Friday, February 9, 2024

Friday Food: A Pork Progression


Short version: Beef and rice soup, cheese, fresh bread

Long version: Two children came down with a very nasty stomach flu overnight Thursday, so I spent some time on Friday making beef stock for them to have something to sip on when they wanted to start eating, but couldn't handle solids yet. 

Teenage boys get FRANTIC when they can't eat. They're so hungry all the time, I guess they even feel hungry when they're sick to their stomachs. Poor guys.

I had a lot of soup bones and an oxtail still in the freezer from our last cow, which is what I used to make the stock, in my pressure cooker. There was a lot of meat on those, particularly the soup bones, and I used some of the meat and broth to make a soup.

Soup is not popular with one of my children, but there was also fresh bread, which mitigated the pain of a soup dinner somewhat.


Short version: Bacon and egg sandwiches, grape tomatoes, double chocolate peanut butter almond cookies

Long version: A. was at the basketball game with one child while I stayed home with the sick two. Tbe basketball crew got home at 5:30 p.m. I hadn't actually cooked anything, but I did still have a lot of fresh bread, so I made bacon, fried some eggs, and ta da! Sandwiches.

The cookies were these, but with almonds instead of peanuts. These are my favorite cookies, and are therefore dangerous for me to make, but I did it anyway, at the request of one of the children. Willpower is an excellent trait to practice.


Short version: Fancy lamb chops, curried vegetables, rice, tomato/cucumber salad, King Cake

Long version: Just a few days ago, we finally butchered the last ram lamb from last year. A. had been waiting to see if he would grow bigger, and he just didn't, so we finally gave up and butchered him. 

Our typical method of butchering is to bone out the meat and mostly just have steaks and things. However, this was a very small animal, so A. thought this would be a good oppurtunity to cut it up the proper way, sawing through bones and everything.

He did, and he was reminded why it is that we typically bone the meat out. It's SO much work (for A., because there's no way I could do it) to saw through bones by hand.

It did result in some fancy little lamb chops, though.

So cute.

These were very much enjoyed by most of the family.

I made the curry because I had a head of cauliflower that had been sitting in the refrigerator for, um, awhile. I finally got around to steaming it like two days prior, and then STILL hadn't eaten it. But I finally did! Yay, me.

The curry was yellow curry powder and garlic fried in coconut oil, then to the bottom of the pan I added a bit of water, some diced potatoes (they were at the bottom in the liquid because they were the only thing that wasn't cooked yet), mostly cooked yellow split peas, chopped cauliflower, caramelized onions from the freezer, and some of a can of collard greens we got from excess commodities. I had opened the can to use some in the beef soup, and they weren't bad. I mean, I wouldn't want to eat them on their own, but they're fine added to things.

At the end, I added sour cream to the curry. More than half the family ate it, which surprised me. It was delicious, if not photogenic.

No one is eating this with their eyes first.

The King Cake was the one my mother had sent me. There was much excitement among the children about who would get the baby in it, and I must admit that I was relieved that I was the one who got it. So much less fighting that way. But then one of my children patted me on the back and said, "That's good, Mom. You probably need the luck more than anyone."

I never thought of myself as particularly unlucky, but okay.


Short version: Scrambled eggs, leftover curry and rice, chocolate ice cream

Long version: Not really enough leftovers for everyone, so I made the scrambled eggs to bulk everything up a bit.

The ice cream did, too. There was much rejoicing at the return of the gallon bucket of Great Value Chocolate Ice Cream.


Short version: Pork, cornbread, green salad with vinaigrette, rice pudding

Long version: A. came home with one of the biggest pork butts I've ever seen. It was 11.5 pounds. Daunting. 

He had thought I would cut it in half or something, but instead I just put it in the oven whole for several hours to cook slowly. I knew, you see, that I had a couple of days of work coming up, and already-cooked meat would be helpful.

This night I broiled pieces of it with mustard and maple syrup.

Cornbread because I seemed to have a lot of yogurt on hand that needed to be used somewhat promptly.

Rice pudding because the oven was on most of the day for the pork, anyway.


Short version: Toasted pork burritos, raw tomatoes and radishes, chocolate ice cream

Long version: Pork with cheese and salsa, rolled in flour tortillas and lightly fried. A good fast dinner after getting home at 5:30 p.m. from First Communion class.


Short version: Pork stir-fry, rice

Long version: Chopped pork, fried in some of its rendered fat. Then I added a bag of stir-fry vegetables from the freezer, some carrots I mostly steamed in the microwave before adding them, the last of the caramelized onions in the refrigerator, ditto the can of collard greens, and then the last half cup or so of cooked yellow split peas. Plus soy sauce, vinegar, and peanut butter.

I was subbing at school, and this was pretty fast. More cooking than I wanted to be doing, but it didn't really take that long. And it finished up the pork.

Refrigerator check!

Not bad. Plenty of milk and cream, which is the most important thing.

You may have noticed in the above photo that I finally got my deli/meat drawer slider fixed so I could hang the drawer properly. The plastic on one slider broke just before Thanksgiving. The part came just before Christmas. And here I am, fixing it just before Valentine's Day. Impressive efficiency, I know. And of course it took all of ten minutes when I finally looked up the video on how to do it. This is the second time I've had to replace this part, but I couldn't remember what I did the first time.

Anyway! It's finally fixed, and I feel very pleased with myself whenever I open the refrigerator and don't see the drawer sitting there on the shelf, piled with random stuff.

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

About that King Cake . . .

It belatedly occurred to me that there might be many of you who read my last post and were thinking, "King Cake? What is a King Cake?"

And of course, although there are many search engines right at your fingertips on whatever device you were using to read that, I feel it is my duty to enlighten you here. Especially on one very important point: How to eat a King Cake.

This King Cake has already been eaten, in the proper way.

So! Here's what I know about King Cakes: They are served during Mardi Gras, which is technically a season that runs from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday. Epiphany is the feast of the Three Kings. Hence the "King" part of the name. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. And that means Fat Tuesday is the big celebration before Lent begins.

As most of you probably remember, my mother is from New Orleans, the city most famous for Mardi Gras celebrations. This is why my family traditions include King Cakes. 

King Cakes are basically giant pastries covered in an alarming amount of sugar. I guess a lot of them now have fillings like cream cheese or praline, but we always had just plain ones. The sugar on top--which must be a ridiculously heavy layer--is always in Mardi Gras colors, which are green, purple, and gold.

Those colors have some significance, I'm sure, but I don't really know what. I just know those are the colors of Mardi Gras.

And here are the colors! In a Mardi Gras banner that is now in my dining room.

Also of note: King Cakes have a small figurine of a baby in them. This baby represents the baby Jesus. In my family, we always said whoever gets the baby in their slice has to buy the King Cake the next year. Not that we ever really did that, because my grandmother was actually the one who always bought them from the bakery near her house in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans) but we said it.

Baby Jesus. Hand for scale.

And now we come to the very important point of how to eat a King Cake. Yes, you can just slice it and eat it cold, being careful of the baby in case it should be in your piece. But King Cakes are SO much better if you put a pat of butter on top of your piece and warm it enough that the butter and the sugar both melt a little. This forms a sort of sauce for the King Cake. This is what you want.

Leftover pieces awaiting their butter and heat.

So now if you ever encounter a King Cake in the wild, you know what to do: Apply butter and heat, and look out for the baby Jesus.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

Snapshots: King Cake and Animals

Pretty random photos this week. But then, aren't they always?

When I was a kid, my grandmother in New Orleans always sent us a King Cake from the bakery near her house.

I haven't had one in many years, but this year, my mother sent us one. She sent it from a different bakery, and I was sort of surprised when I opened it. I don't remember the fondant icing being under sprinkles. The King Cake of my memory had nothing but a ton of colored granulated sugar on top. This one had fondant icing and sprinkles.


We're going to have it for our Sunday dessert tonight, so we'll see if it tastes as I remember it. Then again, it could just be that my memory is faulty. That has been known to happen.

Another exciting event . . .

Seeds started!

I was a little late starting my cabbage and kohlrabi seeds, but I finally got them in their very classy starter containers yesterday. Sauerkraut ahoy! In, um, three months.

And now, a few morning shots, mostly featuring animals.

Hungry as a horse, indeed.

Two tiny lambs. The triplets, unfortunately, did not make it. That ewe was not a good mother, and we will not be keeping her.

A patriotic school bus.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.