What’s for supper? Vol. 205: We put the “us” in virus

Just kidding, we’re not actually sick. Damien and I are used to working from home. We’re used to having ten kids crawling all over each other in a small space. I’m even kinda sorta used to teaching kids how to do basic math (a three digit number is like a big meal, like a Passover seder. You can’t eat it all at once; you have to have it in separate courses, in order. The first course is chicken soup with matzoh balls. But you can only fit nine matzoh balls in a bowl, so you have to carry . . . ). We’re fine. This is fine. How are you?

Here’s what we had to eat this week, with a menu somewhat based on what was left on the shelves after the locusts passed through:

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken on salad

I know I often say on Friday that Saturday seems far away, but this time it feels like about forty-three years. Good heavens. I was actually thinking about what was going to be the defining “Look how innocent we were back then, just before the big bad thing happened” moment. I think it has to be this, from March 11, 2020:

So anyway, if you were wondering what America did to deserve COVID-19, wonder no more.

SO ANYWAY, on Saturday we had mixed greens with sliced buffalo chicken (from frozen) with blue cheese, crunchy fried onions from a can, and blue cheese dressing.

It’s as close as you can get to fast food while still being a salad. I know that sentence didn’t work out and I don’t care. 

SUNDAY
English muffin pizzas

Benny asked for this dinner. Benny was happy. 

MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips

The Fishers begin to feel the privations of the pandemic. They didn’t have regular ground beef, only “chubs” packed up in opaque three-pound tubes with a photo of meat printed on the wrapper. We planned hamburgers, so I thought it would be easiest to slice the meat into burgers while it was still in chub form.

It worked, but I deemed it unnecessarily squalid. Next time I’ll take the wrapper off first. 

TUESDAY
Boiled Dinner, cookies

Speaking of squalid, it’s our annual boiled dinner for St. Patrick’s whatever. I’ve tried various, more authentic Irish food over the years, and, you know, there’s a reason the phrase “Irish cuisine” sounds so off. So we just had our same oil Irish American boiled dinner: Corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and carrots, with plenty of mustard. 

We also made cookies, I forget why. I guess because we were nervous. I couldn’t find the chocolate chips, mostly because somebody ate them, but we did inexplicably have butterscotch and white chocolate chips in the house. We also ran out of brown sugar, so I used mostly white. The combination of these three things made for some blindingly sweet cookies. I could have mitigated the screamingness of the sugar by adding some walnuts, but I thought to myself, “If they wanted walnuts, they should have left the chocolate chips alone!” This is virus thinking and I know it; but nevertheless, I didn’t put any nuts in.

Also, I forgot to combine the dry ingredients before I added the flour, so I put the rest in the mixer and mixed the hell out of it so it would be well blended. Of course this meant the dough was quite warm when it went into the oven, resulting in these unfortunate puddleform cookies:

But I just bulked up the rest of the dough with more flour and put it in the fridge for a bit before baking, and the rest of the cookies improved considerably

People have also advised me that using half shortening and half butter, rather than all butter, will result in puffier cookies. Noted!

I just used a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe you can find anywhere, so I won’t bother making up a card.

WEDNESDAY
Reubens

We had tons of corned beef left over, so I sliced it as thin as I could.

I forgot you are supposed to grill Reubens, though. I toasted my bread and then laid the meat and cheese on and slid it in the oven, then added sauerkraut and dressing. They were fine, not amazing. There’s still quite a pile of meat, much to the kids’ chagrin, so I may throw it in the freezer and take it out again next week if they make me angry. WHO’S EATING WALNUTS NOW, EH, KIDS????

THURSDAY
Tacos

I mean, I made tacos in the sense that there was meat in the house, and Damien went to the convirus store, I mean convenience store, for tortillas and cheese. Listen. I taught four kids math, and it was STRANGE DIFFERENT math, too. I don’t know what a module is. I don’t know what a place value disk is. All I know is matzoh balls. 

We also had fried dough

 

Jump to Recipe

 

because it was St. Joseph’s day, but I zero percent felt like making puff pastries. Which aren’t even really that hard; I just didn’t want to. I had been promising the kids I’d recreate the fried dough we had at the ocean last August, though, so it was finally the day for that. Super easy recipe, just flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and water, let it rest, flatten and fry, then dust with powdered sugar.

Some of them got exciting bubbles in them when they fried. 

My mother used to make fried dough, long before I ever ate it at a fair or on a boardwalk. She called it “rubber bread” and we loved it. Today I found out she called it that because if you don’t roll it out thin enough, and you don’t let the oil heat up enough before cooking, it sure does taste like rubber. I love my mother very much, but she only had about two dishes that weren’t completely terrible. This was because she didn’t care what she ate. She liked good food, but she also liked terrible food. For lunch, she would take literally any leftover dinner food, heat it up in a double boiler, and douse with with salsa from one of those comically huge salsa jugs. I mean, at least it’s an ethos. And she never had to share her lunch.

FRIDAY
Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s sauce

There wasn’t much sauce left in the stores last time I shopped, but there were plenty of canned tomatoes. I bought . . .many canned tomatoes. This sauce is stupid easy, and it tastes miraculously savory.

 

Jump to Recipe

 

Just three ingredients! Tomatoes, onions, butter! Maybe a little salt! I know everyone is always calling recipes “amazing,” but this will truly fully ignite all your buttons of amazement! 

And that’s about it. I guess we have to watch Bill Nye now or something. 

Oh, don’t forget about the withDraw2020 daily art challenge! We’re getting more and more people joining in every day. Very simple rules here, with the daily prompts. Today’s prompt is “patient.” Be sure to tag your work #withDraw2020 when you share it.

Some people are using the prompts to write poetry or take photos, too, and some people are doing whatever they want each day. I love it. It’s just something to keep us creative and in touch with each other. 

 

Fried dough

Makes about 15 slabs of fried dough the size of a small plate

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) cold butter
  • 1-1/2 cups lurkworm water
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
  • cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Cut the cold butter into bits and work it gently into the dough.

  3. Add the water and stir until the dough is all combined.

  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes

  5. Separate the dough into pieces and flatten each piece into a thin disk with your fingers. If it's sticky, put a little confectioner's sugar on your work surface.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan. You can deep fry it or use less oil and fry it in a small amount of oil; your choice. The oil is ready when you put a wooden spoon in and little bubbles form around it.

  7. Carefully lay the disc of dough in the hot oil. Let it cook a few minutes, just barely getting brown, and then turn it and cook the other side.

  8. Remove the dough, let the excess oil drain off, and sprinkle it immediately with sugar and cinnamon if you like.

  9. You can keep these hot in the oven for a bit, but they're best when they're very hot.

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

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16 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 205: We put the “us” in virus”

  1. Thank you for posting about fried dough!!! When I was a child, my mom always made this for us on snow days. She’s from New England and always told us that everyone knew about fried dough; however, down here in the South, I have never met a person who had eaten fried dough other than my family.

  2. If you like your chocolate chip cookies on the soft and puffy side, use the standard recipe but with 1.5 sticks of butter instead of two. It’s a win-win because the cookies taste better and are marginally healthier.

  3. It’s really weird what stores are low on and what they have plenty of. I couldn’t find a bag of pinto beans at my Kroger. I’m not in California anymore, so what’s the deal? Nor rice. Rice has always been a staple in our family since I’m part Asian. For me, it’s like my daily bread. But there wasn’t a run on soy sauce or ginger. Phew! I found a small Mennonite store and they had plenty of food (although they don’t carry non-food items, so no TP). I’m trying to resist the urge to stockpile. I wonder if people are actually eating the stuff they buy or is it sitting in the freezer and pantry as security while they order out?

    I’m a homeschooler and I actually feel like we’ve been doing less school work since this whole thing started. I feel bad that all my kids outside-the-home activities have been cancelled and I don’t want to rub salt into the wound by trying to sell more school work as a replacement. I think running through my subconscious is “What the heck! I don’t need to try to keep up anymore. Everyone else is going to be behind when it’s all over.”

  4. I wore red for St. Joseph’s Day but forgot to do anything else. Not so for St. Patrick’s Day – green, the Muppets singing “Danny Boy”, Lisa Hannigan, started rereading Perelandra, Overly Sarcastic Production’s history of Ireland, The Quiet Man, Lucky Charms, and of course the dinner. We cooked our beef in the Crock Pot for the first time and it was amaz- er, very tender and delicious.

  5. I found myself Googling place value disks. We were already homeschooling before all this nonsense so we’re somewhat familiar with The Shining shut-in-ness. I’ve found that Duplos and Legos stand in for a lot of called-for math manipulatives, at least in Saxon math.

  6. We are in that purgatory phase.
    1. School is still running here in Australia, but some families have chosen to see out the rest of the 3 weeks of the school term at home. Going to get my oldest and youngest tested so I can send them back to school next week (the oldest was home for a week, sick, and the youngest started sporadically coughing this morning…oh dear)….. Aaagh I wish the decision was made for us and school shut. I’m quite paranoid sending my kids in even with the slightest sniffle. Don’t mind having them at home actually. Don’t mind baking, don’t mind helping with math…but I mind this uncertainty.
    2. My husband has a small business which is in the growth phase. Things are not good at the moment and look to get worse. Let alone, some tough conversations with staff and this dreaded uncertainty. My employer might have projects which will be cancelled in the coming weeks. So much economic uncertainty and this I feel is a great source of suffering for so many at the moment, more so than catching the virus. I know we are just one family of many many experiencing this.

    God bless everyone through this, health and all. God bless your resilient humour and wit Simcha. Send us some our way. Sorry to be so negative.

  7. we called “rubber cakes” fat cakes, I guess because they are fried in real fat if you live on a farm and butcher your own pigs. 🙂 And we had them most every couple weeks when mom mixed up a new batch of bread – one loaf stayed out and the other dozen or so into the freezer. Fat cakes with syrup poured into the fun bubble-holes. It’s really great being from a big family. You are giving your kids a wonderful life, baggage and all 🙂

    1. I’m from California and we call them sopapillas. So exotic. They are supposed to puff up like Ma Ingalls’ vanity cakes.

      1. So I guess I’ve been making a few too many LHOP references during all this panic, e.g. Proclaiming to the family that my fully stocked pantry made me feel like Pa Ingalls after he shot the bear. Telling the boys they were fortunate that we had enough slates (computers) that they wouldn’t have to share like Mary and Laura. Even though school is closed they can get an education themselves, just like Abe Lincoln.

        This morning when I came downstairs to start cyberschooling them, I said jokingly, “Good morning class!” And without skipping a beat, my boys replied in unison, long and drawn out, the way they would in the actual classroom, “Good morning Ma Ingalls!”

  8. I feel like “And she never had to share her lunch” needs to be a plaque or a mug, or a fridge magnet. I just love it so much. My boys learned early on that Mom eats some weird stuff. Once one of them was talking about going out to eat and said, “I will have mac and cheese, and my brothers will have chicken or burgers, or maybe pasta..” and my husband asked, “What will Mommy have?” “Oh,” my son said, “Girl food, I suppose. Like salads and spicy things.”

    All the flour was gone at our store. I was so glad I had grabbed two bags back when I had the chance. Why are people suddenly baking? my husband wanted to know. I said it’s because they’re home with the kids, baking cookies is fun, and everybody wants comfort food. We are not baking cookies because my husband and I gave sweets up for Lent. We’re fun that way.

    1. My family might end up suddenly baking because bread has been one of the hardest things to find at the store (aside from cleaning supplies, of course). My dad’s already bought extra flour and such.

  9. When I agreed to help out the school by becoming an “educational assistant” (what us old people call a teacher’s aide), I did not realize it meant I was signing on for teaching place value disks and “the arrow way.”

    Now that I’m teaching my own kids at home, that sort of math has been abandoned in favor of straightforward math worksheets with nary a place value chart to be seen. We are all pleased about this.

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