Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Stretching Ground Beef

I've learned to stretch ground beef a bit with no complaints from my family.  I sub in cooked brown lentils for part of the ground beef when it's in a flavorful sauce - such as sloppy joe, spaghetti, or here in the picture, Korean beef.  Here I had doubled the recipe and just eyeballed the amount of cooked lentils to equal another pound of ground beef (I'm guessing 2 cups).  I added the cooked lentils when the beef was mostly cooked.

Bonus tip:  use a potato masher to chop and stir ground beef as it fries because it's much easier than trying to break it up with the side of a spoon.  I also mashed at the lentils a bit, which made them even less discernible in the dish.

However, I'm not trying to hide the beef-stretcher from my family.  They all know that the local organic beef I buy is expensive (but not when you consider our health and the environment!).

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Goodbye, Mullet; Hello, Pixie

 I just up and cut it off this morning while the turkey was roasting. I set Phoebe in her high chair in front of a Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star video on Youtube, and vacuumed her off when I was done.

By the way, I think I have my 15-lb turkey method nailed down:  dry brine (2 Tbsp. kosher salt, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. poultry herbs) for 24 hours, bake 425 covered for 1 hour, then 3 hours on 300 (or until nearly done) and uncover last 30 minutes.  My meat thermometer was dead in the drawer when I wanted to test the turkey, but it was delicious and easy, so I'm saving the details.  I'm not scared of cooking big pieces of meat anymore, but I don't do it often enough to remember.

Monday, November 21, 2016

On a November Sunday Afternoon

Genevieve was bored (which drives me crazy - the one day they don't have any chores at all, and are encouraged to relax and play!).  She asked if she could bake cookies, which was perfect because the cookie jar was just emptied recently from the last batch she made.  I love it when items on my to-do list are taken care of by other people!

She chose snickerdoodles, which oddly I have never made before.  But I think they'll go into regular rotation at our house, with a little less sugar.  I always use some all-purpose whole wheat flour in baked goods and reduce the sugar which allows me to consider them a reasonable snack.

Meanwhile, I stayed out of the kitchen and started a new quilt. I can't tell if I like it yet. It's a scrappy trip around the world, and I've loved looking at those finished quilts, but the two blocks I've worked on so far just look strange.  I'm going to persevere because often patchwork transforms into something magical, and I have so many scraps that I'm eager for a quilt to eat up.

The block's looks will improve when it's ironed.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Little Knitted Vest

As I explained last year, I do not enjoy shoving baby arms (todder arms now!) into sleeves.  Especially two sets of long sleeves.  So I prefer to keep Phoebe warm with vests over long-sleeved shirts.
I found a sweet vest pattern that is knitted on straight needles (easy) but has no seams to sew up afterwards (also easy).  I managed to mis-count my rows, however, so that I ended up with a buttonhole on each side of the yoke.  The yarn is too chunky to just shove a small button through a gap somewhere, so I puzzled and puzzled over what to do.  I'm quite pleased with my solution of a kilt pin through the yoke.

I knit this vest on regular-length knitting needles and constantly had to push push push to get the volume of stitches to stay on the needles.  So I bought a new, extra-long pair of needles, because, yes, I love this red vest so much that I have started another.  This one is a cloudy blue-grey which should make Phoebe's blue eyes even bluer.

For both vests, I bought two 90-yard skeins of Loops & Threads Cozy Wool which is 50% acrylic, 50% wool and comes cheap from Michael's with coupons.

 Again with the blurry photos.  Because she has work to do!  Lots of work taking apart this place and getting into things and getting things out and strewing things around!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Supper (Slinging Hash)

I made supper tonight, a menu I've made for years now because it's simple, tasty, and cheap.  It's not thrilling or trendy, but it's getting my people fed without much brainwork on my part and that is what I call "slinging hash."

barbecued sweet potatoes and beans (recipe here, towards the end of the post)
baked corn
coleslaw (sometimes it's green salad or steamed broccoli)

And then Ben pushed Phoebe around in a meat lug contraption while Genevieve washed dishes while I ironed.  Meat lugs come from my dad, from his business connections in food services, and are used by butchers.  But meat lugs are jealously guarded and labeled in my extended family because Dad can't get them anymore, and we need them for laundry baskets, suitcases, baby pools, storage bins, and vacation organizers.  At every extended family gathering, someone carries in a meat lug full of something.   I use my two meat lugs mostly for laundry. One of them has a crack in the bottom that I have hopelessly taped with duct tape.  Guess I will only have one family heirloom meat lug to pass down to my kids!

UPDATED with recipe!
Baked Corn  - based on Mennonite Country-Style's recipe

Mix in greased baking dish (approximately 2-quart or 8x8 pan)
3-4 cups corn, frozen and thawed, any liquid drained and reserved
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour

Separately, whisk together:
2 eggs
1 cup milk (if the corn has liquid on it, use it here in place of part of the milk)

Pour over mixture in baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on how shallow your baking dish is.  It's not a fussy casserole and can even bake at a higher or lower temperature.  When it's set in the middle, it's done.  Can also add 1/2 cup shredded cheese to top close to end of baking time.  Can also put this in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours, but reduce to 1 egg and use a very scant cup milk.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Just Ponytails

Finally she has some hair long enough for ponytails!  I just love to see little girls in ponytails or pigtails.  I rarely get to do Genevieve's hair anymore, so I'm thrilled to have a little girl growing hair.  Phoebe is 18 months old now.

 Phoebe is in the hilarious stage of asking for something and bursting into tears when it comes to pass.  I can't now recall what this sobbing was about, but recently, I had to put a band-aid on her finger and she cried when I put it on.  Then, five minutes later, she picked it off and brought it to me, sobbing because it was off.  And when it went into the trash can, she visited the trash can a few times to cry "ban-aid." We just love talking with her.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Not Doing Ribs at Home Again

We are picking up our eighth of beef within the month, so I am trying to deal with the random cuts I have left from last year. To wit, ribs.  I have never made ribs before.  I'm not someone who orders ribs at restaurants and I don't really know the difference between short ribs, spare ribs, beef ribs, and pork ribs.  But I had about five pounds of "beef ribs" (that's how the Amish butcher labeled them) in my freezer.

I used the Kitchn's recipe and method, recommended by Rebecca.

The flavor was fantastic, but (there are so many buts) the ribs were really tough even after 3 hours in the oven.  Furthermore, so much fat and bone went into the trash; I didn't think even my cleaning method could get that fat clean enough for soap and even though my family thought barbecued stock from the bones was funny-cool, I didn't save the bones for stock.  Plus, I used a lot of ingredients to get that fantastic flavor and because of all the stuff in the trash and the toughness of the end product, I'm unwilling to try that again.

I did not order ribs again from the butcher, and maybe I'll become one of those people who actively seeks out professional rib joints because it's such a rigamarole at home.