There are many things to do on a ranch. Most of them are fun. This includes spending days on end using a chainsaw – heck yeah! As awesome as it is to wield a power tool that big and dangerous for hours on end, there are actually good reasons to do so on a ranch.
One of the reasons, and there are many, is to clear brush. Here in New Mexico, at least where I live, there is a huge invasion of a particular tree called a juniper. For hundreds of years they have been kept at bay by fires, both ones set by lightning strikes and by the Natives. These trees are meant to be on rocky slopes of mesas and canyons, but now they are starting to cover the grasslands. They use about 80 gallons of water per day, taken straight from the water table and stolen from the surrounding plant life, including the native grasses. So as the junipers are eradicated from grasslands and rolling hills, more grass may grow, more wildlife may live, and I can grow more beef.
Another reason to use my chainsaw is to keep my fence lines clear. These junipers grow super fast; they will be only a few feet tall for the first 3 years, then after that they just shoot up – they can be over 6 feet tall before 10 years old. If they are allowed to stay in a fence for that long, they will grow right through the wire, push over the posts, and make big holes in the fence. That is a bad thing if I’m trying to keep livestock where I want them…so I take my chainsaw to whatever tree may be in the fence. It might take a while, but if I need to mend the fence that will take even more time. And I may lose livestock, or they might get injured getting through to the off-limits area.
Then the last reason I willingly take up the saw is to stop erosion. This may sound like an odd reason to cut trees, but I assure you it is not. All of the trees that I cut I strategically place in places that have been eroded by rain run-off. If I place these trees where the water runs and is cutting through the dirt, the foliage will slow the water enough to drop the silt that it is carrying, and will actually start healing the cuts. This also will allow more grass to grow in the new soil, more wildlife and livestock will be able to be on the ground, and as the water quits rushing off the ground it will soak in and actually replenish the water table…little by little.
That last reason is the best. I get to heal the land by running a chainsaw!
This post should be titled “a week in the life of Goss food”, because it’s basically how we ate in Phoenix, too. Here are my goals with this blog post:
To write about food (because I love food)
To find out if you guys (our amazing blog readers) would like to read more about recipes, cooking, and healthy (kind of?) eating
So here it is…a week of what the Gosses ate.
Bean & cheese quesadillas & fruit
Red beans & rice leftovers
Chicken & squash enchiladas
I highly suggest learning how to make your own beans from scratch. It’s cheap and they’re way tastier than beans from the can. You can also hide veggies in them, add good fats to them, make a huge batch and freeze them, turn them into refried beans later, whatever. We had two different types of homemade beans on Thursday – and the family loved them both. Do you want my recipe? Leave me a comment!
Enchiladas sound like a lot of work, right? Wrong. Here’s how I make them:
Layer of enchilada sauce (either homemade if I have some in the freezer, or I just suck it up and use canned if I don’t; I always make sure I have either homemade or store bought enchilada sauce in the house – ALWAYS)
Layer of corn tortillas (fry those suckers if you’re feeling really sassy)
Layer of vegetables (saute them first if you want them to taste better; and really, the options are endless here: squash, mushrooms, eggplant, greens, asparagus, onions, bell peppers, etc.)
Layer of enchilada sauce
Layer of corn tortillas
Layer of meat or beans
Layer of enchilada sauce
Layer of corn tortillas
Layer of enchilada sauce & grated cheese
DONE. Skip the rolling, seriously. Oh, and you can put sour cream in one of those layers too, as long as you’re not a cheapo like me (I never buy sour cream unless it’s a special occasion).
Also, it’s super handy to occasionally cook a bunch of meat or beans and then put them in the freezer. So when I made these enchiladas, the only thing I cooked was the veggies. Everything else was just assembly.
Yogurt & granola & fruit (Finn ate eggs)
Burger leftovers & chips
It also really easy to make your own granola. GRANOLA AT THE STORE IS TOO EXPENSIVE. Again, want my recipe? Leave me a comment.
Are you seeing a trend here? We eat a lot of leftovers. Want to know why? Because I’m not going to cook three meals a day, that’s why. But I’m also not going to eat frozen food or restaurant food every day, because it’s expensive as crap.
Cheese toast & eggs & fruit
Red beans & rice leftovers & salad
T-bone & pasta salad (Finn ate PB toast and yogurt)
If you have some leftovers, but not enough for a meal….add a salad!
Finn seriously hated this dinner, as you can assume from his separate dinner of peanut butter, toast, and yogurt.
Grant grilled the T-bone steaks. That’s another tip for making homemade meals – involve your husband, especially if it’s something manly like grilling.
Grant: PB & honey sandwich – Me & Finn: eggs & toast & fruit
Leftover pasta salad & sandwich (Finn ate mac & cheese)
BBQ brisket, squash, and baked potatoes
Need a breakfast on the go? Peanut butter & honey sandwich. If you love jelly, throw some jelly on there too. But don’t skip the honey – it’s great for energy.
The mac & cheese Finn ate (or pretended to eat) was homemade. No, it was not difficult. Here’s what I did: melted some butter in a pan, shredded some cheese and threw it in with the butter, poured some milk into the cheesey buttery goodness, cooked it down a bit, threw in some leftover pasta that I didn’t use for the pasta salad from the night before. Done. Also, I did try to feed Finn the pasta salad, and he acted like I was feeding him rotten monkey guts. Hence the last minute mac & cheese.
(Or just make mac & cheese from a box. There’s no shame in that…boxed mac & cheese is delicious. I just had leftover pasta and was trying to figure out how to get Finn to eat it.)
One more note: need a quick and easy sauteed vegetable for a side? Squash. Always squash. It’s the easiest vegetable in the world to cook, and the easiest vegetable in the world to grow. Not a coincidence.
Crockpot apple oatmeal
Leftover pasta & frozen pizza
Leftovers from the night before
We had visitors stay with us on Saturday night, and cooking dinner and breakfast for a larger group of people can be a little intimidating. The answer? The crockpot! I made the BBQ brisket in the crockpot (see recipe above), and I made the oatmeal in the crockpot (check out the recipe here: http://www.thegraciouswife.com/crockpot-apple-oatmeal/). So I was able to serve my guests a homemade meal, but also hang out with them.
Also, on a sad note: Monday was the day that we picked Rio up from the vet in Santa Fe. He had died there on Sunday afternoon. Monday was a really hard day for us, so we didn’t even attempt to cook anything. It was a perfect day for leftovers, frozen pizza, and lots of family time together.
We also had coffee and cookies at this place in Santa Fe before we came home: http://iconikcoffee.com/. It reminded us of Cartel back home.
Leftover baked potato, eggs, toast, fruit
Sandwiches & chips (Finn ate BBQ, macaroni, and squash
Korean elk with fried rice and cabbage
Who says you can’t have baked potato for breakfast?
Sandwiches are a Goss family go-to for lunch. To make them relatively healthy, we basically make a salad and put it between two pieces of bread: lots of lettuce, onion, cucumber, and any other veggie we have in the fridge that can be eaten on a sandwich, like radishes, peppers, cole slaw, etc.
Do you have some veggies and don’t know what to do with them? Fried rice. You can make fried rice out of any veggie. It can be Mexican fried rice, Chinese fried rice, American fried rice…I’ve run out of ideas here, but you get the point.
Also, if you don’t happen to have elk in your freezer like we do (thank you Katie!), then you can make this recipe with ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground rabbit, ground cat, etc. Here it is: http://www.lizzywrite.com/2010/05/korean-beef.html. This is a very easy dinner.
Leftover cooked oatmeal is not very good, so I mixed together some yogurt and peanut butter to have on the side as a breakfast dessert.
Finn and I went grocery shopping in Santa Fe, and here is where we ate: http://tuneupsantafe.com/. If you are ever in Santa Fe, EAT HERE. It was delicious! I had lamb Barbacoa tacos, and Finn tried to eat most of them.
Grant ate a fancy Hollywood movie lunch, because they just filmed a movie here on the ranch. I actually ate a fancy Hollywood movie lunch as well, about two hours after I ate at the Tune-Up Cafe. Nursing moms are hungry, mmmmkay?
Grant skipped dinner because he’s a dude and not nursing a very active 10 month old. Finn and I had leftovers, because I wasn’t about to cook dinner for just me and Finn.
So there it is – a relatively normal week of eating for the Goss family.
If you’re interested in me posting recipes, writing about healthy eating theories, reviewing restaurants in New Mexico, or just blabbering on about how awesome food is, please leave a comment and let me know.