Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Food: The Return of the Ribeye


Yes, I purchased another log of beef for our consumption. Good timing, considering my current diet of meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That is not hyperbole.

Friday

Short version: Scrambled eggs, corn tortillas and cheese, steamed broccoli and carrots

Long version: I'm sure someone out there is thinking (humor me), "But Kristin, don't you ever get sick of cooking three meals a day for five people, seven days a week? Don't you ever just get takeout?"

And the answers, in order, are: Yes, I do, and no, I don't. There are many reasons for this. One is that the options here in the sticks are very limited and at least a ten-mile round trip. Another is that it costs too much to feed the five of us even at a cheap place. And last is that scrambled eggs taste better than anything I can get at a restaurant around here.

So when I don't feel like cooking, I cook anyway, just as minimally as possible. Five minutes to scramble eggs and microwave tortillas and cheese, and we can all eat for less than five dollars. It does still make dishes, though, which I actually get much more sick of than cooking.

Saturday

Short version: Roast chicken, bread cubes, carrots and onions, slothful Harvard beets

Long version: I actually bought a whole chicken at the grocery store, which I never do but which thrilled the children. I was going to roast it over potato cubes, but then I saw the big bag of bread ends I had taken out of the freezer to thaw for making bread crumbs and decided to roast the chicken over that instead. So I spatchcocked the chicken and put it on top of the cubed bread, dousing both in olive oil and Italian herbs.

Instead of becoming like chicken-y croutons, however, the bread cubes got a little too overcooked. At least, the ones that weren't directly under the chicken. The ones under the chicken were delicious. The ones that were more exposed were very . . . crunchy.

They were a noisy affair to eat.

I mostly made the carrots and onions because I had originally put the bread cubes in a smaller pan and then realized it wouldn't hold the chicken, so I had to transfer the bread and chicken to a bigger pan. Then I had an empty oily pan. I figured I might as well use it before I washed it, so I chunked up an onion and a couple of carrots to roast.

Real Harvard beets are made by making a sauce of sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and butter in a saucepan before adding sliced roasted beets. Slothful Harvard beets are made by randomly sprinkling diced cooked beets with sugar, vinegar, and a chunk of butter and then microwaving it all together. Perhaps not quite as elegant, but certainly tasty.

I think maybe I should call them State University Beets. Because they produce more or less the same result as the Ivy League version with a lot less effort.

Sunday

Short version: They ate ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes, green peas. I ate steak, rice, mushrooms and carrots.

Long version: This was the day I began an elimination diet to see if I can calm down Poppy's latest terrible eczema flare-up. I could eat the steak, but not the potatoes or peas. So I fried shallots, mushrooms, and grated carrot in bacon fat, added rice, and then mixed in diced steak for myself.

Monday

Short version: There is no short version, because we're all eating different things.

Long version: There was one whole ribeye steak left over, so I cut up some of it and added it to the last of some vegetable soup that I couldn't eat (potatoes, beans, and peas) but that I didn't want to throw out. Also a little container of leftover mashed potatoes and another of leftover peas got chucked in there. Waste not, want not! Cubby and Jack ate the Salvage Soup with cheddar cheese.

Charlie has a bit of a delicate digestive system, and after a rough day the day before, it was not going to be happy with a soup full of high-fiber vegetables and beans. So the rest of the steak I cut up and fried in a pan for me and Charlie. He had some leftover rice with his. I had some cabbage cooked in bacon grease and a small microwaved sweet potato with mine.

A. doesn't eat on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays to aid in his digestion. He does drink broth, though, so he had some chicken broth for dinner.

This was the night that I remarked to A., "There are so many special diets in this house, I feel like I'm running a hospital kitchen."

I despise high-maintenance food, and yet, here I am.

Tuesday

Short version: Pork chops, definitely-not-Chinese fried rice, cucumbers with vinegar and salt, roasted sweet potatoes/broccoli/onions

Long version: The only rice I had left was sushi rice. I had made the remainder of the bag earlier in the day. So after I browned the pork chops and had them in the oven to finish cooking--as I always do, because I can't fit all the pork chops we eat in one skillet--I put some diced onion in the skillet to cook, then the rice to fry in the onion/grease/spices. It was tasty, and certainly filling.

We eat a lot of cucumbers when I can get the English cucumbers (the long, small-seeded ones) that are grown in Canada. Only the Canadian-grown ones, though. The ones from Mexico are disgusting, maybe because of the distance they have to travel to get here. The Canadian ones are practically local produce for us. I peel them, slice them into rounds, sprinkle with red wine vinegar and salt, and fight the kids for them. They LOVE these.


Random picture my sister took of me and Jack and Cubby when she was here in January. Just to break up all these wordy words. Check out those stylin' boots. Fashion is ever my watchword.

Wednesday

Short version: Tuna, bacon, fried cornmeal mush blobs, bell pepper strips, nuked birthday cake

Long version: I fried a few pieces of bacon mostly to have the grease to make my dinner, which was half a big can of tuna with chopped bacon, shredded carrot, leftover rice, and some of the leftover roasted broccoli and onions all fried together. It was good, and filling.

I made the boys tuna patties (big can of tuna, bread crumbs, an egg, mayonnaise, mustard, diced shallot).  In the same pan I fried some leftover cornmeal mush from this weekend. If you put the leftover mush in a greased casserole and chill it, you're supposed to be able to cut it into squares and fry them. Except this time I made the mush in the microwave per a recipe from Christopher Kimball and it was still soupy and wet even after being refrigerated. So I beat an egg into the mush and dolloped the mixture into the pan to fry like pancakes. It only sort of worked, but they were still eaten.

Bell pepper strips because I have one that needs to be used up and they only like bell pepper raw.

And Poppy's extra-fancy but unfortunately reappearing half-birthday cake.

Thursday

Short version: Italian sausage, bread and butter, peas

Long version: I think we eat sausage at least once a week. Whatever. Charlie still wasn't eating solid foods, Poppy was fussy, A. wasn't here, and I was tired. Everyone ate a more or less balanced meal. That's a big win for a day like that.

I took the sausage out of the casing for my dinner and cooked it in olive oil with shallots, a shredded carrot, some diced celery, and leftover rice. Are you seeing some repetition in the food I'm eating? Yeah. And I'm eating it three times a day. Variety is not my middle name.

And now I'm down to some carrots, two beets, celery, a few potatoes, and meat. No other vegetables. No fruit. No sweet potatoes. No rice, even. Very little I can actually eat, as a matter of fact. I was supposed to go to the grocery store in the big village yesterday for a big re-stock when I took Poppy in for her six-month check-up. I didn't go anywhere, however, thanks to the vomiting child, so now I have to go to the small store in the little village today with all four children, because there's no school. Yay.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

All Fun and Games Until Someone Vomits


Yesterday was Poppy's half birthday. I mentioned this to the boys at dinner and said wasn't it too bad I hadn't made a cake to celebrate. Well, a cake for them to celebrate for her, obviously. She's not into cake quite yet.

But wait! With the power of the internet, all is possible!

I got right up from the table and made this chocolate-peanut butter cake in the microwave. The boys were appropriately impressed that I could make a cake that fast. And that the microwave actually cooks things.

Poppy was not quite so impressed. Probably because she was abandoned on the floor while I was making a cake in her honor that she couldn't even eat.


The half-birthday girl and her half-assed cake.

She didn't even get a second-hand benefit from all that cocoa and peanut butter, because of course I didn't eat any of it as it's full of things I'm not eating right now.

Greater love hath no mother than to make cake for her children that she can't even eat.

The boys loved it.


Well, except for Jack, but he never really eats cake. He shared most of his with his brothers.

That photo documents Charlie in a happier time, before he started emptying his stomach of all its contents. Including the cake, which still smelled like peanut butter in the vomit bowl he was using.

Oh, sorry. Were you eating breakfast or something? My bad.

Yes, Charlie was in my room at 1:15 a.m. complaining of a stomach ache, which was shortly followed by the re-appearance of the cake in the vomit bowl I provided to him. He continued to throw up for the following few hours. Somewhere in the middle of it, he remarked wistfully, "That was a delicious cake, though."

Probably better going down than coming up, I bet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Life in the Fast Lane*


This morning while Poppy and I were downstairs shuffling laundry around, Jack decided to accessorize his boring outfit.


Fabulous.

Poppy was initially skeptical of his choices.


Perhaps purple really isn't his color.

But she approved after due consideration.


Or maybe she coveted that scarf for herself.

Also of note: When I was turning on my phone to take these photos, Poppy spit up yogurt-y grossness all over the screen.

Kids are fun.

* "Life in the Fast Lane" is a song by the Eagles. You may at first think it is not appropriate to life with children, as it's about going out in a drug-fueled crash, but consider the words of the refrain:

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, uh huh
Life in the fast lane
Everything, all the time
Life in the fast lane, uh huh

Seems about right to me.

Monday, April 16, 2018

My Food Has a Case of the Mondays


Okay. I had three whole days of eating like a normal person after I decided to start consuming dairy/gluten/caffeine again. Poppy's eczema had by no means cleared up after a week of avoiding those things, and she had even had a couple of bad days. So I thought, "Didn't work. Back to coffee!"

Wednesday night I went to bed feeling like a little kid on Christmas Eve, because it was Coffee Eve. The very next day I was going to drink coffee. I could get up in the morning and have my beloved coffee with chicory! And milk! And a tiny bit of sugar! (I use literally about an eighth of a teaspoon per cup.)

So I did. And it was glorious. I was using milk, eating cheese, even having the occasional piece of bread.

And then Poppy's eczema straight-up blew up. She's in the middle of the worst flare-up yet, red and itchy and not sleeping. Bad news.

Thus, I determined yesterday that I really need to do a real elimination diet, because man, it's the saddest. I don't know if what I'm eating is affecting her, but since she's still exclusively nursing, it seems like a reasonable assumption. And at least I feel like I'm doing something. Other than holding her hands so she can't claw at her skin, that is.

As of yesterday, I'm not eating dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, nuts, legumes, the nightshade vegetables (that includes white potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes), or citrus.

I sort of just decided on all these on my own, figuring that way I would hit the most common allergens all at once.

I am, however, still drinking a cup of coffee, albeit a very weak brew of it with about four drops of maple syrup in it.

Definitely not cafe au lait, but better than tea. I had even stopped drinking the tea after a few days, because I really didn't like it too much and there didn't seem much point. After a week of no caffeine at all, however, I can confidently state that I just do not function at this point in time without caffeine. If I were sleeping, that would be one thing, but I'm not. In order to care for the rest of my family and not feel like I have the flu all the time, I need some caffeine.

So. One cup of coffee and a LOT of meat and vegetables. That's it for the next couple of weeks. Wish me luck. And cross your fingers for Poppy's poor skin.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Food: Soldiering On


Yes, I cooked this week. We ate this week. Let me tell you all about it in great detail.

Friday

Short version: Sweet Italian sausage, fried leftover potatoes, leftover peppers and onions, white beans, peas

Long version: I actually cooked dried beans this time, because I found half a bag of navy beans in the pantry that I figured should be used up. Otherwise, everything was exactly the same as all the other times I make Italian sausage. Which is a lot, because sausage is basically a pre-seasoned, quick-thawing, tasty convenience food. Hooray for sausage.

Saturday

Short version: Shepherd's pie

Long version: Should it be called shepherd's pie if I made it with beef? Shepherds don't herd cows. Is it a rancher's pie? Is this an obnoxious query? Yes.

Anyway.

Shepherd's pie is a lot faster to make if your ground beef isn't frozen when you start. Especially if you're starting with two pounds of it to make a full 9x13 casserole full.

I know. My professional cooking tips are what keep you coming back.

Sunday

Short version: Beef and vegetable stir fry, rice

Long version: I ran out of my standard soy sauce and was left with only the weird "mushroom flavored" soy sauce I bought by mistake some time ago. So I used that, and it made the stir fry taste a lot more like cheap Chinese food. Not in a bad way, though. It was good, but it definitely tasted more like restaurant food. I'm pretty sure this is because of the "caramel coloring" and MSG-like substances listed in the ingredients. Wholesome.

Monday

Short version: Barbecue beef sandwiches, beets, green salad

Long version: I have quite a few beef soup bones that I need to use, so I made some beef broth in the morning. When I strained the broth, I pulled about two cups of meat off the bones, which I used to make sandwiches for the boys by elegantly dumping store-bought barbecue sauce in with the meat.

All fancy food, all the time.

Amazingly, all three boys love beets. Cubby used to be the only one who ate them, but then last summer they all discovered that eating beets makes their teeth pink, which is of course all it takes to get kids to eat beets, right? Well, my kids, anyway. These were grocery store beets, which were definitely inferior to garden beets, but that's no surprise. And the boys still ate them.


In other domestic news, letting Jack vacuum the couch for me is the best idea I've had in awhile. He loves it, and it means there isn't a shameful mess lurking under the cushions. Hooray.

Tuesday

Short version: Pork chops parmigiana, pasta, peas, fried cabbage and onions

Long version: A.'s favorite method of preparation for meat--any meat--is fried in olive oil, then simmered in a marinara sauce and covered in melted mozzarella cheese. So I did that with the pork chops, and then used some of the sauce for pasta.

I fried the cabbage and onions in bacon grease instead of butter this time, because I wasn't eating dairy at that time (another experiment to try to help out the itchy baby). I also was not drinking any caffeine or eating any gluten. I would not recommend doing this with chronically low sleep, by the way. Punishing.*


Maybe she's punishing me because of the outfits I put her in. Definitely not an infant fashion plate.

Wednesday

Short version: Re-imagined leftover pork and rice, leftover beets

Long version: "Re-imagined" means I did something with leftovers other than just heat them up. In this case, I diced the leftover pork chops and fried them in some olive oil, then added the leftover rice and the marinara sauce from the pork chops along with some grated Parmesan. Fancy.

Leftover beets can never be fancy. Convenient, though.

Thursday

Short version: Soft tacos, roasted sweet potatoes/bell peppers/onions

Long version: I made the taco meat this time from ground beef (plus onion, garlic, chile powder, and cumin). This was one of the nights that Cubby had a huge second serving of meat, and so of course Charlie and Jack must do the same, and then the entire pound and a half of meat was gone.

This competitive eating will really be something to behold when they're all teenagers, I suspect.

When onions kind of come apart on the pan and the thinner layers char a little during the roasting, the charred ones taste a bit like onion rings. Without the greasy batter coating, that is. Yum.

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

* I have since resumed drinking coffee, and the relief is absolutely indescribable. But I'll probably describe it anyway in a whole post next week. So stay tuned for that thrilling story.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

From Bad to Worse


I have become something of a belated watcher of 1980s action cartoons. Specifically, Transformers, Voltron,  and He-Man. The only one I remember watching myself as a kid was He-Man, but A. remembers them all fondly and wanted to share them with our sons.

Thus, the boys have watched every single episode of all of them. And they are all terrible. Well, terrible for an adult, anyway. The kids love them. In order of terribleness, from bad to worse, I think it goes Transformers, then He-Man, and then Voltron is the cheesiest of the bunch.

But now I have seen the absolute worst, and it is Protectors of Universe.

No, it's not missing "the" in the title. Or rather, it is missing it, but it's like that on purpose, apparently. Because it turns out this is a 1983 South Korean knock-off of Voltron. I guess the "the" got lost in translation.

Cubby brought it home from school. He chose it from the prize box in his class, and he was very excited, explaining that it was Voltron's brother.

Yeah, Voltron's inferior and highly irritating brother.

The animation is terrible. The story--such as it is--is abysmal. And the English dubbing is absolutely laughable. Only not very funny.

But it has the requisite blasting sounds and action scenes, and so the boys have actually watched the worst movie in the entire world.

And so have I. Ugh.