Let’s go! No tears! No tears! Where is your mask! Where are your shoes!!! Here’s what we ate this week, which was BACK-TO-SCHOOL WEEK:
Damien handled dinner while I took the kids shopping for school supplies on the absolute last possible day I could get away with it. I don’t remember if I actually ate some hemp gummies beforehand, or just planned to, but I’m here now, so I clearly survived somehow.
My particular sandwich was a length of baguette with prosciutto, provolone, tomato, olive oil and vinegar, fresh pepper, and a schmear of red pesto. Yum yum. I wish I had one right now.
Sometimes people ask us, “Simcha, Damien, your household seems to run so smoothly, and your children all seem so capable and well-rounded. What’s the secret to your success?” We always smile and gently explain that it’s simple: We invite our children to help us in the kitchen. This not only teaches them skills they’ll lean on for the rest of their lives, it keeps them invested in the immediate well-being of the family, and shows that their actions in the here and now truly are, in a very real way, who we are as a community. Here, for instance, is a tomato one of the children sliced up for dinner in a very real way:
Nice slicing, jerk. I’ll invest you in a very real way.
Those are my migraine sunglasses. I know they look stupid but they’re the only frames that don’t squeeze my head. I had a falafel wrap for lunch from Ahli Baba’s Kabob Shop based in Burlington, VT (fresh and tasty, and the pita was top notch) and some kind of pork dumplings and coconut curry for dinner, but I paid cash so my bank statements aren’t reminding me who that vendor was. I also bought some peaches and cream ice pops from Crooked Stick Pops, and they tasted exactly like peaches and cream, so that was nice.
I am not sure what the people at home had? Possibly grilled burgers and hot dogs. We call this “ape law,” which just means I’m not there and didn’t make any plans or buy any groceries, which just means Damien usually makes burgers and they watch SpongeBob or something. In order to get a really good Ape Law situation going, you have to be not exhausted, and we are all exhausted.
First day of school for college kids and Catholic high school. We had LEFTOVER BACON after supper, can you imagine? I truly just do not know how much food to buy anymore.
Benny and Corrie made a back-to-school cake together, very cute.
They accidentally added three times too much water, then bulked it up with flour. They then gave this brand of cake mix low ratings because the texture is fine, but it’s kind of bland. And their mother officially has no opinion about that.
Vermonter sandwiches, broccoli, bacon-roasted corn on the cob
Orientation day for elementary and middle school charter school kids. This turned out to be a half day, but I somehow missed that detail, so what could have been a mere 3/4 of a day of driving around like an idiot turned into a full day of driving around like an idiot (because they were two different halves of the day and two different towns, but not the same town we live in). This is what people are referring to when they say some parents are just too lazy to homeschool their own children [skin falls off from sheer exhaustion].
Anyway, Vermonter sandwiches are: Roast chicken breast, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, green apple, and honey mustard on sourdough or ciabatta.
A good, hearty sandwich, and you can of course make everything ahead of time. If you rinse the apple slices in lemon or lime juice, they won’t go brown.
I also cut up a bunch of raw broccoli, and then forgot I had done so and thought we still needed a side, so I shucked a bunch of corn. I then got a brilliant if not precisely heart-healthy idea: I put the corn on a giant baking pan and poured a bunch of bacon grease and bits over it and rolled it around, and sprinkled it heavily with salt. I covered it loosely with tin foil and roasted it for several minutes until it was making a little noise. Then I uncovered it and let it brown up a bit, and turned it a bit and browned the other side.
It was pretty fab! Not monstrously, earth-shatteringly wonderful, but it tasted special and crisp and savory, and it sure was easy. Definitely worth doing if you have bacon fat around, especially if you do not feel like heating up a giant pot of water, which I could go the whole rest of my life without feeling like.
Mexican beef bowls
First day of public high school and first full day of everyone in everything. I wanted to make a hearty and popular meal, but I bobbled it a little bit. I didn’t buy enough meat, and I cooked it too long, and I forgot to get corn chips or avocados, and I accidentally put basil-flavored tomatoes into the beans instead of chili tomatoes, and I burned the rice a bit. Come to think of it, everyone must have been absolutely starving, because I screwed that up pretty bad! Oh well.
It’s a great marinade, though,Jump to Recipe
and a good meal if you don’t screw it up. So we had rice, beef, corn, sweet peppers, cilantro, sour cream, beans and tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and limes. I didn’t get around to sautéing the peppers. I did use Taijin powder liberally, which always helps.
I cut the corn off the leftover corn on the cob and heated it up in a pan. Hey, I actually burned that, too. You know what, it was a very trying day, but everyone got fed.
Omelettes, sausages, cinnamon buns
I didn’t burn a single omelette, and even managed to do a fancy trifold on some of them, but the photos didn’t turn out great, so you’ll have to use your imagination. We just had your choice of cheddar cheese and ham, and the cinnamon buns were from a can. Everyone was happy.
Benny has been longing for this meal for weeks, but it’s been way too hot and steamy to even consider it, but I have to admit, today it’s chilly and foggy and perfectly fine for stuffed shells. I always think, “Just because school starts, that doesn’t mean we have to stop going to the beach and stuff! We can still have summer fun on weekends for a while!” but it seems like the temperature plummets the very moment the school year begins, and bam, it’s fall. Oh well. At least we have stuffed shells. I guess I have to heat up a big pot of water, though.
My recipe isn’t spectacular, but it’s serviceable, and has nutmeg. Gonna shave up a ton of fresh parmesan, which makes a big difference, too.
Just a basic recipe. You can add meat to the sauce or spinach to the cheese, or anything that strikes your fancy. Serves about 10.
- 2 12-oz boxes jumbo shells
- 2 32-oz tubs ricotta cheese
- 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 4-5 cups pasta sauce
Cook the shells in salted water, drain, and rinse in cool water. Mix them up with olive oil so they don't stick together.
Preheat the oven to 350. Mix into the ricotta cheese all the seasoning, the parmesan, and 3 of the cups of mozzarella.
Spread a little sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof pan or dish. Stuff each shell with about 1/2-1/3 cup of cheese filling and lay the stuffed shells close together.
Top with the rest of the pasta sauce, and sprinkled the remaining mozzarella on top of that. Cover loosely with foil and cook for 45 minutes or longer, until it's bubbly.
Beef marinade for fajita bowls
enough for 6-7 lbs of beef
- 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
Mix all ingredients together.
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.