Friends, it is the end of an era. This blackboard that has served me faithfully for many years has finally gone irreparably kablooey.
It was in pretty tough shape already, and half the black part was scratched up and hard to write on, and the “wood” frame was all puckered and horrible. But I loved it so! It marked the moment when I first started to really plan my weekly menu out, and that meant making a detailed shopping list, and that meant looking hard every single week at my calendar and my bank account and the weather forecast and my energy levels, and it’s been an excellent lynchpin for organizing my life in general.
Luckily, I can just go out and buy another blackboard. I really liked this one, though, and I haven’t found one that’s set up the same. Pour one out for the menu blackboard, friends.
And here is what we ate on this, the last week of summer vacation:
I’m including Friday because although belongs to last week, I started making Saturday’s food then: specifically, mango ice cream
and a batch of Indian candy called coconut ladoo.
The mango ice cream I’ve made a few times, both with canned mango and with fresh mango. People liked both, but I vastly preferred the fresh. Canned mango has that syrupy, cloying taste that made me think I didn’t like mango for much of my life, because I only had mango flavored things, and never fresh mango. Anyway, this time I made it with the canned puree. I’ll give it this: The color is much more vibrant, and it’s definitely easier!
The coconut ladoo was a recipe I stumbled across by accident, and it had so few ingredients, I could’t resist. This one is just dried coconut, condensed milk, milk, ghee (but I used butter), cardamom, and red food coloring. The recipe says you can do it in the microwave in just a few minutes, but it took many, many minutes before it finally thickened up into the doughlike texture required. Probably the stovetop would have been faster. Possibly it took longer because I used butter instead of ghee, I dunno.
But you just heat and mix the stuff up and roll it into balls and then roll the balls in more coconut, and chill them. The perfect activity for when your big sister is staying up late to watch The Mummy and you’re too young for that but you can’t sleep without your big sister, but your mother is doing something interesting in the kitchen around midnight, and it’s still summer vacation, so nobody ever goes to bed, ever.
We made a double recipe and got a few dozen ladoo, and refrigerated them.
Green lamb curry, rice, fried eggplant, watermelon; mango and coconut ice cream and coconut ladoo
Saturday I woke up SO much later than I meant to, and zoomed around the house and yard with my mug of coffee, picking mint from the yard and eggplant from the garden and getting a marinade made for the curry I was planning. I still had some lamb breast plate left over from that amazing sale they had a while back, and I had made this green masala curry with goat meat a few weeks ago and it was divine; so I thought it would be scrumptious with lamb, too.
I haven’t had a chance to glue my food processor pitcher back together yet, but my $20 thrift store Ninja blender did just fine with some pretty hefty ingredients:
and then I washed off all the eggplants I could find. I had two Ichiban ones that had been nibbled a bit by buggies, and a two Black Beauties that were small but pretty.
Got those sliced and salted to sweat, and got the lamb marinating.
Then, moving faster than I thought I could, I made a batch of coconut ice cream.Jump to Recipe
And then juuuuuuust before I left the house, I chucked the lamb in the oven at a low temperature, I think maybe 250, and then I zipped up to Claremont to meet some of my siblings for our annual cemetery party. We are fun!
The lilac I planted is doing fine; the rose bushes are not thriving, but they’re not dead, so that’s nice. If I can get up there again before winter, I’ll bring some crocuses, which my mother always enjoyed. I think. I don’t know, I don’t remember anything.
I got back to the house around five and the lamb was heartbreakingly tender and succulent.
This is a VERY fatty cut, so there was more fat that you may want to see in your meat, but there was plenty of meat; you just had to be discerning. The curry is medium spicy, just enough to be entertaining but not too challenging. I love it.
I cut up a watermelon and found some mango chutney and mint chutney. I was planning to fry the eggplant, and briefly considered tweaking my recipe to make it more Indian, but it’s so tasty as is, with a more middle-eastern bent, I thought it would go well enough, and we’d just call it fusion.Jump to Recipe
It comes together very fast, and as soon as I had the eggplant fried, we ate.
I also made a lovely tub of yogurt sauce, fresh garlic, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, kosher salt. Bu-huh-huh-huht, I give it a little taste to see if there’s enough salt, and . . . it was vanilla yogurt. So we did not eat that! But we ate everything else, and it was so good. I highly recommend this fried eggplant. The batter has baking powder in it, which gives it a kind of crisp, glossy little crust with a puffy inside. They turn out so well every time.
The REASON I was making a big meal on a busy day was because my sister Sarah came over, and spent the night! I didn’t get even one single picture, but we had an excellent time just hanging around and yacking. Everybody likes Sarah and it was just a delight to have her over without having to rush somewhere else, for once.
For dessert, we had the mango and coconut ice cream and the coconut ladoo.
Looks like the mango is melty, so I’m thinking maybe I made the coconut on Friday night and the mango on Saturday morning. That seems likely.
Anyway, I really liked the ladoo. They were chewy and creamy and buttery, and the addition of the spicy cardamom saved them from being overpoweringly sweet. Will definitely make again. Next time I will add more food coloring! There are all kinds of ladoo, apparently.
Hot dogs, party mix, root beer floats
Sunday I was supposed to go shopping, since I didn’t do that on Saturday, but I didn’t get to sleep until after 3 a.m., and it turns out I am too old for that. So I got some hot dogs and called it a day.
Cheeseburgers, fries, raw veg
Monday I was like, huh, I am still extremely tired. Corrie had a friend over and that quickly felt like the main thing I could accomplish that day. So I bought some hamburger meat and Damien made burgers, I made fries, and we had that with some raw vegetables.
INCLUDING two cucumbers from my garden!
I completely forgot that I had planted cucumbers, so that was a surprise. Gardening is thrilling when you don’t really know what’s going on.
Tuesday, I forget why, but I had big plans to check out a thrift store in Troy (a small town which is not named after the ancient city of Troy. It is named after Troy, New York. That seemed more interesting when I was writing it than it does now, so I went to Google to find another fact about Troy, NH, and the only other thing I now know is that somebody rated it one star. Pretty good thrift store, though), and the kids, who may not have had the most thrilling summer thus far, enthusiastically joined in. Then we picked up Elijah, got ice cream, and went to another thrift store, and then I dropped everyone off and finally went shopping for the rest of the week, and heated up some Aldi pizza.
Blueberry chicken salad
On Wednesday I did the one other thing I’ve been meaning to do all summer: I cleaned out the middle room upstairs. Clara moved out of the house, Lucy moved from the middle room into the room Clara formerly shared with Sophia, and now Benny and Corrie have the middle room to themselves. Let me tell you, it was not . . . it was not nice, up there. I generally follow the policy of never, ever going upstairs, and if I can’t avoid going there, I don’t wear my glasses; but on Wednesday, I bit the bullet, found a bunch of trash bags, and implemented my just get it done protocol. It took four and a half hours, but I moved all the furniture and cleaned under it, threw out three full bags of trash, put hundreds of books back on the shelf, and generally made it look like a bedroom instead of a crime scene. High fives all around.
Lena grilled some chicken for me and we had salad greens with chicken, walnuts toasted in the microwave, your choice of leftover feta or leftover goat cheese, and blueberries.
I had mine outside, because I couldn’t stand to look at anybody or be with anybody or know about anybody.
The ducks came over to see what I was doing, so I threw some blueberries to them, and they were like, “What? What?” and the blueberries just rolled into the cracks.
They are so very dumb.
Pork fried rice, egg rolls, rice rolls
Thursday we once again had to do, among other things, more back-to-school shopping (we usually do it all in one fell swoop, which is horrible and torturous, but this time I elected to do it in three separate trips, which was torturous and horrible) but then get home early to get to Clara’s play, so I threw some rice in the Instant Pot and threw bunch of sugar and salt on a boneless pork sandworm and put it in the oven at 325 before I left the house.
Got home and cut the pork into chunks, realized we didn’t have eggs, sauteed some diced onions and minced garlic in oil, put the pork in, put the rice in, threw in some frozen mixed vegetables, doused it with a ton of soy sauce, a medium amount of oyster sauce, and a little bit of fish sauce, and you know what? It basically tasted like pork fried rice, more or less.
We also had egg rolls and crunchy rice rolls, both from Aldi.
The fried rice thing needs refining, but it tasted fine, and I’m super glad to have another fast, easy meal that can be thrown together without a recipe.
Clara did great in her play! She was Ariel in The Tempest.
Very funny, and she has such a lovely singing voice. Corrie loved the part with the bees.
Mac and cheese
Friday was a supremely silly morning wherein we discovered that a kid who had paid for a dresser and needed to pick it up today had actually bought two dressers, one of which he didn’t actually want; and also, I had the foresight to borrow Damien’s car, which is bigger than mine, to pick it up, but not the foresight to remember that the back door to that car doesn’t super duper open. And then while we were finding a measuring tape and scratching our heads, both the dresser kid and another kid were like, oh hey, I have to be at work now. And it was raining. And the lady at the store was like, “Don’t mix up the drawers! You have to keep them in order, or else you won’t be able to tell which one is which!” and I was like, I HAVE BEEN TO COLLEGE, I WILL FIGURE IT OUT.
Which we more or less did. I gotta make some mac and cheese, though, and get to adoration, then Damien and I are, going camping? I’m looking forward to it, but if there is some way we could arrange for another two hours per day, that would be helpful!
Oh, one more thing, Clara gave me some dried lotus seeds, and I haven’t had a chance to figure out what to do with them yet.
Who has an idea for me??
Mango ice cream
- 30 oz (about 3 cups) mango pulp
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 mango, chopped into bits
In a bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, and salt until blended.
Add in the mango pulp and cream and stir with a spoon until blended.
Cover and refrigerate two hours.
Stir and transfer to ice cream maker. Follow instructions to make ice cream. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes.)
After ice cream is churned, stir in fresh mango bits, then transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for several hours.
Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 15 oz coconut cream
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.
Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.
Pour in the milk and cream and coconut cream (discarding the waxy disk thing) and continue whisking to blend.
Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)
You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.
- 3 medium eggplants
- salt for drying out the eggplant
veg oil for frying
3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp veg oil
- optional: kosher salt for sprinkling
Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture.
Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming.
Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.
Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.
Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.
Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.