Watta week! First a little bit of site business:
I’m so delighted that the site subscription problem seems to be finally fixed! I did . . . something. I am not completely sure what. But it seems to have worked, and it looks like people are finally, finally getting emails when I publish again. I’m so sorry it took so long, and I’m very glad to have back the folks who were missing my intermittent folderol! (If it fails again, please remember that I do also post links to everything on Facebook, other Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most of all LinkTree. I know it’s not as convenient as just getting it in your inbox, but it is a way to keep up with my nonsense if things go south again! Which of course they will not.)
Speaking of nonsense, our old friend Gary (Michael) Voris has gotten himself in not one but several heaps of legal trouble, and has decided that the best tool with which to dig himself out is, of course, Alex Jones’ old porn lawyer. I called the Pope myself and he said this doesn’t count as gloating because it rises to such a high level of bonkersness, and we’re not made of stone, here.
Damien wrote up a story where you can read all about it, but the deal is that this article goes up for 24 hours for my dear patrons only, before I publish it for everyone on this site, so you know what to do! (Become a patron.) I’m hoping to publish exclusive sneak-peak content for patrons going forward, if this works out.
Okay! Okay, so here is what we ate this week:
Saturday we were supposed to go to the Egyptian Food Festival, but one kid. had Covid and others of us did not, but were still feeling pretty punk. But I had a lot of pent-up weekend ambition still in me, so I decided we could still slowly, slowly harvest the grapes. It’s early this year, and they’re not as big and juicy as some years, but they were already starting to wither on the vine, so it seemed like time.
Benny and I spent about an hour picking. Last year, we had to fight the yellow jackets, and pick off countless caterpillars and grasshoppers, but this year, it was strangely quiet. It’s been a strange summer.
After dinner, I washed the grapes and discovered we had quite a bit more than I realized.
It took me a couple of hours to sort through them, get rid of all the unripe and rotten ones and stems and leaves, and pack them away, but I got it done, with the help of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Next day I did some shopping and grabbed some pizzas for dinner, and got back to the grape mines. We have made jelly in the past, which is a tough way to find out you don’t really like grape jelly. Last year we made juice, sorbet, and then I dyed some cloth with the leftover mash. This year, we just stuck with juice and sorbet. I set aside about four pounds of grapes for the sorbet and mashed the rest in batches
and then simmered it in my giant stock pot. Which wasn’t quiiiite giant enough
and I think it didn’t really simmer properly, which maybe led to it not being as sweet as it might have been. I’m not sure. The grapes themselves were actually sweeter than they are many years, and another difference I noticed was that my hands and arms weren’t itchy and tingling after handling the grapes, like they usually are. Grape mysteries! My theory is that the weather has been weird, which affected the grape chemistry, and this . . . did stuff. I don’t know, I was absent that day.
I was following this juice recipe, which is quite simple. You just simmer the mashed grapes, and then strain out the skins and seeds, and there’s your juice.
I made an absolute Gothic horrorfest out of the straining part.
Watch out, lads.
So we got about two gallons of juice. VERY tart juice, which the kids have been drinking all week.
When that was squared away, I moved on to the sorbet, which I am actually planning to finish making later, because we are planning an anniversary party in October. The sorbet recipe is quite simple: First you puree whole grapes, seeds and all, then force that through a sieve. This is the part I did:
Then I bagged it for the freezer.
Later, I’ll make some superfine sugar and blend that with the puree, chill the mixture, and put it in the ice cream maker. This is the sorbet I made last year:
Super intense flavor, much grape.
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches, chips
Monday I made something I haven’t made for quite some time: Pepperoncini beef sandwiches. Couldn’t be easier. Top round roast was $3.99 a pound, so I bought a few pounds, hacked it into smaller pieces, dropped it in the slow cooker, dumped a jar of pepperoncini with the juice on top of it, set it to low, and let it cook all day.
Here’s a recipe card, but it just suggests adding Worcestershire sauce to the pot, and putting cheese on top.Jump to Recipe
Supper time comes, you pull out the meat and shred it, pull out the pepperoncini and chop them up a little, and it’s a wonderful sandwich. You can put mayo on the roll if you like, but it’s juicy and doesn’t strictly need it.
You can fish out a little ramekin of the juice and dip your sandwich, too. Mmm, good sandwich.
And you can have some grape juice on the side! Because boy do we have a lot of grape juice.
Gochujang chicken wings, rice, roast broccoli
Chicken wings were $1.99 and I didn’t really want to make oven fried chicken again, so even though I was in a rush, I hunted around for a new recipe, and happened upon this gochujang chicken wing recipe from Lord Byron’s Kitchen. It is so simple, I was pretty skeptical, but I tried it, and it’s fabulous.
In the morning, I BAKED the chicken. Yes, just baked it at a high temperature, just absolutely bare, on parchment paper, no fat or seasoning or anything. (It says to wash it and pat it dry, which I skipped. What am I, Jordan Peterson? Wash yourself.)
Then I made up a simple sauce on the stovetop, using oil, gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt and pepper, fresh garlic and fresh vinegar. It also calls for sesame seeds, but my kitchen is a disaster and I couldn’t find them. It also calls for one clove of garlic and one tablespoon of minced ginger, which, my dear Lord Byron. I quintupled it. So you just mix up the sauce until it thickens (and maybe you’ve heard me moaning about my sauce issues, but it really did thicken like it was supposed to).
The recipe says to add the baked chicken to the hot sauce, char it a little, and serve it right away. But I was cooking in the morning; so I put the chicken and sauce in the fridge, and in the evening I mixed them together and then spread them on the sheet pan again and put them back in a hot oven until they were sizzling. Worked perfectly.
Gosh, they were good. They honestly tasted like fried chicken. The skin was crisp, the sauce was sticky, the meat was not dried out, and I was delighted. A big hit. Definitely putting this recipe in the rotation, especially with the morning/evening cooking tweak.
I made a pot of rice (I couldn’t find my second Instant Pot pot [told you, my kitchen is a disaster] and the primary one was full of juice) on the stove like a peasant, and made a tray of roast broccoli in the few minutes before dinner, and it was a great meal
If I could have found the sesame oil (ALSO MISSING. If someone wants to come rescue my kitchen, I would not mind) and sesame seeds, I would have made sesame broccoliJump to Recipe
but I just drizzled some olive oil and soy sauce and kosher salt over it and stuck it under the broiler until it was steaming but still a little crunchy. Very good. Probably could have skipped the salt.
Almond crusted tilapia, risotto, mashed squash
Wednesday I had to face this giant pouch of tilapia filets I had bought on sale. I was once again not excited about frying anything, so I tried a recipe someone told me about on Facebook: You grind up equal amounts of almonds and parmesan cheese, dip your fish in something for a binder, and then dredge it in the cheese-nut mixture. So I did that, and set it aside.
Then I made a big pot of risotto, in honor of it’s getting cold outside. Instant Pot risotto is one of the great consolations of autumn.Jump to Recipe
I have tweaked my recipe so it is profoundly calorific and has enough fat to get a small, plump village through to January at least, and it’s way easier than stovetop risotto.
But what about a vegetable? It so happens I have had a butternut squash on the counter since . . . last time it was butternut squash season. It sat there all though the spring and summer, just quietly, pinkly, squashily biding its time. Butternut squash endures.
I cut off the ends, poked it all over with a fork, and microwaved it for three minutes, to make it easier to cut. Then I hacked it in half, scooped out pulp and seeds, and sprinkled it with kosher salt and a little baking soda.
The theory here is that the baking soda raises the pH of the squash, so that the caramelization happens faster than it would if the squash were . . . neutral. I don’t know. I was absent that day. All I know is, when I put baking soda on, the squash seems to come out a little sweeter and a little richer in flavor, which may completely be one of those butternut placebo effects I’ve been hearing so much about, but on the other hand, who among us. It’s so easy that I’m going to keep doing it.
So I put the squash on the trivet in the Instant Pot and added a cup of water, closed the lid and valve, and set it to cook for 24 minutes.Jump to Recipe
When it was done, I scooped out the flesh, mashed it, and added some butter, cinnamon, chili powder, and brown sugar.
Hot damn, it was good. Only a few people in this house like mashed squash, but those who do feel pretty strongly about it.
So, the almond and parmesan crusted tilapia. I just dipped the fish in egg and milk, and dredged it in the almond and parmesan, and baked it until it was golden. It was . . . fine. I had used freshly grated parmesan, which tasted so strong when I tested it that I didn’t add any other seasoning, and this was a mistake. It was crunchy and nutty, but (and I feel silly for not anticipating this) extremely bland. A squeeze of lemon helped, but no as much as one would hope.
Oh well, you live and learn. The squash and risotto were top notch. And the tilapia was on sale!
Roast pork ribs, Brussels sprouts, garlic bread
Thursday was the third or fourth day in the course of two weeks that I had been planning to make this chicken saltimbocca recipe. Why? I don’t know, it just got into my head that I need to make it, and I got all the ingredients; but when it comes down to it, reality keeps asserting itself, and I keep not making it after all. On Thursday, I got home after 5:00 and the chicken wasn’t even defrosted, so that was the universe’s way of telling me to stop with the saltimbocca nonsense for the moment. I ran to the store and got some pork ribs, which I roasted with salt and pepper. I will fight you: This is the best way to eat pork ribs. Just sizzling hot and a tiny bit charred, with salt and pepper.
We also had some baguettes getting stale, so I made some quick garlic bread, and we had three pounds of Brussels sprouts that were about to become awful, so I trimmed them and spread them in a pan drizzled on olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, kosher salt, and hot pepper flakes, and roasted them along with the ribs.
Was I proud of myself for going from cold kitchen to quite good, three-piece hot meal in about 25 minutes? I really was.
And yes, that is a little lunchbox tub of apple sauce on my plate. I like applesauce.
Possibly leftovers. I feel like we have a lot of leftovers in this house.
AND THAT’S MY STORY.
Beef pepperoncini sandwiches
- 1 hunk beef
- 1 jar pepperoncini
- several glugs Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- sliced provolone
Put the beef in a slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini and the juice. If you like, cut the stems off the pepperoncini. If there isn't enough juice, add some beer. Add the worcestershire sauce if you want a slightly more savory juice.
Cover, set to low, and let it cook for several hours until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork.
Shred the meat. If you like, chop up a few of the pepperoncini.
Serve meat on rolls with mayo if you like. Lay sliced provolone over the meat and slide it under the broiler to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Serve the juice on the side for dipping.
- broccoli spears
- sesame seeds
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
Preheat broiler to high.
Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil.
Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds
Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred.
Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash
- 1 acorn quashes
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.
Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.
When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.
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.