What’s for supper? Vol. 358: In which we end strong (thinkin about beans)

Heyy! Merry Christmas! Happy goodbye old year. Happy indeed. Let’s end strong with FOOD. 

It’s been a bit since I’ve done a WFS, so I’ll just do a highlight reel of the last few weeks.

I published the last one before I finished making my VERY FIRST PAVLOVA. Turns out to be very easy. I used this recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen. You beat up a bunch of egg whites and sugar, then mix in lemon juice, corn starch, and vanilla. Then you just glop it onto a pan with parchment paper and bake it in a low oven for an hour; and then you turn the oven off and let it cool down verrry slowly. 

Then you whip some cream and sugar and plop that on top, and then you throw berries on it. That’s it!

I forget exactly what boneheaded thing I did, but I ended up putting the pavlova into an oven that was warm, but not actually turned on; and I didn’t notice for something like forty minutes. So then I turned it on for a while, and then I turned it off for a while. Guess what?? The pavlova still turned out fine! 

I was skeptical that I would want to eat this much meringue, but it’s got more to it than meringue, and was very pleasant, and not as blindingly sweet as I expected. I think the outer crust was a little tougher than it’s supposed to be, but it was still delicious. The outside is sweet and glossy and crisp, and the inside has a marshmallowy, almost custard-like flavor. It’s supposed to have more cream on top than you see here, but the whipping cream had frozen, so I didn’t have a lot to work with. 

As you can see, I put blackberries, blueberries, pomegranate arils, kiwi slices, and mint leaves on mine. That was a very pleasant combination. I thought the mint would taste weird, but it was very nice having that green freshness along with the hot sugar taste. Some people make wreath shapes, which would be very pretty. I also made a bunch of individual pavlovas. Lots of possibilities. Many more pavlovas in our future!

One of my birthday presents was this wonderful cookbook: Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni.

That week, I ended up using a lot of odds and ends of meat we already had in the freezer, so my budget had a little room, and I splurged on a giant hunk of lamb. I cut it up and divided it, and froze 1/3 of the pieces along with the bone.

The first portion, I made into lamb braised in aromatic cream sauce (rogani gosht). You can see that recipe here. You can also make this dish with beef, which I’m sure I will end up doing, because it was fab. Fab fab fab.

Eating a hot bowl of rogani gosht is like being cuddled by a gigantic, affectionate, fluffy cat (that’s the fragrant cream part) who keeps licking you with its rough tongue (that’s the warming spice part). I know that’s weird, but normal descriptions just won’t DO for this dish. It’s not super spicy, but enough to get your attention, and the meat was insanely tender. It just fell apart with the merest nudge from a spoon. 

I also made a giant taboon bread. I wanted naan, but it was too late to get it started, so I went with this recipe, which is so easy, and you bake it in the oven all in one big slab.

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The only thing I forgot was to dimple the dough with my fingertips, and it had already been baking for 7-8 minutes, so like an idiot I stuck my hands in the hot oven and attempted to dimple it anyway. Did not get very far. 

But the meal was worth a little burnt fingers. I made a pot of rice in the Instant Pot and we had a really wonderful meal. 

The braised lamb doesn’t look like much, but I’m telling you. IT WAS MUCH. My goodness, what a treat. 

Let’s see, what else? 

For the last day of school, which was December 22 (ridiculous), I made cookies for Benny’s class party. Just good old reliable no-chill sugar cookies,

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which I cut out with little holes, and then filled the holes with crushed Jolly Ranchers, so when they baked, they had little candy windows in them.

We frosted them with royal icing and whatever miscellaneous decorations I could find in the cabinet,

and they turned out looking like a bit of a crime scene, but we did have fun. 

Another nice meal: Pulled pork on tater tots with red onions and corn. Maybe I was just hungry, but this meal was so freaking delicious.

I made the pulled pork using the apple cider vinegar and cloves recipe I have developed

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and it was just so dang tasty. 

Oh, and then we had this over-the-top bacon risotto for the last day of school. Heavy cream, egg yolks, bacon, salami, freshly-grated parmesan, white pepper, and so much butter . . .

I knew it was gonna be amazing, and it was. I didn’t even make anything else for dinner, and nobody complained. I had arborio rice in the house, leftover from the suppli I made for our anniversary, and now I don’t think I’m gonna be able to go back to my old cheap regular rice risotto ways. It was just so luxuriously creamy and rich. 

I think people will be asking for this dish for their birthdays. It’s really special.

On Sunday, it was finally Christmas eve! We went to Mass in the morning at our normal time, because Benny was altar serving. Then I got everybody to clean up the house. We weren’t expecting any guests, but we had SO much incredible extra clutter in the house — giant cartons of things, random baskets with other random baskets on top and wads of torn-up leggings flopping around, extra pieces of furniture, dying plants, half-finished crafts, and of course a million Amazon boxes, and of course all the cartons of Christmas decorations that I didn’t manage to put up. And there was this TREE in the living room, and some idiot had strung garlands all over the place, and the line between “merry merry” and “mental breakdown” was getting a little thin. The thought of starting with this mess and adding dozens and dozens of presents and half an acre of discarded wrapping paper and forty six tons of candy wrappers with little wet wads of candy still stuck to them was more than I could deal with. 

So I cracked the whip a bit, and we all cleaned that shit up. Even though we weren’t having guests! Then I made everyone take showers, and then we had supper, and then we decorated the tree, and then I started Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon rolls.

I made a triple recipe

and had some help from Corrie spreading on the cinnamon sugar, rolling them up, and cutting them out. 

and then they got wrapped up and put in the fridge to rise slowly. 

Midnight Mass was lovely. They’ve started having it at actual midnight in the last few years, which is not so hard when your kids are older, and also it’s been warm out, so there wasn’t that horrible “venture out into the icy wind with your flimsy little spangled dress on” challenge. Corrie immediately went to sleep with her head on my lap, so I was tragically forced to sit down the entire time. 

We had the foresight to take pictures at the beginning of Mass, rather than at the end. Here are the goons (some of them still in the Covid window, UGH):

and Ma and Pa Goon:

Got home, Damien and I put allll the presents and stockings out

and then we tottered off to bed at around 2:30 a.m. 

Dora and Moe came over for Christmas, and we had an excellent Christmas day. We had cinnamon buns and bacon, orange juice and eggnog, and plenty of fruit. Several of the kids made each other homemade presents, and everyone just went above and beyond with thoughtful and amusing gifts.

 

For dinner, we had our traditional Chinese takeout, acquired in the correct volume by pretending to be four different people (it’s a long story); and Irene got her traditional Jersey Mike’s sub because Chinese food makes her throw up; and then we all played with our new toys and ate lots of candy and then eventually we went to sleep and slept SO HARD. 

The next few nights, we had easy dinners: Leftover Chinese food one day, and Italian sandwiches the next, and then we watched Baahubali: The Beginning. 

This is one of the most gorgeous, violent, insane, joyfully ridiculous movies I have ever seen, and the very last thing that happened on screen made me go, “WHAT???????” So we’ll be watching part 2, believe me! In the mean time, I went back to my Indian cookbook and pulled the rest of that lamb out of the freezer, and this time I made a curry with tomatoes and potatoes, and also a big pot of rice and some spinach yogurt salad. 

Sahni describes this curry as having a “garnet-colored sauce” and that’s just what it is. It’s so rich and the spices blend so nicely, I just don’t even know how to tell you how tasty it was. 

I had my doubts about the spinach salad (you cook some spinach, squeeze it out and chop it up and mix it into some heavily seasoned yogurt and sour cream), but it was a completely delightful accompaniment to the curry, very cooling and refreshing along with the savory meat. 

I think one kid ate the curry or the yogurt salad. The rest of them had leftovers or eggs. Too bad! Damien and I both had seconds and it made us very happy. 

I chose this meal because the recipe called for stuff I already had in the house, but I am so hyped about making more recipes from the book. Her style is nice and clear, and I’m excited!

And that’s it! That’s the year. We have New Year’s Eve coming up, and we usually have a DIY sushi party; then New Year’s Day is Sophia’s birthday, and then we have Benny’s birthday party that we had to postpone because we all got Covid, and then it’s Damien’s birthday, all in the first eight days of the year. I may just make a series of pavlovas. I can see it now: Turning the oven on, turning it off again, turning it on again, turning it off again, whipping more cream, eating more whipped cream, turning the oven on . . . .

I can think of worse fates. 

Oh, one last thing: Benny got a taiyaki maker for Christmas.

She made her first batch with Nutella filling. If you’ve had yummy taiyaki, what filling did it have? I’m thinking of red bean paste for New Year’s Eve, if I can find the right kind of beans. 

That’s it. That’s my final words of 2023: IF I CAN FIND THE RIGHT KIND OF BEANS. If the world ends and this is my legacy, estoy contenta.

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.

 

No-fail no-chill sugar cookies

Basic "blank canvas"sugar cookies that hold their shape for cutting and decorating. No refrigeration necessary. They don't puff up when you bake them, and they stay soft under the icing. You can ice them with a very basic icing of confectioner's sugar and milk. Let decorated cookies dry for several hours, and they will be firm enough to stack.

Servings 24 large cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract. (You could also make these into lemon cookies)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. Cream together butter and sugar in mixer until smooth.

  3. Add egg and extracts.

  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.

  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar and mix until smooth.

  6. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch. Cut cookies.

  7. Bake on ungreased baking sheets for 6-8 minutes. Don't let them brown. They may look slightly underbaked, but they firm up after you take them out of the oven, so let them sit in the pan for a bit before transferring to a cooling rack.

  8. Let them cool completely before decorating!

 

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

  • fatty hunk of pork
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for browning
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup apple juice
  • 3 jalapeños with tops removed, seeds and membranes intact
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Cut pork into hunks. Season heavily with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat oil in heavy pot and brown pork on all sides.

  3. Move browned pork into Instant Pot or slow cooker or dutch oven. Add all the other ingredients. Cover and cook slowly for at least six hours.

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 355: I like my men like I like my Kentucky Hot Brown. . .

. . . not necessarily especially brown, but actually just named after a hotel. 

I swear this seemed like a joke in my head.

Anyway, here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Turkey sandwiches, spanakopita triangles, chips

The last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Not spectacular sandwiches, just a split baguette with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss cheese.

Damien reheated the last of the spanakopita triangles, and even though they’re amazing when they’re piping hot fresh out of the oven the first time, they’re still pretty darn good when they’re a little soft and old and leftover. As who among us is not. 

If you’re having a party in December, I do heartily recommend spanakopita triangles. They’re easy to make if you get ready made phyllo dough (what are you, crazy? of course get ready made) and they come out great if you make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until the guests are almost there, and then you just pop them in the oven. 

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So nice. 

SUNDAY
Green masala beef curry, rice, naan

I had bought a couple of of those weirdly cheap lamb breast plates several weeks ago, and threw it in the freezer, planning to make this excellent green masala curry. I also picked up a few extra lamb chops just to make sure there was enough meat. 

So, but, when it was time to cook, the lamb just did not smell right. I inquired on social media, and most folks claimed lamb is supposed to smell weird. Gamey, metallic, and so on, especially if the butcher wasn’t careful and let the wool contact the meat, giving it a lanolin flavor. I just kept sniffing and sniffing it, and I wasn’t sure if it was normal-weird or rancid-weird. 

Then I recalled that a few kids already had a stomach bug even before eating potentially bad meat, and I threw that meat away. No ragrets. I had been planning to make beef barley soup later in the week, so I cut up the beef I have saving and used that instead of mutton.

This is quite an easy recipe. I ground up everything in my food processor and set it to marinate with the meat in the morning. Then the only thing left to do is wake up some spices in oil (I didn’t have everything, just cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves)

and then add the meat and marinade, and let it cook. 

I do prefer lamb or goat, but the beef was great. Extremely tender, and the sauce is lovely, not too spicy but very warming. I actually did quite a few substitutions: I had black cardamom instead of green; I forgot jalapeños, so I just threw some green Tobasco sauce in there; and I forgot cilantro, so I used Italian parsley and extra mint (I had some of those cubes of frozen mint I saved from before the frost). I forgot the poppy seeds, and of course it was beef instead of mutton. STILL GOOD. Indian cooking is so forgiving. 

I decided we wanted homemade naan, so I pulled up the King Arthur recipe and made a double batch. It needs about an hour to rise, and then you separate the dough into balls

and let it rest for twenty minutes. Then you just fry each one on both sides in a hot pan, and brush it with butter or ghee

I find it helpful to keep a damp cloth by the stove to wipe the flour out of the pan in between each piece. Otherwise, it just hangs around and gets black and makes your naan taste burnt when it isn’t.

I put the naan in a pan and kept it warm in the oven, but I forgot to cover it, so some of them were a little too crisp and dry by the time it was dinner; but a lot of the were still chewy and reasonably tender. Nothing I bake really comes out very tender, but fresh hot naan is fresh hot naan! 

I splurged on basmati rice and made a big pot of that. I moved the meat into a pot on the stove, and used the Instant Pot to make the basmati rice. I did a 1:1 with rinsed rice and water, taking out a bit of the water afte measuring, to compensate for what would be on the rice after rinsing it; and I cooked it for ten minutes with ten minutes of natural release before venting. And we had a lovely meal.

I want to try more Indian recipes, but the few I have are so tasty, I just keep coming back to them. Maybe next week!

MONDAY
Turkey barley soup, hot pretzels

When I pulled the last turkey off the Thanksgiving bird over the weekend, I simmered the carcass all day in water with carrots, onions, and parsley, thinking it would be nice to have some good stock for later. So I figured Monday counted as later, and just pulled that out again and threw some more carrots and a bunch of barley and some mushrooms in, and we had some okay soup. 

I guess I just don’t like turkey soup that much. It was fine, just nothing to write home about. I heated up some frozen hot pretzels and it was fine. 

TUESDAY
Ham, mashed acorn squash, green beans with cashews

The kids were a little dismayed that I had not planned their ideal dinner, which is ham, peas, and mashed potatoes, but I’m not ready to mash potatoes again yet. Instead, I mashed squash! That’ll larn ’em!

I cut two acorn squashes in half, scooped out the seeds and gunk (and I saved the seeds! My empire of saved seeds continues to expand), sprinkled them with baking soda and a little kosher salt, and put them in the Instant Pot with half a cup of water. (The reasoning behind the baking soda is that it raises the pH of the squash, which hastens and deepens the caramelization that happens when you cook it. Does this really work? Nobody knows, but it’s so easy that I’m not gonna do an experiment and risk having slightly less flavorful squash.) I cooked the squash at high pressure for like 24 minutes. 

I couldn’t find the little metal trivet that keeps the food from touching the bottom, so I put some mason jar rings in there under the squash, and it worked fine. Probably raised the pH even more, who can say. 

Then I scooped them out, burning myself forty-six times; and then mashed it up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and cloves. The recipe I usually follow

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calls for nutmeg, but it had disappeared. My kitchen is like a shifting mirage, where things drift in and out of reality without regard for the fact that I am trying to get supper on the table. But the cinnamon and cloves tasted great. I love this dish. 

The ham was already cooked, so Damien heated it up the oven while I went to get the kids, and then while the squash was cooking, I made some quick string beans. 

I had cashews left over from the green curry, so I chopped up a bunch. I trimmed the string beans and cooked them in boiling water for like four minutes. Then I drained them and ran cold water over them until they were cool. (This is because, when they get hot enough, they will continue cooking away inside their little skins, even if you take them out of the hot water, and they get overcooked very quickly; so you need to cook them just a little and then make sure they stop cooking!)

Then I heated up some olive oil in a pan, slightly browned up the chopped-up cashews, and added the string beans back in and kept them moving until they were hot. I guess I added salt and pepper at this point. 

And it was a nice little meal!

If I had to do it over, I’d cook the string beans in butter, rather than oil. They were a little greasy. But still pretty good. 

WEDNESDAY
Regular tacos

100% regular. I heard the kids reading the blackboard menu and commenting that “regular tacos” sounded a little suspicious, like probably I was trying a little too hard to lull them into thinking that it was going to be a normal meal, WHEN IT WASN’T. Joke’s on them: They really were just normal tacos. Everybody wins, except the taco. 

THURSDAY
Kentucky Hot Brown

So, in retrospect, what would have made my turkey soup better is if it had had more turkey in it. But actually I had pulled the meat off the carcass and frozen it, and then I took the meat out on Thursday to try this sandwich recipe. But because I’m the queen of making things hard on myself for no reason, preferably over the course of several days, the meat I saved was enough meat for soup, but not really enough for sandwiches. So we ended up with sub-par soup, and then I had to run out anyway and buy some chicken and roast it so we’d have enough meat for the sandwiches, which are perfect for when you have tons of leftover turkey in the house and you don’t know what to do with it, and/or you are crazy. 

NEVERTHELESS, they were good sandwiches! I had some thick Italian bread which I toasted in the oven, and on top of that you put the turkey, then some sliced tomatoes, then a mornay sauce (which is just a white sauce with cheese in it. I used freshly grated parmesan, some cheddar, and a little pepper jack) with plenty of nutmeg (which had graciously appeared again), and then bacon on top of that. 

You’re supposed to toast the whole thing under the broiler, but I forgot. Still good!

I made the mornay sauce in the pan that the bacon had been fried in, because fat.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas I guess

I think I saw the writing on the wall (the writing saying “Mene mene you keep using up food that you meant to save for another meal, you dope!”) and, when I was making the mornay sauce, I actually hid some cheese from myself, so I would have some for the quesadillas and not have to go to the supermarket yet again. I don’t know where I hid it, but it’s gotta be in the fridge somewhere, and WHEN I FIND IT . . . I’m gonna make some quesadillas. 

And that’s why they call me Kentucky Hot Brown. (They do not.) 

Spanakopita triangles

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs spinach
  • 1 stick butter, plus 1 Tbsp for sautéing spinach
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 roll phyllo dough, thawed

Instructions

To make the filling:

  1. In a big pan, melt the 1 Tbsp butter and sauté the spinach until it's soft. It will be a giant heap of greens at first, but it cooks way down and will fit in the pan when you're done!

  2. Let the spinach cool and then squeeze out as much water as you can.

  3. In a bowl, mix together the cooked spinach with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir in the feta until it's combined. Set aside.

  4. Preheat the oven to 375

  5. Melt the stick of butter and set it aside. You'll need it handy for assembling the triangles.

  6. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover it with a slightly damp cloth to keep it from getting brittle. Take what you need and keep the rest of the stack covered.

To assemble the triangles:

  1. Carefully lay a phyllo dough square on your workspace, long side horizontal. Brush it with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top of it and brush that with butter.

  2. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into three strips.

  3. Put a scoop of spinach mixture at the bottom of each strip. Then fold that section of dough up diagonally, enclosing the spinach, so it forms a triangle. Continue folding up to make triangles, like you'd fold a flag, until you reach the top of the dough. If you're having trouble figuring out how to fold it, here is a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVwA3i_tmKc&t=2s

  4. If there's a bit of leftover dough on the triangle, fold it under. Lay the finished triangle on a baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with butter again.

  5. Continue until the phyllo dough is gone. I made 18 pockets, two sheets thick, with one roll of phyllo dough, but you can change the proportions and make lots of smaller triangles if you like.

  6. Bake about 25 minutes until golden brown. Let them sit in the pan for a moment before removing. Serve hot or cold.

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.

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. 

Jump to Recipe

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. 351: In which I finally get my head examined

Happy Friday! Gevalt, what a week. Today, in just a little bit, I am going to a REAL NEUROLOGIST. I am very excited. And we had a busy little week, full of candy and screaming! Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Tacos for kids, Indian food for adults

Saturday was the last installment in our rolling 26th anniversary celebration. Damien and I took the kayaks out on the Ashuelot River down by one of the covered bridges. We paddled upstream as far as we could until an uprooted tree blocked the way, and then we floated gently back down again among the yellow leaves.

We took a little detour into — I don’t know what you’d call it, the equivalent of a cul-de-sac for a river. It was SO QUIET in there, and the buggies were jumping around on top of the water because no one would bother them, and a giant blue heron lifted off and flapped away. By the time we got back where we started, it was getting chilly and a little dark, and it really was time to go, but we didn’t want to leave quite yet, so we paddled under the covered bridge. I howled a little bit, because of the acoustics, and then as soon as we popped out the other side, I SAW AN EAGLE. I’ve never seen one before. Absolutely unmistakable. What a wonderful trip. 

 

We stopped off home to change out of our damp clothes, and make sure the kids tore themselves away from that new Mario whatnot to get some tacos started, and we went to Royal Spice in Troy. We got an appetizer of assorted vegetable thingies, and then Damien got lamb saag and I got lamb biryani. Very, very fine. 

I also had a laugh because the waitress (who was very nice) asked us if we wanted “Naan? Nyaaaayn? Bread?” We had all three, thank you very much. Also papadum. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, tomato bacon bisque

Sunday the plan was grilled ham and cheese, but it was so gray and drizzly, and there was this stray pound of bacon in the fridge, so I got the idea of tomato bisque in my head, and couldn’t get it out even after I looked up the recipe and discovered I was missing, like, five ingredients. 

Jump to Recipe

Not that it’s a complicated recipe, but it does have more than bacon and a can of tomatoes in it. But I realized if I had to run to the store, that would be an excuse to go pick up Clara and bring her to the house for pumpkin carving. So that was nice. 

And dinner was very nice indeed! Perfect for a chilly, rainy day. 

I also realized it really was getting cold, and this was a trend that wasn’t likely to reverse itself soon, so if I was gonna pick some mint for the winter, then today was probably the day. So that’s what I did. 

I still haven’t fixed my food processor, so I made do with the Ninja blender, and blended it up as best I could with a little olive oil. My best wasn’t very good, and I lost a little enthusiasm for the project at this point, and then squunched the kind of uneven results into an ice cube tray, 

and lost at least another 20% of enthusiasm when I saw what I had done. I dunno. I just wrapped it up and chucked it in the freezer, and next time I want some mint for a marinade or something, let’s see if I remember it’s in there. 

I also have these ghost peppers in my garden. I don’t know what to do with them. 

Why did I grow them? I don’t know. 

I spent the rest of the evening putting the next-to-last last touches on the Halloween costumes. And I remembered to take the pizza dough out of the freezer!

MONDAY
Under-over pizza

My pride at remembering to defrost the pizza evaporated when I realized I had forgotten that the oven was still broken. So I did what any red-blooded American would do (?): I broiled the pizzas until the top was bubbly, and then put them on the stovetop, carefully rotating them over the hot burner, in an attempt to firm up the underside of the crust. 

It . . . didn’t completely not work. 

Good effort, edible pizza. And anyway, we had Halloween costumes to finish.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, popcorn

Tuesday was, of course, Halloween, so we had our traditional quickie meal, at a table graciously decorated appropriately for the day:

and then we were off trick or treating! Here’s some photos from the evening: 

 

A successful night, and boy am I old and tired. Got home, lit the jack-o’- lanterns just to see them lit (nobody comes to our house because we don’t have sidewalks), and put on Army of Darkness, which I slept through. 

I had just snuggled in under the covers of my bed when I suddenly remembered I was planning bo ssam the next day. And that means getting the meat going the night before. SO I DID.  Hero! I’m a dinner hero. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, kiwi

Wednesday was All Saint’s Day and we let the kids stay home from school because, not because of the saints at all, we were just tired. So tired! And there was a real hard frost. The nerve.  We made it to the noon Mass with just a little screaming.

Wednesday I did remember the oven situations and was prepared to make the bo ssam in the Instant Pot and finish it up under the broiler, but Damien, who is the other hero around here, fixed the oven in the morning. I was so excited about it being fixed that I put the pork in right away, so it was done cooking at like 4 PM. So then I moved it to the slow cooker (not the Instant Pot, because I needed that to make rice) so it would stay warm but not dry out, and then back to the oven about ten minutes before supper with the little finishing glaze of brown sugar, sea salt, and cider vinegar that gives it that opulent caramelized crust. I use the My Korean Kitchen recipe, but I just do the salt and pepper overnight part, and then the brown sugar glaze part at the end. Very basic and easy, big return. 

Everybody likes bo ssam! We had lettuce to wrap up the rice and shreds of meat it, and I added some sweet chili sauce to mine, which was tasty. 

I also cut up a bunch of kiwis because I like to have something cool and juicy with this meal, because the meat is so outrageously salty. 

 

A very fine meal. 

THURSDAY
Shakshuka (eggs in purgatory), soul cakes, pomegranates, pumpkin seeds

Thursday was All Soul’s Day and I must have my little joke and serve eggs in purgatory, which is basically shakshuka, and soul cakes. 

In the morning, I dropped off all the kids and spotted a ton of free fencing on the side of the road, but got a text from Moe that his battery was dead. So I started stuffing fencing into the car as fast as I could, sincerely wishing I had remembered to take the Dalek out of the back. A crusty old Yankee stopped to help, and we fit all but two rolls of fencing. I explained that I have a little duck problem , and that’s my story. He understood. The Dalek goes in front. I drive into town, locate Moe’s car, annnd discover my jumper cables are missing a clamp. So we decide to drive to Harbor Freight, but first we have to put the Dalek into Moe’s car so there’s room in my car for Moe.
 
I can’t just go into the store myself because I am wearing bright pink pajamas.
 
So he buys the cables, I Google instructions, we fearfully hook it up, wait five minutes, and it works! Moe goes off, I go home with the alarm
going off the whole time because the back door is slightly open, and unload the fence, which I’m 80% sure is terrible fence and useless, and all is well. I may need a tetanus shot from getting poked with fence wires. I forgot the Dalek.
 
I sat there for a few minutes on the couch trying to figure out if I was an idiot or not. Then I just had some coffee and wrote two essays and made some dough. 
 
Here’s the recipe:
Jump to Recipe
 

made the shakshuka sauce and moved it into the slow cooker

(here’s the recipe:)

Jump to Recipe

and prepped a bunch of pumpkin seeds, and then it was time to go again, and I had to stop at Walmart, and then I went to the school, and GUESS WHAT? 

There was still some free fence on the side of the road! And there was no Dalek in my car anymore, due to me having forgotten. So this time, there was plenty of room. Sort of. 

So then we got home, and the kids cut out the soul cakes. This year we did skulls, ghosts, and angels. There’s some silly little theological allegory there but we’ll just skip it

I added some detail with this weird dried fruit I had in the cabinet, that I got on clearance at the International Market a while back, and then I sifted some powdered sugar over them when they came out of the oven. 

The fruit is called Tutti Frutti Mix, which implies in not one but two ways that there are two or three kinds of fruit in there. Right? “Tutti” and “Mix,” not to mention that “Frutti” is surely plural. 

It turns out it’s just papaya! 

It tasted fine, and the texture was pleasant. I was expecting a kind of gummy consistency, like those red and green cherries that go in one of those yucky fruitcakes, but it was chewy with a little edge, almost nutty. So there you go. I have a lot more of it (IT WAS ON SALE).

So first I made the pumpkin seeds

and I remembered to save a few dozen out to dry, rather than roasting them, so we can plant some nice big pumpkins in the spring. (I just tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt and spread them in two shallow pans in a 350 oven, stirring them up every twenty minutes or so, for maybe forty minutes or an hour.)

When those were done, I baked the soul cakes, and when those were almost done, I started poaching the eggs in the shakshuka sauce

You’re supposed to have parmesan or feta, and parsley, for the top; but I didn’t have either. It was a nice sauce, though, with plenty of vegetables, and rather spicy. 

I cut up the pomegranates I’d been withholding all week

and we had ourselves a weird little meal for All Soul’s Day

And that’s my story!

FRIDAY
Shrimp lo mein

If I make it home alive. 

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon (peppered bacon is good)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 56 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 46 oz tomato juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy fried onions (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, chop it up, and drain out all but a a few teaspoons of grease.

  2. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the grease and sauté until soft.

  3. Add tomatoes (including juices), bay leaves, rosemary, and tomato juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Save some rosemary for a garnish if you like.

  4. With a slotted spoon, fish out the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and most of the rosemary, leaving some rosemary leaves in. Discard most of the rosemary and bay leaf. Put the rest of the rosemary and the tomatoes in a food processor with the 8 oz of cream cheese until it's as smooth as you want it.

  5. Return pureed tomato mixture to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Heat through. Add chopped bacon right before serving, or add to individual servings; and top with crispy fried onions if you like. Garnish with more rosemary if you're a fancy man. 

 

Soul cakes

Servings 18 flat cakes the size of large biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, chilled
  • 3-3/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice (can sub cloves)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar (can sub white vinegar)
  • 4-6 Tbsp milk
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

optional:

  • raisins, currants, nuts, candied citrus peels, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

  2. Put the flour in a large bowl. Grate the chilled butter on a vegetable grater and incorporate it lightly into the flour.

  3. Stir in the sugar and spices until evenly distributed.

  4. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs, vinegar and milk. Stir this into the flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough.

  5. Knead for several minutes until smooth and roll out to 1/4 thick.

  6. Grease a baking pan. Cut the dough into rounds (or other shapes if you like) and lay them on the pan, leaving a bit of room in between (they puff up a bit, but not a lot). If you're adding raisins or other toppings, poke them into the top of the cakes, in a cross shape if you like. Prick cakes with fork.

  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until very lightly browned on top.

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while they are warm

 

Eggs in purgatory

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spicy loose Italian sausage
  • 30 oz diced tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 8 eggs
  • parmesan cheese

optional:

  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 thinly sliced bell peppers
  • dash chili oil
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste, if you like it firmer
  • coarsely chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a wide, shallow pan, brown up the sausage and garlic (and pepper flakes if using).

  2. If you're using onions or peppers, add them and cook until slightly soft.

  3. Add the diced tomatoes with juice. Cover and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the tomato paste if you want it firmer.

  4. Make eight shallow indentations in the sauce and carefully break an egg into each one.

  5. Cover the pan loosely and let it poach for six or seven minutes, until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are as solid as you want them to be.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese toward the end, and serve immediately in scoops or wedges. Garnish with parsley if you like.

 

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. 348: kthxpie

Happy Friday!

Look, I know food posts are fun posts, but today, in response to the request of +Pierbattista Card. Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, I’m going to make some attempt at a fast, and it happens that today is my adoration hour, so I guess I’ll actually be saying a rosary instead of just sitting there like a dumbass like I usually do. Please, if you’re the praying kind, pray with me for the Middle East, for deliverance from these horrors. I don’t know what else to say. 

All right, so the other thing we can do is keep on living the beautiful, safe, full lives that God has granted us here in our peaceful country. 

We did have some excellent food this week, including multiple pies! I’m leaning into cold weather cooking, and I guess if I can’t just crawl into bed between warm covers, the next best thing is wrap up my dinner in a nice warm pie crust. I feel like if I worked on that sentence, it might make more sense, but I’m just going to move along. Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Always popular. I got Genoa salami, sandwich pepperoni, hot capicola, and prosciutto, and we had mozzarella, tomatoes, and red pesto. I meant to pick some basil, but I forgot. And then I sloshed a silly amount of balsamic vinegar all over my sandwich, which I secretly like, even though it’s not pretty. 

And that’s-a my sandwich. 

SUNDAY
Chicken burgers, cheezy weezies

Sunday we went apple picking. Our usual orchard did not have apple picking for the public, because that late spring frost killed off so many buds; so we ended up driving to Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard in Greenville, which is very nice, if a tiny bit on the La Grunta end of the spectrum. We met up with another family and picked our apples and fed some goats and then Damien waited in line for literally an hour to get some freshly-made cider donuts. They had a machine that was actually called “DONUT ROBOT” just like in Homer Price, but it wasn’t nearly as fast, and there were no diamond bracelets inside. Good donuts, though. And I insisted on getting my most-of-the-family photo, and the kids retaliated by . . . I guess holding their hands like Angel in Buffy? I don’t know what goes on.

Then we got home and had an easy meal of chicken burgers and cheezy weezies. 

In my ongoing pursuit of health and wellness, I decided to have stone ground mustard instead of mayo, and you know what? It wasn’t very good. I did have a donut, though. 

MONDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips, pineapple; apple pie

Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day, and the kids had the day off, and observed it after their traditional fashion, to wit: Implying that their parents are kinda racist, but also not wanting to eat any of the interesting food we suggested for Indigenous Peoples Day. So we had tacos. 

Behold my no sour cream, no cheese, and no chips! I turn sideways, people question where I went. 

Just kidding, I was just saving up my calories for pie. Benny and Corrie were in charge of cranking the apple peeler-corer-slicer machine:

while I made a quintuple recipe of this reliable pie crust:

Jump to Recipe

We made three apple pies: One with a jack-o’-lantern face crust

and one with a lattice spider web crust:

The spider’s legs collapsed in the oven, but I thought he was still pretty winsome

and then I found a little pan and made a cute little pie for my neighbor Millie

Isn’t that adorable? I brought it over while it was still hot. She’s recovering very well from her broken pelvis, and is planning her spring garden. 

I don’t really have a recipe for the apple pie filling — you just mix the sliced apples with sugar, a little salt, cinnamon, and little nutmeg, and mix it up, and then dot it with butter before you put the top on. I guess you can add flour if you want a thicker filling. Then you brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle it with sugar. Bake at 425 for ten minutes and then lower it to 350 and keep on baking it for like half an hour until it’s golden brown and the filling is bubbly. 

I like all kinds of pies, but apple is king. 

TUESDAY
Chicken bacon pie, roasted carrots

When I made the apple pies on Monday, I lined a big casserole dish with pie crust and rolled out a top and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, so on Tuesday, I just had to make the filling for this recipe and throw it in the oven. 

Jump to Recipe

You guys, it was SO GOOD. Damien said he’s never enjoyed chicken pie before, but he absolutely loved this, which is my friend Rebecca Salazar’s recipe. It’s supposed to have leeks, but they didn’t have any at the store, so I substituted celery. Amazing. Incredibly savory and just packed with happy flavors. It was also really fast to make (well, because the crust was already done). Most definitely making this again. 

So first you cook up some diced bacon, then add diced onion and leeks (or, in my case, celery) and keep cooking. Then some thyme, pepper, and a ton of butter.

Then you whisk in a little flour, thicken it up, add in some concentrated chicken broth and thicken it some more, and add in cubed chicken and cubed potatoes. And that’s it. You pour this into the bottom crust

add the top crust, and then obviously you have to make it into a Mrs. Tweedy’s Chicken Pie, and brush it with egg yolk

and bake at 425 for about an hour. LOOK AT HER.

So beautiful. The filling was nice and thick, and the pieces held up well when I scooped them out, but not so well that it was gluey or gunky.

About half an hour before dinner, I decided we needed a side dish, so I found this roasted carrot recipe from a site I’ve used before, Recipe Tin Eats

Another success! I’ve made glazed carrots before, but they have come out kind of mushy and swimming in syrup, which isn’t great. This recipe is quick and easy and the carrots get fully cooked and they’re sweet and flavorful, but not sticky or blurry. 

I actually skipped the garlic and added cinnamon and a little chili powder. You just mix up the sugar and a few other ingredients and toss the carrots in it and roast them on a pan, turning them once. Easy and effective. 

So yeah, it was a lovely meal. 

I was quite pleased with myself.

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, garlic knots

Wednesday I got up and decided to get going making meatballs for soup right first thing in the morning. So I’m standing there in my pajamas, throwing stuff in a bowl: ground turkey, fresh parmesan, some duck eggs, salt, pepper, fresh basil, breadcrumbs, milk, olive oil

and I’m making the little meatballs, thinking about Millie, making meatballs, thinking maybe Millie would like some soup, thinking about meatballs, and then suddenly I realize: HOLY CRAP, I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DRIVING MILLIE TO THE DOCTOR. I guess my guardian angel was speaking meatball that day, because that’s the only way he could get my attention. So I washed my hands and threw on a bra and got Millie to her appointment, and it was a good report! She’s healing well and has graduated from a walker to a cane. 

Then I had a bunch of other nonsense to take care of, and finally got home and made the dang meatballs. I more or less followed this recipe from Sip and Feast, which has never steered me wrong

I ended up adding quite a bit more broth than it called for, and I used kale rather than escarole and spinach, and ditalini rather than acini de pepe, and I didn’t have parsley for the meatballs. 

Still a damn fine soup. Very nourishing and delicious. I did bring a jar over to Millie, which she appreciated. 

I had a couple of balls of pizza dough, so I made about 18 garlic knots. I just baked them plain, then tossed the hot knots in melted butter, garlic powder, and flaked kosher salt

They were pretty excellent.

I love soup and hot bread for supper. I grated up a little more parmesan to top off the soup, and it was so good. 

Next time I really need to use acini de pepe. Any bigger kind of pasta just inevitably gets overcooked and expands too much, which is a less than ideal. It didn’t ruin the soup or anything, but that’s why you’re supposed to use acini de pepe.

THURSDAY
Broiled tilapia, spinach and cucumber salad, coleslaw, Prongles, pears

Thursday I kind of ran out of steam for cooking. I think I was originally intending to make batter fried fish sandwiches, but it was about 12:30 and I discovered I had not bought sandwich rolls, and also I had zero desire to fry anything.

Pictured: Zero desire, in filet form. 

Then it turned out Benny had a soccer game anyway, and I didn’t even get home until 5:00, and I had only gotten as far as taking the fish out of the freezer and complaining about it on Facebook.

So I took my friend Kat’s advice and lined a pan with parchment paper, drizzled a little oil on the tilapia filets, sprinkled them with salt, and broiled them for like seven minutes

and served them with melted butter and lemon wedges.

I put out some spinach and some cucumbers from the garden, and I made some coleslaw real quick (pre-shredded cabbage with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, and little sugar and pepper), and put out some nice juicy pears. Not bad for zero plan!

I really like fish. It keeps on being on sale at Walmart, so I guess I’ll keep cooking it until I don’t like it anymore. 

Oh, here’s a picture of one of the sillier cucumbers from my garden:

I think this is the result of uneven watering, or something. Anyway, I ate it. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

With a little hot sauce and a little mustard mixed into the sauce. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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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.

5 from 1 vote
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Rebecca's chicken bacon pie

Ingredients

  • double recipe of pie crust
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups concentrated chicken broth (I use almost double the amount of bouillon to make this)
  • 2 Tbsp pepper
  • egg yolk for brushing on top crust

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. In a large pan, cook the bacon pieces until they are browned. Pour off most of the grease.

  3. Add in the onion and celery and cook until soft.

  4. Add the thyme, pepper, and butter and cook until butter is melted. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for another few minutes.

  5. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue cooking for a few more minutes until it thickens up. Stir in the chicken and potato and keep warm, stirring occasionally, until you're ready to use it.

  6. Pour filling into bottom crust, cover with top crust, brush with beaten egg. Bake for about an hour.

What’s for supper? Vol. 338: Please refer to the affidavit

Happy Friday! I have been bumbling around with a migraine all week, and I managed to lose my freshly-refilled bottle of migraine meds before I got any of it. It wasn’t the worst headache in the world, but I was CONFUSED and CONFUSED and also did not know what was going on. So a few of these meals are a little ,,, irregular. 

You may also notice that most of these photos are either outside or on my bed, because I was hiding from everybody all week. I love them all but they are fricken LOUD. 

I feel so much better today, though, thank the Lord. I woke up this morning with no headache, dizziness, nausea, jaw pain, tooth pain, or photophobia to speak of, and I am so glad. So glad!

Although I just got through all my photos, and finished uploading the last one of the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtle cake with all the buttercream icing, and I’m remembering how much icing I ate and . . . I think maybe I know where my headache started. Huh. 

Well, here is what we had: 

SATURDAY
Chicken caprese burgers, chips

Just frozen chicken burgers on buns with tomatoes, basil from the garden, sliced cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil and vinegar. 

I wanted to be a hero, so I bought salt and vinegar chips. Works every time. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, chips; blueberry rose tarts with candied lemon

On Sunday, we had promised to take the kids kayaking, which we did! Benny and Corrie had their first experience paddling on their own, and they did great. 

 

But first, I got it into my head that I needed to make blueberry pie, which I haven’t made yet this summer. So I planned an easy dinner because I knew dessert was going to be time consuming. 

Damien fried the bacon, and we had sliced turkey (actually I think it was chicken), some leftover fancy salami from opera nite, and on mine I skipped cheese and had spinach and ranch dressing, and the wrap was allegedly spinach flavored, but this was not discernible. I think I put cheese out, but I skipped that. 

I love wraps. Probably if we had them more often, they wouldn’t seem like such a treat, but I find them so enjoyable to eat, so festive and friendly. 

I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out baby carrots and dip.

For dessert, I thought it would be fun to make separate blueberry tarts, rather than two big pies. I made a double recipe of this reliable pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

But I was super hot and getting a little flustered, and it took much more water than usual, for some reason, so I was struggling. I eventually got eleven large ramekins lined with pastry dough, and then made the filling using the recipe on this site. I had my doubts, because it calls for lemon zest, which is good, but also both flour and corn starch, which sounds STODGY; but I followed it. 

My original plan was to make individual lattice tops, but I had eaten so much raw pie dough that there wasn’t enough left for that. So instead, Benny and I made some dough roses. 

Roses are quite easy to make. You just cut out 4-5 discs, stick them together in a line, roll them up, cut the rolled-up cylinder in half, and pinch the flat edge together; then carefully tease open the other end, to open up the petals. Here’s the site where I learned to do it

Our roses were a little bit chunky because we were lough on dough and made them out of only four circles each, rather than five. I also rolled them out a little too thick. My baking style can best be described as — remember that Doctor Who episode where Mickey gets changed into a plastic guy and his hands are just big mallets and he goes lurching around the room whacking things? That’s how I make little pastry roses. 

So I baked them, and I thought they needed a little dressing up, so I made some candied lemon slices. I followed the very simple recipe here. Basically you just cook up some sugar water with a little lemon juice in it and simmer the lemon slices in it for 15 minutes, and then fish them out and let them dry.

They don’t dry completely, but stay a bit tacky. But they are very good and very pretty. The peels are edible, but most definitely still lemon peels (delicious if you like lemon!). If you wanted to make them sweeter and more candy-like, I imagine you could roll them in sugar when they come out of the pan; but that would ruin the stained glass effect of the candied pulp. 

So when the tarts came out, I sort of twisted up the lemon slices and tucked two into each one, to make little leaves or wings. 

Awfully pretty in the afternoon sun.

I took several pictures, and now you people are gonna hear about it. 

So they were definitely cute, but I saw room for so much improvement. The ramekins just weren’t the right vessels for this dish. I should have made them in cupcake tins or something with slanted sides, so I had some shot at pulling them out of the pans. I also didn’t roll the dough thin enough, so the roses were just kind of wads, and too much dough for people to eat. I also meant to brush the roses with egg white and sprinkle them with sugar, to make them shiny and sweeter, but I forgot. And I meant to make the edges more decorative, at least pressing them with a fork, rather than just leaving them ragged, but I forgot that, as well. 

But the biggest problem was the blueberry filling. It was just bland and too thick. You want fresh blueberry pie to be juicy and messy and luscious. This almost tasted store-bought. I was really disappointed! BUT THEY WERE PRETTY. Oh well. I made some whipped cream, which was good. Honestly, everyone liked these pies and ate them up, so this is just me complaining. 

Anyway, blueberry season isn’t over, and I will probably take another crack at this. I loved the candied lemon thing. Blueberries and lemons forever, man. Maybe I will make a blueberry lemon panna cotta! Who will stop me!

Or I still have some rhubarb in the freezer. Maybe I’ll make a blubarb pie. Maybe I’ll make a UNICORN blubarb pie. 

This one looks like . . . cherry and strawberry, actually? I don’t remember. But it looks like I remembered to glaze and sugar the dough, anyway. 

MONDAY
Mexican beef bowls

Beef was on sale, which it rarely is these days, so I got several hunks, sliced it up, and marinated it in this lovely sauce with lots of lime juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

Normally, I make this meal with rice, beef, charred corn, maybe some fried onions and sweet peppers, and then things like salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, etc., and I often make a pot of delicious black beans, too

Jump to Recipe

But I was just so spacey while I was shopping. It turned out we only had a little rice in the house, so I cooked a few cups of rice, and people filled out the dish with tortilla chips or corn chips. I did buy beans, but I was too tired to cook them. I forgot corn altogether. It was still a tasty meal, just a little irregular. 

Oh, I see there were avocados and lime wedges! That actually looks really good. Anyway, this marinade is very tasty and you should try it. 

TUESDAY
Pulled pork grilled cheese; veggies and dip

Last week, the phrase “pulled pork grilled cheese” popped into my head, and I knew there was only way to get it out again. This was probably the most planned meal of the week, and oddly it was a little disappointing. 

The pulled pork part of it turned out great, though. I hacked up a fatty hunk of pork loin or something and seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, some oregano and lots of cumin, and browned it on all sides in hot oil.

Then I moved it into the Instant Pot and added about 3/4 -1 cup cider vinegar and one juice box of apple juice, three fresh jalapeños with the seeds, a chopped onion, some red pepper flakes, and a lot of ground cloves. 

I closed the valve and hit the “meat” button, and then let it do a natural release and keep warm for the rest of the day. When I was ready to make the sandwiches, I pulled the meat out, and it absolutely shattered to pieces under the fork. It was very tasty, spicy and warming with the jalapeño and cloves, but not fiery hot, and worked really well with the cumin and apple. (The oregano was pointless and I will skip it next time.) 

I had meant to buy American cheese, because I wanted something kind of bland and very melty, but I forgot. And the convenience store didn’t have any! So I used what we had in the fridge, which was extra sharp cheddar. I had sourdough bread, which I spread with a little skim of mayonnaise and then fried in butter. 

It was good. But the cheese completely overpowered the flavor of the pulled pork, and it just tasted like a highly textural grilled cheese sandwich. Next time I will use American cheese, and I will maybe add fried onions or jalapeños. 

Or I’ll just make this version of pulled pork on its own, because it was really good!

I also made a bowl of unremarkable coleslaw. 

Onward!

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One pepperoni, one plain, and one with leftovers from various other meals, which turned out to be: Feta, red onion, black olive, pesto, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and some fresh parmesan shredded over the top.

I forgot to buy pepperoni for the pizza, but we had some sandwich pepperoni from some sandwiches last week, so I sliced it up and put it on the other pizza. This is what passes for ingenuity at our house!

THURSDAY
Ramen with some kind of chicken situation

Usually when I make “fancy ramen,” we have some kind of pork, but for some reason I bought chicken; and I usually get some kind of crunchy Chinese noodles, but I forgot. So I ended up drizzling the chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkling them with Chinese five spice, and then heaping some brown sugar on top, and then roasting them.

It tasted . . . fine? It was a little unsettling, because it was hard to shake the “why isn’t this pork” sensation, but it didn’t taste bad. It certainly got supper on the table fast.

I chopped up a bunch of scallions, and set out raw spinach, and I sliced up some giant mushrooms and sautéed them in olive oil and soy sauce, and when I cooked the ramen, I threw some eggs in the pot, and if people wanted an egg, they had to fish it out and shell it themselves like absolute peasants. 

Not a bad meal, considering I had zero plan and went from cold kitchen to dinner time in about 25 minutes. I also put out sugar snap peas and some kind of hot yuzu sauce, which I didn’t end up yuzing myself. 

Here’s another picture, because I have two pictures and I’ve lost my ability to make small decisions:

Look at that fricken mushroom. I actually could have made a full meal of just the broth, the spinach, and the mushrooms. Aldi has two big portobello mushrooms for $1.49 or something crazy, and I think I need to buy them more often. Mushrooms are such a gift. 

FRIDAY
Tuna sandwiches, fries

No tricks, just tuna sandwiches. Tuna sandwich and no headache; I’ll take it! 

Oh wait, I forgot to share pictures of the TMNT cake I made last Friday after the food post went up! I more or less followed the coconut cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which is pretty easy and turned out well, tender and moist. I made three rounds and about a dozen cupcakes. I stacked up two of the rounds and then sort of dug holes for the cupcakes, which I anchored with toothpicks.

I used fondant to cover the bottom and buttercream on the cupcakes, with candy eyeballs and fondant masks.

At this point, I stopped, and thought pretty hard about what shape turtles’ heads actually are. I thought about how hot it was in the kitchen, and about the limits of buttercream, and then I went into the other room and basically made the kid sign an affidavit that she understood and acknowledged that her mother did try.

Then I put the third round on a circle of cardboard, to keep it from cracking, and set it on top of the cupcakes, stuck it on with buttercream, and covered that with fondant as well. 

And then I made a series of mistakes and irreversible bad decisions involving black sugar and continued hot kitchen, which seemed funnier and funnier to me as they devolved. I ended up using a paintbrush to paint the cake with black icing from a tube, and it looked really neat for a while, but then I ruined it, because I was very hopped up on icing and had no judgment left. These turtles were absolutely leering at me, and I couldn’t stop laughing and making it worse. 

I ended up deciding to make a logo out of fondant and more brushwork, which was a pain in the neck, but fairly effective. Except I knew I should sketch out the letters with a toothpick first, to make sure there was room; I knew I should. But I just didn’t want to. So it says “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJ'” because I ran out of room.

But there were turtles!

Or, or something. Anyway there were four green entities, with red, yellow, blue, and purple . . . . things. 

I feel like it’s a cake the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtles themselves would have appreciated, anyway. (And Lucy liked it, too, even though it continued to slide and melt after I took these pictures, and then it turned out the candles I got were actually trick candles, and she had to blow them out about fifteen times and then finally dunk them in water. Please refer to the affidavit.) 

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

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.

 

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.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 16-oz cans black beans with liquid
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put olive oil pot of Instant Pot. Press "saute" button. Add diced onion and minced garlic. Saute, stirring, for a few minutes until onion is soft. Press "cancel."

  2. Add beans with liquid. Add cumin, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Close the lid, close the vent, and press "slow cook."

What’s for supper? Vol. 326: Wads for supper

All week long, the kids have been asking me why it is raining. I don’t know why they’re asking me. It’s not like they think I know anything. The truth is, I made it happen, partially because I like to suffer, and partly so I could make soup one more time before summer. But I didn’t tell them that; I just made the soup, so we could all suffer. (It was delicious soup!)

SATURDAY
Fried chicken caprese sandwiches, Aldi Cheetos

I bought one of those enormous sacks of miscellaneous chicken breasts suspended in frozen wads of broth, with the intention of doling them out over three meals. It actually worked, to my surprise (I was expecting doom and disaster, as usual). This chicken is actually okay, as long as you’re using it as a sort of raw material, like tofu or polymer clay, rather than as a centerpiece. 

Saturday we had chicken caprese sandwiches. If I have actual fresh chicken breasts, I will roast them with oil, salt, and pepper, but I thought these chicken wads needed more help than that. So I dredged them in eggs and milk and then seasoned panko crumbs, pan fried them, and then put them in the oven for a while to make sure they were done all the way through. 

I served them on ciabatta rolls with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and of course mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Not spectacular, but fine. 

I haven’t really started my garden yet (we can’t plant anything but the heartiest things until May), but I’m already feeling the freedom of knowing I have decided not to grow tomatoes this summer. Homegrown tomatoes bring me nothing but grief, and hardly any tomatoes. I’m just going to excuse myself this time, and grow mostly flowers, plus a bunch of vegetables that don’t have all this weird cultural “oh yeahhhh, this here is the good life” baggage. I’m planning rhubarb and asparagus and strawberries and maybe some eggplant, probably various squashes and pumpkins, and I think some Brussels sprouts made it through the winter. And flowers! 

SUNDAY
Spicy pulled pork on tater tots with cheese

First I started some focaccia dough for Tuesday. I saw all those beautiful focaccia loaves people made over the pandemic, with little garden scenes picked out in vegetables, but I never got around to trying it. But Sip and Feast promised an easy, no-knead recipe that is best if you start it fermenting several days in advance, so that’s what I made. 

So much olive oil, goodness! I made a double recipe. 

So I put that away in the fridge, rested on my laurels for a minute, feeling domestic goddess-y and accomplished thinking about how Tuesday’s dinner was already halfway done, until I suddenly realized we also needed to eat something today. Boo.

But, pulled pork is easy. It was a bit of a strange combination in the slow cooker, but here is what I did: First I cut the pork into hunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, and browned it in oil. Then I put it in the Instant Pot with a can of Cherry Coke Zero, three clementines cut in half and squeezed, a few big dark reg, glossy guajillo peppers, a handful of little orange arbol peppers, a heaping tablespoon of cumin, and a bunch of oregano. I left all the seeds in the peppers, and just tore the tops off.

Then I pressed “meat,” which just makes me laugh. Do it! Go be meat! Away! and left it alone to think about life for the rest of the day. 

When it was almost time to eat, I pulled out most of the clementine rinds and about half the peppers, and shredded the meat.

I drained the liquid, but ended up adding some back into keep the meat moist while it was heating back up while I cooked some tater tots and shredded some cheese and sliced some onions.

I had my pile of food in this order: Tater tots, then shredded cheddar cheese, then hot pork to melt the cheese; then cool onions and sauce on top of that.

It was really good. Not a delicate or sophisticated dinner, but REALLY GOOD. I did a bunch of digging and heavy yard work on Sunday, and this was a fine reward. 

MONDAY
Cobb salad

On Monday I drove an hour and a quarter to a super Newhampshirey-ish place to pick up a free load of bricks, and let me tell you, it was a lot of bricks! A! Lot! 

I haven’t figured out exactly how many I will need for my patio, but if the answer turns out to be “quite a few,” I may have arrived. I did start digging, and I’m gonna do a lot more digging this weekend, when it stops raining. 

For supper: Chicken wads, day 2! I broiled them with oil, salt, and pepper and served them in slices with salad greens, chopped bacon, hard boiled eggs, red onions, leftover croutons from last week, shredded cheese, and those crunchy fried onions that come in a pouch.

Nice little salad, much protein. I had mine with ranch dressing. This isn’t strictly speaking a Cobb salad, which is supposed to be laid out in cute little stripes and is supposed to have avocados, tomatoes, and I forget what else — I think chives, and probably some other kind of dressing. Get off my back, man! Cobb salad  sounds better than “wadd salad!” 

TUESDAY
Sausage and kale soup, focaccia bread

Tuesday it was time to take the dough out of the fridge, that had been lurking there since Sunday afternoon. It needed 3-4 hours to rise, and then you just spread it in a pan, let it rest a little bit and then re-spread it, and then let it rise a little more, and then you can decorate it and bake it

I was rushing a bit and hadn’t really made a plan for how to decorate it, so I just grabbed what I could find, which was grape tomatoes, radishes, scallions, some garlic scrapes, red onions, and kale.

I thought the design turned out pretty (well, one did. The other one was kind of lame), but I didn’t know how well it would hold up in the oven. 

I actually baked it for slightly less time than it recommended, but one pan was still slightly burned, and the other was right on the verge. 

Still pretty, though! The dough is very stable as it bakes, so the design stays where you put it. I call it a success. 

Although the truth is, if you ever want me to do anything, anything at all, just offer me hot tomatoes baked into fresh bread. I will walk off a cliff with my eyes wide open, if I think there’s hot tomatoes baked into fresh bread at the bottom. 

It had a thin crust and was quite chewy, and the inside had very large air holes

(which I imagine was the result of letting it ferment for three days). I’m not a big focaccia expert, but I think this is how it’s supposed to come out. 

Guess what? Most of the kids wouldn’t even try it, because it had kale on it. Honest to goodness. Kale isn’t even that big of a deal. I feel like it’s like Sriracha sauce or Mondays or the word moist: NOT EVEN THAT BIG OF A DEAL. It’s just that people keep talking and talking about it, until everyone’s like, “oh my gosh, KALE, what is it even for, it’s garbage, only insane aliens would be in the same room with it!” Like, it’s a leafy green, it has a mildly sweet taste, and you can put it in salads or soups or whatever you want. It’s kind of dense, but who the fuck isn’t. People need to settle down about kale. 

Anyway, then I made some soup, also from Sip and Feast, with sausage, potato, cannellini beans, and kale. Very simple, easy li’l soup, tastes nice. I took a bunch of extremely blurry pictures for some reason. 

I grated some parmesan and set that out with the soup and the piping hot focaccia

and everyone stared at it and went to get some ramen or frosted flakes. I’m actually only pretending to be mad. I ate most of both loaves of focaccia myself. Can’t be mad. Too full of focaccia, here at the bottom of my cliff. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken fried rice, steamed pork and mushroom dumplings

On Wednesday, Elijah made supper, hooray! He took a cooking class last year and has a few recipes he likes. 

It was tasty if basic,with rice, onions and garlic, some frozen veg, chunks of chicken, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce. 

But nothing can beat that wonderful flavor of someone else making dinner, let me tell you. And we also got a lot of mileage out of “you telling me ELIJAH fried this” etc etc.

I stopped at the Keene International Market and picked up some frozen pork and mushroom dumplings, which I steamed in my nice little bamboo steamer,

and I served them in one of the dozens of dishes Clara brought home from pottery class. 

I’ll tell you, one minute you’re wiping bottoms, pouring juice all day long, and begging them to stop eating crayons, and then next minute you’re eating the dinner they cooked you off the pottery they made by hand. And looking the other way while they eat crayons, because you know everyone is on a journey. 

But seriously, Clara brought home some amazing pottery. 

 

and we don’t even have crayons in this house. 

THURSDAY
Koftas, yogurt sauce, Jerusalem salad, pita

Thursday I made what probably can’t really be called koftas, because they’re round instead of sausage-shaped, and broiled in the oven rather than grilled or roasted on a spit, and not on sticks. They were, however, juicy and delicious and to me they tasted middle eastern. 

I mixed about five pounds of ground beef, five eggs, and then just started slamming in anything that smelled like it belonged in a hot tent: sumac, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, onion powder, garam masala, za’atar, and salt, and a big handful of fresh mint from the yard. Then I discovered I had used up all my breadcrumbs on the chicken on Sunday, so I made about six pieces of toast, and then microwaved them to really blitz the moisture out, and then ran them through the food processor. 

When it was almost time to eat, I cooked the meatballs on pans on racks in a 450 oven for about 25 minutes.

I also made a bunch of yogurt sauce with fresh garlic and fresh lemon juice and kosher salt, and I made a nice Jerusalem salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mint, fresh flat-leaf parsley, a little red onion, fresh lemon juice, and salt. And that was it! A simple but nicely balanced meal. 

I briefly considered making pita or maybe making taboon bread, but we still had leftover focaccia, so I just stopped at the store and bought some pita. 

FRIDAY
I think we are having quesadillas. Truly, I hated this week. Everyone was fighty and bighty, especially me, and it rained a lot, and I forgot about a bunch of forms I was supposed to fill out, and even though the sack of chicken wads worked out, it made me mad all week. The more I think about it, the more it was clearly the chicken’s fault. 

However, the ducks are growing nicely. EJ has started quacking, not just peeping, and Corrie has been great with them. They’re huge! Almost ready to live outside.

And I think the sun is going to come out this weekend. Literally, I mean, and also maybe figuratively; who can say? And I do have a lot of bricks. And ducks. Oh, and I fixed the What’s for supper volume numbering. Well, I didn’t fix it, but I got back on track. It went: 323, 324, 325, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 242, 242, 243, 244, 245, 11. But now we’re back on track. Quack! 

What’s for supper? Vol. 11. Vol. 11!

It has come to my attention that I have been numbering these posts wrong. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit down and figure out how long this has been going on, but somewhere along the line, I think months ago, I jumped the track and slipped back into the 200’s, when I should actually be halfway through the 300’s. I think. I don’t know, I don’t know! I just keep cooking food and they just keep eating it, and then I keep taking pictures of it, and they keep making fun of me, and I keep saying, “But people like it! Well, some people, anyway.”

For example:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs grilled outside

Don’t remember much about Saturday, ‘deed I don’t. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps

Sunday I was planning tacos al pastor, but by the time I got it going, I didn’t think the meat would have sufficient time to marinate, so I decided that would be tomorrow’s meal, and for now we would have wraps. Nothing spectacular, but tasty enough: Turkey, salami, bacon, and provolone with horseradish sauce.

And I had a nice little time working on the marinade. This is the recipe I use, and it’s rather time-consuming, but fantastically delicious. First you blister up the guajillo peppers

then you scrape the seeds out

and then you soften them up

and then you blend them up with a bunch of other ingredients,

including achiote paste, which I can never find, so I also make that out of a bunch of other ingredients

which you make into a paste

and then chuck it all into the food processor. Actually, I ran out of ground cumin, so I had to grind some up in my mortar and pestle. At this point I was starting to feel like it was possible this recipe was Too Much Work, but I was in too deep, so I went ahead and pestled it. And that was the last ingredient.

And then you can marinate the meat overnight, which I did. Whew. It felt a lot like finally getting a beloved but rather dramatic child to bed. (If you are planning to eat the child later, with sour cream.)

MONDAY
Tacos al pastor; pico de gallo and tortilla chips

Monday I made a big bowl of pico de gallo out of very sweet little grape tomatoes, onion, fresh lime juice, kosher salt, and cilantro. 

Jump to Recipe

And when it was almost dinner time, I heated up a bunch of tortillas, and then set up two greased pans to broil: One with the marinated meat

and one with chunks of pineapple; and I switched them and stirred them up a bit, so they both got a little charred. (The pineapple takes several minutes longer than the meat to cook, which I always forget.)

And that’s it. I had mine with just a little sour cream on the tortilla, just the meat and the grilled pineapple, and a little cilantro, with pico and chips on the side. 

Stupendous. The marinade has so much flavor, it’s ridiculous, and you will not want to add any hot sauce or salsa or anything. It’s got a tangy, nutty, smoky kind of sweetness that’s incredibly pleasing, and the meat is of course so tender from all that marinating. The pineapple turns almost candy-sweet on the outside when you grill it, and I am completely in love with the combination of the savory meat and the juicy pineapple with a little sour cream. It was not Too Much Work. It was Totally Worth It. I have made this recipe many times and it never even occurs to me to look for another one. 

TUESDAY
Korean beef bowl with rice; cucumbers

Haven’t had Korean beef bowl for a while.

Jump to Recipe

It came out so nice. I used plenty of fresh garlic and fresh ginger, and what I’ve been doing is cooking the meat about 80% of the way through, draining the fat, and then adding the minced ginger and garlic and cooking it. The ginger and garlic bits stay really bright and pungent that way. 

I served it over white rice, and just served plain cucumbers on the side. I briefly considered one of those cute little piquant cucumber salads with the rice vinegar and the hot pepper flakes, but sometimes I like to have mercy on the kids and just serve regular old cucumbers.

WEDNESDAY
Moussakhan and taboon

Always a popular meal. This time I had some especially good sumac from the International Market, and woof, it made my nose quiver. Lovely dark plum color, in glossy little flakes.

This is quite an easy recipe with a massive return on your effort, and you can serve it over rice or just eat it plain, or with pita, or whatever you want. I do like the dramatic presentation of the enormous platter of piping hot taboon bread, with all the chicken and its juice served on top of it, so everyone can help themselves to whatever pieces they want, and tear off some taboon to go with it.

I had a long tray of drumsticks and a half dozen thighs, and you slash the meat to the bone to get the marinade really deep in there, and then just marinate it for half a day or so. 

I only had two regrets: One was that I ran out of lemons to juice, and decided to use lime juice, which wasn’t disastrous, but it’s not ideal; and the other was that I was working outside on moving my raised garden beds around and whatnot, and was so afraid I would get garden madness and lose track of time, so I checked the clock frequently and had it all worked out exactly when I had to put everything in the oven so it would be done on time, and I did work it out, down to the minute, but then I . . . . forgot to do it. And you know, it really just doesn’t cook well that way, I find, when you don’t actually put the food in the oven. Awfully slow.

But EVENTUALLY we did have supper, and it was delicious. 

I made my Giant Pan o’ Taboon, which is quite fast to make, and only takes one rise, so you can start it about an hour and a half before you want to get dinner on the table, and that’s enough time. 

Jump to Recipe

and I used the last of the big pouch of pine nuts I splurged on a while back. You toast them up in olive oil just before serving the meat,

and you put the chicken and onions on the bread, and sprinkle that with sizzling pine nuts and chopped parsley, and BOY is it good. 

Just so good. 

I decided that the taboon recipe as written had a silly amount of salt in it, so I decreased it, and you know, I just didn’t like it as much. I honestly don’t know if the amount of salt I wrote is a typo or not, but I like it that way, so I’m going back to a truckload of salt next time I made this. Salty taboon for all!

THURSDAY
Ravioli

The kids were on vacation all week, so most days this week, I have been rushing around doing a lot of pent-up yard work and gardening and whatnot. The ducks have been spending more and more time outside, and overall I like the looks of things around here, and I’m making slow but steady progress toward my patio area. Thursday Benny and I made a little trip into Massachusetts to get some used bricks,

and then she had a couple of pals over. Corrie had a friend over earlier in the week. Why is it so hard to have friends over! I guess it’s because we live far away from everything, and so does everybody. But having ducks helps. People do want to come see ducks, even if they have their own ducks. 

FRIDAY
Aldi pizza

Friday Elijah and I climbed Mt. Cesar.

This is not a very big mountain, but it was steep enough to make me wheeze like a, like I don’t know what, a big wheezer. I’m not even in bad shape, it’s just my dumb lungs. Whatcha gonna do. Go to the doctor, I guess. But Friday was also the most important day all year in our little town: Rummage sale day!!! It’s not even a very good rummage sale, but there are people crowded outside the door waiting to get in. So we went and got our weird mugs and our dubious John Le Carré paperbacks and our little glass hummingbirds and our rusty scooter and then came home and,,, had some Aldi pizza. 

And this is the kind of paragraph that makes me think it doesn’t really matter much which volume of What’s For Supper? it really is. It’s eleven. It goes up to eleven. 

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

 

5 from 1 vote
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Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

 

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.

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 245: Got any duck food?

Happy Friday! But first, a word from the ducklings:

PEEP.

Seriously, that’s what they say. Peep peep! Peep peep peep! Or sometimes, Weep weep! Weep weep weep! 

They’re terribly shy, as you can see:

and they don’t fit in at our house at all. 

It’s quite sad, how neglected they are.

They still only eat something called “protein crumbles” and they are VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT and also VERY EXCITED ABOUT GETTING FRESH WATER and then they fall asleep. AND THEN THEY WAKE UP AND PEEP PEEP PEEP!!! and then they fall asleep again.

And that’s duck news! We had something a little more elaborate than protein crumbles this week, as follows: 

SATURDAY
Burgers and chips

Cooked outside! It’s finally warm enough, hooray! Damien cooked the burgers outside and they were juicy and delicious. 

Speaking of outside, I have such big plans for our yard this year. I’m moving the garden beds I built (and really kicking myself for putting rocks on the bottom layer for drainage. I PUT ROCKS IN THE DIRT. On purpose!!!) to the other side of the yard, and planning a little patio encompassing the St. Joseph garden and the young peach tree. It is going to be so bougie, you will throw up, I’m telling you. Cannot wait. Those tacky cafe string lights and a little propane fire pit and everything. 

SUNDAY
Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing; matzoh brei

New recipe! I slavishly followed this recipe from the delightful Sip and Feast, which hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Well, I used about twice the amount of bacon it called for, actually. The salad is baby spinach, red onion, mushrooms, and chopped bacon, and you mix it with a hot dressing made of bacon fat, olive oil and wine vinegar, sautéed minced shallots, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and a little grated cheese. 

So the spinach wilts a bit when you pour some of the hot dressing on, and then you toss it and let people add on more dressing if they want. Oh land, it was so good. 

I sprang for good ingredients, thick bacon, freshly-grated cheese, actual shallots, and so on, and it was just wonderfully savory and tangy, with a fantastic array of textures. It was easy to make, and tasted like it came from an expensive restaurant. I only wish I had sliced the mushrooms thinner. They were a bit too chunky and sort of interrupted the flavor party, but only slightly. 

I also made matzoh brei for those who wanted it. Matzo brei is a weird little recipe that everyone should know: You take a sheet of matzo, break it into chunks in a bowl, and pour hot water over it. Let it sit for thirty seconds or so, and then press the water out. Then beat up two eggs, stir in the drained matzo, and fry the mixture up in some hot oil, turning once, until the edges are crisp.

People sometimes eat matzoh brei with jelly, or cinnamon and sugar, or any sweet breakfasty way you can think of; but I vastly prefer it savory. It’s so good just with salt and pepper, hot out of the pan, with the little morsels of still-crisp matzoh poking out of the egg. 

This is the best way to approach a box of matzoh:

@simchafisher660what’s in the box?♬ original sound – simchafisher660

 

Oh nooooo! That can’t be kosher! Better find another box.

(I’m not really on TikTok, not really. Just trying to figure out where to put the ten thousand little duck videos I now have. I did notice that, after finally managing to retrain myself to turn the camera sideways to take videos, I guess now you’re supposed to not turn it sideways for TikTok. Whatever! Shame on you! Where’s my cane!)

I also made some ice cream, and it turned out weird, and I don’t know why.

I made the same recipes I’ve used many times, Ben and Jerry’s strawberry ice cream, and Ben and Jerry’s sweet cream base with M&M’s stirred in. They just didn’t freeze in the ice cream maker, and so when I put them in the freezer, they came out a few hours later more like ice milk, with shards of ice surrounded by fast-melting cream. The taste was fine, but it just wasn’t ice cream. I have no idea. An ice cream mystery. The only thing I can think of was the cream was a little old, but it smelled and tasted fine. I dunno.

MONDAY
Chicken quesadillas with spinach and caramelized onions

I had four chicken legs, which I skinned, drizzled with oil, and sprinkled heavily with Tajin seasoning, then roasted. 

Then I shredded the meat. I forget why, but I found myself with a little extra time before dinner, so I sliced up about five onions and caramelized them. Then I made up quesadillas to order. Only a few people chose all the available options (chicken, cheddar cheese, fresh spinach, and onions) but those who did were rewarded with a tasty treat indeed. 

Quesadillas are something I never had or even heard of until I was in college. I realize these aren’t authentically Mexican or whatever, but they’re delicious. What do you like to add to yours, besides cheese? 

TUESDAY
Corn dogs and chips

Tuesday was Corrie’s little play, in which she was Mother Rabbit. She told Peter and the others to stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden, but did they listen? THEY DID NOT. 

How the tables have turned, Mother Rabbit.

It was super cute, but between having to be in another town at 5 and various other people needing to be in yet another town and picked up in another town, respectively, at 5:30 and 6, it was beginning to look a lot like corn dogs. 

I love corn dogs. If corn dogs were the only thing America had ever invented, it would be enough. That and Magic Eraser. 

WEDNESDAY
Banh mi

I planned banh mi for this week because I thought we’d have leftover chopped liver to put on the sandwiches. But I forgot to tell the fridge-cleaning kid not to throw the leftover chopped liver away! It was a liver tragedy. Luckily, banh mi on its own is still delicious. 

Speaking of liver tragedies, I gained a bunch of weight when I started taking Lexapro for PMDD back in November or December. It works great for PMDD, which is actually life changing, but I gained 15 pounds, and that was a bummer, but, now I’m finally tapered off Lexapro (I’m trying Prozac) and it is time to get my punk ass in gear again, by which I mean I can’t just wander around the house eating everything I find and saying “ooh, I hate these meds, they make me gain sooo much weight.”

What I’m trying to tell you is that, I’m really trying, and by the time dinner came around, I was SO HUNGRY, so possibly that’s why these sandwiches seemed so good. 

Another possibility is that they were just damn fine sandwiches. Maybe both things can be true.

I marinated the meat for about four hours, and I cut up a bunch of cucumbers, chopped up a bunch of cilantro, did a quick pickle of some carrots and radishes.

Jump to Recipe

I actually pickled the carrots for a few hours, then just before dinner, I re-used the brine to pickle the radishes, which I had sliced very thin

but not before having a larf over the branding 

I mean, yes, I paid for them, so I should hope. Next time, ask me! I will come up with a better name! Sunny Day Radishes! Fatso’s Radishes! Chompsville Radish Farm! Mrs. Rabbit’s Radish Party! Those are all better than what they actually went with. But nobody asks me. 

Anyway, pickled radishes will turn a pretty salmon pink if you let them sit for a couple of hours,

but if you slice them thin (I used the long, flat holes on the cheese grater), they do take on flavor right away.

I set out mayo, sriracha, and sriracha mayo. I forgot the jalapeños, but nobody complained. We again had a sort of rolling dinner because everyone was going to and fro all evening again, so I toasted a length of french bread and heated up some meat in the microwave, then assembled my sandwich, and it was just perfecto. 

I only had half the amount of fish sauce the recipe called for, and you know what? It was better. So I have amended the recipe to show that.

Jump to Recipe

I also used more pepper, just because I was having fun turning the crank, I guess, so I amended that in the recipe, too. I am a whimsical food god and with a careless swipe of my finger will change the recipe of banh mi at will, just try and stop me. If you are still reading, put an X here   [     ] yes  [     ] no

THURSDAY
Fancy ramen

My plan was to serve ramen the day after the banh mi so there would be leftover pickled vegetables, but they all got eaten. Oh well. 

I had some boneless pork ribs and sliced them into strips, sautéed them in chili oil, and then doused them with soy sauce when they were almost done cooking. 

I ended up with that, some nice sprouts, plus shredded cabbage left over from last week’s fish tacos, spinach left over from the vast quantities of spinach I buy every week because I’ve become a spinach fiend, some crunchy noodles, some boiled eggs, and various sauces and some sesame seeds.

 

It’s a decent meal. 

I like to line the bowl with spinach and pour the hot ramen on top of that, so there is a tasty treat waiting at the bottom. I really am a spinach fiend.

One of these days I’m actually going to make a good ramen broth, rather than using the little packets, but I know it will spoil us all, and we won’t be able to go back, and then I’ll lose another easy meal, and I’m not ready for that! Don’t take away my protein crumbles! Peep peep peep!

FRIDAY
Mac! and! cheese!

Just because it’s been a while. 

In closing, let me say: PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP PEEP! Hope you are same.

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

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. 243: The next big hing

Here it is Friday again! What do you know about that. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, veg and dip

Damien made these, and they were yummy. Nothing much else to report, except look at the pretty dish Clara made. 

SUNDAY
Pasta carbonara

Bacon was on sale and we had leftover parmesan in the house, so I was powerless. Carbonara was calling and would not be denied. 

Here’s my easy peasy nicely greasy recipe:

Jump to Recipe

And very good it was, pasta carbonara. 

MONDAY
Ham, peas, mashed potatoes

The meal for when ham is on sale for Easter and you’re planning to make a big Passover meal the day before Easter so you don’t need ham for that, but despoiling the Egyptians is always in season. Or something. Anyway, the kids like ham. 

I don’t know why there is a marble on my plate. 

On Monday, despite being full of potatoes, I was already getting excited about Tuesday’s meal, when I would finally get to use my little bottle of hing. 

Hing is the Hindi word for asafoetida, which means “stinky ass.” Not really, but kinda really. It is made from the resin of giant fennel plants and whoever smelled it and thought, “boy, I bet this is just the thing to make my food taste really excellent!” must have been super high. It smells like . . . did you ever have a kid who got really really attached to a pair of green rubber boots with frogs on the toe, and he insists on wearing them all summer long, but won’t wear socks? And then finally takes them off and fills them with hot shrimp ramen? Hing kind of smells like the ramen that comes out of those boots. 

So naturally I was quite excited about adding this ingredient to my family’s menu. I decided to test the waters with another ingredient I also haven’t tried before: Flattened rice. 

Look at those guys! Look at them dance!

I cannot possibly miss when I have poha and hing on my side!

The recipe I landed on described itself as “mild,” and “easy” and “quick” and “for complete dumbasses” so I thought it would be a good first foray. 

Benny and Corrie had never seen a fresh coconut before, so we had fun stabbing it in the eyes and beating it over its hairy head with a hammer. Then I sent them off to bed and shredded the meat, which I was was the boring part, but really I wanted to keep all the end pieces for myself to gnaw on.

Then I bagged it for the next day, pretty excited about the poha to come. 

TUESDAY
Indian roast chicken, coconut poha, mango

First let me tell you about the main dish, which was roast chicken. As I have mentioned, I get kind of crabby when I have to roast a whole chicken, but mixing together a bunch of pungent Indian spices did cheer me up. I followed this easy recipe from Aarthi at YummyTummy, and it turned out great. I quadrupled the recipe and it made more than enough marinade paste for two six-pound chickens.

You just stab the chickens all over, rub the marinade in, including inside cavity, and roast it covered, and then uncovered. You do have to change the temperature once, and baste it toward the end. 

It was juicy and delicious. I didn’t have every last ingredient, but it had a little fiery burst at the first bite, which mellowed out quickly and just became warm and cheering and lively. The kids are very quickly acclimating to Indian flavors, and most of them ate the chicken happily, including the rather spicy skin, which was very crisp and packed with flavor. 

Definitely going to make this again. I may keep it covered a bit longe, just to avoid blackening the marinade quite so much. That being said, several people went back to the kitchen to scrape pieces of said blackened marinade off the pan after dinner, so the color clearly wasn’t a deterrent. 

And now for the poha. I more or less followed this recipe from SharmisPassions , except I had peanuts instead of cashews, dried ground mustard instead of mustard seeds, and I didn’t have any jeera. I also misread the directions and left the nuts in the pan when I was tempering the peppers and curry leaves and spices, so the nuts got a little burned.

THAT BEING SAID, I had hing, darn it! I had been led to believe (possibly by myself) that if you have hing, the magic of umami is going to grab you by the taste buds and drag you straight to flavortown.

This . . . did not happen. I swear I used plenty of it, and I had so many fresh ingredients, fresh curry leaves, fresh coconut, and did I mention hing, and I let it splutter and everything like the recipe said! But the whole dish just tasted like hot wet shredded paper with burned peanuts in it. 

Oh well. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t taste like much of anything, and was more baffling than anything else. I don’t know, maybe I got confused somehow and messed up the proportions when I was sizing it up. I have lots more poha, and I’m definitely going to try again! Just . . . not that particular recipe. (I don’t blame the recipe, but it’s cursed now, and I have to move along.)

The chicken was great, the poha was at least hot, and the fresh mango was nice. Still a pretty good meal, just weird. 

WEDNESDAY
Chinese pork, chopped salad, pineapple 

Now this was a bit of a triumph, and made me feel better about my cooking. I had this big lump of pork and only the very vaguest of plans. I had bought a little red cabbage, and a bag of kale on clearance — sale kale, if you will — and some crunchy noodles, and that was as far as I got. It seemed like we’ve been having a lot of rice lately, so I wanted to make something different. And it was kind of late in the day to start char siu. 

So I mooched around some recipes, and decided to try something that I thought should work.  Famous last words, right?

I put together some classic Chinese roast pork ingredients — soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, white pepper, and five spice — and I just mixed it together and hucked it all in the Instant Pot with the meat for 22 minutes. It came out undercooked, which was okay, because I was planning to finish it on the stovetop.

I put the sliced meat in a big pan with all the sauce and just simmered it slowly 

stirring it occasionally, to make sure all the sides of the pieces of meat got coated. And I’ll be darned if it didn’t reduce way down until it was sticky and glossy and dark reddish-brown, and truly delicious. 

It took about half an hour, maybe forty minutes, and it really, really tasted like restaurant roast Chinese pork. I was so pleased. Very little effort. I was afraid the pork would be tough with all that cooking, but it was not. 

I chopped up the red cabbage and kale and just served the meat on top of it with the crunchy noodles, and it was fab. I bought some bottled sesame dressing, but ended up not using it, because the meat had such an intense flavor. I served pineapple on the side just to round the meal out. 

Extremely pleased with this. I was so nervous about serving meat without rice, but I think it worked so well. The meat has a very potent flavor and is very sticky, so it was good to have the fresh crunchy vegetables for texture contrast, and the extra snap of the thin noodles made it perfect.

Here’s the recipe with the exact directions:

Jump to Recipe

You could really taste the white pepper in the sauce, too. I highly recommend getting a canister of white pepper to keep around, even if you only use it every once in a while. There really is no substitute for that strange little sizzle it adds. (Warning: It smells like horse manure for some reason.)

THURSDAY
Burgers and chips

When I tell you how relieved I was to look at the menu and see it was just burgers and chips. I know I’m the one who makes these stupid complicated menus, but still! Why do I do this to myself! Because I like good food, that’s why. But still, I was relieved. And burgers are good food, too. 

I was determined to take a more interesting picture of a burger, and the only thing I could think of was to deliberately stick my finger in the frame.

This struck me as hilarious at the time. Then I took a two-hour nap. 

In other food news, on Thursday morning we did try poha again, this time as a sweet breakfast dish. I soaked the poha in water for about five minutes, squeezed it out, doused it in milk, and heated it in the microwave for two minutes, then put honey on top. 

(It occurred to me too late that I could have just soaked it in milk and saved myself a step, and also made it taste richer.) The little kids liked it. I tried a bit and it was nice, reminiscent (understandably) of rice pudding. My kids like hot cereals — oatmeal, cornmeal mush — and this is along those lines, although the grains of rice don’t meld together into porridge but stay separate and sort of fluffy. Neat stuff!  

FRIDAY
Sabanekh bil hummus for adults, tuna for kids

We had this stew just a few weeks ago, but we’re headed toward spring and I only have a little bit of soup season left. It’s been blustery and nippy out, so a nice pot of this earthy, nourishing Palestinian spinach and chickpea soup with a lemony twist while the predicted rain washes away the last of the snow is going to be just the thing. 

And if you don’t like it, you can have tuna! Sprinkle some hing on it, see if I care.

(I do.)

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

 

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.