And just like that, it was fall. Crisp weather, slanted light, ripening apples and towering corn, ragged mists rising slowly over the fields of goldenrod, people dealing inappropriately with the stress of transition. It’s glorious.
Here’s what we ate this week:
I was gloomily making my shopping list, thinking about the rising tide of autumnal stews and squashes and other cold weather foods, and then I saw that lobsters were on sale. And a very good sale it was! Seized with a sudden urge to possess something carefree and summery, I boldly decided we would end our week with fresh steamed lobsters, and who could blame us?
But when I got to the store, they were all gone. So I ordered some for Sunday and arranged to pick them up before dinner, which felt somewhat less impetuous and madcap, but still. Lobster.
We had hamburgers and chips on Saturday.
Lobster, risotto, corn, strawberries, chicken nuggets
Finally lobster time! But when I got to the store on Sunday, they wanted to charge me Sunday’s price, which was most assuredly not on sale. I was disappointed, and was about to go away sad, but then I said to myself, “I’m a grown woman. It’s not unreasonable for them to accommodate a loyal customer and give me the price I was expecting to pay. At very least, it couldn’t hurt to ask.” So I spoke up, using the kindly brontosaurus technique, and the fish man talked to his manager, and it worked! I got four 1.5-pound Sunday lobsters for a Saturday price.
They offered to steam them for me, but again, I didn’t want to settle for second best and let them get all rubbery on the ride home, so I took them alive. I felt very alive. Lobsters!
You know, when you get to be in your mid-forties, you find out you can do all kinds of things that used to seem scary. You can very often just take a deep breath, push your way through, and do the thing, and it turns out it doesn’t kill you after all. It’s very liberating to find out how strong and capable you actually are.
Still, I was a little nervous about those lobsters, so I gave myself plenty of time. I set a big pot of salted water to heat up, melted a bunch of butter, and cut up some lemon wedges. I made the risotto in the Instant Pot, and I shucked the corn. The bag of lobsters sat quietly on the counter. I set out plates on the table and counted forks.
Then lobster water began to boil. It was time. I peeked into the bag and those lobsters seemed really docile and resigned, and were only waving their antlers around a little bit. They were clearly alive, but not, you know, like, alive. I knew I could handle this, and I really do love steamed lobster. I gathered up all my womyncourage and dumped the bag out into a bowl so I could see what I was up against.
Well, those horrible little fuckers started flopping around and scrabbling and trying to organize a mutiny in my kitchen. So I did the only thing I could do for an accomplished adult in my station in life: I screamed and ran away and stood in a corner and refused to talk to anyone. Then I sent one of my sons in to deal with the horror, one of my giant hulking sons who towers over my head, and he tried with some tongs, but then he also screamed and ran away.
So Damien had to do it. I was so proud of all of us.
The lobster was delicious. I don’t know what else to say. It’s kind of liberating to eat lobster? Because it tastes good? I was glad I only bought four, because most of the kids were horrified and traumatized by the whole thing, not sure why. They had chicken nuggets.
Oh hey, I’ll put my risotto recipe at the end. Because I’m a grown woman and I’m not afraid to use a pressure cooker.
Chicken thighs with squash and Brussels sprouts
Normally a well-liked one-pan dish for cool weather. I don’t know where I went wrong, but it just wasn’t that great. I skipped potatoes, for one thing. That was wrong. Never skip the potatoes.
Anyway, I’ll put my recipe at the end, and probably you’ll do it better. It’s just big pieces of hearty vegetables in a simple balsamic sauce with roast chicken thighs on top. It’s usually good, I promise! Maybe it’s supposed to have honey in it? I don’t know.
Chili and corny corn bread
Damien made chili. I’ll get his recipe when he gets home. I like chili, but I gave up making it many years ago, because nobody else liked it; but Damien’s cooking style is so different from mine, I thought there was a shot they would like his. I felt guilty about not cooking on a weekday, so I decided to make cornbread. Also nobody likes cornbread, but I figured it would be a fun and easy baking project for me and the little girls.
Well, they wanted to play Just Dance instead. So I made the cornbread by myself. I had the bright idea to add some fresh corn from the leftover corn from Sunday, and then I threw in some chili powder. How did it turn out? Bad, that’s how. Flabby and weird, just like the rest of us. Hooray!
Damien and I liked the chili. Nobody else did. Hooray!
Everybody likes pizza. Here’s a picture of pizza.
Carnitas and rice
I took a half pork loin and put it in the slow cooker with a can of beer and a can of peppers in adobo sauce. By evening, it was falling apart. I fished the meat out, shredded it, and spread it in a pan and broiled it so it was slightly crisp.
I had been planning beans and rice, but I realized the meat was quite spicy, and the kids would be sad if they didn’t have anything bland and white to eat. So I just served white rice. Then for some reason I decided to put leftover chili on the tortilla along with the pork. I also had sour cream and cilantro, but the whole thing was just confusing.
I mean, I ate it, but I was confused.
My aunt and uncle are coming for a visit and they did say they would bring pizza.
In conclusion: Yes, I know I said “lobster antlers.” Fight me.
Instant Pot Risotto
Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground sage
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups rice, raw
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese
Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.
Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.
Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.
Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.
Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary.
One-pan balsamic chicken thighs and vegetables
A true one-pan dish that works well with lots of variations of seasonings and vegetables
- 18 chicken thighs with skin and bone
- 1 butternut squash in cubes
- 3 lbs red potatoes in cubes
- 1 lb baby carrots
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- salt (preferably kosher)
Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.
Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in the pan, pour the mixture over them, and stir them up to coat, then spread them out again.
Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan.
Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp.
If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char.