What’s for supper? Vol. 110: Ah’m a-splurgin’!

Have I told you this story? “Ah’m a-splurgin’!” is what I said in my best Yosemite Sam voice to my daughter, as I grabbed a large bottle of hot sauce off the shelf at the supermarket, rather than our customary medium-sized bottle of hot sauce.  Only problem was, it wasn’t my daughter.  It was some stranger, who moved on quickly.
Anyway, this time we already had hot sauce, so I got steak. 

Here’s what we had the rest of the week:

SATURDAY

Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Got home late. Pepper jack cheese with deli ham on sourdough, pickles on the side. So good.

***

SUNDAY
Korean steak tacos with pickled vegetables

This meal was the crown jewel of the week. I splurged on actual steak. The recipe, from Epicurious, calls for guacamole, but that seems stupid to me.  Instead, I sliced up a bunch of cucumbers, carrots, and radishes, and set them to quick pickle all day in vinegar with a little sugar mixed in.

The vinegar turned pink from the radishes after a few hours! Should have saved it for salad dressing.

I cooked the steaks up under the broiler and then sliced it pretty thin. Outside would have been better, but it was still pretty damn good.

The flavor definitely permeated the meat, but it wasn’t as spicy as I hoped. Next time, I’ll either add more jalapenos, or maybe just have some hot sauce to shake over the finished tacos. The entire dish was quite sweet, which was not bad, but unexpected.

Next time, I’ll cut the carrots into matchsticks. The pickled veg were very snappy and good, though. We also had shredded red and green cabbage, chopped scallions, and spicy toasted sesame seeds.

I spent the day awash in color, and almost wasn’t hungry by the time the food was ready. Well, that’s a lie. I ate a ton. But I had fun chopping!

Verdict: Definitely going into the rotation. More spicy and less sweet, and thinner veggies would be even better, but it’s very, very good as is.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs and chips.

I was doing something or other all day, I forget what, so that’s how dinner shook out.

***

TUESDAY
Weird-ass soup

Which, as a friend pointed out, is always preferable to weird ass-soup.

I had a sort of Italian Wedding Soup in mind, but didn’t really get there.
I started out with two pounds of ground turkey, which I made into small meatballs with two eggs and about a cup of bread crumbs, plus some herbs and minced garlic, and I boiled them in chicken broth. I should have used much more bread crumbs, because they did keep together, but they were just mushy and not great.

Anyway, in another pot, I sauteed some diced onions and garlic. I couldn’t find my carrots, but we had plenty of cabbage left over, so I chopped up a large handful of red cabbage and sauteed that, too. Then I added the meatballs and broth, a few big cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and a big lump of frozen spinach, and added more water, and salt and pepper. Then I threw in some little shell pasta.

It wasn’t bad. You couldn’t really taste the cabbage at all. It was somewhat bland and incoherent, and I let it simmer too long, so the pasta got kind of flabby. So we had this flabby, incoherent, somewhat bland soup that wasn’t very popular, but you know what? It’s not healthy to identify with your meals, so I’m not going to.  At least I don’t taste of cabbage. I mean it doesn’t.

Benny and I also made pumpkin muffins, not because they go with the soup. but because I’d been shooing her away all week, and we needed a little project together.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken drumsticks, risotto

OH DID I MENTION MY INSTANT POT HAS BEEN RESTORED TO ME? I mean I have a new one. The lovely friend who sent me the first one sent a replacement for the one I boneheadedly melted. I’m so happy.  I fired it right up to get some of my favorite butternut squash risotto going.

Turns out it tastes even better if you put the squash into the pot at some point while cooking the rice. No matter! I have an IP again, and all is well with the world.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets

It was the elementary school Christmas concert, so we rushed home, scarfed the chicken nuggets down early and rushed off, then filled up on cookies afterward. No concert pics, because they are all jerks.

I made the cookies Wednesday night. Nice, simple recipe for soft ginger cookies here. After the concert, I made chocolate muffins from a mix for Benny’s school birthday treat. She wanted snowflakes on them, so I grumpily made up a batch of this royal icing recipe.

I put them on a cooling rack, and then, ignoring every speck of wisdom gained from dreadful experience, and all the horrified screams of warning coming from my psyche, I thought, “Aw, they’re probably cool enough. I’ll just go ahead and pipe the snowflakes on now.”

Guess what? They turned out fine. THEY TURNED OUT FINE. Cute, even.

They dripped a tiny bit, but then hardened up nicely without really losing shape. Yeah, I bookmarked that royal icing recipe. It’s a keeper.

***

FRIDAY
Lasagna! It’s Benny’s birthday, and that was her request. It’s a solemnity, which calls for meat.

I used a box and a half of noodles and layered them with 47 ounces of ricotta cheese mixed with salt and five eggs and four cups of shredded mozzarella, half a cup of parm (that’s all I had), and probably 2.5 pounds of ragu and 48 ounces of jarred sauce. I also poured in some water, as the internet suggested, to make the noodles come out softer. WE SHALL SEE. I may have eaten kind of a lot of ragu while defrosting it, and it has only increased in magnificence over time. This lasagna is a monster. A beautiful, beautiful monster.

What’s for supper? Vol. 109: When bad things happen to good pots

After years of training, self-discipline, and habit of forcing my will do to things that make no sense, are utterly uncalled-for, and should be shot in the face, I went shopping for more food on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Then I cooked it. But I didn’t like it!

Little did I know, the post-Thanksgiving malaise was a mere nothing compared to the stark onslaught of tragedy ahead. [The following post contains images that may be disturbing to some viewers.]

Here’s what happened:

SATURDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches and chips

A delicious meal, and so fast. If you are on the fence about buying an Instant Pot for Christmas, listen to this:

I got home from shopping at 5:00. About seven minutes later, I had chopped a four-pound round roast in half, put it in the pot, and dumped in a jar of pepperoncini with the juice, and set it to cook. By 6:28, the meat was tender and ready to shred with forks.

I served it on crusty rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. No dishes except the one pot. Didn’t turn on the oven or the stove. Pressed some buttons and went to lie down until supper was ready. Everyone liked it. I was practically wriggling in delight to be using my IP again! It had been out of commission for a few weeks because I lost the steam release handle, and the replacement took forever to come. But it finally came!

Little did I know how quickly that spicy beef would turn bittersweet in my memories. Or something. You see, my friends, I didn’t put my Instant Pot away. I left it, in fact, on the stovetop. The child who cleaned the stove somehow bumped the stove dial. It turned on. We all wondered what that burning smell was. We thought maybe it was the lamp in the living room.

It was not.

Yep, that’s the base of my beloved Instant Pot. I know it’s real life, but I haven’t processed it yet. Meat cooks quickly, but grief comes slow.

But I know you’re not gonna say, “That’s why you should never leave appliances on the stove top.” I know you’re not gonna say it.

***

SUNDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Damien made the burgers. They were good.

***

MONDAY
Mismatched chicken salad

Without my Instant Pot, I was forced to roast the chicken in the oven like a brute cave-dweller. I had some pomegranates I forgot to serve at Thanksgiving, so I thought they’d make a nice salad topping, along with the leftover walnuts I’d been hoarding. But then I got some overripe tomatoes involved, so I don’t know what kind of salad this was.

We had cucumbers and some kind of raspberry vinaigrette dressing, which gave me a mild allergic reaction, much to the kid’s amusement. Well, I guess they were partly laughing at me for going ahead and finishing the salad anyway. There were walnuts at the bottom!

***

TUESDAY
Bagel, egg, and sausage sandwiches

Always a crowd pleaser. Fried eggs, round sausages, everything bagels, and cheese if you can find it. I didn’t burn the bagels, either, which means that Cardinal Burke was right.

***

WEDNESDAY
Filipino pork adobo on rice; roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts and carrots

Two new recipes on Wednesday; two!! One was a bit of a disappointment, one was a pleasant surprise. The punch line is, even if they had both turned out well, they didn’t belong in the same meal together. Oh, well.

I tried this Filipino pork adobo recipe from Salu Salo. It was certainly easy, fast, and cheap, but the sauce turned out gray and soupy, rather than a rich, glossy chestnut, like in the picture; and the flavor was a mite harsh. I might actually make it again, but maybe adding vegetables in to mitigate the strong flavor of the sauce. I ended up cooking the meat in the slow cooker at the end, it was quite tender.

Oh, I happened to grab some sriracha-flavored toasted sesame seeds (I’m just linking because I’m an Amazon hound. I did not pay $11.99 for 3.5 oz. of sesame seeds!) so I sprinkled those on top of the meat and rice. I’m not crazy about sriracha in general, but these little crunchy kicks of heat were a nice addition to the meal, and would do a lot to perk up, say, plain steamed broccoli.

My post-Thanksgiving funk prevented me from planning a suitable side dish. Brussels sprouts were on sale, and we had a lot of baby carrots which I keep buying so I will eat them instead of fruit snacks. So I did a quick ingredient search and found this recipe from Damn Delicious. It was so good! Sweet, with tons of flavor. I didn’t have cranberries, but I may buy some to make this recipe again. It would definitely make a better side dish for something not southeast asian.

Not a ravishing photo, but you get the idea. Sweet, charred veggies with a little crunch left in them. Mmwah.

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

And we had to cut it with scissors. Everybody’s against me.

***

FRIDAY
I guess pasta. 

Now tell me something good.

What’s for Supper? Vol. 108: In which we have two vegetables for Thanksgiving, not counting potatoes!

Just the Thanksgiving food this time! I know it makes more sense to share Thanksgiving recipes before Thanksgiving, but none of this stuff would be out of place for a Christmas meal, either, except maybe pumpkin pie and stuffing.

All of my kids genuinely helped. Except for Corrie. Corrie mainly supervised.

They chopped, sliced, trimmed, buttered, grated, juiced, stirred, basted, and baked, and I would have been a complete wreck without their help. We started baking and cooking on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday afternoon, I felt calm, confident, cheerful, and ready. I highly recommend having kids who are old enough to help!

Here’s what we had:

Turkey with gravy and stuffing. I have no desire to argue with anyone about how to make a turkey. Not Alton Brown, nor his acolytes, nor anyone. I’ve roasted dozens of turkeys. I butter it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper, turn it breast down on a rack for half the roasting, then flip it for the rest of the time, and I (well, my sons) baste it every half hour. It turns out good.

The skin is crisp and varnished-looking, the meat is moist and flavorful. I don’t want to argue about it! Your way is good, too! Hooray for your way! I like my way! Hooray!

I made stuffing (Pepperidge Farm herbed cubes, I think) with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and celery. Not original, but always good.

I wanted to get the gravy over with, so I started with a ton of melted butter, then added a ton of flour until it was a thick paste, then thinned it gradually with turkey stock I had made with giblets and neck, celery, scallions. Then, when the turkey was done, I added salt and pepper, a fried and diced turkey liver, and plenty of pan drippings, scrapings, and fat.

Lyonnaise Potatoes. My father brought this dish. Will add the recipe when I get it! Very tasty, and it reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking, which is high praise.

Sweet potatoes with blue cheese and walnuts. A simplified version of this recipe, which also calls for dates, parsley, and gorgonzola, rather than blue cheese. I baked the potatoes, sliced them open, mashed in the toppings, and then reheated them in the microwave before dinner.

Parkerhouse rolls. I’ve made this recipe before, with good success, but this year we just bought frozen dough. My daughter rolled the dough into golf ball-sized balls and put them in buttered cupcake tins — one ball in the mini tins, and three balls in the regular size.

 

Hobbit Bread (braided bread stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and cheese). This is (according to my 17-year-old) the best recipe in An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.  I’ll paste the whole recipe into the bottom of this post. She used frozen bread dough for this, too, and added poppy seeds to the top.

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon. Easy peasy. Boys trimmed and halved the Brussels sprouts, daughter snipped a pound of bacon into pieces, and I mixed it up with oil, salt, and pepper, and spread it in a shallow pan, then roasted at 400 for about twenty minutes. The bacon wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked (I should have laid it on top, rather than mixing it in), but the Brussels sprouts still magically gathered in a ton of bacon flavoring. It was great.

Hasselback butternut squash with bay leaves. This dish puts the hassle in butternut squash, let me tell you. But it was worth it. So pretty and exciting. I made it the night before, then warmed it up for the meal. We ended up using jalapeno peppers instead of Fresno chilis, fresh bay leaves instead of dried, fake maple syrup instead of real, canola oil instead of olive, and salted butter instead of unsalted! Still great! We’ve never had a spicy dish for Thanksgiving before. It found myself cooling my tongue with cranberry sauce in between bites of squash. Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.

Cranberry orange nut bread. Worth the trouble to zest the oranges and squeeze fresh juice, especially if you have kid slaves to do it for you. They also chopped the nuts and cranberries with my lovely mezzaluna knife. Recipe from Epicurious. This is very festive-looking, with the bright cranberries and flecks of orange zest, and it makes the house smell wonderful.

Banana nut bread. I always start baking for Thanksgiving with banana bread, because it’s so dang easy. Fannie Farmer has the classic recipe.

Apple pie. I don’t really follow a recipe for the filling – just sliced apples, sugar, a little flour, cinnamon and a little numeg, and dots of butter on the top – but here is the crust recipe I use — except I use butter, which I freeze (or even just chill) and grate it into the flour, so it only takes a few jabs with a butter knife to fully incorporate it. The butter does warm up in your hand as you grip it, so be careful of your knuckles if it slips!

My 17-year-old used cookie cutters to make stars and flowers, and made an overlapping pieced crust, which was lovely. We brushed it with an egg wash (beaten up egg with a little warm water) and then sprinkled sugar on top before baking.

I baked the pies until they were almost done the day before, then put them back in the oven at 250 while we were eating the meal. By dessert time, they were hot again and perfectly browned.

Pumpkin pie. I used readymade graham cracker crust and followed the recipe on the side of the pumpkin can. And yes, I had to run to the convenience store and buy evaporated milk, because all I had was condensed milk. I always know what the difference is, except for two times: when I’m shopping, and when I’m baking.

We had whipped cream and ice cream for the pies. I intended the kids to have a choice, but they intended to have both ice cream and whipped cream on everything. Corrie skipped the pie and just had ice cream and whipped cream.

Crock pots were very useful. I made the gravy on the stovetop, then transferred it to a slow cooker, to free up space and keep it warm, and filled the gravy boat from that. I also microwaved the gravy boat, so it stayed warm while it was on the table. I used my other slow cooker for mulled apple cider.

It was my husband’s turn to worry that there wouldn’t be enough food, so he bought an extra turkey breast, so we roasted that, too. I helpfully added garlic eyes so it could glare at us.

And now for the Hobbit bread recipe!

Next time she makes it, I’ll take pictures at different stages, so you can see how the dough gets that braided effect.

Braided Bread Stuffed with Mushrooms, Onions, and Cheese

This hearty bread is practically a meal unto itself. In celebration of Hobbits well known love of mushrooms, this is stuffed with mushrooms, onions, cheese, and English country herbs. It’s best fresh from the oven while the cheese is still runny, but the leftovers are almost as good served alongside supper to help soak up a hearty plate of mutton or venison gravy.

Dough:
1 ½ c / 300 g water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
4 tbsp / 85 g honey
4 eggs
½ c oil
6 ½ -7 c / 825 – 850 g bread flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
8 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp fresh basil leaves, minced

Filling:
2 tbsp butter
2 c / 200 g sliced mushrooms
2 onions, diced
2 c / 250 g shredded mozzarella
2 cloves garlic in filling
1 tbsp rosemary in each
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp coarse salt
To make a loaf , start by dissolving your yeast in the warm water. Feel free to add an extra tsp of honey at this stage to help kick start your yeast. Walk away for ten minutes. When you come back, the yeast should have bloomed so it looks like a mushroom cap rising up out of your bowl. It knows its fate.

Mix in the eggs, oil, salt, and the rest of the honey. When you achieve a soupy mass, add the minced garlic , fresh rosemary leaves, and fresh basil. It should smell delicious.

Now mix in the bread flour. Modern cooks with a stand mixer can attach the dough hook and let it knead away for 6-8 minutes. If you want to get a real feel for the period, knead it by hand for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be soft, pliant, and not too tacky.

Form it into a ball, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and let it rise for an hour, or until double in size.

Meanwhile, make your filling. Melt your butter in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add your onions and cook until they start to brown . You want them to lose a lot of moisture while gaining some flavor.

Once the onions start to brown, add your garlic, rosemary, and basil. Keep cooking for another 3-4 minutes, or until the garlic barely starts to brown . Finally add the mushrooms. You don’t want to overcook them. Mix them in and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Take the pan off the heat and finish it with the coarse salt. Set it aside to cool while the dough continues rising.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle . Put that rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper so you can easily move the finished loaf to a pan. Trim away any rough edges.

Now that you have a trimmed rectangle of dough, mentally divide the rectangle into thirds. The center third is where you place your filling. The outer two thirds will be cut into braid strips. To give it an attractive , braided top, make neat, even, 1 inch 2.5 cm wide cuts along each side. Make a bed of cheese in the middle ⅓ of your bread. Pile the mushroom filling on top of that. Cover the filling with any remaining cheese. Fold both end pieces inwards so they cover some of the filling.

To create the braided top, pull the cut edges of dough over the center, alternating sides and tugging tight, so the dough completely covers the filling. This makes a single, massive rectangular loaf . Slide it onto your largest cooking pan. If you don’t have any oversized baking sheets, just slide it into a heavily buttered 9×13 glass baking pan. Either way, let it rise for another hour. You put this much work into it, so you might as well make the bread pretty. Whisk together an egg and 1 tbsp of water to make an egg wash.

Use a pastry brush to paint the surface of the bread. If you’d like, sprinkle another 1 tsp of coarse salt on top. Bake the bread at 350F / 180C for 35-40 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with foil.

Due to the moist interior, the bottom of this bread has a tendency to get soggy if you leave it out overnight. That means it’s your duty to consume the entire loaf before bedtime. If you don’t have a party of dwarves or a couple teenagers on hand to help you finish it, you can always use the leftovers to make savory mushroom bread pudding for tomorrow’s dinner.

Hobbit book link and mezzaluna knife link are Amazon Associate links. That means I make a small commission if you buy the product I’m linking to. Or if you buy any product from Amazon, after you get there from using one of my links.

If you’re shopping on Amazon any time, please consider using my links! It should be exactly the same Amazon shopping experience for you, but it really adds up and makes a huge difference for my family. Here are the links for the US, the UK, and Canada. If you could bookmark these links and use them every time you shop, I’d be so grateful! Thank you.

United States: http://amzn.to/2uvKq6y
Canada: http://amzn.to/2tcrN3v
UK: http://amzn.to/2uFe9dJ

What’s for supper? Vol. 107: I’m chicken my privilege

This week, I managed to use leftovers from a previous meal in every single new meal. Some of this was planned, some was felicitous. Some was just scallions.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Fancy hot dogs, chips, salad

It’s amazing how a few toppings can transform a hot dog meal from shameful to splendid. I got cheapo hot dogs for the kids and Nathan’s for them as appreciate Nathan’s, and I set out ketchup and mustard, of course, and also diced cucumbers, thin-sliced pickles, diced tomatoes, pickled peppers, diced onions, and celery salt for Chicago-style hot dogs, and crumbled blue cheese, hot sauce, and chopped scallions (left over from last week) for Buffalo dogs. Yum yum.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas, beans and rice

#1 son has been asking for this dish for a while, and not just so we can quote Dr. Marvin Rubdown.

I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I cooked six giant, recklessly seasoned chicken breasts in olive oil

and, after shredding them, set aside the meat from two of them for later. I had thirty-two large tortillas, and, because the gods are cruel, enough fillings for thirty-one enchiladas.

In my neverending but alwaysfutile quest to have more than enough onions for the enchiladas, I diced and sautéed seven onions. I rushed them a bit, so they didn’t really caramelize, but they were still luscious. You cook them up in the chickeny oil, using the same pan.

I shredded up about two pounds of cheddar cheese, which wasn’t quite enough. The enchiladas were a little skinny, to be honest; but also to be honest, I actually like eating up the slightly soggy folded ends of tortillas.

We went through two large cans of green enchilada sauce and two large cans of red. Some tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro on the top. Or maybe it was scallions, I forget.

Lackluster photo, completely delicious food. I had other plans for Sunday, but the all-devouring enchiladas ended up taking all day to make. Next time, I may try stacked enchiladas, where you use the same ingredients, but just layer them in a pan, rather than rolling them. I want enchiladas, but I want my life back, too.

We had leftover rice from last week, so I mixed it up with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles and some of the juice, a can of drained black beans, some jarred, sliced jalapeños, and bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt. I feel like there must have been other ingredients, but I sure can’t remember them now. It was tasty, and I was proud of not just throwing down a bag of chips.

***

MONDAY
Ham, baked potatoes, peas

Monday is our crazy-go-nuts day, and so we had a meal than involved taking things out of the bag and making them hot. No complaints.

Oh, and we had some yogurt sauce left over from last week’s turmerific chickepea chicken. It smelled okay, so I daringly slathered it on my baked potato with some scallions, and holy cow, it was so good. It was Greek yogurt with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, leftover enchiladas

Feeling like a genius, I took the leftover chicken out of the fridge and vaulted straight through to the quick and easy part of this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I didn’t have any masa or cornmeal, so I just decreased how much water I added, and it was plenty thick. Only one child refused to eat it because it turned out the tortilla strips weren’t noodles. Avocado on soup is a revelation.

There were, as I expected, still some enchiladas left, so we had those instead of the rice or corn bread I’d usually make as a side dish. It was a lot of the same flavors as the soup. Not a problem.

***

WEDNESDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches with olives and pepperoni

Sometimes these turn out delicious, and sometimes they’re kind of bleh. This time the gods ordained that we should have bleh. I used sourdough bread, but I think a softer bread, like potato, would have worked better.

You brush the outside of the sandwich with butter mixed with garlic powder and oregano or basil, and then the inside of the sandwich is sauce on both slices of bread, with cheese and toppings (well, fillings) in the middle. I think I was just yelling so much on Wednesday that nothing was going to taste good. Anyway, I made supper.

For very thick grilled sandwiches, I like to grill them until they look right on the outside, then slide them into the oven for a while so the cheese melts all the way and everything’s hot enough.

***

THURSDAY
Fancy ramen

Yep, I planned a weekly menu that included both “fancy hot dogs” and “fancy ramen.” We’re just that fancy!

I’m always amazed at how popular this dinner is, how cheap, and how fast. It took less than half an hour from stepping into the kitchen to saying grace.

I had a few pounds of boneless pork ribs, and I just browned them in olive oil, then sliced them in thin squares. Then I soft-boiled a dozen eggs and heated up some frozen stir fry vegetables. Then I cooked up a bunch of chicken ramen, just using the little flavor packets, and set the ramen out with all the other stuff in separate bowls, plus some leftover chopped scallions. Tasty and satisfying.

This is a photo from previous ramen. I forgot to get the pics of current ramen off my son’s phone.

Sometimes we add soy sauce, hot sauce, sriracha sauce, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or crunchy chow mein noodles, or stir in some spinach. You can make all kinds of fancy sauces and add extra seasonings for the pork, but simple is also great.

This kind of choose-your-own-adventure meal is a great way of compromising with kids. You prepare all kinds of wonderful foods, but set them out separately, and let the kids choose what they like. That way, you don’t have to cook a separate meal for picky people, but you don’t have any horrible battles over “just try one bite.” I generally offer what I consider food every single time, and the picky kids gradually, casually decide on their own to start trying it, even if only because they don’t like feeling left out.

***

FRIDAY
French toast?

I’m sort of pre-resting on the laurels I’ll win next week for Thanksgiving, so I don’t care what’s for supper today.

I will probably skip What’s For Supper? next Friday, because everyone is eating more or less the same thing, right? Here’s the planned menu so far:

Turkey with stuffing and gravy
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes stuffed with dates, blue cheese, and walnuts
Cranberry walnut bread
Parker house rolls
Cranberry sauce in the shape of a can
Olives and pickles
Apple pie, pumpkin pie, maybe salted bourbon pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie with ice cream and fresh whipped cream
Wine and apple cider
And don’t forget! Pie crust is a million times easier and better when you freeze the butter and shred it before incorporating it into the flour.

What’s for supper? Vol. 106: Ermerghersh, it’s turmeric!

Read on, if you dare.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers, chips

I have no memory of Saturday. This week was littered with migraines, and I spent a lot of time hiding in bed and then frantically rushing around to get caught up in between. The good news is, Corrie is starting to emerge from a long, long spell of constant tantrums. I feel like the goblins have brought my real child back. She still insists on being called “Dashi,” but I can live with that.

SUNDAY
Cumin chicken and chickpeas with yogurt sauce; pomegranates and pita 

Excellent new recipe from the NYT. I made the yogurt sauce and set the chicken (I used all thighs) to marinate the previous night. Then it was very quick the next evening to throw it in some pans with the chickpeas. While it was cooking, I made some yogurt sauce for dipping and some lemony onions for garnish, plus some chopped cilantro. If you love the shawarma I’m always pushing, you’ll almost certainly love this meal.

Something wonderful happened to the chicken skin, I suppose because of the yogurt marinade. It was crisp and flavorful, but also took on a kind of — I’m trying to figure out how to describe this without making it sound gross — a kind of robust chewiness.

I made two pans, but I foolishly only let one pan roast long enough so the onions and chickpeas were toasty-crunchy. I need a better light in the kitchen, because this really doesn’t capture the golden pan of wonder I pulled out of the oven. This pan is the somewhat-undertoasted one:

Pomegranates were 99 cents, so I bought four and quartered them. Perfect accompaniment for this meal. This is definitely going into the rotation. Damien was skeptical about the chickpeas, but he heartily endorses this dish now. It was quite cheap, too. I think the most expensive component was the pita bread.

I was planning to make my own pita, but spent most of the day sorting summer and winter clothes, which I very much enjoy because it is not tedious, exhausting, enraging, and emotionally draining in any way. (I got some satisfaction from throwing away anything with a peace sign on it.) Anyway, I didn’t make any pita. The recipe isn’t hard, but it’s pretty time-consuming. It’s worth the time, if you can spare it! Miles better than store-bought.

And now I must tell you. When I made this recipe for the first time, at the age of 42, I discovered that it is spelled “turmeric,” not “tumeric.” Ain’t that a pisser? But apparently nobody says the first “r,” so it’s pretty much now just tumeric, because who cares? I’m so torn. I’m generally in favor of not letting sloppiness win the day and shape our ends, but on the other hand, I’m too old to start knowing it’s turrrrrmeric. I really am. Also, I didn’t have any. So I went and just put a little extra cumin.

Guess friggin’ what? Cumin is sometimes known as “cucumin.” And for this reason, I give up. It warr good chicken.

Oh, while we’re on the topic, roasted chickpeas makes a great snack with plenty of protein. You drain the chick peas, toss them with a little olive oil, spread them in a single layer in a shallow pan, and sprinkle them with whatever seasonings you like. Roast them in a 450 oven for forty minutes or more. Be patient. You want them really crunchy, not just browned. (Chickpeas, like peanuts, are legumes, and may or may not be safe for kids with peanut allergies; so if you’re looking for a safe snack to send into school, this is something to check.)

***

MONDAY
Nachos

Tortilla chips, ground beef with taco seasonings from an envelope, shredded cheese, jalapeños, jarred salsa, and sour cream that I jealously guarded from working its way to the back of the fridge to be frozen. And that has made all the difference.

***

TUESDAY
Scrambled eggs, salad, oven roasted potatoes, leftovers

It was going to be sausage omelettes, but there was so much food in the house, we just heated up everything and made a bunch of scrambled eggs and potatoes.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers and chips

I have no memory of Wednesday.

***

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl and rice

Made in the morning and kept warm in the slow cooker all day. If you haven’t put this meal in your rotation yet, what are you even doing with your life?

You fry up the chop meat with some garlic, drain the fat, and throw in a bunch of ingredients, and that’s it! You can just eat it! The kids like it because it’s sweet. You can vary how much ginger and pepper flakes you put it, to make it even more kid-friendly or kid-hostile. (I used a few squeezes of squeeze ginger because I am a dirty, dirty, lazy cheater cook. Squeezy!)

I set out scallions and sesame seeds on the table. Then, like a damn rookie, I sat down in the next room to enjoy my meal, and Corrie proceeded to silently decorate the entire bottom floor with the rest of the sesame seeds. Looks like we finally got our first snowfall of the season.

***

FRIDAY
Pasta

The kids have the day off, so I’m headed up north to visit my mother in the nursing home. I was supposed to wake up early to go running. That . . . did not happen.

Oh, I also did a practice run of apricot walnut rugelach this week. Do you want to know how to make rugelach? They are little rolled Jewish pastries. The dough is made mostly of cream cheese, and you roll it out on a sugared surface, rather than a floured surface. You want to know, right?

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 104: I put the fannie in Fannie Farmer

The theme for the week is YOUR FRIEND BUTTER. Butter is your friend. Don’t listen to your doctor. Your doctor is DOO-DOO. You need more butter!

And you also need my pal Fannie Farmer. This week, what with the cold and the colored leaves and the swirling mists and the ennui, I found myself turning again and again to this cookbook I’ve been using for over twenty years now. Good old Fannie taught me how to roast pork ribs, how to make pie crust and pie filling, how to wait for the onions in onion soup, and so much more.

Fun fact: The author, Marion Cunningham, was briefly married to a then-unknown Thurgood Marshall when they were both teenagers. The couple broke up within days of the wedding, apparently after a bitter all-night dispute over rigatoni.

That’s . . . that’s not true. I’m sorry.

Short version of what we had this week: Butter.
Long version:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus

I have no memory of Saturday.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken pecan salad; apple pie

They keep asking for this dish, so I keep making it.

Coat chicken breasts in oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven, then cube the meat. Serve over greens with dried cranberries, toasted pecans (or almonds or walnuts), crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese, diced red onions, and some kind of sweet vinaigrette. This time we had pomegranate. I burned the nuts, but they were still good.

I finally got around to making a pie, long after we ate up all the apples we picked at the orchard. I used the Fannie Farmer pie crust, but used butter instead of shortening. I also did the trick of freezing the sticks of butter for half an hour and then shredding them with a cheese grater. This does 90% of the work of incorporating the fat into the flour without overworking it, and this crust turned out light and supple without sacrificing taste. It won’t work on Thanksgiving, though. It only works if I make a pie for no particular reason. On Thanksgiving, my pie crust will be doo-doo.

I rolled out the dough for the top crust and turned it over to the kids, who used Halloween cookie cutters to make a pie of great spooooookiness.

They used kind of a lot of them, so it has sort of an indeterminate “well of souls” look, I guess.  I wet the crust a bit and sprinkled sugar on the top, also spooky. You could also brush on a little beaten egg white to give it some gloss, if you’re into that.

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, rice, mashed butternut squash, apple pie

A very fine autumn meal

and still the best way to prepare pork ribs indoors. Just plenty of salt and pepper and a very hot oven and turn the ribs once, until they are browned. So juicy and easy. Be a meat hero!

For the squash, I cut them in half, scooped out the pulp and seeds, and just cooked them as-is in a medium oven until they were soft, maybe 30 minutes or so. Peeled off the skin and mashed the squash up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cozy.

The kids were by far most excited by the rice, which I cooked in beef broth instead of water. This is their idea of Ultimate Fanciness.

We had an entire leftover pie from Sunday! I don’t understand what is happening to our family. “Leftover pie.” Clarification?

***

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday! and corn chips

I learned from previous weeks that too much cumin can make your taco meat taste like angry dirt, so I eased up on the cumin and added plenty of salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.

The iceberg lettuce I was saving turned out to be cabbage. So I shredded that, and it was fine. Our fridge has a trick of freezing everything in back, and it turns out sour cream does not recover from being frozen. It gets separated and mealy, bleh. But we did have tomatoes and plenty of cheese, plus jarred jalapeno rings. Good enough for the likes of us.

***

WEDNESDAY
Onion soup, Italian sausages, beer bread

Just sausages! I really wanted onion soup, but a significant faction in the family needs to have meat. A few pounds of sweet Italian sausages in the pan, and there it was: Supper.

I absolutely love this simple onion soup recipe. I used about 6-7 pounds of yellow onions and just acres and acres of butter. I used beef broth instead of water (skip the salt if you use broth), and tons of pepper and Parmesan cheese at the end. Nothing to it, and it doesn’t look like much, but it’s so good.

Beer bread is another recipe I won’t shut up about. It’s so easy, a . . . a . . . I don’t know, a naked toddler could make it.

You don’t need quite as much butter as the recipe says (and it’s not strictly necessary to bathe in the flour, either), but as long as you don’t be a big lazy baby and you take the time to sift, this bread comes up fluffy and golden and moist every time, with a gorgeous cobbled crust.

It’s much less crumbly and cake-like and more chewy and bread-like than most quick breads. And you can make it all in one bowl. Mix up the dry, add the beer, stir it up and chunk it in the pan. It says to bake an hour, but start checking at 40 minutes or so. It has an earthy, slightly honeyed taste. (This varies with the beer, of course. I used Narragansett.)

***

THURSDAY
Grilled cheese with ham and apple

Extremely popular here. They didn’t even ask if there were chips coming. (There were not.)

I put a layer of cheddar cheese top and bottom, with the ham and apples in the middle, and then put the sandwiches in the oven for a bit after grilling, to make sure it’s all melted. I have been using this wonderful sourdough bread from Aldi lately. It’s perfect for grilled sandwiches.

We make our grilled sandwiches with a thin layer of mayo on the outside. It doesn’t give it a mayonnaise taste, but it adds a sort of thin, crunchy crust to the entire sandwich. (Yes, you still use butter on the pan after spreading mayo on the bread. Yes, this is why we’re fat. WORTH IT.)

I really wanted some leftover onion soup, but the sandwich was completely filling, and I had to admit, I was truly stuffed. So I just ate the sandwiches the kids didn’t eat. Whatever, I went running this morning. Whatever!

***

FRIDAY
Giant pancake with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs

I felt guilty about something last week, I forget what, so I bought a bag of chocolate chips.

Giant pancake, if you don’t know, is this: You take an entire box of pancake mix and add enough water to make thick batter. Butter a pan, spread the batter in, and bake at 350 for ten minutes or so. Serve in wedges and go lie down. Bring a stick of butter with you, just in case.

What’s for supper? Vol. 103: Kitten pie, Mr. Tweedy

Sad story, short version: I was sitting in the bathroom, half-watching Corrie paddle around in the tub, half-writing something or other. Enter the kitten, who strolls in placidly, sniffs at my feet, checks out a little toothpaste smear on the cabinet, and then propels himself into my lap with the force of a rocket and anchors himself to my thigh with his claws. I jumped up, knocked over my seltzer, and killed my laptop dead dead dead.

I tried putting it in rice for 48 hours. No dice. Maybe I should have put it in dice.

Here is the kitten, by the way. I KNOW. He’s very cute.

“Please, please, master, don’t make me into pie! I’ll be ever so good!”
We’ll see, cat. We’ll see.

We’re working on getting a replacement computer. We have probably fourteen internet-enabled devices in this house, but I can’t get any of them to work well with WordPress or uploading images, and the hilarious podcast we recorded, using a new program on my husband’s notebook? It turned out it wasn’t recording. I’m setting up as much as I can on the weekend, and hoping it won’t be long before I get a replacement.

But food still fooded! Here is what we ate last week:

FRIDAY
Birthday party!

I think we probably had pizza. This was so, so long ago. I made my first and last gorgon cake

and magically transformed the dining room into ancient Macedonia by . . . tacking some leaves up.

Look, it was short notice. It definitely looked different from how it usually looks.

***

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I forgot to buy limes, and I did buy cilantro, but I forgot to serve it. Oh well. Batter fried fish fillets on flour tortillas with salsa, sour cream, shredded cabbage, and sliced avocado. Still quite good.

***

SUNDAY
Italian Food in the Middle of October Day!

Suppli, pork ragù with fettucine, bruschetta with basil, tomatoes, and provolone, and many kinds of olives; garlic bread, pears with prosciutto, and cannoli with shaved chocolate and cherries, and lemon ices.

We briefly considered salad, but only briefly.

My husband used the fabulous Deadspin recipe for pork ragù.

This has milk in it, not tons of tomato, surprising carrots, and a kind of meaty fluffiness that you really have to experience to understand.

Here is my suppli recipe, which I have updated to include information on how many suppli you will actually end up with. I made thirty suppli the size of goose eggs, and we froze a dozen of them.

If our family keeps shrinking like this, we won’t even be able to drain an entire lake dry by each taking one little lap of water with our little pink tongues. Mew mew!

Well, they turned out quite lovely. I didn’t crowd them in the pot or rush to take them out, so they held their shape. Refrigerating the risotto is vital.

Nice and melty on the inside? This is why they’re sometimes called “suppli al telefono”: because the cheese looks like telephone wires.

I have been to Italy, and their telephone wires look very much like that.

I didn’t even try to find empty cannoli shells this year. I got some of those anise pizzelle waffle cookies and topped them with cheese filling, then shaved chocolate and a maraschino cherry. I used about 32 oz. of whole fat ricotta cheese, maybe 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, and a tablespoon or more of vanilla extract. You don’t want it too sweet.

Well, the food was fantastic. As you may have noticed, the photos get worse as the food gets better. So we’ll close with a day-after shot of the cat eating the cannoli my husband was saving for later.

And that’s how it goes.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs? I think?

I think I put blue cheese and buffalo sauce on mine. I can never decide if it’s pretentious to write “bleu cheese” instead of “blue cheese,” so I alternate.

***

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, roast red potatoes, salad

I used dear old Fannie Farmer’s meatloaf recipe, and then vandalized the loaves with a lot of ketchup. Nobody wants to admit that they like eating chewy, hot ketchup varnish, but they do, they do.

I put things in the potatoes. Come on, you know how to make potatoes. Oil and spices, hot. Kinda burnt, oh well.

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cheez puffs

They lost the valve to my Instant Pot again, so I was reduced to cooking the pork in the oven like an animal. I forgot to get some of that nice Mojo marinade, too, so I just put some frickin spices on it and put in a shallow pan, fat up, at 425 for maybe 35 minutes.

Then I ate all the fat. You think this is disgusting, and I’m not saying it wasn’t, but it was also crisp, golden, savory, and sizzling, and some people’s destinies look like that.

I had some amazing sourdough bread from Aldi, and made ten enormous sandwiches with mustard, Swiss cheese top and bottom, sliced pork (I cooked it in the morning, then sliced and heated it in the microwave in the evening), sliced ham, and sliced pickles.This is one of those sandwiches that you lean into while cooking it, as well as while eating it. I put them in the oven for a bit to make sure the cheese was all melted.

It was. 

***

THURSDAY
Spicy pork with vegetables and rice

I had a little gochujang in the house, so I mixed it up with the other stuff I happened to have, which was a little soy sauce, a little sugar, and a lot of maple syrup. And garlic, of course. I will let myself run out of arms and legs before I run out of garlic.

I cut the pork into little nuggets and let it marinate all day, then cooked it up in a shallow pan with the sauce. I heated up frozen veg in the microwave and added that to the meat, and served it over rice. I don’t know why I’m explaining all this. You cook the thing. You eat the thing. It was fine.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

My husband came home late and lightly sauteed the cooked penne in a pan with olive oil and minced garlic, and added just a tiny bit of sauce, and it looked fantastic. Gonna try it that way next time.

***

SO ANYWAY, now I have to give this computer back to my husband, who selfishly wants to take it to work with him, the swine. If you were a little bit on the fence about maybe you should or shouldn’t make a pledge to support my site, this would be a great time to YES YOU SHOULD. Or you could use my Amazon links! Or you could come over and kidnap this cat before he gets made into pie.

What’s for supper? Vol. 102: Barely soup

IT IS OCTOBER AND NOW WE CAN HAVE SOUP! I’m trying to pace myself, though. Just one per week. BUT OH BOY!

SATURDAY
Jalapeno chicken quesadillas, tortilla chips and salsa

I had tons of leftover chicken from last week, so I roughed it up a bit and added it to the cheddar quesadillas, along with some sliced jalapenos from a jar and some chopped scallions. Excellent, if a little difficult to flip intact. Jarred jalapenos are finding their way into more and more of our meals.

Also on Saturday, we harvested the last thing from our garden

and thanked the Lord of the harvest that we don’t have to survive on things we grow in our garden.

***

SUNDAY
Beef vegetable soup, pumpkin bread, caramel apples

This was supposed to be beef barley soup, but I lost my list

at the beginning of a 3.5-hour shopping trip involving five stores.

 

Guess what? I remembered every last damn thing on the list, except barley. So I threw some macaroni in the pot, instead, and it was fine.

This may be my favorite soup. First I sauteed up two diced carrots and a diced onion in olive oil, salt and pepper, then I added a few pounds of cubed flank steak and lightly browned it. A couple of cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, about a pound of sliced mushrooms, about eight cups of beef broth, a little water, and a bottle of hard cider (I usually use red wine, but I think the cider is even better), and let it simmer all day. I added the pasta twenty minutes before it was time to eat.

As I made the pumpkin bread, I thought happily to myself what a foolproof, reliable recipe it is, and how it never, ever comes out bad. So you know what happened next. It was flabby and dense, with a harsh, unpleasant taste.

I have no idea what I did. I think maybe the baking soda was too old, and . . . the pumpkin was cursed? I don’t know. I’ll make it again, because I’ve made it fifteen times before with great results. But I’m buying new baking soda first. Oh well.

The soup was so good, I ate it for lunch the rest of the week. Every time I reheated it, the macaroni got a little bigger. It was like an edible coming of age story.

After years of struggling with candy thermometers, I have discovered that those caramel wraps you can buy are so worth the money. The kids can make them almost unassisted, and there is no mess.

We put ours in the oven to soften up and then tried to press rainbow sprinkles in. That was probably the most labor intensive part, and they didn’t stick well. Next time, we’ll just leave them be.

***

MONDAY
Pulled pork, roast butternut squash, tater tots

Another excellent meal for fall weather (and also a good one to prep ahead, if you are going on a Girl Scout hike and coming home hungry from all that confidence-building).

I have a picture of this meal, but where? Well, pulled pork doesn’t look like much of anything anyway. The squash is so pretty, though.

I put a pork shoulder into the slow cooker with salt and pepper, a quartered onion, several cloves of garlic sliced, and a can of beer. Nice and easy.

I was feeling all cozy and nostalgic about the return of squash season, until I tried peeling the squash. Ten minutes later, I was out of breath, my arms were trembling, I had removed about three square inches of squash skin, and Corrie was looking at me anxiously, trying to figure out why I was so mad.

Happily, I found this cheat. You poke the skin with a fork, cut off the top and bottom, and microwave it for three minutes.  So easy! Then, it says, you “Delight at how easily the skin comes off.” That was the only part that didn’t work. I ended up cutting the squash into pieces and microwaving it several times. It became slightly easier to peel, but there was definitely no delight involved.

I eventually cubed the squash, mixed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and laid it on a shallow pan and roasted it at 400 for maybe 35-40 minutes. To me, the sweet, buttery taste of squash goes perfectly with pulled pork. To everyone else, there certainly was a lot of squash for Mama to eat.

(Dramatization)

***

TUESDAY
Frozen chicken, chips

We tried one of those bags of violently red, ludicrously spicy chicken things, plus a bag of some kind of batter fried honey chicken things. We ate them.

***

WEDNESDAY
French toast, sausage, grapes

That was for the kids. Damien and I went out to Applebee’s because did you know they have $1 margaritas all through October? Normally we avoid Applebee’s, because the food is shiny and limp, the service is indifferent, the music is worthless and way too loud, and the decor makes you feel like you’re inside a pinball machine. However: $1 margaritas. I had some kind of Asian shrimp and rice ladyfood vegetable nonsense, and Damien had a bacon burger, and we both had . . . kind of a lot of margaritas. Oh, we’ll be back.

(Reminder from a friend: If you send your waitress back and forth many times to fetch you lots of cheap margaritas, calculate your tip based on all that trotting, rather than on the artificially low bill.)

***

THURSDAY
Sausage spinach skillet

Almost good. It certainly is easy and cheap (recipe from Budget Bytes). It’s supposed to be a stand-alone dish, but I made fettucine to serve it over, because I can see into the future and I knew we’d need a back-up dish. My husband thought it would be better in some kind of garlicky sauce, possibly a light cream sauce. Maybe I’ll come back to it. Or maybe I’ll just sit on a mountain and watch my tail grow.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

Birthday party! The theme is Clash of the Titans, so we’ll see how that goes. The one thing I know is if you invite a bunch of rail-thin teenage girls over for a party, there needs to be a lot of pizza. A lot.

***
Book illustration photos from Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel and The Funny Thing by Wanda Ga’g

What’s for supper? Vol. 100: Same as it ever was

Once, an single young man tried to persuade me that NFP was bad because you might not be able to have sex on Valentine’s Day. He had me there.

Along not-really-similar lines, here we are at this momentous occasion of my one hundredth “What’s for Supper?” post, and I’m just marking it by telling you what we had for supper. Hey, at least I know what day it is. I even put on this special potholder just for you.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham, apple, and cheddar sandwiches on sourdough bread; pickles; chips

It was so good last week, we had it again.

The pickles, sadly, were not Siberian this time.

***

SUNDAY
BBQ Korean pork ribs with rice and nori, roast broccoli, strawberries

I made a marinade with about 3/4 cup of gochujang, 1/3 cup of honey, 2 Tbs sugar, 2 Tbs soy sauce, and a bunch of minced garlic (which I’ve started buying in jars), mixed in some sliced onions, and let the meat sit and dream beautiful dreams about the future all day. Then my husband cooked the meat over the coals, and there was rejoicing.

I cut the broccoli into small pieces, mixed them up with olive oil, pepper, a little soy sauce, and sesame seeds, and put them in a shallow pan in a hot oven for twelve minutes or so, until it was a little blackened at the tips. Sesame oil is better, but I was out.

The rice was from the Instant Pot, using the 1:1 method. I prefer the Instant Pot if you want the rice a little sticky but are too cheap to spring for good rice. I ate as much pork as I could manage, then made a roll out of seaweed, rice, and the spicy onions. Hot damn.

***

MONDAY
Honey mustard chicken thighs with red potatoes and broccoli 

I actually didn’t have any honey left after the Korean pork (a worthy sacrifice), so I made sauce with a little maple syrup and brown sugar, plus dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and whatever, salt and pepper and garlic powder or something.

Probably I should have mixed the sauce with the potato wedges, then added the meat and seasoned it separately, and then added the broccoli near the end of the cooking, but I just tossed it all up together and put it in a greased pan and cooked it at 425 for about forty minutes. It turned out fine. The broccoli soaked up a lot of the sauce, which made it damp but tasty. Not bad at all.

I have a strong memory of taking pictures of this dish — the crisp chicken skin was especially pretty in the last dying light of afternoon — but I have no idea where they went.

***

TUESDAY
Egg-in-toast, grapes

So nice. Such a reassuring food. Use plenty of butter.

***

WEDNESDAY
Nachos

I says to my kids, I says, Someday you’re going to grow up and begin your own life and form new relationships, and then someone’s going to give you a tray of actual nachos, and you’re going to be very angry at me.

Just chips, ground beef, and pepper jack cheese. I bought sour cream, but it got pushed to the back of the fridge and froze. We had salsa, but it got pushed to the back of the fridge, and then it worked its way back up to the front, where it presented itself as fresh. IT WAS NOT. It was fermented. I spent the next three hours going “Phbbbbblehhh.”

***

THURSDAY
Spaghetti with sausage, salad

Just jarred sauce with hot sausage, peppers, and onions added in.

Everyone was hungry, so it went over well.

***

FRIDAY
Chicken shawarma and pita

It’s Friday, but it’s also CLARA’S BIRTHDAY! And when the birthday girl wants shawarma on Friday, she gets shawarma on Friday. She will also eventually get presents. Amazon Prime ain’t what it used to be.

Clara, however, will always be this:

in my head, anyway.

What’s for supper? Vol. 99! The best meal in town!

Not really. Do they have The 99 Restaurant and Pub where you live? Do I have a jingle stuck in my head that no one else remembers? I can’t recall if I’ve ever eaten a meal there, but I have definitely been there, and it did not feel like the kind of place at which the best meal in town could possibly be provided.

I just Googled “The 99 the” to see if the slogan in my head is still in current use, and here is what I got:

Now you know as much as I do.

***

SATURDAY
Grilled cheese with ham and apple on sourdough, chips, Siberian pickles

Got the idea from a Kraft ad on Facebook. Deli ham, cheddar cheese, and granny smith apples on sourdough bread, with lots of mayo spread on the outside before grilling. Really delicious (made by Damien). I seem to have lost the photo, though.

I don’t know if they were really specifically Siberian pickles, but my husband was visiting #1 daughter at college, and they popped into a Siberian market, as one does. He brought home pickles, pumpkin seeds, and . . . something. White, poofy balls, sort of like gritty meringue marshmallows. My cyrillic is not up to speed. I ate one and got a blinding headache, so I stuck with the pickles.

***

SUNDAY
Beef bourguignon, fresh bread

I’ve been hearing about beef bourguignon for years, and didn’t really know what it was. It turns out it’s . . . stew.

This is exactly how I make stew. I followed this Sur La Table recipe, designed for the Instant Pot, and served it over noodles, and baked three loaves of bread from readymade frozen dough.

It was good, and the meat was very tender, but not blow-your-face-off-amazing, as I’d been led to expect. And it did taste better than my regular stew, which kind of ticked me off.

I think it’s the same principle at work as when someone loses weight and feels more energetic, and their skin clears up, when they start eating acai berries or rubbing charcoal in their armpits or whatever stupid bullshit people are doing now.

It’s not that the thing itself is especially effective. It’s that once you’ve done some research and bought some products and committed to using it, you’re signalling to yourself that you’re worth the effort, and that makes you feel better, which triggers other good self-care habits. And those are what’s making you feel better, but you paid money for it, so you’re like, “Wow, this acai charcoal is changing my life!”

In this case, I was actually following a recipe for something with a French name, rather than just schlepping around my kitchen making some fwiggin’ stew; and that prompted me to take the trouble to slice the garlic thin and patiently brown each piece of meat, or whatever. So it tasted better than stew. Whatever.

We had chocolate pudding with cool whip for dessert. I was planning to make tiny, individual pie shells by cutting flower shapes out of pie crust and folding up the petals before baking, but I forgot I had to write a thing, so I ran out of time. No one complained about pudding that wasn’t in piecrust flowers. I heroically didn’t have any dessert, but then I ate the leftover cool whip for lunch the next day. I did use a spoon, even though no one was watching.

***

MONDAY
Hamburgers, broccoli

That’s what it says. I have no memory of Monday. Oh wait, here’s a picture:

I do remember! It tasted so good, because we went running in the dark, and then Damien cooked me a burger and made it all gloppy with ketchup and mustard, just the way I like it. It was good.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, grapes

We had fixings left over from our Hot Dogs O’ Many Nations buffet, so I really had to buy more hot dogs. I had a buffalo dog with bleu cheese, scallions, and buffalo sauce. It did not disappoint.

***

WEDNESDAY
Kids had pork ramen, we went running and then went to Chili’s

I haven’t adjusted to having two fewer teenagers in the house yet, so I bought way too many pork ribs last week, and then sliced up the leftovers and froze them. On Wednesday, I heated the meat up in a little water while the ramen was cooking. Cooked up some frozen spinach and boiled a bunch of eggs, and put it all on the table in separate bowls with sesame seeds and crunchy chow mein noodles, which were the most expensive part of this meal.

Because my special gift is ordering food a restaurant doesn’t specialize in, I had Chili’s unfamous clam chowder and fresca salad, plus about eleven cubic yards of those hot, thin, salty, greasy tostada chips, and a couple of margaritas.

***

THURSDAY
Meatball subs, watermelon

I used about five pounds of beef and a pound of ground turkey, six eggs, three or four cups of breadcrumbs, and whatever seasonings were in the front of the Clementine box. I put the meatballs on a double pan with drainage and put them in a 450 oven for probably 25 minutes, then moved them to a baking pan with tomato sauce to warm them up before supper.

I hope this is the last watermelon of the year. The kids insisted on buying it, but it makes me sad because you can’t find watermelons with seeds anymore. I like watermelon, but it’s so sad that it doesn’t have seeds.

Probably I should note that on my chart. “CD 26: Fatigue; irritability; food cravings; thinks it’s sad that watermelons don’t have seeds anymore.”

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FRIDAY
The ever longed-for tuna noodle casserole.

Tuna fish, cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles, topped with crushed potato chips and corn flakes, drizzled with a sauce of ketchup, mayo, and vinegar. If you didn’t grow up eating it, you’ll never enjoy it. If you grew up eating it, it will make you feel five years old again, in a good way.

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Guess what? I just remembered it’s actually “The 99! The best deal in town!” not the best meal in town. That explains a thing or two.