What’s for supper? Vol. 361: Who then, my mother?

Happy Friday? I meant to put an exclamation mark, but I’ll let it stand. Up until yesterday, I kept seeing memes about how awful and long and exhausting January is, and I kept thinking everyone is being silly, and this is just a normal month; and then today I realized I’ve been feeling that way for four months, and all four of those months have been January. Bah. Boo. But at least it must be almost over, anyway.

[checks date]

WELL GREAT. 

Anyway, some of that January futilitism crept into my cooking this week, and despite making as much as my second-best efforts, everything turned out . . . basically tolerable. Oh well. I also wrote 40% of several essays and they all suck.

However, I did do a really neat interview with an artist yesterday, someone you may not know about, but should. So there’s something to look forward to! There’s always something to look forward to, even if it’s just bidding farewell and good riddance to the week. 

Here’s what we had, and it was all FINE:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, chicken barley soup

We had lots of leftover soup from last week, so I reheated that and then burned every single grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Some of it was because I forgot to spread mayo on the outside of both sides of the sandwich, and some of them, I just burned for fun. 

I did get a few people who hadn’t done so before to try squeezing lemon juice over their bowl of soup, and they agreed it was very tasty that way. Here’s the soup recipe. Definitely worth making. Still plenty of winter left. 

s  t  i  l  l   p  l  e  n  t  y   o  f    w  i  n  t  e  r

SUNDAY
Gochujang bulgoki, coconut stringbeans, pineapple; kalakand

On Sunday, it just happened to work out that all my kids could come for dinner! So I was planning a big Indian meal, with vindaloo, coconut string beans, tomato yogurt salad, naan, rice, and dessert. But I did the thing I will apparently never ever ever stop doing, and I just skimmed the recipe, and discovered too late that you’re supposed to marinate the meat for at least eight hours. Soooo did some quick menu switches, and ended up with a half-Korean, half-Indian menu. I had little warning bells going off in my head that this was not a good idea, and I was right! Bah. 

The food was . . . fine. I made gochujang bulgoki with thinly sliced pork, matchstick carrots, and plenty of onion

Jump to Recipe

because that does need to marinate, but it can be just a few hours. I had much less gochujang (the actual fermented hot pepper paste) than I thought, though,

and it just didn’t hit the mark. Also I severely crowded the pan, so the meat was more braised than pan fried. It was tender, but just bland and slightly watery.

I decided to forge ahead with the string bean recipe I was originally planning to make, because they are Aldi string beans and you use ’em or lose ’em. But she called for cooking the string beans for twenty minutes, which is insane. It’s one thing if you want string beans cooked to a mush, which might work out for certain recipes, but she specified not to overcook, so they don’t lose their crunch. Insane!

I have since discovered that string beans in India are a different variety, and they are tougher, and do need a lot more cooking. So I did just cook them for a few minutes, and then added them to the mustard seeds heated till “spluttering” in hot oil (I love how many Indian recipes use the word “spluttering,” and I wonder if there is some cognate in some Indian language. 

Anyway, the result was . . . fine. 

Maybe I would have enjoyed them more if they had accompanied a dish with seasoning that made more sense along with the mustard seed, coconut, and jalapeno, but watery gochujang was not it. Boo. 

I made a big pot of rice and cut up a bunch of lettuce and also put out the last of the seaweed sheets from New Year’s Eve, and I did have fun making the little grabby bundles of seaweed, bulgoki, and rice

I do like some bundled food. 

Oh, it looks like we also had pineapple, which, again, was fine, but just . . . not quite the thing. 

There was enough food, anyway, so that was a relief, and everybody had a good time and I heard uproarious laughter coming from the dining room, so that was lovely. I was a little bummed about the meal, though, and then suddenly realized wait! I had made dessert!

The dessert was something called kalakand, which is a sort of sweet milk cake which you make with paneer, but not THAT kind of paneer; you are supposed to make your own paneer, which is soft set. OR, you can use ricotta cheese. It so happened I had a bunch of ricotta left over from birthday calzones, which is why I decided to make this recipe. 

It does say you will need to stir it longer if you use ricotta, and Swasthi was not kidding about that. It says “ten minutes,” and it took me at least forty minutes of stirring. 

Corrie had a friend over, and it was just as well I had to park myself in the kitchen and stir, because I could keep an eye on them, rather than ducking and covering, which is what my animal instinct tells me to do when these two get together. So I stirred that mofo forever and eventually decided that it was as thick as it was ever gonna get, and put it into a lined pan and pressed slivered almonds into the top. 

I let it chill in the fridge for several hours, and then brought it out after dinner with lots of caveats about how uncertain I was about the whole thing. 

People liked it, I think? I don’t think it came out right. It certainly wasn’t cake-like in any way. It helped that nobody had any idea what it was supposed to taste like. I suggested “Cheesecake Play-Doh,” and that got the most votes. 

In conclusion, I kept forgetting what it was called, and when I was searching for the recipe today (because I keep dozens of tabs open, but not the ones that I know I will need on Friday), I turned up this:

I don’t know what this song is about, and if it’s offensive, you have only your polyglotismo to blame.  

MONDAY
Regular tacos with pico de gallo

Monday was a day off, and I thought we all needed something a little more normal, so I just made regular tacos. Actually I sneaked a pound of ground sausage into the three pounds of ground beef, because it somehow worked out to be cheaper that way, and nobody noticed. 

I had the tomatoes I was planning to make into yogurt salad, so I made a bowl of pico de gallo with them. I was super tired and didn’t feel like chopping, so I just threw tomatoes, onions, and cilantro into the food processor, and then added some olive oil, salt, and some lemon juice, because I ran out of limes. 

It was fine. Everything is fine. 

TUESDAY
One-pan kielbasa, red potato, Brussels sprouts; challah

The kids have been agitating for kielbasa, so I made this one-pan meal

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(well, two pans of it), except I used Brussels sprouts instead of cabbage, and rather than serving the sauce along with the meal, I cooked the food for 20 minutes, then added in the sauce, switched the pans and finished cooking it for another 12 minutes or so.

It was super cold out, and I kept thinking about fresh, hot bread, and I had some work to avoid, so I made challah. 

Jump to Recipe

I made a double recipe, which is what I usually do, but usually I make one batch in the standing mixer and one batch by hand. It’s not dumb if it works! But for some reason I decided to make a double batch all in one bowl, with the very predictable result that it spurted jets and fountains of flour all over the kitchen. 

Then I put the bowl to rise on top of the coffee maker, which is the warmest spot in the house right now, and then I completely forgot about it. So it rose plenty. 

Oops. I wisely decided I was in no mental state to make another attempt at a four-strand braid, which I try from time to time, and it always makes me cry. I just divided the dough monster in half and then cut each one into four balls, then rolled out three and made a big braid, and cut the remaining ball of each batch into thirds and made it into a smaller braid to lay on top. I let them rise again, brushed them with egg wash, and then baked them. 

They turned out pretty!

I made them with duck eggs, including a duck egg for the egg wash on top. You will never find an eggier egg than duck eggs. 

I couldn’t find the poppy seeds, so as you can see, I used sesame seeds on one. Which made me think of this quick little bit from You Don’t Have To Be Jewish:

 

If I didn’t clip it right, the whole album is here, and the bit in question starts at about 20:17. 

Anyway, it was an okay-to-pretty good supper. The bread was a tiny bit underdone, so it was a little damp in the middle, but just a tiny bit; and even though I switched the meat and potato pans, one got a lot crisper than the other. But it was fine. 

Fine, I tell you! 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Wednesday I didn’t even feel like messing around one tiny bit, so I just made three pizzas, one cheese, one black olive, and one pepperoni. I took a picture so I would remember what we had

A perfectly fine pizza, with pre-shredded cheese that doesn’t taste like anything, and I couldn’t find the garlic powder or the block of parmesan. It was so cold in the kitchen that the dough didn’t 100% defrost, so the crust was a little bit CLAGGY. But I managed to stick to my meal plan for once, so it tasted pretty great anyway. 

THURSDAY
Glazed ham, baked potato, mysteriously spicy mashed squash

On Thursday morning, I remembered that we still had leftover coconut string beans in the refrigerator, so I put them out for the ducks, who were incredibly rude about it. 

Possibly angry at me for making their children into challah, but I don’t think so. We have to run and get the eggs in the morning before these dopes step on them and crush them. 

On Thursday morning, driving the kids to school, I turned on the classical music station and tried to guess the nationality and era of the piece that came on. I guessed German, 1820. And guess what! It turned out to be Karl Maria von Weber, written in 1815! I felt SO SMART. Then the dog turned on the hazard lights and I couldn’t figure out how to turn them off, so I had to pull into a parking lot and watch a short YouTube video. 

If you are wondering, the hazard light button is the giant, centrally located button with the big “HAZARD” symbol prominently displayed in red, which is why I couldn’t find it. Probably my Instant Pot gasket is in the glove box, where I put it while not reading all the way through the vindaloo recipe and buying the wrong kind of beans. 

Anyway, Thursday was the day we were supposed to have the bulgoki, but I had already used the meat, and I had Corrie with me at the store when I was shopping for a replacement; and if you take Corrie to the store with you, you’re going to come out with ham. 

So I got a big spiral-cut ham with a glaze packet on sale, and she pushed really hard for peas and mashed potatoes, but nobody felt like peeling potatoes, and I felt like I had to assert some kind of authority, so we had baked potatoes and mashed squash.

I usually cook the squash in the Instant Pot to save room in the oven,

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but when I was dealing the challah flour explosion, I also decided to thoroughly clean the IP top and had hidden the gasket from myself, so I shoved things around and just cooked the ham, baked potatoes, and squash  all at 400, which is not the right temperature for any of them. My motto is, if we can’t all be happy, then we’ll satisfy justice by all being miserable.

I sprinkled some baking soda and sea salt on top of the squash before roasting it, and it came out perfectly nice

and then I grabbed some butter and some spices that were handy: Cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, and scooped out the flesh and started adding lots and lots of cinn– ope, actually that was cayenne pepper. Wuite a lot of it. Corrie advised me to cover my mistake by also adding lots and lots of cinnamon, so that is what I did. I skipped the sugar because you really don’t need it with a decent squash. Some nutmeg would have been nice, but it didn’t seem like the time to rummage through little tippy bottles, so I just mashed that mofo and set it out. It was actually pretty good! Spicy! For some reason. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Just mac and cheese. I’m sure it will be fine. 

When I insisted on making squash instead of peas, I told Corrie that I only recently started liking squash. In fact, the very first time I had mashed squash was in the hospital, right after giving birth to her, and it was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. And from then on, I’ve had a thing for butternut squash. So it was really her fault. The rest of the kids then turned on Corrie in anger like Joseph’s brothers, because she was the cause of their cruel, heartless mother sometimes making mashed squash for dinner and not making anyone eat it or anything. I am truly a monster! Next time I’ll feed them all to the ducks. Then we’ll see who gets mashed. 

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. 

 

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. 

 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

 

Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn quashes
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.

  2. Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.

  3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.

What’s for supper? Vol. 344: Wo be di saa!

Happy Friday! I’m rull sorry I haven’t posted anything this week. I did try. I guess I’m still adjusting to the school schedule, and then I got my flu shot, which unexpectedly kicked my ass. I started like four essays, and it all seemed incredibly stupid, so I couldn’t get myself to finish any of it. The second half of the month is going to be a doozy, let me tell you. 

There was also a certain amount of this kind of thing:

We had some nice meals, though. Shook things up a little bit, in a good way. Here’s what we had: 

SATURDAY
Homemade waffles, sausages, strawberries, OJ

We had a bunch of duck eggs, including one that was suspiciously large

and I also got a bee in my bonnet and cleaned out the island cabinet, and found the old waffle iron Damien’s Aunt Willie gave us for a wedding present. I used to make waffles allll the time when we first got married, because we got eggs from WIC and my mother’s cousin Fran had given us a cookbook

with a waffle recipe in it. This was before there were recipes on the internet, so even though it was kind of an annoying recipe (it’s a little complicated, and she also says “smashing” twice on the same page), I stuck with it. It calls for separating the eggs, beating the whites, and folding them into the batter

But I have to admit, it makes damn fine waffles. 

Crisp on the outside, fluffy and eggy inside. It probably didn’t hurt that the suspiciously large duck egg turned out, as I suspected, to have two yolks:

This is apparently fairly common as the ducks gear up their egg-making parts. We also get the occasional “jello egg,” which is a normal egg with a soft, squishy shell, usually laid in the grass instead of in the duck house. Apparently we might also get an egg within an egg! We had about a week of two eggs per day, and now production has slowed down for some reason. I’m going to start giving them ground-up egg shells in their feed, in case they need more calcium. 

Oh, so we had waffles, good sausages, strawberries, and OJ for dinner. 

We call this “breakfast for dinner” even though we generally have things like popcorn, apples, or nothing for actual breakfast. 

Also on Saturday, I suddenly remembered that, back when I was deep in “oh nooo, summer is almost over and we didn’t doooo anything” panic, I bought a ticket for something which I have on my calendar as “Jurassic thing,” and that Jurassic thing was today! But after being able to find only the meagerest of photos and videos of the actual show, it dawned on me that this was probably aimed at slightly slow-witted toddlers. And of course the closest thing we had to a toddler was an eight-year-old, and she, of course, did not want to go. She wanted to stay home and watch TMNT cartoons.

But I had a ticket! So me and the teenagers and two adult kids piled into the car and we went and saw the Jurassic thing. It’s supposed to be accompanied by an audio tour that you download on your phone, but they set up out in a field in Swanzey, where nobody gets any data; so we just motored slowly past about a dozen audibly creaking animatronic dino statues in different stages of emotional distress

and that was the Jurassic thing. We honestly had a really nice time. Sometimes you just gotta go out and drive slowly past some creaky dinosaurs, I guess. Lena tried her best to make up an audio tour on the fly, but her efforts were not received with respect, so she gave up. 

SUNDAY
Shepherd’s pie, Halloween cupcakes/North African food

Sunday, Damien and I went to a party at the home of one of his editors, and the kids at home decided they wanted shepherd’s pie, so I was like, you go right ahead. It’s pretty great having older kids. Here’s how that worked out:

Damien and I stopped at an African food store in Concord, mainly because I was hoping to find some teff so I can try making injera. That’s an Ethiopian flatbread, though, and this was a Ghanian store, and the guy had never even heard of teff or injera, so I picked out a box of fufu mix instead,

fufu being the only other African food that I know what it is. (I did read up a little and find out that fufu is a kind of “swallow food,” which is a category of soft, pliable foods that you’re supposed to eat without chewing! Which, I haven’t checked my food journal app yet, but I’m pretty sure eating without chewing is not going to earn me a healthy habits puzzle piece that I’m supposed to be collecting through, even though I can already tell it’s just a picture of Shakira.)  

I also looked up the slogan on the box, “Wo be di sa!!!!” and apparently it means “You will eat continuously stop eating it.”

So, I’ll just jot that down in my food journal, I suppose. Or possibly just on my gravestone. 

ANYWAY, I chatted up the poor man running the store, and he said it’s his sister’s store, and she also has a restaurant in town. So we zipped right over to Maddy’s Food Hub and ordered up a bunch of North African and Carribbean food: Fried plantain with a rrrrremarkable savory shrimp sauce

and Damien had smoky rice jollof and goat with some kind of herby garlic sauce

and I had croaker (red snapper) in palm nut stew with a cream rice ball

Let me tell you, everything was completely delicious, just mouthwatering. Spicy, but not overpowering. The palm nut stew is a flavor I’ve never had before, but it still somehow tasted incredibly nostalgic and comforting. So nourishing. 

The food came really fast, the service was very friendly, the place was very clean and quiet, the prices were reasonable, and if you’re anywhere near Concord, I highly recommend this great little restaurant, which has only been open for just over a month. They also do GrubHub and catering.

MONDAY
Oven fried chicken, cat biscuits, collard greens

Monday I got some chicken soaking in egg and milk and salt and pepper in the morning, and picked another round of collard greens from the garden. 

I got them cooking in the Instant Pot using this vegan recipe from Black People’s Recipes. One of these days I will use ham or bacon, but this recipe is nice and savory as is. 

Somehow on the way home from school, I got myself into a situation where I needed a bribe, so I rashly promised Corrie I would make cat-shaped biscuits.

I used this recipe

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and we definitely have a cat-shaped cookie cutter in the house somewhere, but where, I do not know. So I used one that’s supposed to be a tulip, and squashed the extra points down, so it was . . . sort of cat-shaped? Just the head, I mean. I also made a bunch of stars, because I had my doubts about the cats.

I put them in the fridge and warned Corrie repeatedly that biscuits are not like cookies (this is America!), and they’re not going to keep their shape very well when they bake. 

I’m annoyed at myself for not having written up a recipe card for oven fried chicken yet, but I’m going to copy-paste what I tapped out last time (including the milk and egg part, which I had done in the morning):

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 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 20 minutes or more, depending on how big the pieces of chicken are. 

In the very last part of cooking the chicken, I slid the biscuits in there, and do you know, they more or less kept their shape!

I probably could have left them in for another minute or two to darken up, but they were really good. Extremely light and fluffy with tear-apart layers, a rich buttery flavor, and a lovely, flaky outside.

And Corrie stared into their blank, floury faces and declared them cats. So that was good. 

The collard greens were also swell, super smoky and flavorful. 

The chicken also turned out excellent. The skin was so crisp, it really crunched.

Yep, I was pretty pleased with this meal overall. 

I award myself one biscuit star. 

(And miraculously, I did in fact eat just one biscuit. It’s this freaking food journal. It’s actually working, and I’m so mad.) 

TUESDAY
Chef’s salad/misc

Tuesday the original plan was a Cobb salad, but the host of the party we went to insisted that we bring home tons of food, so we had a giant spinach salad with dried cranberries, blue cheese, and walnuts in it, plus lots of good sliced turkey and ham, and some soft rolls. 

So I cooked up a few pounds of bacon, made a bunch of deviled eggs, cut up some tomatoes and a giant cucumber from the garden, and we just had a sort of “chef’s salad and so on” meal, which is always popular. 

One of the biggest favors I have ever done myself is forcing myself to start enjoying salad without dressing. I really prefer it that way now, and it’s …. helpful. Just another way of chipping away at calories without making giant changes in how I eat. It’s always easier to make adjustments than revolutions! 

I couldn’t find any mayonnaise, so I made the deviled eggs with aioli and mustard, and they were quite nice that way. The kids didn’t notice the difference, but they had a little extra adult tang to them that I enjoyed. 

WEDNESDAY
Spiedies, fake Doritos

Wednesday I made a marinade in the morning

This is such a simple, easy marinade, and you can also use it for shish kebab, or it would probably be great on chicken. I had a couple of boneless pork somethings (I can never keep my cuts straight), and cut them into cubes and let that all marinate all day. 

Then in the evening, I broiled the meat in one big sheet pan, and another sheet pan with a bunch of cut-up bell peppers and mushrooms with a little olive oil and garlic salt and pepper. I toasted some buns and put a little mayo on, and we had lovely sandwiches.

Hey look, I got my thumb in this shot! Nice. 

But seriously, the meat gets nice and tender, and this is a real low-effort, high-flavor meal. Fifteen minutes of work in the morning, fifteen minutes of cooking in the evening, boom. 

THURSDAY
Italian meatloaf, no brussels sprouts

Thursday in the morning, I made two big Italian meatloaves more or less following the recipe from Sip and Feast, a site I heartily recommend.

I stopped on the way home and picked up Brussels sprouts for a side, but by the time I got home, I was incredibly exhausted and cranky, so I couldn’t get myself to cook them. 

You’re supposed to put the vegetables in the pan with the meatloaf and tomato wine sauce and let it all cook together, but I had chosen a pan that was too small, and it was already overflowing. Then I suddenly realized that I didn’t even have mushrooms, because the ones I had put in the spiedies the previous day were actually supposed to be for the meatloaf. But we had some leftover! So I cut up onions and cooked them, added the leftover mushrooms and peppers (the recipe does not call for peppers, but it worked well enough), and just served that on the side. I’m sorry, I’m on a details jag and can’t stop now. 

The upshot is we had a nice, tasty, slightly off-recipe meatloaf with a bunch of hot Italian-style vegetables on top of it

and we even had some leftover bread from the party, and then I took a three-hour nap, and then I remembered that I had just gotten a flu shot, and that’s probably why I couldn’t get myself to make Brussels sprouts.

Get your flu shot! It will excuse you from Brussels sprouts! Rah rah! 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti?

WELL, the kids requested regular spaghetti with sauce from a jar, with no fancy ethnic tricks or lumpy things or anything, and I was happy to comply, but then some of the kids had a back-to-school picnic. So some of us were going to go to that. 
BUHT, someone in the house just tested positive for Covid this morning. So here we freaking go. I think we’ll skip the picnic. Stay home and eat Brussels sprouts. Wo be di saa indeed. 

moron biscuits

Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 343: Duck eggs and fox nuts

Happy Friday! Today I am here to make you feel relatively stable and sane. 

Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Regular tacos

Nothing to report. I took this picture mainly to remind me what we ate on Saturday, but best practice is to include lots of photos in the post, so here ya go.

Oh, I guess I actually have to report that I wasn’t paying attention when I sprinkled in the hot pepper flakes, and a lot of people made “wooooo!” sounds when they tasted the meat, which I took as a compliment. 

SUNDAY
Pizza

Sunday was freeeeeaking hot. I made myself do some gardening anyway, because I know that, by the time it’s time to plant bulbs, I’m going to have strep throat or tendonitis or the cold robbies something, and I won’t be able to manage it. So I prepped the little patio St. Joseph garden, which had gotten to look like this:

and now it looks like this

Now it just needs to get a little colder, and I can stuff the mulched area full of daffodil, tulips, and crocus bulbs. This will be nice in the spring, but it’s mostly to give me something to think about all winter, so I don’t kuh-kuh-kuh-kay em ess. 

I’ve also been gathering cosmos and marigold seeds. I’ve been deadheading my marigolds several times a week, and putting the heads up to dry for a week or so, and then pulling the seeds out, which is fun. LOOK how many seeds I have. 

And there’s more to come! Next year, I will have an UNSPEAKABLE amount of marigolds. 

Then, after gardening, it was time to make pizza! One olive, one pepperoni, and one arugula and prosciutto. I guess it’s time to make up a recipe card for this pizza. Here you go: 

Jump to Recipe

I actually had a mix of arugula and spinach, and I have to say, I prefer just arugula for this pizza. It stays a little snappier in texture, and the peppery flavor is nice. I also couldn’t find the olive oil. We have had a week of Everything Breaking, and one of the more minor things that broke was the shelf where I keep all my bottles, daily pills, and most-used measuring cups and spoons

Just came crashing down,

and it’s proved strangely difficult to put it up again (as you can see by the variety of screws, anchors, and adhesive whatnot on display now). So everything is here and there and not to be found, which is aggravating.

Despite these handicaps, it was still very delicious pizza. I did not hold back with the parmesan.

I had two pieces and didn’t really want a third, but I really, really wanted some more pizza crust, which I mentioned wistfully, so Damien got another piece and ate it except for the crust, which he offered to me. Find yourself a man who etc. etc.

MONDAY
Burgers and brats

Monday, Labor Day, we executed a plan we had . . . sort of worked out. That is to say, we’d been planning to do it for about a week, and had thought about the details up to a point, but maybe not quite as granularly as we mights have. Which is to say we left five hours later than we meant to, and it turns out two kayaks and a canoe are not really enough boats to get ten people to an island, unless your husband is willing to paddle back and forth a ridiculous number of times, dragging empty kayaks behind him.

The other part of the plan was that we would visit the island, then go get ice cream, and then get home at a normal time and have a little cookout, but I had already made various other errors during the week, and already used up some of Monday’s burger meat to compensate for those errors, but was then so overwhelmed by Boat Happenstances that I forgot this had happened, so, you know whattt, mistakes were made. Basically Dora was at our house for three hours playing with the cat and waiting for us to get home and give her a burger, and she eventually gave up and went home, and then the rest of us went and got ice cream in the dark, except for me because I was still in a swim suit, because my clothes were sopping wet because I have forgotten how to get in and out of a boat without falling in the water; and Damien went home and cooked not-quite-enough-burgers in the even darker, and the rest of us went home and ate them. Good thing it’s just labor day and not a real holiday!

Anyway, while we were on the island, we met a family with a little girl named Elise, maybe four years old, who was VERY ADAMANT THAT WE REMEMBER HER. Her name is Elise, and don’t you forget it. She blew us several kisses as her somewhat weary-looking mom paddled her away. They, too, seemed to be running a bit behind schedule on this, the most laborious of holidays. 

TUESDAY
Tuna and shrimp poke bowls, tropical fruit, and caramelized lotus pods

This was quite a delicious meal. Last time I made poke bowls, they were so good, I saw no reason to try any other variation, so I just recreated them: A big pot of rice, raw ahi tuna cut into little chunks, shrimp sautéed in chili oil with minced garlic and a little lime juice,

and chili lime cashews, and pea shoots and raw sugar snap peas, and some Polynesian sweet hot sauce. 

Boy, it was good. I also made a platter of watermelon, mango, and papaya, which accidentally formed itself into an Eye of Sauron, but was mostly harmless

The other thing was the lotus pods. Also known as — no, not monkey nuts. Foxnuts. Wow, if you knew how many things I had to stop and look up today, you would wonder if I were still fit to be Senate Minority Leader. Anyway, Clara gave me a couple packets of lotus seed pods,

and I thought the most popular thing to do would be to candy them, so that’s what I did, forgetting for the moment that I’m an idiot and do really poorly with caramelizing anything. 

So I followed this recipe, mainly because I had bought some jaggery quite a while back and really wanted to use it. The author, Ruchi, introduces her page by saying, “Welcome to my incredible food paradise! If you are passionate about food, this is the right place to explore exquisite recipes. From tasty starters, delicious meals, and blissful sweet delights, here you will find everything to please the gourmet in you.” Which, I will be honest, I was just not in the mood for. My therapist wants me to keep a food journal, and write down how I feel and what I think when I eat more than I plan to, and even though I am passionate about food, getting welcomed to an incredible food paradise by Ruchi with her foxnuts is just not helping anything.

I mean, yes, I realize that, as usual I realize that [waves arms dramatically like an exasperated orchestra conductor], I’m the one choosing to do all of this, but it still pissed me off. All of it. The cooking, the new recipe, the fox nuts, the therapy, everything. Whatever. If you had seen me trying to get out of a kayak while everyone was watching, maybe you would alter your opinions of exactly how much I’m in control of my actions. 

Anyway, I fucked up the fox nuts. I burned them, and then I added coconut and burned the coconut, too. Then I switched pans, to get away from the burny taste a little bit. That wasn’t a terrible idea, but then I still had to get the jaggery to the right temperature, and I’m really just awful at making candy, and it was also extremely humid out. So I ended up with this:

It may look like a platter of snacky bits, but it’s all one solid piece. You can break off individual pods, but they were hard as rocks. YES I ATE THEM ANYWAY. What do you take me for. 

And it was a delicious meal. What’s that? How did I feeeeel while I was eating it? I felt great! Eating makes me feel great! That’s why I do it all the time! Stupid question. Boring conversation anyway [shoots food journal].

WEDNESDAY
Kielbasa, potato, Brussels sprouts with honey mustard sauce

Wednesday, I somehow managed to forget that I had to make dinner altogether until it was almost five o’clock. This is what’s called “learning moderation.” And that’s what sheet pan meals are for! 

Every time I make this meal, I veer further and further away from a recipe. This time, I preheated the oven to 425 and trimmed and halved three pounds of Brussels sprouts, sliced five pounds of red potatoes (that were mysteriously the same price as yellow potatoes), and three ropes of kielbasa. I spread all the pieces of everything on two big sheet pans, drizzled it with oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and chunked it in the oven for twenty minutes. 

While it was cooking, I mixed up a bunch of honey, some wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and some stone ground mustard (after floating the idea that stone ground mustard is the boba tea of mustards, which is disgusting but kinda true), and decided I was too lazy to crush up any garlic. When twenty minutes was up, I poured half the sauce over one pan, and then decided I wanted to take a pretty picture in the afternoon light, so I poured on a little more

and then realized I didn’t have enough left for the second pan. So I just drizzled on a bunch of honey and glopped on some mustard and swazzled on some wine vinegar on that one, mixed everything up so it wouldn’t stick, and threw both pans back in the oven, switching the top and bottom pans. Cooked it for another ten minutes or so.

When it came out, I mixed both pans together to even out the sauce situation

Maybe it was the boba mustard or maybe it was the “oops, I forgot to eat today,” but this was a very popular meal, even among husbands who don’t really like kielbasa. 

Wait, that can’t be it, because we had lunch! We had lunch of DUCK EGGS.

That’s right, Wednesday was the second day SOME of our pets started to finally pull their weight around here. 

Not them.

To be fair, I don’t think even I would eat a dog egg. Fox nuts, yes. But I have my limits. 

Gosh, I just talk talk talk. Anyway, our dear lady ducks, the interchangeable Fay and Ray

finally started to lay eggs on Tuesday,

and they did it again on Wednesday  

and again on Thursday

so I guess it’s gonna be a thing! What do you know about that! I was halfway convinced they were either just do-nothing ducks, or else laying secret eggs in the woods somewhere, and we were never going to find them; but they actually just lay them demurely in the hay in the corner of their duck house first thing every morning before breakfast. Amazing. 

On Wednesday, I made fried eggs for lunch for me and Damien. Fresh eggs are always head and shoulders above supermarket eggs. They just cook up better and the whites are fluffier. Duck eggs are like that, and they’re also bigger than chicken eggs, and the yolks are extremely rich. 

I was so proud of the ducks, I gave them some watermelon, which they devoured with great splurting violence. One of these days I will give them some cherries or beets or pomegranates, and I will film it in low light, and I will win a Sam Peckinpah award. 

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowl again … OR WILL I???

Everybody liked it last time, so I’m a-makin’ it agin. Actually we had leftovers from the steak and cheese subs last week, so I stashed it in the freezer, with the intention of using the power of Worcestershire sauce and lime to thriftily transform it into Mexican beef bowls.

Jump to Recipe

But I took a look at how much meat it is this morning, and, through the magic of not wanting a repeat of Monday, I realized it it’s not as much meat as I thought! Need more. 

So I was dropping the kids off at school and thought I would just quickly nip into the supermarket for a little more beef, so I asked the kids if I could shop dressed the way I was. They said, “With your shirt inside out?” This was news to me, because I thought I only had my skirt on inside out. I then became aware that I also had no shoes on, and also no underwear. FOXNUTS! 

UPDATE: I wrote the above paragraph on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, it was in the 90’s and super humid, more than one person was mad at me (???) because we had to pick up a kid at soccer, and my desire to not cook several different foods had reached a tipping point, so I just got Aldi pizza.

No ragrets.

FRIDAY
Salmon tacos

Regular fish tacos with cheapo fish sticks was the plan, but sometimes having a kid who works at the fish counter pays off, like when they can text you about a flash sale because someone ordered way too much salmon.  So I picked up a big filet and I am going to try Ina Garten’s recipe for roasted salmon tacos, which looks pretty tasty. I have everything but dill, and there are even some cucumbers very ready to be picked from the garden right meow. As soon as I get off the couch. 

Just one duck egg this morning! Maybe somebody had a bad dream. 

Oh, last chance to enter the giveaway for the new Tomie dePaola book

Okay, I really think that’s everything. Going to adoration this afternoon, bringing all yer lousy intentions with me.

Prosciutto arugula pizza

Ingredients

  • oil or butter and flour for pan
  • pizza dough
  • sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • prosciutto, torn up
  • arugula
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Grease and flour the pizza pan, stretch the dough over it, pierce it with a fork, spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese as usual.

  2. Spread the garlic and a little rosemary on the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil if you like. Cook as usual.

  3. While it is cooking, make a salad of the arugula, lemon juice, and a little olive oil, plus salt and pepper.

  4. When the pizza comes out, lay the torn-up prosciutto over the top and throw the arugula on top of that. Top with parmesan cheese. Let it sit for a few minutes before slicing, to let the arugula wilt slightly.

 

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.

What’s for supper? Vol. 294: Ya burnt!

Another Friday! We have arrived. We really launched our warm weather cooking this week. We also had our first “oh yes, that skunk is definitely rabid” situation, so I guess spring is officially fully here. I made some berry pies and only partially roont them. 

Here’s what we cooked and ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Indian food!

The kids had an assortment of frozen foods, and Damien and I went back to Royal Spice, where we had the same vegetarian appetizers as last time, because they were so appetizing, and then I had goat biryani and Damien had goat vindaloo. Superb. So delicious, I forgot to take pictures.  I need to get back to some Indian cooking. Gotta break in the new mortar and pestle Lucy got me for mother’s day! 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, grilled corn, blueberry-strawberry pie 

We had our elderly neighbor over. I’ve been meaning to have her over, ever since we moved in, uhh, sixteen years ago. Listen, we don’t like to be pushy in these parts. We did have a nice time, although she is fairly deaf and the conversation kept circling back to a reliable topic, i.e. her roasting me for buying vegetable plants for the garden instead of starting seeds.  The dog thought she was absolutely incredible, and she thought the kids were absolutely amazing for swimming in the pool even though it was a little chilly. She dug up some of her bleeding hearts for me, and I gave her some pie. A good visit.

Damien cooked burgers and hot dogs and corn on the grill, always tasty. He cooks the corn right inside the husks, which makes it super sweet and juicy. You just peel and eat. I will admit, at least 50% of the reason I like this method is because it looks so dramatic. 

I made a couple of pies for dessert, and let me tell you, I was worried the whole time that the filling would turn out too runny, and guess what? It did. Not that I took any steps to prevent that from happening; I just worried about it. I sprinkled a good amount of corn starch in with the fruit and sugar, and let it sit for a while before baking; and I let it sit for a while after baking and before cutting. But it was still runny. I guess I should add even more corn starch? Anyone? It tasted great, just sweet enough, and they were very pretty. Just runny. 

I just mixed together strawberries and blueberries, sugar, a little salt, what seemed like a good amount of corn starch, and some fresh lemon juice. 

Here’s the unbaked pies:

and baked, with an egg wash and a little sugar on top, sadly somewhat burnt:

but still pretty

Here’s my recipe for pie crust, which is reliable and easy to work with.

Jump to Recipe

The main secret is to freeze the butter and grate it into the dry ingredients, and then just barely handle it after that.

We made some fresh whipped cream to top it with. Then the kids cleared the table and put the whipped cream away in the fridge. In a ziplock bag. I know that this is technically better than the other way they were likely to put it away (in an open bowl, with some old meatloaf on top), but somehow it didn’t feel better. 

MONDAY
Chicken caesar salad, grapes

A decent meal (if one that I’ve been eating a little too often for my liking in one form or another these days, in an effort to shed my Covid Ennui weight). Chicken breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil, grilled and sliced, served on romaine lettuce with dressing from a bottle and freshly-grated parmesan cheese, and buttery homemade croutons. (FYI, the dressing and buttery croutons are not included in the Covid Ennui weight shedding plan, sadly.)

We did bat around the idea of getting ducks this year. Maybe next year. I do love duck eggs, and I would abase myself for homemade caesar salad dressing made with fresh duck egg yolks.

Jump to Recipe

Maybe next year! Quack.

TUESDAY
Honey mustard drumsticks, homemade tortilla chips, corn and bean salad

Sweet, colorful, mostly finger food. I thought this was going to be a super kid-pleaser meal. This despite that fact that I have met my kids.

Of course you can tell with an introduction like that that they mostly ate cereal. One proudly showed me the dusty can of chicken noodle soup she had discovered in the back of the cabinet. Oh well. I still thought it was a pleasant warm-weather meal.

I roasted about 24 drumsticks with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then rolled them around in a honey mustard sauce, made with probably a cup of honey, half a cup of mustard, and the juice of a large lemon. Then let them chill in the fridge for the rest of the day.

The corn salad was made with 3 ear’s worth of corn leftover from the cookout, a can of drained black beans, a can of diced tomatoes with chiles drained, the juice of one lime, half a red onion minced, a small bunch of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper. I kept it bland so the kids would eat it, ho ho ho. 

The tortilla chips, I made by cutting flour tortillas into triangles, tossing them with oil, and sprinkling them heavily with Taijin powder a few times, then spreading them on a pan and baking them in a 350 oven for about half an hour, stirring them a few times so they wouldn’t stick. They don’t turn out completely crisp, but some of them are a little bit chewy.

Here is my helper, performing a crispness test:

You could probably avoid this by baking them longer at a lower temp, and giving them more space, but genuinely I like them a little chewy. I honestly have the palate of a sickly Victorian child. I want at least some of my foods to be milky and the consistency of tapioca. I also like more exciting foods, but my first love will always be the diet of an invalid. And now you know my secret.  

WEDNESDAY
Tacos, pineapple and papaya

I optimistically planned the menu this way, with tacos on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, thinking we’d have leftover corn salad and tortilla chips to go along with the tacos. Which we did, but (see previous day) nobody was happy about it. They were happy about the tacos, though, so there.

I sweetened the deal with some fresh pineapple and papaya. Boy, papaya sure is, it sure looks, boy. I feel like I ought to have someone else in the room when I cut it up, just so there’s no misunderstandings. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Something weird happened with this pizza. Maybe a weird batch of dough, I don’t know. Maybe I used too much sauce. It just clung to the pan and didn’t act right. It was okay, just kind of heavy. I also forgot to buy olives.

I made one plain, one pepperoni, one garlic and onion, and one ham and pineapple.

Plenty of fresh parmesan on all of them, which was nice. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

A couples Fridays ago was supposed to be mac and cheese, but I ran out of steam and just bought some Aldi pizzas. We have SO much stray cheese in the house, though, so I really want to use it up this time.

Oh, last Friday I did make the seafood lo mein

Jump to Recipe

with the mixed frozen seafood pouch from Aldi, and it turned out just great. It had all kinds of great stuff, mussels, scallops, a little octopus, wonderful. I threw a little fish sauce in there, plus some asparagus and some scallions, and it was a very tasty little meal. 

My wish now is to make empanadas. It just came into my head and I can’t think of a reason not to do it. I am thinking of buying the dough disks, if I can find them, so I can get the hang of it; and then if people like them, I can always try making my own dough next time. Any empanada advice? I think I have a press I bought to make dumplings, so I can probably use that. 

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

What’s for supper? Vol. 255: I’m in the zarn

I was kind of blah about writing this post today, but as I went through my photos, and gosh, we had some pretty good food this week. We had several meals where leftovers were successfully rolled into the next meal, which is always gratifying. Is it weird that I’m enjoying this food all over again by writing about it? That’s okay.  

SATURDAY
Burgers and chips

Nothing to report, but tasty.

Cooked outside, eaten outside, and you can see I haven’t killed my mother’s day flowers yet. 

SUNDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw

I don’t remember what I put in the slow cooker with the pork. I think some ginger ale and misc spices. I was planning to serve it with bottled sauce, so it really just needed to shred, not taste like anything in particular. I had mine with Carolina-style sauce, red onions, and jalapeños, and it hit the spot. The sweet, citrus-y sauce was great with the sharp onion and spicy jalapeño.

Cole slaw was real simple, just cabbage and carrots with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, a little sugar, and pepper. I use half a cabbage and just throw the rest away, which feels terrible, but it’s just bowing to the inevitable. Yes, I know I can compost it. I won’t, though.

MONDAY
Chicken caesar salad with fresh duck egg dressing

I mentioned how much I like duck eggs last week. Well, my friend Roberta brought over some more, and I made some VERY POWERFUL caesar salad dressing with them. Duck egg yolks, fresh garlic, kosher salt, fresh lemon juice, a little mustard, and tons of freshly-grated parmesan, anchovies, and vegetable oil. 

I accidentally bought anchovies wrapped up around capers, but it didn’t seem like the time to be cowardly, so I threw them all in there, along with the fish oil. You are supposed to mix together most of the dressing ingredients and then slowly drip the egg yolk in one drop at a time, but life is short. I just put everything in the food processor. 

Jump to Recipe

I swear, if you put a fuse in this thing, you could blow up a city block.

I roasted up the chicken breasts with some basic seasonings and served it with Romaine lettuce, the dressing, some more shredded parmesan, and something called parmesan crisps, which I guess is fried cheese? They’re pretty good, but they put, like, eight in a bag. I know I’m giving my kids food issues when I say “okay, everybody gets four,” but that’s how it worked out. 

Anyway, the salad was delicious.

Big hit. There was way too much dressing, and I ended up throwing away the extra, because I’m brave enough to eat raw duck egg yolk, but not for more than 48 hours. 

TUESDAY
Roast beef, chimichurri, garlic knots, raw veg, etc.

Now this was a lovely meal. I suddenly remembered about chimichurri, which made me think of roast beef, which made me think of garlic knots, and then it just went from there. 

We ended up with those three elements, plus raw broccoli, raw sugar snap peas, some lovely cheddar left over from Opera Nite, and some crackers, and some feta, and some beautiful dry salami, and of course some last-chance duck egg caesar salad dressing. Everyone loved this meal. I have no idea who ended up with what, but there was something for everyone. 

I made the roast beef by giving it a heavy coating of kosher salt, pepper, and onion powder, and sloshing some red wine over it and cooking it uncovered for maybe 40 minutes in a 375 oven. It came out lovely and rare and juicy. 

The garlic knots were from frozen pizza dough. Chop into 12 pieces, roll into snakes, knot and pinch, and top with butter and garlic salt, and bake at 350 for 11 minutes or so. You can also bake these first and then roll them in melted butter, and maybe some parmesan, but I prefer this less-greasy type.

Oh, the other thing is that my food processor broke. The little tab that activates the motor snapped off, and there is no workaround that didn’t sound like an electric shock to me. So I tried making chimichurri in the blender, which only reminded me that I hate all blenders and think they should be illegal. In my madness, I then tried making chimichurri in the standing mixer with the whisk attachment. I knew it was stupid, but I just had to try. (Do not try this.) So finally I just put it in a bowl and chopped away for a very long time like a peasant. Of course it worked fine. Chopping works.

(I did have some regrets about being the kind of person who doesn’t bother to cut the stems off parsley, though. You can get away with that if you use a food processor! Anyway, my friend Tina is very graciously sending me her extra Cuisinart, and I’m SUPER EXCITED. Oh, the things I will process!

Anyway, if you don’t have chimichurri in your circulation, you really should. It goes on all kinds of foods and makes them taste like a summer day.

Jump to Recipe

The recipe is very adaptable to what kind of herbs you have and how spicy you like it. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, pasta salad, leftover broccoli

Damien made the sandwiches. He not only puts mayo outside the sandwiches before frying them in butter, he puts mayo on the inside of the bread, for purposes of having more mayo. Did I mention he’s lost 65 pounds this year? He should write a book.

The pasta salad was nice. I used farfalle, and just threw in the rest of the chimichurri, plus some leftover salami and red onions and feta, and some sun dried tomatoes, and some sea salt. 

It really could have used a little brightening up with wine vinegar, but I was too lazy to open a bottle. 

THURSDAY
Chicken drumsticks, risotto, salad

Bit of a crazy day. I was super distracted, and I have no idea what I did, but the Instant Pot kept beeping and burning and not cooperating, and I kept accidentally eating leftover pasta salad even though it was almost supper time.  The risotto ended up quite creamy and delicious, but I had no idea what I would find when I finally opened the lid. (It’s a good recipe, I was just in another zarn.*)

Jump to Recipe

The drumsticks were uninspired, just salt and pepper and olive oil, roasted on a tray with drainage until they were done. Hey, hot food!

This picture makes me laugh. I couldn’t figure out how to position a lone drumstick so it didn’t look like it was pointing at something. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

At the kids’ request. (For those not in the know, this is a casserole of canned tuna mixed with cream of mushroom soup and egg noodles, topped with crushed corn flakes and potato chips, served with a dressing of ketchup and mayonnaise. If you know, you know.)

I forgot this is the feast day, though: Sacred Heart. I feel like it would be contrary to the spirit of the day by serving meat that happened to be all the meat we have leftover in the fridge, but on the other hand, meat. It’s a struggle. What are you all having? 

*This is a family joke I just remembered. There was some song that went, “It’s so hard to love you / when you’re in another’s arms” and some kid misheard it as “in another zarn,” which they took to mean “not here.” So whenever we saw someone spacing out or mentally absent, that became “in another zarn.” But I think I can truthfully say I was mostly in the zarn this week!

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

Chimichurri

Dipping sauce, marinade, you name it

Ingredients

  • 2 cups curly parsley
  • 1 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Whir until it's blended but a little chunky. 

  2. Slowly pour olive oil in while continuing to blend. 

 

Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary.