What’s for Supper? Vol. 378: In which nobody goes to the emergency room

In haste! In haste! For today is a half day, and I have to go get my punkass kids. It is the final day of teacher appreciation week, and I love that they’re topping it off by making all the kids go away. Truly the gift from the heart. 

Speaking of gifts from the heart, this week having been mother’s day week, I decided to make all foods that I like this week. It was a very tasty week! But also very stupid, as you will see. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Well, I do like hot dogs, but this was more about convenience on a shopping day. But I do like hot dogs. And convenience!

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries, lemon meringue pie with strawberry compote

Damien shopped for and put together these excellent sandwiches (toasted baguettes with red pesto, olive oil, and vinegar, with provolone, prosciutto, capicola, sandwich pepperoni, tomatoes, and fresh basil), and made fries

and Clara made some wonderful pies, using my pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

and the filling and meringue from Sally’s Baking Addiction,

plus, as you can see, a layer of homemade strawberry compote between the lemon and meringue

Absolutely splendid. Perfect. I wish I had gotten pictures from the morning, when she made it, because by dessert time it had gone the way meringues tend to go, but it was still airy and wonderful. 

All the kids came over, and showered me with thoughtful and delightful presents. I spent most of the day following my heart, which meant working on my bog bridge. I worked on it off and on throughout the week, when I had 45 minutes to spare and it wasn’t raining, and it’s almost ready to put in place! I AM VERY EXCITED. In fact, at one point I got a little over-excited. As you will see. 

MONDAY
Fajita beef bowl, pineapple

London broil was on sale, so I got a bunch and sliced it up thin and marinated it most of the day in this yummy marinade

Jump to Recipe

I did all the prep work in the morning: Sauteed some sweet peppers, roasted some corn, chopped cilantro, cut up some limes, and found the shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips, and I prepped the rice in the Instant Pot. Sometimes we also have black beans with this dish, but we just had them last week and I just wasn’t bean ready yet. We also usually have chopped scallions, but I forgot. 

Before dinner, I cranked up the broiler and (to be honest, slightly over)cooked the meat

and I piled up my bowl with rice and meat and toppings and ate outside with the birdies. 

Oh, I also cut up the pineapple I meant to serve last week. Lovely meal, very popular. 

TUESDAY
Two pizzas, not three

On Tuesday, I was super busy all day with I don’t even remember what, so I as soon as I got home in the afternoon, I made three pizzas very fast. One olive, one half plain and half Hawaiian using the leftover pineapple from Monday, and one pepperoni using leftover pepperoni from the Italian sandwiches. We had a lot of pepperoni left, so I was pretty lavish with the toppings on this.

Feeling very brisk and accomplished, I preheated the oven, set the pizzas on the counter, and asked Elijah to put them in at 5:10. Then I went outside to work on my bridge. 

I was slapping wood stain on as fast as I could, and even though I was increasingly covered with wood stain and blackfly bites, feeling pretty great about life in general, when Elijah comes out and says, “You don’t have to come inside or anything, but how many pizzas are there?”

I say there are three. I’m the tiniest bit annoyed, because it’s not like it’s a big kitchen or something. Three extra large pizzas, pretty much front and center, can’t really miss them. Definitely three pizzas. 

He says, “Okay, I can only find two. And there is an empty pan.” 

So of course I go inside, and he is correct. Two pizzas which are now in the oven, and one pizza pan, still on the counter, with smears of grease and flour on it.

WHAT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY HAPPENED TO IT? 

What indeed.

Now, you know I’m sharing this story because the dog did not die. I will also confess that we did not take him to the vet. If we took that dog to the vet every time he ate something stupid, we’d be investigated by GoFundMe for an implausible number of emergencies. 

And to be honest, we weren’t 100% convinced it was the dog who made the pizza disappear. First we searched all over the house in case it somehow . . . left. Which sounds dumb, but it was very strange! The pan was there, the pizza was gone. We thought of the cat, who does steal whatever food he can carry and has no conscience at all. And we thought of, uh, other possibilities

And the dog seemed fine! He wasn’t bloated or uncomfortable or acting like his butt was any more haunted than usual.

But we couldn’t think of any other place the pizza might have gone, besides down his gullet. He does have very poor impulse control, even for a dog. 

The danger is that the dough would expand in his tummy and do terrible twisty things to his innards, or that it would produce alcohol and poison him from the inside out. Soooo Damien stayed up until 2 a.m. observing him. That makes nine full hours after the dog apparently ate the raw pizza. He did burp. And that was all. 

Friends, this is the almighty power of a boxer’s digestive system. You can judge us if you want for not taking him to the ER, but Sonny himself would give you some side eye for that. 

Well, maybe not a side eye, because his eye placement doesn’t really allow for that, but he would do his best. Sonny always does his best. As do we all. 

WEDNESDAY
Sweet spicy Korean meatballs, sweet pepper lo mein

New recipe! I came across this recipe for gochujang meatballs with apricot glaze and couldn’t look away. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used fresh ginger instead of powdered. Super easy, and it was fab. Tasted like party food. You just mix up the meatball ingredients and bake them, and then roll them around in the heated glaze which is just three ingredients, and serve.

I had already served rice that week and I was planning to do it agin, so rather than making rice as a side, I made a vegetable lo mein, as you can see. I usually make lo mein with linguine or fettuccine, but this time I had some very thin Chinese noodles I had grabbed at the International Market. They boiled up in no time, like two minutes, which was fun. I did my easy lo mein sauce

Jump to Recipe

I sauteed up some minced ginger and garlic, then added the leftover sweet peppers, then a little mirin, then the noodles and sauce and heated it all up. Delicious. The whole meal came together, start to finish, in like 45 minutes (moving fast). 

Definitely making these meatballs again. They tasted like party food. They would also be good, maybe even better, with ground turkey.

THURSDAY
Chicken biryani, giant taboon

I’ve had biryani on my mind for a few weeks, so today was the day. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, and that really is the superior kind of chicken for it, but what was on sale was chicken ribs, so that’s what I used. 

I also used actual basmati rice, which I sometimes am too cheap for. I had forgotten this, but it cooks up much faster than short grain white rice; so if you struggle with getting the rice cooked all the way through with biryani, it definitely helps to have the right rice! Anyway I anticipated undercooked rice, so I made the biryani in the morning and put it in the slow cooker for the rest of the day, which generally takes care of any chompy rice by dinner time. 

Turned out great. This being Mother’s Choice week, I did not omit the golden raisins, which the kids don’t like. But they’re easy to pick out, so that’s what they did.

And maybe I went around after dinner and ate up all the little plump, savory, leftover golden raisins on their plates, who can say. Maybe I’m the one who ate the pizza!

(I did not.) So, the chicken breast was a little bit dry, as I expected. Still a wonderful dish. I keep thinking I might try a different biryani recipe, but everyone likes this one, so why. 

At the last minute, I decided to make a Giant Taboon. My naan is kind of hit or miss, mostly miss, and it was too late to start it anyway, but taboon is fast and easy and delightful. Five minutes to put the ingredients together, an hour to rise, ten minutes to rest the dough, and 10-15 minutes to bake. I called everyone down for supper, and then I pulled this lovely pneumatic lady out of the oven:

I made it with a big rolled lip out of force of habit, because I usually make tabboon to go along with mussakhan (Palestian chicken with sumac and red onions) and you serve the chicken right on top of the bread

and I like to make a little lip to keep the juices in. Aghh, I gotta make mussakhan again. It’s so good. 

Oh, I’m almost at the end of the week and I didn’t tell you about my leetle misadventure with wood. The short version is that I had already cut away the rotten wood, replaced it with sound wood, and attached cross pieces on, and stained the underside; and also retrieved the pieces I already laid into the swamp before I realized I really needed to stain them. So then I wanted to flip the two long pieces over so I could stain the other side; but I couldn’t do it the horizontal way, which is easier, because I didn’t want to snap the cross pieces off

So I did what any mother would do: I dragged the kids into it. Four of us hoisted up one short end and carefully walked our hands down until it was basically standing on its end. Then I was like, “Okay, now just me and Lena, and everyone else get out of the way, and Lena, you stand to the side, because it might leap out!” 

You know this is a dumb story. Dumber than the dog eating the whole raw pizza, because his excuse is that he is a dog, whereas I am a college graduate and this was a very dumb idea. 

So we gave it a big shove, and of course it did leap out, but not like I expected, and it thwacked both me and Lena so hard that we both fell down and its fwiggen lucky we didn’t both have multiple broken bones. Do you want to see my leg?? 

Well, I just spent kind of a long time trying to figure out how to insert some code for one of those “click to see image” things, but I’m too full of raw dough, I mean I can’t figure it out, but for some misbegotten reason I really want to show you my leg, which isn’t even that bad. Lena’s is much worse. I’ll put the image at the end of the recipes, and if you are really motivated, you can scroll all the way down and see my leg. I find bruises fascinating, and this one kind of looks like a leaping rabbit. Madeline would be proud.

Oh, so then the long piece was somehow suspended in the air like this

I slapped a bunch of stain on it and dragged a tarp over it just as it began to rain, because I may be an idiot, but I’m not really sure how this sentence is supposed to end.

Damien promised that, when I was ready to flip the second long piece over, I should call him and he he would come over and say, “No, not like that! You’ll get hurt!” (He also said he would help flip it over.) This is what you call traditional marriage roles, and I didn’t even have to become a football player to figure it out. 

P.S. The dog did go to the vet today for his shots, and they confirmed that he is fine, and just likes pizza. Who among us. 

FRIDAY
I don’t know. 
I was planning tuna boats, but Moe and Eliora are coming over, so maybe I will take it up a notch. Or maybe not! Maybe I will throw some wood at them and pretend I thought they ate the pizza. This is MY WEEK, and I can do what I want! Which always turns out well. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

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.

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

WATCH OUT, HERE COMES A PICTURE OF MY LEG 

Probably not as bad as you were expecting, with all that build-up. But doesn’t it look like a rabbit? 

What’s for supper? Vol. 364: Char who?

In haste! In haste! I am running out to buy a new (to me) cabinet and countertop from Facebook Marketplace. Where will it go? There are several reasonable possibilities, but I have my eye on this spot:

which is . . . fine. I JUST cleaned the floor a couple days ago, and it already looks like this again because of that huge gap, and there is an immobile piece of wood that makes it really hard to get pans in and out, and the open shelves mean everything is constantly filthy, and the whole thing wobbles, and SO ON. But it’s fine. 

The countertop itself is also kind of

. . .not the worst thing I have ever seen. HOWMEVER, I am pretty excited about the new piece! A cherry cabinet WITH DOORS and little sliding drawers on the shelves, and a marble countertop. Don’t tell me anything bad about marble. I cannot hear it right now. Tell me later. 

Okay, here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Turkey wraps, hot pretzels

Slightly weird combination of things that we either happened to have, or happened to be on sale: Turkey, salami, capicola, some kind of cheese, and lettuce. 

I guess that’s not actually that weird. I had mine with ranch dressing and it was pretty tasty. The wraps are allegedly spinach-flavored, but this was not discernible. 

SUNDAY
Jambalaya, corn bread

Kielbasa was on sale and I found a bag of shrimp in the freezer, and I thought there might be leftover chicken in the fridge. There turned out not to be, but I made the jambalaya anyway

Jump to Recipe

which is my own cobbled-together recipe, and is reasonably spicy and easy. I did start out with the “holy trinity” of onions, pepper, and celery, and here’s that with the kielbasa and shrimp added: 

Purty. 

I had a little corn meal, so I made a corn bread just following the recipe on the bag: 

Que bella luna!

Then I finished up the jambalaya and took a rather arty photo of it:

It was a little dry, but not bad. 

MONDAY
Bagel, egg, and cheese sandwiches with sausages, OJ

What’s not to like? 

and yes, American cheese is the correct cheese for this meal. 

TUESDAY
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, terrible kale

Oven fried chicken delights again. I got the thighs and drumsticks soaking in milk, egg, and salt in the morning, and made a bunch of mashed potatoes and put them in the slow cooker to stay warm. Then I tried to figure out what the third thing would be. I settled on kale cooked in the manner of collard greens

This . . . should have worked. I sauteed up the garlic and onions and spices and added in the cider vinegar, and then started stuffing in the kale

and then I stirred in the broth and liquid smoke. Then my Instant Pot had a fit, and started exploding steam (I just about caca’d myself, let me tell you) and then started burning, so I had some doubts about how it would come out. I think it could have survived those things, but I made some kind of fatal error with measuring, and it tasted FOUL. Hard to believe, when it has such an exquisite appearance, I know:

but take my word for it, it was disgusting. It tasted like rotten greens soaked in penny juice, with gym socks. Bleh.  

However, the oven fried chicken turned out great. Did I put the recipe yet? Here it is:

Jump to Recipe

then seasoned the flour and dredged the soaked chicken in in. I put a pan in the oven with the oil and butter. I took a picture of this for some reason, so here’s that: 

and then you just lay the chicken down in the heated-up pan, and you have to turn it one time, but otherwise it just takes care of itself

Comes out really nice. Crisp skin, juicy meat. What’s not to like. 
The potatoes were good, too. I took this picture before I realized what I was in for, kale-wise:

Can’t win ’em all. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, guacamole and chips

I had a bunch of avocados I had bought for the wraps, but they weren’t ripe, so I made some guacamole

Jump to Recipe

and picked up some tortilla chips.

Boop, dinner. 

THURSDAY
Cheater char siu . . . bowls? 

I don’t know what to call this. The plan was bibimbap, but I just had this hunk of pork without a specific recipe in mind, and Thursday instantly revealed itself to b a crazy-go-nuts day. So I threw the pork in the Instant Pot along with this easy sauce I invented

Jump to Recipe

and cooked it for I think 25 minutes. I also cut up some cucumbers, dished up some raw sugar snap peas, and quick-pickled some carrots. 
Here’s my recipe for quick-pickled vegetables

Jump to Recipe

but I was rushing too much to look it up, so I did a cup of white vinegar, a cup of water, and probably 1/4 cup white sugar, and it turned out fine. 

I won’t bore you with the details, but we had an insane afternoon (the low point was me yelling into the phone in the hospital lobby, “Well, they must have somebody else’s blood, then!” [they didn’t]), so I asked Damien to take the meat out of the IP and start some rice cooking; and when I got home, I sliced/shredded the meat and put it in a pan on the stove along with most of the sauce, and simmered and stirred it until the sauce thickened up and coated the meat

it took probably 25 minutes. Would have gotten thicker and stickier if I had kept going, but everyone was hungry! I fried up some eggs for anyone who wanted one (including the dog, because we’ve had some sharp words lately, and I had regrets).

For an insane day, it was a really good meal!

I don’t know what it was, exactly, but I’m not going to argue with a hot bowl of tasty things. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Oh, and Corrie’s box turtle came! In the mail! He’s just a baby, and is about the size of a half dollar.

This is her early birthday present, and she was and is absolutely smitten.

His name is Captain Cheez Whiz. 

Here he is getting a tender and loving bath:

He’s surprisingly charming! He marches around intrepidly and is quite alert and bright-eyed, and when he gets tired, he just goes into his corner and buries himself. We all agreed that he may be onto something. 

Okay! That’s it! 

bastardized jambalaya

completely inauthentic, just things that seem tasty to me

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 rope jambalaya, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 5 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • raw shrimp
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups raw brown or long grain rice
  • 10-oz can diced tomatoes with chilies

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, heat up the oil. Brown up the kielbasa. Add in the onions, celery, and green pepper and continue stirring and cooking over medium heat until the vegetables are somewhat soft.

  2. Add in the garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more. Add in the raw shrimp and stir.

  3. Pour in the chicken broth, rice, and tomatoes with any juice. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is cooked.

 

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. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

Quick Chinese "Roast" Pork Strips

If you have a hankering for those intensely flavorful strips of sweet, sticky Chinese roast pork but you don't want to use the oven for some reason, this works well, and you can have it in about an hour and a half, start to finish. You will need to use a pressure cooker and then finish it on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 4+ lbs pork roast

For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice

Instructions

  1. Blend all sauce ingredients together. Put the pork in the Instant Pot, pour the sauce over it, close the lid, close the valve, and set to high pressure for 22 minutes.

  2. When pork is done, vent. Remove pork and cut into strips, saving the sauce.

  3. Put the pork in a large sauté pan with the sauce and heat on medium high, stirring frequently, for half an hour or more, until sauce reduces and becomes thick and glossy and coats the meat.

5 from 1 vote
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quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 362: Add sugar and stir

Happy Friday! I just ordered oil (we are out), set up a car inspection (it is trash), started some evaluation forms for some of the kids (just plain nuts), and I bought new batteries for my hungry hungry ClearBlue monitor, and wrote a RATHER DIRE scripture reflection about how if you are faithless, your children are gonna get burned up in demon fire; so I’m all ready to have a nice weekend now. How are you? I’m thinking of getting into winter sowing. I know there will be flowers because I’m planting seeds blah blah blah. Well, there will be squash, anyway. And I just got new glasses, and I feel like someone cleaned out my tank. 

We had some decent food this week. One new recipe and a few variations on old recipes. Read on, and please applaud for how much leftover food I thriftily used up!

SATURDAY
Rotisserie chicken and pizza rolls for kids; Mexican food for grownups

First, before getting thrifty, we all needed a little break, so I got some kid-pleasers for the kids, and Damien and I went to the local Señor Tadpole’s, where we were seated quickly, but they seemed to be a bit understaffed. About half an hour later the waitress brought over my taster’s plate and part of Damien’s order, and nervously explained that someone else had taken his fajita.

Which was unfortunate, because he had actually ordered a chimichanga. ANYWAY, eventually he got his food, and fellas, let me tell you something: A hungry man being kind and patient and understanding toward a harassed waitress is a really good way to impress a lady, for instance your wife. 

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlet sandwiches, chips

The plan for Sunday was caprese chicken burgers, easy peasy lemon squeezy; but they were out of chicken burgers, difficult difficult lemon difficult. But chicken breasts were on sale, and I was determined not to blow the budget this week, so I somewhat grumpily bought some chicken breasts, sliced them, pounded them flat, egged and breaded them, and oven fried them. 

Jump to Recipe

They turned out good, maybe a little greasier than I would like.  

Actually I tried a slightly different technique this time. I was a little short on breadcrumbs, and I was afraid the chicken might be bland; so rather than seasoning the breadcrumbs, I heavily seasoned the meat itself, and sort of massaged it in with a rubber spatula. Then I dipped it quickly in the egg mixture so the seasonings would stay on, and breaded it.

It worked great! I don’t know if it would work with chicken that has the skin on, which is what I usually use for oven frying; but chicken breast, especially if it’s been tenderized with a mallet, is basically a sponge for flavor, so why not. Get them spices in there.

I sliced up a bunch of baguettes and served the chicken with sliced tomatoes and basil, sliced cheese, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was a pretty popular meal. 

MONDAY
Japanese chicken thighs, sesame broccoli, rice 

I have this nice recipe for yakitori chicken, which is pieces of saucy chicken on a skewer. I had a bunch of thighs and definitely didn’t feel like de-boning it and threading it on sticks, but I did pull the skin off and make this lovely, easy sauce.

I divided the sauce, and coated the chicken in some of it and broiled it, and used a bit more to brush on when it was halfway cooked. I added sesame seeds and chopped scallions when it came out of the oven.

Savory, sweet and sticky, and really good! I sure wish I had thought to line the pan with parchment paper, though. But the chicken came out moist and delicious. I’ve made this recipe with the chicken grilled outside, and that’s even better; but the broiler did a pretty good job. 

The other part of the sauce, that I saved out, I put into the amazing gravy boat/pitcher/pouring vessel Clara made for me. Check it out:

But wait, check out the inside:

Boogie boogie boogie! I heartily recommend having artistic children with ancient tastes, to dress up your Japanese chicken. 

 

 

I made a tray of quick sesame broccoli

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and it was a good little meal, with just a little prep work and tons of flavor. 

The sauce was really great on the rice and broccoli, too. I may make a big batch of it and just keep it on hand for all-purpose Asian use. 

TUESDAY
Pork meatball soup, fried rice, steamed buns

Tuesday, I was set to give blood, so I did my cooking in the morning. I’m sorry if this is pushy and obnoxious, but PLEASE GIVE BLOOD IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD. There’s a horrible shortage and there’s just . . . not a substitute for blood. 

Anyway, I took the leftover pork dumpling filling out of the freezer, where I put it on New Year’s Eve. Here’s the pork dumpling recipe, and I discovered that if you forget to drain the extra moisture out of the cabbage, it still turns out fine, so you can probably skip that step. Just another service I provide by being dumb!

So I had decided I didn’t have time to make dumplings, but I did have time to fry up little meatballs. But I had used up all the breadcrumbs making the chicken cutlets, so they were a little slumpy, and not really “balls” in any meaningful sense. 

Still tasty, though, and that’s what counts. I made the soup more or less following this recipe using the leftover matchstick carrots from last week’s gochujang bulgoki. I’m determined to use up more leftover food and not throw so much out.

When the soup was simmering, I started on the fried rice. I’m so smart, I deliberately made extra rice for the previous day’s meal, so I would have some leftover for this day. I had also saved last week’s ham, which I diced up. I chopped up some carrots and the white part of the bok choy (the greens went into the soup) and a bunch of ginger and garlic, and sauteed it up in sesame oil.

Then I dumped on some brown sugar and continued heating and stirring until the sugar got a little dark

then I threw in the diced ham and the leftover rice, and then I sloshed on a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce. I also scrambled up some eggs and threw those in, and some leftover scallions. 

This is very much American Chinese food. Sometimes that’s what the people want! It’s delicious. 

Then I ran around trying to catch up with my dumb schedule, and I almost decided to just leave the meal at that, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead with my plan to make steamed buns, partially because I had bought a bamboo steamer at a thrift store. Yes, this is my third bamboo steamer, what of it? Some people use heroin, I collect bamboo steamers. 

I followed this recipe, which using baking powder instead of yeast.

And I suddenly realized I’ve been using my steamers wrong, slightly. I’ve been setting them inside larger pots or skillets of water, but really they should be on top of a vessel with a smaller diameter than the steamer, so all the steam goes into the steamer. Duh! So I did that.

The buns turned out. . . goodish? The kids liked them. The dough did not get as tender and soft as the recipe said it would, and I definitely didn’t make them as round and smooth as you’re supposed to. I think they were a little too dense; but they did get cooked all the way through (I was afraid they’d be wet and doughy). This was one of the smaller ones; some of them were puffier: 

They are sweet (but you can decrease the amount of sugar if you want) and I think it’s fair to describe them as tender. They have a lot of cornstarch in them, which gives them a silkier texture, so they’re not biscuit-like. Definitely easy, and you just have to let the dough rest for a bit, not do a full rise, so you can make it late in the day. I dunno. Will probably take another shot at them at some point. [Verna Maroney voice:] I GOT THE STEAMERS.

So all in all, a good meal, especially considering I was out of the house most of the day. 

I don’t think I said anything about the soup. It was pretty good. The meatballs were a little soft, but all the flavors were there. I left the ginger in, so it was beautifully gingery. Just a sort of non-specific Asian soup, hey. 

 

WEDNESDAY
Deli sandwiches, potato puffs, veg and dip

Wednesday, I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, but I had a strange combination of deli meats and some brioche buns, so that’s what I served. I also, as you can see, cooked some tater tots, and cut up a bunch of raw vegetables. 

And that’s my story! Thursday turned out so stupid in the afternoon, I was ridiculously consoled by those ketchup-drenched tater tots. 

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, HINT OF LIME chips and salsa

You’ll never guess: Thursday was also stupid. But I did remember to take the bag of shredded chicken out of the freezer (leftover from that nice Persian chicken barley soup from two weeks ago), and fried up a bunch of chicken quesadillas.

The real kicker was the Hint of Lime tortilla chips, which for some reason are rarely available around here. I don’t know why they’re so good, when they’re clearly just doused with some kind of horrific citric acid solution. But they’re just so good. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan red sauce

I haven’t started it yet, but here’s the stupid-easy, three-ingredient recipe:

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or if you like it in picture form, here’s that:

Last time I made this, I did it in the Instant Pot, forgetting that you really need this to simmer and reduce on the stove; so it came out really thin and soupy, rather than rich and savory. Oh well! You live and learn, and then forget, and feel bad about it, take it out on the dog, try again, and eventually end up with some decent pasta. 

I am going to try to go to this women’s retreat in Plymouth with Danielle Bean, which is … tomorrow. Ooh, that snuck up on me! It looks like there are still spots, though, so maybe if you’re nearby, you can come? That would be nice. Danielle is the real deal and I haven’t seen her in quite a while. 

I also finished a thirty-day plank challenge. It took me forty-three days, but did you hear that I FINISHED it? I started a little Facebook group to support and encourage each other, very low-key, no pressure. I’m thinking about starting a new challenge, but if you’re interested, you can take a look at the group, and join if you want to know when the next challenge starts. These things are always so much easier to stick with when there’s other people also suffering, I mean supporting and encouraging each other. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

 

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. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 359: Angel eyes

Happy Friday! We just about made it through the first week of 2024. Hey, I have a great idea! Let’s eat. 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Frozen chicken burgers reporting for duty. 

SUNDAY
DIY sushi, steamed pork dumplings, red bean and Nutella taiyaki

New year’s eve, a.k.a. a reason to eat sushi and dumplings! In the morning, I made about fifty pork dumplings using this recipe. You’re supposed to salt and then drain the extra moisture out of the shredded Napa cabbage, but I flaked out and forgot, and just shredded the cabbage and dumped it in. 

I had some consternation, but I didn’t have any more pork, so I just went ahead and made the dumplings, using my smallest dumpling press.

Zip zap zop! Fifty dumplings. 

Later in the day, I started prepping the sushi ingredients. I got ahi tuna and Damien found some lovely salmon, and we also had pre-cooked little shrimpies, some fake crab (I also dug up an old can of real crab, but it looked horribly mushy, so I tossed it), cucumber spears, mango, avocado, radishes, carrot matchsticks, pickled ginger, and then just all the bottled Asian things I could find, plus sesame seeds, panko breadcrumbs, and red and black caviar, and a nice big package of nori sheets. And crunchy noodles.

I made some nice short-grain rice in the Instant Pot and then folded in the seasoning sauce

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with the help of some avid fanners armed with paper plates.

Truth be told, I didn’t come up with any amazing combinations, and my rolling and cutting skills were not at their peak. Luckily, even boring sushi is delicious. 

I think this one was tuna, radishes, and mango with red caviar and some kind of spicy mayo on top. 

I also bought some calamari rings, which I read somewhere you can use to make sushi inside of (I can’t think of a better way of saying that), but I forgot about it until the last minute, so I just boiled them and then doused them with seasoned rice vinegar. This is not the ideal preparation, but I did take a stab at making a calamari-ring sushi by cramming some rice and salmon inside, and sprinkling black caviar on top

and it tasted exactly like what it was! What do you know about that. 

I got to use my new thrift store bamboo steamer for the first time. I now have two double-decker steamers, which means I can make fifty little dumplings in just two batches. I mean eight batches, but in just two . . . installments. 

I love these dumplings. I don’t even use a dipping sauce; they’re so tasty and lovely on their own. 

There was absolutely no problem with the non-drained cabbage. The dumplings held together fine, and the filling was not drippy or anything. I honestly didn’t notice any difference, so I’ll probably just skip that step in the future. 

I ended up with some extra filling, which I froze, and will probably make into fried meatballs at some point, which I have done before. 

Poorhaps I will put them in soup.

Then Benny made a bunch of taiyaki with her new taiyaki iron. It has a simple recipe that came with the machine — basically waffle batter, but it uses cake flour and additional corn starch, which I believe makes them more tender. (We made cake flour by subtracting a tablespoon from a cup of flour and adding a tablespoon of corn starch.)  They are fluffy inside and have a pleasantly thin, crisp outside.

She made some with Nutella and some with red bean baste, which I ADORE

In conclusion, this is the logo on the can of red bean paste:

Indeed. 

Then we watched A Night At the Opera and at midnight Damien fired off a $5 confetti blaster I got at Walmart, and that . . . was the end of 2023. Whew.

MONDAY
Calzoni, “Angel” cake 

Monday was Sophia’s birthday. She requested olive and pepperoni calzoni, which is nice and easy.

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I label them with a little piece of what’s inside, which is inelegant but effective. 

I asked her what she wanted for a cake, and she said a strawberry box mix cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Decorated how? She said surprise her with something cool and silly, and I could ask Lucy and Irene for ideas. 

Okay. Now, I don’t know if you have ever had three teenage girls at the same time, but if you do, you will know that EVERYTHING’S A TRAP, especially for moms. All you can do is do your best, and remember that you are a human being with dignity, no matter what they say about you. 

So anyway, Lucy and Irene agreed that Sophia would want Angel from Buffy doing that Angel pose with his hands. I can’t find a picture of David Boreanaz doing it, but it’s like this:
 
 
and this has become part of some kind of running joke that I don’t fully  understand. 
 
Perfect. I told Damien my plan, and HE said he heard Lucy, Sophia and Irene discussing how the one thing she DIDN’T want was Angel.
 
So I went back to the girls and said that I had further intel, and needed clarification. They said they were now unsure, and maybe she would like it, and maybe she would hate it. So then I was telling Elijah about this whole situation, and Corrie said SHE was in the room when they were discussing it.
 
Corrie said, “They were doing one of their ‘what-if’ scenarios, and the scenario was if Sophia said she didn’t want a thing, and she said surprise me with anything but that thing, and then someone did surprise her with that.”
 
See what I mean about traps? Somebody was clearly setting somebody up, but I didn’t know who. So I made a strawberry box mix cake, and I made some lemon cream cheese frosting, and I made an Angel cake. More or less. 
 
It even had the right number of candles! And it . . . sort of looked like Angel, kind of. 
 
 
Maybe more like Peter Lorre crossed with the Fonz, but what are you gonna do. The dude is basically shoulders, hair, and eyebrows, but mostly eyebrows, and it’s really important to get them right. 
 
I . . . did not get them right.
 
 

Frosting is an unforgiving medium! Next time I’ll just do this:

 
 
 
But I did do the hands thing:
 
 
Which I also did not nail. But it made her laugh!
And as you may have noticed in the above picture, I had another trick up my sleeve. After we established that it was sort of unclear to me whether Sophia actually wanted an Angel cake or not, I whipped out a little addition I had made of melty candy and toothpicks, and added it to the cake:
 
 

See? Ha! Angel cake, OR NOT. Your choice! Take that! I outwitted them all. And that’s what birthdays are all about. 

 

TUESDAY
Chicken caesar salad

After all the Christmas and New Year’s food and whatnot, it felt like high time to have a salad. But not without some dressing! I made this caesar salad dressing,

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but without anchovies, because we didn’t have any anchovies. Still very rich and kicky

and incidentally about the same color as my dining room walls. 

I roasted some boneless, skinless chicken with oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and served it over romaine lettuce with shaved parmesan cheese and homemade croutons. 

A very fine meal. 

That night, I prepped a giant pork shoulder for tomorrow’s meal . . . 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, raw broccoli, pineapple 

Bo ssam! Everybody loves bo ssam. I have whittled the recipe down to the very basics, which means dry brining a fatty pork shoulder in a cup of salt and and a cup of sugar the night before, wrapping it up in plastic wrap; and then just unwrapping it and chunking it in the oven low and slow (a 300. oven) for about six hours on a pan you’ve covered with a few layers of tin foil; and then right before dinner, you spread a paste made of seven tablespoons of brown sugar,  sea salt, and two teaspoons of cider vinegar on top

crank the oven up to 500 and put the pork back in for ten minutes or so until it has a lovely glaze.

And that’s it. It has a wonderful, caramelized crust on top and the meat inside is outandingly juicy and tender.

Bo ssam is supposed to be eaten with lettuce wraps, but I forgot to buy lettuce. Somehow we forged ahead. This is such a great meal because you don’t even have to cut it up. You just give everybody a fork and let them go to town. 

I made a big pot of rice, cut up some raw broccoli, and cut up a pineapple, and that was that. 

Live forever, bo ssam. 

THURSDAY
Old Bay drumsticks, baked potatoes, mashed squash, coleslaw 

Thursday I knew we were going to go out in the evening (nothing amazing, just a family faith formation meeting), so I oven roasted the drumsticks with a bunch of melted butter and Old Bay seasoning, and then served them cold

along with big hot baked potatoes. I very rarely serve baked potatoes, mainly so it will seem like a treat when I do. 

There was a cabbage in the house (which someone mistakenly bought thinking it was lettuce for the bo ssam, oops), so I made a quick coleslaw with leftover matchstick carrots from the sushi and a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, and pepper

and, feeling like an absolute homesteader, I took out of the freezer the cubed butternut squash cubed I had prepped a few weeks ago. I usually make mashed squash by cooking it in the Instant Pot

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but the trivet has gone missing, and there’s no good substitute if the squash is already cubed! So I roasted it with a little baking soda and kosher salt, and then mashed it up with butter, cinnamon, and a little cayenne pepper. I also usually add brown sugar or honey, but decided to see how it was without it, and it was great!

Definitely sweet enough on its own. So now I know! Nobody noticed the difference. 

FRIDAY
??

I wrote “scrambled eggs and biscuits” on the menu board, which is a little weird. I guess I can make biscuits,

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but Damien and I are going to adoration and then First Friday Mass, so maybe we’ll just ditch the kids and get a pizza. I did one of those “see if you have money in various places you forgot about!” things, and I got a check from the state for $6.42, so I feel like throwing money around. And that’s my story. 

Sushi rice

I use my Instant Pot to get well-cooked rice, and I enlist a second person to help me with the second part. If you have a small child with a fan, that's ideal.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups raw sushi rice
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly and cook it.

  2. In a saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

  3. Put the rice in a large bowl. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture over it while using a wooden spoon or paddle to fold or divide up the cooked rice to distribute the vinegar mixture throughout. You don't want the rice to get gummy or too sticky, so keep it moving, but be careful not to mash it. I enlist a child to stand there fanning it to dry it out as I incorporate the vinegar. Cover the rice until you're ready to use it.

 

 

Calzones

This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones

Ingredients

  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  

 

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn quashes
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.

  2. Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.

  3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.

 

moron biscuits

Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

What’s for supper? Vol. 352: I’ll die with a challah in my hand, Lord, Lord

Happy Friday! Happy Veteran’s Day, sort of! My kids have the day off and they are celebrating by standing around in the kitchen, shouting. HOWEVER, my trip to the neurologist last week was very fruitful, at least potentially. He took me off one of my “feel terrible” drugs, confirmed that another “feel terrible” drug was stupid and useless and I was right to stop taking it, and gave me a prescription for monthly injections I can do at home. The insurance company is still consulting their in-office oracle to see if I’m worthy, but SOON I should be able to start. So I’m excited! I also started using those no-snore nose strips at night, so Damien and I are both sleeping a little better, and I finished Alba Avella’s thirty day yoga for flexibility challenge, and it only took me like ninety days. And I went to confession and I bought a giant bottle of Vitamin D and I’m actually taking it this time, and basically I’m kicking November’s ass. Potentially. 

The cold weather has started in earnest, brr. We’ve had some frost and snow, but I managed to get some last final bulbs in the ground and get my perennial beds prepped for winter before the ground froze, which makes me feel amazing. I trimmed my strawberries and asparagus and covered them with straw and secured it with plastic fencing and bricks, and I made a lovely compost ring around my baby rhubarb.

This is my first time digging into my compost heap, and I didn’t know what I was going to find. I didn’t do anything you’re supposed to do – no turning, no mixing, no careful layering. I just dumped soil and kitchen scraps and duck bedding on it, and sometimes drained the duck water into it. 

So, inside toward the bottom, it is SO RICH. I was afraid it would be, like, just some banana peels and eggshells just hanging out undisturbed, looking at me, like “What?” But everything has decomposed really nicely, and the soil is like chocolate. Amazing.  What a world. 

I also gathered up the last of the marigold, cosmos, and sunflower seeds. I’ve been saving, drying, and storing flower and vegetable seeds for a few months, and it feels better than money in the bank.

Which is good, because there is no money in the bank. But I’m going to have a wonderful garden! 

Anyway! Back to food. I did make a lot of yummy cold-weather food this week. Here’s what we had: 

SATURDAY
Pork ribs, rolls, green beans

Church basement ass kinda meal, but I got home super late from shopping, so we get credit for putting hot food on the table. I thought I was buying frozen peas, but they turned out to be green beans, oh well. 

Ribs just seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted quickly under the broiler. The green beans were delicately flavored with salt. No complaints. 

SUNDAY
Quiche, challah, onion soup, pomegranates

Sunday, nobody had to GO anywhere, and Damien and Moe were working on Moe’s car, and the kids were yakking about challah, so I offered to show Sophia how to make it. We each made one batch of dough, and we did a little John Henry thing and I made mine with the dough hook in the standing mixer, and she mixed and kneaded hers by hand. Here’s the recipe:

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I ended up using more flour in mine to get it to the elastic texture I wanted, so my loaf turned out a little bigger. I’m not sure if that was the only reason it was bigger, or if it also rose differently? Anyway they both turned out good!

Sophia put sesame seeds on hers

Isn’t it lovely? Not bad for her first challah!

and I just left mine plain

Like I said, it was a little bigger, and I wish I had let it bake longer because it was a little damp inside. 

So hers actually turned out better!  I do love challah. I’m not about to start kneading stuff by hand, though. Gotta save my wrists for Crow Pose.  

I also made a couple of quiches. I used to make quiche all the time, and people got pretty burnt out on it, but it’s been years, so I figured it was time. I bought premade pie shells, which I blind baked. Then in one I put baby spinach, crisp bacon and . . . some kind of cheese, which I tragically cannot remember the name of. It was flavored with rosemary. 

In the other quiche, I put crumbled hot sausage and sauteed mushrooms, and more cheese. 

I basically followed this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, except it calls for half milk and half cream, so I used .. . half and half? I’m no mathemagician, but I think that makes sense. 

They did turn out lovely.

The bacon and spinach one was vastly more popular than the mushroom and sausage one, because bacon. Next time, I’ll just make two bacon.

Then I decided it was cold enough that we really needed soup, so I made some simple onion soup. 

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So we had the soup, the quiches, and lots of challah, and it was a cozy, cheerful meal for a cold day.

As you can see, I had a few pomegranates to serve, as well. Pomegranates have many good qualities, not least how you can frighten people who wander into the kitchen and not instantly realize you’re just prepping dinner, and not settling scores

Moe and Eliora came over, and Benny and Corrie made appetizers out of a Halloween kit I bought on clearance. 

Very chic:

I’ll tell you, I got invited to some kind of fancy salon dinner thingy in NY, and if they’re not serving sticky clearance ghost pops, I’m leaving. 

MONDAY
Garlicky turkey meatballs, pork fried rice, kiwi

Monday, ground turkey was still on sale (cheaper than ground beef), so I made Vaguely Asian Meatballs, which Damien and I really like. 

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The key is using fresh ginger and garlic, and you can make these with beef, but I vastly prefer the lighter texture of turkey or chicken. This is a great, easy dish to prep in the morning and then quickly cook before dinner. 

So I made meatballs, and then used the leftover pork to make pork fried rice, which I don’t really have a recipe for. I just chop up whatever aromatics and vegetables I’m using and saute them in sesame oil, then dump on some brown sugar and let it get bubbly and dark. This time I threw in some shredded cabbage and carrot and some leftover diced red onion from something or other

Then the diced up meat, then you add your cooked rice, slosh on a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce, and then I stir in the scrambled eggs. 

Is this how you make fried rice? It’s how EYE make fried rice, and it was pretty popular. I thought it was to sweet, but people liked it. 

I cut up some kiwis and put out some sweet chili sauce for the meatballs, and it was a great little meal, and I used up a lot of leftovers.

TUESDAY
Salad with beef, pears, and goat cheese

Tuesday’s meal was a bit of a disappointment. I had a big hunk of roast beef and I meant to cook it rare and slice it up to serve over salad. I started off okay, by seasoning it heavily and searing it in hot oil, but then I got confused and, rather than roasting it in the oven in red wine where I could keep an eye on it, I chucked it in the Instant Pot and let it cook for way too long. I forget why I did this. Original sin, no doubt. 

So it came out kinda stewed, which is not what I was going for at all. Oh well. So the salad was just mixed greens, your choice of feta or goat cheese and sliced pears, plus some buttery croutons I made with the leftover challah.

It wasn’t a bad meal, but I grieved over what could have been. I adore rare roast beef with greens and pears and cheese. 

WEDNESDAY
Batter fried fish sandwiches, coleslaw, chips

Wednesday I had to face the tilapia again. They keep having this insanely cheap tilapia at Walmart, and I keep trying to find a way that the kids will like it. I figured everyone likes batter fried food, so even though it was a bit of a hassle, I made batter fried tilapia using this recipe . It’s quite simple and if you don’t crowd the pan, it comes out crisp and golden 

I even got nice brioche buns to sweeten the deal, and I served the sandwiches with coleslaw and chips, with lemon and mayo for the fish

I think four people ate it. OH WELL.

I had a lot of leftover batter, so I decided to fry it up as a wad,

and one child who shall remain anonymous sat there eating the fried batter wad despite all warnings that human tummies were not made for such things, and then said child did indeed throw up. On the stairs.  This is honestly my fault, because why would I fry a wad so nice and golden and crisp, and then tell people not to eat half of it? Anyway I cleaned the stairs. 

The good news is, I still have plenty of tilapia in the freezer!

THURSDAY
Nachos, beans and rice with collards

Thursday was just plain old nachos. I made one pan with chips, unseasoned beef, and cheddar cheese, and one pan with chips, seasoned beef (I think salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and paprika), cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, scallions, and a little chili powder on top. 

I noticed we had some leftover plain cooked rice from the fried rice, so I decided to make beans and rice

Jump to Recipe

Just very quickly, but I thought it was tasty. I just used the Instant Pot to saute some chopped onions in oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, some chili powder and lots of cumin, and then I threw in the rice, a can of black beans, and a can of tomatoes with chili peppers. Then I remembered I still had some collard greens in the garden, so I chopped up a bunch of those and threw them in as well, along with a little liquid smoke, and just let it mingle for a while. Not bad at all. 

I’m not crazy about nachos, at least not the way I make them. They’re kind of “neither fish nor fowl” food. I like either having a readily identifiable portion of food, like a chicken thigh or a stuffed shell or something; or else if it’s going to be just a sort of food area that you can scoop from, I want it to be the same all the way through, like soup or casserole. But nachos are so disorganized and variable. They’re just a mess. I’d rather have a taco, and I don’t even like tacos that much. I did like that beans and rice with collards, though. I’m totally sold on liquid smoke. I used to feel like it was cheating somehow, but now I just feel like I like liquid smoke. 

FRIDAY
LOBSTAR? 

LOBSTAR INDEED. Dora is the manager of the fish counter at the supermarket, and she’s been promising anniversary lobsters, but her roommate got covid, so it got postponed. But this morning, she delivered! They’re scrabbling around in the fridge right now. The kids will have tuna boats and potato puffs, and Damien and I will have steamed lobsters and let’s face it, potato puffs. Potato puffs with drawn butter and fresh lemon, how bow dah. 

Oh, so I gathered up the last of my butternut squash. 

We do like it mashed, and we do like it roasted with other vegetables (maybe brussels sprouts, which is the very last thing left in my garden still to be harvested). I haven’t made butternut risotto in a while, but that’s good stuff. Maybe this year is the year I’ll finally make butternut bisque. But I would love to hear your suggestions! 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

 

Simple French onion soup

Serve with a piece of toasted baguette at the bottom of each bowl. Finish with cheese on top.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 4-6 cups beef broth (can also use chicken broth or a combination of water and white wine)
  • pepper
  • parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, melt the butter and then add the onions. Cook very slowly over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and somewhat darkened.

  2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the flour and mix to coat.

  3. Add the broth (or water and wine). Add pepper to taste and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

  4. Serve with a hunk of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top, and if you have oven-safe dishes, brown under the broiler to form a skin on top of the soup.

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground white pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 347: Wouldn’t it be chili with no skin on?

In elementary school, we used to sing this Halloween round:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones, 
With the rest all go-o-o-o-ne,
Oooooooh!
O00-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooooh!
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?

WELL, it all comes together in today’s post. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, raw broccoli and dip

I woke up SO late on Saturday and everything got pushed forward SO far, I’m pretty impressed we had three actual distinct things for supper. 

Nothing else to report, except that I suddenly remembered a kid going through a phase of playing restaurant, and one of the featured items was “pretziles.” Which makes me remember I haven’t made homemade hot pretzels in a while. 

[Daphne Moon voice:] I don’t know whyyyy.

On Saturday, I also finally put up an extra little shelf that I’ve been meaning to put up, and now I officially have room for all my spices! If you’ll recall, this is what it looked like before. 

Then I got a bunch of spice jars and bunch of mason jars; and now I have an extra shelf as well, so here it is:

It’s . . . sigh . . . better. I swear it’s better. Only a few things are still in sacks, and everything is labelled, top and side. And I have hooks for red and yellow onions, and a little basket for my ginger and garlic. 

I haven’t organized the spices, though. There are just too many other people using them, and trying to keep them in the order I want would be asking for constant heartache.

I also still haven’t managed to re-hang the other shelf that came crashing down, that used to hold all my oils and vinegars, so that’s all crammed in there as well. It’s less upsetting if I think of it all as WEALTH, which it is. Never thought I’d need a spot just for all my various salts and peppers! My various oil! Look how lucky I am. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips, further raw broccoli

On Sunday I did a bunch of tragic gardening (I planted a few hundred bulbs and spent the time repeatedly reminding myself that absolutely none of them are going to come up and everything just dies anyway and what’s the point, oh boo hoo hoo hoo) and also put up some more skeletons. For, uh, self care. 

We have a number of skeletons year-round, partly because it helps Instacart find our house when GPS insists on sending them to the fence company and saying that’s our house; but mostly because I have had a lifelong love for skeletons. 

This one, I think the kids named Shakespeare 

and this one, Insulon, is new this year (his eyes light up):

Then we have Baba Mailbox, which doesn’t really make sense, but whatcha gonna do:

and of course The Gardener:

and also new this year is Horbert, who lives by himself.

Here is a short video of The Hoisting of Horbert:

 

who didn’t end up as high as I expected, considering how hard it was to hold that tree down. 

Then we had hamburgers for supper.

I don’t know if it’s been a long time since we’ve had burgers, or maybe I just worked up a good appetite tragically gardening and tree wrestling, but those were some especially delicious burgers. 

MONDAY
Chili verde on rice; corn

This is a nice recipe that I discovered a little shortcut for this week.

Jump to Recipe

Normally when I make chili verde, I blister the peppers and tomatillos under the broiler, then let them sit and loosen, then pull off the skins and put the insides in the food processor, along with onion, garlic, and cilantro.

This time, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I left the skins on. I also put the onions in the oven, rather than adding them raw to the blender. Time to find out! Exciting! 

I cut the pork shoulder into chunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, browned it in oil, blended up the vegetables, and then added the resulting green salsa to the pot with the pork, and let it cook slowly on the stovetop all day. 

It turned out thicker than usual and quite a bit spicier than usual, a real sinus clearer. And absolutely delicious. Mayyybe a tiny bit bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. The family polished it off, to my delight. I might add some chicken broth in the future, to make it a little thinner, but I think I will stick with leaving the skins on. It made my life easier, and the flavor was great. If anyone knows of some reason why I should be taking the skins off, speak now! 

I was gonna make corn bread or corn muffins, but a quick poll revealed that nobody actually wants that, so I just cooked up some frozen corn, and made a bunch of white rice, and that was what they wanted. We had lime wedges and sour cream for toppings, and we really needed that sour cream to ease up the spice!

Wish I had had a little more cilantro to top it off. But it was a good meal. Everyone either has, just had, or is about to get a cold, and it’s been damp and foggy out, so this worked nicely. 

On Wednesday I also got a very subtle haircut. Usually I got to Head Whompers and pay $12 to get most of my hair chopped off, but this time I went to a Fancy Place and paid quite a bit more to get little bits here and there removed.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but Damien said my head looked fluffier, so I think that’s good. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins

Jubilation. This is a highly-anticipated meal (second only to ham-peas-mashed potatoes) that I hold off making until the frost is on the pumpkin or whatever. I forgot to get mushrooms, but it was still very tasty.

Here’s the soup recipe: 

Jump to Recipe

This is the soup I make in my head when I can’t fall asleep. I go through it as slowly and meticulously as possible, paying close attention to each detail, cleaning as I go, and if I don’t actually fall asleep by the end, I usually at least feel less anxious. Thanks, soup!

In real life, it was a soccer day, so I made the soup in the morning, except for the barley, and then put together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients for the pumpkin muffins

Jump to Recipe

and then combined them when I got home, and quickly baked them right before supper. 

Full disclosure, the muffins were a tiny bit squashy (I mean technically they were 100% squashy, since canned pumpkin is actually squash; but I meant they were somewhat underdone) and the barley was a little bit chompy, because I forgot how long it takes to cook; but it was still a well-received meal. 

Piping hot muffins and a bowl of soup with tender beef, lots of wine and tomatoes, plenty of carrots and onions and pepper. What’s not to love?

Next time I need to make more soup! Some people have come around to soup recently, to my delight.

This is why I stick to my policy of just making food that seems good to me, and offering it over and over and over again. People really do come around eventually, often enough. Or if they don’t, that’s also fine. I just don’t want to fight about food. There’s enough fights. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one pepperoni, and one Things Mother Likes. To wit: Black olive, fresh garlic, red onion, fresh basil, ricotta, anchovy.

This absolute cartoon cat got to clean out the anchovy can for recycling

and I got to eat two pieces of this scrumptious pizza

so everybody was happy.

THURSDAY
Asian meatballs, pork fried rice, pineapple

I made extra rice when I made the chili verde, for the express purpose of having leftovers for fried rice. Wasn’t that smart? I feel like I am waking up out of a fog this week. I’ll probably live to regret saying this, but I stopped taking Propranalol because it wasn’t doing anything for my headaches anyway, and within a few days I felt much more awake and much less pukey; and without changing my diet, I lost three pounds. So. Go to hell, Propranalol. I have a real live appointment with an honest-to-goodness neurologist, and I’m going to insist they stick needles in my cheeks or install a skull steam valve or something. But no more stupid drugs that make me stupid! I’m already stupid enough! 

Anyway, the fried rice was good. I minced some ginger and garlic and threw it in the pan with hot oil for a bit, then added pieces of leftover pork and diced red onion, and then I dumped a bunch of brown sugar on top of that and let it get bubbly and dark.

Then I added scrambled egg (I didn’t think I was up for scrambling the egg directly into the rice today), some bagged broccoli, carrot, and water chestnut, and the leftover rice, and then I dumped on a bunch of oyster sauce, a little fish sauce, and quite a bit of soy sauce, and heated it all up.

Pretty tasty!

I made the meatballs in the morning, and cooked them while I was making the rice. I used a recipe I’ve used before (it’s not letting me put the “jump to recipe” button in, for some reason, but the recipe is at the bottom of the page: Vaguely Asian Meatballs), except instead of ground beef, I used ground turkey, which happened to be $3 a pound. I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes before dinner

and served them with a jar of sweet chili sauce, and they were delicious. Light and garlicky and just very pleasant to eat. 

I also cut up a couple of pineapples and sprinkled some more chopped scallions over everything, and it was an easy, successful meal. 

When I make two kinds of Asian-inspired food, my goal is to not use the exact same ingredients in both dishes, and I achieved this by refraining from putting ginger in the meatballs. My breath was still glowing in the dark that night from all the garlic. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas? 

Yes, I think quesadillas. I have a bunch of spinach in the fridge that I never used, so I think I’ll make spinach quesadillas, which are very nice. 

 It occurs to me that one of those skeletons should be named John, or Chili Verde, or Tomatillo, or something. Well, there’s always next year. 

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.

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground white pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 346: Babe, you ok? You barely touched your Earl Gray Preminger Tea Cake

Happy Monday! Don’t worry, it’s Monday, not Friday! I just didn’t get to finish this last week, so I’m doing it now. 

Here’s what we had last week:

SATURDAY
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah, Earl Grey Tea Cake 

Saturday we had a little meal for Clara’s birthday: chicken soup with matzoh balls, and challah for dinner. Here’s my challah recipe:

Jump to Recipe

I once again attempted to do a four-strand braid. Last time I followed a video, and that didn’t go well (I cried), so this time I used a pictorial step-by-step guide, and I still cried. I fervently believe that if you took a CAT scan of my brain, there would just be a little missing chunk for the part for what to do when something crosses over something else. That is where everything goes haywire, whether I’m braiding or dancing or installing a light fixture or anything. As soon as one thing crosses over another thing, I just start to cry and I don’t know what to do.

But I’m an adult, and I quickly remembered it’s just bread, so I can just smoosh it together and it doesn’t matter. And I was right! 

The chicken soup was good, if not terribly photogenic.

and the matzoh balls turned out fluffy! I’m going to cling to that little victory, because of what happened with the cake. 

Clara asked for an Earl Gray tea cake, which I have made before using this recipe from this recipe from Liv For Cake, and it was a tremendous pain in the pants. So I looked around for a different recipe, and found one that seemed a little simpler, although it was intended for actual tea cakes — not only made with tea, but cut up into little cakes, glazed, and served with tea. The recipe is from Taste Made, and I made the glaze that goes with it, and also the vanilla bean buttercream frosting from the previous recipe.

So, now, in my defense, at this point, I was making soup, bread, cake, glaze, and frosting all at the same time, and I was about a week into a new migraine medication that quite magically made my headaches much worse and also gave me constant nausea. So when I got to the point where the frosting recipe said to whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, I was like

NOT 

ONE

MORE 

POT

so, I whisked the eggs and sugar over the soup. 

and you know what, this did not work great. 

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell else I did wrong, but that cake turned out so dense. It was absolutely GUMMY. It was CLAGGY. It was STODGY. It was all the worst things Prue could say about a cake. 

But, not content with a cake that tasted weird, I thought I would go ahead and decorate it in a horrendous way as well. So I thought, Hey, Clara really used to like that Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper movie with Martin Short as the villain Preminger. So I will make a Preminger cake! AS ONE DOES. 

If you’re not familiar, many of these animated Barbie movies are actually worth watching, and some of them have really good voice actors. Here’s the “How Can I Refuse” number:

annnd here’s the cake:

I . . . an attempt was made. She laughed. Hey, did I tell you how fluffy my matzoh balls were? 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, pickles, chips

Sunday I still hadn’t done my shopping, but was undeniably felled with not-Covid-but-some-fwiggin-thing, and decided to do Instacart. We had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread with cute little pickles on the side, and chips. 

Except I had an apple instead of chips, because I looked up the serving size and it was something like seven chips, and that’s just offensive. Might as well have a fwiggin apple. 

MONDAY
Domino’s pizza

Monday I forget what happened, but Damien assessed my general situation and decided that sometimes being the spiritual head of the family means insisting that we order pizza. Bless. 

TUESDAY
Spicy chicken sandwiches with peppers; grapes, cucumbers

Tuesday I pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer and we had these lovely sandwiches from Sip and Feast that I adore. They’re even better with boneless chicken thighs, but still pretty darn good with breast sliced in half lengthwise. 

Look, if nobody else in your life is willing to say that sometimes American cheese is the best cheese for the job, I’ll say it. I’ll be that person for you. 

I cooked the peppers in the same pan that the chicken had been in

and once the cheese was melted, we piled up them sandwiches.

So it’s a nice soft, sweet brioche buns, BBQ sauce, chicken coated in cajun seasoning and sauteed slowly with American cheese melted on top, some slightly charred shishito peppers, red onion rings, and more BBQ sauce. 

For sides I just served grapes and cucumbers, which is a little weird but whatcha gonna do. 

This sandwich is just excellent. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it as much the second time (you know how sometimes you’re just dazzled by a new recipe, and then you make it again and it turns out you were just having a nice day in general, and that food itself wasn’t that great?), but I DID. It’s yummy and everyone liked it. 

WEDNESDAY
Spicy penne with butternut squash, mozzarella, and spinach; garlic bread

Wednesday I was still feeling extremely punk, but at this point I was mad about being sick, so I decided to . . . show them [shakes fist migrainously at destiny] and try a New York Times recipe.

This is not uhhhh best practice. It was a bad idea. It was an okay recipe, and I’m already familiar with how much work it is to process butternut squash, so I wasn’t taken aback by that as so many of the commenters were; but it was still kind of a lot of work and just didn’t amount to much. I don’t know. I even got the nice fresh mozzarella, and I had fresh spinach and fresh jalapeños and a butternut squash from my garden, and it just tasted kind of meh. 

Oh, here is the recipe, because of course the NYT one is paywalled. And here is a picture of me with my butternut squash. It’s the very first one I picked from my garden, and this is the first year I have grown squash, so I wanted to document it. Turns out it’s kind of hard for a decent Christian lady to take a picture of herself holding a butternut squash in a way that won’t get you in trouble with Tito Edwards.

Anyway the recipe started off well enough, cooking the squash in olive oil with cumin and red pepper flakes.

I prepped the heck out of all the other ingredients, so I could just throw it together when I got home.

I even had enough time to take the leftover challah, slice it up, and make garlic bread

and you know, there’s a reason people don’t do that. It was okay, just not really a texture you necessarily want with garlic bread. 

The whole meal was okay. I kept thinking maybe if the pasta had crumbled sausage in it. I don’t know. I doubt I’ll make it again. It’s now in my head as a bad, sad dish, so I probably won’t go back to it. You may have other results.

On Thursday evening we were talking about apple picking, and how that late spring frost killed off so many apple blossoms, lots of local orchards aren’t even offering PYU apples this year. Our terrible little tree did manage to put out some terrible apples, though, and I realized I was planning to cook pork the next day, so we decided to go ahead and pick the apples that evening.

 

I suppose if I ever did even one single thing to take care of this tree, it might make better apples, but as it is, the dog and the ducks love the miserable little fruits it produces, and we have our annual little ritual of picking apples and searching for the foley mill, so it serves its purpose. I promised the kids I wouldn’t make the applesauce until they got home from school the next day. 

THURSDAY
Roast pork ribs, crabapple sauce, garlic mashed potatoes

The pork ribs were just heavily seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted under a hot broiler, and the mashed potatoes were just mashed potatoes with several cloves of garlic thrown into the water and then mashed along with it, with butter and milk. 

The apples were really especially terrible this year. 

A lot of them were just rotten and had to be thrown out, but I ended up with a few dozen that were misshapen but basically sound

so I just cut them in half and put them in a stock pot with a little water at the bottom, covered it loosely, and set it to simmer. You’re supposed to let it go for a few hours so the apples can really collapse into mush, but I didn’t have enough time, so we ended up kind of violently forcing the mostly-cooked apples through the foley mill

and then I threw in some butter and cinnamon, and tasted it, and decided that hmm, this was a year to add some sugar. 

Some years, our homemade applesauce is a lovely, dusky rose color, and it’s fragrant and cozy and wonderful, with a faint, pleasantly smoky taste that seems to come from this particular tree. Some years it doesn’t need any sweetening, and still has a beautiful nectary flavor. 

This year’s applesauce was yellowish brown and it tasted like paste.

But the kids were delighted anyway, probably because of the little red hen factor, so I didn’t clue them in that it was very bad applesauce indeed. And that’s how you do that! 

FRIDAY
Shrimp and fish lo mein

Friday I was very pleased with myself, because not only did supper turn out really good, but I used lots of leftovers successfully. I made my normal lo mein recipe

Jump to Recipe

starting with fresh ginger and garlic, and then I added some red onions I found in the fridge, then I threw in some shrimp and cut-up pieces of tilapia (I had two filets in the freezer that I didn’t cook a couple of weeks ago); then I chopped up some leftover shishito peppers (I put them in late because they were already cooked, and just needed heating), and then after I added the noodles and sauce, I threw some leftover Italian parsley on top.

Hot damn, it was delicious. 

The shrimp and fish weren’t overcooked and neither were the noodles, the veg were crunchy, the sauce wasn’t too sweet, and the ginger and the garlic were nice and sharp, and the fresh parsley really put it over the top. I was happy to end on a high note, because it’s been kind of a sucky week, and good lo mein is happy food. 

Okay, that’s it! Don’t forget what I told you, about the thing!

(I’m just kidding, I didn’t tell you anything. I don’t know anything. Who wants some applesauce? We have leftover.) 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

 

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.

 

I’ve been bowing, I’ve been scraping
I’ve been lying like a rug
And for ten long years I’ve had to pay my dues
But today I am escaping
For the last gold has been dug
It was waiting there, so how could I refuse?

I’m returning home a hero
Who’s discovered mighty wealth
And what better husband could a princess choose?
I’m the suitor who will suit her
Bring the kingdom back to health
And I’ll wear the crown, for how could I refuse?

Raise every glass and rouse every cheer
Praise that the reign of Preminger is here
Master in charge of all that I see
All hail me

And by marrying the princess
I get all that I desire
Like a moat, an ermine coat and palace views
Even though she treats me coldly
It’s a sign of inner fire
For inside she’s thinking “How can I refuse?”

[NACK, spoken]
Right, except for this one little problem, boss

[PREMINGER, spoken]
Prince Boss to you!

[NACK, spoken]
Right, the queen decided to marry her off to the King of Dulcinea next week

[PREMINGER, spoken]
What? Making a decision without me? Who does she think she is?

[NICK, spoken]
Uh, the Queen?

[PREMINGER, spoken]
You simpering simpleton!

[NICK, spoken]
Well, she is the Queen. She’s got a crown and a scepter and sits in her big fancy chair and always—

[PREMINGER]
Silencio!
No! I won’t let go!
This peasant son won’t turn and run because some reckless royal chose another beau
Ah!

It’s a temporary setback
It’s a momentary lapse
But conveniently my ego doesn’t bruise
And the moment that I get back
I will show them who’s the boss
You can bet your bullion there’ll be no “I do’s”

Yes, suppose the girl goes missing
So the king says “Au revoir
Then I find her, bring her back and make the news
Then the queen will be so grateful
That she’ll pledge the heir to moi
And I’ll humbly tell her “How can I refuse?”

When our ceremony’s over
I’ll arise and take the throne
And that nitwit Anneliese can kiss my shoes
For the kingdom and the castle
Will be mine and mine alone
If the crown should fit, then how can I refuse?

[PREMINGER, NACK & NICK]
So get ready with the roses (So get ready with the roses)
And stand by with the champagne (And stand by with the champagne)
When you’ve got a brilliant plan you never lose (When you’ve got a brilliant plan you never lose)
Yes, before this chapter closes (Yes, before this chapter closes)
I’ll be big as Charlemagne (He’ll be big as Charlemagne)
It’s a thankless job but how can I refuse? (It’s a thankless job but how can he refuse?)
How can I refuse? (How can he refuse?)

What’s for supper? Vol. 328: A human doing and a human bebimbapping

Happy Friday! This week I seem to have broken away from recipes, and just free-wheeled a lot of stuff. I think everything turned out okay, but it’s possible I was just so busy that I was ravenous by supper time every day, and would have eaten anything. 

SATURDAY
Nachos

Yea verily, I don’t remember Saturday. Somehow the week went by extremely quickly, and yet last Saturday was a million years ago. I remember people complaining that we just had nachos, and I said no, we just had tacos; this is different. It’s spelled different and everything. 

My spice mix for tacos (or nachos, which is spelled different) is: Garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. It tastes about the same as any packets you can buy and it’s not really easier to open packets than it is to sprinkle from a bunch of jars, so I stopped buying the packets. I don’t really miss the violent orange color. 

Speaking of spices, this week I did buy a bunch of empty spice jars in an effort to Do Something About My Spices, which previously looked like this:

(My kitchen island is not always this wrecked up, but, sometimes it is, so there you go.) Well, after filling and labelling several jars, I admitted to myself that I had bought the wrong size. Too small. So I cussed a little bit and then went out and bought some mason jars, and got most of the contents of the rest of the bags and packets jarred up. It’s still cluttered and chaotic, and my kitchen is still wrecked up because I have had QUITE A WEEK, and I probably just need to bite the bullet and put in a new shelf. If it ever looks like anything, I’ll take a picture and show you! 

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, grapes, strawberry rhubarb pie

Mother’s day! I spent the morning clamping my jaw through a migraine at Mass because I forgot my medication, so then I got home and took it and then took a nap for a while, and then I spent the rest of the day working on my patio, and only feeling slightly guilty that I wasn’t flying a kite or going on a hike, which is what the younger kids wanted to do. I will do those things! Just some other day. 

Damien made tasty Italian sandwiches (I had prosciutto, a few kinds of salami, provolone, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil and vinegar)

and Clara made me some gorgeous strawberry rhubarb pies

and the kids showered me with flowers and plants and snacks and thoughtful gifts. It was a lovely day!

MONDAY
Chicken berry salad

I roasted up some chicken breasts, sliced it, and served it over salad greens with strawberries and blueberries, toasted almonds, and crumbled feta cheese.

A fine spring salad. Diced red onion would have been good, but we were out. Don’t forget, you can easily toast nuts in the microwave, and you don’t risk burning them unless you try really hard. Two minutes should do it. 

TUESDAY
Meatball subs

I had five pounds of ground beef and dumped in a few grated onions, a ton of grated parmesan cheese, five eggs, two or three cups of panko breadcrumbs, and I don’t really remember what seasonings, but more than looked reasonable. Probably just salt, garlic powder, and oregano. The grated onion is a hassle but it really makes a difference in taste and texture.

I cooked the meatballs on a broiler pan in a hot oven for about 25 minutes and then moved them into the crock pot with some jarred sauce for the rest of the day. And that’s-a my meatball story. 

WEDNESDAY
Bibimbap, pineapple

This was my favorite meal all week. I had a big pork shoulder or something, which I sliced into bite-sized slices and marinated in the basic magic: soy sauce, brown sugar, maybe three inches of fresh ginger, minced, and several cloves of fresh garlic, minced. I let it marinate all day.

When it was almost time to eat, I sautéed the meat along with all the marinade, because I wanted lots of sauce to go with this dish. 

While it was cooking, I made a big pot of rice, and I chopped up a bunch of sugar snap peas and shredded some red cabbage, and just before supper I fried up a bunch of eggs in hot oil.  And I stuffed a little bit of spinach into the bowl to wilt under the hot rice. LOOK HOW PRETTY. 

I drizzled mine with a little of that Polynesian hot sauce from last week’s poke bowls and ladled some of the sweet marinade over it. I like to fry the eggs so they’re crispy on the bottom but still a little runny in the yolk. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. I also put out some crunchy Chinese noodles and some fresh pineapple chunks, and it was such a good meal. 

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets, chips, cucumbers

All week was busy, but Thursday was an especially crazy-go-nuts day. I can’t even remember what-all happened, but I was just running around like a duck all day, until finally I did the final pick-up of the day after dinner, and I was so tired, I just pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine, and fell asleep in the car. BUT!!! The dog still had plenty of energy, and there was some kind of fluke accident where he got startled, and jerked on his lead so hard that it flew out of the wall of the shed, and the end of it hit the pool and split the seam, and water started gushing out. Sooooo it was time to wake up and have a little unscheduled dip, because the pool holds 9,000 gallons of water, and when there is a hole, you have to patch it from the inside as well as the outside.

We did have some Flex Tape in the house, but not enough, so Lena went to Walmart for more, and I got it more or less patched up. And you know what, we had a frost the other day, and it’s been in the 30’s at night, so that water was somewhat less than hospitable. The whole thing was so dumb, I couldn’t even bring myself to blame the dog for it. Very high levels of dumbness.

So what, it’s still spring. We have a Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal coming to our feeder (the dude stands on the fence and stares irately at the world while his wife has a snack) plus lots of purple finches and yellow finches, and I think I spotted a bluebird, so I hope there will be more, because they come in gangs. And hummingbirds! And my Karl Lagenfield peony that I planted a few years ago has some buds for the first time this year, and the lupines seeds I planted over a year ago finally decided it was safe to come up, which cheered up both me and my neighbor Millie, whose seeds they were.

I scavenged a bunch of felled aspen trees, and I’m going to use them as posts to hang strings of lights from, if I ever get my patio done. I’m so close to being done digging, and this weekend I’ll level it and order some gravel and sand, and then I can start laying brick! Very excited. 

Do keep Millie in your prayers. She fell last weekend, and has been needing more help than she wants, so I’ve been driving her around a bit. I love spending time with her, but it’s frustrating for her. She just wants to be out raking and weeding, and instead she has to be at the doctor constantly. She is about 140 years old and starting to slow down a little. 

FRIDAY
Seafood lo mein, steamed dumplings

Today, my brother is coming over, and also Moe and his girlfriend! All people who are either okay with the house and yard being a complete wreck, or else they aren’t gonna say anything about it. 

I’m going to make a big batch of seafood lo mein, and steam some dumplings I got at the Keene International Market. Maybe I will get some more sugar snap peas or something. Or just, yanno, not.

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. 327: Yay, poke!

First, a word from Fay, Ray, EJ, and Coin: Peep! Peep-peep! Peep-peep-peepWONKpeep-peep-peep.” Yes, they have begun to quack. Just a bit, and it’s mostly Coin and EJ, and it’s more muttering than quacking, but it’s hilarious. They’re very good ducks, and I think you should get some. Or you can just check out my Facebook page which has been overrun with ducks. 

And here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Sushi, etc. 

On Saturday, Lena graduated from college! We are SO proud of her. 

 

Most of the kids had various frozen foods for dinner, and Damien and Lena and I went and checked out the newish Japanese restaurant in town, Kurama Omakase. I had a salmon skin salad and tried some of Lena’s takoyaki, which is some kind of breaded balls of I-don’t-know-what with bits of octopus inside, deep fried and topped with some other I-don’t-know-what. Terrible pictures (dark restaurant) but the takoyaki was STUPENDOUS. 

I also ordered the “Trust the Chef Lite” sushi and sashimi assortment, and it was lllovely.

Very nice place. The only other customers was some kind of gathering of a dozen or more men who didn’t already know each other, but were in the same business. Maybe car salesmen? After their meal they took a picture of all of their watches. After they left, I heard the waitress tell the bartender, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” DO  tip your waitress!

SUNDAY
Maybe burgers? 

Sunday was fun! After a week of rain, the weather finally cleared, so I worked on digging up the ground for my patio, and Damien worked on the duck house. I paid kids to shake soil out of the sods for my new raised gardens, and there were plenty of worms for everyone

The dog had the greatest day of his life, AGAIN. 

Damien grilled burgers, if I remember correctly. 

MONDAY
Normal tacos

I didn’t shop on the weekend, because of the graduation, and did only a partial shop on Monday, because I didn’t feel like it, and came home with a wretched frozen log of beef that needed to be constantly scraped and flipped while it cooked. 

I tried to tell myself it was sort of like when they have a leg of lamb on a spit and they’re shaving bits of meat off for shawarma, but no dice. 

(I know there are various ways of defrosting meat, but honestly they’re only slightly less laborious than standing there scrabbling at the frozen wad as it fries, so you might as well suffer.)

TUESDAY
Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Tuesday I went shopping again, for real this time. Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!

Maybe by the end of the summer, we’ll have duck eggs! Or not. We don’t even know if we have girl or boy ducks yet. We definitely have ducks. Boy do we have ducks. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pickled radishes

Pork shoulders were 99 cents a pound, and I had got a big, giant one, and started it with the salt and sugar rub on Tuesday night. I put it in the oven around 10:30 on Wednesday morning, and then right before dinner, I poured the extra little cider vinegar brown sugar sauce on:

and let it finish up. Truly a grisly yet magnificent beast basking proudly in the setting sun. 

Everything the light touches belongs to you, bo ssam.

I also pickled some radishes and made a pot of rice, and cut up some romaine lettuce for wrapping. The meat shredded at the mere sight of a fork, the skin was intense and caramelized to the hilt, and it was a pretty good meal. 

And only pretty good. This is the first time bo ssam hasn’t absolutely rocked my world, and I don’t know what happened. The pickled radishes were only so-so, too. Annnnd just now writing this, it occurred to me that I’m probably sick, and the food actually tasted fine, and it’s me. Crap. OH WELL. 

THURSDAY
Poke bowls

As is our habit, we were talking about other food while we were at the restaurant, and we got to talking about poke bowls, which Damien and I have never had before. It certainly sounded like something we’d be into. Aldi carries ahi tuna steaks that are frozen at sea, so I bought a few packages of those (I think six little steaks in total), and also a pouch of raw shrimp that happened to be on sale. They also had some kind of Polynesian sweet hot sauce that looked likely, plus some chili lime cashews. I also got five ripe mangoes and two packages of sugar snap peas at Aldi.

Then at the other supermarket (when you shop at Aldi, there’s always going to be a second supermarket, and you must just accept this), I got pea sprouts and rice (Aldi rice cooks weird). 

So I just basically chopped everything up, cooked up a big pot of rice, and cut the fish into half-inch cubes. I sautéed the shrimp with some minced garlic in chili oil, and then squeezed a lime over it. 

(The glass with the root in it isn’t some exotic tincture; I’m just trying to keep a rose cutting alive after the plow knocked one of my flower beds all out of whack, and I haven’t gotten around to replanting it yet.)

I was planning to make sushi-style rice, but I didn’t have any rice vinegar, so I left it plain. I put out a jar of mango chutney and some red pepper flakes.

Here was my bowl:

Wow, it was delicious. Sweet mild fish and greens and rice, syrupy mango, and then the hot jangly sauce and nuts. Very satisfying and entertaining, kind of like the dinner version of an ice cream sundae — not in taste, of course, but in the experience. I threw some shrimp in there, too, just because I’m not gonna say no to shrimp.

I was surprised at how many of the kids liked the raw tuna! Everyone found something they wanted, even if it was just rice and mango, and I’ll definitely be making this again. Yay, poke! 

Now tell me about your poke bowls. I understand there are countless variations. What are your favorite combinations?

FRIDAY
Pizza

Today has turned into a stupidly complicated day because a bad light came on in my car, but the mechanic can’t look at it until next week, and lots of people still have to be in lots of places, and Lucy needs to be trained on her new insulin pump system at the doctor which is an hour away, and I bought tickets to Peter and the Wolf which is also an hour away, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it all just doesn’t quite work out. But I’m gonna try! But I’m gonna make those pizzas right meow. 

Ugh, I didn’t put any recipe cards. Do you want recipe cards? Tell me if you want some and I’ll put them. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 324: O tempora, o meatballs

What a weird week!  Anyone else having a weird week? Just a weird ol’ week. But I just opened the curtains and there was a bluebird sitting on roof of the shed. First one I’ve seen this year. Bluebirds are neat. They’re a little bit boisterous, but very graceful, and they are happy to hang around in gangs at the feeder, without chasing other birds away. Very decorative birds, always a welcome visitor. 

Here’s a slow mo video I took last year:

Anyway, here’s what we had while boistrously hanging around our feeder: 

SATURDAY
Chicago style hot dogs, chips

These were not quite 100% authentic, which would require poppy seed buns, some kind of bright green relish, and sport peppers, but we did have tomatoes, pickled peppers, relish, mustard, pickle spears, chopped onion, and celery salt. 

Really delicious. I got the idea for this from that meme that says the existence of a Chicago style hot dog implies the existence of an MLA style hot dog, which is a silly joke, but on the other hand, mmm, hot dogs. 

SUNDAY
Steak, pork dumplings, cheesecake, strawberry ice cream

Sunday was my favorite husband’s birthday, so we had some of his favorite foods. He cooked steaks for everyone, pan fried in butter with garlic

(sorry, I know it’s Friday, sorry!)

and I used the pork dumpling filling I had stashed in the freezer from New Year’s Eve which is this recipe. I had seen one of those amazing videos where someone’s twinkling fingers forms dumplings into all kinds of beguiling shapes with a few simple pinches and folds, and woop! You have a dahlia and a lotus and a pinwheel. So even though I had dumpling wrappers that were fairly stiff and paper-like, and the video showed dumpling dough that was soft and pliable, I thought, “I CAN DO THAT.” 

Friends, I could not.

But I gave it the old college try, and I did get some raw pork on my phone. And then I went back to using my dumpling press, which works great. So everyone had steamed dumplings while waiting for their steaks. In fact, I had leftover filling after I used up all the wrappers, so I added some panko bread crumbs and made little meatballs

so some people had little birthday meatballs.

I also made a bunch of strawberry ice cream

following the Ben and Jerry recipe, which always turns out light and sweet and lovely 

Jump to Recipe

and I made a gigantic cheesecake. I have been sworn to secrecy about the particulars of this recipe, but LOOK AT MY CHEESECAKE

I think this is the first time I’ve achieved no cracks. I put all the ingredients out to come to room temperature the night before; I mixed it very lightly, so as to introduce as little air as possible, and scraped down the bowl often; and I baked it in a water bath, and then turned off the oven and let it sit in the cooling oven for a few hours before I took it out and started to chill it. 

It was luscious.

I wish I had started 24 hours sooner, so I could have chilled it over night after baking it, but it was rich and smooth and lovely, and about a mile high. 

MONDAY
One-pan garlic chicken thighs and roast veg

I used to make these one-pan chicken thigh meals a lot, and got kind of burnt out on them, so I backed off for a while. I guess it’s been long enough, because this was very popular.

Jump to Recipe

You can add whatever vegetables you want. My advice is to think about how long they need to cook, and try to cut them to the appropriate thickness, so they end up done at the same time. 

I used about three pounds of potatoes with the skin on and few zucchinis and half a large butternut squash in wedges. In this variation, you season the vegetables, then lay the chicken on top and brush them (well, really smear them, as it’s pretty thick) with a garlicky brown sugar sauce, and then just chunk it in the oven. 

Quite tasty. The sugar runs down into the pan and caramelizes the bottom of the potatoes, giving them a nice little crunch, and the chicken is juicy and the vegetables are tender. 

TUESDAY
Meatball subs, fries

I wish I could remember what I did to these meatballs, because they were much better than my usual meatballs. Humph. I have become aware that I tend to underseason things, so possibly I just took a heavier hand with everything I sprinkled. 

I briefly considered pan frying them, but then I remembered the shortness of life and just threw them on a broiler pan and baked them in a hot oven like I usually do, then transferred them to a crock pot with plenty of jarred sauce.

Good enough for the likes of us. O tempora, o meatballs. 

WEDNESDAY
Chili verde, chips and pico de gallo, cornbread, pineapple, vanilla and peach-mango ice cream

On Wednesday, our friend Fr. Matt from Louisiana came for supper! My chili verde recipe

Jump to Recipe

is reasonably spicy, and calls for specific peppers. Well, the supermarket didn’t have those specific peppers. It just had bags of mixed peppers called “hot pepper combo” or something, and the label was one of those “may contain one or more of the following.” This is what I got:

I liked the looks of that, so I roasted them. I also tweaked my recipe a bit and roasted the onions and garlic along with them, rather than putting them onions and garlic into the food processor raw

then I puréed it all up with some cilantro, browned up a good amount of fatty, salted and peppered pork chunks in oil, and —

here is the point where I was already several hours behind schedule, because the school called to say that Benny had bruised her eyeball, and what should they do??? I had no idea, so I spent the new few hours calling various doctors and trying to get an appointment with the right person, and sending a kid to the store with a list of stuff I forgot to buy, and making other kids clean up the hideous house because we are really still in shock from Christmas and the house was looking PRETTY ROUGH, and by the time I got back to my chili, it was laaate. So I threw it in the Instant Pot, because it could tenderize the meat faster.

Unless, of course, the Instant Pot float valve is mysteriously missing. Which it was. So I put everything back in the regular non-instant pot, hoped it would cook fast enough, whizzed through making some corn bread (I just used the recipe on the package, which is fine)

and some pico de gallo

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and rescued the kitchen from complete squalor, and then one kid went to pick up some of the kids, and I called the school to tell them to tell Benny to wait for me to pick her up, and we went to the eye doctor and her eye is fine, thank God, just a little creepy; and when I got home, the chili was, if I may say so, perfect. The pork shredded readily with a wooden spoon

and when Fr. Matt got here, we had a lovely meal. 

I made two kinds of ice cream: Plain vanilla, which is just two eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 cups milk, one cup heavy cream, and a dash of vanilla; and then I wanted to make mango, which I made for our anniversary baked alaska, but I couldn’t find mango pulp anywhere. (Here’s the recipe anyway, in case you can.)

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In theory, you can use your big brain and make mango pulp by pureeing mango, but I was being smart (even bigger brain time), and I knew that was a bridge too far. Just altogether too much work, and I definitely didn’t have time for that. So instead (tiny brain time) I went to the other store and bought some canned peaches, and pureed those, and also bought some fresh mangos and cut them up and macerated them in sugar with (possible big brain?) a little ground cloves. 

The ice cream was . . . fine. I think peach and mango would have been fine, and peach and mango and cloves might possibly have worked, but peach, mango, cloves, and onion . . . now that really is a bridge too far. Yep, everyone was too polite to mention it, but I had cut the mangos up on the wooden cutting board and they had picked up an undeniable onion flavor (very tiny brain). Oh well! That’s why I made vanilla (big brain, with vanilla ice cream on top).

THURSDAY
Old Bay drumsticks, risotto, leftover cornbread

On Thursday I collapsed like a bunch of broccoli. I did something I almost never do: I got the kids to school (which took two trips, because one kid promised twice that she was awake, but then when it was time to go, she was just stumbling out of bed, so I had to come back for her) and then just went back to bed and conked out for another three hours. And then when I did get up, I was so dang dopey. Really the only thing I accomplished all day was to make risotto. 

BUT WHAT RISOTTO. I was planning a butternut squash instant pot risotto, because I still had half the squash in the fridge left over from the chicken thigh meal; but oops, the instant pot pin was still missing. So I was tragically forced to spend a good amount of time slowly stirring ladles of chicken broth into the creamy rice and dreamily stirring it around, smelling the fragrant, buttery clouds of steam, and occasionally tasting it to make sure it was still, uh, I don’t know, I was just eating it. 

Toward the end I threw in a giant mound of freshly-grated parmesan cheese and a big fistful of chopped parsley. You know what, no one complained that it didn’t have butternut squash in it. 

The drumsticks were fine. I just roasted them in melted butter with plenty of Old Bay seasoning, and I set out the leftover corn bread. 

We had to run off and get to an art show that the two high school girls had pieces in. Arty kids! We met the art teacher and warned her about the kid who’s coming next year. The general principle is that, if you’ve met one Fisher kid, you’ve met one Fisher kid, but this is especially true with Irene. 

FRIDAY
Seafood lo mein 

And finally Friday. Man.

I haven’t made lo mein for a while. It’s easy, and Damien and Lena and I and maybe one other person really like it, but no one else does. 

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When I made the chili verde, I got some cup o’ noodle for the kids who wouldn’t want it, so I expect they’ll be returning to that well for this meal. I don’t insist that people eat what I make. They’re welcome to fix themselves something else, as long as they’re not rude about it and don’t make a huge mess. I aim to make foods that most of the family will enjoy for about five days a week, and then one or two meals can be things that people with more cultivated palates will enjoy. I have found that this no-pressure constant exposure to different foods is as good a way as any to introduce kids to a variety of foods, and pretty often, they start venturing into new territory of their own volition, just out of curiosity. But if they don’t (and some kids don’t), that’s okay, too. Because it’s just food. There are plenty of other things to fight about! I do care about food, a lot, but I care more about not making anyone miserable over food. 

Guys, I’m trying so hard to bring this back around to bluebirds, but it’s just not working, so I’ll just say goodbye. 

 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the ice cream base

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them with the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Make the ice cream base:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and continue whisking to blend.

Put it together:

  1. Mash the strawberries well, or puree them in a food processor. Stir into the ice cream base.

  2. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

One pan honey garlic chicken thighs with fall veg

Adapted from Damn Delicious 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 2 lbs broccoli in spears
  • 4-5 lbs potatoes in wedges, skin on if you like
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

sauce:

  • 1/3+ cup honey
  • 1/3+ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp dijon or yellow mustard
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • olive oil for drizzing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare the sauce. 

  2. In a large, greased sheet pan, spread the potatoes and squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

  3. Lay the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes and squash. Brush the sauce over the chicken skins. 

  4. Roast the chicken for thirty minutes or more until they are almost cooked.

  5. Add the broccoli, arranging it on top of the potatoes and in between the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and let it finish cooking another 10 -20 minutes so you don't die. The skins should be golden and the broccoli should be a little charred. 

 

Mango ice cream

Ingredients

  • 30 oz (about 3 cups) mango pulp
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 mango, chopped into bits

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, and salt until blended.

  2. Add in the mango pulp and cream and stir with a spoon until blended.

  3. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

  4. Stir and transfer to ice cream maker. Follow instructions to make ice cream. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes.)

  5. After ice cream is churned, stir in fresh mango bits, then transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for several hours.

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.

 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

 

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. 

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.