Friday, November 10, 2023

Friday Food: With Unrelated Photos


Short version: Pizza, green salad with ranch dressing

Long version: One cheese pizza, one with bell pepper and pepperoni. And apparently, every member of my family now likes to dip their pizza in ranch dressing. Which means I now must always make ranch dressing when I make pizza.

They must have picked this up from the children at school, because this is not something A. and I have ever done.


Short version: Leftovers, raw broccoli

Long version: A. was hunting with one of the boys. The remaining children had leftover tuna/salmon patties and mashed potatoes. Ditto the broccoli.

I had a salad.

Random photo break!

The flowers outside the front door of the church, before the freeze.


Short version: Elk steaks, rice, raw cucumbers, chocolate pudding pops

Long version: Those elk steaks really are good. It probably helps that I marinate them before cooking, which is not something I do with beef steaks.

I hadn't made the chocolate pudding pops in awhile. I use this recipe, except I increase the cocoa powder by a tablespoon, slightly decreased the sugar, and used a bit of cream in place of some milk. They are very good.

We only have four popsicle molds, so A. asked to have his as just pudding. It is also good that way, which is good to know.


Short version: Various sausages, leftover starches, raw and sauteed sugar snap peas

Long version: I had andouille sausage, boudin sausage, and some random smoked pork and beef sausage for those of us (me) who can't handle the spicy sausage. The boudin is the crowd favorite, and that's what gets eaten first.

There were both leftover rice and leftover mashed potatoes, which were distributed according to preference.

I had a lot of the sugar snap peas left from the bag I bought for the elementary Halloween party. The children prefer theirs raw. The adults prefer them cooked. Everyone was accomodated.


Short version: Elk stir-fry, rice

Long version: I got a call at 5:30 a.m. asking if I could sub for a sick teacher. Luckily, I had some uncooked elk steak in the refrigerator. I sliced that thin in the morning and put it in a marinade. When I got home, I used broccoli, the last of the mini bell peppers I had also bought for the school party, some already cooked onion, frozen peas, and the elk to make a stir-fry. Very tasty it was, too.

Oh look, an unrelated food photo!

Orange-yolked home egg on the left, yellow-yolked store egg on the right.


Short version: Chile-rice skillet

Long version: I was at First Communion class with the communicant right after school/work. We got home at 5:30 p.m. I had a container of chile in the freezer from the big batch I made for Halloween last week. That, plus the leftover rice, plus some shredded cheese, was dinner.

You may have noticed there was no separate vegetable. Good thing I add squash and tomatoes to my chile. It counts.


Short version: Tortillas with cheese and refried beans, concessions food

Long version: This was a very complicated afternoon. I had to sub again, so I was at work all day. We had a post-surgical video call with the doctor at 4:30 p.m., which is pretty much right after we get home from school. But then the doctor was an hour late, so it finished up right as we had to leave for the volleyball game, at which Poppy was cheering.

While I was waiting for the doctor to call, I microwaved corn tortillas with cheese and refried beans. Fast, and relatively balanced. Except for the lack of vegetable. Again.

Three of the four children were at the volleyball game with A. and me. Said children brought some money so they could get food at the concession stand. I think they got nachos and hot dogs, but I'm not certain.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Growing Food: Post-Freeze Tomatoes

I suppose I should change the title of this to "Grown Food," as we are definitely in the past tense of anything growing in the garden. But I do still have that food grown in the garden in the house, mostly in the form of tomatoes.

Before the first hard freeze, I strip the tomato plants of all but the tiniest tomatoes and bring them in to ripen slowly in my kitchen.

I have read many tips on how to do this, ranging from wrapping them individually in newspaper to laying them out in single layers separated with cardboard to putting them in a paper bag with an apple to speed the ripening.

I do none of this. I put them all in a big wide box, dump the box in an out-of-the-way spot on my dining room floor, and let them do their thing. Every few days, I pick through the box and pull out the ones that are starting to get red. Those go in a big colander to finish ripening.

Green box and red colander. Christmas-y!

When the colander is full, that means it's time to roast the ripe ones. One colander equals two half-sheet pans of tomatoes. And when those are pureed, that's around four pints of pureed tomatoes. Those jars will fit in my larger cooking pot with water enough on top to water-bath can them. This is convenient, because then I don't have to haul out my big canner. 

Sometimes I'll add the garlic to roast on the pans and make a batch of roasted tomato sauce. That goes in the freezer, though.

So I just roast, puree, and freeze or can in these smaller increments until I don't have any tomatoes ripening anymore. 

I'm always surprised at how many of those totally green tomatoes will ripen. Most years, I don't end up with enough green tomatoes to do anything with. This year, given the slow start the plants had in ripening at all, I suspect I will have some. I made some green-tomato salsa already--not as good as red-tomato salsa, but it'll get used--and I got a recipe from the MiL for green-tomato mincemeat. I'll probably use any remaining green tomatoes for that.

But not until I'm sure that none of them are going to ripen. That probably won't be until around Thanksgiving, maybe later.

We shall see. But it's comforting to know that even in a bad year, the garden always provides some food.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Snapshots: Halloween and Beyond

Poppy's costume this year was the cutest. She dressed as her American Girl doll, with dress, shoes, and pants she already had. I bought a length of white ribbon and a lace collar for around her neck and . . .

Two American girls.

The Halloween decorations on the table lasted through Halloween morning and most of the dinner we had with friends before going trick-or-treating.

Morning breakfast table.

But then the jack-o'-lantern candles burned down too low and dribbled all the wax out the sides, and the actual jack-o'-lantern caved in, and that was it for Halloween.

Down to just plain old calendula and candles.

One of the little girls at school on Wednesday came down sick in the middle of the day. Her dad came to pick her up, and it was clear when he arrived that he had left work to come get her.

Except here, "left work" means he put his horse in his trailer and drove the whole rig to the school.

I am still alien enough to this Western world to be terribly amused by such things.

Speaking of school, I came in to work on Monday to find this in my desk chair.

This is obviously not my desk chair, but the bear is what was in my chair.

I was very confused by this, because not many people even go into my room. But I detected the wacky sense of humor our maintenance director is known for. When I asked him about it, he said they found it in a closet they were cleaning out in my building and left it for me.

That was also pretty amusing.

And last, we have a mechanic's pit at our house, built by one of the previous owners. It had this horrible sheet-metal cover on it that was rusting and full of sharp edges. We got rid of the cover, and decided that the actual pit--which is just outside our front door--would be much more appealing if it were full of flowers.

So we threw a bunch of branches on the bottom to start filling it in, then filled it with dirt (A. did this--very handy with the shovel, you know), placed a whole bunch of bulbs in there, then covered those with dirt, and then a layer of horse manure.

Bulbs before covering.

I put in Asiatic lilies, alliums, tulips, daffodils, and crocuses. I'm very excited to see everything come up next year. I just have to remember to water it, which should be pretty easy because it's only about twenty feet from the outside faucet.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.