Friday, March 15, 2024

Friday Food: Roly Poly Fish Heads


Short version: Fish head chowder, garlic bread

Long version: There has been a bag of carp heads in our freezer for almost a year now. A. and the children caught the carp when they were fishing, and A. saved the heads to make fish stock.

What better time for fish soup than Lent, right? Also, I really wanted to get that bag of fish heads out of the freezer. So I thawed them and A. made stock with them.

Finny stock in process.

Despite the gruesome-looking pot, the stock came out well. Not very fishy at all. The rest of the chowder consisted of a few random tilapia fillets that had also been in the freezer awhile, caramelized onions from the freezer, diced potatoes, milk, and cream. It was really pretty good, even for those of us who don't much care for fish.

The one child who didn't want to eat it did eat at least few bites, and then mostly garlic bread. Which is fine.

If you are unfamiliar with the title of the song that I used as the title of this post, you can see the lyric video for it here, along with some really unappetizing photos of, well, fish heads. Really weird song, and I have no idea why I know it.


Short version: Elk stir-fry, rice

Long version: One bag of elk stir-fry meat, the rest of the broccoli we got from commodities, some bell peppers I had, carrots, green peas, onion and garlic.

Obligatory stir-fry beauty shot. It didn't look quite so photogenic after it had the brown sauce on it. Tasted better, though.


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

Long version: Big ole pork butt, cooked until tender, shredded, then broiled with mustard and maple syrup. 

Do I make this every time we have company? Yes. And everyone likes it. Or if they don't, they're too polite to tell me.

I also pretty much always make rice pudding when I have the oven on that long for the pork. It's getting warmer, and the days of slow-cooking in the oven are going to end soon, so we should all enjoy rice pudding while we can.


Short version: Sausage, leftover chowder, leftover rice, leftover cornbread, green peas, chocolate ice cream

Long version: We had quite a lot of the fish chowder left, which about half the family ate. They also had sausage if they wanted it--I cooked andouille and plain smoked--and then a choice of rice or cornbread. Or both.


Short version: Traveling food, tortillas with pork and cheese

Long version: This was the day we went to Chimayo, so we were traveling all day. I brought all the leftover sausage, cheese, bread, mustard, a small jar of peanut butter, a quart bag full of carrot sticks, raisins, apples, oranges, and two sleeves of crackers. 

The kids wanted to eat at the Mexican restaurant right across the plaza from the church, so we did that. That was at around 3 p.m. I thought maybe this very late lunch/early dinner would prevent the usual voracious consumption of any and all food in the car on the way home. It did not. By the time we got home, the only thing left was half the jar of peanut butter. And they were still all complaining of being hungry.

So when we got home at 7:30 p.m., I microwaved corn tortillas with corn, leftover pork, and salsa to feed the hordes.


Short version: Pork tacos with homemade tortillas, chili beans, pureed squash

Long version: There was quite a lot of pork left, so I made corn tortillas and fried the rest of pork with spices for a filling. I had one bag of chili beans in the freezer, which I pulled out to thaw. While I was doing that, I saw the bag of pureed squash that was also in the freezer and also took that out, because the MiL, who was still here, likes squash a lot.


Short version: Bull Big Macs, oven fries, squash

Long version: A. ground twelve pounds of yet more bull meat on Monday. I used some of it to make cheeseburgers this night. 

The only challenge with using the big griddle pan is that there's no lid to melt the cheese. Which is why I use an inverted skillet.

A. had asked if it would be possible to make the same kind of sauce that Mcdonald's uses on Big Macs.

Why, yes. And here's the recipe I followed. I didn't have any pickle relish, so I just diced up some dill pickles. I also used the optional ketchup, because I thought it tasted right that way. Not that I'm a great authority on McDonald's. I haven't had a Big Mac in probably twenty years.

I was also making bread this day, so I made hamburger buns as well. The only thing missing for an authentic Big Mac experience was tomato slices. Well, and the fact that they weren't gross because I used good meat, cheese, buns, and toppings.

Refrigerator check!

Lotta empty space in there.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2024


We have returned! Intentions have been prayed for*! Wow, that was a LONG DAY!

Let's see how it went, shall we?

I was shooting for an 8 a.m. departure, and finally managed to get everyone in the van at 8:15. Not bad.

A. is a great proponent of the backroads style of road tripping. That is, he avoids freeways if possible. It is possible to avoid the freeways to get to Chimayo, if you're willing to drive winding mountain roads. That is what we did to get there.

This route brought us to Fort Union, which was supposed to be a field trip destination for the elementary children a couple of years ago when the wildfires closed it down. 

There are very extensive ruins to explore, but I stayed with the non-ambulatory child at the (quite thorough) little museum while A. took the others to run amongst the ruins.

These smaller ruins are right when you drive in. The rest of them are farther back and require a lot of walking.

Then it was back in the van for a rather, um, nauseating ride. At least, for those of us in the back. I had been sitting in the middle seat with two of the children, but had to switch with one of the children who was all the way in the back and found the curvy road to be too much for his stomach.

I had to admit, though, that the nausea was worth it for the spectacular views.

This was the best photo I could get of them from my seat in the back.

We stopped one more time, in Trampas, to see the church there and to eat lunch. Construction on this church started in 1760, which makes the church older than the country in which it currently sits.

We couldn't go in, but I did admire the door.

After lunch eaten standing around the van--sausage and cheese sandwiches--we all piled back in for the last part of the trip to Chimayo. Everyone was VERY over driving at this point, as we had been traveling for five hours already.

After turning off the main road in Chimayo, everyone but me and the non-ambulatory child got out to walk the rest of the way to the church. I drove the van the rest of the way and met them there when they arrived. They were disappointed because what I thought was about a three-mile walk, based on the maps I had seen, ended up being only about a mile. They did not consider this a sufficient distance for a real pilgrimage, but given the amount of traffic on the road before we turned off, I think it's still as far as we would have wanted them to walk.

Coming up from the parking area is kind of confusing, because the church itself is above you. All we saw at first was a garden area with lots of statues and an open area with an altar and benches where they celebrate Mass outside sometimes.

This side of the garden area runs along a stream, which is always very exciting to see here in dry New Mexico.

Also in this part, there was a giant old tree that died. Instead of cutting it all the way down, though, they cut it so maybe twenty feet of it is still standing. This is being carved into a depiction of Jesus' Ascencion, according to the artist, who was working while we were there.

That's the tree in the background there, with scaffolding around it. The artist was using a chainsaw when we saw him, but I must assume he will use more-delicate tools as his work progresses.

To get to the church itself, we walked up a sort of ramp.

The ramp is to the left of this magnificent door. I'm not sure what was behind this door. There was a notable lack of informational materials at this site.

Up we go . . .

The church is quite small and not particularly architecturally appealing from the outside. This is true of most adobe churches. They look like mud-covered mounds, mostly. There was a very nice archway leading into the church courtyard, with a rose climbing over it.

No photos are permitted in the sanctuary, which is as it should be, in my opinion. The style of the church was very much like other old adobe churches I've been in. They're all narrow and long, with wood vaulting at the ceiling. Most are painted in a folk art style, with bright colors, especially on the altar. This one was, as well.
This style of decoration is not my favorite. However, I do always appreciate the sacrifice of these people, most of them desperately poor, who spent so much time and probably some of their scarce money to build these churches.

Chimayo is known for its holy dirt, which sounds like a joke, but I assure you it is not. There is a small room off the main sanctuary that has a dirt floor. There is a hole in the floor, with trowels in it, and people go there to dig up the dirt and rub it on whatever it is they need healed. This room used to be accessed through the sanctuary, but now there's an outside door to it, no doubt to mitigate the traffic in the sanctuary.

The room leading into the dirt room is lined with photos of people who have requested prayers for healing, as well as walls of crutches left by those who have been healed. In fact, there are photos all over the site, with signs asking for prayers for everyone in those photos. Although I did say a general prayer for everyone in the photos, I must admit that I couldn't study them in any detail. Too heavy to dwell on for too long.

All of the children said they wished we could have been there for Mass--daily Masses are at 11 a.m.--and I had originally thought we would do that. It didn't work out on this trip, but we'll probably go back for that. Maybe in the summer. You may have noticed the trees all over. I would like to see the site when there are leaves on all the trees.

We ate a very late lunch at the Mexican restaurant right across from the church, and then got back in the van. This time we went back mostly on freeways, through Santa Fe. This brought us through the town of Santa Cruz. There was a sign pointing to the old plaza and church, which of course we had to go see. 

Unsurprisingly, it was an adobe church. A very large adobe church by the name of Santa Cruz de la Canada. We couldn't go in, which was a shame, because I looked up photos of the interior later, and it is spectacular. Construction of this church began in 1733, although it was extensively restored in the late 1800s.

There were men working in the front of it, so this is the only photo I took of it.

We were pretty maxed out on stops at this point, and it was getting kind of late, so we just went home after this. Everyone was very glad to get out of the car when we did get home around 7:30 p.m., but they all agree we should go back, so I guess it was worth the drive for them.

* Several of you are dealing with some very heavy things, and I am very sorry to hear that. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Road Trip!

We're on Spring Break! Hooray! 

Also, the MiL is visiting for the week. The confluence of these events inspired me to suggest a road trip.

This is very out of character for me. I do not like driving long distances--unfortunate, given our location--and I really don't like driving long distances with all of my children. At least one of those children hates the car and has since he was an infant, which is challenging.

But I do really want to see Chimayo.

Chimayo (accent and spoken emphasis on the "o") is a somewhat famous Catholic pilgrimage site in the mountains north of Santa Fe. During Holy Week--the week leading up to Easter--many thousands of people travel there, some walking for days, some on their knees.

I want nothing to do with those sorts of crowds, but I did think it would be an appropriate place to visit in Lent.

It's going to take us probably a bit over three hours to get there. The plan is to stop where we turn off the main road and unload everyone who can walk so they can do a mini-pilgrimage to the church. It's about three miles, which I think is about as far as our youngest family member will want to be a pilgrim. I'll drive the one child who can't walk the rest of the way.

Despite the distance and the no doubt unhappy children we will have at some point during the day, I am looking forward to it. And I promise to take some pictures and tell you all about it tomorrow. Or possibly the next day, depending on how long it takes me to recover.

The photo is totally appropriate to the topic at hand, because that's our church behind the rusty racks, boards, and barbed wire on the F-250 that I had to drive on Sunday.

P.S. We will, of course, be taking some time in the sanctuary to pray. So if you have any intentions you would like me to pray for, go ahead and put them in the comments, anonymously if you want, and I'll do that.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Snapshots: Sneaky Winter

I woke up Friday morning to this:

Not spring-y.

I was very glad we didn't have to go anywhere. It melted pretty quickly after it stopped snowing, because this is March, not January.

I've been using a random succession of coffee mugs for years, none of which I really loved. They were all just things we had around. After my last coffee mug got broken, I decided to buy one that I really wanted. It had to be big enough--I got a 16-ounce size, although I don't fill it all the way--and the right shape.


I like that shape because the slighly narrower neck keeps the coffee hot a bit longer. It's also narrow enough that my small hands can grip around that part.

I love it. It makes me happy every morning. 

Poppy requested a somewhat involved hairstyle this week.

Pigtails turned braids turned buns.

Unsurprisingly, her hair was not still in this style when she got home. She had taken all this out and had put it in a ponytail.

And last, I substituted in the phrase-cube classroom on Tuesday. This was my phrase for the day:

Representative of my attitude this day, I'm afraid. (And STILL, no comma. Boooo.)

There you have it! My life, snapshotted.