What’s for supper? Vol. 374: In which we all forge ahead

Happy Friday! Pretty straightforward meals this week, because everything else was complicated enough. Spring is undeniably here, finally, even though there are still a few sodden, grimy hills of snow lurking about here and there. Every tree has a little halo of high green or red, right on the verge of exploding into true green. I see my peonies wriggling their peculiar dark red stalks up out of the soil, and the first of the daffodils have bloomed, and most of the crocuses. The tulips are biding their time, and so are the day lilies, irises, and lilies of the valley. The lupines are back, and maybe they’ll even flower this year. Sedum is raring to go, cat mint is forging ahead, and I’m forcing myself to wait before I uncover the strawberries and asparagus, but I have high hopes. Lots of buds on the apple trees and the mock orange and the lilacs, and yes, on the peach tree! 

I made a little progress on my wattle fence, this time trying a bunch of aspen saplings. The first row was a variety of things, grapevine and misc., and those turned out to be too thin. I probably should have pulled that part out and started over, but I just compressed the first row and started weaving branches on top of it. The result would definitely get me kicked out of even the least discerning medieval guild, but it is SO MUCH FUN, and it is sturdy, so I think it will keep soil in, which is my goal.

My compost heap looks rich and lovely, and I have squash, pumpkin, eggplant, and pea seedlings ready to move once the danger of frost has passed (in about a month!), and I think I bought some gem glass corn seeds, and probably a bunch of other stuff I bought on whims. I have to go out and cut down a ton more wood for the fence, which is also extremely enjoyable. Tromping around on the old, dry sticks of last year and seeking out what’s new and useful for the spring, wow. Sonny comes along and frolics, which he believes to be helpful, which it kind of is. I bought some more grape vines and some blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart (what a world), too. Go go go!

I also got some poppy roots, and I feel like this year is the year I will finally be able to grow poppies, unlike the other six times I attempted it. I’ve been using my most excellent hori hori garden knife to plant things

which was a birthday or Christmas present, I forget which. I love this thing so much. It bites right into the ground and you give it a little twist and excavate a precise little hole, exactly where you want it. As you can see, it’s marked with measurements so you can get to the right depth. Wonderful tool.

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Saturday I just went shopping and we had Aldi pizza for supper. Damien spent his weekend writing and working on various cars. We don’t have babies anymore; instead, we have ducks and cars. 

SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas

I was toying with the idea of putting enchilada filling in empanadas, but the kids told me that when I take a meal that everyone likes and then MESS with it, it’s upsetting. So I just made enchiladas. My enchiladas are what they are. Every time I mention them, someone who grew up near the southern border expresses polite amazement that I am calling these “enchiladas,” so instead I will call then “my kids eat theses.” Which is what I was going for!

Anyway, I basically follow Pioneer Woman’s recipe, except I use flour tortillas and I don’t brown them. So it’s just seasoned chicken (I actually used thighs, not breasts) browned up

and then shredded (don’t forget you can use your mixer to shred meat)

and then a ton of onions,

which I cooked slowly in the chickeny pan (and yes, PW is one of those people who directs you to caramelize onions in 4-5 minutes. I will never do this to you. It took at least half an hour, and I hurried it).

Then I shredded a bunch of cheese, dipped the tortillas in enchilada sauce, and rolled up the chicken, onions, and cheese in the tortillas, and laid it in a saucy pan, and then poured more sauce on top, and then sprinkled more cheese and cumin and chili powder on top. 

I think you’re supposed to just roll up enchiladas, but I always forget this and tuck the ends in as I roll, like for a burrito. Whatever. I made a whole bunch of them, some red, some green, and served them with cilantro and sour cream, and they were yummy. 

It was a chilly, rainy day, and these Authentic Mexican Kid-eat-ums hit the spot.

MONDAY
Kielbasa, potato, and Brussels sprouts one-pan meal; adults went out

Monday I heard the cry of my people for kielbasa, and made this easy and popular one-pan meal 

Jump to Recipe

In the morning, just to signal to myself that I was serious, I put out the bag of red potatoes, the packages of Brussels sprouts, and the kielbasa, and the savage and carnivorous cat immediately pounced on . . . 

the Brussels sprouts. Beware, o thou cruciferous ones! There will be no peace for you with this mighty hunter prowling abroad. 

I made up the honey mustard garlic sauce, which you can add halfway through cooking, or reserve for dipping at the end. Or you can put half of it on halfway through cooking and use the rest for dipping. Be like the cat and follow your heart. 

I made two big pans. This is both pans combined; you will want them to have more space to cook when you’re making it. 

You can also make this dish with wedges of cabbage, which I prefer; but the kids like Brussels sprouts better. I didn’t get a vote because Damien and I went out to eat, which we haven’t done in a WHILE. We wanted to try this newish taco place in town, but it closed at 8, which, what do I know. Maybe that’s a reasonable time for a taco place to close. So we went to Mi Jalisco, which has decent Mexican food but sometimes incredibly slow service. I mean like a few times when we went, we honestly thought they forgot about us. Anyway this time it was slowish, but not terrible. Gosh, this is a boring story. 

Anyway, Damien got carne asada and I got some kind of shrimp and mushroom dish, which was tasty. 

I wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce the name of this dish, which I confessed to the waiter, and he said he didn’t either. Let us all take a moment and salute the intrepid white guy working at a Mexican restaurant, just sweating and doing his best and forging ahead. 

TUESDAY
Chicken on salad

Tuesday I felt the need to reintroduce the family to green vegetables, so we had roast chicken on salad, with feta cheese, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries. 

A decent meal that was elevated by IT BEING WARM ENOUGH OUTSIDE TO EAT OUTSIDE. 

There are lilies popping up in those planters, and I have a bunch of marigold and morning glory and zinnia seedlings waiting to be transplanted. ALMOST. ALMOST time. 

On Wednesday night, I prepped some pork for tomorrow’s meal, so it could brine itself overnight. I mixed together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt and rubbed that all over a hunk of fatty pork shoulder, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge.

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pineapple

Around noon, I unwrapped the pork and put it, uncovered, in a pan in a 300 oven. I was so pleased with myself for planning this out, because I had an interview in the morning, and then the afternoon was …. well, it took many revisions, but the final form was:

Damien takes the kids to school, Elijah takes my car to class and on the way home, picks up Lucy who had early release because of PSATs; Lena takes Damien’s car to work; Damien takes my car and drops off me and Elijah at U-Haul; I drive the rented truck back and Elijah drops my car off for Damien; Lucy and Elijah and I go and get the free wood, and stop and get ice cream because I felt bad about ruining their day, because that wood was frickin heavy; Sophia walks to work; Corrie goes into aftercare and Benny goes to the library, and Lena drives herself home from work and then picks them both up; I stop home and dragoon Irene, who got home on the bus, into helping to unload the wood; then I return the truck and Elijah picks me up at U-Haul with my car, I text Lena to press the “rice” button on the Instant Pot, and we pick up Sophia from work and then we GO HOME. 

My car now has FOUR warning lights lit up, and one of them is flashing, but WE WILL GET TO IT. By which I mean Damien. My job is to wring my hands and fret, and then Damien fixes the car while I think about fun projects I can do.

Anyway, by the time we all got home, the rice was just about cooked, and the meat was ready for its final step, which is just a little extra sauce and then high heat for ten minutes. 

I lost my phone, so I don’t have a pic, but here’s a previous finished bo ssam:

Here’s the whole recipe, such as it is, in one spot: 

Mix together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt, and rub this all over a fatty pork shoulder.
Wrap it up in plastic and put it in the fridge overnight. 

Six hours before you want to eat, turn the oven to 300, line a pan with at least two layers of tin foil and put the pork in, fatty side up. (Don’t bother to transfer all the salt and sugar, except what’s clinging to the meat.)
Cook the meat, uncovered for six hours.
Ten minutes before you want to eat, mix together seven tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of sea salt, and rub this paste all over the top of the meat and crank the oven up to 500.
Serve whole, and people can pull off bits and shreds of meat and wrap it in lettuce, with rice. 

If you want a more detailed recipe and you want to make a truly delicious sauce and sides to go with it, check out My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. This dish is VERY salty and sweet, so it’s good to have rice and something cooling to go with it, like mango. I had pineapple, which was decent (although I’m one of those “wow, I love pineapple, but it’s crazy how it’s such a popular fruit even though makes everyone’s mouth itchy and their lips swell up” people. Don’t care, love pineapple, forging ahead).

So, the WOOD I got used to be a small deck and a wheelchair ramp. So I now have three long, thin sections which will go a long way toward the bog bridge I keep talking about, to bridge this area, which is much wetter than it looks

and the rest of the wood is three or four square sections which I think will make a lovely pool deck. Right now, there are two ways to get into the pool: On a rickety ladder that is embarrassingly slightly narrower than my hips, or via a cannibalized wooden swing set I put together a few years ago. The swing set thing has worked well enough — mainly I wanted something I could sit on and act as lifeguard, without having to be in the pool myself — but it does have some structurally necessary pieces of wood that make it extremely awkward to enter and exit. SO, I’m going to add some legs to the square pieces and bolt them onto the lifeguard thing, and IN THEORY, we will have an actual deck. Or not. Probably yes, though! 

Anyway, it turns out I am old, and driving a gigantic scary truck for two hours and lugging extremely heavy wood around is my limit for the day, and I was chatting with Benny after dinner and apparently dozed off mid-sentence, and she turned off the light and tiptoed away, and I spent the next hour drooling all over my own face until the evening screaming and quacking brought me back to the land of the living. 

You know what, those ducklings are jusssssst about old enough to move outside. I really like them, but dang, they are loud, and smelly. 

Look how big they got! Annie is the one with the mostly white chest, and Bebe is the one with more spots.

Annie started to quack a few days ago, but Bebe is still meep-meep-meeping. The cat is okay with them (I encouraged them from day one to spend time together, because it seemed like less work than constantly being on alert to keep them from killing each other; and yes, they were all equally at risk), but I think he will be relieved when they move out. 

THURSDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Nothing to report. Actually I have to report that the Dollar Store version of Pringles are really, really terrible. 

And they’re not even a dollar! Everything is $1.25 now, except there is also an aisle where things are $3 or even $5. What a world (derogatory).

The burgers were fine, though. We ate really early because we had one final family faith formation parent meeting for the year. I was kind of scratching my head over why we didn’t manage to make it to more meetings, and then I realized we spent the year getting Corrie prepped for first confession and first communion and confirmation, which is not all supposed to be in one year! So we ended up missing a lot of the classes which were directed at families who were not prepping kids for sacraments.

This is our first year doing whole family faith formation, and I must grudgingly admit that it’s kind of brilliant. Gonna write that up in a bit. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips and salsa

Or maybe we will all just go outside and graze on free wood. I sure have a lot of free wood. This is the view from my bedroom window:

No ragrets! But I might treat myself to a cordless impact driver, which Ryan says I will want, and Ryan is usually right. 

I am HOPING to have one or both of these projects (bog bridge and pool deck) done by July 4th, but if I had to pick one, I would pick the bog bridge; but I think MAYBE I can do both. I did manage to get my brick patio done by July 4th last year, if you’ll recall. (Yes, I was laying bricks in the dark while weeping on the evening of July 3rd, but I did get it done!) I got this wood from a fellow who said he had been planning to make a koi pond in his back yard, but never got around to it, so I’m gonna forge ahead on his behalf. 

Okay, I think that’s it. I shall pray for all you cheesebags at adoration (right after I swing by the school and drop off the overnight bag I forgot to pack for the kid who’s going on a sleepover, oops). 

UPDATE: Corrie remembered on her own to pack bags! Three of them! Meep meep meep! All the ducklings growing up. Everybody forging ahead. 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlet sandwiches, chips

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

MONDAY
Japanese chicken thighs, sesame broccoli, rice 

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

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

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

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

But wait, check out the inside:

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

 

 

I made a tray of quick sesame broccoli

Jump to Recipe

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

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

TUESDAY
Pork meatball soup, fried rice, steamed buns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WEDNESDAY
Deli sandwiches, potato puffs, veg and dip

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

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

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, HINT OF LIME chips and salsa

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

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

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan red sauce

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

Oven-fried chicken

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

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

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

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 353: SOMEBODY in this house is possessed by soup.

Friday has arriven! It’s about damn time. And may I just say, my food pictures are really pretty this week. I tried THREE new recipes. One (butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach) turned out great, one (Turkish flatbread) was pretty bad, and one (cranberry chicken) was fine. That’s how you find out! 

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Caprese chicken burgers; veg and dip

Quick frozen meal for shopping day, with a little extry to make it nice. Aldi’s chicken burgers are actually pretty good, for processed chicken patties. They have a pleasant texture and the breading is crip. So I cooked those and put out tomatoes and basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then got into a protracted argument with a kid about cheese. This particular kid, see, is PAID to put the groceries away every week, and so you’d think that when I ask a simple question like . . 

you know what, never mind. If you have kids, you’ve heard enough. Anyway I found a little package of fresh mozzarella in the back of the fridge, and SOME of us had nice cheese on their sandwiches. Everyone else had pre-sliced whatevercheese.

I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out a tray with French onion dip. No chips and no French fries! They said it couldn’t be done! But I’ve been snacking on leftover vegetables all week and only feel prey to clearance Halloween candy one time, so you tell me. 

SUNDAY
Omelets for kids; Chinese food for adults

Sunday, Moe and his girlfriend took me and Damien out to eat, just to be nice! Wasn’t that nice? We had an excellent Chinese meal at Cherry Garden in Keene. I had pork gyoza and a spicy coconut chicken curry. Splendid. 

The kids at home opted to have omelets. Lucy is reigning omelet queen these days.

They also had some kind of waffle fries. 

Look at us! One kid takes us out to eat, and one kid feeds all the rest! Amazing. It could happen to you too. 

MONDAY
Sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Monday I took a little drive to pick up something from Facebook marketplace for Corrie’s birthday, which is in February. Sometimes you have to snap up a good deal when it comes along, and then you drive around with a giant secret tortoise habitat in the back of your car for a few months, so what. So we had a quick meal. I didn’t burn the bagels or the eggs!

I must say, I’m looking forward to spring when the ducks start laying eggs again. They knocked off for the year several weeks ago, and we have to struggle along with these inferior chicken eggs. 

TUESDAY
Butternut squash soup with lentils and spinach; yufka; grilled cheese

Tuesday it really snowed for real. It only stuck around for a few hours, but as it fell, it whispered “soup,” so I was powerless. I was still thinking about that lovely coconut curry I had, so I found this recipe for lentil butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach.  Very promising ingredients: 

Pretty simple seasonings, just cayenne pepper and cumin along with the onion and garlic, which you cook up with some tomato paste

Add in the cubed butternut squash (from my garden!), chicken stock, and lentils, and let that cook.

I had brown lentils instead of red, but the next step was to blend it anyway, so I didn’t think it mattered much. Then you add the coconut milk and puree it all.

Another small triumph: I remembered before it was too late that hot liquid expands when you puree it, so I did it in batches in the blender

and there was no hot fountain of orange goo, not at all! Not this time. 

Hey, this is a good time to make sure you have anything you might need to order for Thanksgiving, which is less than a week away. I finally got around to ordering a new bowl for my food processor. The blender actually did really well with this particular job, though. I like the pouring spout on top.

Then you return the puree to the pot and put the spinach in and let it cook down, and that’s it. I transferred it to the Instant Pot and set it on “keep warm” and just left it for the rest of the day. The IP’s “warm” button is not as hot as a crock pot, but if you have enough time, it’s fine. 

I had been listening to Milk Street Radio and they were talking about this flaky Turkish bread, yufka, that you can make it no time – like 25 minutes, allegedly. It doesn’t have any leaven, and you just have to let the dough rest a few times before you fry it up. 

Welp, I couldn’t access the recipe they mentioned, so I found a similar one, except you don’t let it rest as much. Then you roll the pieces out and cook it them a hot pan, and that’s it.

So, I’m not sure where I went wrong with this. I made the dough in the morning and let it rest at room temperature, and then I put it in the fridge, which it said you could do. Maybe I used too much olive oil? Maybe the pan wasn’t hot enough? 

They were . . . okay. They looked okay. 

But they were so rubbery! A few parts tasted more or less like I expected, but they were so dang dense. Oh well. The soup more than made up for it. The recipe suggest squeezing some fresh lime juice over the top, and I was skeptical about that, but it was AMAZING. Just a fabulous combination of creamy and piquant flavors. I also floated a few roasted  pumpkin seeds over the top and that was a good idea as well.

Okay so the color of this soup is not necessarily the most elegant. It’s kind of orangey-yellowy-green. I think if I had used red lentils, it would have been a cheerier yellowy-orange. But the taste was superb. It was so warming and nourishing, but not heavy or muddy, like if pea soup went to finishing school, and it had a little sizzling spicy kick with the cayenne and cumin. So good. I had two bowls and had to stop myself from going back for more. 

I also made grilled cheese, because I was pretty sure the soup would not be popular, and I was right.

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole 

Good old pork butt still goes for 99 cents a pound pretty often. I got a couple of big hunks and off we went. This is such an easy recipe with tons of flavor.

Jump to Recipe

You heavily season the pork chunks and then just chuck them in the pot with oil, Coke, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and some orange quarters (I had clementines).

Then you just cook it down for several hours until it gets dark and yummy

You can drain off the liquid and keep cooking it at this point, or you can do what I did and just pull the meat out, shred it, and brown it up under the broiler. I added back a little of the yummy citrusy pot juice along with the meat before putting it under the heat, to keep it from drying out. 

I often make beans and rice with carnitas, but I just did guacamole this time.  Boy, is it satisfying when you choose the perfect day to slice open the avocados. I forgot to buy tomatoes, so this guac just had avocados lightly mashed, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper.

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It was great! I may skip the tomato from now on. 

I put out all the regular stuff for carnitas – tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges – but I didn’t feel like putting together the whole thing. I heated up some frozen corn and I opted for pretzels instead of chips, and I enjoyed the heck out of this slightly peculiar plate, modified for those who want to lose weight but are choosing their battles. 

And that’s my story. I am down ten pounds at last count, so there.

THURSDAY
Cranberry skillet chicken; roast potatoes, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts

I was planning just some kind of sheet pan thing with chicken and vegetables, but I saw this recipe from a local supermarket chain, and I did have a bag of cranberries, so, again, powerless. It’s a very simple recipe. You season the chicken and brown up the skin side, then take it out of the pan

then add in some diced onion and cook that in the chickeny oil, then add in the cranberries, some brown sugar, and some oregano, and let it all bubble around a bit 

and then you put the chicken back into the cranberry mixture and put the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking. I knew I was going to be out around dinner time (another Facebook Marketplace adventure for a different birthday kid. Here’s a tip: Raise your kids to understand that used is FINE), so I cooked this in the morning and moved it into a casserole dish; but technically that is a one-pan dish and can be made in a single skillet.

Pretty! I only had one bag of cranberries, but I had a bunch of chicken, so I just browned up the rest up with oil and salt and pepper, and also put that  in a separate dish to finish cooking. 

Then I went out and harvested my poor Brussels sprouts. They struggled early on in the growing season with a brassica-specific bacteria, and they never really bounced back; but I thought I had lost them altogether, so I was pretty happy to have even these little bitty sprouts.

I popped them all off their stems and washed them well (there was one worm stowaway) and beheld my mighty harvest.

Eh, that’s what supermarkets are for. I also had another butternut squash from the garden, and a few pounds of red potatoes. I spread it all in a pan and hit them with olive oil, cider vinegar because my wine vinegar looked weird, honey, and salt and pepper. So I roasted that up before dinner while heating up the chicken 

So it was all . . . fine. Everything was a little too greasy. I think the chicken would have been quite good if I had just cooked it and served it right away. Cooking it in the morning and heating it up in the evening turned the cranberries into mush, sadly. 

Live and learn! At least I finally did something with those dumb brussels sprouts and I can stop thinking about them. Next year, I’ll remember to pull the leaves off the plants so I get more sprouts. Somebody enjoyed the leaves, though. 

THE ASSASSIN, that’s who. 

Who, meeee? Me-MEOWWWWW? 

Oh gosh, that reminds me. Tell your kids, “SOMEBODY in this house is possessed by an owl.” Then when they say “Who?” you just stare at them. 

Anyway, I might make this cranberry dish again when I can do it properly. It was so easy, and people weren’t fully against it. 

FRIDAY
Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s magic 3-ingredient sauce

We haven’t had this savory, stupid-easy sauce for a while. Seriously, three ingredients. You will be tempted to add garlic or basil or so forth, but it really doesn’t need it. It’s simple and perfect, and truly absurdly easy. 

Jump to Recipe

You’re supposed to take the onions out before serving it, but we all like the onions, so we leave them in. 

And that’s my story! Try the soup! 

John Herreid's Carnitas

Very easy recipe transforms pork into something heavenly. Carnitas are basically pulled pork tacos with the meat crisped up. Serve with whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • pork butt/shoulder, cut into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • oregano
  • oranges, quartered
  • cinnamon sticks
  • bay leaves
  • 1 can Coke or Mexican Coke
  • 1 cup or less vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the chunks of pork with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the oil and Coke, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours. The oranges will start to get mushy and the liquid will begin to thicken.

  4. When the meat is tender, remove the oranges, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat up and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat has a dark crust. Be careful not to let it burn.

  5. Remove the meat and drain off any remaining liquid. Shred the meat. It it's not as crisp as you like, you can brown it under the oven broiler, or return it to the pot without the liquid and fry it up a bit.

  6. Serve on warm tortillas with whatever you like.

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

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

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 350: In which I do not really use the oven

Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya. I actually wrote quite a bit this week, but ended up doing whatever the digital version is of crumpling up the paper, and whatever the sitting on your ass version is of stomping off to go stand in a corner and sulk. This has not been a wonderful week for (a) a Jew who (b) has been following the Catholic sex abuse scandal closely for years and (c) lives next door to Maine. You know what doesn’t help? When the 12-year-old public radio host who is reading the headlines suddenly puts on her raggedy, tormented sad kitty voice and says, “Hope you’re taking care of yourself today. Deep breaths, everybody,” before abruptly perking up and announcing that it will be sunny this weekend and there will be a punkin festibal. I’ll sunny you! Good heavens. 

Anyway, I’ve been making steady progress with Halloween costumes this week, so I’ve got that going for me. I managed to almost completely avoid sewing this year. LOTS of duct tape, lots of hot glue, and a tremendous number of zip ties, though. Corrie is going to be Dalek Sec, with a light-up helmet

and Benny is going to be Classic Green Goblin. 

They both needs more work, but we’re in pretty good shape for Oct. 28. 

The oven broke on Sunday (just the bottom heating element) and we haven’t had a chance to fix it yet, but I lucked out and happened to have planned a menu that can be made with the broiler, the stovetop, and of course the Instant Pot. Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips

On Saturday we went to a rummage sale in the morning. We love rummage sales. Corrie has been losing just dozens of teeth lately, so she had a glass jar stuffed with bills to spend. The first thing she bought was, practically, a wallet. She then transferred her money to the wallet and went on an incredible spending spree. She was buying Crayola Glow Domes, she was buying Christmas earrings, she was buying t-shirts bragging about our Bernese Mountain Dog. Zero regrets.

I myself bought a leather motorcycle jacket for some reason (well, the reason was that it was $12) and a bunch of kitchen wares. The duality of mom.

Then we came home and I got some pulled pork going in the Instant Pot

and then we all went to the Pumpkin Festival in Keene. 

it was raining, but we had a pretty good time. The theme this year was “Please Do Not Light Any Cars on Fire” and with an undertone of “How Much Can We Charge For Fried Dough and Still Sleep At Night?” and they nailed it. 

We all got home pretty wet and tired, so I was mighty pleased to have a hot pot of pulled pork waiting. We had sandwiches and chips. 

I made up a new card for the new way I make pulled pork.

Jump to Recipe

I like the flavor so much, I don’t even put BBQ sauce on my sandwich. You definitely can, but it’s plenty flavorful by itself. This is a rare recipe of mine that doesn’t have any garlic in it! Behold, it can be done! It has a wonderful, warming, autumnal taste with the apple cider, apple juice, cumin, and cloves. You can remove the jalapeño seeds and/or membranes to make it less spicy, but it’s not overpowering as is, just perky. 

SUNDAY
Chicken burgers, nacho chips

Sunday was when we noticed the oven was broken, and also when we discovered you can broil frozen chicken burgers and they turn out fine. 

MONDAY
English muffin pizzas

We used to have this alllllll the time. It’s been several years, I think, and it’s a meal a few of the kids have been agitating for. Damien was going to be out of town, so I took the opportunity. I even got little bitty mini pepperonis to make it cute

I don’t really miss this meal, but it wasn’t terrible. I feared and hated the sourness of English muffins when I was little, and I still have to consciously flip a switch in my head to enjoy the taste of them. 

TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, quesadillas

I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from last week I had chucked into the freezer, so I used that to make one of my favorite soups. The recipe

Jump to Recipe

calls for cooking the raw chicken directly into the broth, and I wasn’t going to do that, so I added extra chicken bouillon to make sure it had some flavor. It also calls for chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and I couldn’t find that at all in the three stores I went to. So I just added more of all the other ingredients. 

The result was . . . honestly, pretty bland soup. 

Pretty, though. Aldi had these fancy tri-colored crunchy tortilla strips for toppings, so I grabbed a bag of those, and I also topped mine with avocado and cilantro. I made a bunch of quesadillas. It was fine. Not an amazing meal, but it wasn’t the recipe’s fault. 

WEDNESDAY
Mexican beef bowls, pineapple

On Wednesday, I re-burnished my reputation somewhat with a meal everybody likes: Mexican beef bowls.

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Roast beef was on sale, so I made the lovely, piquant marinade in the morning and sliced the meat thinly, and let it marinate all day

When it got to be close to supper, I made a pot of rice, sliced up a few pineapples, shredded some cheese, roasted some corn, chopped some cilantro, cut up some limes, and dug up some sour cream, and then I broiled the meat

Honestly I overcooked it, because I forgot how thin it was, but it was fine. 

So yummy. Tons of flavors. 

Earlier in the day, I also made a pot of black beans. Actually I only had one can of beans and one can of kidney beans, so that’s what we had. 

Jump to Recipe

Only a few people like beans, so I added as much spice and garlic as I wanted, which was a lot. I’m a huge bean fan. (I realize that’s a slightly ambiguous sentence. I mean it all the ways.) So much so that the kids stored the leftovers in a ziplock bag, and I ate cold bagged beans as a snack the next day and managed to feel guilty about the opulent luxury of it all.

THURSDAY
Blackened shishito chicken sandwiches; veggies and hummus

This is one of my favorite sandwiches, quite popular at our house. This time I had Tony CHachere’s seasoning, rather than some kind of generic “cajun seasoning,” and I forgot how salty Tony CHachere’s is! So they were a little overly aggressive, salt-wise. Still so tasty, though. 

This is a Sip and Feast recipe. You season the chicken thighs and cook them slowly and thoroughly in hot oil 

(this pan is one of my rummage sale finds! A lovely multi-ply stainless steel pan, very sturdy. I love stainless steel the best)

and then you top them with American cheese and let that melt

and while those keep warm, you quickly blister up the shishito peppers in the pan that you cooked the chicken in

and serve it all on toasted or untoasted brioche buns with barbecue sauce and red onion slices

and it’s just a damn fine, sloppy, tasty, delicious sandwich, even if you burn the buns like I did. 

FRIDAY
Regular spaghetti

On Friday, we had already been a million places, and we had a million places to be, so all signs pointed to spaghetti with sauce from a jar. And that’s my story! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some Dalekanium and a hot glue gun. I suggest taking shallow breaths and being hard on yourself, and writing legally actionable hate mail to your local public radio host. But you know yourself. 

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.

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Adapted from twosleevers.com. This is a very flavorful chicken soup. It has a little hotsy totsy burst of spice with the first taste, and then the more complex flavors come through slowly. Magic.

It's fairly brothy, and then you heap up all the garnishes you want on top.

This is a little over a gallon of soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 med onions
  • 1 lb (4 medium) tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 chiles in adobo sauce plus some of the sauce
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (include seeds for more heat)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • water
  • salt to taste
  • garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, chopped scallions

Instructions

  1. Cut the onions and tomatoes into chunks so they will fit in the blender or food processor. Put the onions, tomatoes, jalapeño, chili pepper and sauce, garlic and cilantro into a blender or food processor and blend it until it's a thick sauce. You may need to do it in batches, or just keep poking the big pieces down so everything gets blended in.

  2. Add enough oil to the Instant Pot pot to cover the bottom. Press "sauté" and let the oil heat up for a few minutes.

  3. Pour in the tomato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until any liquid is mostly absorbed. You may need to press "sauté" again to keep it hot.

  4. Cut the chicken breasts into pieces and put them in the pot. Add six cups of water.

  5. Close the top, seal the valve, and press "pressure cook," then the + button until it goes to 20 minutes. When it's done cooking, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.

  6. Open the top and fish out the chicken. Shred it and return it to the pot. Add salt to taste.

  7. Serve the soup with garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and chopped scallions.

 

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. 340: Happy new sandwich to me!

Friday again! It’s Friday again. I remember when the weeks were long, but they ain’t long now. 

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Sausage and pepper sandwiches, raw veggies and dip

Satisfying little meal. Fried peppers and onions, sausages in jarred sauce. Easy peasy.

Aldi didn’t have any sausage-shaped rolls, so we had kaiser rolls and did not die. 

SUNDAY
McDonald’s

Sunday we went to Mystic Aquarium! A wonderful place with some very personable belugas. 

We also fed the cow nose rays, who have the most alien faces I’ve ever encountered on a creature that size. Their noses are bifurcated, sort of like a cow’s, and then when they want to eat, the bottom of their face sort of unfolds like origami;

but their actual mouths are  underneath this part, and you can feel them avidly vacuuming up the food between ridged plates of teeth. Freaky!

We also caught the seal show, and we saw the jellyfish that light up, and the octopus with his toy, and the leering sharks, and the little tiny baby sharks thrashing silently around inside their egg cases, and everyone had fun. We packed sandwiches for lunch, and grabbed McDonald’s on the way home.

I’m still getting used to having family outings that are so straightforward, because everyone’s so grown up. No diapers, no nursing stops, no need to pack three changes of clothes and a plastic bag to sequester the pants that have become unspeakably soiled; no constant terror that someone’s going to wander off and drown; no random meltdowns because small people are having too much fun. We didn’t even have drama in the gift shop, because some people have their own spending cash, and others have started to catch on that a smushed penny really is a cooler souvenir than a stuffie that you could get at the dollar store back home. I am somehow managing to feel sad about this, because I have the superpower of turning any experience into melancholy, hooray. 

Anyway, our family is still big enough that a family membership is cheaper than buying individual tickets, so we hope to go back within the year! It was extremely hot, so it would be nice to go back on a day when it’s less tempting to dive into the pool with the sea lions and take your chances. But if you’re within driving distance of this aquarium, I recommend it. Mystic Seaport is also really cute and fun to explore (they have a drawbridge in the middle of town), but we didn’t have time to go there this time. 

MONDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, crunchy rice rolls, sugar snap peas

Monday, I suddenly couldn’t stand the mess in the dining room for one more second, and I sorted shoes and threw out about 1/3 of them. This isn’t even the most Converse we’ve ever had at the same time, and all but one pair was in absolutely disgraceful condition.

So I swept and wiped and organized, and now you can actually walk through the room, rather than dodging and sashaying and squirming your way through a clear path down the center.

Won’t last long, but it feels good for now. 

Supper was quick and easy: Some rice in the Instant Pot, and some Korean beef bowl on the stove.

Jump to Recipe

Aldi had those yummy crunchy rice rolls in stock, so I bought several packages, and we had raw sugar snap peas. 

Sugar snap peas are one of the few vegetables that really do satisfy the craving for something crunchy. Love ’em. 

It was also my turn to clean the kitchen. I have Mondays, Damien has Tuesdays, and the kids who don’t have jobs do the rest of the days, and the older kids fill in as needed. There were so many fruit flies and I was so hot and aggravated by the time I was done, I set my phone to play some Bach guitar music, slithered into the pool, and just sloshed around by myself in the dark until I felt human again. 

Also on Monday, Clara moved out! Oh me oh my. She’s still close by and we’ll see her soon. 

TUESDAY
Oven fried chicken, peach salad

Chicken wings were 99 cents a pound, and everyone liked the oven fried chicken from last week so much, I figured I’d do that again. Tuesday was the Assumption, so I quietly told myself we would have wings for the assumption, ho ho ho. Got to the noon Mass. 

The oven fried chicken recipe: Make a milk and eggs mix (two eggs per cup of milk), enough to at least halfway submerge the chicken, and add plenty of salt and pepper, and let that soak for a few hours before supper.

About half an hour to 40 minutes before dinner, heat the oven to 425. In an oven-safe pan with sides, put about a cup of oil and a stick or two of butter and let that melt and heat up.

Then put plenty of flour in a bowl (I always give myself permission to use a lot and waste some flour, because I hate it when there’s not enough and you have to patch it together from whatever’s left, and it gets all pasty) and season it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and whatever else you want – chili powder, cumin, etc. It should have some color in it when you’re done seasoning! Take the chicken out of the milk mix and dredge it in the flour. 

Then pull the hot pan out of the oven and lay the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, return it to the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Then flip it and let it continue cooking, probably for another 15 minutes or more, depending on how big the pieces of chicken are. 

It turned out fine. It wasn’t as good as last time, probably because last time all I had in the house was olive oil, but this time all I had was canola oil and margarine, which I haven’t used in years.  

The side was a peach salad, which I had qualms about, and I should have listened to my qualms. I follow this recipe except I skipped the corn, because that just didn’t sound right. I don’t know what the problem was. The goat cheese just kind of went pasty, and the peaches were maybe overripe, and –oh, one big problem was I used real maple syrup in the dressing, and discovered too late that it had gone rancid, which I forgot syrup can do! 

It looks okay, but it just wasn’t great. The whole meal was just a bit disappointing. It was STODGY. 

What I really want is to recreate this amazing peach burrata dish with cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction that I had at a restaurant a while back:

Man, that was outstanding. Oh well. 

Anyway, we had fried chicken and fresh peach salad with goat cheese and toasted almonds on a Tuesday, so I did try! Sometimes it just doesn’t come together, oh well. Excelsior. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Wednesday we had to hit urgent care with Lucy with a possible broken foot, but happily it’s just a sprain. The doctor recommended, rather than an ice pack, filling a bucket with cold water and soaking it for 20 minutes while spelling the alphabet with your foot. So on the way home from the hospital, I bought a bucket, and also some other things we needed: milk, half and half, and a sack of duck food. Lucy said that sounded like a tasty bucket of breakfast. And that’s why I’m in charge of the menu and she is not. 

Got home, made some pizza. All they had at the store for dough was wheat dough and something called “bac’n dust,” neither of which are food words. It tasted okay, not bad, but not something I’d ever make any effort to recreate. I made one plain cheese pizza, one olive, and one with pepperoni and leftover sausage. 

Here we see one of Van Gogh’s less known sunflower works, in which he experimented with both a limited palette and leftover meat.

Look, these are the jokes. Excelsior. 

THURSDAY
Spicy chicken sandwich with peppers, chips

On Thursday, the big kids all had plans, so I decided to take Benny and Corrie out school shopping. We usually do this with everyone at the same time, at the last possible minute, to create the maximum stress, but apparently you don’t have to do it this way.

So we got school supplies, and also TMNT shirts, unicorn headbands on clearance, new shoes, a fuzzy pink hoodie because we’re still planning to go see Barbie, and so on. We also stopped at a thrift store I like, and I got a Ninja blender for $20, so we’ll see what smoothies may be. 

We have this very wimpy Oster blender that can only manage, like, chocolate milk. Looking forward to pulverizing stuff. Also Corrie got a recorder at the thrift store, which I said yes to. 

Supper came together fast, and it was an absolute triumph, as far as I’m concerned. I followed this recipe from Sip and Feast, which has so far never steered me wrong. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was what he calls “blackened seasoning.” I thought I had some Tony Chachere’s, but couldn’t find it, so I used a stray bottle of McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning. 

First I blistered the shishito peppers. You just cut the tops off and blacken them quickly in a hot pan with oil and a little salt, turning once. 

You’re supposed to do this after you cook the chicken, but I did it first and just kept it on the stove on the plate, and it stayed warm enough.

Then I took boneless, skinless chicken thighs (one per person) and seasoned them heavily with the Cajun seasoning, and cooked them slowly in hot oil on medium heat, turning once. 

When the chicken was almost done cooking, I put a slice of American cheese on each one and covered the pan, and let the cheese melt for a few minutes. 

Then I toasted some brioche buns (he recommends putting them in the pan to toast, but the rest of the food seemed greasy enough), put a little BBQ sauce on the bottom (we like Sweet Baby Ray’s), then the chicken with cheese, then the blistered peppers, then some sliced red onion, more BBQ sauce, and the top bun.

Guys, this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, at home or anywhere. Sweet, tangy, spicy, with the little crunch from the peppers and onions and the melty cheese . . . wow. The whole thing was just a treat, and I would absolutely serve this to guests.

 Of course you can grill the meat and peppers, if you don’t want to pan fry them. Definitely spring for the brioche buns. The shishito peppers (which I’ve never had before) were great, mild and sweet, like bell peppers in jalapeño form. If you can’t find them, the guy suggests poblano for a substitute, or you could go with jalapeños if you really want it spicy. I loved having whole peppers with their skins on piled onto the sandwich, though, so it was nicer than bell peppers; and it was very easy to just wash them and chop the tops off and chuck ’em in the pan. I also didn’t bother trimming the fat off the thighs, so it was just simple all around. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle for kids; for adults: ??

The kids wanted tuna noodle casserole (canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles in a casserole dish, topped with toasted corn flakes and potato chips, served with “pink stuff” dressing, which is ketchup, mayo, and vinegar) and I didn’t want to make it, but then they said they would make it, and I’m no dummy. But I think Damien and I may run away and get some supermarket sushi and take the kayaks out. What with one thing and another, it’s been a hell of a week, and the urge to just  . . . paddle away . . . is strong.

But we always come home again. That’s the deal. You can leave, but you have to come back. 

Hey, my garden is finally getting going. I’ve had a bunch of big hearty butternut squashes so far, but that was it; but suddenly there are cucumbers, four or five eggplants, some bitty little ghost peppers, and a watermelon the size of a gumball. And more collard greens, and some cute little Brussels sprouts, and a steady trickle of strawberries. Asparagus and rhubarb are just getting started this year, but in a few years, I expect a nice little harvest from them. 

And grapes!

We’re just going to make juice this year. UNLIMITED JUICE. 

 

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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 336: Aubergine positivity

Happy Friday! All this week, a certain child has spent most of her day at farm camp, and I’m not going to say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount done and slept extremely well all week because of that, but I will say I’m marking next year’s calendar to make sure we get a slot. Some people need farm camp, and that’s a fact. 

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, rice, raw string beans

Usually Saturday meals are pretty feeble because I’m shopping and not cooking, but we had chicken thighs in the freezer, so I started marinating them in the morning and Damien started smoking them around noon.

The marinade was, more or less:

About 1 cup gochujang
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
about a head of garlic, minced 

marinated several hours, and he smoked ’em good. I made a big pot of white rice (I made extra, anticipating a meal later in the week), and just served fresh string beans raw, which is my favorite way to eat string beans.

Very good indeed. 

I looked into making my own gochujang, because it’s a little expensive to buy around here. I am growing ghost peppers in my garden, because, I don’t know why, and I thought maybe I could make gochujang with them. But it’s not the right kind of pepper (you want something sweet as well as hot), and you also need other ingredients which would also be expensive to buy around here, and maybe I’ll just . . . not. I like the little red tubs gochujang comes in, anyway. 

SUNDAY
BLTs, root beer floats, strawberry galette with candied basil

Sunday was Lucy’s birthday (party and cake later), and she requested BLTs and root beer floats. Can do. 

The strawberry basil galette was just something I wanted to make. I spotted the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen, and if it interests you at all, save the recipe on your first view, because they will want you to register for a free trial and you know how that ends up. For dumb reasons, I ended up going to a second site to find a recipe for the dough, and it’s a fine recipe, but I was extremely hot, which make my IQ and reading comprehension plummet; result being that I chilled the dough way too long, and when I tried to roll it out, it got VERY RUSTIC INDEED. I think the recipe was fine; I just should have let it warm up more before I tried to manipulate it. 

The galette really is an easy recipe, though, albeit with several steps. You  hack up the strawberries and then microwave them with strawberry jam and few other things, and the dough is also just a few ingredients, mostly butter. You heap the filling on the rolled-out dough and then bundle up the sides. A trained bear could do this. 

The thing that makes this recipe special are candied basil leaves, which you also make in the microwave

and a sweet balsamic reduction drizzle

None of this is hard, per se, but I am telling you that I was extremely hot and getting dumber by the minute, and I still had to fry six pounds of bacon. So by the time it was time to put dessert together, I made a few poor choices,  including but not limited to leaving the balsamic reduction in a little glass on the counter, without telling anyone what it was. And of course it looks like motor oil, so the kid on dish duty just went “ew” and washed it out before dessert time. 

SO, tragically we had Rustic Overheated Trained Bear Strawberry Galette Without Any Balsamic Reduction Drizzle

Actually I made two, and the other one looked even more like it had been dropped out of a high window. But the pastry was flaky and buttery, the strawberries were tender and sweet, and the candied basil was so good with the fruit, it made me mad that I’ve spent my whole life not eating basil with strawberries. Will definitely make again, although probably when it’s cool enough that I can retain my human form. 

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

Monday I ended up running around all day doing I don’t even know what, so Damien roasted the chicken breast and cut it up, and we had mixed greens with chicken, blueberries, toasted almond slivers, crumbled feta, and diced red onions.

I had mine with balsamic vinegar. This is a great salad, with A#1 Hearty Salad Debris left at the bottom after you’ve dutifully eaten all your greens. 

TUESDAY
Regular tacos

Tuesday was another crazy-go-nuts day, and we have some minimalist tacos for supper, without even chips, because I forgot to buy any

but then we got the kids going on a Doctor Who and Damien and I finally took our new-to-us kayaks out, which we haven’t had a chance to do all summer.

The sky was hazy with humidity and some wildfire smoke from Canada, but the air over the water felt clear and cool, and we zooped right out to the middle of the pond. 

Fish were leaping, loons were lamenting, and water bugs bopped and skated everywhere.

We could nose right up in among the waterlilies and weeds to see what was going on on the other side (just pond things, plus more frogs).

And we had about an hour out on the water, just doing nothing at all, besides being in boats.

Kayaks are so good. I know you can learn a lot about kayaking and get really good at it, but you can get competent at kayaking on still or calm water in about ninety seconds. 

So that was pretty sweet! Must do that again soon. 

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Wednesday I set up a meat race, and whoever defrosted first got to be supper. 

I know there are ways to defrost meat quickly, but my actual goal was to put off having to think about dinner for a while, so this was the way to go. 

Hot dogs won. What a surprise! Oh well, I guess I just have to make hot dogs for supper. 

THURSDAY
Roasted pork ribs, stuffed grape leaves, fried eggplant

Thursday I finally hauled out the extra rice I had cooked earlier in the week, and Benny and I harvested a few dozen of the biggest, juiciest grape leaves we could find, and a big bunch of wild mint.

There are many theories on how to make stuffed grape leaves, and generally you will not start with already-cooked rice, but I wanted to see if I could go from untouched kitchen to finished grape leaves in as short a time as possible, so that’s what we were trying this time. So we just started throwing stuff in a bowl of cold rice. We added a ton of chopped mint, quite a lot of salt, and oregano, freshly-ground pepper, a generous amount of sumac, a diced onion, and several glugs of olive oil. 

Then I tried what would happen if we rolled up the rice in uncooked grape leaves. What happens is the leaves crack when you roll them, and sproing open when you put them down. So I boiled some water, dunked the leaves in for a few minutes, and then put them in ice water, and then we rolled them. Or I rolled a few and then dashed out to pick up Corrie, and Benny rolled most of them. 

First we consulted this video we made a few years ago, when we made dolmas for the first time. (If you have an ad blocker on, you will not be able to see the video, because it does make you watch a short ad first, sorry!)

Anyway the method is: You place the leaf on the table face down (veins up), with the point toward you. Put a scoop of rice in the middle, fold in the sides, and then fold up the bottom over the rice, and continue rolling it up to the top, and put it on a pan, seam down, to be cooked later. Easy peasy. 

It was definitely trickier working with cold, cooked rice than with a warm, sticky rice with cooked onions and such, but it was possible to do it this way. I lined a pot with parchment paper (you can also use a few layers of grape leaves), stacked the grape leaves in it, and added a few cups of chicken broth and threw some slices of lemon in there, and simmered it for about half an hour. 

While that was cooking, I broiled the boneless pork ribs with salt and pepper. I had been planning something a little more mediterranean, some kind of kebabs or something, but I was straight up out of time, and sizzling hot pork ribs with salt and pepper are never a bad choice as long as you don’t overcook them. 

Earlier in the day, Benny and I had prepped the eggplant. I had two eggplants, one from the supermarket

and one ichiban eggplant from my garden 

Now look, ichiban eggplants are supposed to look like that. They are sweet, the skin is thin and tender, and they grow quickly and you get several on a plant. But the two together did kinda look like I was setting up some kind of MLM photoshoot. 

Hey bestie! These days are gettin hot hot hot, sun wearing sunglasses emoji! that’s why I’m so grateful I have GloVolve CLEEN/ION LYFEpowdr on my side, heart eyes emoji! Just shake up a little tasty breakfast dust for myself, dynamite emoji, and this trim mama is ready to go, running woman emoji! DM me for details if you want to get in on this disgusting bullshit.

RESULTS DON’T LIE GIRLFRIEND 

Anywurrrrr, we cut them both up, skins on, salted both sides, and let them sweat it out between layers of paper towels. (This is to get the excess moisture out, and you can do it the night before or in the morning or just half an hour or so before you plan to fry the eggplant.) 

Right before supper, I made some batter, dragged I tweaked the recipe a bit, and I’m very happy with it. The texture is fantastic, very light with a crisp, shiny or knobby shell on the outside, depending on how hot the oil is

and it tastes mild at first, but has a nice spicy kick. 

The only difference I could discern between the two kinds of eggplant was that the big one was big and the little one was little. Both had their charms!  

I was very proud of myself for steaming grape leaves and frying eggplant while the meat was broiling, and I unironically consider it one of the major accomplishments of my life, to produce three hot foods cooked three ways at exactly 6:00. 

It was just such a good meal. I set out more lemon slices to squeeze over everything, and it was fab. 

Okay, YES, some kind of spicy tomato-based dipping sauce would have put it over the top and tied everything together, but it was still an excellent meal. 

Oh, so the cheater’s grape leaves were good! I’ll probably go back to consulting a recipe and doing it in some approved way next time, but just crashing everything together worked well enough and I feel like I have officially made stuffed grape leaves for the year. And it was pretty nice to have a meal with three ingredients from our own yard.

FRIDAY
Pizza

Just reglar ol pizza. No complaints from me!

Oh, our local little market is now selling goat meat! It’s pricy but I can swing a few pounds, anyway. I love goat meat. Who has ideas for what to make? Something juicy and Indian. My mortal and pestle want to know. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

veg oil for frying

3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

What’s for supper? Vol. 334: Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

Happy summer! This is the week that always starts to feel like real summer to me, because the big family party is over and we get going on all the other stuff we haven’t quite had time for, mainly lounging around, eating ice pops, and watching Buffy

I didn’t get a WFS out last week, because of all the running around, so the quick version is: I don’t remember. Probably really easy, fast, boring stuff; except one day we had 

Kielbasa, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes sheet pan dinner with honey mustard sauce

I have stopped consulting a recipe for this meal.  (Here is one if you want, though! Jump to Recipe

I had three ropes of kielbasa cut into chunks, three pounds of Brussels sprouts halved, and probably three pounds of potato wedges with the skin on, tossed with salt and pepper and olive oil and spread on a sheet pan, and I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes. I mixed up a sauce from a bunch of dijon mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar or maybe wine vinegar, and pepper, kosher salt, and crushed garlic, then drizzled the sauce on the food

and stirred it up, and slid it back in the oven for another maybe 10-15 minutes until it was a little browned.

Sorry, not really a recipe, but you can just make it according to your taste and then cook it until it looks done. 

I used to make this meal with wedges of cabbage, but the kids vastly prefer Brussels sprouts. I also used to make it with the sauce to dip, but now I do the “cook, then add sauce and finish cooking” thing, and it comes out flavorful and keeps everything from drying out. Great summer meal, easy and hearty. 

And another day we had

Taijin chicken with scallions, mango, hot pretzels

This was supposed to be a NYT recipe, buuut I forgot to buy oranges, and you’re supposed to add orange zest and juice. So instead, I looked around furtively, opened a can of mandarin oranges, smushed up the contents, and dumped it into the sauce. 

The original recipe calls for 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sea salt, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest, 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce and 1/4 cup adobo sauce, 6 garlic cloves, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp Taijin, which is the ingredient that caught my attention in the first place, but which we turned out to have two almost-empty bottles of, along with only a small can of chipotle chiles and only a little honey.

I also broiled this in the oven, rather than grilling it; so it was basically a Ship of Theseus recipe at this point.

But honestly, it still tasted fine. Kinda citrusy, quite spicy. If you like the taste of Taijin, you will like this chicken. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was easy and tasty.

(I threw in some scallions, as directed, but those didn’t fare very well under the broiler, and weren’t terribly appealing.) For sides, I cut up a bunch of mangoes and served the hot pretzels I was too tired to cook the other day.

A decent if slightly weird meal.

SUNDAY
Independence Day Party!

I spent most of last week scurrying around finishing the infamous patio, (which I am sitting on right now, and let me tell you, it is birdy and lovely)

and getting all the other stuff ready for the party, knowing all along that it was going to rain all day. I did have the option to change the party to Saturday, which was supposed to be sunny and hot, but not everyone could make it. Argh!

Eventually I decided it made more sense to have a family party with rain and all the family, then a family party with sun and lots of people missing. It was a good choice! It did rain quite a bit, but we had two canopies and a tarp, 

and my sister brought another giant tarp which two of my brothers-in-law set up like a giant tent. 

Easy for me to say it was the right choice, since I didn’t have to drive home long distance in soggy clothes, but it seemed like everyone had a nice time. I love my family and I’m so glad we get together like this every year. I didn’t put up my father’s monstrous (in size, I mean) American flag, because of the rain, and we forgot to read the Declaration of Independence, but it was still a very good party.

Glow sticks, snappers, sparklers, fireworks, shiny necklaces, and the dog got bossed around by so many little girls, which is his heart’s desire.

Our July 4th menu is not very exotic; we go for volume, rather than novelty. Damien cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, veggie burgers and tofu dogs, and three racks of pork ribs

Jump to Recipe

This year, in addition to the rub he usually puts on them before smoking, he sprayed them with cider vinegar as they cooked. They were done a long time after the rest of the food,

which actually worked out great, because it had gotten a little chilly by then, and we were all ready for a second course, and it was pretty great to sit by the fire gobbling up sizzling, tender ribs

I made potato salad and bought I think 18 bags of chips, and made several big platters of raw veggies. My brother’s BF also brought some delicious spicy peanut noodles, which everyone loved. We had watermelon, which we shared with the ducks, and for dessert, the traditional red and blue Jello cups with Kool Whip

as well as ice cream cups and brownies, which Benny made.

And then candy after the fireworks, to ease the pain of the party winding down. 

Bunch more photos here if you want to take a look.

MONDAY
Leftovers

Monday we were all smooshed into a paste of exhaustion, so I cooked the leftover hot dogs and set out some cold ribs and that was perfect. The town fireworks we were planning to go to got rained out and postponed until July 28, to my great relief. 

TUESDAY
Burgers

Tuesday we went with some friends to The Caterpillar Lab, which we’ve been meaning to do forever. If you’re anywhere in Southwest NH and looking for a way to spend an hour or two, this is an excellent little free visit, fascinating and educational for kids and adults.

We saw amazing things unfolding right before our eyes, on the counter at eye level, and also magnified on a big screen; and the staff was very chill and well-informed and ready to answer questions and chat about what we were seeing. There were lots of things for the kids to touch, and I liked how it was set up in a beautiful way, including a long wooden table set with decorative bottles, each holding a green branch with a different kind of caterpillar living on it, with an informational card on the table. Sort of reminiscent of a Victorian curiosity cabinet, but with things you could handle. A very pleasant and exciting way to spend a rainy morning. 

(I actually have a bit of a moth and butterfly phobia, which I have been working on, but there was nothing flapping around being horrible and out of control, so the experience was well within my tolerance zone. Very different from a butterfly garden, for instance, which is a nightmare for me.) 

Then we came home and played Forbidden Island, which I reviewed here.

Damien bought more meat and cooked more burgers.

We ate late and they were absolutely scrumptious. Definitely starting to get that vacation feel. 

WEDNESDAY
Aldi pizza

Wednesday Benny hosted a tea party, with animal crackers topped with Kool Whip, hot dog ends on toothpicks, and candy, and of course tea

and then we went to the library, and Damien brought home Aldi pizzas. Then I went on the library website and looked up their actual policies, and discovered that, newp, I’m not imagining it, the librarian is actually being a jerk to our family and possibly breaking the law. So we’ll see about that. Humph. (This is why, don’t talk to me about “ohhh, if only WXMYN could be in power, THEN we would see an end to all this terrible CORRUPTION! You give women a teensy tiny bit of power and they will find a way to abuse it. Which is not to say that women shouldn’t have power! Just don’t expect it to magically fix corruption.)

THURSDAY
Italian sandwiches

Thursday it was HOT HOT HOT (for New Hampshire), so I finally broke down and put in the air conditioner

Then I couldn’t put off shopping any longer, so I got some sandwich ingredients, and then when I got my other work done, I took four of the kids to the town pond, ahhh.

They swam for a while, and played Parco Molo, and then we had Italian sandwiches, cherries, and cheezy weezies. 

What a lovely spot it is. I opened my Merlin app and it picked up something like twenty different birds. I did some actual reading from an actual book (The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, who is so unkind to some of his characters), and wow has my life gotten easier than it used to be. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Moe and his lovely GF and I think Dora are coming by for dinner, and we’re having fish tacos (just frozen batter fried fish fillets) on tortillas with shredded cabbage, sour cream, limes, salsa, and I guess guacamole.

Jump to Recipe

Am I forgetting something? Maybe I will make some lime crema. 

Jump to Recipe

I started some ice cream this morning, but it was so hot in the kitchen, the first batch (made with that Neopolitan trail mix from Aldi) didn’t freeze properly, so I turned on the AC and I’m currently making the second batch (strawberry with a little lime) in the cooler room. 

The ducks are frolicking in the sprinkler

the birds are singing, lots of things are blooming, I’m sitting in the shade in my own yard for the first time ever, and if this ain’t the life, I don’t know what is!

***

sugar smoked ribs

the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.

Ingredients

  • rack pork ribs
  • yellow mustard
  • Coke
  • extra brown sugar

For the sugar rub:

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp white pepper

Instructions

  1. Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture

  2. Smoke at 225 for 3 hours

  3. Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.

  4. Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.

  5. Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.

  6. Finish on grill to give it a char.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

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

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

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

For the ice cream base

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

Instructions

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

Make the ice cream base:

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

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

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

Put it together:

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 331: Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Happy Friday! Are you ready for some PEPPERSSSSSS!!!!!!!

But first, just like old times, there’s a little dust-up going on in my combox, which began when one reader wanted to know how it is that I’m over here eating kale salads and lean protein crumbles, but yet feeding my kids buttered corn dog nuggets and hot salt slop noodle casserole pie. A few readers jumped to my defense, which I appreciate very much, but the real answer is simple: I don’t like my kids. Please address any further questions to my menu planning assistant, who can be contacted here.  

I kid, I kid. I love yez all, more or less. 

The real question of the day is, WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS RHUBARB? 

Short version, I planted a rhubarb root in early spring, and it didn’t come up at all, but by the time I had given up hope, nobody in town was selling rhubarb anymore. Or so I thought! I stopped by the Cheshire Floral Farm, honestly mainly just to cheer myself up, because it’s so pretty up there. It’s a nursery built on top of a hill, and it’s the cleanest air I’ve ever breathed in my life. Even the birdsong has a special clarity, because the air is so clear. The man who owns it is 74 years old, and he has thousands and thousands of plants which he appears to know intimately, individually, and everything is thriving. He showed me the rows of pots with seedlings he has prepped for next spring. Next spring!

So I mentioned rhubarb, and he started hiking up to the top of the hill, and I panted up after him. There were half a dozen potted rhubarb plants about two feet high, and half a dozen smaller ones. He said, “This rhubarb has a history, you know.” It started as a plant in England that his grandfather grew, and they divided the root and brought it over, and he planted it here in New England, and off it went. I chose a smaller plant, and he knocked the seeds off and told me to dig a deep hole and fill it with manure. Then he kept walking up hill, so I followed, panting. We went through a gate, across a lawn, past a garden, and around a shed, and there, my friends, were three rhubarb plants, each as big as a Volkswagon Bug. He snapped off three stalks and presented them to me. 

So now I have rhubarb! Rhubarb for now, and for tomorrow, and for all my days to come, if I don’t screw it up. Usually I just make strawberry rhubarb pie, because it’s expensive and I only get it once a year, and that’s my favorite treat. But now I have plenty! What else do you like to make? Pickled rhubarb? Rhubarb jam? 

He also said you can chop up the poisonous leaves along with some tobacco leaves, boil them, and make an insecticide, which you use as a spray. I’ll probably leave that one alone, but I love knowing that there’s a use for the leaves besides murder. 

Okay! So here’s what we ate this week. And I apologize in advance, but I added in a lot of medical complaining, because it was that kind of week. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs

H.O.T. D.O.G.S., and I think fries

SUNDAY
Cuban sandwiches, coleslaw, fruit salad

Sunday I took a big step forward with the patio, finally. I salvaged some pressure treated lumber from various old projects, and shoved them in around the perimeter, and staked them in place with lawn stakes. I rented a vibrating plate compactor and ran it over the soil. Then I roped the kids into trucking the gravel down to the backyard, spread that out, ran over it with a makeshift screed, and ran over it with the compactor several more times.

Then the dog ran over it several times, because of course he did. It’s fine. He’s helping compact everything. The gravel I ended up getting is not exactly what I wanted, but I did want to move forward, and I achieved that! So, hoot hoot. Next is sand, and then finally bricks. 

A few hours in, I remembered “oh, supper,” and I had a boneless pork loin or something, so I threw it in the Instant Pot along with several giant glugs of apple cider vinegar, some water, a lot of cumin and garlic powder and some salt and pepper. I pressure cooked it on high for 22 minutes and it came out non-beautiful but very tender and quite tasty. 

For the sandwiches, I had big pieces of sourdough bread, and I built them in this order: bread, mustard, Swiss cheese, pork, pickles, ham, more Swiss cheese, mustard. Mayo on the outside, fried in butter. 

There is no particular reason this heavy, greasy, carby sandwich appears to be leering at you. You’re just imagining it. 

I made a nice fruit salad with watermelon, mango, strawberries, and blueberries, and a quick coleslaw with cabbage and carrot with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, a little olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. 

MONDAY
Lemon pepper chicken, taboon, and muhammara (red pepper walnut dip)

Last week, I asked for more recipes with pomegranate molasses, which I had used so deliciously in the cherry walnut herb salad. Several people suggested muhammara, which is a Turkish red pepper walnut dip.

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE RIGHT. I followed this recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, and made a triple recipe. It calls for two red bell peppers, but I had four red and two orange. I keep learning and then forgetting again that red and orange (and yellow) bell peppers are just green bell peppers at different stages of ripeness (and therefore sweetness). Red is the sweetest; orange is the medium stage. (Yellow, which I didn’t have, is the first “turning” stage.) But it’s all the same pepper. 

Anyway, I oiled and roasted them peppers, which is something I enjoy.

So pretty. 

These recipes always tell you to cover the roasted peppers with plastic wrap and let them steam themselves, to loosen up the skins; but I have found (by the scientific process of forgetting to do it) that this isn’t necessary. The skins come off just as easily if you just let them sit. 

So I pulled off the skins, which I enjoy, and yanked out the core and scraped off most of the seeds. This is about half the pepper flesh. 

And then you just whiz it up in a food processor along with toasted walnuts, olive oil, raw garlic, tomato paste, bread crumbs, of course pomegranate molasses, sugar, sumac, and salt. Now, this recipe also calls for Aleppo pepper, and says cayenne pepper is optional. I didn’t have either, and suddenly got an attack of the cheaps at the store, so I only bought cayenne.

Since I had so much dip, I divided it and added cayenne pepper (somewhat more than the recipe called for) to only one portion. 

Friends, for something so earthy, it is heavenly. This is one of these profoundly nourishing, joyful foods. It just tastes like it’s feeding your whole being. It’s wonderfully tart but not in an aggressive way. The heat in the peppered one built gradually, and it tasted good with chicken, with vegetables, and with bread. And just by itself. 

I made twelve little taboon breads. Last time I was a little unhappy with how they turned out, rather tough and chewy. Not sure if this is what caused it, but I realized that I forgot to put the pan in the oven to heat up before putting the dough on it to bake. This time I followed that step, and they turned out much more tender and fluffy. I love taboon. 

It’s so easy, and you can start it less than two hours before you want to eat. Fast as a quick bread, but with the texture and heft of a yeast bread. So good. It doesn’t puff up and separate into a pocket like pita, so don’t expect that. It’s more bready, while still being a flatbread, so you could use it for wraps, or for scooping or sopping purposes.

I just made very simple roast chicken breast sprinkled with a lemon pepper seasoning mix and cut up, and spinach, black olives, and cherry tomatoes.

Damien and I ate the muhammara steadily for lunch and snacks for the rest of the week. It was wonderful with those flattened pretzel chip things, and also really nice with baby carrots, and with cucumbers. I am completely sold on muhammara. 

Still happy to hear about more pomegranate molasses recipes, but if this is all I ever use it for in the future, diyenu

TUESDAY
Tacos

Tuesday I made a bunch of taco meat, put it in the slow cooker, and then I was like, screw it, I’m going to the ER. Here’s the most exciting part:

Yes, that is my blood pressure. No, I did not eat tacos when I eventually got home, even though they had ruled out heart attack, as well as cancer and pulmonary embolism. But I do not recommend this blood pressure, at all. 

WEDNESDAY
Shawarma

Wednesday I wanted to get back to normal as much as possible, but I had lots of help! Clara made the shawarama marinade, Corrie made the yogurt sauce and Benny cut up the cucumbers and gathered and chopped the mint, and I had bought readymade pita and hummus, so it was just a matter of finishing everything up.

And very good it is, shawarma. 

At this point, I had learned that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with my heart, and all my lab work so far came back showing that I’m actually extremely healthy, except for when my terrible doctor takes me off my medication and makes my blood pressure go nutsy; so yeah, I had a big blob of yogurt sauce. Ugh, I guess I’m self conscious about my food pictures now. Boo. 

THURSDAY
Aldi pizza

Thursday I drove up to the pulmonologist in Lebanon and they did all the breathing tests. I stopped to check on my parents’ grave (they are still dead, whew), and the lilac tree and rose bushes I planted made it through the winter, so that was nice! I said a decade and went on my way. Damien bought and served Aldi pizza, and Moe came by and helped with the driving. 

FRIDAY
Spinach chickpea stew

Friday morning I found out that my lungs are very healthy, capable, and working fine! Which is great, except . . . you know, I still can’t breathe, and my chest still hurts, and my lungs still make a sound like bacon frying at night. Like, other people can hear it, so I can’t be making it up. I don’t know! I don’t know. I’m getting an echocardiogram at the end of July, and I’m going to look into chronic anemia and sleep apnea, because I don’t know what else it might be. It’s not the smoke from the wildfires, because this has been going on since November. Albuterol doesn’t help at all. Maybe I’m just making bacon in my lungs. If anyone could, I would.

ANYWAY, today we are having this lovely lemon chickpea spinach stew

the recipe for which you can find here at Saveur. This weekend I’m going to work on my patio without worrying it’s going to be my last act on earth, so that will be nice. 

Anyway, rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb. Allegedly that’s what crowds of extras on movie sets are supposed to say, in order to convincingly sound like they are having a conversation in the background. Someone smarter than me can write an essay about turning food into the logos. Imma go lie down.

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.

 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 329: Muffled sounds of gorilla violence

Hey, sorry about the radio silence. It’s been a rather purgatorial week. Both cars broke down unexpectedly and RATHER EXTHPENTHIVELY, the washing machine and pool repairs are ongoing, plus there’s some kind of mystery medical baloney shit going on, and this morning the cat died. We don’t exactly know what happened — likely he tangled with a bigger animal. Poor guy. He was terrible but beloved, and did not die alone. Here he is on Monday, doing what he loved best:

Rest in peace, Kyat. And may we all merit a day that is all chicken and scritches.

NEVERTHELESS, people still needed to eat every day, so we kept on chooglin’. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
I don’t even know. Aldi pizza?

SUNDAY
Vermonter sandwiches, raw broccoli

Vermonter sandwiches are ciabatta rolls or sourdough toast, thick slices of roast chicken or turkey, thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, Granny smith apples, and honey mustard dressing.

I forgot to buy apples, though, and got cheap with the bacon, and the sandwiches were decidedly subpar. Very sad. 

MONDAY
Smoked chicken thighs, chips

Damien made these with his lovely spicey-sweet sugar rub.

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Delicious. The meat was juicy and the sugar caramelized on the spicy skin. Just great. 

TUESDAY
Mexican beef bowls

A tasty treat, which I made because beef was kinda sorta on sale and I just felt like splurging. I cut up a roast and marinated it in the morning

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and pan fried it in the evening,

and made a big pot of rice, and served it with cilantro, sautéed sweet peppers, shredded cheese, sour cream, corn chips, and some very fine black beans. 

I was very happy with the beans. I still had quite a bit of kale leftover from something or other, so I chopped up several handfuls of that and added it into the pot when I was cooking up the onions, and, yes ma’am, I’ll be doing it this way from now on. 

It just added a little extra layer of smoky flavor and texture and was not overpoweringly vegetablly at all. I’m turning into a kale enthusiast right before your eyes! Me and the ducks.

Here’s another picture, because I have two, and it was yummy enough to deserve two pictures.  

And aren’t we all. 

WEDNESDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s sauce

Requested by the kids, made by Damien. Always quick and delicious, with a very few ingredients

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but maximum savory . . .  ness. We leave the onions in, because we like onions. 

It’s been a little chilly and rainy, and nobody minded having a hot steaming bowl of pasta for dinner, May or no May. 

THURSDAY
Gochujang pork chops, sugar snap peas, fresh pineapple, hot pretzels

I made a recipe and a half of the sauce for gochujang bulgoki,

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and used most of the sauce for marinating, and set aside the extra half batch for brushing on while it was grilling. Damien made these on the grill outside, on his Interchangeable Cinderblock Meat Altar Situation. 

Served with fresh pineapple and raw sugar snap peas and some hot pretzels that were cluttering up the freezer. 

Slightly weird meal but it hit the spot. Sophia can now sound out enough Korean characters that she could read what it said on the side of the gochujang tub (it said “gochujang.”) 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle casserole

Look at us, we made it to Friday! Hope you did, too. 

Oh, here is the source for the gorilla sounds: 

Sounds a little fishy to me, but it’s too good to look up. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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."

 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

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

sauce:

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

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

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

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

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 241: Troubles with soup are better than troubles without soup

Happy whatever day it is! I didn’t do a food post last Friday because, I forget why. Oh, because I was complaining about the pope.  Anyway I wanted to share the results of a recipe from the previous Friday. It’s sabanekh bil hummus, Palestinian spinach and chickpea soup. I followed the recipe from Saveur and it was deeee-lectable. 

You saute some onions in olive oil, and then you toast some spices (cumin and coriander) and then grind them, then add them to the onions along with some garlic, plus allspice and nutmeg, and pepper, and cook a little longer, then add chickpeas and stock. (It called for vegetable stock, but I had chicken.)  

THE SMELL.

Simmer for about half an hour, add in fresh baby spinach, fresh lemon juice, some kosher salt, and a little more olive oil. Look-a here, now.

It was so good. The earthy spices combined with the bright lemon juice and the tender chickpeas and spinach made it a surprisingly interesting dish, considering it’s just broth with chickpeas and spinach.  Damien and I absolutely loved it. Definitely adding it to the Friday rotation. 

I’m kind of mad about this, but I’m now fully converted to the notion that fresh ingredients are worth the trouble. Sometimes you just plain don’t have the time or energy, and then it’s a blessing to use convenience foods! It’s fine, it’s not a moral issue! But if you can grind spices and squeeze lemons and crush garlic and chop herbs, oh man. Do yourself a favor. It eventually stops feeling laborious and extravagant and just feels like the normal way to cook, and it elevates your flavors so much.

Of course I still buy bouillon powder, rather than making my own stock, and I still routinely buy frozen pizza dough and so on. Let’s not be silly. I know you’ll agree that I draw the line at exactly the right arbitrary spot. I KNOW YOU’LL AGREE.

Damien and I were both insanely busy all week. Just tons of writing, and we had two birthdays, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember. Also Sophia went to Rome with her high school class, and we had to get both cars fixed (my car was doing something that was causing people to stop me and say, “Excuse me, do you know your car is–” and I would have to sigh, “Yesss, I am aware,” and I drove around like that for over a week before I had a chance to get it fixed. So penitential, much litany of humility. Damien’s car was fine, except for the brakes, pff), and Lena taught the dog to roll over, which was more emotionally fraught for the whole family than you might expect.  Also the dryer broke, and I hit some lady’s mailbox on the way home from band. I really kranged it good, and it was very cold out, so it shattered, so I had to knock on her door and say, I’m sorry, I hit your mailbox, and there was a very old, unclothed man sleeping in the living room with purple old his legs sticking out. Probably can’t really blame the dog for that (I do not take him to band). 

I did manage to get the one stinking maple tree tapped finally, though. It’s a long story and probably nothing will come of it, but I really hate not finishing projects, so I’m forging ahead. Look-a here, now!

 

I’m sorry I keep saying that. I’ve been listening to funk music lately and it stuck, for some reason. 

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Words cannot describe how long ago that Saturday and those hamburgers were. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese

We had these sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. I really hate cooking with an iron frying pan, but it does come in handy for laying on top of a puffy sandwich and weighing it down when you’re trying to get cheap Aldi cheese to melt. 

MONDAY
Southwest chicken salad

I drizzled some chicken breasts with something called elote seasoning, which seems to be mostly chili powder, salt, and dehydrated cheese powder, and roasted the chicken, and served the chicken slices over mixed greens with shredded cheddar, some corn sautéed in olive oil, and chipotle ranch dressing, with corn chips. 

I feel like there were beans, but maybe they remained in the realm of hypothesis. Anyway, it was a good salad. 

TUESDAY
Lasagna, Mars cake

Tuesday was Elijah’s birthday celebration, and he requested Damien’s amazing lasagna, which he makes using the Albert Burneko recipe. Absolutely stupendous. Creamy cheese sauce, ultra savory tomato sauce with meat, just fab. I always get a terrible picture of this lasagna because, once he sets it on the table, no power on heaven or earth can slow me down.

It weighs about 87 pounds and it’s so good. 

I also made a Mars cake. Elijah likes Mars a lot, and I thought it would be nice to throw together a little fondant Mars Perseverance Rover with wheels that turn and a little gum paste Ingenuity helicopter with a rotor that spins, how hard could it be??

Well. I took a chance and broke away from my filthy box cake ways and used the King Arthur “Simple and Rich Chocolate Cake” recipe and it was exactly that, simple and rich (and chocolate, and cake. And a recipe. You guys, I’m so tired). And the cake turned out very well! I made a simple frosting with butter, a little salt and vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk, and the Mars part was pretty enough.

Then, well, things got out of hand a little bit with the robots

What can I say, an attempt was made. The good news is, he turned down my original idea, which was a galaxy mirror glaze cake with a surprise Mars-shaped heart baked right into it. So like when you cut space open, there’s Mars inside! Just like in real life! So we didn’t do that, which is good, because I can’t do that. Instead, we had the robuts, held together with toothpicks. They would have been better if he had let me put candy eyeballs on them, but I learned just in time that he actually feels strongly about robots and eyeballs. Look-a here.

WEDNESDAY
Tacos

Man, it’s a good thing I wrote this down, because I don’t remember this at all. What a week. I fell asleep on the couch so many times. 

THURSDAY
Mussakhan and taboon bread, tabouleh 

This I do remember. This is the second time I have made this meal, recipe also from Saveur, and it was just as popular this time. It’s quite easy, but packs a huge punch with flavor. You just have to get your chicken parts and onions marinating several hours ahead of time, and then you just roast it up.

Just before it’s done, you fry up some pine nuts and toss them over the top of the sizzling hot chicken, which you have lavishly spread over the piping hot taboon bread,

Jump to Recipe

which you have whipped up a few hours before dinner because you believe in yourself. Actually I timed it a little wrong and the chicken was ready a few minutes before the bread, so people started eating it before I could put it on the bread. A minor disappointment, soothed by the implied compliment that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on that chicken. I still had my chicken on bread, and I spooned up plenty of the lovely sumac-laden roasting juices to ladle over the tender, dimpled taboon. 

This meal is so good, you can’t imagine. The chicken is so juicy and the mixture of spices is just heavenly. You got the happy salty little bread cloud floating underneath and it’s really just hard to stop eating. 

I also picked up a few boxes of tabouleh, already mixed with seasoning, so you just had to pour hot water over it to wake it up, and then I added some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and feta cheese. I ate, uh, kind of a lot of that, too, even though it was just boxabouleh. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Just regular old pizza, whew.

Oh, I was planning to tell you about the whole other cake, but I guess that belongs in next week’s post! I mean this week’s post. I did start it on Thursday. Well, next time, I’ll tell you allll about it. It just about killed me. 

And now it’s Tuesday. We got a massive dump of snow, the power is out, and I guess we are going to have corn flakes and melted snow for supper. 

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.