What’s for supper? Vol. 176: Damien’s Amazing Interchangeable Cinderblock Meat Altar Situation

Oh Friday! I was whooping it up in Princeton, NJ for a big part of the week. Great trip, wonderful people, tiny airplane, glad to be home. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken quesadillas, tortilla chips, guacamole

Corrie is always trying to get me to watch food videos with her, and I kept saying “not now.” So, as she says: “I like food videos, so I may as wewll make my own!” This video will make you feel better about the cleanliness of your food preparation area, about your efficiency with avocados, and most of all, about your Spanish. But it may make you wish you had a cooking companion and videographer like I have.

I don’t want to hear and kvetching about the vertical camera! She’s four!

For the quesadillas, I drizzled the chicken with olive oil and sprinkled on plenty of chili lime powder, then roasted it. I think I either left the house or went to lie down at this point, because I don’t remember making quesadillas, but I do remember eating some. 

And very good they are, quesadillas that somebody else made.

SUNDAY
Grilled chicken, bratwurst, pork ribs, and shrimp with mango salsa; chips and guacamole; strawberries and ice cream

Damien’s mom came by to watch Into the Spiderverse with the kids, and Damien smoked up a feast.

Now, here is where you may begin to notice a certain theme: Mandatory Meat vs. Optional Meat. I like meat? I really do. But I can imagine a happy life without it, unlike some husbands. I am most certainly not complaining! It just wouldn’t occur to me to cook a meal featuring four different meats; and it wouldn’t occur to him to go to a restaurant and not order meat. I guess between the two of us, we even out. As with so many other things. 

He used the same rub for the ribs as he does for the chicken, but for the ribs, he put some mustard on first, before smoking it. (I think he seared it on the grill and then moved it to a smoker? His ways are mysterious.)

He boiled the brats in beer and onions before grilling them. The shrimp, he marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder, and a little salt and pepper, and skewered them on skewers that had been soaked in water, then grilled them. 

So good. That chicken is so juicy and the skin is so crisp.

Have I told you about Damien’s Amazing Interchangeable Cinderblock Meat Altar Situation? He wanted a really big grill, but we don’t especially care for, you know, paying for things. We keep buying cheap grills and then leaving them out in the rain to rust, and that’s no good.

So he got a bunch of cinderblocks and built up this giant monolith for the base. Then he has an assortment of little blocks and chunks, grates of various sizes, chimneys, tongs, different charcoals and whatnot, and he just builds to suit, depending on how much fire he wants, how high the grate and how much air circulations, how many different fires he needs at the same time, and so on.

He does want one big grill to go over the whole thing, for when we have a lot of guests. And today is the day I found out he’s too much of a fancy man to even consider stealing a shopping cart. 

Anyway, the mango salsa was pretty tasty. I did say I was interested in mangos! So pretty, too. 

I do like the taste, but I’d probably buy them just for how the peels look. 

I’ll put a recipe card at the end. Oh, it’s so good to eat outside again! Even the plates are happy. 

Oh, mangoes have not seen the last of me. 

And I do believe Corrie is firmly in the “carnem et carnem solum” camp. 

MONDAY
Creamy lemon sausage pasta

I saw this recipe in the New York Times and it looked easy enough, and everybody likes lemon and cheese. But I figured I better get some meat in there, for the more carnal amongst us. I also tweaked the proportions so there was more sauce per pasta.

So, you just cook pasta, then cook up the sausage, then mix it together with ricotta and parmesan, lemon juice and lemon zest, salt and pepper, and some of the pasta water to thin it out, and stir all that into the cooked pasta, and put some fresh basil and red pepper flakes on top. 

It was good? It was almost good. It was not great. It was filling, and a little odd, but definitely cheap and easy. I would have liked to have the lemon and cheese filling in ravioli, probably; but as a sauce, and with the sausage, I was not entranced. I don’t know if it was the combination of sausage and lemon, or if this just wasn’t the dish for us. Oh well, onward and upward. 

TUESDAY

I was gone, wasn’t I! On Tuesday I did a Theology on Tap with the beautiful and indefatigable Kait Mayer, who also took me out to eat beforehand at Triumph Brewing, where I had . . . 

Well, look, now we’re back to the difference between me and Damien. I ordered the tempura mushroom banh mi, and I stand by it. The mushroom had a lovely, crisp coating, the bun was soft and giving, and the shredded vegetables were copious, flattered winsomely with a spicy mayo just as the gods ordained. It was delicious. 

WEDNESDAY

I had lunch at EFES Mediterranean Grill with my Aunt Joan and Uncle Lloyd. Lovely little place! Athough I wanted to want lamb dumplings or something along those lines, it was tremendously hot and humid, so I just ordered an appetizer, which was plenty. Homemade yogurt with spinach and walnuts with a basket of pita, and there were also little cups of sauce — something orange and very warming, and something minty and cooling. I got a very clear message that I need more mint in my life.

Then we did a mini-tour of Princeton campus, and then I mooched around the Princeton Art Museum. I only had time for the ancient art gallery, which was, as the kids say, extremely my jam. I posted a bunch of photos on Instagram. What a gorgeous place, and free admission. 

Then the gracious Claire Gmachl and the monsignor took me out for dinner at the Blue Point Grill, where I had arctic char and wild rice. I had to ask what arctic char is, since I am a bumpkin. It turns out it’s like salmon, but more salmony. And I fully expected to see a wiggly red line appear under “salmony” as I typed, but it turns out salmony is so a word. Then I thought maybe it was some obscure legal term, like simony, only more salmony. Oh, you want it in a sentence? Then how about The Sporting Review’s observation:

“This stream, which forms the Cascade de Con, abounds with a delicious little trout, the best flavoured and the most salmony I ever ate.”

Or perhaps this 1906 entry in Horticulture by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society will satisfy you:

“The color is pretty much the shade seen in Queen Alexandra, a salmony bronze, one of the kinds commonly called off-colors…”

This seems interesting to me. But I did not sleep a lot this week. I did go ahead and look up “arctic char” to see if the internet would rush to offer the information that it’s rather salmony, but all I learned was that its distribution is circumpolar. I feel that same way myself. 

After my talk, I got to hang out with Tom and Elizabeth McDonald, who are SO MUCH FUN. And I have a photo which I am currently saving in case I ever need to blackmail Tom. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Damien insisted on making dinner while I lay down. Benny brought me dinner in bed:

Then they went to the beach while I lay down some more! I hope my current life isn’t the opposite of working out your purgatory on earth so you don’t have to do it after you die, because I feel like I’m racking up a lot of rewards that I haven’t quite earned.

FRIDAY

It says on the blackboard “giant choc chip pancake – eggs” and I don’t feel like I can argue with that, even though I’m sitting here smelling the pancakes they are making themselves for brunch. 

Coming up: our giant family July 4th cookout and mostly-legal fireworks display! We’ll be having, you guessed it, lots of kinds of meat, plus all the usual summer foods — potato salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, and a variety of refreshing beverages. What should we do for dessert? The kids want a cake in the shape of a flag, with red and blue berries, but I’m fairly anti-cake in the summer. I think we have done ice cream cups and a giant mountain of cookies in the past. That may be perfect; but I’d love to hear other ideas, too. Whatcha got?

Mango salsa

Good for shrimp, pork, chicken, or just tortilla chips

Ingredients

  • 6 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 med red onion, diced
  • 1 large jalapeño, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced or sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • chili powder to taste
  • lime juice to taste

Instructions

  1. That's it, dude.

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

4 from 1 vote
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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. 

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

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

SATURDAY
Pancakes with strawberries, sausages

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

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

Isn’t she cute?

***

SUNDAY
Burgers, hot dogs, chips, brownie sundaes

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

***

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

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

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

Here is a moment that Benny wanted to memorialize:

***

TUESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

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

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

***

WEDNESDAY

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

***

THURSDAY
Pork kebabs, white rice, mangoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

FRIDAY

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

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

 

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

Here we go!

SATURDAY
Fancied-up chicken burgers, chips

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

***

SUNDAY
Pork Bánh mì

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

So nice.

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

***

TUESDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips

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

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cucumber avocado salad

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

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

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

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

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

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

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

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

***

FRIDAY
Tuna, maybe risotto?

Stupid Friday.

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