Friday, February 16, 2024

Friday Food: Havin' Big Fun on the Bayou*


Short version: Tuna patties, roasted potatoes, green salad with vinaigrette, gingersnaps

Long version: I've been making fish patties with two big cans of tuna and one can of salmon, because we've been getting the salmon from the excess commodities. This time, I used all tuna, and they were better. Darn it.

I hadn't made gingersnaps in awhile, so I, well, did. I use this recipe, except I don't add the white pepper. We find them plenty spicy enough with the other spices in them. They are very good.


Short version: Pizza, cucumbers, baked fruit with cream

Long version: One pepperoni pizza, one with just cheese, both with some fresh basil from the pot on the windowsill. I also used one of my frozen bags of roasted tomato sauce, and that makes it so much better. Not that pizza is ever bad, but it's better with garden-tomato sauce.

I still have a very large bag of frozen blueberries from Sysco that really should be used up now. So I combined them with some frozen strawberries and the last half pint of overly sweet peach jam from a couple of summers ago. Also some vanilla. Then I just baked it until most of the liquid was gone, and served it with heavy cream poured over the top.

A very popular dessert. And reasonably healthy, as desserts go.


Short version: Birthday lobster, shrimp, sausage, spaghetti, salad, cheesecake

Long version: This was the new 14-year-old's birthday request. I got two lobster tails. The reason I got two is because getting one for each person in the family would have been exorbitantly expensive. Even two were kind of ridiculous, but at least everyone got to taste some.

A. actually cooked the shrimp and lobster tails, using a recipe he found online.

It involved splitting the tails and kind of balancing the meat on top. Better him than me.

The sausage was boudin, the spaghetti had roasted tomato sauce and a lot of butter on it, and the cheesecake was this one (but with some lemon juice added, because I don't think the zest gives enough lemon flavor).

I did not plan well for the cheesecake this year. I forgot to get graham crackers, which is one reason I used that recipe, because the crust is kind of like a shortbread. But I was out of eggs.


We tried both the (tiny) stores in our vicinity, each in a different village ten miles from our house, and both stores were closed. We borrowed four eggs from our neighbor, and then we spent Saturday waiting around on our chickens to lay an egg. After several checks of the coop, an egg was triumphantly borne in around noon, and I made the cheesecake.

Hooray for the chickens, the heroes of the cheesecake.

The recipe actually calls for five eggs for the cheesecake filling, but I just used four. It was fine. Or it would have been fine if I had baked it long enough. I followed the instruction to bake it until an inch of the perimeter was set, but even after cooling and chilling, the center was still pretty liquidy. Boo. It did taste good, however, and no one had any trouble eating it.

It also held the candles satisfactorily.

Still kind of annoyed about that, though. And I do prefer the graham cracker crust. This cookie crust was a bit tough.


Short version: Many leftovers

Long version: There was some shrimp, sausage, and spaghetti left. Some people had the elk stew I had made on Saturday. And then there were leftover cheesecake and baked fruit.

Leftover desserts are the most fun leftover.


Short version: Jambalaya, chocolate pudding with cream

Long version: I celebrate all special occasions with food. Fat Tuesday is definitely a special occasion, especially for those of us with a connection to New Orleans.

Awhile ago, A. was reminiscing about the jambalaya at Popeye's, which was apparently his favorite. So I told him I would make jambalaya for Fat Tuesday.

My mother made jambalaya when I was young, but if she had a recipe, I never got it. I looked at a few online, and then, as I always do, made my own.

I don't have any homemade chicken stock this winter--it's been very sad--but I did have a ham bone in the freezer. Some recipes for jambalaya call for ham. So I boiled the bone with some onion ends for a couple of hours to make a ham stock for the jambalaya. 

I used the ham I pulled off the bone in the jambalaya, along with andouille sausage I already had on hand and a chicken breast I bought specially for this.

All the meats, ready for the rice.

I used the spices in this recipe, which seemed weird--particularly the cumin--but which A. assured me resulted in jambalaya that tasted like Popeye's. I didn't use as much chile powder, though, because I was trying to make this acceptable to those of us in the family who do not like too much spice, and the andouille is pretty spicy.

I used basmati rice, because it was the only long-grain rice I had. When it was done cooking, it tasted good, but was definitely not at all greasy. A.'s main memory of the Popeye's jambalaya, and his favorite thing about it, was the visible orange grease in it. I added about a third cup of lard that had rendered off the pork butt I cooked last week, and that helped with the flavor. It was still not remotely greasy, though. Which makes me wonder how much fat Popeye's is putting in their jambalaya.

Anyway. It was tasty. And a very appropriate Fat Tuesday meal. It was also a very good make-ahead meal, which worked out since I was at both a basketball game and First Communion class (conveniently across the street from each other) until about 5:30 p.m.

The chocolate pudding is not particularly appropriate for Fat Tuesday, but I had some milk that needed to be used. And I didn't mess up the amount of cornstarch this time. 


Short version: Breakfast burritos

Long version: We went to our Ash Wednesday Mass at 5 p.m., which meant we all just stayed in the village after school got out at 4 p.m. So when we got home, everyone was of course famished (particularly the adults, of course, because we had been fasting), and it was late.

Scrambled eggs to the rescue! I scrambled them with cheddar cheese, salsa, and canned pinto beans, then rolled them up in flour tortillas. 

No vegetable. Because . . . I just didn't.


Short version: Leftover stew and jambalaya at home, leftover pizza and pudding on the road

Long version: I went to a basketball game in the late afternoon. I brought the pizza and pudding (in a half-pint jar, with cream) for the basketball player to eat in the car on the way home, because they were the most portable leftovers we had. A. fed the other three and himself at home with the elk stew and jambalaya. 

Refrigerator check!

Not bad. Lots of milk.

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

* This is, of course, from a song, appropriately entitled "Jambalaya." It's what I was singing as I was cooking it. Here's the CCR version.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Love Is in the Air . . .

Happy Valentine's Day!

Roses courtesy of Parents' Appreciation Night at the basketball game yesterday, just in time for Valentine's Day.

 I wish all of you a day filled with love.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

In the Kitchen

It is no surprise that I spend much of my time at home in the kitchen. My style of cooking is from scratch in the sense that it is laborious and takes time. This is okay. This is my choice. 

But sometimes I get tired of it. This usually happens on days when I make so many things in one day that I'm in the kitchen for literally hours, just moving from one thing to the next.

I had one of those days on Saturday. I started at 6 a.m. with the bread dough and was mostly in the kitchen for around 12 hours. I mean, not in the kitchen continuously, because I do take breaks here and there, but the majority of my work and time on Saturday was spent cooking. I was very over the kitchen by 6 p.m.

It was, however, a very productive day, and helpful for the coming week, because of course not everything I made was consumed on Saturday. 

Because I was curious, I actually wrote down everything I made throughout the day. 

Of course I'm going to share here with you. You expected something else?

--Coffee. Always first, and always chicory coffee. I make it in a french press.

--Cream of buckwheat cereal for the family's breakfast. It was a cold, snowy morning, and we were out of both eggs and bread.

--Elk stew. A make-ahead for the coming days' lunches or short-on-time dinners.

Elk stew in progress. The things on top are frozen cubes of pureed tomatoes, and the jellied juices left from cooking a pork butt.

--A loaf pan of rendered tallow. Rendered in the oven with the stew.

--Baked strawberries/blueberries. In the oven with the stew and tallow.

--Hot cocoa when the children came in from playing in the snow. Cocoa powder+sugar+salt+vanilla+milk.

--A New-York-style cheesecake, for the next day's birthday.

Before baking.

--Chocolate syrup, for a couple of gallons of chocolate milk.

--Four loaves of sourdough bread.

--Two half-sheet-pan pizzas, the crusts made with some of the bread dough.

--Ranch dressing, for pizza dipping.

--Ricotta cheese, made at the end of the day with a gallon of milk that somehow got shoved into the back of the refrigerator and was way past its use-by date.

I also made things like tortillas with peanut butter and a salad for me, but that's more assembling than cooking.

Anyway. That was my day on Saturday. Most of those things made leftovers and about half of them I still have on hand, so it was a good investment of time. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Snapshots: Spring? Not Quite

Decorated for Mardi Gras.

We had to decorate ourselves, too, of course.

I subbed for the preschool teacher on Monday, and it was SO HARD to stay awake during naptime.

Green things outside! Remember the mechanic's pit turned bulb garden? They're sprouting!

Of course, this is what that bed looked like this morning, since it is, well, February.

The (many) cabbage and kohlrabi seeds that sprouted don't mind the snow out their window, though.

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.