Friday, December 29, 2023

Friday Food: Christmas and Birthday

First, thank you so much for all the good wishes and congratulations on my birthday. It's fun to hear from all of you.

And now, food.


Short version: Leftover elk goulash, rice

Long version: Last time I made goulash, I froze a container of it for some later day. This was the day. I didn't have the kitchen motivation to peel and mash potatoes, so I made some rice instead.

We did not have a vegetable. Except the sauerkraut in the goulash, so I guess that counts, right? Right.


Short version: Hot tuna dip, crackers, crudites 

Long version: We had Mass at 4 p.m. for our Sunday obligation. That meant we would be getting home after 5 p.m. and everyone would be ready to eat right away. Which meant I needed to have something very fast for dinner.

As soon as we got home, I cut up some carrots and radishes and put those out with the leftover ranch dip from a school party. This kept everyone busy while I made dinner. And also got some vegetables into them.

I had a ton of crackers left from the crackers and cheese I had brought for the elementary Christmas party, so I thought maybe I'd make tuna salad and serve it with the crackers.

But then I got fancy and made a hot tuna dip, instead. I'd never made anything like that before, so I looked up a recipe and kind of followed this one.

Really, though, you could just dump the entire dairy section in with a can of tuna, and that's pretty much the dip. A whole block of cream cheese, butter, sour cream, mayonnaise (I used the rest of the ranch dip, which has both in it), grated cheddar . . .

I'm not sure it would be possible to get more fat into one dish.

It tasted good, although a bit overwhelmingly creamy. I didn't add the finely chopped vegetables, since I had put some out already, but I think that would have helped.


Short version: Frito pie, molasses cookies and eggnog

Long version: We had our Christmas service this night at 7 p.m., so I really had all day to make a fancy dinner, but I, um, didn't.

Instead I made chili the day before, bought a bag of Fritos, and served Frito pie for dinner. 

This was mine. It does look sort of Christmas-y with the green lettuce and red tomatoes, so I'm gonna call it seasonally appropriate.

Okay, so it's not a traditional Christmas Eve meal, but I do not regret it at all. Both because Frito pie is delicious, but also because I had a very relaxing day reading and taking a walk and cleaning my house and NOT spending hours in the kitchen.

There have been a lot of hours in the kitchen lately. I appreciated the break.

I did make eggnog this day, using this recipe. (I always have to thin it out with milk after it's chilled.) We had it when we got home from church, with some of Grandma Bishop's molasses cookies. An excellent combination.


Short version: Christmas ham, scalloped potatoes, green salad with maple vinaigrette, mushrooms, chocolate roulade

Long version: Let's see . . . the ham had pineapple juice, mustard, and maple syrup on it. 

I didn't use a recipe for the scalloped potatoes. All I did was use the mandolin part of my cheese grater to slice the potatoes very thin--by far the worst part--and layer them with lots of salt and pepper and a little garlic powder over each layer, then pour in cream and milk on each layer, building it up until I got the top of the Pyrex dish.

And then I baked it with a pan underneath, because this will most certainly make a disgusting mess in the oven if not contained.

I added a bit of maple syrup to the vinaigrette, too, which was tasty.

Mushrooms are not traditional with this meal, except apparently in our house. Many years ago, a toddler son quite politely declined some mushrooms offered by the MiL by explaining that he only ate mushrooms on Christmas. I suspect he said that because Christmas was so far off in his toddler mind as to be an infinity away, and therefore he would never have to eat mushrooms.

Joke's on him, because now we have mushrooms every Christmas, and everyone has to have at least one piece. This is only a trial for two of my children, as the other two actually like mushrooms.

This year, I went out to see if there was any parsley still hanging on in the garden and found, despite many nights well below freezing, that there was. I harvested some of that amazingly hardy herb for the mushrooms.

So I have now used something from the garden in every holiday meal this year. This is very pleasing to me.

The Christmas buffet.

I did not take a photo of the chocolate roulade, because it cracked and tore in places when I rolled it, oozed cream all over, and was generally not at all photogenic this year. It was still delicious, though.


Short version: Toasted burritos, carrot sticks

Long version: I used the leftover chili and cheese to make burritos, then fried them in butter. I guess this is not a real chimichanga, because it's not deep fried. So we'll call them toasted.


Short version: Birthday sausage, roasted potatoes, salad with vinaigrette, brownies with ice cream

Long version: This is what I chose for my birthday dinner. I made it, too. That way I'm assured of getting exactly what I want.

What I wanted.

There were three kinds of sausage: a green chile and cheese sausage one child had requested at the grocery store, boudin, and plain smoked sausage. I ate the plain one, because I do not like spicy things.

My eldest son made the brownies. I had bought the fancy Dreyer's chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, thinking A. and one boy would be gone hunting, so a smaller container of ice cream would be enough. But then they were here, so A. got the gallon tub o' chocolate, and everyone got to have both. Also leftover salted caramel sauce, if they wanted it.


Short version: Elk steak, garlic bread, green salad with vinaigrette, leftover brownies

Long version: I've been baking bread non-stop this month--between co-workers and neighbors, I've gifted 24 loaves of bread--but we haven't had a lot to keep for ourselves. So I haven't been making garlic bread lately. Gifting season is over, though, so now all the bread I make is for us. And I made garlic bread.

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2023


Happy birthday to me! 

Today I turn 44 years old. I'm celebrating by running a 5K with my kids.

To appreciate how odd this is for me to do, you'd have to know me in real life. Although I did all the sports and running and things when I was younger, I do not do them now.

Or rather, I didn't do them until recently. 

This year I lost almost 30 pounds* and started running again using this Couch to 5K program, and now . . . well, now I'm going to run a 5K.

Scene from one of my early-morning runs.

I did the last "training" run on my schedule on Christmas Eve. I figured that since all of that schedule was to train for a 5K, I might as well run one. And it seemed fitting to do that on my birthday.

My children wanted to know WHY I wanted to do such a thing on my birthday, the one day in the year that I can do whatever I want (ha). And what I told them is that I'm doing it to show that I still can. Or rather, can again.

I am not, of course, going to be running in an official 5K. The nearest one of those would be over a hundred miles away. Instead I drove my usual running route in our village using the trip odometer on one of our vehicles to figure out how many times I would have to run it to get to 3.1 miles. 

I have to run it five times. So that is what I'm going to do today, with three of my children accompanying me.

It's certainly not going to be the fastest 5K ever completed**, but I will complete it, and that's good enough for me.

* Because I myself am nosy and always want to know how people do this . . . I used the MyFitnessPal food tracker and kept my calories to 1200 a day for four months. Not very interesting or fun, but it works.

** Update: It took me 43 minutes. Very far from a fast time, but I didn't walk once! I just ran slow enough that I was just faster than a walking pace. Ha.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A Tuesday Christmas Recap

It's a Not-Sunday-Snapshots! Featuring photos taken with my new cell phone. My Christmas request from A. this year was a new cell phone to replace my several-years-old one with a cracked screen that wouldn't hold a charge anymore. I also asked him to do all the set-up for it.

He did, so now I have a much better camera to take my very not-professional photos.

Like these!

How it started . . .

And the aftermath.

Actually, that messy living room is not as bad as it could have been, since I was diligent about gathering trash in one bag and reusable bags in another as presents were opened. I really dislike the carpet of wrapping materials all over the floor. It makes it hard to walk around, and inevitably someone loses a gift under the mess.


Speaking of gifts! This is the knife one boy made for his brother.

I believe he modeled it on a style of knife used by the Bedouin. Welcome to Christmas with multiple boys.

Our family is definitely a bunch of readers, and we have added a new reader to the club.

She got a reading light for her bed so she can read for a few minutes at bedtime, just like her brothers, and she is thrilled about this. Bookworms 'r' Us.

It was always traditional in A.'s family to have whole nuts in Christmas stockings, which I do with our children, as well. After the stockings are investigated, I gather all the nuts into a communal bowl for eating.

This year, I used a new bowl my dad made to corral the nuts, and I made it the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner table.

With the same arrangement of weeds that was on the table at Thanksgiving, made Christmas-y by some random gold leaves that were, I think, in a bunch of flowers my sister brought me last year, and the cardinal wreath ornament chosen by one of my sons years ago at a farmstand store that sold Christmas things seasonally.

There was, of course, the much-anticipated Christmas feast. I'll save the photo from that for the Friday Food recap, but I will just mention here, as particularly appropriate for the day that used to be all about growing food on this site, that I used parsley from the garden in the meal. Parsley from outside. That's a seriously hardy herb.

We finished up the day watching A Christmas Story, and that was a wrap (ha) on Christmas Day 2023.

Sunday, December 24, 2023



And now to bed, to dream of the joyous day to come.

Snapshots: 'Twas the Week Before Christmas

Birthday cupcakes for a class treat.

All the treats I was given by my co-workers at school. I was most excited by the tamales.

The cheese tray I brought to the elementary Christmas party. Labeled, because I know kids.

Morning walk as the sun rises.

Same walk, pretty light.

That's Bill, galloping around in the early-morning light.

And last, a Ford Festiva spotted in the wild. A.'s dad drove one of these for many years, and I knew A. would appreciate seeing there are still some kicking around.

There you have it! My pre-Christmas life, snapshotted.