made with sour cream instead of yogurt.)

Poppy had cheer practice after school, which ends at 4:45. One of the cheer coaches is my friend, a teacher at the school, and the mother of my children's friends. So I invited their family to come for dinner and then go trick-or-treating with us in the village. To feed eleven people somewhat easily, I made a big pot of chili with ground elk and beans, plus a double recipe of this cornbread (except with half masa and half regular cornmeal) in my big Pyrex baking dish.

I was almost out of yogurt, and the cornbread recipe calls for a lot of buttermilk. I typically use yogurt in its place, but this time, I used mostly milk, to which I added the last half cup of yogurt I had, along with about half a cup of sour cream. I mixed this and let it stand on the counter for a few hours, figuring maybe the milk would sour a bit. It worked well, so that's good to know.


Short version: Tuesday redux

Long version: We had All Saint's Day Mass at 5 p.m., and I was Church Lady, so the kids and I just stayed in the village after school to go to Mass. We didn't get home until just after 6 p.m., but there was enough chili and cornbread for everyone. There were even enough of the toppings--grated cheese, diced red onion, sour cream--for everyone who wanted them.

Hooray for leftovers at the end of a long day. 


Short version: Tuna/salmon patties, mashed potatoes, tomato salad

Long version: We needed a break from the elk. So should the combination tuna and salmon patties be called tumon patties? 

Sorry. I can't resist.


Two big cans of tuna and one of salmon, plus bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, onion powder, and dill, then fried in olive oil and butter.

A. remarked that it was kind of funny to be having our summer tomato salads in late fall. I had been thinking the same thing, but we'll take them anytime we can get them.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Growing Food: Halloween Fun

Happy Halloween!

It was twenty degrees when I got up yesterday morning, so my growing season is definitely at an end. And the Halloween decorations on my table aren't strictly food, either. But they are fun! Let me show them to you.

I already showed you the calendula blooms I salvaged from the two remaining plants before the frost. I got these calendula seeds from the MiL a few years ago, and they are a very appropriate orange. 

Perfect for a Halloween table. (The parsley did not go on the table.)

We don't grow true pumpkins, but we do get some squash that are round and orange and look enough like pumpkins that we can carve them into jack-o'-lanterns. In past years, we've had enough for each child to have one to carve. This year, while we did get some pumpkin-looking squash, we didn't have enough to sacrifice any for Halloween decorations*.

We did, however, have one tiny, mostly orange squash that I designated as our Halloween pumpkin this year. It was immature, and that meant that the flesh was very soft. A nice change from our typical squash with skin as hard as metal. Carving our home-grown squash is usually a workout. This little one was refreshingly easy.

It had some scarred skin on one side, so I carved the scarred side with a "scary" face (a very mild scary) and the unscarred side with a happy face. It had a point on the bottom and wouldn't sit securely, so I had to set it inside one of my glass candle holders.

Stick a candle in there and . . . 

So cute!

And that's the story of how I grew my very minimal Halloween tablescape. I find this sort of thing very satisfying, so it was a nice way to close out what was a very disappointing garden season.

Have a fun Halloween, whatever that looks like for you.

* Yes, it is possible to cook the carved pumpkins and save the flesh to eat, but I didn't really want to do that. It's a pain, what with trimming away the charred bits and having to peel and chunk it all to steam it. I don't want to do that, so I didn't.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Snapshots: Freeze Prep

We had a cold front move in last night, resulting in our first hard freeze. I spent some time in the garden on Friday, pulling all the remaining edible things.

Four winter squash (plus a tiny one we're going to carve for Halloween), two calabazas that I'm not sure got all the way mature, and one watermelon. 

We ate the watermelon yesterday. It was pretty good, so we saved the seeds from it. 

Lots of tomatoes, mostly green.

A big bunch of parsley, and a small bunch of calendula.

Let's see what else . . .

The apricot tree by the front door is the only tree we have that gives us any kind of fall leaves.

Halloweeny breakfast table.

My morning commute on the school bus.

And, in honor of my last Sunday as Church Lady for this month . . .

Going up the aisle . . .

The altar . . .

And going down the aisle.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.