Once again I come to throw my feet at your mercy, and apologize for not having written anything (or, I did, but nothing that showed up directly here). The good news is, we finally got Damien’s car back from the shop, yay! The bad news is, it cost, like, all of our money. (Yhes, this is separate from the other unexpected car repair we had last week. That was my car, and Damien’s car repair was . . . sweatily doing math . . . five times more expensive.)
But more distractingly, I spent the whole week kind of in limbo, agonizing over some medical nonsense which is … not really cleared up, but probably not as bad as I thought? If only there were some way for doctors to communicate information to patients! Say, via phone, or email, or text, or mail, or on that stupid portal they’re always urging us to use. Sadly, this is not possible. Their hands are tied. So this week just plain sucked. I don’t know if you realize this about me, but I don’t like being frightened and in pain and not knowing what is going on. I’m different from other people! Not to mention the whole thing was set to a soundtrack of the world’s worst hold music. But, nobody dropped dead at any point; not at all; so *at least three cheers.*
HERE’S WHAT WE FREAKING ATE.
We used to have brats all the time when we had a fresh diabetes diagnosis and we discovered brats are low carb, but we eventually ate too many brats and didn’t want any more brats (some of us). But now, enough time has passed and the brats are roaring back!
Let’s just sit back for a moment and enjoy that mental image, and maybe also the mental audio.
I forgot how delicious beer brats are. Nothing like coming into a house extremely hungry and hitting a humid aroma cloud of hot beer, onions, and meat.
Damien makes brats by boiling them for about twenty minutes in cheap beer with lots of sliced onions, plus chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt, and then grilling them. The brats are great, but I truly cannot get enough of those beer-boiled onions. Heavenly. I went back for thirds on onions. Six-year-old me would have been aghast.
Chicken caprese burgers, broccoli
Just frozen chicken burgers with sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and sliced cheese, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
I was doing a million yard work and gardening on Sunday while Damien worked most of the week on draining, repairing, and re-filling the pool after the freak dog accident last week, very exciting. He had the brilliant idea to fill it with creek water, reversing the sump pump to draw it up. We’re not in a drought or anything, and the water is quite clean (it’s an extremely rocky creek, which is a good natural filter, and the kids already play in it all the time and nobody gets exotic rashes or anything), and he is filtering and chemically treating the heck out of it, so I don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner. (The alternative is filling it with the hose from our well, which would take all week and/or burn out our well pump, or buying water, which is SPENSIVE and would also take weeks.) Yay pool! We’ll be swimming soon, and that will be lovely.
I don’t seem to have a photo of my chicken sandwich, so please squeeze your own mind grapes and supply a nice one here.
Oh, that looks delicious. You even remembered to take the sticker off the tomato before slicing it! Nicely done.
We had some kind of red Twinkies for dessert, for Pentecost. We. Are. Trying.
Burgers, potato salad, chips, watermelon, Oreo ice cream pie
Monday was Memorial Day. Our town didn’t have a parade this year, for some reason, and the next town did, but I slept too late to get to it, thereby ruining any chance of feeling self-righteous about the lazy people in my own town. The kids did have a little memorial service for Kyat, which parents were not invited to, which is okay because we didn’t want to get off the couch.
I did make dessert, though. Benny had seen an Oreo ice cream cake in the store that looked pretty inviting, but the dang thing was $12.99, and the box was big but the cake itself was about the size of a donut. SO I SAYS TO MYSELF, I SAYS, we can do better than that!
So we found a deep, round plastic dish. I made graham cracker crumbs in the food processor and mixed in some melted butter, pressed this mixture into the dish, and then microwaved it for several minutes until it was sorta solidified. (This would have been better in the oven, but I realized that too late, and had already chosen a plastic dish. It also would have been better with a bit of sugar, but I forgot.)
Then Benny mashed a bunch of ice cream with a potato masher until it was soft, and we spread this on top of the crust. She jammed a bunch of Oreos and Oreo ice cream cookies into it, piped some Kool Whip ornamentations on top of that,
and drizzled the whole thing with chocolate syrup, and put it in the freezer for several hours. Boom, giant ice cream cake/pie.
Ice cream pies are a GREAT way to use up little bits of leftover ice cream, nuts, candy, syrup, sprinkles, cake decorations, or whatever sweet stuff you have in the house that isn’t enough for a full dessert in itself, and it’s a fun project for kids that they truly cannot screw up. Just remember to do it in advance so it has time to re-freeze.
To my delight, both Dora and Moe came over, so I had all my little flock under one roof.
We had yummy burgers which Damien grilled, chips, watermelon, and potato salad (just a standard recipe with potatoes, celery, hard boiled eggs, and a dressing of mayo, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper), and big wedges of ice cream pie for dessert.
Just a nice ol’ summer meal.
Here I might mention that more than one family member is struggling right now, so if you could spare a prayer for my dear ones, I would appreciate it.
Tuesday I was supposed to drive out to the seacoast to do an interview, but ten minutes down the road, my check engine light came on. Normally I’d be all “dooby doo, nobody cares about a check engine light, YOLO”and so on, but the Fates have been showing me certain things lately, and I says to myself, I says, I am not going to drive out to the seacoast with the check engine light on. Not today.
And that was the right thing to do, even though after I cancelled, I plugged the car in to one of those computer things and it turned out to be just an oxygen sensor. And I didn’t even feel guilty, thinking, “oh, I made the wrong choice, I overreacted, this turned out to be nothing after all,” because SOMETIMES, my friends, you don’t have to do everything the hardest and most stressful way possible, even if the hard and stressful things won’t actually kill you. There aren’t any prizes for being brutal to yourself all the time, I promise. You’ll just wear your teeth down and give yourself ulcers. Be nicer to yourself than you would be to some random raccoon you meet in a parking lot, and see how that goes.
Anyway, on Tuesday this random raccoon made some pizzas for supper: One cheese, one pepperoni, and one really cute one with prosciutto and arugula. You make a little salad with the arugula, some olive oil, and fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper. It’s also supposed to have thinly-sliced red onion, but I forgot.
Then you cook a regular pizza, but first throw lots of fresh garlic slices and chopped-up rosemary on it, and some olive oil and maybe salt and pepper. Then, when it comes out of the oven, top it with torn-up prosciutto, spread the arugula salad on top, and grate a little parmesan over the whole thing.
Then the raccoon can have a treat.
It’s pizza that makes you feel special because [wipes away single crystalline tear] you are special. You are one special random raccoon.
Jujeh kabab, cherry walnut salad, taboon bread, and rice
So, we’ve had a few good Middle Eastern meals from Saveur, and I got a hankering for something along those lines, so I poked around to see what else I could find. I got two recipes from them: Jujeh kabab, spicy chicken and tomato skewers; and a cherry herb salad that works as a kind of relish or side salad.
Spoiler, they were both denicious, as one of my kids used to say. Denicious! I will say that the spicy kebab marinade for the meat was way more exciting than the actual finished product, and although it was very good, I was a tiny bit disappointed, because the ingredients were so thrilling: orange zest, fresh lime juice, saffron, plus coriander and cumin, garlic and onion, and a few other things.
This is all in a yogurt marinade. Next time, for real, I’m going to make a double recipe and save half the marinade just to dip bread in, because it was so dazzlingly rich and piquant.
So I marinated chicken thighs for several hours, and then threaded them on skewers, and also skewered a bunch of cored Roma tomatoes, and Damien grilled them all over the coals.
I think I will make this recipe again, but maybe skip the saffron, which is expensive, and tragically you couldn’t really taste it. It was good, don’t get me wrong! I guess maybe I just expected it to be explosively good, and it was not that. I also probably should not have combined a tomato dish with a cherry dish. But I made a point of tasting the chicken by itself first, so I could see how it was on its own, and it was still a tiny bit meh.
The cherry salad, on the other hand, was tremendous. Just a few ingredients, and I really didn’t see how it could miss. Cherries, roasted Fresno chiles (it actually called for Holland chiles, which I could not find), lots of cilantro, toasted walnuts, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and POMEGRANATE MOLASSES.
The carnitas also turned out a little bit meh, probably because I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and oregano, browned it, and then made the highly dubious choice of cooking it in Cherry Coke Zero. I did throw in some oranges and cinnamon sticks and a jalapeño that was floating around the fridge, but it just tasted kind of weird, oh well, and then I just left it stewing in the Instant Pot on warm and the liquid didn’t have a chance to cook off, so it was tender, but more stew-like. Oh well. Here’s the recipe, and if you actually follow it, it’s tasty.Jump to Recipe
I was pretty burnt out by Thursday and just squonched up the meat and threw it under the broiler to crisp up.
and served it on tortillas with sour cream, shredded cheese, and jarred salsa.
No frills, oh well. Damien had volunteered as a chaperone for Corrie’s second grade field trip to Squam Lake, which is two hours away, and I feel like he deserved more than meh carnitas after a long, screamy day like that, but sometimes life be that way.
Look at us, we made it to Friday. At some point during the week, two dump trucks arrived, because I told them to (?), and dumped sand and gravel, respectively, so now are two big heaps sitting in the driveway waiting for me to do something about them. And I will! I always do something about heaps, eventually. You know me.
Tell me about Turkish food. Tell me about pomegranate molasses.
John Herreid's Carnitas
Very easy recipe transforms pork into something heavenly. Carnitas are basically pulled pork tacos with the meat crisped up. Serve with whatever you like.
- pork butt/shoulder, cut into chunks
- salt and pepper
- oranges, quartered
- cinnamon sticks
- bay leaves
- 1 can Coke or Mexican Coke
- 1 cup or less vegetable oil
Sprinkle the chunks of pork with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Put them in a heavy pot with the oil and Coke, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.
Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours. The oranges will start to get mushy and the liquid will begin to thicken.
When the meat is tender, remove the oranges, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat up and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat has a dark crust. Be careful not to let it burn.
Remove the meat and drain off any remaining liquid. Shred the meat. It it's not as crisp as you like, you can brown it under the oven broiler, or return it to the pot without the liquid and fry it up a bit.
Serve on warm tortillas with whatever you like.
You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.
- 6 cups bread flour
- 4 packets yeast
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.
While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.
Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.
If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.
Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.