What’s for supper? Vol. 87: Mango, Mango! Can’t trust that day!

And we’re off! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pancakes with strawberries, sausages

That’s what the kids at home made and ate. Damien and I took our latest high school graduate out to eat for a celebration meal, and we all ate long past the point of regret. Someone’s gonna put fresh, hot bread and herbed olive oil, seafood chowder, fried calamari, and shrimp scampi in front of me, what am I gonna do? I’m not made of stone. But I said no to the berry mascarpone torte, mainly because I was still finishing my beer.

My daughter made us proud all through high school, and graduated with honors in math (MATH!). Here is her crowning achievement:

Isn’t she cute?

***

SUNDAY
Burgers, hot dogs, chips, brownie sundaes

This was Father’s Day, and maybe not our best effort. Something about everyone feeling about as peppy and energetic as a, a, a thing that is tired and having a hard time coming up with interesting descriptions. So he cooked up meat on the grill and it was good.

***

MONDAY
Turkey avocado provolone wraps, raw veggies and hummus, grapes

For some reason, everyone was super enthusiastic about this meal. We had some leftover rolls and a bunch of leftover tortillas, which I set out with deli turkey and salami, avocados, onions, provolone, and various kinds of dressing. I chose honey mustard, which doesn’t even go.

I mean, it didn’t taste bad or anything, but I wasn’t prepared for the choruses of hosannas. I think it may have been the grapes, actually.

Here is a moment that Benny wanted to memorialize:

***

TUESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

I intended to use this recipe, but ran out of time to make the special dressing or chop anything small, so we had chicken, mixed bagged greens, bleu cheese, sliced almonds, red onions, and blueberries, with balsamic vinegar. I can’t seem to find the picture I took, so here’s the pic from last time:

Again, I was taken aback at how delighted everyone was. I do love these hearty salads with nuts, cheese, meat, and fruit. Very pretty and filling.

***

WEDNESDAY

It was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FINALLY, and we went to the beach, and by the time we got home, I had zero interest in making dinner, and 100% interest in letting the kids make French toast while I languished on the couch. Then I got up and ate scrambled eggs and the ice cream I virtuously declined on Sunday.

***

THURSDAY
Pork kebabs, white rice, mangoes

I was planning to make oven pork gyros using this NYT recipe, but I was just too lazy to try a new recipe with that many steps.

Instead, I put together a triple recipe of this teriyaki sauce and mixed it up with cubed pork and big wedges of onion, and let that marinate a few hours. Then I put the meat and onions on a pan with a rack and shoved it up right under the broiler, turning it once. Yummeh.

The rice, I made in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) using the 1:1 method and the rice button. I don’t understand why you have to rinse the rice, but it always comes out perfect, so I won’t argue.

We had five large mangoes which I peeled and cut up in no time using a metal cup. You try to figure out which way the pit lies and then cut the “cheeks” off the mango, leaving the pit inside a flat section of fruit.

Then you take a glass or metal cup with a thin rim and just, vooooop, slide the cup rim just under the skin and scoop the flesh right out in one piece.

Very satisfying and efficient.
It’s a little tricker to trim the rest of the flesh off the pit, but overall, this method makes mangoes worth eating, rather than an exercise in sticky, pulpy futility.

Because I must always be shilling something, and because I’m as sick of hearing about the Instant Pot as you are, these are the aluminum cups we have (affiliate link):

My damn wiener kids do lose them and bend them, but they do not break them! Ha!

***

FRIDAY

Child requested tuna noodle casserole. So let it be written, so let it be done. My husband despises this food, but he will be out picking up my oldest kid from the airport, hooray! We sure missed her.

Okay, the Fourth of July looms! We’ll probably do burgers and hot dogs and pork spiedies using this recipe, plus chips and corn on the cob (maybe fancy corn on the cob with lime, paprika, and parmesan), watermelon, and potato salad. As predictable a menu as Thanksgiving, but with food you actually want to eat. Who has exciting ideas for a picnic dessert for a big crowd? Or some kind of razzle dazzle side dish that kids would like?

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 86: ¿Qué pasa, kielbasa?

I’m having a flashback to a former life: Everyone’s schedule is all screwey for end-of-year stuff, so we spent the morning at the park trying not to throw ourselves into the waterfall, and then we got a blister so we had to cool our feet at the library. There are pregnant women chasing toddlers everywhere, and every cell in my body is shrieking out silent thanksgiving that I’m not one of ’em.

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza, birthday cake, ice cream

Birthday party! We had no end of pizza, and birthday cake in the shape of – what else? – Devil’s Tower.

It was a Close Encounters of the Third Kind party, what else? It turns out the birthday girl was kidding about wanting me to mash some potatoes so she could have a mountain-sculpting contest with her friends. Humph.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma; Cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate ganache

Birthday girl requested shawarma. I treated myself to skinned, boned chicken and set it to marinate the night before. It turned out to be breast meat, not thigh, which was a little disappointing; but it’s still always a fabulous meal. We use this recipe for oven-roasted shawarma from the NYT.

We had it with tomatoes, cucumbers, three kind of olives, feta cheese, pita bread, hummus, and yogurt sauce. I added pepper, lemon juice, and a bunch of minced garlic to plain yogurt and then basically wallowed around in it for the rest of the evening. Garlic yogurt speaks to me on a cellular level. A microcellular level. A nano-micro-weensy-cellular level. Just keep zooming in, and it’s garlic and yogurt, all the way down.

I briefly considered making the cheesecake in the Instant Pot, but then remembered that I am disgusting and don’t really clean it too good, so it’s kind of meaty in there. If there are people in the world who prefer their cheesecake meaty, I don’t want to know about it. I used this simple recipe (no sour cream) with a graham cracker crust, and used a silicone pan instead of springform. Unlike the photo, it turned out swell.

I crushed up a bunch of fresh strawberries with sugar and rum vanilla. We wanted a chocolate ganache, but I remembered in the nick of time that Aldi chocolate chips don’t really melt. So I made this hot fudge sauce with cocoa powder, butter, and condensed milk. Veddy nice.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs, corn on the cob, salad

It was horrendously hot, so I thought we might avoid filling the kitchen with corn steam if I cooked the corn on the cob in the Instant Pot instead of in a big pot of water. I guess it worked? But you do have to release the steam at the end anyway, so we kind of got it all at once. I think it helped a bit overall. It’s definitely cooler than stovetop cooking while it’s cooking.

I tried This Old Gal’s recipe for IP corn on the cob, which includes sugar, milk, and butter. It was certainly easy, and the corn was, well, sweet, creamy, and buttery. Kinda gilding the lily, though, and not really worth the extra calories. I’ll probably use the IP for just cooking plain unflavored corn on the cob in the future, though, just because it was easier than wrestling with a giant stock pot sloshing with boiling water. I always scald my abdomen.

I have the eight-quart Instant Pot (affiliate link), which fits twelve whole ears of corn comfortably, see?

***

TUESDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, salad

Just so you know I’m no Instant Pot cultist

I will here discuss an IP semi-failure: I put the pork into the IP with salt, pepper, and a can of Coke, and set it to “slow cook.” This took four hours, and then it automatically went to “keep warm” mode for the rest of the day. It came out dry and tough, and we had to pull pretty hard, which nobody wanted to do. I’m not sure if that means it was too low heat, or too high heat, or what, but it just wasn’t the same as the regular old slow cooker. Maybe if I pressed “slow cook” again after four hours, I dunno.

***

WEDNESDAY
Oven roasted kielbasa, red potatoes, and cabbage with mustard vinaigrette

From Budget Bytes, a new dish for us, and a hit! It’s very easy to make: Cut up the things, put the things on a pan, make the things hot. Add yummy dressing.

I used three 14-ounce packages of kielbasa, about four pounds of red potatoes, and one large cabbage, and tripled the recipe for dressing. It’s hearty and summery, and I liked the looks of it, too.

The only sad thing was that I finally had to admit it was time to get rid of the two giant “disposable” catering pans we got from the Chinese restaurant at Christmas. They have developed leaks, so I’m getting some Real Pans. Yet another thing I finally have enough money to buy, now that the kids are leaving home and we don’t need it as badly anymore. Oh well.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken muggets, frozen corn

We had the option to add an extra hour and a half of driving at the end of the school day in order to get to two campuses for portfolio night, or we could get ice cream.

Then we came home and had chicken nuggets. Corrie was mad because she only got to eat her ice cream and Dora’s ice cream,

and then when she dropped Dora’s ice cream, we wouldn’t get her another one. So when it was supper time, she threw herself on the floor and howled, “NO NO NO TSITSIN MUGGETS!” It’s a shame we never do anything nice for her.

***

FRIDAY

Child #2 graduates from high school this year (with honors in math!!!), so Damien and I will be in attendance this evening while the kids at home struggle along with a case of boxaroni. Cheers!

Everyday martyrdom for the weak and afraid

If you have ever looked in the mirror and thought with shame and distress that you could never die for your faith, think again. Life in Christ is a life of a thousand, million little deaths: deaths to old ways of thinking, death to false security, death to complacency, death to trivial comforts. Any time you inquire about your Faith, you are whispering to Christ, however reluctantly, that you are open to killing off some part of yourself that does not deserve to live.

Read the rest of my latest at The Catholic Weekly.

Photo: By nieznany – Polish Righteous awarded with medals for bravery by the Holocaust Remembrance Authority. Cropped and color managed by Poeticbent (dyskusja · edycje), Domena publiczna, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7130230

What’s for supper? Vol. 85: Musings

This week, I managed to take one (1) picture of food, and I managed to make one (1) meal that it even made sense to take a picture of.

Therefore, I will claim the droit du mommyblogger and outrageously pad the following text with irrelevant photos of my little home, all designed, with the help of free online editing software, to arouse strong emotions when you compare them with your own surroundings.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, Star Crunch

Before I commence with the domestic portion of this post, here is something that has been on my heart for many years, and I feel convicted to share.

Star Crunch are the hamburgers of the packaged dessert world.

THINK ABOUT IT. I’m not saying it is a coincidence and I’m not saying it’s not not a coincidence. I’m just saying. This is how They do it. None so blind, eh?

***

SUNDAY
Oven-roasted pork ribs, baked potatoes, asparagus; vanilla ice cream with fresh blueberry sauce

A very fine meal that was all about making the oven hot, putting pans of food in, and then taking them out again later.

For the blueberries, I put them in a pot with some sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and a little butter and mashed them a little.

***

MONDAY
Chicken and salad

I wondered if I could make chicken for salad in my Instant Pot. I Googled it, and quickly turned up a post about this very thing. Written by me.

I prefer to describe this phenomenon (which happens on the regular) as “humility,” rather than “profound idiocy.”

***

TUESDAY
Thai chicken coconut soup (Tom Kha Gai), rice

Once, I made a soup so overwhelmingly offensive to the senses that, when, on my way to the table, I slipped on a wet bathing suit and dropped the pot and the soup all ran under the refrigerator, the children spontaneously cheered.

This soup wasn’t quite that good.

I followed this recipe, which includes a delicious combination of chicken and mushrooms with coconut milk, lemongrass, fresh ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, chile paste, basil, and cilantro. But I accidentally boiled the hell out of it, so the coconut milk broke. I also misunderstood the point of lemongrass, and cut it into little bits which were irretrievable.

The taste was actually not terrible, but the texture was just so upsetting. You know when you find a sippy cup of milk that’s been sitting in the sun all week? Then garnish with hot bamboo. What I’m trying to say, fresh lime juice will only take you so far.

***

WEDNESDAY
Mushroom, cheddar, and salami omelettes; salad

***

THURSDAY
Chicken drumsticks, peas, bread and butter

I cooked the chicken in the morning and then crashed so hard. This week has been murder. Murder, I tell you. By the time it was time to eat, I could barely work up the strength to allow the chicken to plummet from my hands onto the table. With my last reserves, I chucked two bags of frozen peas after it, then nudged a loaf of bread in the dining room’s general direction, and died.

***
FRIDAY
Bowties with pesto

I don’t think you heard me the first time, so I’ll spell it out for you.

And I will see you on the other side.

What’s for supper? Vol. 84: Eat your feelings!

Here we go!

SATURDAY
Fancied-up chicken burgers, chips

The chicken burgers from Aldi are pretty good, and taste like actual chicken. We dressed them up with bacon, honey mustard, and in-sandwich onion rings. Not bad atall. Probably didn’t need to serve chips alongside a sandwich that actually contained onion rings, but the freedom to make this kind of decision is what being an adult is all about. That and a little sex, and some booze, lots of interior pep talks, frightening conversations about major appliances, and you’re the only one who can change the toilet paper. And coffee.

***

SUNDAY
Pork Bánh mì

We’ve made steak bánh mì a few times, and it is delightful, but expensive. Pork, however, is cheap cheap cheap. So I got me a half loin (about four pounds), sliced it thin, and started it marinating in the morning using this recipe from Serious Eats.
I also sliced several carrots into thin coins and set them to quickle-pickle in wine vinegar and some sugar.

In the evening, I spread the pork slices in a single layer on broiler pans and put them right up under a hot broiler, turning once. We toasted some rolls and piled them up with the pork, pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, jalapeno slices from a jar, lots of chopped cilantro, and plenty of mayo. (You can stir some sriracha into the mayo, but there’s plenty of flavor without the extra spice, and I appreciated a little creamy coolness.)

Verdict: It smelled completely revolting as it cooked, because fish sauce; but the taste was superb. The pork picked up much more of the salty, tangy fish flavor than the beef. Put it together with the sweet, crisp carrots and the cool cukes and cilantro and the zippy jalapenos, and it was just a swingin’ party in your mouth. Ha cha cha!

***

MONDAY
BBQ chicken thighs and sausages, fruit salad, spicy grilled corn, S’mores

My husband cooked the meat outside, in the drizzle, in air so cold we could see our breath. Stupid New England. Here’s how he describes the rub he made for the meat:
Lots of kosher salt, like unhealthy amount, lots of brown sugar and white sugar, generous amounts of garlic powder, little bit of cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Works for pork, too.

I thought it was fantastic, but he is researching different chicken-cooking methods with more indirect heat. I happen to like it charred, but I will probably force myself to eat the next meal he cooks, too, because I’m a good and generous wife that way.

It’s still a bit early for really good corn, but check it out! You grill it, roll it in butter, sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese and paprika, then squeeze on some lime juice.

So nice.

Some of the kids had read about S’mores and really wanted to make them (even though they shivered as they toasted their marshmallows). S’mores are completely lost on me. They are fine, I guess. I feel resistance toward foods that don’t have a food for the noun. Corrie approved.

***

TUESDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips

Nothing to report, except that I finally smartened up and bought two tubs of sour cream, one for the family and one for Corrie.

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cucumber avocado salad

It Instant Pot time! (affiliate link) I’ve made Cuban sandwiches before, using oven-roasted pork that I marinated for several hours ahead of time. This time, I took a four-pound half loin and threw it in the IP with a bottle of Goya Mojo Criollo marinade. I don’t quite trust the “meat” button yet, so I set it to manual high pressure for 45 minutes. Perfect. It was very moist but cooked all the way through, and the marinade had permeated the meat. No yummy crust, of course, but it was fast and easy, didn’t heat up the kitchen (yeah, it suddenly got hot out. Stupid New England), and clean-up was a snap. I let it stay on “warm” for several hours until I was ready to make the sandwiches.

I sliced the meat up and put it on ciabatta with deli ham, pickles sliced into long flats, swiss cheese, and mustard. Grilled the sandwiches in butter, then pressed them hard on both sides with a glass pie plate. They were excellent and insanely filling. Here is a terrible picture:

I think authentic Cuban sandwiches are supposed to be made with spongier bread, and probably heaped ridiculously high with meat and cheese but I had zero complaints with our results.

The side was something I took from The New York Times Cooking. I took it, and then I made it slimy somehow, I dunno. My version had red onion, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, leftover grilled corn, fresh lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and feta, and I ended up just mixing everything together, rather than spooning things over other things.

It was good, but it tasted like guacamole that left home on a quest to become pasta salad, but couldn’t find any pasta, so went back home, only to discover that the guacamole family no longer accepted it. Probably won’t bother with this again. Stupid New York Times.

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

Didn’t take pictures of pizza. Husband did snap a photo of the river as we slogged by on our evening run.

Stupid New England. I mean, wait! Lovely, gorgeous New England, my love! Feeling better and being more in shape are fine incentives, but really I’m in it for the pretty views and the husband time.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna, maybe risotto?

Stupid Friday.

Tell me what you ate and how you felt about it!

What’s for supper? Vol. 83: It will loop around eventually

This week, we had one very fine meal to look forward to (pork banh mi). Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make it. Here is what we had instead:

SATURDAY
Aldi pizzas

On Saturday, we woke up early to go run two miles, and then . . .
I’ll just wait here while you check whose blog you’re reading. Still me.
We ran, I say, then we drove into the city to buy my new vehicle which is not a rusty white van,

ate some gyros,

went to confession finally,

drove home, and then Benny lost a tooth,

and then I did the grocery shopping.

***

SUNDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Mr. Husband held down the fort all day while I drove to visit my parents. My mother is confused about many things, but still clear on the merits of ice cream.

We ate steak tips with mushrooms on egg noodles (the other half of an enormous recipe I made last month in the slow cooker. It fell apart a little when defrosted, but it was still tasty and tender).

***

MONDAY
Pork chops, baked potatoes, cole slaw

Salt, pepper, meat, and heat. We had so many places to be, it was a miracle we ate while it was still technically Monday.

***

TUESDAY
Greek salad and chicken

Tuesday was a good day for a make-ahead meal, as there was yet another evening concert. I liked the singing. Well, most of it. That one kid who always beatboxes is really begging for the hook, but otherwise, they sang well.

But my friends, there were seven songs, and then a nine-hour interlude for awards for “most improved alto in the women’s jazz ensemble . . . most improved alto in the presumably more elite women’s jazz ensemble . . . most outstanding alto appearing in the greatest number of jazz ensembles . . . ” and then everyone had to stagger across the stage in their ludicrous cork-heeled shoon and give the choir director another hug because they humorously forgot to give her a hug the first time, and as I sat there being proud and supportive, a tiny, agonized voice at the base of my skull kept whispering directly into the bruised void of my psyche, “It says here there are still eight more songs to go . . . ”

Well, my friends, the final song was “Imagine,” by John Lennon . . . with hand motions. A tear blinded my ee, and I may or may not have been the one softly calling, “Booo-urns” while I applauded. And I think that was pretty restrained, considering this ill deed done to me.

Oh crap, this is a food blog. Well, we had “Greek” salad. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, hard boiled eggs, black olives, and cold chicken.

I used the Instant Pot (affiliate link) to make hard boiled eggs. If you eat a lot of hard boiled eggs, the IP is super. It steams them, and the shells slide off very easily.

I make salad with cold chicken a lot in the summer. Normally I marinate the chicken and then throw it under the broiler, but this time I tried out the Instant Pot “poultry” button.

In the pot, I put about seven boneless chicken breasts, some white wine, a lot of lemon juice, a splash of water, a little olive oil, and kosher salt, pepper, olive oil, paprika, dried basil, and several cloves of minced garlic, and mixed it all up. The liquid came about halfway up the chicken.

Instant Pot recipes can be misleading, because they will say “cook on high pressure for six minutes,” but that’s just how long it’s actually cooking. The six minutes doesn’t include how long it takes for the IP to come up to pressure and how long it takes to release the pressure, but your life is certainly still ticking by during that time.

Kind of, she remarked bitterly, like those NFP booklets that promise, “Oh, you’ll only have to abstain for six days a month!” because they are using some kind of voodoo calculations based on the Aztec calendar, non-typical circadian rhythms, people who are only in the same bed together twice a year anyway, so everything more than that counts as bonus, right? And plus they are lying. See? It only takes six minutes!

Not wishing to be part of the problem, I put the chicken and liquid into the pot at 10:25 a.m. and pressed the poultry button, and it was completely ready to come out of the pot at 10:54 a.m. Less than half an hour start to finish. That includes adding an extra minute because sometimes being open to life means being careful your kitchen doesn’t kitchen asplode right now, and you think God feels the same way.

So, Instant Pot chicken is good. It comes out moist, and the flavor permeated the meat. I don’t think it’s faster than the oven broiler method; but the pot is easier to clean than a broiler pan. More importantly, the IP doesn’t heat up the kitchen, so it’s a good choice for summer cooking.

***

 

WEDNESDAY
Bagel, fried egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches

We went running again on Wednesday. It was an evening run, and I’ve been harassing my husband for weeks to try a new route; so we started out on our same path, which is about 75% flat

but then took a right instead of looping around. He kept saying it would loop eventually, and I kept thinking, “When does the looping happen?”; but on the other hand, we were now running downhill, and I didn’t want to stop.

So we ended up . . . somewhere. I don’t know. We ran and ran and only stopped when some guy with a teardrop tattoo on his eye wanted to know where Mountain View Road was. I helpfully pointed out where the frigging mountain was, anyway. The reason I knew where the mountain was, was that we’d been running straight up it for a good twenty minutes.

After that, I found that I was unable to stop thinking about how old I am; so we walked. Then we ran for a while. Then we walked some more. Then we got to a muddy patch and figured as long as we were clearly going to break our ankles, we might as well cut through the woods and save time. Discussed bear avoidance strategies for a while. Swallowed a bug. Came across a sign that said “ARE YOU FRIENDS? FAMILY? DELIVERY? IF NOT THEN THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY SO DON’T.” Walked some more, a little faster.

Then, guess what? It looped around!

***

THURSDAY
Hot dogs, donuts, Doritos

I don’t even want to talk about it. There was a school play right before supper. It was raining. The baby sobbed every time her sister went off stage. There was a Holy Day of Obligation right after supper and only one adult, and you don’t want to know how hard I had to squeeze the bulletin to give up the information about when and where Mass would be. There was one point during all the to and fro where the kids were all starving, so I got donuts. Heard from the back of the car, “Can I have your donut?”

I said, “No, I already gave mine to the baby,” and then I looked in the rear view mirror and realized that she wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to her sister on the phone. Her sister who is currently in California. And then they sang, “Go Make a Difference!”

***

FRIDAY
Quesadillas; red beans and rice

Quesadillas with havarti, to be exact. It was on sale. If you know havarti doesn’t work for quesadillas, you need to keep it to yourself.

What’s for supper? Vol. 82: And two hard boiled eggs

You know, this isn’t the way I always imagined an ocean voyage. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and provolone in pita pockets; spicy fries; raw broccoli

I do love grilled pita pockets. I grilled them in butter. They are so cozy and filling.

***

SUNDAY
Steak, salad, strawberry rhubarb pie with whipped cream

Irene’s First Holy Communion and Mother’s Day! We’ve had so many parties lately, we decided Sunday would be just us chickens. Irene had a very good morning.

We planned to spend the day gardening, but it was, SIGH SIGH SIGH, windy and raining and snowing. So we made some pie together

This is Irene’s Happy Pie face. The kid just loves pie. She gave everyone mini pies from Walmart for Christmas. I think it was her early exposure to Amelia Bedelia. She just loves pie! And so do I.

I made the lattice one. I wove it for a while, then got bored and just started slapping bits of dough on. Irene’s crust was made of hearts and ducks, much like her soul.

We used this recipe from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook. It was new to me, and really did taste old fashioned, especially the crust, which had a pleasantly sharp, salty flavor. The crust turned out pretty light and flaky. It was a little hard to work with, but it added more to the overall taste of the dish than the typical bland crust. I did use the neat trick of freezing the butter and then grating it with a cheese grater, so it’s very easy to incorporate it into the flour without overhandling it.

Damien made everyone steaks. I like mine so rare, you can have a conversation with it while you eat.

 

Raise your hand if this picture makes you feel uncomfortable! Too bad! It was my mother’s day! And the steak was delicious. (And I had a lovely, lovely day, all day, thank you. Many wonderful gifts and thoughtful attentions.)

***

MONDAY
Pork ramen, coconut rice, peas

Delicious, but more of a hassle than expected, probably because I had to make so much of it. (It was simplified somewhat with the beloved Instant Pot, because I could cook the meat and vegetables, deglaze, and finish the broth all in one pot. Sometimes having even one fewer pot to wash is a big freaking deal.) I found a complicated recipe and simplified it, thus:

Sear some pork ribs in olive oil until browned on all sides. Take pork out, slice very thin, set aside. Add a coarsely chopped onion, about eight cloves of minced garlic, and a few scoops of ginger paste. Saute to brown. Add a cup of chicken broth to deglaze. Add seven more cups of broth, plus 8-10 oz. sliced mushrooms, and return pork to pot. Slow cook for several hours.

Just before dinner, have a kid cook a giant bunch of ramen noodles and some soft boiled eggs.

To serve, put ramen in individual bowls, ladle pork and broth over that, add a few halves of eggs, and throw something green on top. We happened to have some zombie scallions.

It was tasty and satisfying, and the pork was very tender after cooking all day. I adore thin slices of pork in soup.

For the coconut rice, I use this Instant Pot recipe from This Old Gal, who loves unnecessary complications. I have had about enough of This Old Gal. I did have coconut milk and coconut cream, but not toasted coconut or coconut sugar. I am skeptical there is actually something called coconut sugar.

The rice was pleasant, but not amazing. Who has a recipe that makes lovely, sticky coconut rice like in a Thai restaurant? Wanty.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I have no memory of Tuesday.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken blueberry salad

Salad meals are my favorite. This recipe comes from The Blueberry Council, which, surely:

I wish I had chopped up the greens smaller, to integrate them more with the other ingredients, rather than making a bed for them to lie on, but the combination of flavors and textures was excellent.

So: mixed greens, broiled chicken, blueberries, blue cheese, red onions, and toasted nuts (we had walnuts and almonds. There must have been a nut sale at some point. Again, I highly recommend taking the extra few minutes to toast the nuts); and a sweetish dressing made of olive oil, wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

I served everything in separate bowls. To my delight, most of the kids chose to include blue cheese and onions in theirs. When I was that age, the harshly challenging flavor of something exotic, like yellow mustard, would have sent me into howling despair, but my kids are so much more adventurous. I never insist they eat anything, but I do keep serving things that I think are yummy, and I offer it to everyone every time. And here they are eating onions and blue cheese! I did a thing!

***

THURSDAY
Nachos

Not my finest hour. My plan was very basic: tortilla chips, ground meat and pre-made taco spice, jarred cheese substance, and salsa on the side.

I had to run out unexpectedly, so I directed the meat cooking and draining via cell phone, which turned out to be only slightly less nerve-wracking for both parties than when a passenger has to step up and land a damaged airplane with the help of a pilot on the ground.

Then I dashed home and dashingly forgot that the label said not to heat the cheese in the jar. Why? Because, we discovered, it balloons up like a ghastly yellow nightmare, then collapses into a rubbery hunk. Excuse me, rubbery hunk olé.

Then I set the chips on fire.

If you’re wondering why I never clean my oven: I do. I just immediately follow the cleaning with another spill. Then I set some chips on fire.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

Assuming I can figure out how to open a jar.

It occurs to me that a few of my readers may not be familiar with the phrase “and two hard boiled eggs.” Let’s fix that right now:

What’s for supper? Vol. 81: How very Montessori

Yipe, it’s late! Never mind the introduction where I mention that we were extremely busy this week. Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Pizza and birthday cake

Another birthday! Actually, this birthday was last month, but we finally got around to having the party and sleepover. Child requested calzones, but I bargained her down to pizza. The cake, I refuse to show you. Turns out it’s very possible to go very, very wrong with a simple Deathly Hallows symbol.

A few of the decorations turned out pretty good, though. Here are the candles floating over the table:

They are rolls of cardstock with electric tea lights stuck in one end, hanging from threads.

Other quickie Harry Potter party ideas: We drew banners for the four houses on poster board, and drew on white balloons to make them look like owls. We printed out “wanted” signs for the villains and tacked them up, and also printed out and cut out a photo of Moaning Myrtle, and taped that to the toilet. We wrote “The chamber of secrets has been opened” in lipstick on the front window.

Party food was not super inspired – just orange soda labelled “pumpkin juice” and lots of gourmet jelly beans labelled “Bertie Bott’s.” For an activity, the kids dipped pretzel rods in candy melt and then decorated them with various sugars and sprinkles, for wands.

***

SUNDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, chips, ice cream sundae cones

This was the actual birthday of #1 Son, who requested this fine meal. I want to say there was salad, but I don’t think there was. We got hot fudge and hot caramel, and put one in the bottom of the cone and one on top of the ice cream. Birthday!

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, roast mushrooms, fruit salad

Still the best way to make ribs if you can’t grill them outside. Salt and pepper on a rack in a real hot oven until they’re sizzling hot. So good.

Mushrooms were 79 cents for eight ounces, so I bought six packages and went to town. Here’s the recipe from Deadspin (which means it’s rambling and profane and oddly endearing). This picture is from my very worst camera, but — oooh, that smell.

Strawberries and blueberries were also on sale, so we mixed them together and pretended it wasn’t a weird side dish.

I’m trying to get away from serving potatoes all the time. Not because I have some kind of theory about dietary starches, or because I’m ashamed of my Hobbit forefathers, but . . . I don’t know why, I guess I’m just bored.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, onion rings, corn on the cob

Remember how we had hot dogs last week? Well, this week, we had hot dogs again.

The corn on the cob was first of the season, and middle-of-May corn tastes a lot like “too soon.” But setting the kids to shuck some corn is a quick way to redeem part of one day from what has lately become a discouraging stream of rushing in and out of the car, gobbling pre-packaged junk food, and realizing Sophia the First and her very unlikely rabbit friend have been gabbling away for four hours straight. Here! Shuck some good old corn! Be wholesome for a minute! Maybe we can string wooden beads later, or even — stop me if this sounds crazy — go outside.

So I get them set up with twelve ears of corn and, as I go about my business in the other room, I hear the honest, timeless sound of happy, unspoiled children hard at work at the domestic arts, up to their elbows in the fruits of the earth, smelling green smells, rediscovering the joys of industry. Then I hear,

Corrie is up on the table and she has nothing on her bottom! THE CORN! IS GOING! TO TASTE! LIKE BOTTOM!!!”

Sure enough. How very Montessori.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken apple salad, risotto

This meal was a copycat version of a salad I often get at Wendy’s. I got a few bags of mixed greens and let the kids choose their combination of warm grilled chicken, crumbled bleu cheese, diced green apples, sweet dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and some bottled berry vinaigrette dressing. (Wendy’s version has two kinds of apples, sugared pecans, and pomegranate vinaigrette.)

Fancy!

It’s totally worth the quick extra step to toast the nuts. Put them in a single layer in a baking pan in a 350 oven for about ten minutes. I know everyone is always talking about how this and that brings out the flavor of this and that, but toasting really does bring out the flavor of nuts. It also makes them, I don’t know, more pleasing to the teeth. It turns them into interesting, adult nuts instead of stupid, immature nuts. Just do it!)

I made the chicken by marinating it all day in a bag with some bottled Italian dressing, then roasting it under the broiler on a pan with some drainage. This meal was a big hit. Definitely making it again.

We also had magic Instant Pot (Amazon Affiliate link!) risotto using this recipe (skipping the squash). I’m including a picture because it looks like a lovely little cumulous butt floating through the sky.

Imagine if butts were made with sauteed onions and parmesan cheese. What would they rain down? Pure joy, that’s what.

***

THURSDAY
English muffin pizzas

We were home for about twelve minutes in between school and a concert, so English muffin pizzas did the trick. We made about 45 of them with what turned out to be, oops, cheddar cheese.
Here’s an after-concert group portrait:

Back row: My Mother Made Me Wear This Shirt and It Burnssssssss
Front Row, Left to right: Pretty Much Always Having a Wonderful Time; Angry Because Mama Said We Can Swing On the Swings Anytime, But Not Right Now; This Skirt Is Not Who I Am; and Kind of a Violin Prodigy, Kind of Over Having Siblings

***

FRIDAY
Fish tacos and corn chips

Just frozen fish sticks, shredded cabbage, jarred salsa, sour cream, and limes on tortillas, and maybe some guacamole if I can still lift my arms by the end of the day.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 80: We built this city on salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Another week of many toils, trials and snares! Happily, ground beef was on sale, which helped. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, sweet peppers and hummus

Boy, Saturday was a long time ago.

***

SUNDAY
Vermont turkey sandwiches

So good. You pile on sliced turkey (smoked if you got it), bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and slices of Granny Smith apple on ciabatta bread with honey mustard dressing and plenty of pepper. Really excellent combination of flavors and textures.

We also had potato salad, made by my 17-year-old. I am not sure which recipe she used — something basic, with mayo, vinegar, hard boiled eggs, and celery.

***

MONDAY
Pulled pork, french fries, cole slaw

For the pulled pork, I used a bottle of Blue Moon Beer and lots of salt and pepper with the pork butt in the slow cooker. I think this is my favorite beer so far for pulled pork. It has a nice malty, orangey flavor. Or whatever. It tastes different from Budweiser, okay?

I piled up my plate with skinny french fries, heaped the pulled pork on that, squirted on some bottled BBQ sauce, and added some dreadful yellow cheese sauce that I had heated in the microwave. Magnificent.

Here’s the cole slaw recipe we like. It’s a tiny bit runny, but so tart and bright-tasting, it makes a wonderful side dish for a heavy, savory main dish. I think I may chop the cabbage in little squares instead of shredding it, next time. Excitement.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, cheez puffs, beans

I had Mr. Thirteen-year-old make supper. Okay, I told him to cook some hot dogs in a pan. I didn’t tell him when to stop cooking the hot dogs. They were . . . crunchy.

Our kitchen may not be fancy, but there is a window next to the stove. And that has made all the difference.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs roasted with potatoes; steamed asparagus

This is a good meal to prep in the morning and throw in the oven in the evening.

I laid chicken thighs and drunksticks [ha, I mean “drumsticks,” but drunksticks sound like fun, don’t they? At least until the next morning] in a shallow pan, then put potato wedges, skin on, all along the edges and in between the chicken. Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and sprinkle it with tons of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Put it in a 400 oven for maybe half an hour, then turn on the broiler to finish browning it at the end. So good and easy.

It turned out a little wetter than I would have liked, so I may use a slotted broiler pan next time to let it drain a bit.

Now that I’ve discovered roast asparagus, steamed is no longer my favorite; but the oven was occupied. Steaming is fine, as long as you take the asparagus out promptly, while it’s still a little crunchy. Little lemon juice and you’re all set.

***

THURSDAY
Meatball subs

I usually make meatballs with half a cup of breadcrumbs per pound of meat and some milk, but we hardly had any breadcrumbs. So I used rolled oats, with lots of trepidation.

I guess it was five pounds of ground beef, two pounds of ground turkey, about six cups of oats, seven eggs, and (following this week’s theme of exotic seasoning) tons of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I was in a huge rush, so no diced onions, parsley, fresh garlic, or anything. I forgot to add milk.

I make meatballs in a 350 oven, in pans with some drainage. They keep their shape, they’re not too greasy, and you can do it in all one batch.

I made probably eighty meatballs. They turned out great! Very light. I think I’ll use oats from now on. I thought the kids would be turned off if they could see the oats stuck in the meat, but after cooking, they looked no different from normal meatballs.

Yes, I realize I just implied that my kids are normal meatballs. I stand by that.

***

FRIDAY
Ricotta spinach pasta

Here’s a recipe from Budget Bytes that I haven’t tried in a while. I remember it being creamy, satisfying, and easy. I even sprung for actual fettucine, because the flat noodles pick up more creamy sauce than spaghetti does. I spent most of my life thinking that pasta came in different shapes just because Italians get bored easily, but there’s also some sheer physics involved.

***

And now a question for my educated readers. We’re having a birthday party on Saturday, and one of the guests has a dairy and gluten allergy. The kids have so many friends with allergies, I’m used to making safe cakes, but what can you suggest for snacks and candy? The theme is Harry Potter, if that helps.

What’s for supper? Vol. 79: Asparagus me, Domine

Can’t remember the last time I’ve been so glad to see a week be done. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Sausage, fried eggs, and muenster cheese on bagels

I will never complain when there are sandwiches for supper.

***

SUNDAY
Lamb lo mein with spaetzle; rice; pot stickers; rice

Probably the weirdest meal of the week. We had a nice meaty bone left over from last week’s lamb feast, so I cut the meat into bits and added it to this simple lo mein recipe from Damn Delicious.  I made it even simpler by just chucking in a couple of bags of frozen stir fry vegetables, rather than using fresh. Then I made it weirder by using a few bags of spaetzle for the noodles. The result was a multi-ethnicish meal that soared to the level of Not Bad At All.

No one in my family has actually tasted lo mein before, so they were the right audience, I guess.

The potstickers were frozen from Hannaford. Kind of a pain for frozen food – you have to brown them in oil and then steam them – but they were tasty. One kid ate just the wrapper, and left behind little bundles of steamed cabbage and chicken, which I of course ate also.

You are thinking, “Why did she also make rice, with all that other stuff?” The answer is that at least three of my kids are currently following a strict Rice and Tears diet.

***

MONDAY
Tacos

On Monday, I looked at my driving schedule for the week and let out a weak whimper. Seriously considering buying each kid a moped and just letting them get where they need to be on their own. I’ll take out a credit card in the choir director’s name. Add an entire extra concert with rehearsals every night for two weeks right when all the other teachers are realizing we need to squeeze in all those field trips and special projects and fundraisers, will you? EAT MOPED DEBT AND DIE.

Oh, so we had tacos. It turns out cumin can be fairly overwhelming if you angrily shake in half the jar, but you can disguise it with extra salt.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

Nothing to report. Luckily, I have two pepperoni distribution specialists living in my very house.

***

WEDNESDAY
Steak tips with mushrooms on noodles; rolls; roast asparagus

This is a slow cooker meal from Damn Delicious, and chuck roast is still on sale! The sauce never thickened up as much as it was supposed to, even with extra cornstarch, but the flavor was, in fact, damn delicious.

I mixed up the asparagus with a little olive oil, spread it on a pan, and slid it right under a hot broiler, then sprinkled it with lemon juice when it was done. Did you know you are supposed to eat asparagus with your fingers? Do you know it’s hard, but not impossible, to drive while licking your plate?

***

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, roast sesame broccoli 

Still a great meal, still easy. In the morning, I cooked up the meat and then transferred it to the slow cooker; I set up the rice in the Instant Pot (affiliate link!) (the 1:1 formula works fine); and prepped the broccoli. So when I tore into the kitchen that afternoon knowing half of us had to be out the door again in 25 minutes, we still had a swell meal.

Have I mentioned how I love roasting vegetables? I drizzled the broccoli with sesame oil, spread it in a single layer, sprinkled it with sesame seeds, and slid it right under the broiler until the edges got a little blackened. So many veggies taste good this way.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

And tears, no doubt.