We who are about to wrap 40 presents salute you! But first, here is what we ate this week:
Virginia baked ham, bread and cheese, cheesecake
One of Damien’s editor’s kindly sent over a lovely spiral ham and a cheesecake. I picked up some baguettes and various cheeses and we had an easy, snacky, tasty dinner.
No, I’m not tired of the spotlight effect yet. I’ll get it out of my system eventually. Let me have my fun!
Burgers and chips
On Sunday I put the lights on the tree and on the rest of the house. We’ve settled into a pretty good routine: On the first week of Advent, I put up the nativity set and a few lights. The next week, I put up outdoor lights. The next week, we get a tree. The fourth week, we put lights on the tree and indoors. And then we decorate the tree on Christmas eve. We arrived at this tradition through necessity, because we used to be so busy and overwhelmed that I just didn’t have the energy to do more than a little bit at a time, but I like the gradual growing and gathering of light, and I like having the tree decorations still feeling fresh and exciting on Christmas day.
I’m not very good at decorating, mind you. I feel like I have triumphed if you can turn on all the indoor lights on with one switch, and all the outdoor lights have a timer, so they turn themselves off and on. I can’t remember if I shared this already, but I did manage to add to my Ludicrous Display this year
and I also built a sort of mid-century modern stable out of scrap wood and shims because our old stable collapsed.
I think I’m going to paint it at some point, but at least the little people have somewhere to stand for now.
And other than that, it’s just “more is more.”
Works for me. Sunday was also the first evening of Hanukkah, so we had plenty to keep up with.
Oh, and we had hamburgers.
This particular burger is about to wow you with “O Holy Night” like you’ve never heard it before.
LET ME HAVE MY FUN, I SAY.
Ham sandwiches, leftovers
Monday I think we were supposed to have soup or something, but there was so much ham left over, not to mention chicken from last week, we just went ahead and had that, and if anyone had complaints, they wisely kept it to themselves.
Hot dogs and hot pretzels
Tuesday was chock-a-block full of dentist appointments, various whatnot, and then a school concert. Corrie’s entire school career has been during covid time, so this is all new to her. It was an adorable concert, and they sang age-appropriate songs, which I really appreciated. Then we bought our cookies for the fundraiser to defray the cost of the thing we’re going to pay for anyway, and went home, and skipped candles, because enough is enough.
Mexican beef bowl
Sorry, this is supposed to be a food post! Wednesday we had a really tasty meal, finally. I’ll have to come back later and fill in the recipes, because my plugins are disabled at the moment while we try to figure out why the email subscription isn’t working. Anyway, chuck roast was $1.99 so I got a nice big hunk, sliced it up and marinated it in the morning
and got some beans going
I don’t know if you have to be a bean-lover to appreciate that picture, but those were some damn fine beans. I sautéed some garlic and onions in olive oil, then just chucked in some beans with their canned liquid, a few drained canned tomatoes, and plus some fresh cilantro and a bunch of cumin and some salt and pepper, and then just let it simmer all day. Fine beans.
By dinner time, all I had to do was cook some rice, chop some scallions, slice up some limes, char up a little corn in olive oil, and set out corn chips and sour cream, and quickly pan-fry the marinated beef, and we had really tasty bowls.
I just sprinkled the Swedish Fish around to be cute because the picture needed some more color. I may be from New Hampshire, but I do not put candy in my beans.
Bo ssam and lettuce, fried rice balls, fresh pineapple
This is a recipe I have pared down and pared down until it’s hardly a recipe, but everyone still loves it. I mixed together a cup of salt and a cup of sugar (that’s what I said) and rubbed it all over the fattiest hunk of pork I could find, wrapped the meat in plastic, and put it in the fridge the night before.
Then around noon, I put a few layers of tin foil on a roasting pan, put the meat on it fat side up, and started cooking it, uncovered, at 300. You just ignore it for about six hours. Then, about ten minutes before you want to eat, you mix together 7 tablespoons of brown sugar, a tablespoon of salt, and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, turn the oven up to 500, rub the mixture on the top of the meat, and let it caramelize. Pull the whole thing out and just behold its shining, bubbling beauty
The outside develops a completely degenerate salt-sugar-meat-fat crust, and if you bash a hole in it, it’s absolute shreds inside
and you eat it rolled up in tender lettuce with rice. There are various sauces to go with it, such as the wonderful walnutty one at this site, but we generally just eat it as is.
Since we just had rice the previous day, I got it into my head to make something different besides just rice, so I found this recipe for yaki onigiri (Japanese grilled rice balls). Also, the furnace conked out early in the morning and it was freezing cold in the house, and it took several hours for the guy to show up and fix it, and this may have fed into my sudden desire to get furiously busy around the stove, including handling hot rice.
Once again, I simplified the recipe pretty much beyond recognition. I just made rice in the the Instant Pot using 1:1 proportions and the “rice” button, which produces rather sticky rice. I let it cool a bit, and then formed sort of wedge-shaped triangles with wet hands, and kept them on a pan under a damp towel until dinner time.Then I heated up some oil and just fried them lightly on all sides, brushing on soy sauce as I fried.
And that was it. It was a splendid meal.
The rice balls actually mostly kept together, as long as I didn’t disturb them as they fried, and only turned them once. I thought they were delicious. The outside was a little crunchy and crusty with a pleasant flavor, and the inside was, well, warm rice. This is exactly the kind of thing I could eat all day.
I liked it much more than anyone else in the house did, so I probably won’t be making it for dinner again, but it was super easy to fry up, so if you have some leftover sticky rice, give it a whirl. Maybe warm it up first, so you don’t end up with cold rice in the middle.
There are other sauces you can brush on the outside, and you can also fill the rice balls with things, like salmon or vegetables. That sounds good, too. Everything sounds good. It’s cold and all I want to do is eat.
While I was waiting for the furnace guy, I also made a few batches of no-chill no-fail sugar cookie dough and a few batches of buckeye dough, which I intend to force into cute shapes using the various silicone candy molds we have acquired over the years. When the furnace guy left, I dashed out to the store to finally buy some stocking stuffer candy, only to find to my complete astonishment and amazement that it was almost all sold out, and the shelves were stocked with Valentine’s candy and even some Mardi Gras merchandise. I say “astonishment and amazement” because that is how I respond to things that happen every single year, and there is no reason to think it will be otherwise this time. I yam what I yam.
Anyway I scrounged around the clearance aisles and found some chorklet this and peppermint that, and also bought some more butter and sugar and flour and confectioner’s sugar and nuts and cream cheese, and maybe I will make rugelach, who can say.
Latkes and bagels and eggs
It’s still Hanukkah! We have managed to light the candles more than half the time, and this year we did not accidentally set the Advent wreath on fire with the shammes candle, which is what you call “an ecumenical matter.” Gonna fry up some potato latkes and serve them with sour cream, maybe some homemade applesauce.
And oh dear, I have to make some cinnamon bun dough for Christmas morning. I’ll get it done. It always all gets done. Or else it doesn’t, and we survive anyway.
And that’s a wrap! I hope you are all keeping safe and warm, and that any traveling you can’t avoid goes swiftly and smoothly. I love yez all, and if you were here, I would cook for you.