What’s for supper? Vol. 134: Damn that little bird

We really hit some high highs and some low lows this week, speaking in terms of foodwise. Here’s what we had:

Sugar rub chicken, brats, mahogany clams

Damien made dinner, with some help from Corrie:

He put some brats and some clams on the grill:

and when the clams opened, he served them in a sauce of white wine, onions, and melted butter. Still the greatest way to end a Saturday afternoon; still too slimy and weird for the kids to want any.

He made a rub for the chicken thighs:

Brown sugar 1.5 cups
White Sugar .5 cups
Chili powder 2 table spoons
Garlic powder 2 table spoons
2 tsp chili pepper flakes

When the flames died down, he shoved the coals to one side and laid the chicken on the other side and put the lid down, and let it cook slowly. This makes the meat sweet and moist and gives the chicken skin a remarkable caramelized crust that you need to have in your life.

The brats were the vegetable.

Steak salad

Steak was on sale, so I was powerless not to buy several pounds of it. Damien made another rub and grilled it lovely and rare:

I sliced the meat and set out bowls of mixed greens, blue cheese, and sliced Granny Smith apples. This dish is actually supposed to have pears, and I will admit that pears are really superior here; but the apples were good.

Very good!

Very good indeed. I put wine vinegar on mine. Any slightly sweet, non-creamy dressing would go well.

Chicken quesadillas

I don’t really remember Monday, but I’m pretty sure the kids made supper. I think I put oil and chili lime powder on some chicken breasts and put them under the broiler to cook, but I think they did the rest. We like quesadillas with cheddar cheese, chicken, and sliced jalapenos, with salsa and sour cream.

Hot dogs, cheezy weezies

I remember even less about Tuesday. There was a lot of driving, a lot of running, a lot of rain, and a lot of writing.

Pesto chicken burgers with sweet roast peppers; crispy circles

I had high hopes for these sandwiches. They were good, but a little bland for our tastes. First I put a bunch of peppers on a pan and put them in a 500 oven for about 30 minutes, until they were soft and a little charred.

Then I let them cool, then pulled off the skins and scooped out the seeds and cores. This is very satisfying and entertaining.

Then I sliced them up

and added a little olive oil and freshly-ground pepper. I served the peppers on the sandwiches, which were on Kaiser buns with sliced, roasted chicken and pesto sauce.

I made the pesto sauce with, um, a jar of pesto from Aldi. I know, I know.

1-1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup mayo
6.7 oz jar of Aldi pesto

fresh ground pepper

It was probably too much yogurt and I don’t know why I skipped the salt; and why no garlic? I don’t know. And we were out of lemon juice (but had three bottles of lime juice). It would have been good to chop the chicken and mix it with the sauce and let it sit for a while, but I was afraid the kids wouldn’t eat it.

A pretty sandwich, but it needed more texture and sharpness. Maybe some capers and red onions? Cheese?


The peppers are pretty, but also disappointingly bland. Help me out! Help this sandwich out. I want to like it. I want to like all sandwiches.

The blight man was born for, with apricot

This pork I bought had been hanging over my head like a, like a hanging pork. That’s ominous enough, isn’t it?

Pork was on sale, so when I was planning the weekly menu, I looked around for a new recipe, and found one that tantalizingly already had the carbs toted up. Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad. Okay, sure, it looks a little peculiar, but maybe people will eat it, YOLO and whatnot. I even bought the right kind of cabbage, $1.99 a pound.

But the pork that was on sale didn’t look great, so I got more expensive pork. And the cabbage was more expensive than I expected, so I figured we could have noodles or something? Noodles and cabbage and almonds, with apricot? YOLO?

You can see where this meal is headed already, right? It was doomed. I sliced the pork up thin, but then decided that I didn’t like the sound of cucumbers and cabbage together; so I veered again, and after heating up the pan I started making a completely different recipe, distinctly non-Asian. Not even faux diabetic Asian, but faux. . . German? I don’t know. I did know I had apricot jam, so I made this Budget Bytes recipe for sauce. 

It gives you the choice of topping chops with sauce, or cooking the chops right in it. Only it called for chops, and I had already cut the meat in slices, and anyway, someone had left the Dijon mustard open in the cabinet for three months, so I threw that out and used regular mustard. Then I started some rice cooking, because I had a hunch we might need it, and we were out of noodles anyway.

Then I cooked up the meat in a skillet, then added the sauce. It didn’t look too terrible, really, and there was a chance a few good sports might eat it, especially over rice. I completely forgot about the cucumbers. Where were the almonds? I couldn’t find them, and a little bird told me to stop looking, because this probably wasn’t going to be a dish that deserved almonds.

Then, just when it seemed possible that all was not lost, another little bird, a real bastard of a little bird, was like, “Hey, this could just be a stir fry! Throw the chopped cabbage into the pan, and stir it up, you witless dinner monkey! Stir fries have mustard all the time! More cabbage, more! And now put a lid on it.”

You may or may not be aware, but when you heat up a chopped Napa cabbage, it sweats about six gallons of water.

So here’s what I put on the table:

Not with a bang, but with soaking wet cabbage and little bits of apricot. I wearily nodded toward the pizzas in the freezer, and they ate them. With rice.

Tuna Noodle

Despite my unbroken record of making flawless dinners, the kids liked the idea of taking turns planning and making dinner each week. Sophia came up first, and what she wanted was tuna noodle, so that’s what we’re having.

Oh, Damien said I had to tell you about the squid jerky! Well, there’s not that much to tell. In the morning, I found and opened up Kyra’s package of smoked, dried squid, and, although the taste was not great, the smell was really dreadful, so I ate the rest of the package so it wouldn’t stink up the kitchen, and then I spent the rest of the day pooping. What top eleven things are the matter with me, would you say?

In my defense, eating the squid jerky was an entirely new experience for me. My brain couldn’t decide if it was candy, or fish, or waxy string, or what, and kept demanding additional data, so I kept eating it. Then I went for a 2.5 mile run in 93% humidity, with optional hill at the end.

And now my story is all told.

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9 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 134: Damn that little bird”

  1. My mother grew up in the Philippines, so we were regulars at the Asian market. I loved squid jerky when I was a teenager. Our cat wetn crazy when we opened up the package. I don’t know if I’d like it now, but I still like fresh squid (sauteed plain, not breaded or fried).

    What you needed to do with that cabbage and pork dish was pour in a bunch of soy sauce and a bit of siracha and stir in the rice to absorb the liquid. You need to look up Filipino adobo recipes; it can be done with either pork or chicken. It’s probably instant pot friendly. I was told years ago that anything you can do with chicken, you can do with pork. I haven’t personally verified that with every recipe. You might have saved Thursday if you just kept repeating, “chicken, chicken, chicken” and ignored the porkness. Hang another note on your refrigerator.

  2. All I have done this summer is cook, clean, paint and wash. I repainted my wood bedroom floor a slate blue, and added a white scalloped edge. I have decided to paint the ceiling an ice blue and add tiny gold stars like Our Lady of Guadalupe’s robe. I discussed this with one of the boys and he said, “No, it’s not weird, –I mean for God’s sake it’s off of a chapel with an altar.” Right?

    So the past two weeks have been a blur of grocery stores, painting and cooking with my old crummy stove which is living in the space that my unconnected six burner eBay stove is supposed to occupy. The grand eBay stove sits flaccidly in the corner of the kitchen, (next to the Mexican tile rug we laid last year) Pffffffft… “All good things come to those that wait” shall be etched on my gravestone.

    So yeah–We’re back at the Hacienda of the Spider, reunited with my almost 19 y.o. and 22 y.o. who want me to cook them stuff and be taken out to eat stuff, and who roar “Who ate all the schnitzel?! with anger and entitlement if they were out gallivanting while I was pounding and breading German food.

    I made the usuals this week: The big pot of chicken stock was the gift that kept on giving. Everyone liked the cauliflower soup, and the seafood pasta. I have no problem mixing seafood with chicken stock. On the second day, when the shrimp had been picked out, I added chopped clams and some cream. Alas, none of those clams had the opportunity to pop open on a sexy grill with a manly man telling them who’s boss. My manly man was hundreds of miles away for the week, and ate dinner at Whole Foods. Sigh. This time I didn’t slack off. A crew of my nieces and nephews blew onto our doorstep, so I cooked for 12. My Mom bought us all like 20 pounds of Panda Express which tasted delicious going down, but never fails to wreak its revenge. I ignored the revenge and continued to snack on it for a 24 hour cycle, and then repented of my crimes by cooking a very healthy grass-fed beef pasta dish with a sauce of nice veggies. My God daughter told me that my tacos were the best she’d ever had. AND she lives in San Diego, so I’m moved by such a high compliment. When I make tacos I buy only the highest quality beef, and just sear it. It doesn’t require a lot of meat, so I only spent about 12 bucks and fed a slew of people. The guacamole was from a *single* Haas avocado from Mexico which was enormous. And buttery. 4 for 5 bucks. Well worth it.

    My new go-to grocery store is the Discount Grocery Outlet that opened here last year. They have all kinds of other products that they get in big lot shipments. It’s sort of like a Marshall’s that married a grocery store and had a baby. I’ve been over the moon since I found my favorite EO fancy soap. I’ve bought market umbrellas and towels, mascara,T-shirts…brie…organic lettuce…Fresh Mexican cheese…Burt’s Bees lip shimmers, potting soil..There is also a water vending machine out front for delicate palates that can’t handle the dirt taste of Santa Barbara mud puddle water. What the grocery outlet doesn’t have can be found at Trader Joe’s a couple of blocks away.

    I wish I could say that the most exciting/dangerous thing I’ve done this summer is paddle board with Great Whites, but it’s not. It’s too cold still. The most exciting thing of all has been having one click ordering on Amazon Prime set up on my laptop. I had resisted until now. Like heroin. Did you know that you can get a cute wetsuit jacket for under forty bucks? I pressed that fast click button and I can swear it came in five minutes. I just ordered magnetic eyelashes a couple of hours ago, and feel giddy.

  3. Yeah, Napa cabbage is one of my favorites for a salad, but for cooking you need ye olde Irish-style green cabbage. Even then it lets off a lot of water. Anyhoo.

    I like to try new recipes on my kids when my husband is traveling. They are remarkably agreeable to this, probably because they are all able-bodied and know they can make themselves a sandwich if they don’t like it. This week I tried a Lemon-Garlic Roasted chicken thing in the crock pot. It is about 90 billion degrees here and I turn to the crockpot (and put it outside) when I want to cook in the summer. I also fry things outside.

    The recipe called for a whole chicken, which I know would fit in my crock, but I was not mentally up to the idea of skinning a whole chicken. So I used chicken breasts, which were on sale. Layered them up with 2 sliced lemons, kosher salt, olive oil, lots of garlic and fresh rosemary, per the directions. It looked so pale when it was done, though it smelled very delicious.

    The boys all tried the chicken (EVEN my picky guy) and they said they liked it, though it could be improved by using just one lemon and more salt and garlic. We had it over rice. I will make it again, just different. I’ll leave the rosemary out; it didn’t add anything in my opinion, use lots more garlic, salt and less lemon. And maybe chicken thighs this time.

    I also made falafel in the crockpot! I have two falafel-loving kids and they had the sads when I told them I could not, in good conscience, fry things inside when it was so hot outside, and I read on Stephanie O’Dea’s blog that she made falafel in the crockpot. It worked! They were not as delectable as fried, by no means, but my kids were delighted and gobbled them up anyway.

    Tonight we had pulled pork thanks to the Solemnity of St Paul and Peter. Super easy: 4 lb boneless trimmed pork shoulder, or not boneless, since you shred it anyway, 1 20 ounce bottle of ketchup (and I put warm water in the bottle, shake it up and pour that in), 1/4 cup brown sugar, 4 T apple cider vinegar, 2 T worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, a sliced onion, cook on Low for about 8 hours until it shreds. Then pick out the globby bits of fat, muttering under your breath about the butcher who never, EVER trims the fat well enough even though you asked nicely, and serve on buns. Preferably toasted, but like I said, it’s hot here. We had coleslaw and fruit on the side. I loved what you wrote a while ago: “Operation Enough With the Chips All The Time continues apace,” or something like that, and it’s been my battle cry and I think we are a tad healthier for it.

    I may have said this before, but while I love everything you write, even when I disagree with you, I really look forward to your meal posts. I believe they’ve helped me be a bit more creative in the kitchen. So thank you for all your writing.

  4. I make pesto chicken salad sandwiches regularly! It really does taste better with the chicken mixed in and sitting for a bit in the fridge. What I do for my picky 4 year old is save some of the shredded chicken out for her before I mix it in to the rest of the ingredients. I like chopped celery mixed in for a bit of crunch. My proportions for 4 cups of shredded chicken breast are: 1/2 cup mayo, 1/3 cup plain yogurt, jar of Aldi pesto, 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper. And I do add the roasted red bell peppers on top along with Romaine lettuce (or spinach if I have that on hand). Toasted ciabatta is delicious as the bread!

  5. In Southern Italy – which is where I am from- roasted peppers are dressed with lots of olive oil, capers with a bit of their vinegar, salt and pepper, minced garlic and fresh herbs (usually mint or parsley). As an Italian, I have to admit that the idea of pesto on a sandwich horrifies me… 🙂 I would leave out the pesto entirely and just use the roasted peppers to top your chicken. Fresh tomatoes and red onions may go well too.

  6. Corrie grew up!

    It helps me to know that you sometimes have cooking experiences that are less than perfect, since mine are usually way below perfect.

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