Tuesday, July 16, 2024

A.P.D.: Indoor Temperature

For most of the ten years we lived at Blackrock, we had no air conditioning in the house at all. Our bedroom was upstairs, with windows facing the setting sun. Upstate New York--especially when living by a lake--is incredibly humid, and surprisingly hot in the summer. This meant some very uncomfortable temperatures in our bedroom at night.

Anytime I saw a nighttime low that was 70 degrees or above, I knew I would be getting no sleep. It would be well into the 80s in our bedroom, and so sticky that my skin would feel simultaneously hot and chilled from the clammy sweat.

It was very unpleasant.

Here, where the air is significantly drier, I start to notice a change in my comfort level at 80 degrees. Our furnace thermostat is in the kitchen, so I know what the temperature is in there. Our bedroom is right off the kitchen, and is usually about the same temperature.

Last night when I went to bed, it was 83 degrees. That's a little too hot. I didn't feel comfortable enough to sleep until about 10 p.m.

When I woke up at 5:30 a.m., it was 73 degrees. That's a little warm, but I could still drink hot coffee without sweating too much.


The sunflowers and sage have been enjoying the heat a lot more than I do.

In the winter, I set our furnace thermostat overnight to 57 degrees. I mostly do this because otherwise it will cycle on and off and wake me up in the early morning, but that is actually a comfortable temperature for me to sleep in.

During the day it's set to 65 degrees, but with our woodstove going, it's usually between 68 and 70 degrees.

So I guess my ideal indoor temperatures are less than 60 at night and about 70 during the day. 

I have a small window of comfort, apparently.

So tell me: What is your ideal indoor temperature?


Sunday, July 14, 2024

Snapshots: Colorado, Of Course

Let's view some photos from our trip to Colorado, shall we?


The nicest rest stop I've ever seen, somewhere past Pueblo but before Colorado Springs.


There were lots of paths, which were perfect for having the children run laps after they ate their lunch.

We were well past Denver and into the mountains when I saw a bunch of cars on the side of the road, but not at a trailhead or anything. I've spent enough time driving in wilderness areas to know this usually means some sort of exotic animal is within sight. Sure enough . . .


MOOSE!

I had not seen a moose since I lived in Alaska as a kid, and no one else in the family had ever seen one, so this was very exciting. It could not have cared less about the twenty or so people watching it. Thankfully.

The house my parents rented was huge. They wanted something that would sleep all 14 of us in a bed, and that meant this giant three-story house with six bedrooms.


The living room was something else.


It was perched at the very top of a hill and had some great views.

It also seemed to be a regular traffic stop for both moose, which we saw several times, once right in the garden twenty feet from the porch, and bears. The bears came every night and knocked over the very heavy dumpster, scattering trash all over. That got old. You'd think a rental house in bear country would have a better-secured dumpster.

Anyway.

One day my parents rented a pontoon boat so we could tour the lake.


Despite the name, Grand Lake is actually quite small.


Spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park, though.

Although A. went fishing a couple of times, he didn't have any luck. The children enjoyed swimming in the lake, though, even though it was really cold.


I stayed firmly on shore, thank you very much. Way too cold for me.

And of course, the reason we were there . . .


Happy Fiftieth, Mom and Dad!

There you have it! My (traveling) life, snapshotted.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Friday Food: To Colorado and Back

Friday 

Short version: Pork and sauerruben, leftovers

Long version: I had made sauerruben again this year--fermented turnips, like sauerkraut is for cabbage--and canned it this day. I had some of the liquid left and a bit of the actual turnip, so I used it to cook the bone and random bits of pork left from cutting the pork butt into steaks for grilling. Luckily, it was a very cool day, so I could simmer it for a long time to get the meat off, which is what I did.

Then I defatted the juices and reduced them to make a sauce for the meat. It was very good.

We had lots of potato salad and baked beans left from the day before.

Saturday

Short version: Various leftover meats and other leftovers, tortillas and cheese

Long version: We had the pork and sauerruben, lamb steaks, and grilled pork that I heated up all together on the stove.


Meat skillet.

And yet more baked beans and potato salad. But not quite enough of either, and anyway a couple of people aren't a fan of mayonnaise-dressed potato salad, so they had the tortillas and cheese.

Sunday

Short version: Spanish tortilla, frozen peas, baked peaches and cream

Long version: I had made this spanish tortilla the day before for dinner, because I didn't realize I had enough meat left over to make another meal. It worked out, though, because I spent all day running around getting ready to leave for a family trip to Colorado, so I was glad I had something already made.

The peaches came from Nick the Peach Guy. We saw him at church in the morning and he said he still had peaches in his freezer from a couple of years ago. Did we want them?

The answer is always yes.

The peaches had been frozen whole. The nice thing about frozen peaches is that when they thaw, the skins slip right off. So, with Poppy's help, we skinned the peaches, pulled them in half to remove the pits, and baked them that way. They were small peaches, so they didn't need any more cutting. I drained off some of the excess liquid, added sugar, vanilla, and some apricot jam I had made partially with honey that only about half the family liked. Then I baked the peaches while I was baking cookies.


Peachy.

They were delicious. Especially with heavy cream poured right over the top. Of course.

Monday

Short version: Colorado barbecue

Long version: This was the day we drove to Grand Lake, Colorado, to meet my family. We gathered there at a giant house to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. 


The scenery on the way there was ultra-Colorado.

My brother picked up food from a barbecue restaurant on his way there so no one had to cook this night. There were ribs and chicken and pork and brisket and lots of side dishes. It was very good.

Tuesday

Short version: Enchilada casserole, guacamole, peach crisp

Long version: My sister made this meal for us all. It was an enchilada casserole with chicken, I think. She also made guacamole with something like 14 avocados, and it was all eaten this night. We're a family of guacamole eaters, for sure.

She had also bought peaches at the farmers market near her house, which she used to make a crisp. I was too full to eat any, but I was told it was delicious.

Wednesday

Short version: Ham, rice, Holy's cabbage, roasted carrots, tomato salad, cake and ice cream

Long version: This was my night to prepare dinner. I made everything but the rice and tomato salad ahead of time, transported it in a cooler, and just heated it all up for the meal.


Heating.

My sister had also brought a bunch of tomatoes from the farmers market, which I used to make the tomato salad. Yum.

The cake was for a grandchild's 12th birthday and the anniversary. The cake itself was from a mix, but I made the buttercream frosting because we have a family member who doesn't eat high fructose corn syrup. I had never made buttercream without a mixer, but it worked out fine. I just had to beat it hard with a spoon.

I decided to decorate the cake with my signature cake-decorating skills.


S and J are my parents; C is the birthday kid.

I think this is the Ugliest of all Ugly Cakes. You might even say it takes the cake.

Okay, don't say that. That was terrible. The frosting was good, though.

Thursday

Short version: Leftover ham, leftover rice, corn

Long version: We got home this day at 5:15 p.m. I had thought I would make a skillet meal with the ham and rice, but in the end I just heated them up separately in the microwave, along with frozen corn.

Refrigerator check:


A very unorganized refrigerator with all the food left from our family gathering I was sent home with just thrown in there when we got home.

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Little Hands

One of the best chores for a small child to help with is pulling the basil leaves off the stems.


Small leaves for small fingers.

Other things she has done with/for me recently: 

--Skinning and pitting thawed peaches

--Bashing cabbage for sauerkraut

--Hanging the socks and underwear on the clothesline

--Sweeping the covered porch

--Dusting the couch feet/lamp bases/anything low down

--Organizing my bathroom drawer (I did not ask her to do that one)

--Chopping potatoes

--Making a fly swatter out of a stick and a piece of cardboard . . . that actually works

--Decorating for the Fourth of July

I'm not saying my sons weren't helpful as young children, but this girl is a whole other level. It might not last, but I'm enjoying it while it does.


Sunday, July 7, 2024

Snapshots: This and That

The plastic hinge on one side of my laptop snapped off several days ago, which caused the frame of plastic around the screen to separate. I fixed it.


Clamping it with the clip I found in the junk drawer totally counts.

Yes, I should order a new laptop, but this is working for now, so . . . not yet.

The flag that we had been flying in front of our house got shredded in the wind, so we don't have a flag right now. Poppy decided she could take care of the patriotic decorations for the Fourth of July.


Two coloring pages and an original flag drawing on the bottom.

The early-morning sun created a still-life with apricots on the woodstove.


Glowy fruit.

We got eggs from some friends, and I had to laugh at the name on the carton.


I'm imagining a disco ball in the chicken coop.

I made a double batch of popsicles when we had guests here, but I only have four popsicle molds. So I pulled the first batch of frozen popsicles out of the molds and made the next batch with some improvised popsicle sticks.


Plastic-handled butter knives work pretty well, actually.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Friday Food: Repetitive Steaks

Friday 

Short version: Egg salad, cottage cheese, leftover spaghetti, crackers, leftover coleslaw

Long version: I already had all the eggs hardboiled, so I just made the egg salad and set everything out for everyone to choose their own combination.


A very modest buffet.

Saturday

Short version: Lamb steaks, rice, green peas

Long version: Some of the leg of lamb steaks, marinated and fried. Rice, peas, whatever. 

Sunday

Short version: Scrambled eggs, one lamb steak, beans and rice, leftover peas, brownie sundaes

Long version: I had one lamb steak that didn't fit in the pan the night before, so I cooked that for the one child who doesn't like scrambled eggs. Everyone else got the eggs.

The beans were the pintos and ham from the big batch I made a few months ago and froze. This was the last of it. I should do more big batches like that. A very handy thing to have in the freezer.

I had promised the kids I would make brownies for Sunday dessert, and I had made chocolate syrup earlier in the day. So those two things, plus a choice of vanilla or mint chocolate chip ice cream, made for some very exciting brownie sundaes.

Monday

Short version: Elk steaks, bread and butter, coleslaw

Long version: I found one last bag of elk steaks while I was rummaging in the meat freezer, so we had those. I just fried them in tallow and made a gravy for them with milk and the onions I had cooked after dicing what I needed for the coleslaw.

Tuesday

Short version: Cheeseburgers (with buns!), home fries, corn

Long version: I had made the buns on Sunday when I was baking bread, figuring I'd find something to put in them at some point. Which I did: Ground bull.

Again, too hot to turn the oven on for oven fries. So microwaved potatoes chopped and fried in tallow had to do.

The corn was just frozen corn kernels I had bought to have for shepherd's pie. I consider corn to be more of a starch than a vegetable, but the children were very pleased with it.

Wednesday

Short version: Lamb steaks, potatoes or bread and butter, green peas

Long version: Fourth day in a row with some kind of steak, yes. In fact, this meal had both lamb steaks AND an elk steak, since there was about half an elk steak left from Monday and some children prefer the elk to the lamb.

I had some already-cooked potatoes that I fried in the pan with the steaks, but I didn't have enough for everyone. Thus, bread and butter.

Actually, the same children that had the elk had the bread and butter. Concidentally.

Thursday

Short version: Many meats, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, American flag cake, ice cream, s'mores

Long version: A. bought a giant package of bone-in pork butt instead of ribs for our Fourth of July barbecue. He was going to buy pork ribs, but they were marked way up for the holiday. So instead, he bought the pork butt, boned it, and cut, well, steaks from it.

Despite the size of the pork butt, it didn't make all that many steaks when it was boned out. So I also took out a bag of lamb steaks, and then I added some hamburger patties I had formed and frozen awhile ago.

The Fourth of July is about the only day A. is willing to grill anything. Meat always tastes better cooked over charcoal.

I made American potato salad--with mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs in it--instead of the vinaigrette-dressed kind I often make. Because it was America Day, and that calls for a mayonnaise-based potato salad. Obviously.

Baked beans made from two jars of frozen pinto beans, coleslaw left over from a few days before.

And our traditional American flag cake. Which, also traditionally, was pretty ugly.


Even uglier than usual, actually.

Ice cream with the cake, and also because we had a guest with us who doesn't eat gluten.

I had promised the children we would have a fire on the Fourth of July, which seems to demand s'mores. It was supposed to be a big bonfire with all the scrap wood we've been collecting as we clean up the property, but it ended up being too windy for a really big fire. So we had a more restrained fire, but it was enough to make s'mores, and that's the important thing.

Refrigerator check:


Many leftovers.

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

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Real Tradwives of the Country

Happy Fourth to all my fellow Americans! Have a totally random post, with no photo, in celebration of our great nation.

Although I am definitely an Internet dinosaur--having a personal blog just for fun is pretty much obsolete these days--I do still see a lot of what goes around online these days. And one of the things I see a lot is discussion of "tradwives." 

If you are not familiar with this, it stands for "traditional wives," and so far as I can see, is supposed to be something like June Cleaver crossed with Ma Ingalls. 

A tradwife makes sourdough bread, grows a big garden, keeps an immaculate house, cares for animals, has many children, and does all of this in a white cotton dress and cute boots.

This seems to be tied to the rise in "homesteading" as a lifestyle choice, and has quite justifiably created a backlash of mockery.

As anyone who has ever lived a "homesteading" life can tell you (and most people are living a very light version of that life, myself included), a woman cannot do all of that. She cannot care for everything perfectly, keeping everything and everyone in her orbit perfectly manicured and photo-ready. It's just not possible.

It's a dirty life, and it's often not pretty. It's muddy, or bloody, or smelly, or full of maggots. Because that's what life is like if you live anywhere close to the natural world.

I was thinking about this yesterday when the children and I were cleaning out the truck bed.

I had not planned on cleaning out the truck bed yesterday. I was actually on my way to go gather apricots from my neighbor's tree in the pasture across the road. Picking apricots and making jam from them is a perfectly acceptable tradwife activity. It's even possible, I suppose, to do those things while wearing a sundress.

I, however, was still wearing my running shorts and t-shirt from my early-morning run, because I had been so busy in the garden and kitchen that I hadn't showered and changed yet.

I was going to take the truck so I could bring the ladder and rake to reach the high ones. But when we got to the truck, we saw that the truck bed was covered in a layer of hay and sand that I had meant to rake out to mulch my tomatoes.

Okay, I thought. I'll just do that real quick.

Ha ha.

Forty-five minutes later, I had filled the wheelbarrow with noxious hay; removed the incredibly heavy rubber truck bed mat that had been harboring a truly disgusting layer of soaked and fermenting hay underneath; raked, swept, and hosed out the muck from the truck; and flipped that giant, heavy mat twice to scrape and wash it off.

I did all of this wearing my running clothes, plus A.'s muck boots. I got liberally splattered with foul muck, and was drenched in sweat by the time I finished*.

This is when I went into A.'s office with the rake in my hand and told him, "I'm ready for my tradwife photo shoot."

Because that's what it really looks like to be a traditional wife: Sweaty, dirty, and tired.

A. asked me if I actually wanted him to take my picture. I did not, because I wasn't feeling very photogenic, so there's no record of this particular moment in our "homestead" life. 

It's just one of many through the years, however, and I'm sure it won't be the last. 

* It was a very dirty and tiring task, but also quite satisfying, which sums up our life in a nutshell.


Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Dishes and Dishwashers

About a month ago, my dishwasher stopped heating the water. Without hot water, dishes don't get clean. I looked up the error message on the dishwasher's readout and figured out what needed to happen to fix it.

I also figured out that it was not a fix we were going to do ourselves.

I found a place in the city 100 miles away that will look at it, but I have to bring it to them. And that, I have not yet done.

So I don't have a functioning dishwasher.

This is not as bad as it might be, since it's summer. I don't work in the summer, and we're not running all over creation for school/sports/religious education/whatever. This means I have the time to do dishes twice a day.

It's been eight years since I've been without a dishwasher, but before that, I did dishes by hand at Blackrock for a decade. My handwashing skills were a little rusty, however, so I had to remember my method.

What, you don't have a dishwashing method? I definitely do. And here it is!

First, I fill the sink with soapy hot water and put all the silverware in the sink to soak while I wipe the table. 

Next, I wash all the silverware, three pieces at a time. The MiL thought it was very funny that I always do three pieces at a time, but that seems like the right number to me. Enough that I feel like I'm moving quickly, but not so many that I can't properly clean and rinse them all.

Next, I put in the cups and mugs to wash. 

Bowls next.

Next is plates.

Next are the miscellaneous cooking things, including pots and pans. 

Last, I wash cast-iron skillets.

And when I'm all done, I microwave the dish cloth for a minute to sterilize it, since I can't just throw it in the dishwasher.


A dishwasher that no longer washes is a very handy dish drainer, at least.

I will get the dishwasher in to be repaired before I start work in August. If it can't be repaired, I'll buy a new one. But until then, I hand wash, starting with silverware.

Do you have a dishwasher, or do you do dishes by hand? What's your method?


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Snapshots: The Locust Swarm

I now have had a small taste of the Biblical plague of locusts visited upon the Egyptians. Or the marching army of locusts described in On the Banks of Plum Creek. 

I was not a fan.

Although the numbers of locusts we saw last week weren't as formidable as those two events, there were enough that it was disturbing. The swarm arrived in our village on Monday. I drove out of our gate and while I was waiting for Poppy to close the gate behind me, I sat looking at our neighbor's pasture. It looked as if there were cottonwood seeds or something floating through the air there.

And then I realized that all those things in the air over the pasture were flying locusts. They covered the roads and swarmed in the air. 


It was hard to get a photo of them, but all those dark spots in the road are locusts.

Driving through them sounded like hail as they slammed into the windshield over and over. 


My car's grille has looked like this for a week.

The boys went running through a pasture and reported that it was hard to see, because the locusts kept flying into their faces. They pretended the insects hitting them were gunfire, though, so I guess it was fun in the end.

I'm glad someone found a silver lining to this particular nasty cloud, because no one else has appreciated them. They haven't eaten my garden (yet . . .), but they have completely destroyed all the pastures. They prefer grass, and all the new grass that was finally starting to grow after the rain is totally gone. It's ugly. Neighbors are having to feed their cattle purchased feed, and probably will have to sell some of their herds off.

The swarm only reaches a few miles, but it was centered here for at least four days before it moved on. I've been asking the older people what breaks the locusts' cycle, and they all agree that a hail storm will kill them off.

I am hesitant to wish for hail, but I guess it would have a positive effect in this case.

Anyway. Here's something nicer.


Poppy disappeared into her room for several minutes and reappeared asking me to come look at her "barrette masterpiece." It was pretty impressive.

We have actually been getting rain, and I haven't had to water my garden in several days.


Almost half an inch in about an hour one afternoon resulted in . . .


Very heavy fog the next morning.


And a foggy sunflower, just for fun.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, June 28, 2024

Friday Food: A Daily-Dessert Revolt

Friday 

Short version: Pork and sauerkraut, cornbread, kohlrabi sticks, rice pudding

Long version: This was the last really cool day we had in our forecast, so I took advantage of it by cooking a pork shoulder in the oven for a long time. I had a can of beer that had gone flat to dump over the pork while it was cooking, along with sauerkraut. When the pork was done, I defatted and reduced the juices and added extra sauerkraut. It was very tasty.

Rice pudding because the oven was on so long for the pork. As always.

Saturday

Short version: Tuna/salmon patties, mashed potatoes, fresh peas, ice cream

Long version: This was the day the kids shelled all those peas for me.


Bowl o' peas.

As I expected, they were quite starchy, and probably should have been simmered longer, but about half the family loved them. A pretty standard percentage.

Everyone loves the tuna/salmon patties, and there was much sadness that I only made six of them. 


In my defense, they were six very large patties.

They were cheered up by giant bowls of ice cream, though.

Sunday

Short version: Fried pork/sauerkraut/rice, pan-fried sweet potatoes, ice cream

Long version: Leftover pork fried with more sauerkraut and leftover rice. Simple, but surprisingly tasty.

Poppy had asked about sweet potatoes out of the blue the other day, so I bought some at the store. I prefer them roasted in the oven, but it was too hot for that, so I just cooked them in a skillet on the stove.

A couple of the children very seriously told me that we need to stop having ice cream so much, claiming that it wasn't special anymore and we should save it for Sundays.

Well, if you insist.

Monday

Short version: Lamb, leftover mashed potatoes, sauerkraut

Long version: I had thawed a boned leg roast, but didn't want to tie it up rolled and roast it. So instead, I marinated it flat, then browned it that way before slicing it. Then I returned it to the pan to finish cooking. This is a good, fast way to get it cooked.


Second time in the pan.

If I slice it before browning the whole piece, I find the slices release too much moisture to brown. That's why I brown first and then slice. Meat doesn't dump juice all over the cutting board either if it's sliced when it's still raw inside.

I had made some oatmeal/peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies a couple of days before to be the snack cookies for the week, and I asked after dinner if anyone wanted one. "OH NOOOO," wailed the children. "Not dessert every night!"

Guess not, then. 

Tuesday

Short version: Leftover pork and rice, pork sandwiches, coleslaw

Long version: I didn't have enough of the pork and rice for everyone, but I did have another piece of the plain pork still. I took that out, and remembered the child who had asked for pork in a sandwich last time I had some left over.

So a couple of kids had pork sandwiches. Both chose to have them with barbecue sauce this time.

I did not offer dessert.

Wednesday

Short version: Ground bull burritos, kohlrabi sticks with ranch dip

Long version: I added canned black beans to the ground bull, along with the rest of the onion from making the coleslaw that of course I had already cooked, plus onion and garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chile powder, vinegar, and a little salsa.

The children were very pleased with this. Kids just really like burritos with ground beef. 

They also really like the kohlrabi. There is one more in the garden, but it's really small, so the kohlrabi is pretty much done for the year. But the basil is just starting up . . .

Thursday

Short version: Chicken and spaghetti with pesto, carrot sticks with ranch dip

Long version: The basil really took off recently, and the plants are just big enough for a small batch of pesto. Much rejoicing.

I used the pesto on both the spaghetti and on the chicken, which were just breasts that I chunked up and fried, then added the pesto and Parmesan to it. I kept the chicken separate from the spaghetti, since A. and I don't eat the pasta. He had his chicken with bread and butter. I had mine with leftover coleslaw.

Unfortunately, I was rushing out the door to pick up a child right as I was trying to finish up dinner, so I totally forgot that I meant to take out some of the pound of spaghetti I cooked for something else later. This meant that I did not have nearly enough pesto for the pasta I had cooked. I added butter, garlic powder, and salt, but it was still pretty bland. Boo.

Refrigerator check:


Lots of leftover bland spaghetti. And cheese. Perhaps I will combine the two . . .

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

A.P.D.: Dream Houses

Yesterday, pretty much out of nowhere, Poppy said, "I would like to live in a mansion."

Okay. 

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it would have so much SPACE!"

Yes. That it would. My first thought--and response to that--was that also all the SPACE needs to be CLEANED. This being my experience at Blackrock, which is not a technically a mansion, but is also not a normal house.

Poppy acknowledged the truth of that, and then she asked me what my dream house would be like.

This is a fun question. I will answer it here for you now.


Random photo of part of our current house, which shelters us adequately, but is neither photogenic nor my dream house.

I like stone houses. Not brick. Stone. They just look nicest to me. They also have excellent insulating properties, and tend to be cool in summer, warm in winter.

I like one-story houses, BUT, I also like the bedrooms to be separated from the living areas in some way. My current set-up of having my bedroom open out to the kitchen is not ideal for me. Stairs serve the function of separation in a two-story house, but so do courtyard-style houses. 

Houses built around courtyards are my favorite style. You can have wings of the house that are far enough away from the living areas to be private without having stairs. And then, of course, you have a courtyard, which are the perfect outdoor spaces. 

I like doors in the interior of houses. These open-plan houses that are so common now are not for me. I like to be able to close and open doors as needed.

Although I acknowledge its utility, I do not like heating with wood, and my dream house would be heated electrically. I know this requires depending on the electrical grid, and thus comes with a lack of independence, but I really don't enjoy messing around with wood, propane, natural gas, or anything else.

I do like propane fireplaces, though. They're nice. Clean, and they provide the cozy atmosphere of a fire.

I like carpet in bedrooms, but rugs and wood floors everywhere else. 

I don't like those open showers that have become so popular. I like contained bathrooms, with the shower and tub together. It's nice if the toilet is in a separate alcove, though.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but you're probably getting the idea.

So! How about you? What is your dream house?

 

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Snapshots: Lookit What I Found!

I went out our gate to go for a run, and look what was there on the side of the road.


Sunflower season has started!

That tiny bottle with the purple flowers in it was Poppy's contribution to the table before I found the sunflower. I didn't have any flowers there for a few days, so she brought the dried ones from her room. I guess the table doesn't look right to her without something in the middle of it.

Raising that girl right.

I have some bright-pink hollyhocks this year, and I'm not sure if the MiL sent these seeds to me and I totally forgot about planting them, or if they somehow are the product of the paler pink ones that come up every year. Either way, I love them.


Pretty pink.

A. and the three boys spent several very hot days doing stone work at a ranch down the hill. The lower elevation there means it's hotter than at our house on the high plateau, so it was right around 100 degrees some of the days they were there. 

When doing manual labor in such temperatures, there can never be enough liquid. And not just water, either. This calls for switchel.


Three jugs of water, one bottle of switchel.

A reader here (hi, Jody!) e-mailed me to suggest that I could also add cream of tartar to switchel for the potassium. I had never considered this, but I don't see why it would be a bad idea. I'll have to try it this coming week when they go back down the hill to finish their work there.

The truck selling cherries in the city also had shelling peas when I was there yesterday. I do not grow shelling peas because, well, they have to be shelled. So tedious. 

A. loves fresh peas, and even though I knew it's past prime pea season and these were likely to be starchy, I got some anyway.

There was great excitement among the children when I brought them home, and they set right to work shelling.


They chose the back steps as their shelling location.

About halfway through the bag of peas, one of the children came in and asked how many they had to shell. ALL of them, child. And that is why I don't grow them. It was a fun novelty, though.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Friday Food: I Fixed My Deli Drawer!

Friday 

Short version: Fiesta scrambled eggs, leftover rice, coleslaw

Long version: Fiesta scrambled eggs means I add salsa and grated cheese to them. Sometimes pinto beans if I have an open jar, but I didn't this time.


I had a helper to crack the dozen eggs, which was nice.

I have what seems like unending cabbages coming out of the garden, so it is definitely coleslaw time.

Saturday

Short version: Enchilada casserole, leftover coleslaw, fresh bread with apricot jam

Long version: I had a very long day in the kitchen, what with all those apricots to deal with, plus bread to bake. It was fairly cool this day, though--in the mid 80s--so I took advantage by doing as much kitchen work as possible. 

Since the oven was on anyway to bake the bread, I made the casserole--shredded bull meat, beans, corn tortillas, cheese, homemade enchilada sauce--and baked it while the bread was in. Then at dinnertime, I put the whole casserole in the microwave just to re-melt the cheese. 

Sunday

Short version: Bull big macs, home fries, green salad with vinaigrette, chocolate pudding with cream

Long version: No steak for Father's Day? Nope. Because we don't have any. Luckily, A. loves cheeseburgers. Especially with homemade sourdough buns and Big Mac sauce.

I would typically have made oven fries with this meal, but it was hot and I didn't want to have the oven on at a high temperature for 45 minutes. So instead, I microwaved a few big potatoes until they were mostly cooked, then chopped them and fried them in a skillet.


Father's feast frying. (Yay, alliteration!)

Monday

Short version: Leftovers, customized ice cream

Long version: The kids finished the enchilada casserole. A. had the last hamburger patties (no buns) and leftover rice. I had a salad.

And it was hot, so we all had ice cream. A couple of kids had mint chocolate chip. We also had vanilla ice cream, which was topped with either apricot puree, maple syrup, or chocolate syrup, depending on preference.

I had the chocolate syrup. It's the taste of my childhood. Well, the taste of my childhood was actually Hershey's syrup, and the syrup I make is better, but it's the same idea.

Tuesday

Short version: Breakfast burritos, raw produce, more ice cream

Long version: I unearthed a bag of elk chorizo at the bottom of one of the chest freezers, so I decided to cook that this night. I also made scrambled eggs with cheese, but separately, because only half the family likes chorizo. So the burritos were either chorizo and egg, or the last of a can of refried beans I found in the refrigerator and egg.

All of the children asked to have chocolate syrup on their ice cream this night. I have converted them. A. stuck with his apricot jam. He's always been a fan of fruit and ice cream.

Wednesday

Short version: Lamb curry, rice, maple lemonade

Long version: I found a boned leg roast from a ewe that we butchered way back in October. I seemed to recall that that sheep was a bit strong-tasting, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to use the extra curry liquid I had frozen one time when I was making curry and made it far too strong. I had taken out some of the liquid to dilute what was left, and froze the extra sauce, which was stock+curry powder.

I also used the last of the cooked yellow split peas that were in the freezer, along with carrots, potatoes, peas, already-cooked onion, and sour cream.

The meat definitely smelled gamey while I was browning it, but that wasn't noticeable in the end result, so it was a good use for the curry.

After dinner, all the children decided to make themselves lemonade with the bottled lemon juice I buy in bulk, and maple syrup. I suspect it was heavy on the syrup, but I just considered it their dessert and let it go.

Thursday

Short version: Roasted chicken and gravy, garlic bread, roasted carrots, sauerkraut, ice cream

Long version: It was cool enough to roast the whole chicken that had been hanging out in the freezer for awhile, so I did that.

Well, I thought it was cool enough, but then it ended up being 80 degrees in the kitchen by the time I was done, so maybe not. Good chicken, though. I made gravy with the juices and milk and cornstarch, too, which was also good.

Refrigerator check:


Please note that I have already replaced the hanger on my deli drawer, rather than piling everything up on the shelf for months. I'm very proud of myself, yes.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sweet Relief

For a lot of reasons, we don't have air conditioning in our house. We do have a giant old window unit that can theoretically be put in the kitchen, but I hate the thing so much (and A. hates it even more) that it very rarely actually gets put in.

We don't typically have temperatures over 100 degrees, and more importantly, the humidity here is usually pretty low, so it's manageable. 

But there are days. Days when a hot wind has been blowing constantly, and there are thunderstorms brewing all around that raise the humidity level. Days when I have to bake bread or otherwise heat up the kitchen. 


Days when the outdoor temperature readout on my shiny new Honda's dashboard informs me it's 100 degrees*. 

Those days are not comfortable.

We have ceiling fans, and my bedroom is on the east side of the house, so I can usually get by with reading in my bed with the fan going during the hottest part of the day.

But if a storm rolls in? Then the wind will pick up, the temperature will drop twenty degrees in thirty minutes, and all windows and doors in the house will be opened to let an honest-to-goodness cool breeze blow all through the house.


Bedroom curtains billowing in a cool breeze from a storm.

Air conditioning is nice, and certainly convenient, but there is nothing like the feel of a cool rain-laden breeze after you've been sweating all day. 

Nature's A/C is perfect.

*Although to be honest, this was when I had driven somewhere off our high plateau, so it was only about 94 degrees at my actual house at this moment.