What’s for supper? Vol. 119: It is almost March.

Well, it’s February and everything is terrible. That’s my excuse for letting things languish around here. Someone spilled something on my computer again, and the quick and easy warranty process only took eleven steps and nine years to complete. Everyone is throwing up. Corrie is hallucinating sad gazebos in the heating vent, and won’t drink Pedialyte or breast milk, only tonic water (Schweppes). If I were in charge of the liturgical calendar, I would put Lent in a month where it wasn’t already so bloody obvious that everything will return dust, but what do I know. Anyway, soon it will be March. Right? Soon?

And, now that I have a computer again, we’ll have our podcasts up and running again asap. Thanks for your patience with that. We’ll also be transferring archives to iTunes and opening them up for non-subscribers, so stay tuned, you stay-tuners!

And now for the food.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers and chips

Husband makes good cheeseburgers.

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi, rice, spicy grilled pineapple

I’ve been thinking about banh mi forever, and the time was right. The recipe I used calls for beef, but pork is cheaper, and pork takes on more of the flavor. For this meal, I go around warning everyone that it smells like the Grim Reaper’s jock strap while it’s cooking, but the taste is really very good! This will demonstrate my marketing skills.

I took about four pounds of boneless pork loin, trimmed the fat, and sliced it as thin as I could. Then (this was actually Saturday night that I did this prep work) I put it in a ziplock bag with the marinade, which was:

2/3 cup fish sauce (this is where the “death crotch” smell comes in)
8 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs minced garlic
one onion, minced
a bunch of freshly-ground pepper

So this marinated about twenty hours in the fridge. I also pickled some vegetables ahead of time. I sliced about half a pound of carrots and two long, seedless cukes thin, and set them in jars with a mixture of water, white vinegar, and sugar. I wish I had added more sugar, and I kind of wish I had left the cukes unpickled. There were so many savory, spicy flavors, the sandwiches could have used more cooling.

Before dinner, I spread the meat and most of the marinade in a single layer and slid it right up under a very hot broiler. I turned the meat once so it got a little charred on the edges.

I toasted a bunch of sub rolls, and coarsely chopped a bunch of cilantro; and I mixed about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce into a cup of mayonnaise. I also set out plain mayo, and some jarred jalapeno slices.

Sublime sandwiches. Just the best. You line the bread with mayo, pack it with pork, then stuff the pickled vegetables in the sides, and sprinkle cilantro over the top. If you do the prep work the night before, this meal comes together in a very short time.

I also made a bunch of white rice in my Instant Pot (affiliate link. I’ll make a small commission if you click through and buy one!), using the 1:1 method. (I took five cups of rice and rinsed it clean in a colander, then put them in the IP with five cups of water. Close the top, close the vent, and press the “rice” button. It automatically sets the time, and this rice comes out springy and a little sticky, which is how I prefer it for asian meals.)

The pineapple was pretty good, not excellent. I’ll try again in the summer, when we can use a real outdoor grill. I sliced two pineapples (does everyone know the easy way to process fresh pineapple?) into long spears, then tossed them with a sweet, spicy sauce made of 3/4 of a stick of melted butter, about half a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, and a little salt. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of butter, and maybe less honey.

I put them on a greased pan with drainage and put them up under the broiler while we were putting the sandwiches together. It took much longer than I expected for the pineapple to get singed — maybe twelve minutes, after I turned them once.

I liked the flavor a lot, and the slightly firey honey taste was a great accompaniment to the banh mi; but they got a little too soft during that cooking time. As I say, next time we’ll cook them over the coals. They were not bad cold the next day — almost candy-like. Weird, juicy candy.

The meal also made nice leftovers for lunch, with a bowl of rice topped with meat and veggies warmed up. Yum.

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pesto beer bread

I diced an onion and about five carrots, then put them in the IP with about a tablespoon of minced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used the saute setting until they were a little soft, then added about a pound-and-a-half of cubed beef. When the beef was brown, I pressed “cancel,” then added two small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a cup-and-a-half of red wine, and seven cups of beef broth. Then I added one of those little packets of mixed grains from Aldi, closed the lid, sealed the vent, and set it on high pressure for eleven minutes.

There is a “soup” button, but I’m too old to learn how to use it. Anyway, this turned out swell, and only got the one pot dirty. I left it on “stay warm” for the rest of the day.

I have had this little jar of pesto in the cabinet forever, so I decided to add it to this good old reliable beer bread recipe. I made two loaves. It was . . . okay. I guess I like pesto and I like beer bread, but they don’t do much for each other.

I mean, I ate it. I ate a lot of it.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos with guacamole, tortilla chips

Pretty guac, how I love thee. I could have eaten just guacamole for supper.  Four avocados coarsely chopped, about a cup of grape tomatoes, the juice of two limes, lots of salt, some chili powder and freshly-ground pepper, a few teaspoons of minced garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro. I only had jarred jalapenos, so I minced about 1/8 cup of them, and it worked out fine. I forgot onions, but didn’t really miss them. Zippy and good.

GUAC PIC

We also had shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges with frozen fish and flour tortillas.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, tater tots

This was when the throwing really gathered speed.

THURSDAY
Chicken and salad, fresh croutons

Not everyone was sick, so we still needed food. I just doused the chicken in Italian salad dressing and shoved it under the broiler, sliced it, and served it with some bagged salad mix.

CHICKEN SALAD PIC

We had tons of bread left over from this and that, so I cut up a bunch of it into cubes, mixed it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder, and put it in a pan in a 300 oven for about forty minutes. Everybody likes croutons.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. We’ll see whose tummy is ready for that.

Oh, there was no food post last week, but I do have a few photos to share. The birthday girl went sledding with her friends, and then Elijah genially manned the hot chocolate bar when they got home.

Our hot chocolate recipe: For each mug of hot chocolate, you put into a heavy pot: one heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and two heaping tablespoons of sugar, and stir it up with a little water. You heat this paste until the sugar melts a bit, and then slowly add the milk, plus a little vanilla if you like. I made two crock pots’ worth of hot chocolate, and the guests could choose whipped cream, marshmallows, and rainbow sprinkles.

Decorations were just paper snowflakes on threads, but I liked how the cake turned out. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, then laid a paper snowflake on it and used one of those squeeze sifters (affiliate link) to sift powdered sugar over it. Then I carefully pulled the paper off. Ta dah!

It would have been lovely as is, but the birthday girl requested little candy balls, so we added those on the edge. This stencil technique is great if you want a complicated design but have shaky hands. Whatever design you want, google that + silhouette, then print it out and cut it out carefully. Then go ahead with the frosting and sugar as above. Very dramatic, and almost no skill required.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you, but now I forget. It is almost March, right?

What’s for supper? Vol. 113: Just pretty much all the food. All of it.

First a prayer request: My father is in the hospital, waiting for heart surgery. He’ll have a triple bypass, or possibly a quadruple bypass, on Tuesday. We’re very glad this surgery is available, and have high hopes he’ll start feeling better than he has in a long time once he’s recovered; but of course the recovery is long and hard, especially since he is 75 and has other medical issues. He lives alone, close to where my mother’s nursing home, but an hour or more away from all his children, so the logistics are a little daunting.
Thank you!

And now the food! We ate so much ridiculously good food this past week:

SATURDAY

Gosh, this seems like so long ago. Saturday we went ice skating and came home to have hot chocolate, popcorn, and grilled ham and cheese. Corrie was very very enthusiastic about skating and won all the races.

I did a lot of skating with Benny, until the moment came when I leaned too hard on the skating frame and it collapsed. Le sigh.

***

SUNDAY
New Year’s Eve. We pretty much ate all the food that is available to the known universe. 

Some friends sent a huge, spectacular hamper packed with luxurious treats, so we hauled out all the various tea sets you accumulate when you have eight daughters, and had a sort of rolling English tea party. Tragically, I forgot to take pictures of my own, but you must take my word for it that it was fancy beyond all reason:

If you don’t have extraordinarily generous friends who send you luxury hampers, I recommend getting some right away.

While everyone continued feasting and being fancy, my husband casually strolled into the kitchen to prepare, you know, a little sauteed scallops topped with shredded duck and Hollandaise sauce.This photo miserably fails to capture how rich and sumptuous this dish is.

If you don’t have a husband who likes to casually stroll into the kitchen and make your dreams come true, I recommend getting one right away.

This dish is not an obvious combination of flavors, but it makes so much sense once you’re shoveling it into your mouth.I thought duck would be more or less like dark turkey meat, but it’s really almost closer to lamb. So good. A wonderful meal for a special treat. (Aldi has both duck and scallops on sale every so often!)

And now the sushi! Yes, we had a sushi party on the same day as our English tea and our duckstravaganza. It made sense at the time.

First, I bought good rice and several packages of nori, soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi, pickled ginger, a little jar of roe, tuna steaks that were frozen at sea, some seared and seasoned tuna, canned salmon for the sissies, fake crab legs, toasted sesame seeds, avocados, mangos, carrots, cucumbers, and chop sticks, which we forgot to use.

I bought a sack of Nishiki rice, which is just gorgeous, like mother of pearl. It is expensive, but definitely worth it for a treat. I used the sushi rice recipe in this post (after skimming, with growing horror, through numerous other recipes that discussed whether it was more auspicious to rinse the rice 54 or 128 times before cooking), except I didn’t use quite that much salt. I cooked six cups of raw rice in the Instant Pot, which makes good sticky rice.

While the rice was cooking, I peeled the carrots into strips and pickled them, and we stirred some hot sauce into some mayo, and sliced the tuna as thin as I could, and the kids helped prep the avocados, mangoes, and cucumbers. It was all so lovely.

Now that I have ramekins, I use them all the time. Ramekins!

When the rice was done, I carefully sprinkled the vinegar mixture over it (I sextupled the recipe, but didn’t need that much) and then Benny’s moment of glory came: She used her special gold lace fan to vigorously fan the rice while I carefully turned it:

I guess you fan it to evaporate the vinegar, so the rice takes on the flavor without getting mushy. It worked!

We couldn’t find the rolling mat, so we opted for sushi cones, where you break a panel of nori in half, set the rice and fillings on one side, and roll it up diagonally. It took a while to get the hang of it, and they were not dainty, but on the other hand, NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

We kept the rice covered while everyone took turns building their sushi cones.  A few variations:

It was fantastic. Just about everyone found some combination to their liking. Some of the kids skipped the nori altogether, and made deconstructed sushi; some of them just used rice and vegetables; some of them (okay, me) just parked themselves in front of the tray and systematically worked through eleven different combinations.

We’re doing this every New Year’s Eve from now on. What ingredients would you add?

***

MONDAY
Birthday! Baby New Year turned twelve and requested calzones. 

To make twelve calzones, I used three balls pizza dough divided into fourths, then made the cheese filling (this was more than enough):

32 oz ricotta
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup parmesan
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

I stretched the dough portions into the size of small plates, then added a ball of cheese mixture, plus whatever fillings were requested. I folded the dough over and pinched the ends tightly shut, then pressed the calzone to spread out the filling evenly.

We greased two baking trays with shortening and sprinkled them with corn meal, laid the calzones on (with a few inches in between, as they puff up), and brushed the with egg yolk beaten with a little water.

I baked them at 450 for — okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe 15 minutes?

 

Then we served them with ramekins (ramekins!) of hot marinara sauce for dipping.

We made this one-bowl chocolate cake recipe. I didn’t taste it, as chocolate is a huge migraine trigger, but it looked pretty good. Decorations courtesy of the 90% off shelf after Halloween. I’m a saver.

We made chocolate frosting with a recipe on the side of the cocoa powder can. I think it was just shortening (we had run out of butter!), chocolate, and powdered sugar.

My son took a few pictures of his sister blowing out her candles, and then Google helpfully and spontaneously merged them into this horrifying glimpse into the spirit realm of birthdays:

I don’t want to know what that creature wished for.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken enchiladas and beans and rice

One of the college girls offered to make chicken enchiladas before she flies away again. They were so good. She used boneless chicken thighs with Pioneer Woman’s recipe,   and made thirty nice enchilada longbois, some red and some green.

I made some quickie beans and rice. Cooked up a few cups of rice and added a can of black beans and a can of chili kidney beans, drained, a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, some jarred jalapenos, and a bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

We just had this, but I like it. I browned up some boneless pork ribs in olive oil, then sliced them thin, and then I cooked up some frozen stir fry veggies in the pork pan. I made a dozen or so soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. The trick is to do a quick release after cooking, then dunk them in ice water, and then shells slide right off, almost in one piece. Not necessarily easier than using the stove, but a good trick if the stove is in use or if you really want unblemished whites.

 

I served a big pot of cheap ramen and let people choose pork, veggies, and eggs, plus sesame seeds, hot sauce, soy sauce, and chopped scallions.

Do you make fancy ramen? What do you add? I like this meal, but would like some more variety in the add-ins.

***

THURSDAY
French toast?

I am not sure. We had a pretty good storm going, and school was cancelled, but we got the news in the morning that my dad was going to need heart surgery, and was going to meet with the surgeons on this day.

So Damien and I rolled slowly north through the storm to the hospital while the kids managed at home. We had a good visit (the only thing my father requested was The Odyssey, Fagles translation) and I like the surgeon.

We thought we’d have to spend the night, but the snow slowed down toward evening, so we pushed ahead to get home, stopping only for Five Guys, because where else would you go on your way home from a visit to the cardiology wing?

I know this isn’t the popular opinion, but while their fries were quite good, I thought the burgers were just okay. The meat was kind of mealy, and the buns were just too greasy to be enjoyable. Huge portions, though. You can see that I am not complaining.

Then we trundled the rest of the way home through the last of the storm, and Damien installed me on the couch with a lot of red wine and The Big Lebowski. 

***

FRIDAY
I think we are having beef stew.

We’ll say an extra decade of the rosary because it’s Friday, but I have this big hunk of beef going unheeded in the fridge, and it has been quite a week.

QUITE A WEEK. Here is a picture of my dad from this summer, talking (possibly about the Declaration of Independence) with my brother Joe:

My father’s name is Phil, if you’d care to mention him in your prayers! Thank you.