What’s for supper? Vol. 104: I put the fannie in Fannie Farmer

The theme for the week is YOUR FRIEND BUTTER. Butter is your friend. Don’t listen to your doctor. Your doctor is DOO-DOO. You need more butter!

And you also need my pal Fannie Farmer. This week, what with the cold and the colored leaves and the swirling mists and the ennui, I found myself turning again and again to this cookbook I’ve been using for over twenty years now. Good old Fannie taught me how to roast pork ribs, how to make pie crust and pie filling, how to wait for the onions in onion soup, and so much more.

Fun fact: The author, Marion Cunningham, was briefly married to a then-unknown Thurgood Marshall when they were both teenagers. The couple broke up within days of the wedding, apparently after a bitter all-night dispute over rigatoni.

That’s . . . that’s not true. I’m sorry.

Short version of what we had this week: Butter.
Long version:

Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus

I have no memory of Saturday.


Chicken pecan salad; apple pie

They keep asking for this dish, so I keep making it.

Coat chicken breasts in oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven, then cube the meat. Serve over greens with dried cranberries, toasted pecans (or almonds or walnuts), crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese, diced red onions, and some kind of sweet vinaigrette. This time we had pomegranate. I burned the nuts, but they were still good.

I finally got around to making a pie, long after we ate up all the apples we picked at the orchard. I used the Fannie Farmer pie crust, but used butter instead of shortening. I also did the trick of freezing the sticks of butter for half an hour and then shredding them with a cheese grater. This does 90% of the work of incorporating the fat into the flour without overworking it, and this crust turned out light and supple without sacrificing taste. It won’t work on Thanksgiving, though. It only works if I make a pie for no particular reason. On Thanksgiving, my pie crust will be doo-doo.

I rolled out the dough for the top crust and turned it over to the kids, who used Halloween cookie cutters to make a pie of great spooooookiness.

They used kind of a lot of them, so it has sort of an indeterminate “well of souls” look, I guess.  I wet the crust a bit and sprinkled sugar on the top, also spooky. You could also brush on a little beaten egg white to give it some gloss, if you’re into that.


Oven roasted pork ribs, rice, mashed butternut squash, apple pie

A very fine autumn meal

and still the best way to prepare pork ribs indoors. Just plenty of salt and pepper and a very hot oven and turn the ribs once, until they are browned. So juicy and easy. Be a meat hero!

For the squash, I cut them in half, scooped out the pulp and seeds, and just cooked them as-is in a medium oven until they were soft, maybe 30 minutes or so. Peeled off the skin and mashed the squash up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cozy.

The kids were by far most excited by the rice, which I cooked in beef broth instead of water. This is their idea of Ultimate Fanciness.

We had an entire leftover pie from Sunday! I don’t understand what is happening to our family. “Leftover pie.” Clarification?


Taco Tuesday! and corn chips

I learned from previous weeks that too much cumin can make your taco meat taste like angry dirt, so I eased up on the cumin and added plenty of salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.

The iceberg lettuce I was saving turned out to be cabbage. So I shredded that, and it was fine. Our fridge has a trick of freezing everything in back, and it turns out sour cream does not recover from being frozen. It gets separated and mealy, bleh. But we did have tomatoes and plenty of cheese, plus jarred jalapeno rings. Good enough for the likes of us.


Onion soup, Italian sausages, beer bread

Just sausages! I really wanted onion soup, but a significant faction in the family needs to have meat. A few pounds of sweet Italian sausages in the pan, and there it was: Supper.

I absolutely love this simple onion soup recipe. I used about 6-7 pounds of yellow onions and just acres and acres of butter. I used beef broth instead of water (skip the salt if you use broth), and tons of pepper and Parmesan cheese at the end. Nothing to it, and it doesn’t look like much, but it’s so good.

Beer bread is another recipe I won’t shut up about. It’s so easy, a . . . a . . . I don’t know, a naked toddler could make it.

You don’t need quite as much butter as the recipe says (and it’s not strictly necessary to bathe in the flour, either), but as long as you don’t be a big lazy baby and you take the time to sift, this bread comes up fluffy and golden and moist every time, with a gorgeous cobbled crust.

It’s much less crumbly and cake-like and more chewy and bread-like than most quick breads. And you can make it all in one bowl. Mix up the dry, add the beer, stir it up and chunk it in the pan. It says to bake an hour, but start checking at 40 minutes or so. It has an earthy, slightly honeyed taste. (This varies with the beer, of course. I used Narragansett.)


Grilled cheese with ham and apple

Extremely popular here. They didn’t even ask if there were chips coming. (There were not.)

I put a layer of cheddar cheese top and bottom, with the ham and apples in the middle, and then put the sandwiches in the oven for a bit after grilling, to make sure it’s all melted. I have been using this wonderful sourdough bread from Aldi lately. It’s perfect for grilled sandwiches.

We make our grilled sandwiches with a thin layer of mayo on the outside. It doesn’t give it a mayonnaise taste, but it adds a sort of thin, crunchy crust to the entire sandwich. (Yes, you still use butter on the pan after spreading mayo on the bread. Yes, this is why we’re fat. WORTH IT.)

I really wanted some leftover onion soup, but the sandwich was completely filling, and I had to admit, I was truly stuffed. So I just ate the sandwiches the kids didn’t eat. Whatever, I went running this morning. Whatever!


Giant pancake with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs

I felt guilty about something last week, I forget what, so I bought a bag of chocolate chips.

Giant pancake, if you don’t know, is this: You take an entire box of pancake mix and add enough water to make thick batter. Butter a pan, spread the batter in, and bake at 350 for ten minutes or so. Serve in wedges and go lie down. Bring a stick of butter with you, just in case.

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25 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 104: I put the fannie in Fannie Farmer”

  1. We love butter too. And it makes me happy that my geriatrician brother also believes it makes everything better.
    Sat: chicken in stock and garlic with french bread for dipping. I got a bunch of chicken breast and cubed and froze it; then an uncle decided he had a bunch of non-layers to cull, so we have a lot of chicken in the freezer.
    Sun: Little Caesars in between parish festival and pumpkin picking.
    Mon: husband grilled steaks and made mashed potatoes. Everyone very happy.
    Tues: sub sandwiches with turkey, ham, and provolone.
    Wed: venison with mustard and onion, leftover mashed potatoes, butternut squash souffle. My mom makes the latter with sweet potatoes for holidays; this version turned out super-sweet, which made me and several of the usually-squash-hating kids happy, but husband didn’t like it much. The venison was approved by everyone though.
    Thurs: those garlic chicken thighs posted here a few weeks ago. Seriously, people, if you haven’t tried this yet, I don’t know why you read these posts. There is a reason the good Lord sent you here. People liked it last time I made it, and since I lowered the stove-top temp for the cast iron this time, it was even better because I didn’t burn the garlic.
    Fri: spaghetti con tonno. Easy and so good: cream, a bit of salt, onion, and garlic powder, heat with a couple cans of tuna and pour over pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan and eat it all.

  2. I’ve always wanted to try Beer Bread, but my husband buys good beer (you know, the kind in bottles) from Trader Joe’s and refuses to sacrifice any of it for mere cooking. I can’t bring myself to buy cheap “beer.” I wonder if vinegar water would work in place of beer?

    1. You can buy just one can or bottle of beer from Trader Joe’s–you don’t have to get the whole 6-pack! What I wouldn’t give for a TJs around these parts. Sigh.

  3. Food is not my friend right now. I left my scale at my old house. I visited my old house last weekend. (sad, bitter, anger) Bread and pie crusts look and sound like evil, evil crack.

    Here’s one new food hack I just came up with a couple of weeks ago for school lunches, (which are SEVEN bucks a head here!):

    Deli meat is expensive and not that fresh tasting. I try to jazz up the turkey with a thin slice of prosciutto (can’t believe I spelled that right on the first try) or precooked bacon from the Whole Foods breakfast bar. (Once it loses most of the fat by being cooked it’s worth the 8.99 a pound) I just get a half pound of it, to use every few days and also put it on turkey and cheese melts to mix things up for my easily bored kids. But the BIG lunch hack lately? — The kids loooooove that pre-seasoned pork tenderloin. I cut it into thin slices in the morning and it cooks in minutes in a skillet. It is much cheaper than deli meat. They gobble it up!–Well at least for now they do.

    I hear ya on being down a couple of kids. Not having two hungry-like-the-wolf teenage/21 y.o. boys has cut down on my food bills considerably. Beers don’t evaporate from the fridge either. And they miss me! You never know what you had until it’s not folding your laundry or making you tacos anymore. They actually call and text too.

    Sometimes my husband brings me food from work that I wouldn’t even think of making. A couple of days ago, it was Korean barbecue with cabbage and noodles in a green (spinach?) wrap. Very tasty indeed. They really spoil them, but I don’t think it’s pure altruism. Somebody probably figured out that it is worth more to the company if they don’t get up from their desks. Ever.

    1. BTW I saw an aerial view of New Hampshire a couple of days ago on Instagram. Those colorful trees are UNBELIEVABLE. Our fall leaves often don’t fall until Christmas. That upsets people from other places. The good news is that we had a sudden blast of cold air and a dusting of rain last night. What a welcome relief in fire country. I’ve never been so happy to be cold in my life!–But my phone says it’s going to be 80 on Monday.

  4. Ooh! Am definitely making beer bread this week… and quick question from this new wife who’s still learning how to cook pork: how hot of an oven are we talking for the pork ribs? Like, 500*?
    They’re on sale this week, and I’d like to overcome my irrational fear of cooking ribs.

    1. I usually put the broiler on high and slide the meat up pretty close, but not all ovens have a broiler that works well. If not, I’d go with a 450 oven.

  5. I see you, too, are aquainted with the golden rule of cookery, which is that only unimportant dishes come out beautifully. That one you at taking to the Christmas party, forget it.

  6. I *love* that Aldi sourdough bread. It also makes a really nice sandwich with the smoked cheddar they have sometimes.

  7. Butter is the best. I keep unsalted butter always on hand in particular for my chocolate chip cookies–they call for half browned, half melted butter and are fantastic. At the store last week, I sent my 12 year old off to get “Land O Lakes Unsalted Butter” (wrote it on the list), because I had a coupon for LandOLakes, and the little crumb came back with “LandOLakes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt” but I didn’t mind too much, since it is frakking delicious. My family thinks I’m weird because I can sit there and eat butter or cream cheese with a spoon, and enjoy it. I think they’re weird.

    Monday: Shepherd’s pie (I use the recipe from Simply Recipes), whack-in-the-can biscuits, fruit. I have a morbid fear of popping balloons, which translates well to a fear of opening those dang biscuits. I know, logically, that the can will not explode and kill me, but I still cringe every time I press the spoon on that seam. I was surprised at how much everybody (except for two members of the family) loves shepherd’s pie. And they adored the biscuits. ADORED. Huh.

    Tuesday: leftovers (ha), grilled cheeses, soup. The teenagers took care of the leftover shepherds’ pie, making happy noises all the time.

    Wednesday: Chicken Parmigiana, angel hair pasta, green beans. Everyone liked it, except for the youngest who very gratefully said, “Thank you for making noodles, Mommy!”. I finally realized how to make chicken breast go farther, you cut them along their equator and make them thinner–they cook faster, too.

    Thursday: Hamburgers or hot dogs, baked potato bar–the latter is a big hit now that I discovered pre-cooked bacon.

    Friday: going to be fried rice made in the crockpot, some manner of baked cod, and fish sticks for the picky.

    1. Yes for cutting the chicken breasts! I used to pound chicken like a chump so it would cook all the way through. Now I just slice the breasts in half long ways. Don’t have to pound, and the chicken goes further!

      1. I once visited a friend who sliced her chicken breasts, and *then* she pounded them into thin cutlets, coated them in almond flour and fried them. They were delicious, and yeah, they cooked quickly, but I don’t see myself spending all that time pounding chicken and letting microscopic droplets of chicken juice fly all over the kitchen, yanno? But for years I only had one knife–the last remaining survivor of the Cutco set I got when I was married. And it cut horribly. (The others gave their lives for various household tasks at some point, at least I kept finding my husband using the remaining one to saw through things). Now I have a nice set, and the chicken slices like butter (see what I did there?). So much easier.

        1. I stopped buying chicken breasts a long time ago. Besides being expensive, whatever those chicken farmers are doing is producing bland breasts. I either buy a whole chicken or chicken thighs. I’d love to get my hands on a home-grown chicken.

        2. Put the chicken in a gallon freezer bag, squeeze all the air out, and then pound the chicken flat through the bag! This is how I finally figured out how to keep my kitchen at least reasonably sanitary.

  8. Hi! Your link to beer bread went to the pie crust recipe. Would you mind updating when you get a chance, I think I’m going to try this w/ this weekend’s meal I’m planning. 🙂 Thank you!

  9. So funny! I have the exact same issue on Thanksgiving. Why, why do my pie crusts only turn out when it’s not thanksgiving??

  10. Butter/bacon/fat is the best. Our week:
    Saturday: Husband was gone all day and so I just made myself a couple sandwiches–bacon, arugula, and garlic mayo on toasted bread. So, so good.
    Sunday: Chipotle skirt steak with green beans and onions. Was meant to all be cooked on the grill but I cheaped out and bought Kroger brand charcoal and my husband just could not get it to stay lit/get hot enough so we pulled it all inside and cooked it stovetop. It was all pretty tasty anyway.
    Monday: Crockpot adobo pork shredded and put on buns with rosemary garlic mayo, corn on the cob on the side.
    Tuesday: Loaded baked potato chicken casserole, one of our spicy favorites
    Wednesday: Kroger had a bunch of packets of their “Street Taco Meat” on clearance so I decided to get one of the beef ones to try. The name was not that appetizing (we kept accidentally calling it street meat which is just reminiscent of roadkill/meat of dubious origins) but it was actually pretty good! Sauteed it up with a bag of frozen peppers and onions and served with tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and cheese.
    Thursday: Burgers with green chiles, goat cheese, and candied bacon. Side of crispy potatoes.
    Friday: Smoky black bean and vegetable soup, side of rosemary olive oil bread.

  11. “This is why we’re fat.”
    Haha! I announce this regularly to my family….
    Do you make your own hummus? We love hummus…it feels so pricey to buy enough for all of us in the store though. My five year old will seriously go hide with a container of hummus and a spoon.

    1. I used to just mash up chickpeas with olive oil and lemon juice and garlic, because the tahini was so expensive. Aldi hummus is quite cheap, though, so now I buy it all the time. Only a few people in our house will eat it, though.

      1. We buy huge jars of tahini from the local middle Eastern ethnic store to keep costs down (also an excellent place to just explore…there’s some really interesting looking stuff in there). It keeps pretty well, and one jar will last us a few months. We also don’t make hummus super often though.

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