What’s for supper? Vol. 305: We all scream “bastani!”

Hi! Hi! I meant to do a food-and-ocean pictures post last week, when we were in Cape Cod, but I became overwhelmed and it languishes unfinished in my drafts folder. It’s worth summarizing, though, because I realized I actually have a routine down for vacation week, though, which takes into account limited budget, limited packing space, and a desire to avoid that “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean” effect, but also a desire to not just eat boring everyday food, because we are near the ocean. (I should note that, at home and at the beach, Damien does all the laundry! And in fact he did most of the cooking while we were on vacation, too, so there.) Here is what we had (and what we did): 

First day: Sandwiches on baguettes (the most portable bread) and fake Pringles (the most compact chips). We have to bring a cooler anyway, for use at the beach, so I cram it with as much deli meat and cheese as possible, and we have this for our first meal, plus for lunch throughout the week. I also brought coffee, milk and cereal for the first breakfast, so we don’t have to leave the house until at least mid-morning of the second day.
Here are some pics on Facebook from our first day, discovering that the water on this part of Cape Cod is amazingly warm. 

Second day: 
Pics on Facebook from day 2. Our lovely house was literally a one-minute walk from the beach, but we wanted to see what else was in walking distance. Turns out, other beaches! But this one had a sign warning you not to swim there if you are bleeding, and not to wear dangly, shiny jewelry, or be too delicious. 

This picture is for all the haterz who ever wanted to BURY ME (I got out)

Before the beach, I went shopping, came home with rotisserie chickens and salad and chips, plus food for the rest of the week.

I had beach town supermarket sticker shock, so between that and the fact that Corrie came shopping with me, I came back with an awful lot of Jello, which came in handy later in the week when it was rainy and we needed something to fling around the kitchen.

Third day: 
We went to Paine’s Creek Beach and explored the tide pools. A dreamlike spot I’d love to go back to someday.

I think we actually went to a second beach that day? It’s all a blur. Damien grilled tasty burgers outside and made fries in the oven for dinner.

Fourth day: Seafood boil. We had some half-assed plans to dig our own clams, but there were complications with the permit and the equipment, so we decided to buy the seafood this year and plan to plan ahead next year. Still a huge treat. Recipe from the Narraganett beer can:

Damien made this meal as well. He got a bunch of littleneck clams, a few oysters, lots of mussels, and some kind of other big clams, and some kind of Spanish sausage, and we had cute little red potatoes and onions, bay leaves and peppercorns and parsley. Skipped the breakfast sausage. It’s all supposed to get boiled together, but we ran out of room, so he grilled the corn in its husks on the grill, and that turned out great. Man, that was a delicious meal. 

The tragedy was we didn’t think of getting some crusty bread to sop up the broth, which was tremendous. I liked the little neck clams best. Oh, what a feast. I had, uh, four helpings.

Most of the kids had chicken nuggets and corn, because what do they know. 

This was the day we rented kayaks and canoes! We paddled up Swan River, out into the ocean a bit, and then back down the river. A most excellent adventure, and now I am absolutely on the prowl for some used kayaks so we can do this more often. 

Fifth day: Restaurant

It rained and thundered, so we went to the movies, and then went out to eat and got ice cream. We always have one restaurant day when we go on vacation. We descended upon Kate’s Fried Seafood and Ice Cream in Brewster, which was very good. I kind of regret not ordering a big fried platter like the others did, because it turned out to be not greasy and just nice, but the salmon burger and sweet potato fries I picked was also very tasty and fresh.

That night we played poker for Swedish Fish and I believe it was also that night Damien and I both fell asleep on the couch for some reason. 

Sixth day: Frozen pizza
The weather cleared up enough for some more swimming, and there was a spectacular sunset for our final evening. 

Last day: Supermarket sandwiches on the way home. We had to be checked out by 10:00, so we had a quick breakfast, cleaned like maniacs, drove for a while, stopped for cheeseburgers, drove more, fulfilled my recently acquired lifelong dream to tour the U.S.S. Constitution, which is the world’s oldest ship still afloat!

and then to be honest the day started to go downhill, but Damien always listens to my stupid plans, so we walked a mile to the T station and rode the train to Chinatown. This would not have been a bad idea except that it was at the tail end of a very long and exhausting day and week, and nobody was at their best. So we got some reasonably tasty treats,

wandered around for a bit, and discovered they were having some kind of amazing food and dance festival at this very spot tomorrow, and decided to call it a day. Back on the T, another mile walk, couldn’t super duper remember where I parked the car, found the car, drove about an hour, stopped and got sandwiches at the supermarket, drove another two hours home, and BOY was the dog happy to see us. BOY WAS HE. 

And that was vacation. It was beautiful. 

Here’s what we had this past week: 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic bread

Damien shopped for and made dinner. Absolutely delicious. 

His recipe, and I’m running so ludicrously late today, I don’t have time to make a recipe card at the moment:

One chopped onion per can of tomatoes, (he used 4 cans) and a diced head of garlic. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes until you can smell the oil in the room, then add the onions only and cook till soft. Add a little salt. Add the garlic and cook some more, and then add tomato paste (one can per can of tomatoes, so four cans.) Cook that a bit then add sugar and some glugs of wine. Add the tomatoes and simmer, adding wine and a little olive oil as needed/wanted. When most of the tomatoes are broken down it’s pretty much ready.

It was good to be home. And the weather was suddenly autumnal, which was kind of unnerving. We expect to have some more summer heat soon, but we have definitely rounded a corner. 

MONDAY
Chicken sandwiches with marinara sauce, provolone and basil; lemon rosemary olive oil cake

There was lots of wonderful sauce left over, so I bought some chicken burgers and cut up some baguettes, and we had sandwiches with a slice of provolone, a few basil leaves, and generous scoop of hot sauce to melt the cheese over everything. 

Always tasty.  

And then Clara made an amazing cake for the Assumption: A lemon olive oil rosemary cake with rosewater. She said there was a lot of prep work, with all the chopping and zesting, but the baking itself was quite simple, and it came out light and luscious, and you could really taste all the elements. 

So pretty. So nice to have someone else spontaneously coming up with cakes!

TUESDAY
Tostadas

Tostada Tuesday! Like Taco Tuesday, but when all the stores are out of taco shells so you suddenly realize that you can buy that bag of tostada shells you’ve been walking past and not buying your whole life, and no one will stop you. 

I’m not going to say tostada Tuesday changed my life, but it was fun, like discovering a new shape of pasta or a new . . . uhh, I don’t know, I got nothing. I gave up alcohol over a week ago and I’ve been sleeping through the night every night for the first time in many years, but it’s just made me stupider, which doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, I wonder what else I’ve been walking past all these years, week after week, and never even considering buying, besides tostada shells. 

I also made a big bowl of guacamole.

Jump to Recipe

The avocados looked fine, but they tasted so pale and watery. No one else noticed, but I was really dismayed. Hope it’s a fluke. Not an actual fluke. That would be disgusting. 

WEDNESDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

I planned these solely because people were kind of cranky and I wanted them to like me again. A Vermonter sandwich is thick, crusty bread (preferably sourdough or ciabatta, but I got baguettes), thick slices of roast chicken or turkey, lots of bacon, thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, slices of tart green apple, and lots of honey mustard dressing. 

It is a very hearty, cheering sandwich and it will make you friends. Corrie claimed that, once, I bought cheddar cheese that was so sharp, she cut her finger, and she absolutely insisted that this literally happened, and she will die clinging to this story. 

THURSDAY
Bo ssam, rice and lettuce, Asian cucumber salad, watermelon; saffron rosewater pistachio ice cream 

Thursday was supposed to be pork ribs, and they were supposed to be $1.49 a pound, but the supermarket flier lied to me, so I ended up pacing back and forth in front of the meat section, snarling quietly to myself, and then gloomily purchasing a giant fatty pork butt with no particular plans. 

Sometime during the week, the bottle of rosewater left over from the Assumption cake began to work on my brain, though, and I realized I had a jar of saffron threads I had never used, and Lucy had given me a mortar and pestle for mother’s day that I had likewise never used, and all that was lacking was a bag of pistachios, and then I could make . . . BASTANI. Bastani is persian ice cream made with, as you no doubt surmised, saffron, rosewater, and pistachios, and the idea of it has been haunting me. If you’ve never been haunted by the idea of persian ice cream, then baby, you are missing out. 

So from there, I says to myself, I says, what kind of pork goes with this kind of ice cream? And of course the answer was bo ssam. Usually I make bo ssam and then figure out what kind of soothing, mild thing I will serve along with it, but this time, I worked in the other direction. 

I have made bo ssam half a dozen times, and I keep simplifying the recipe, until I’m not even sure if it’s bo ssam anymore. All I do is, starting the night before, I mix a cup of salt with a cup of sugar and rub it all over a fatty piece of pork butt or shoulder, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it overnight. Then around noon I heavily line a pan with tinfoil, unwrap the meat, and put it in the pan, and cook it for six hours at 300. That’s it. We eat it with lettuce, rice, and whatever Asian sauce I can find, and something soothing to the palate.

I’m telling you, I could make this with recipe with my eyes closed. I could make this recipe with my feet. It’s so simple, and everybody acts like I’m some kind of conquering hero genius, and they gobble it up. It is so tender, it is just barely holding itself together under the caramelized salt and sugar crust. It’s ridiculous meat. There should be a law! 

I cut a watermelon into chunks, I made a pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and I made a bowl of Asian cucumber salad, which is always refreshing and pretty and takes literally five minutes to throw together. 

Jump to Recipe

And there it all was. I brought my plate outside and ate alone so no one would see me acting like a monster with it. This was just a spectacular meal, an absolute festival of flavors. 

Everybody ate a lot, and had to rest up for a while, and then I brought out the ice cream! PERSIAN ICE CREAM.

Not gonna lie, this was kind of a pain in the pants to make. I am going to write a whole separate post about various ice creams I have been making since I got my ice cream maker, so I will go into more detail there, but I made a triple recipe, and it just took a long time because you have to stand there whisking the custard until it thickens, and I have a special knack for making custards take a ludicrously long time to thicken (well, probably because I’m always making triple recipes). I thought it turned out great, though. About half the family liked it, which is not bad. You could smell but not taste the rosewater. It was a wonderful color, and I was very pleased with how the saffron tasted warm, because it was saffron, but cold, because it was ice cream. I used plenty of salted pistachios (the recipe calls for unsalted) because that’s what I could find, and that turned out perfect. I did not use vanilla, and didn’t miss it. All in all, a success. But I have promised them to go back to something like chocolate chip or rocky road for the next batch. They are pretty good sports, but they have their limits with my globalist nonsense. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

There are four balls of pizza dough defrosting on the counter, and that is as far as I have gotten. Next thing you know, people will want me to get dressed. 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

5 from 3 votes
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spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 303: We all scream for Joachim

All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be, well, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels

I vaguely remember Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Thai food

The kids had chicken nuggets at home and Damien and I went to a party at the house of one of his editors. We had a really nice time! We took our time coming home and stopped for dinner at Siam Orchid Thai Bistro in Concord, which has a pleasant outdoor table area. Lovely meal. We had a plate of various appetizers, all very fresh and delicious, and then Damien had some kind of amazing crunchy duck arrangement on spicy noodles, and I had a spicy beef and vegetable situation, also scrumptious. My rice came in an adorable little basket. 

We felt like such hot shots, we even ordered dessert. Damien had mango fried ice cream and I had coconut ice cream with peanuts on sticky rice. 

This refreshed and enchanted me so much, I went home and starting mooching around for information about ice cream makers, and I ended up getting an excellent deal on a like-new Cuisinart ice cream maker on FB Marketplace. It should get here in a few days, so hold on to your butts. 

MONDAY
Blueberry almond chicken salad

Easy and pleasant. The blueberries are sweet and cheap this year. I roasted some chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder, sliced it, and set it out with mixed greens, blueberries, slivered almonds, thinly-sliced red onions, and some freshly-shredded parmesan cheese.

I had mine with red wine vinegar for a dressing, and stale crackers on the side. I didn’t toast the almonds, because it was already monstrously late, and sometimes you feel like you don’t even have two more minutes to spare. But here is my periodic reminder that you can easily toast nuts in the microwave, and it makes them crunchier and nuttier, and only takes two minutes.

TUESDAY
Chicken enchilada bowls

I keep making this meal and it keeps not being anything more than okay. Why do I keep trying? Nobody knows.

I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and roasted the chicken breasts with olive oil and lots of Tajin seasoning, and then shredded it. I mixed half the shredded chicken with red enchilada sauce and half with green enchilada sauce, from cans. And I served the rice and two saucy chicken varieties with some black beans, shredded cheddar cheese, corn chips, and sour cream.

It was fine. I guess I’m just going to have to break down and make actual enchiladas again, though. I guess the real problem with this dish is that it’s not actual enchiladas. 

Tuesday, or possibly Wednesday, was also the feast of Saints Anne and Joachim. The only reason I know that is because I was looking for something that rhymes with “ice cream” for the title, and I was like, hey; so I looked it up the date, and I was like, hey! Or should I say: “AIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” 

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole and tortilla chips, corn on the cob

Now this meal turned out great. I made a large dish of guacamole, including one of the more successful tomatoes from our largely unsuccessful garden

Every year, I plant six tomato plants, and five of them are spindly, wizened, and blighted, and one of them is cheery, robust, and prolific. I water and fertilize them all exactly the same, and they all get the same amount of light. I know why this happens, though. It’s to drive me crazy.

I didn’t take a picture of the guacamole, but one must imagine guacamole. One must imagine Simcha happy. Guacamole makes Simcha happy. 

Jump to Recipe

For the carnitas, I followed John Herreid’s simple, delicious recipe, which I have finally made up into a card, because I altered it slightly.

Jump to Recipe

It turned out so lovely. You cook the seasoned meat up in oil and Coke with cinnamon sticks, orange quarters, and bay leaves,

 fish out the flavoring elements, continue cooking, and then scronch that meat.

I forgot to drain the fat out of the meat at the end, but there were zero complaints. I took my plate outside with the carnitas, some guacamole chips, and an ear of corn, and listened to Benny talk about how beautiful the world is.

And this is the best possible way to eat carnitas. 

THURSDAY
Burgers and ever so many raw vegetables

I’m vegcoring

I ate outside again and saw THREE hummingbirds. Here are two of them.  I think they were mad at each other:

I installed the Merlin app on my phone, and it’s very entertaining, but I can’t say it’s taught me anything. I’ve always had a hard time remembering all but a few bird calls, and now that my phone tells me what they are, I still can’t remember them unless I’m looking at my phone. Nicely designed app, though. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Later today MY SISTER IS COMING OVER. I AM EXCITE!!!!! Get ready for lots of food, because that’s what I do when I am excite!!!!!!! She and several of her kids are staying the weekend, and we are also having lunch tomorrow with a priest who is passing through on his way home from seeing the pope. I hope the hummingbirds behave themselves. 

And don’t forget to tell me about your homemade ice cream! I want to make ridiculous delicious flavors. We still have a few weeks of vacation left, and we are most definitely open to all kinds of ideas. 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

 

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 302: “Blueberry” is a complete sentence

Around 3:30 a.m., I thought of a really good joke to begin today’s post. I considered writing it down, but then I realized that it was so good, there was no way I would forget it. 

Welp. Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
BLTs, Boba Fett cake

Saturday was Lucy’s birthday. She frolicked at the beach and came home to have BLTs. If you are wondering what it looks like when you slowly and methodically burn five entire pounds of bacon, wonder no more. 

Happily, the cake turned out better. When I asked what kind of cake she wanted, she just said “Boba Fett.” When I asked for more details, she said, “His slappable bald head,” which is a little strange, and I may or may not take these lines out before I publish.  What I came up with is Boba Fett in his luxurious bacta tank/Polynesian spa. You guys, I spend way too much time online.

But check out this cake:

It is made of one flat, rectangular cake for the base, one cake baked in a loaf pan for the tanks, and for the rounded end pieces, a small circular cake baked in a glass dish in the microwave (which I only recently found out you can do) and cut in half. A microwaved cake turns out rather dry, but if you need a cake in a particular shape and you don’t have an oven-safe pan in that shape, this could be your solution. 

I used gum paste for Mr. F

and for a few of the trimmings on his tank, with some chocolate details dabbed on, and the rest is frosting from a can and melted candy wafers piped with a sandwich bag with a hole bitten in one corner, I mean hygienically cut with scissors that I can easily find. 

Lots of toothpicks in there. Gum paste dries fairly quickly, and you can fix mistakes somewhat by getting it wet and rubbing them out, but … only somewhat. Not my favorite medium. I only got it because it was a dollar cheaper than fondant.

But this is one of the few times a cake turned out exactly like the picture in my head. (In my head, I also only have butter knives, baggies, and toothpicks to work with.) 

I briefly considered making some kind of transparent lid, or even a shaped dome of “water” to shield Mr. Fett’s modesty, and even went so far as to buy a package of unflavored gelatin, but I came to my senses in time. 

A success!

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Sunday I went shopping, and Elijah grilled the sandwiches for me. 

MONDAY
“Souvlaki,” dolmas, pita crackers and feta, cherries

Pork was very cheap this week, so I bought to large, boneless pork loins. What to do? I had written “Greek pork” on the menu, but I don’t really know what that is. I ended up cutting the pork into long, thin strips and marinating in for several hours in olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic powder and oregano, and a big handful of lemon pepper seasoning. Then I threaded it on skewers and broiled it.

It was, as expected, okay, not amazing. I wish I had made some garlicky yogurt sauce. That would have made it delicious. It also would have been great grilled outside, which we can try some other day. 

I did have fun making stuffed grape leaves with Benny. The grape vine has ramped all over the side of the yard and the leaves are nice and juicy, so she went out and picked 40 or so. 

I boiled some water and poured it over the leaves and let them sit for two minutes, then drained the water and added ice water. Then we drained that, trimmed off the stems, and died the leaves off for stuffing. Fresh grape leaves are slightly rubbery, but have a mild but distinct tart taste, like wood sorrel. 

I know some people roll their dolmas with raw or perhaps sauteed rice, and let it cook entirely by steaming, but the house was already incredibly hot and steamy, and I didn’t want to have a pot on the stove for hours and hours. So I halfway cooked the rice, then added some chopped scallions, plenty of fresh mint leaves (also from the yard) chopped up, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you want a recipe for no-meat dolmas, here is one we kinda sorta followed, but not really

We lined the bottom of a heavy pot with about a dozen grape leaves to keep it all from sticking, and then we rolled the rest. You put the leaf on your work surface, bottom side up, points facing you, and put a heaping tablespoon or so of rice mixture in the middle. Fold in the sides, fold up the bottom, and roll it up as tightly as you can, from the points up.

This startlingly patriotic picture is brought to you by the fact that I wanted to put away the giant flag we hung up for the 4th of July, but it kept raining in between the searing heat waves, and I had to dry it somehow. 

It was, as I mentioned, very hot, and we were rushing a bit, so these are pretty sloppy, but they did hold together.

I added about a cup-and-a-half of water, a big slosh of olive oil, and a big squeeze of lemon juice on top, loosely covered it, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. 

You’re supposed to eat them chilled or room temperature, but we ate them right out of the pot. I put out a plate of lemon wedges and squeezed that all over everything on my plate, including the cherries. 

 Again, it would have been really nice to have some yogurt sauce, but with the crackers and cheese and cherries, it made a very pleasant summer meal.  Corrie said, “Mama’s really outdone herself this time!”

TUESDAY
Shepherd’s pie

I had to go out of town on Tuesday, and Elijah volunteered to make something he’s apparently been craving: Shepherd’s pie. His version uses mixed frozen vegetables, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and Worcestershire sauce, and he sprinkled cheddar cheese on top of the potatoes, and added chopped bacon in with the ground beef. 

If you take your left hand and stretch it out as far as it will go, and then hold it there and take your right hand, and stretch it out as far as it will go in the other direction, that’s how much shepherd’s pie I ate. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and onions tray bake

Wednesday continued extremely hot, and I just gave up trying to get anything done, and took the little girls to the pond. Wonderful, wonderful, cool, cool pond. 

My original plan had been this recipe from Sip and Feast, but there was no fennel to be found at the store, and I certainly didn’t feel like de-boning anything, so I just put the chicken thighs on a pan, sprinkled cherry tomatoes in between them, threw some chopped Bell peppers and red onions in there, drizzled it all with olive oil, sprinkled it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and cooked it in a hot oven until the chicken was done. 

Not sophisticated or dazzling, but it was fine. I do love blistering hot cherry tomatoes. 

THURSDAY
Spiedies

Oh look, another sand worm, I mean boneless pork loin! I cut it into chunks and marinated it for several hours in a marinade of oil, lemon juice, wine vinegar, fresh mint, lots of crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little sugar.

This is an actual recipe that you can follow, if you so desire.

Jump to Recipe

At dinner time, I spread it on a pan and broiled it

then served it on toasted rolls with mayonnaise, with chips and salsa and a big bowl of just plain blueberries, because it is July, and like my therapist is always saying, “Blueberries is a complete sentence.”

(Nobody is actually saying that.)

A slightly weird but not bad meal.  People went to Burger King anyway, but I take comfort in the fact that this is not actually a reflection on my cooking; it was done solely to hurt my feelings. And it worked! 

FRIDAY
Bag o’ tentacles lo mein 

This “mixed seafood” lo mein turned out really well last time, so I got the pouch of frozen ocean misc. from Aldi again.

Here’s my lo mein recipe:
Jump to Recipe

Pretty sure there is some tuna in the cabinets for people who don’t like it when their dinner waves at them. They have no idea how easy they’re getting. Off. Gosh, I cannot get that sentence to work out right. Well, goodbye. 

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice. 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

What’s for supper? Vol. 301: I speak for the food

Friday again! With so little warning, too. 

With food prices so high, I’m making a big push to shop the sales, to think about what food we already have in the house, and to plan the menu pretty strictly around that. So we ended up with some slightly peculiar meals, and a few really spectacular days. I think I ended up saving a little bit of money. You’d think it would be easy to tell, but somehow it’s not. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Damien cooked the burgers while the kids swam in the pool. I didn’t get any food pics, but I did catch this quintessential big brother-little sister moment

SUNDAY
Pizza at Hillsborough HOP

Sunday we went the Polar Caves in Rumney, NH, which we’ve been talking about doing for years. I haven’t been since I was seven, and to my delight, they are really, really caves. You clamber down into these holes in the ground, and you’re absolutely surrounded by rock, some of it dripping wet, and you have to clamber back up out of another hole. One cave had ice in it! It’s very exciting. You can feel the cold breath of the earth coming up at you as you get close, so you know right away it’s going to be a weird experience. 

Having recently done a tiny amount of wood working, I was also vastly impressed by the catwalks, staircases, balconies, and other wooden pathways built directly onto the side of the mountain, in and around the rock. Of course I got zero photos, but the work is beautiful and ingenious. At the same time, they just made it accessible, and no more, and didn’t turn the caves into rides. The kids all had a good time and said it was worth a two-hour drive each way. 

They also have a small animal park with deer and waterfowl, and a little playground and games like cornhole so you can stretch your legs and wait your turn. The cave tours are timed for two hours. There is also a clean, pleasant picnic area, and the bathrooms are also clean. Overall, highly recommended!

We stopped for pizza on the way home at Hillsborough House of Pizza. Tasty food, cheerful service. (We saw they have a drive-thru pizza window, which is fun.) My choice was a Greek pizza with spinach, feta, olives, and tomatoes. Quite tasty. 

MONDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit salad

This sandwich has strayed pretty far afield from authenticity, but it (a) was easy to make on the day after a big trip,  (b) was yummy, and (c) used up some of the Tremendous Cheese Hoard that’s clogging up my fridge. 

I made the olive salad in the food processor with green and black olives, a few pepperoncini, some banana peppers, some scoops of red hot pepper relish, I think maybe some pesto, some olive oil and wine vinegar, and misc. Oh, and a handful of fresh parsley from something or other.

We had a few kinds of salami, some ham, and I think there was also some deli turkey, which is definitely not muffaletta-approved. And we had it on kaiser rolls. 

I don’t know if people have different recipes for deviled eggs. Mine is pretty basic: About 2 parts mayo to one part mustard, a little salt and pepper, and some paprika on top (and some more parsley).

You can see that I got a little carried away with the presentation for a Monday afternoon, but frankly I had a lot of bullshit in my head that needed clearing away, and working on deviled eggs for a while is as good a way as any to do a little mental tidying-up. 

I also made a lovely mid-July fruit salad. Watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. The blackberries in the yard are still green, but these juicy monsters were on sale. I forgot how much it adds to a fruit salad to have peaches in it! Must get more peaches in life in general. 

Altogether, a very pleasant summery meal, which I ate outside next to a patch of milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and black eyed susans. Very July.

A hummingbird stopped by and acted like a little weirdo before zipping off. A seaplane passed over the yard. Very July indeed.

TUESDAY
Maiale al latte with leeks and bread

Pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I got the biggest, fattiest one I could find and away we went. This recipe is from my new favorite site, Sip and Feast. Maiale (say “my-ALL-lay”) al latte just means “pork with milk,” and the thing to know is that the milk is supposed to curdle as it cooks. You end up with these scrumptious, savory curds in the sauce that honestly do not look especially deluxe, but they are delicioso, and you do not want to skip over them when you scoop up the sauce.

This meal was lots of fun to make. And I think I have discovered a General Principle: The worse a dish looks, the more pictures I will take, in an effort to capture and convey how yummy it is. This is because I am a friend of food. I want you to like it. I am the XXXX.* I speak for the food. 

You start off browning the seasoned pork all over in olive oil on the stovetop

and then you take the meat out and add in some wonderfully fragrant ingredients: Butter, lots of rough-cut garlic, thick peels off a lemon, lots of sage (sadly I couldn’t find leaves, so I used ground sage), bay leaves, and chili flakes. Cook that up, add some white wine,

cook it down some more, and add in plenty of milk, and then the pork goes back in.

you cover it, and it goes into the oven for a few hours. That’s pretty much it.

Hello! Look at the little curds clinging to it. 

You can add some leeks into the sauce and cook them up right at the end, to serve with the meat. And that is what we did, and we also warmed up some baguettes to sop up that toothsome sauce.

Gosh, the sauce was wonderful. You can imagine how fortifying and rich it tasted, with those ingredients. I did up hot pepper flakes and garlic quite a bit from the suggested amount, and so it was on the spicy side, but really just mostly just savory and cozy. And I did go back for seconds of just sauce and curds. 

I ended up cooking the meat a little longer than I meant to, because I had to run out and pick up a kid who wasn’t needed at the yogurt shop after all because they were predicting hail, so the meat came out of the oven shreddy, rather than sliceable. Look how it fell apart.

Nobody complained! But next time I will take it out a little sooner. 

Now let’s talk about leeks. I have never cooked with leeks before, that I can remember, so I had to look up how to prepare them. They are large and a little intimidating, like oversized scallions.

They grow right in the soil, so they need some pretty aggressive cleaning. This site suggested cutting off the root and tough green ends, slitting them up the side, dunking them in water, and then agitating them, so I filled a pot with water, plunged the leeks in, and shouted, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THERE DAY AND NIGHT? WHY DON’T YOU GET OUT OF THERE AND GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE?”

This is why I’m so popular!

But just about everybody in the family liked this meal. Several of them also carefully mentioned that it would be an especially delicious meal if it were, for instance, cold out, and not, for instance, 84 degrees and humid; and I had to agree. The weather report said it was going to rain! And hail! Oh well. It was still a wonderful dish, and I’ll make it again soon, when the price of pork and the temperature drop. And I do like leeks, even if they are bathroom hogs. 

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs, watermelon

Ground beef still on sale from July 4th, I guess. Nobody complains about my meatball subs. I put plenty of Worcestershire sauce into the meatballs, which is an easy way to make sure they don’t come out bland.

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25 minutes or so on a broiler rack on a pan in a very hot oven, and then I moved them to the crock pot with some sauce for the rest of the day. 

And finally, the final half of the final watermelon I bought and forgot to serve on July 4th has been consumed, amen. 

THURSDAY
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, Asian cucumber salad, grilled sweet potatoes, pineapple

My friends, this was a queen among meals. I could not have been more pleased about how all of it came together. 

The chicken and the sweet potatoes are new recipes for us. We’ve made gochujang pork a number of times, but chicken thighs were on sale and Damien was willing to cook outside, so this from My Korean Kitchen sounded good. Same website I got my bo ssam recipe from

I started the meat marinating the night before (and had a tiny adventure when I blindly grabbed for ginger in the basket where I keep ginger, and AUGH)

Initially, I marveled at the cleverness of whoever put little Wicket or Weechee in there, artfully matching its brown and furry trunk-like legs with the bulbous limbs of the ginger root as a devilish little prank for some unsuspecting cook; but I quickly realized they actually put it in there because it is a basket, and if I leave a basket out, people will stuff random things in it.

The marinade was pretty dramatic in itself.

It has Sprite in it, which apparently makes an appearance in a lot of Korean recipes. I started to hunt around for some background on this topic, just so everyone gets their money’s worth, and was right on the verge of clicking on a story called “Korean cold noodles for gay men,” and then I thought, you know,,,not right now.

The recipe calls for chicken filets, but I bought bone-in thighs and just pulled the skins off. I also bought a few drumsticks because What If There’s Not Enough Food? And so wages the eternal battle between the thrifty mom who wants to save money and the anxious mom who wants to stuff everyone’s face.

Well, they were fantastic. Fiery spicy, but with a good layering of flavors, and wonderfully juicy. Really perfect. Here’s my plate:

We prepared the sweet potatoes very simply, and I really liked how they turned out. I just cut raw sweet potatoes in thick slices (I tried to cut them the long way, to get the largest pieces possible), brushed both sides with olive oil, and sprinkled both sides with sea salt and pepper. They were medium-small sized potatoes and I got about five slices per potato. 

Then Damien grilled them along with the chicken, about 3-4 minutes per side, until they were soft all the way through. 

They made a really nice change from our usual Asian side dishes of rice or coleslaw. Very popular with me. 

I cut up a couple of pineapples, and I made a cool little quasi-Asian cucumber salad. (I also cut up some cucumbers plain for the babies.) This is a great little salad.

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It takes about five minutes and it’s got so much flavor, and always strikes me as rather sophisticated. 

Cucumbers, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, red onion, sesame seeds, and a little kosher salt. Sweet, slightly tangy, and refreshing, and also pretty. You do want to eat it the same day, because it’s best when the cucumbers are still fresh and crunchy. 

FRIDAY
Salmon burgers

I discovered that you can buy one bag of chopped-up frozen breaded pollock-or-whatever patties, and that won’t be enough for the family, or you can buy two bags, and it will be way too much and you’ll feel terrible throwing out all that wadded-up uneaten fish, OR, for the same amount of money as too much pollock, you can buy just the right amount of frozen salmon portions. So what the heck, I’m not made of stone, and I was tired of standing there with my head in the Aldi refrigerator thinking about it. I got the salmon, and some burger buns and tartar sauce.

I will probably just pan fry the fish in butter and squeeze some lemon juice on top and call it good. Yeah, it was a good week!

*For this joke, I consulted the rhyming dictionary to find a funny substitute for “Lorax,” and the best one I could come up with was “Withholding Tax,” which is not very, you know, what do you know about Korean cold noodles for gay men? Because maybe it’s time. 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

 

5 from 3 votes
Print

spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 293: I’ll tell YOU what’s yakitori

Happy Friday! I am headed to adoration in a bit, and shall yell at Jesus about your intentions. 

Quick covid report: Everybody in the house eventually got it, except for one kid, who is either supernatural, or somehow got false negatives on a LOT of tests. The other kids only got a little bit sick, happily, and some didn’t get sick at all. They are all completely better. I’m definitely on the mend. I don’t think I even took a nap yesterday! And my splendid covid rash actually retreated a bit yesterday, rather than spreading, for the first time since it made its debut. Damien has started running again, and I have slowly, carefully started up yoga. I’m wheezy, but not horribly wheezy. Today I’m exactly three weeks out from the day I tested positive, so I guess that’s pretty normal. In conclusion, covid is stupid but not nearly as stupid as it could have been, so, Deo gratias. 

Spring has sprung for real. 

The ticks are ticking, the dog is romping, Damien is battling the pool water, and away we go. Outdoor cooking season is fully underway, happily, as you will see.

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Smoked pork ribs, cole slaw, chips

Damien made three luscious racks of ribs in the smoker with a sugar rub and mustard. 

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It doesn’t really taste mustardy; it just has a savory tang with a little muted fireworks aftertaste, and they are incredibly juicy and flavorful. I can never tell if these “cutting up meat” pictures look amazing to other people, or just kind of grisly, but they look amazing to me.

I took a picture of a demure plate with two ribs, but I was just getting warmed up. 

Great meal. 

I also had the great fun of briefly meeting an old friend who was selling her wonderful prints at a local craft fair. Do check out Rabbit Dog Fine Arts on Etsy for some really striking, lively work, very very reasonably priced. I, uh, bought four prints because I couldn’t help myself.

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, french fries; lemon cake

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I’m happy to report that, in a few short decades, I’ve successfully made the transition from having a painful, bitter day when I feel unappreciated and neglected, to getting showered with gifts and attention and feeling a little guilty about it. But not too guilty! 

I requested Italian sandwiches and a lemon-based dessert, both very delicious.

I do love lemon desserts. We recently saw the Great British Baking Show with the Sussex Pond Pudding, which is a pastry with a lard crust that contains butter, sugar, and an entire cooked lemon. I think I would eat that? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would eat that. I would eat that.

I also went to Home Depot to finally get started on some gardening, finally. I am at a point in my life where, yes yes, I live in New Hampshire, but I just don’t want to dig up any more rocks, at all, ever. So that means container gardening. But I don’t just want buckets of dirt all over the place, either. But I don’t want to pay for lumber. So I wandered around in the yard with a measuring tape making vague diagrams, got to Home Depot, made a wild guess about how many cinder blocks we might need (um, 60?), loaded up as many as we could pull on a single cart, and, full of anxious foreboding about the expensive, cell-like, somehow-still-inadequate structure I was going to build, and how bad it was going to be on the car to bring it home, I went off to find a second cart, and on the way, discovered that for about the same price I could buy . . . look at this . . . four galvanized steel window wells, that are food safe because they are galvanized steel, and are already designed to be jammed into the ground.

But they turned out to be $20 each, not $10 as I originally thought, so I put the back, and felt sad about it, and looked at the cinder blocks again, but then I thought about how rotten I would feel if I came home with nothing, and I decided that not feeling that way was worth at least $30, and I would just eat the extra $10, because it was Mother’s Day. So I abandoned the cinder blocks and bought four metal thingies instead. This is how I do math. This is how I live. It’s better than digging up rocks, I guess.

The plan is make two long ovals, with a few cinder blocks stacked up between the pieces to form the long ends. I think maybe we have a few cinder blocks in our yard somewhere, left over from my last boneheaded project. Those are free, because it was last year.

Anyway, I finally got started, and that’s the main thing. And we stopped at the local nursery and bought several varieties of lettuce, some Brussels sprouts, and some celery, which are all plants I can leave outside even if it gets cold again, which it will. We’re not doing seeds this year. We’re just not.

MONDAY
Cuban sandwiches, chips, carrots and dip; birthday cake

Monday we celebrated Moe’s birthday. He requested Cuban sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. I started the pork a bit late, and ended up just roasting it in the oven covered with tinfoil and with lots of salt and pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin, and doused with cider vinegar, and it was fine, if a tiny bit bland.

So, bread, mustard, pickles, Swiss cheese, pork, ham, more cheese,

and fried in an alarming amount of butter.

I pressed the heck out of the sandwiches with in iron frying pan as they fried,

and then put them in a warm oven to seal the deal, by which I mean the cheese.

This picture makes me laugh. This sandwich looks like it has its mouth full. Happy murfmay, Mofef! That is what the sandwich says.

He requested a whale shark cake,

and maybe if I had had more time time to prepare, it would have come out better, but maybe not. 

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, baked potatoes, salad

The secret of my meatloaf is I don’t make it very often, so the kids think it’s a treat. And it’s really pretty good; it’s just that there’s only a certain amount of good that meatloaf can be. My meatloaf has red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and fried onions in it. I always think I should make a gravy to go along with it, but it’s really fine as is. It’s meatloaf.  

Jump to Recipe

Certainly looked portentous coming out of the oven. I’m pretty happy the sun is up for dinner again. 

We had baked potatoes and salad. Did I already say that? I think I already said that. Well, here’s proof. 

WEDNESDAY
Yakitori chicken, rice, sesame string beans

Now this was a tasty meal. I made the sauce and Damien cooked the chicken on the grill. He used half the sauce to baste the chicken as he cooked it,

and then we served the other half for dipping. The meat comes out sweet, tangy, and gingery, and wonderfully glossy. 

You don’t have to marinate this meat; it gets plenty of flavor from basting. I made a triple recipe of this sauce, but I massively increased the amount of fresh garlic and ginger, and I cooked it considerably longer than she said. I cooked it through the entire third movement of Mendellsohn’s “Reformation” symphony before it thickened up. 

We used skinless, boneless chicken thighs but did not bother cutting them and putting them on skewers, but just sort of unfurled them and grilled them whole. They were wonderful that way, but technically they are not yakitori, which really is supposed to be on skewers. Although [snort, snort] technically “yaki” means “roast” and “tori” means “bird,” so I guess it depends if you want to be pedantic, or just, you know, eat the yummy chicken. 

Everyone was very enthusiastic about this meal. Served with sesame seeds and chopped scallions and more sauce, as you can see, which had a sharper, brighter flavor as a dipping sauce than it did when basted onto the chicken. Gosh, it was so good. I wish I had some right now, but it’s Friday, so I’m having some fwiggin yogurt and hummus and carrots. 

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, cheezy weezies

Everyone was also very enthusiastic about this meal, served with mayonnaise. And buns from Aldi. 

FRIDAY
Seafood lo mein

We haven’t had lo mein for a while. I just bought some linguine or fettuccine, I forget which, for the noodles. Basically you just need something flat and slurpy that will pick up the tasty sauce and make a happy home for whatever you want to add in. 

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I often put in sugar snap peas, asparagus, or shrimp.

This time, I bought a little bag of mixed seafood from Aldi, which seems to have shrimp, scallops, some kind of shellfish, and misc. I’m a little concerned about the various cooking times it will need, but only a little concerned. 

Okay, that’s it! Here’s some recipe cards for yez. Do try the yakitori (or whatever) sauce. 

Smoked pork ribs with mustard rub

Ingredients

  • 2 racks pork ribs

Pork rub

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • Yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. The night before or several hours before dinner, mix together the rub spices. 



  2. Spread yellow mustard all over the rack of ribs and apply the rub. Cover and refrigerate. Let it come back to room temp before cooking.

  3. Light the fire and let it die down. Put the meat on the grill off to the side, where it will get indirect heat. Put the cover down and let it cook at least four hours. 

  4. Add salt and pepper, then separate the ribs and enjoy. 

Meatloaf (actually two giant meatloaves)

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk OR red wine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder or fresh garlic, onion powder, fresh parsley, etc.

  • ketchup for the top
  • 2 onions diced and fried (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Mix all meat, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together with your hands until well blended.

  3. Form meat into two oblong loaves on pan with drainage

  4. Squirt ketchup all over the outside of the loaves and spread to cover with spatula. Don't pretend you're too good for this. It's delicious. 

  5. Bake for an hour or so, until meat is cooked all the way through. Slice and serve. 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 288: Paneer, and yet so far

I do believe I’ve picked up some new readers! Welcome. Also welcome to a few people who are fasting and praying for my conversion, what the heck. To everyone who’s here for whatever reason, I usually do a Friday food round-up, with photos and recipes of the meals we cooked for our large family for the week. Except I didn’t get around to it yesterday, or last Friday. So here’s a little catching up:

Oh, but first, there was the Friday before that! I was threatening to make those San Francisco Vietnamese garlic noodles from the NYT. A few friends warned me they were rather bland, despite the garlic — kind of a lot of garlic, if you’re tripling the recipe —

 oyster sauce, and fish sauce, so I decreased the amount of pasta and increased the sauce ingredients, and I thought it was tasty. (I also used asiago rather than parmesan, because they are both triangles and I can’t read.) A nice combination of savory and creamy with a tiny bite, not overpowering, but a little off the beaten path.

It didn’t knock my socks off, but I’ll probably make it again, as I usually have these ingredients in my house. And sometime when it’s not Lent, I’ll add caviar as suggested, or maybe scallops.

We also had our Italian feast for St. Joseph’s day with a nice antipasto of whatever wasn’t too expensive at Aldi, and whatever hadn’t expired in the back of my cabinet:

Looks like some fresh mozzarella, some various salamis and other cured meats, pickled vegetables, and tomatoes. I think there were some pickled hot peppers with some kind of cheese filling. And cantaloupe. If you ever had a job prepping breakfast in a hotel while you were pregnant, and the smell of rotten cantaloupe was the most miserable thing you ever inhaled, and you were wondering how many years it would take you to get over it and enjoy cantaloupe again, the answer seems to be [feverish calculations] twenty-five. 

So Damien made spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread, Lucy made suppli, or arancini (breaded fried risotto balls with melted mozzarella in the center)

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and Clara made zeppole. Must hunt down her recipe, because they were fab.

And I just sat there and ate. Buona Festa, San Giuseppe!

Looks like that week we also had a pretty chicken salad with toasted almonds, strawberries, and croutons that I did NOT BURN FOR ONCE

That would be mixed greens, grilled chicken breast, fresh strawberries, feta cheese, diced red onion, and toasted almonds, and croutons made of stale hot dog buns, with red wine vinegar.

(And here’s my periodic reminder that the easiest way to toast nuts, to make them crunchy and bring out their flavor, but not to burn them, is to spread them on a plate and microwave them for a few minutes. You can do it in the oven, but there’s no real advantage, and they’re very easy to burn.)

. . . and it looks like I finally got around to putting fennel on a pizza, like I’ve been threatening to do for some time. This one had fennel, fresh garlic, anchovies, feta, fresh parmesan, and artichoke hearts.

What a stupendous pizza. I sliced the fennel in rings, which I feel isn’t quite right, but it tasted great. No ragrets.

Ooh, then on Friday, it was the Annunciation, which is a meat Friday in Lent, so we had roast beef sandwiches with provolone and horseradish sauce on toasted buns,

and a side of caprese salad, which is always nice. 

The roast beef, Damien made by crusting it with I think salt and pepper and garlic powder and searing it in olive oil with lots of garlic cloves, and then roasting it at 350 for about 45 minutes, and then he starts checking it. He lets it rest for a while before slicing it. 

The caprese salad is just fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, freshly ground salt and pepper. I didn’t bother reducing anything.

Okay! Caught up. Now for the week we just finished:

SUNDAY
Chicken quesadillas

Nothing to report. Chicken, cheddar cheese, jalapeños in the quesadillas, salsa and sour cream on the side. 

I do remember that I went shopping and had made up my mind that I was finally going to buy one of those giant smoked turkeys they had at Aldi, that I had been thinking about for several weeks, and that I had planned at least two meals around it. Got there and . . . they were just regular frozen turkeys. Note even a good price. I tried to persuade myself that I wanted to do  Thanksgiving in the middle of the week in March, but it turns out I very much did not. So I wung it. 

MONDAY
Ham, garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, salad, rolls

Meal number 1 that I wung: A “join us for dinner in the church basement”-style dinner. Nothing wrong with that! I did not make an ambrosia salad, however, because that’s an abomination. 

My only tip is that, if you’re not planning to glaze the ham or stick pineapples to it or anything, you can slice it ahead of time and then heat it up, and it makes an easy meal even easier. 

Oh, here’s my recipe for garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. I made five pounds and warned everyone not to go nuts, because there were only five pounds, and they acted like it was death camp rations. That is nearly half a pound of potato per person, not counting the butter, milk, and parmesan! I guess we burn all those extra calories by making an ungodly fuss about everything all the time. 

Jump to Recipe

TUESDAY
Gochujang pork chops, sesame broccoli, rice

Now this was a tasty meal with minimal effort. I started the pork chops marinating in the morning with this sauce

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made of gochujang, honey, sugar, garlic, and soy sauce. I heated up the broiler nice and hot and shoved the chops right under it, and turned them once. They were on the thin side, so I was careful not to overcook them. 

I also love using this marinade on pork ribs and giving them to Damien to cook outside, but the chops turned out great. (It’s also wonderful for gochujang bulgoki, when you include matchstick carrots, sliced onions, and slice the pork before marinating, and you serve it with nori. It’s really just a fine, fine marinade.)

I made a big batch of basmati rice in the Instant Pot, and a big tray of toothsome sesame broccoli

which there is a recipe for

Jump to Recipe

but it’s easy as can be. You just drizzle the broccoli spears with sesame oil and soy sauce, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds, and send them for a short ride under a hot broiler to turn bright green with a tiny bit of char. 

Delicious meal, very easy, minimal cook time. 

WEDNESDAY
Bagels sandwiches with egg and cheese, choice of ham or sausage; OJ

Nothing to report. Well, I employed the very healthful method of frying the eggs in a truly ludicrous amount of butter, and not flipping them over, but cooking the tops by spooning melted butter repeatedly over the yolk, which causes the white to bubble up around the yolk and sort of support it, so you get a little film over the top of the yolk, but it’s still runny on the inside. 

THURSDAY
Nachos

This was the second meal (wait, third?) I planned on the fly, and Damien offered to make it while I was doing . . . something or other. Probably crying. It was an insane week with about 60% more meetings and driving and assignments and complications and drama than necessary. I cooked some ground beef with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin, and he made one tray with just that, and one tray with that and also jalapeños, and leftover roast beef, and leftover chicken, and of course cheese. 

Maybe it was just the “somebody else made dinner” talking, but I thought it was delicious. 

FRIDAY
Saag paneer, naan

Well, this was a semi-tragic finale to an exhausting week. All week, I had been looking forward to trying this Instant Pot recipe (it also has stovetop instructions). I love Indian food, I love spinach, I love creamy things. I figured the kids wouldn’t like it, but they can go to hell, I mean make themselves toast. I did have an extremely busy schedule, but I got up and finished up some editing and sent off some articles and wrote some interview questions, then briskly set to work prepping all my saag paneer ingredients and making the dough for naan. 

Or, well, I was going to, but we were out of yogurt, and so was the only convenience store in town. So I zipped into the next town because I needed paneer, anyway. I was still sort of unclear about what paneer was, exactly. I made some inquiries, and learned that it is cottage cheese, sort of, but not really. And it has been a kind of trying week, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask social media a cheese question. I just wasn’t feeling up to it. So I went to the international market, and they had one kind of paneer, so that settled that. Bought two blocks and zipped home.  

I cooked the first part of the saag paneer with all the vegetables, and of course it smelled great

— and here I had a little larf to myself, because I experienced Spinach Panic, where you follow the directions for cooking a pound of spinach but it still seems like THIS CAN’T POSSIBLY BE RIGHT

but it is right, it’s just cooking with fresh spinach. Two minutes later, it was fine:

Did a little more work, went to adoration, went to pick up the kids from school, and then got back to finish up this meal, with the house already smelling most excellently. 

I open the Instant Pot top, and it’s going along great, and then I get up to the part where you add the little blocks of paneer. Which I did. And I waited for them to melt, and they did not. I stirred, I adjusted the heat, I pressed on them, I stirred some more, I did everything I could think of. They remained intact. 

Okay, if you’ve ever cooked with paneer, you know what the problem is: The problem is, I’m an idiot. Paneer is not supposed to melt. Because it’s . . . cottage cheese, sort of. And I would have known this, if I had asked social media, or . . . READ THE RECIPE. Which clearly states, “Add Paneer cubes and Garam Masala to it. And cook it further on saute mode for about 5 minutes. Your Palak Paneer is ready.”

Why did I think the paneer would melt? I have no idea. The recipe also included a photo of the finished dish, clearly showing the green puree with the white paneer cubes bobbing merrily around on top. This made no impression on me whatsoever. I was still angrily prodding the paneer with a wooden spoon, trying to force it to melt, because it is cheese!  So I finally poured the whole thing into the food processor and whirred it until it was all blended, and I put some more salt and garam masala and chili powder and lemon juice in, heated it up again, and that is what I served. 

It was actually really good. Very hearty, lots of flavor. Just . . . not really saag paneer.

The good(?) news is, I have a whole other block of paneer, and lots of leftover saag paneer with paneer blended up in it, so if I wanted to, I could make ultra paneer saag paneer! If I wanted to. Or I could just draw a veil over this whole episode and have my husband take me out for Chinese. 

Hey, the naan turned out great. It was tender and pleasant to eat. I made 32 pieces, which is kind of a miracle, considering I was frying it one piece at a time at the end of the day at the end of the week while having a mental breakdown over the fucking paneer. 

So, for the naan, I used this King Arthur recipe, which is nice and simple. It takes about an hour to rise, and then you just cut it up, let it rest, roll the pieces out, and fry them in a hot pan. I used the standing mixer to knead the dough and it turned out a little stickier than it was supposed to, so I used lots of flour when rolling the pieces out. I found it was helpful to keep a wet dishtowel by the stove to wipe out the burnt flour the accumulated in the the pan, in between frying. I tried both an iron frying pan, as the recipe called for, and a T-Fal double wall stainless steel frying pan, and didn’t notice any difference. 

This is a picture of last time I made naan. I have a new picture of the new naan, but I lost my phone. I can hear it dinging somewhere in my bed, but I can’t find it. 

And now we are all caught up. If you have any tips about cooking, please keep them to yourself, as my brain has completely smoothened over and is not accepting new information at this time, thank you. 

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 

 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

  3. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.

  4. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.

 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

 

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

  • broccoli spears
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

    Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds

    Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 282: In which I completely change my mind about Indian food

Not gonna lie: We ate like kings this week. Here’s what we had: 

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza for kids; Indian food for adults

The plan was for me and Damien to meet my brother on Saturday, and the kids would have Aldi pizza at home. But we had a bit of a storm and the roads were too bad for much travel. But the sacred words “Aldi pizza” had already been intoned and the wheels of deep mozzarella magic had already begun to turn, so there was nothing we could do. We had to leave some boxes of pizza on the table and go try the new Indian restaurant. 

Now, Damien and I . . . have never had Indian food before. Or, he has had lackluster, room temperature Indian food buffet at work parties a few times, and I have tried making butter chicken based on some hazy ingredients shouted at me by a rather aggressive Indian woman one time. So in practice, Damien and I have never had Indian food before, and didn’t especially want to start. But for some reason, I got it in my head we should try this little place, Royal Spice in Troy.

My dears. It was the best meal I’ve had in ages. Everything was completely CHARMING in my mouth. Just a delight. We had an appetizer platter with vegetable pakora, a big potato samosa, and some kind of little . . . thingies . . . round ones, and also some other ones, and then three kinds of sauce, a minty green savory one, some kind of bright red sweet pepper chutney, and then this amazing purplish sauce that turned out to be tamarind. I especially enjoyed the pakora. The insides reminded me of the spinach pies we make for passover, and the outsides were crisp and crinkly. Just lots of fun to eat, and with wonderful, lively flavors. 

Everything was so good! I ordered lamb korma with medium spice for my main dish, and Damien had full spice lamb biryani. 

I didn’t really know what korma was. It turned out to be big chunks of tender meat in a creamy, savory sauce, almost like a stew. The spice level was just right, just enough to wake up my face but not enough to be painful. It had a wonderful nutty, earthy, faintly sweet flavor, and came with a large portion of basmati rice. We also ordered two kinds of naan, which also came in generous portions.

The restaurant space is just a basic eatery, nothing special, but they were playing lively Indian music, the food was hot and fresh and plentiful, the prices were great, and the waitress was jolly and friendly and willing to talk about the food, even though the joint was jumping and she was doing everything herself. 

We each had a large bottle of Flying Horse lager, which is a mild, bready-tasting beer that was very refreshing with the spicy food.

They ran out and Damien ordered a Tag, which is also an Indian lager, but he said it wasn’t as good. 

Totally worth a visit if you’re anywhere in the area. We’re definitely going back to explore the menu some more. I’ve utterly changed my opinion of Indian food, and want to learn how to make pakora. Yay!

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, potato sticks

Damien made the roast beef, and very tender and juicy it was. This is his technique:

Sear the beef for a few minutes per side in olive oil and whole garlic cloves in a pot, then roast uncovered in a pan in the oven with the garlic at 325. Start checking for doneness at about 45 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes and then slice. Serve with the juice and the roasted garlic cloves. 

I had mine on a toasted roll with horseradish sauce, tomatoes, and provolone.

Every time we have provolone, I have to google “kinds of cheese,” because I cannot remember the word “provolone” on my own. I don’t understand why this is.  I love provolone. 

MONDAY
Clam chowder, ham and cheese sliders, veg and dip

I like clam chowder a lot, but hardly anyone else in this house likes it, or any other kind of chowder, or creamy soup, or soup in general. Since there’s nothing I can do in the face of such enormity [she said, using the word “enormity” correctly], I went ahead and made a big pot of clam chowder. The only regret I have is that I didn’t start it with a hunk of salt pork. It costs as much as a pound of good bacon, and I couldn’t quite face the experience of filling the house with bacon smells and then explaining over and over again that the smells were a lie and all we were having was this soup. So I just used butter, which is also good.

Clam chowder is so delicious. The recipe I cobbled together has celery, onion, and garlic in butter, white pepper, then chopped clams and clam juice, chicken stock, and flour and lots of half and half, and then some fresh parsley. Easy peasy, creamy and mild, full o’ clams. 

Jump to Recipe

I though I’d appease everyone by making some ham and cheese sliders. I found some recipes that call for making a sauce with dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce and all kinds of things, but I downgraded it all so they would be more willing to eat it. I just sliced a bunch of sweet Hawaiian rolls sideways, put in a layer of baby Swiss, then ham, then more Swiss on the bottom half, put the top roll slab back on, poured melted butter on top, sprinkled it with everything seasoning, covered it with tinfoil, let it sit and think for a while, and baked at 350 until the cheese was melted.

I honestly can’t remember if I put mustard in there or not. It doesn’t matter, because they decided the sandwiches “smelled weird” and didn’t eat them. The crumbs! The absolute crumbs. This is primo kid food, bright yellow and pink, cute little buttery mini sandwiches, an adorable little plate, but no.

Oh well. 

I also put out carrots and peppers and dip. Probably they ate dip for supper, and oyster crackers. The crumbs.

TUESDAY
Burgers and chips

Tuesday was supposed to be bo ssam day, but I forgot how early you need to get it started, so I instead started marinating the bo ssam on Tuesday, and made burgers for supper. No one complained. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, fruit salad, crunchy rice rolls

Just an excellent meal. I forgot to even finish following the recipe, and it ended up being just fatty pork that had been sitting with salt and sugar for 24 hours, then cooking uncovered in a low oven for another six hours, and that’s it. Here was my reward:

It was FABULOUS. 

I couldn’t find the doenjang that I’m pretty sure is in the fridge somewhere, and they definitely didn’t have any in the stores, so I had to skip making the amazing spicy, nutty dipping sauce that goes along with the meat. So I just grabbed a bottle of sesame shoyu sauce for dipping.

I made a big pot of rice and a big bowl of fruit salad (pineapple, strawberries, and grapes), and we also had some of those sweet crunchy rice rolls. I served lettuce leaves for rolling up the meat in, and oh boy, it was just fantastic. There’s enough salt and sugar in this meat to keep you going all week. Totally worth it. The meat gets a dark, caramelized crust on the outside, and clinging to it are these wonderfully moist, tender shreds of meat that just fall apart.

You can dip the meat in sauce and wrap it up in lettuce with a little rice, or just eat everything separately. The strawberry, in particular, made a great complement to the salty, savory meat. It’s important to serve something mellow and unchallenging to go with the meat, which is very delicious but very loud in flavor.

Altogether a wonderful, gratifying meal, lots of fun to eat. Corrie packed a little sandwich bag of bo ssam in her lunch, and when they asked her (for the 100th day of school) what kind of food she could eat 100 of, she wrote “bo ssam.” Crumb status revoked!

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets and party mix for kids; Asian food for adults

Damien and I snucked away for a little early Valentine’s Day overnight getaway. 

For dinner, we tried Kogetsu in Peterborough, which is decorated like an Asian fever dream, with giant picture windows looking out over a waterfall. We had egg rolls and steamed pork dumplings in peanut sauce, and I ordered the nabe yaki udon, which is a noodle soup with an impressive assortment of strange and delicious mushrooms, vegetables, and proteins lurking in the broth, plus a poached egg and two enormous tempura shrimp.

The broth was oddly bland, but I liked it anyway. 

Then we went back to the inn. Last time we visited this inn, I was extremely pregnant with Irene, and you know what? Even when you’re not heavily pregnant, which I am not, it’s still super hard to get out of a hot tub. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. 

Breakfast was lovely. They cook everything from scratch to order, and much of their food is locally sourced. I had an English muffin with a poached egg and roasted tomato, with bacon and toasted whole wheat bread with raspberry jam. 

They also have a wonderful, elderly dog who limps around, collapsing into various sunbathing spots. The dog and the cheerful innkeepers were the only other people in the whole place. The other thing I like about this place is that it’s not haunted. I don’t mean to be a weirdo, but most inns and hotels are at least semi haunted. If you get up in the middle of the night, you will feel the misery and oppression in the air and in the hallways, presumably because sad and bad things have happened there. Take it or leave it, it’s just what I think. I have been in a lot of hotels! This one just had a Paul Revere bell ringing out the hours, and also a bird nest in the porch outside the window. I really love New Hampshire. We’re having a little thaw right now. It’s in the high 40’s, the puddles are glittering, there’s a little drip-drip-drip action going, and it feels like spring is something that might actually show up at some point. A good day. 

FRIDAY
French toast casserole, hash browns,  OJ

This meal is an excuse to serve orange juice, which I cannot seem to shift off the “unutterably expensive; for treats only” list in my brain. 

To make french toast casserole, tear up whatever stale or leftover bread you have in the house and heap it in a buttered casserole dish. Make enough egg and milk mixture to saturate the bread, and pour it over the bread pieces. You can add sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to the mixture before pouring it out, if you like. Thin slices of apple is nice, as well. Dot with butter, and sprinkle with a little more sugar and cinnamon to make a nice crust. Bake at 35o until the egg is set. Serve in wedges. 

Here’s an old picture, back from when the sun would shine and we had stone fruits, oh my.

We survived the 100th day of school (Corrie had 100 bells on her shirt, and Benny dressed up as a tortoise, because tortoises live to be 100? I don’t know) and now we just have to make valentines for Monday. I bought a bunch of silicone molds (hearts, fancy hearts, roses, and dinosaurs) from Walmart, and we’re going to melt Jolly Ranchers into them and call it fancy. I have popped 20 bags of popcorn for the school dance tonight, and Irene’s gorilla mask has arrived in the mail (also for the school dance tonight). I’m sitting here kind of befuddled because I ate breakfast today, which I don’t normally do, and I went away on a Thursday, which I don’t normally do, and so my stomach and my brain have no idea what time of day or what day of the week it is. I will probably fall asleep at adoration. Will pray for you cheese bags before I do. 

New England clam chowder (without bacon)

You can certainly add bacon or fat back if you want! Rather than starting with butter, fry up a few pieces of meat first, take the meat out and break it up, fry the vegetables in the fat, and add the meat back in later.

Ingredients

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 16 oz clam juice
  • 4 cup water
  • 6 tsp chicken bouillon powder (to make a concentrated broth)
  • 4 small potatoes, diced (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 3 6.5-oz cans of chopped clams
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 cup flour
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, melt the butter. Sauté the celery and onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two longer. Stir in the white pepper.

  2. Add in the clam juice, the water with bouillon in it, the potatoes, and the clams, undrained. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20. minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

  3. In a small bowl, slowly whisk the half and half into the flour, then add this mixture gradually into the pot until blended.

  4. Heat through. Continue to cook at a low temperature to cook out the flour taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more chicken broth.

  5. Add chopped fresh parsley before serving if you like. Serve with oyster crackers.

What’s for supper? Vol. 280: Comfort, comfort food, o my people

Comfort! Comfort! Baked ziti with sausage, and chili verde with corn bread, and juicy, vaguely Asian beef for your ramen, o my people. And some adorable lemon tarts you can probably make even if you’re terrible with desserts. O my people.

Also, I hope you guys like pictures, because I took a lot of pictures this week.

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips? 

Maybe? 

SUNDAY
Baked ziti with sausage, breadsticks, mini lemon meringue tarts

We had such a nice day on Sunday. Damien made dinner, Elijah, who is taking a cooking class in school, decided we needed homemade breadsticks, and I got a yen for lemon meringue tarts. Other than the cozy kitchen activities, we just went to Mass and played with the animals and dyed hair and hung out. 

First the ziti. We used to have baked ziti allllll the time, and we really got burnt out on it. But that would not have happened if we had been using this recipe. A Deadspin recipe.

The picture, sadly, doesn’t capture even a fraction of its massive, creamy, meltingly cheesy, chaotic, flavorful glory. It has three kinds of cheese, fresh herbs, sausage, hunks of tomato, everything good. It’s like lasagna showed up at your house and got hysterical, but in the most entertaining way.

Here’s Elijah kneading his second batch of breadstick dough.

He made a batch of breadsticks just for snacks, and they got gobbled up right away, so he went right back and made another double batch for dinner. I’ll see if I can get his recipe.

And now for dessert. So, these lemon tarts are . . . not sophisticated. They have two flavors: LEMON!! and SUGAR!! If you like those two things, you will like this dessert, which is bright and cute and not hard to make, although it’s a bit labor intensive. 

Jump to Recipe

Last time I made this recipe, I just made pie. This time, I thought it would be fun to have individual little tarts. 

I ended up using a full box of animal crackers (I told you it wasn’t sophisticated) which made enough crust for 24 cupcake-sized tarts. I didn’t have faith that they would hold together, so I used cupcake papers. This turned out to be unnecessary, as the crust and the lemon layer are both quite sturdy, and it just gave me an extra step to do when I had to peel them all off after baking. Anyway, I whirred the animal crackers, butter, and brown sugar in the food processor until it felt like damp sand, then deposited a heap into each cupcake tin. Then I pressed each one with a cup, to make, well, a cup shape. 

You do not need to bake these shells before filling. Then you just mix together condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and pour it into the shells, and bake. 

Shiny!

Then the meringue is just egg whites and powdered sugar. Note that this is the third kind of sugar in this recipe already, gevalt. This is where your teeth are really going to start to bother you. So you just whip it into stiff peaks, glop it on top of the baked lemon, and then bake it a little more. 

But wait! You need these to be a little more lemony and a little more sugary! So you are going to make some candied lemon peels, which are surprisingly easy and quick to whip up.

Basically, you scoop out the pulp, cut the lemon peel thinly, boil it in plain water three times to cut the bitterness, then boil it in sugar water, drain it and let it dry a bit, then toss it with sugar and ginger. 

Jump to Recipe

 

In real life, they look less like french fries. 

I couldn’t quite, quite figure out how to place the lemon peel garnishes.  Hmm?

Do you like my hat?

The meringue had plenty of little ledges and curls, so it wasn’t hard to make a half-dozen lemon peels stay on each tart, but they looked a little inelegant. 

Maybe next time I will insert the peels in between the meringue and the curd. That would probably work!

Okay, they kind of look like french fries. 

I think next time I do this, I will use ginger snaps for the crust, and probably leave more pith on the lemon peel, and maybe cut them a little thicker, because I tasted more sugar than lemon. But overall, everyone liked it, and in retrospect, this was the dessert that launched a migraine that hasn’t let up all week, so you know it’s good.

Really, what is wrong with me.

MONDAY
Chili verde, corn bread, rice, pineapple

Speaking of food that hurts, here is another dish I’ve been craving, but I felt some trepidation about coming home with the right peppers, after my experience last time and also that other time. I always tell myself, Now look, you’re a functioning adult. You can read and everything. All you have to do is look carefully at the tags, maybe consult that plastic binder they have, and you’ll be able to tell which kind of pepper is which. You’ll be able to tell!

And I try; I really do. I’m highly motivated. And yet somehow I always end up coming home with, like, a Columbian dolor extremo pepper or a — guys, I’m really tired and I can’t seem to come up with a fake funny pepper name, but you get the idea. I’m a pepper idiot. Soy pimienta idiota. 

Anyway, this time, I got lucky, because the spiciness was perfect. Whatever these are, they were good.

In this recipe you roast the peppers along with the tomatillos,

then pull off the skins, and I also removed about 80% of the seeds and membrane. Then you puree it all in the food processor along with lots of onions, garlic, and cilantro. Mmmm.

Brown up some seasoned pork chunks in oil in batches,

then throw the puree into the pot with the pork and let it simmer. I did this part in the crock pot and let it go all day, and oh boy, it was so tender and savory and wonderful by dinner time.

Serve it over rice to sop up the wonderful juices, squeeze a little lime over the top and put a little sour cream to cool it down, and it was amazing.

Spicy enough to wake up my whole face, but it didn’t cause any pain. Good stuff.

This is fork-tender, so you can easily shred it if you want, but I felt like leaving it in chunks. You can also add some broth before you start it simmering, to, well, make it more brothy; but I liked having it fairly thick. Just so you know, there are options. 

I made a tray of corn bread that I didn’t overbake for once in my life. I have switched to a more finely milled corn meal, so maybe that helps. This picture is from Picasso’s cornbread period:

You don’t need a cornbread recipe, right? It’s just regular cornbread. 

TUESDAY
Roast drumsticks, baked potatoes, steamed veggies

Dinner had been challenging for certain people for the last couple of days, so I decided to go with a kid-pleaser: Just regular normal drumsticks seasoned with salt and pepper, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, and mixed vegetables that went straight from a bag in the freezer, to a bowl on the table, to the garbage, no mess, no fuss. 

I have to admit, it was a tasty meal. Nothing wrong with drumsticks and baked potatoes. I also made some frozen butternut squash, which I ate out of a sense of duty to eat something that was not brown, but it was not great. 

What was great was this POTATO BUTT.

I believe this is what the kids call an “absolute unit.” To see this and other absolute units, follow @PotatoesButts on Twitter. This will not profit you in any way. 

WEDNESDAY
Vermonter sandwiches, Bugles

A much-longed-for sandwich. Toasted ciabatta rolls, honey mustard, thick slices of roast chicken, slices of sharp cheddar, bacon, and slices of green apple. 

Someday I’ll take a good picture of this very fine, tart, hearty sandwich, but not today. 

THURSDAY
Beef and tofu ramen 

Usually, “fancy ramen” includes some boneless pork ribs sauteed in soy sauce and sliced up. I was pretty tired of this, so I got a big hunk of beef chuck roast, intending to marinate it. Then somehow it came to be 4 PM on Thursday, and the beef was still sitting there and hadn’t even bothered to magically marinate itself, the lazy thing.  So I rubbed some brown sugar on top, sprinkled it heavily with garlic powder and dried ginger and lightly with salt

and put it in a 400 oven for about half an hour, then sliced it up. 

Not bad! It had achieved a vaguely Asian taste, and it was juicy, and that was what I was going for. 

We also had soft boiled eggs, pea shoots, scallions, spinach, firm tofu, and various sauces. I put a blob of sambal oelek on the edge of my bowl and added a dab to every third spoonful or so. 

I also had meant to do more with the tofu, but I just ran out of time, so I just cut it into cubes, warmed it in the microwave, and threw it in my bowl. It was fine. I like tofu. But I wouldn’t mind trying some more exciting things with it, if anyone has some low-skill ideas for me.

Gosh, I love this meal. I love all my meals. I love food. 

FRIDAY

Today we are doing some kind of outdoor winter fundraising thing, and I’m experiencing a bad attitude about it. I plan to buy some Aldi pizza on the way home, and also something for dinner tomorrow, because it sure looks like we’re gonna be snowed it. Maybe I’ll make some pie. 

Cheater's lemon meringue pie

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

Ingredients

  • 1 pie shell

For the lemon layer:

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

For the meringue:

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350

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

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

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

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

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

 

candied lemon peels

use as garnishes, or just eat as candy

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons
  • 2 cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • dash ginger (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the lemons in half or quarters. Scoop out all the pulp.

  2. Cut the rind into strips as thinly as you can. It's fine to leave the pith attached.

  3. Put the strips in a small pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, then drain. Do this three times. This is to reduce the bitterness of the pith.

  4. After the third boil, drain off the water, remove the strips and set them aside.

  5. Combine two cups of sugar with two cups of water and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Return the citrus strips to the pot. Simmer, stirring often, until the pith is translucent.

  6. At this point you have a few options:

    (a) You can keep the citrus peels in the sugar water and store it that way. They are less decorative this way, but they will keep in the refrigerator; or

    (b) You can drain the sugar water off and spread the citrus peels out on a tray to dry. Toss them with more sugar, or colored sugar, and powdered ginger if you like. They will be dry enough to use as garnishes in about half an hour, but they will feel more candied if you let them dry overnight. They will keep for several weeks if you store them in an airtight container.

Spicy Chili Verde

You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. It does get less spicy as it cooks, so don't be alarmed if you make the salsa and it's overwhelming!

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for cooking
  • 2 cups chicken broth or beer (optional)

For the salsa verde:

  • 4 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 habañero peppers
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 medium onions
  • 12 tomatillos
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • additional cilantro for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.

  3. Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add chicken broth or beer. At some point, if you don't want the pork in large chunks, press the meat with the back of a spoon to make it collapse into shreds.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 279: We don’t talk about shiitake mushrooms

What a short week, and how unproductive! And how stupidly cold. And stupid in general. We did have a few good meals, though. Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken salad

Those pesky shupply change issues came for the frozen buffalo chicken, and I couldn’t find any, so I bought some regular chicken. So we had greens with chicken, grape tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, crunchy fried onions (the kind that come in a canister), blue cheese dressing, and then some buffalo sauce on that. 

Tasted great. I think buffalo chicken is too hot anyway. 

SUNDAY
Museum 

Sunday, I took Sophia and some of her friends to the Worcester Art Museum for her birthday. We masked all the way there in the car, and then stopped to grab some lunch, and I looked in the rear view mirror, and they were sharing an ice tea. Two honor students, one straw. ANYWAY, the museum was great. You can check out some of the photos I took here. (They’re not really a representative sample of their excellent collection! I’ve been there many times and didn’t snap pics of their more famous works. If you’re in the area at all, you should go. It’s small enough that you can see absolutely everything in under three hours, but there’s plenty worth seeing, and the descriptive cards are top notch, very informative.)

Afterward, I offered to take them to a restaurant of her choice, and she chose Chili’s. I support this. Chili’s offers reliably B- food with reliably B+ service, and the floors are usually not gritty. I swear I would have taken her somewhere fancier, but it had been a long day and I totally understand her choice. (I had shrimp tacos and they were kind of weird, to be honest. I guess I didn’t read the description and wasn’t expecting them to be absolutely baggy with coleslaw, but that’s what you get.) 

I believe they had some kind of pasta with red sauce, peppers, and sausage at home. 

MONDAY
Pork ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, honey balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with walnuts

This was a low-skill, popular meal. The pork ribs were just plenty of salt and pepper, roasted on both sides under the broiler. The mashed potatoes were made with an entire peeled head of garlic boiled and mashed in with the potatoes. And the Brussels sprouts, I trimmed and halved, drizzled with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, lots of honey, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a large handful of chopped walnuts, and roasted under the broiler. 

I LOVE roast vegetables with nuts. This is how kings eat their vegetables. Real kings, not stupid kings. 

I wish I had let everything cook a tiny bit longer, but we were all so hungry. It’s been so cold, and all I want to do is eat. 

TUESDAY
Bugogi dubap (garlic soy beef on rice) 

A much-anticipated meal. Strips of garlicky, gingery beef, with onions, scallions, and mushrooms served over rice. Somewhat sweeter than many similar recipes I’ve tried. Not like a sweet and sour dish, but just a little fruity. 

I slightly adapted the recipe from Cook Korean! by Robin Ha. It turned out very well, although next time I will put less of the marinade in with the meat when I cook it. It was just too pulpy, and I would have liked a little more of a sear on the meat.

The marinade includes kiwi, which is what provides the acid to tenderize the meat, and wow, it works well. It was . . . there isn’t really a synonym for “tender” that works well for meat, so I guess we’ll stick with that. (When my little brother was about 5, he couldn’t remember the word for “chicken tender,” so he told the waitress he wanted “chicken softies.” So you see what I mean.) 

It’s served, as I said, over rice with scallions and sesame seeds. Tons of flavor, nice and bright, with loads of garlic and fresh ginger. 

Next time I will not bother paying for shiitake mushrooms. I’m sure some people can taste the difference, but I sure can’t. I can taste the difference when they’re raw, but not when they’re cooked! (Not to mention that the first batch of mushrooms I bought got moldy, so I had to run out and buy more, and I was late picking the kids up from Dungeons and Dragons, so I decided to go to the co-op for my replacement shiitake mushrooms, rather than the supermarket, and . . . you know what, we’ll just let a shiver pass through our system one last time and then quietly turn the page in the ledger and not think about that part of the food budget anymore.)

The recipe in the book calls for soju, a dry Korean rice liquor, but it doesn’t mention what to do with it. Presumably you throw it into the marinade, but possibly you’re supposed to deglaze the pan with it. In any case, I didn’t have any. I was planning to substitute vodka, but I forgot. So now you know as much as I do. Possibly it would have cut the sweetness slightly. 

Verdict: Definitely making this recipe again, with cheaper mushrooms, less marinade and more room and heat in the pan. Loved the garlic and ginger and kiwi, loved how simple it was, adored how tender it made the beef.  A very good way to treat a cheap cut of beef. 

WEDNESDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Nothing to report, other than that the burgers turned out long, for some reason. This is what passes for entertainment around here.

THURSDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, tater tots

Not true muffaletta sandwiches, no doubt. You’re supposed to have a specific kind of bread, specific meats and cheeses, and a particular blend of olives. We had all the deli meats I felt like paying for (some ham, a few kinds of salami, a little bit of capicola and a little bit of prosciutto) and a delightful salad made of things that fell out of my cupboard into my food processor.

I think I used three cans of black olives, two skinny jars of green olives, maybe six little pepproncini, half a jar of capers, some olive oil, and a little wine vinegar. I would have put some giardiniera salad in there, but I couldn’t find it. Our refrigerator is a travesty. Parsley would have been good, but we had none. 

This picture makes me laugh because the sandwich appears to be eating itself. Monch monch.

We ate very early because Sophia had an art show. They made it fancy, with a little jazz band, and the whiter the kids were, the harder the adults in the audience bopped their heads, as if they could will rhythm into existence with their necks. The good will in a room full of parents listening to their teenagers playing jazz solos will save the world. 

I thought Sophia’s self portrait was pretty good!

Although as you can see, in real life she doesn’t actually have a mouth or nose, so she had to use her imagination. Strange times. 

While we were gone, Clara whipped up a Bruno and Rat cake, as one does. 

I still haven’t seen Encanto, but this seems like a good cake to me. 

Best rat cookies I’ve seen in quite some time. 

I’m not sure what these are for.

Some kind of interactive element? I guess we will find out when the kids come home from school today. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

I didn’t even buy any cheese. I can feel how much cheese there is in this house. By the end of the day, God willing, there will be less. 

In conclusion, I just noticed I have tagged this post both “olive salad” and “olives salid,” and I guess that’s fine. 

Bulgogi dupap (soy garlic beef)

A Korean dish of tender strips of sweet and savory garlicky beef, served over rice. Adapted from Cook Korean! by Robin Ha

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs beef chuck, sliced as thinly as you can
  • 3 onions (divided)
  • 1-1/2 heads garlic (20 cloves or more)
  • 3 inches fresh ginger
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil (divided)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, divided
  • 12 oz mushrooms

cooked rice

sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine 1.5 of the onions, the garlic, the ginger, the kiwis, the soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil, and the sugar and pepper. Combine until blended. Marinate the sliced beef in this for at least three hours.

  2. Cut the mushrooms and the remaining 1.5 onions into thin slices. Cut most of the scallion (green parts) into three-inch pieces. Save out a few and slice thinly for a garnish.

  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet and sauté the beef until it's just slightly browned, then add the onions, scallions, and mushrooms and continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked. You may have to cook in batches to avoid crowding the pan.

  4. Serve meat and vegetables over cooked rice. Top with scallion garnish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

What’s for supper? Vol. 269: In which I push my luck

Happy Fribeday! Today’s edition includes several delightful foods I certainly did not cook myself, plus some rolls which no one but me could or would have made. And I am wined and dined and manage to complain about it. 

So, Saturday and Sunday and part of Monday, Damien and I were away at a little getaway for an early anniversary trip. 24 years, just about! We somewhat randomly decided to go to Canobie Lake Park Screeemfest, which means their normal amusement park with miscellaneous spooky decorations, plus some haunted houses and shows.

American Halloween is weird, man. It’s such a mishmash of different aesthetics. We both discovered that we don’t like haunted houses at all anymore. I honestly think I would have just gotten completely overwhelmed and not been able to find my way out, so Damien basically grabbed me and pulled me through as fast as possible, and then we sat on a bench for a while until I could stop saying, “My goodness.”  We did go on a bunch of normal rides, including bumper cars, my favorite ecstatic swings-on-chains one, and one that is the same as a washing machine spin cycle, except that, instead of the dirty water going out, it is your blood trying to escape. 

The first thing we did was eat, though, which may have been a tactical error, but I was starving! We both had a smoked brisket sandwich with jalapeños, coleslaw, and beer. Holy cow, it was delicious.

Can’t remember the name of the vendor, but they were set up near the flying rooster ride. I really must learn how to smoke brisket. We used to occasionally have brisket when I was growing up, but Jewish brisket is not the same as smoked brisket on a sandwich. I have no desire to recreate the occasional brisket of my childhood. 

We stayed at the park for a few hours until we began to feel too old, and then made our way to the hotel. We had requested a second night, but hadn’t heard back, so Damien called the front desk, who rather rudely told him to talk to Priceline, who had him wait for a long time before letting him know that they didn’t really know what was going on and he should talk to the hotel, who then informed him that the hotel was all booked up. I was a tiny bit relieved, and it smelled somewhat like wee in there, and I also had it in my head that there might be bedbugs (there weren’t). Damien then booked a room at a much nicer hotel at Hampton Beach for the second night with no problem. This becomes important later. I was a little nervy, with the imaginary bedbugs, and my blood trying to escape, and only slept a few hours, but we were still having fun! I brought orange juice. 

SUNDAY

We got up, went to Mass — well, went to what turned out to be the wrong church, and then launched ourselves to the right church only a few minutes late for Mass — and then proceeded to Newburyport, MA. We didn’t really have a plan, but it looked like a pretty town, so we stopped for lunch.

I quickly realized that it was an aggressively nice town. Half the roads were cobblestone, either original or put in just to be cute, it was hard to say. Absolutely adorable architecture, gift shops selling silver and crystals and mermaid everything everywhere, touristy to the max. A trans woman with long white hair and a long white dress playing a harp in the town commons, and every single damn dog I saw was in a stroller. I quietly renamed it Painintheass, MA in my head. Honestly, a really nice town, but just Too Too Much.  However, after I browsed around the shops and Damien got some work done at a café, we got a table at a lovely restaurant by the riverwalk, and had a magnificent brunch at Sea Level Oyster Bar

We had an order of fried calamari that included batter fried hot peppers, very nice

but the real star was the oysters. I have never had such wonderfully fresh, luscious, tasty oysters. There were three different kinds

and one of the accompaniments was a tart pineapple mignonette. Wowzers. 

I ordered something called Sluice Juice IPA from Bent Water beer. Terrible name, but a really wonderful beer, very citrusy and refreshing, with lots of different flavors. I don’t really like beer unless I’m eating, and this was the absolute perfect beer to go with seafood. 

 

The only non-chocolate dessert was apple pie in a jar, so I ordered that. It came with what must have been a sugared mermaid or fishtail crust garnish, but it looked more like antlers and didn’t taste like much. The rest was lovely, though, tart and fresh with plenty of whipped cream and a kind of streusel on the bottom. 

We had a seat near the water (I think it’s the Merrimack River), the service was fast and friendly, and I would absolutely go back to that very pleasant restaurant.

We spent a little time browsing the antique market (which requires vaccines and masks), and stopped at a Greek gift store, where I had spotted a blue icon sun catcher I wanted, and then got bullied into buying a quite expensive bottle of olive oil from Sparta. Yia Yia was very persuasive. She kept shouting at us, and there was something about her three grandchildren in heaven that she cooks for every night using that same oil. I swear I only had one beer, and that’s what she said. I narrowly avoided buying an entire can of the oil, which was $50. She also threw in some oregano. 

We eventually got back on the road and found ourselves in Seabrook, which has a nuclear power plant, but it turns out you can only see it in the summer. And then we got to Hampton Beach. 

Here’s the short version of what happened next: We had allegedly checked in online, and should have been able to go straight to our room, but it didn’t work. When we tried to check in at the desk, the clerk seemed a little flustered, and asked if my name was [something other than Simcha]. Then she said that there was another family also called Fisher, and that was unusual.

Ok? I didn’t think much of it until we got up to our room and unlocked the door, and … There were already some people in that room! Goodness gracious. So embarrassing. 

At first we apologized, but then we realized our key had opened the door. So I said, “Wait a minute, is your last name Fisher?” And it was.

It turns out the other Fisher family’s credit card had been declined, but the clerk thought we were all together, so they went ahead and put them in the room and charged our card! And then when we checked in, they charged our card again! So we got charged twice, but did not get a room! So I sat down in the hall with our luggage, and Damien went to the desk to straighten things out. And see if they actually had a room for us!

Which they did, eventually. With an upgrade, as is meet and just. We had a great ocean view and a big ol’ bed and a big ol’ balcony, and I opened the door to the ocean and cranked up the heat and we just put our feet up for a while, whuffing the breeze and not doing anything for a while, because it was already evening by this point.  It was at this point that I began to think we had packed in too much walking for someone with arthritis in her hip, and too much driving for people who are supposed to be relaxing, and possibly not accounted for this much ridiculousness for a very short weekend, but what can you do.

We eventually made our way to the hotel restaurant, where I ordered maple bacon scallops and a white Russian

which tasted exactly like it sounds, hot and tasty if not terribly sophisticated. Then I ordered a Reuben and another white Russian, and we just kept reminding each other that there is an employment crisis and the waitress is obviously trying her best, because it took about five hours to get that damn sandwich. 

At this point, I was fairly white Russian, and wasn’t able to make much headway in the sandwich. I will say that that was the most goyishe pickle I’ve ever had in my life. It was just a piece of cucumber having a hard time, that’s all. (Yes, we tipped well. Everybody’s having a hard time.) 

So up to the room and I stashed my leftover Reuben in the mini fridge. All night long, the fridge was making these peculiar clattering, howling sounds, and I kept thinking, “This is the second night in a row that I’m not sleeping at all! I should get up an unplug the fridge! But no, my Reuben is in there!” Finally, around 5 a.m., I drifted off to sleep. At 7 a.m., the neighbors STARTED UP A KARAOKE PARTY. Sweet Caroline, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, the whole nine yards. Who does that?? Damien called the front desk to complain. This being the same crew that so adroitly arranged the whole Schrödinger’s Fishers rooming situation, they honestly did not do a great job making the neighbors be quiet; but eventually they sang themselves out, and we dozed off again, and then it was time to check out. We somewhat blearily packed up our stuff and put it all in the car, and then we had a few hours to enjoy the beach; only, to be honest we were both freaking exhausted, and it was cold. So we spent a little time breathing in the salt air and watching the seagulls swoop around, then picked out some candy for the kids, and then we were all done. And I forgot my Reuben.

It was a very pretty ride home, though, really the very peak of foliage glory. A few times, we would come around a bend and get smacked in the face with so much color, we both just started laughing. I do love that man. We have the weirdest anniversaries, though. 

MONDAY
Chili

We used to do a big Italian feast for Columbus Day, but we’ve moved that to St. Joseph’s day, because, c’mon. We didn’t have a lot of time to put together anything indigenous, but Damien made a highly delicious chili.

Jump to Recipe

Do you know, it’s not easy to take a photo of chili that shows it looking delicious, but I tried.

I might have knocked down the salt content a bit, but it was nicely spicy and the balance of meat to bean and corn was great. I had mine with sour cream, cheese, and chives.

Did eat leftovers for lunch.

TUESDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

On the theory that we may be dead tomorrow anyway, I went ahead and set out the good Greek olive oil and weakly warned the children that it was Very Expensive Indeed, and then just walked away. 

As you can see, I sloshed on as much as I liked. Maybe we’ll be dead tomorrow. It was really good. Tasted like olives. 

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs on homemade french bread

On Wednesday, Dora borrowed my car and did my afternoon school pick-up, meaning I had the afternoon free to fritter away in whatever manner I pleased. So I made a bunch of meatballs in the morning.

Jump to Recipe

I made them with about four pounds of ground beef and two pounds of ground turkey, which happened to be on sale. This lightens meatballs up quite a bit, and I prefer them this way. I cook my meatballs on a broiler pan in a 450 oven, and then transfer them to a pot with sauce. This is ten thousand times easier, neater, and faster than pan-frying them, and they’re not quite as scrumptious, but they are meatballs, absolute balls of meat, and nobody every complains.

The roll, though.

Aldi was completely out of rolls when I went shopping. Aldi is like that. They have such great prices and some really wonderful products and treats, but then they’ll be like, “Oh sorry, we’re not doing the whole bread thing today” or they’ll act like they never heard of potatoes. You have to assume, when you go to Aldi, that you’ll also be going somewhere else afterward.

OR, you could think, “Wait, I don’t have to go anywhere this afternoon! I could MAKE MY OWN ROLLS!” Forgetting for the moment that you’re kind of a cruddy baker and your bread turns out well maybe one in five times. 

Jump to Recipe

Well, I did remember a good tip, which is that you can proof your dough in the Instant Pot. Grease the pot, plonk your dough in there, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and press the “yogurt” button. If you need more of a cover, use a plate or a pot lid, not the regular Instant Pot cover, because, as a few friends warned me, you’ll have a horrible time picking the dough out of the sealing ring and the valve and such if it rises too much. 

My dough rose pretty well the first time, but then I decided to start a huge bulb planting project, and I think here is where my bread went wrong, because I had to keep setting timers and dashing in and out of the house, and not always hearing the timer because I was planting bulbs next to the highway and it was pretty loud, what with trucks rushing past and people honking at me. I had a giant tub of cayenne pepper I was spreading around to keep the squirrels from digging up my bulbs, and the wind was blowing, and the cars were honking, and my alarm kept going off, and I kept running in and out, I don’t know. It always goes wrong somehow. Also I was kind of low on flour, so I had to throw some cornmeal in there. Anyway, I decided to make a bunch of short, skinny rolls, and some of them looked so flabby, I tried to scrunch them up a bit before putting them in to bake, and THAT  . . .

IS HOW I GOT TARDIGRADE ROLLS.

Water bear rolls!

Moss piglet(?) rolls!

A lot of them actually turned out looking like normal rolls, but I didn’t take pictures of those, because this isn’t actually a cooking post, sorry. 

They tasted okay. Slightly mealy, no doubt because of the cornmeal. 

THURSDAY
Yakitori chicken, rice

Damien made this fabulous Japanese chicken on the grill. He made a triple recipe of this sauce, and you’re supposed to use it on boneless, skinless chicken on skewers, but I got offended at the boneless, skinless chicken price, so I came home with about 20 intact chicken thighs, and he opted to cook it that way. Great choice. I don’t know if “yakitori” means that it’s on skewers, or if it refers to the sauce. I just don’t know. But look at this chicken!

This is how he prepared it: He whisked together the sauce ingredients and boiled and stirred for 5 minute until it thickened up. He set aside half the sauce and then smoked the chicken for about an hour, coating it on both sides with the sauce a few times. Then he grilled the chicken and coated it over indirect flames, and coated and smoked a little more to make sure everything was cooked all the way.

He served the chicken with the rest of the sauce, plus sesame seeds and chopped scallions. I made a big pot of rice cooked in chicken broth, which the kids consider a delicacy.  

Deee-licious. The sauce is sharp and dark savory and tasted wonderful with the charred chicken skin. I really hope we have this again. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese for the kids, possibly fried calamari 

On the way home from our wanderings on Monday, we stopped to pick up the chili ingredients, and I happened to see a bunch of frozen calamari rings, which I couldn’t turn down because they don’t sell it at my normal supermarkets. How much should I push my luck? How hard could it be? Actually I think Damien is going to make fried calamari. I don’t even know what I’m for around here, anymore. I guess I do yoga and eat, and sometimes I plant flowers for the spring, just in case. 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

Damien's Indigenous Chili

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz canned kidney beans, drained
  • 16 oz canned corn, drained
  • 16 oz beer
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2+ Tbsp cumin
  • 2+ Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bottle (?) Frank's Hot Sauce
  • olive oil for frying

sour cream, chopped chives, shredded cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Cook up the onions garlic and peppers in a little olive oil until soft.

  2. Add meat, brown, and add salt and pepper.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and then cover loosely and simmer a couple of hours.

  4. Serve with sour cream, chopped chives, and shredded cheese.