What’s for supper? Vol. 368: Supper, like the wild shmoo, harsh and exciting

Happy Friday! The theme of this week’s meals was: Listen, pal. 

Hot dogs and chips, Squirtle cake

Saturday was Corrie’s birthday party. She is a covid baby, meaning all of her social milestones have been messed up ever since she’s been old enough to have friends to invite; so this is the first year she actually had multiple guests over, and we could celebrate indoors and everything. Very happy for her. She was delighted by every aspect of her Pokémon-themed party, including the giant Pokéball

and the Squirtle cake 

and I did not get pictures, but Sophia made her a truly deluxe illustrated treasure hunt with rhyming clues which led to a Pokéball piñata full of candy, made by Irene. Pretty great party. We just had hot dogs and chips for supper. 

Calzoni, cheesecake

Sunday was her actual birthday, so she requested calzoni and cheesecake for supper. She is not the only kid to consider calzoni and cheesecake to be a primo birthday combination, even though I have pointed out that calzoni have ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese in it, and cheesecake has cream cheese and sour cream in it, and . . . foods exist that are not dense and white. Not everything has to be Dairy Wad. But, birthday is birthday, so that’s what I made. 

I have a spectacularly luscious, mile-high baked cheesecake recipe that I’ve been sworn to secrecy about, but the keys are: put all the ingredients out to come to room temperature the night before; mixed it very lightly, so as to introduce as little air as possible, and scrape down the bowl often; and  bake it in a water bath, and then turn off the oven and let it sit in the cooling oven for a few hours before you take it out and chill it. 

But I wasn’t up for that, so I made Sally’s Baking Addiction no-bake cheesecake in the morning and let it chill all day. It was okay. It does say it’s best if you chill it overnight, but it says six hours minimum, and it got at least seven hours. It was just kinda, I don’t know, greasy. I also felt like there was way too much crust for the amount of filling, and I DID follow the recipe exactly. 

However, Corrie thought it was wonderful, so that’s what counts. I got strawberries and some of those weird pineberries, which are pale pink and supposed to have a pineapple flavor. They were on sale, and they tasted like they were on sale. But, as I said, Corrie was delighted. 

Here is my basic recipe for calzones, although I think I bumped up the seasoning a bit:

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They turned out kind of unlovely, for whatever reason, but they tasted good. 

That one in the foreground is an absolute shmoo

Here I would like to note that, although I sometimes say “calzones,” the better plural is “calzoni,” but the plural of “Shmoo” is either “Shmoos” or “Shmoon.”

You might think worrying about this kind of thing is how I spend most of my time, but you’d be wrong. I spend most of my time trying to trick my computer into letting me have the photos I just gave it. I don’t know if all computers develop this quirk as they age, but my particular device has an absolute mania for hiding downloaded images from me. I download an image. I save it in “downloads.” I label it in the most obvious way possible, and I glue my eyeballs to my fingers as I type the name, to make sure I’m not misspelling anything. I also copy the name, for good luck. I paste the name into the search field. Nope, my computer has never heard of any such thing. But wait! Here is a picture of a hike we went on in 2013. How would that be? Or maybe I would like to see fifty-three images of kielbasa, hmmmm? We get into a shouting match. I cajole, I whine, I plead, I insist. I manually scroll through thousands of “recent” photos that I took “earlier.” I pretend to be interested in other files, as a misdirect. I close tabs and coldly walk away. I dash back and do a lightning fast search, so maybe it will turn up before computer realizes what is happening. I sulk, I threaten. I search for typos, even though I know it won’t help. And then the computer saunters up and goes, “Oh, hey, I found this picture of Corrie decorating birthday cheesecake with strawberries. Dunno, maybe it’s what you wanted?” 

Anyway, this is why they say Macs are intuitive. 

If you are tired of computers and want to feel a certain kind of way about humankind, I suggest reading the “Eponyms” section of the Wikipedia entry for Shmoo, and then going away and taking a little fresh air, and then reading the “Etymology” section, and do not skip the footnotes. And do not skip this:

Revealing an important key to the story, Al Capp wrote that the Shmoo metaphorically represented the limitless bounty of the Earth in all its richness—in essence, Mother Nature herself. In Li’l Abner’s words, “Shmoos hain’t make believe. The hull [whole] earth is one!!”

If you told me the hull earth was full of three to five kinds of cheese, I would be zero surprised. 

Salad with chicken, cranberries, walnuts, feta

Monday I finally went grocery shopping, which I wasn’t able to do over the weekend because (a) it was Corries’s birthday and also (b) we had an oops no money situation. So I went shopping without a list or a plan and just kind of sadly grabbed things, and tried to pick at least a few things that were not white and chewy. 

I roasted the chicken with oil and plenty of salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano, sliced it, and served it on greens with dried cranberries, crumbled feta, and toasted walnuts.

Perfectly decent meal. I wish I had thought to include some green apples, but I did not thought. 


On Tuesday, Damien took the Three Fates to Boston to see Ricky Montgomery, who is a kind of a singing shmoo with cheekbones who is sad and has been treated very poorly indeed by his parents, but the songs are kind of cute? I don’t know, the kids paid for their own tickets. 

At home, I suddenly realized that, because so many people were out of the house, I could just serve leftovers and no one would say anything about it in my earshot. 

I made myself some instant oatmeal and toasted a bagel and I enjoyed this meal more than any meal I have enjoyed in quite some time. After supper, we listened to Chopin and played Bananagrams, and when the little kids went to bed, Elijah and I watched the first Dune movie, which I haven’t seen. We all tried several times to read the book and just couldn’t make the soft animal of our bodies do it. Actually we just watched the first part of the movie, because I’m too old for any 2-hour-thirty-five-minute movie at the end of the day, but I really enjoyed it. Show me pretty pictures and cool stuff, and I’m happy. 

Ham, mashed squash, pierogies

Wednesday I completely forgot I was going to need to make supper. Luckily I had bought a pre-cooked ham, so I cut that up and put it in the oven covered with tinfoil along with some water, and I cut open a butternut squash and threw that in, too. Then I cracked open baby’s very first bag of frozen pierogies. 

Right, I have never eaten or even seen a pierogi before. This despite the fact that I grew up going to a Polish parish. This despite the fact that pierogies are the most shmoo-like of foods, and you’d think I would be spiritually wedded to them since day one. I don’t know what to tell you. I wasn’t even really sure how to prepare them, so I sprayed a pan with cooking spray and then also sprayed the pierogies, and cooked them and sprinkled them with a little salt. 

Everybody liked them, of course, so we’re off on that journey. These were potato and cheddar. The ham was also fine, of course, because it’s ham. I completely whiffed the squash situation, though, and I don’t want to talk about it. 

I did save the squash seeds and plant them, though. I forget if I mentioned I am cold sowing this year. I also have a bunch of indoor seeds started. This on the theory that it’s possible the world will end before spring comes, but when are we ever that lucky? 

But nay, I shan’t. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft shmoo of your body have a few more pierogies, and then wonder why you’re so constipated all the time. 

Carnitas with black beans and rice

Thursday morning I unwrapped the Shai-Hulud that had been lurking in the back of the fridge, and started carnitas going. 

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I did have a few oranges and cinnamon sticks in the house, but couldn’t find the bay leaves, and also suddenly got tired of the carton of guava juice taking up space in the mini fridge, so I used that instead of Coke. 

I also made some really slipshod beans and rice. Here’s my recipe

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which I did not follow, but just cooked up some rice and then dumped a bunch of cans in with it and then showered it with miscellaneous reddish-brown spices. It was fine. All manner of things shall be fine. 

The carnitas made with guava juice were, as expected, a little fruity, but not bad at all. 

Since the meat was in the pot and the beans and rice were in the Instant Pot, I realized I had time to make a pie, because the next day was going to be my friend Millie’s birthday. She loves lemon meringue pie, and I have a decent cheat recipe that comes together really fast. 

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I sometimes make this pie with one of those crusts made of graham cracker or animal cracker crumbs with melted butter and sugar, but this time, I made an actual pastry crust

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which I blind baked for like ten minutes, then filled with the cheater’s lemon curd and baked until it was set. Nothing prettier than a lemon curd in the sun, my word.

Then, rather than using the cheater meringue in the recipe, I made an actual French meringue. I followed the instructions in this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I used duck eggs in the curd and in the meringue, and felt pretty good about that. 

Then, when the pie was back in the oven and I had set a timer and was zoning out on Twitter, the dog shambled into the kitchen for the forty thousandth time and looked at me, wordlessly imploring me for the thing he was sure was going to happen, because obviously I had made the entire pot of carnitas for him. So I shouted, “GO AWAY!” to which the kitchen speaker cheerfully responded, “Got it. Timer cancelled.”

Sooooooo the pie was in the oven a little longer than I would have originally liked, and I blame the dog, and, I don’t know, Steve Jobs. It wasn’t burnt, just a little dark. Bah. 

Anyway, Millie also likes morning glories, and I did manage to sprout a bunch of them for her, so I’m going to bring over the pie and the seedlings in a bit. I was going to transfer the seedlings to a more decorative pot, but then I realized that a 90-year-old woman from New Hampshire would get much more pleasure out of seeing that I reused a milk and juice jug for my seeds. You gotta know your audience. 

Please say a prayer for Millie today! She’s hoping to go home soon, and hoping to be able to have some kind of garden this year. If you met her, you would love her like I do, probably.  


I don’t know, I forgot to plan anything. Are Shmoos meatless? What about if you live in Venezuela? 



This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones


  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  


Carnitas (very slightly altered from John Herreid's recipe)


  • large hunk pork (butt or shoulder, but can get away with loin)
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • salt, pepper, oregano
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 can Coke


  1. Cut the pork into chunks and season them heavily with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the cup of oil, the Coke, the quartered orange, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours

  4. Remove the orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  5. Turn up the heat and continue cooking the meat until it darkens and becomes very tender and crisp on the outside

  6. Remove the meat and shred it. Serve on tortillas.



Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.


  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 


Cheater's lemon meringue pie

I like a pie shell made from several cups of animal cracker crumbs whirred into a sandy texture, mixed with a stick of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt. Mix well and press into the pan.


  • 1 pie shell

For the lemon layer:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Mix together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

  3. Bake 10-15 minutes until the mixture has a little skin.

  4. While it's baking, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar until it has stiff peaks.

  5. When the lemon layer comes out of the oven, spread the meringue over the top and make a little peaks all over it with a fork or spatula.

  6. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another ten minutes or so until the meringue is slightly browned.


Basic pie crust


  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube


  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

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4 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 368: Supper, like the wild shmoo, harsh and exciting”

  1. So glad Corrie’s b’day party was a success! I would have totally wanted calzones and cheesecake for dinner when I was a kid, too – but I had never tasted either of them until much later. Never had pierogies until much later as well, even though a couple of my best friends were Polish – we tended not to eat at other peoples’ houses when I was growing up – it just wasn’t a thing where I lived (in Philadelphia, where pierogies, calzones and cheesecake are all a big deal). And just like Philly Area, my kids had incredibly low expectations for food when they were young because of the money thing plus their mother’s incredibly low skill in the kitchen…I still feel bad about all of it! So, to redeem myself with my daughter, who likes to cook, I forward this article every week – I’m still not a good cook but I can point the way to someone who has interesting recipes for her to try – that counts, right?

  2. I love pierogies, a little too much. That cake is really incredible! What a fun idea for a party!

    Sorry about the lack of grocery money – I feel ya on that one. Over the past nearly 3 decades, I have painstakingly cultivated very low culinary expectations among my children, so I sense a low food budget might be tougher on you and your family than it is on me and mine and for that I am extra sorry. Last night, I was stretching leftover chicken fajitas and so I made a carb for the boys, and my youngest son walks into the kitchen and says, “Ooooh! Rice a Roni! My favorite.” See what I mean? Low expectations. 😉

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