What’s for supper? Vol. 363: Do you reject garlic and all their little paperwork?

Happy Friday! Happy February, finally! Let’s get hoppin.

SATURDAY
Beer brats, fries

Saturday and Sunday were unusually busy for us. I went to one of Danielle Bean’s very fine You Are Enough day retreats in Plymouth and got home in the late afternoon, so I didn’t have time to shop. Damien bought and made beer brats (brats boiled in beer and onions and then grilled), which we haven’t had in quite some time. Yum yum. 

A retreat! A long chat with my friend! A dinner made by someone else! What a Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Sunday we had a QUITE long family “retreat” for the faith formation. Our parish has switched to the family model, which means that the parents come in for regular lecture and discussion sessions, and then we go home and teach our kids; and there are also all-family events. It’s good stuff, and I see the benefit, especially when there are parishioners coming from all different backgrounds and different levels of . . . having been catechized. (I can’t figure out how to say that better.) But man, some of the events are long. 

So we did get home late, but Damien had had the foresight to make burger patties the night before. So I just broiled them up, so that was easy. 

I was going to clear off the island for this picture, but this is how it be. 

MONDAY
Smoked pork ribs, coleslaw, salad, loaded baked potatoes; king cakes

Monday we had a GUEST. Fr. Matthew from Louisiana, who comes for an annual visit while visiting family up north. I briefly considered making an authentic Louisiana meal, but I remembered the video where Gordon Ramsey confidently gives some pad Thai to an actual Thai chef.

and I don’t need anybody looking at me like that, even internally. So Damien dug out the smoker and made some of those luscious ribs, which I would defend with my life no matter where you’re from.

Jump to Recipe

He smoked them for about five hours and then finished them in the oven. I baked a bunch of potatoes and kept them warm in the crock pot, which I forgot you could do. I mean, then I remembered, and I did it. I served them with crumbled bacon, shredded pepper jack cheese, sour cream, and scallions. I also made some simple coleslaw and a nice salad.

When we were eating. Fr. Matt (who loved the ribs) asked what I call the coleslaw. I said “coleslaw.” He said okay, because he was once at a Mardi Gras dinner where they served something they were calling “Authentic Louisiana Cabbage Salad,” and he wanted to know if I had ever heard of such a thing. I had not! But that’s why I decided not to make gumbo or étouffée or something! I know my limits!

OR DO I. I decided to make a couple of king cakes, because I asked around and learned that, even in New Orleans, there are a million variations, and sometimes real live cajuns will make king cake out of refrigerated cinnamon rolls.

So I made a triple recipe of just the dough for Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (which is the recipe I use at Christmas every year, so I know it turns out well) and also a triple recipe of just the cream cheese filling from this King Arthur king cake recipe. I divided the dough into two and rolled each one into a long rectangle. 

The first one, I made a very long, thin rectangle and just spread the cream cheese filling down the middle of it, and then sprinkled a bunch of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. Then I just sort of rolled it up into a big tube with the cream cheese in the middle and pinched the long seam shut, and uncomfortably wrestled the whole thing onto a greased pan and squashed the two open ends together, so it was a ring shape, sort of. It was leaky as heck and not round in any meaningful way. 

I was getting pretty strong “this can’t possibly be the way to do it” alarms in my head, but without any accompanying “you should actually look up how to do it” signals; so for the other cake, I rolled a less skinny rectangle, spread on the rest of the cream cheese filling and the contents of a can of strawberry pie filling I found, and then rolled it up in a spiral like I do with cinnamon rolls. This one, I rolled out on parchment paper, so I carefully squashed the open ends together and then just slid the whole thing on the paper onto a pan. This one was more respectable looking. 

I covered the cakes and refrigerated overnight, and took them out in the morning to get up to room temperature; and then I baked them at 350 for . . . a while. I lost track of how long they were in there, because I was so nervous they’d be doughy and underbaked, I kept adding 3-4 minutes. Probably 35 minutes all together. 

Then when they came out, I poured cream cheese icing over them and sprinkled on some colored sugar-sprinkles. The icing was not exactly a recipe, because I forgot to buy powdered sugar, so I ended up just whipping up a bunch of sugar, a little butter, some vanilla extract and a little lemon juice, a tiny bit of salt, and then a bunch of warmed-up cream cheese when I realized it was too runny. They came out so pretty!

The center of the ring disappeared, though, and it was really just a big dome that was kind of crinkly in the middle. To my vast relief, though, both cakes were thoroughly baked. 

ctually a little over-baked, as you can see by the browned bottom. But the somewhat dry crumb was rescued by the abundance of creamy filling, which was delicious. The spiral-rolled one didn’t turn out discernibly better than the one that was just a stuffed snake, except that the shape was a little more regular. 

So now I know how to make very respectable king cakes! At the last minute, I remembered to shove some “babies” in (what we could find was a couple of plastic figurines on loan from Elijah). We didn’t find them until the next day.

I guess traditionally, whoever gets the baby has to buy next year’s king cake, and I’m the one who found it anyway, so I suppose that can be arranged. Definitely one of those things that I got all worked up over for no particular reason. But with a happy ending, because we had cake. 

TUESDAY
Walmart pizza

Oh no, it was Tuesday and I still hadn’t gone shopping! I got some pizzas from Walmart because I developed a sudden aversion to going to Aldi.

WEDNESDAY
Nachos

On Wednesday I dropped off the van at the mechanic and was astonished to discover that I still hadn’t gone shopping? So I took Damien’s car and went to Aldi and did shopping for one day, because apparently I was determined to save myself the trouble of going shopping, and instead wanted to go shopping. 

For nachos, I usually make 2/3 spicy meat and 1/3 plain, in two separate pans; and I got two bags of “hint of lime” tortilla chips, and one bag plain. But then I was seized with a sudden doubt, and had a long, inadvisable, circular conversation with the kids about whether a desire for spicy meat matched up with a desire for seasoned chips, and if so, how many people experienced that desire, and if not, how many people felt strongly about not experiencing that desire, and so on. I’m not exactly a people pleaser, but I don’t like getting yelled at about nachos, so I really tried to narrow in on what they wanted. I was starting to get a pretty clear picture about what I should do, when the chief kid I was interrogating said, “Actually, I don’t like nachos.”

So I ran them over with my van! Just kidding, the van is in the shop. I made two pans of nachos, with jalapeños on the spicy meat and lime chip one

and ate mine in the kitchen.

Then I ate the last piece of king cake. 

THURSDAY
Chicken shawarma

Thursday, you’ll never guess what I did: I went shopping. But this time, I, genius, bought enough food for TWO days. We had chicken shawarma on Thursday, with pita, yogurt sauce, olives, feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

I was in a bit of a rush while I made the marinade, and my recipe

Jump to Recipe

calls for crushing an entire head of garlic. Which is fine if you have nice garlic with big, swollen cloves and loose skins. But what I had was that triflin’ little shrinky dink garlic from Aldi, which has puny, miniature cloves and tight, sticky skin. Then I remembered it was my kitchen and I could do whatever I want, so I put the head of garlic in a mug with about half a cup of water, microwaved it for two minutes, and then just pulled that garlic right out of its skin. It’s not really cooked, but it’s soft and loose that way. Then I put the skinned cloves in a sandwich bag and beat the hell out of them with a meat tenderizer. And that’s how you do it when nobody is looking. 

Oh, the title comes from a funny tweet I saw 

and that’s how I always think of it now. Sometimes it can be a satisfying, meditative little task; sometimes you just don’t have time for all the effing paperwork. (Yes, I know you can crush garlic with the skin on, and then pick the skin out, but I hate and resent doing this, for reasons I can’t really explain.) 

Then I remembered I also needed to put garlic in the yogurt sauce, as well, so I was like HEY GARLIC POWDER EXISTS. 

Anyway, the meat turned out great

and everyone was happy

Really no way to be unhappy with a plate like this. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

This was actually Damien’s idea, even though he not only dislikes tuna noodle, he can’t stand the smell of it. But I did manage to buy the ingredients yesterday, so at least nobody has to go to the fwiggin store. As I write, the plan is for him to make himself a grilled cheese, but maybe I can pull rank and insist on some supermarket sushi or something. OR, I think there is a bag of shrimp in the freezer. So we shall see. 

I just remembered I also have a ton of egg whites in the fridge. The cinnamon bun recipe called for an awful lot of egg yolks, and I didn’t want to just throw the whites away. How long would you trust egg whites to keep in the fridge, and what should I do with them? Maybe a pavlova. Maybe a SHRIMP pavlova. Maybe I’ll ask Gordon Ramsey what he thinks.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

Let’s see, what else? 

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

and it was just so dang tasty. 

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

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

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

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

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

I made a triple recipe

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

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

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

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

and Ma and Pa Goon:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can think of worse fates. 

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

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

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

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

No-fail no-chill sugar cookies

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

Servings 24 large cookies

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

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

  3. Add egg and extracts.

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

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

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

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

  8. Let them cool completely before decorating!

 

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 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.

Jump to Recipe

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. 351: In which I finally get my head examined

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

SATURDAY
Tacos for kids, Indian food for adults

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

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

 

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

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

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, tomato bacon bisque

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did I grow them? I don’t know. 

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

MONDAY
Under-over pizza

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

It . . . didn’t completely not work. 

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

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, popcorn

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

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

 

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, kiwi

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

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

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

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

 

A very fine meal. 

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

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

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

made the shakshuka sauce and moved it into the slow cooker

(here’s the recipe:)

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

It turns out it’s just papaya! 

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

So first I made the pumpkin seeds

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s my story!

FRIDAY
Shrimp lo mein

If I make it home alive. 

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Soul cakes

Servings 18 flat cakes the size of large biscuits

Ingredients

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

optional:

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while they are warm

 

Eggs in purgatory

Ingredients

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

optional:

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

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

for the rest

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

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 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. 328: A human doing and a human bebimbapping

Happy Friday! This week I seem to have broken away from recipes, and just free-wheeled a lot of stuff. I think everything turned out okay, but it’s possible I was just so busy that I was ravenous by supper time every day, and would have eaten anything. 

SATURDAY
Nachos

Yea verily, I don’t remember Saturday. Somehow the week went by extremely quickly, and yet last Saturday was a million years ago. I remember people complaining that we just had nachos, and I said no, we just had tacos; this is different. It’s spelled different and everything. 

My spice mix for tacos (or nachos, which is spelled different) is: Garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. It tastes about the same as any packets you can buy and it’s not really easier to open packets than it is to sprinkle from a bunch of jars, so I stopped buying the packets. I don’t really miss the violent orange color. 

Speaking of spices, this week I did buy a bunch of empty spice jars in an effort to Do Something About My Spices, which previously looked like this:

(My kitchen island is not always this wrecked up, but, sometimes it is, so there you go.) Well, after filling and labelling several jars, I admitted to myself that I had bought the wrong size. Too small. So I cussed a little bit and then went out and bought some mason jars, and got most of the contents of the rest of the bags and packets jarred up. It’s still cluttered and chaotic, and my kitchen is still wrecked up because I have had QUITE A WEEK, and I probably just need to bite the bullet and put in a new shelf. If it ever looks like anything, I’ll take a picture and show you! 

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, grapes, strawberry rhubarb pie

Mother’s day! I spent the morning clamping my jaw through a migraine at Mass because I forgot my medication, so then I got home and took it and then took a nap for a while, and then I spent the rest of the day working on my patio, and only feeling slightly guilty that I wasn’t flying a kite or going on a hike, which is what the younger kids wanted to do. I will do those things! Just some other day. 

Damien made tasty Italian sandwiches (I had prosciutto, a few kinds of salami, provolone, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil and vinegar)

and Clara made me some gorgeous strawberry rhubarb pies

and the kids showered me with flowers and plants and snacks and thoughtful gifts. It was a lovely day!

MONDAY
Chicken berry salad

I roasted up some chicken breasts, sliced it, and served it over salad greens with strawberries and blueberries, toasted almonds, and crumbled feta cheese.

A fine spring salad. Diced red onion would have been good, but we were out. Don’t forget, you can easily toast nuts in the microwave, and you don’t risk burning them unless you try really hard. Two minutes should do it. 

TUESDAY
Meatball subs

I had five pounds of ground beef and dumped in a few grated onions, a ton of grated parmesan cheese, five eggs, two or three cups of panko breadcrumbs, and I don’t really remember what seasonings, but more than looked reasonable. Probably just salt, garlic powder, and oregano. The grated onion is a hassle but it really makes a difference in taste and texture.

I cooked the meatballs on a broiler pan in a hot oven for about 25 minutes and then moved them into the crock pot with some jarred sauce for the rest of the day. And that’s-a my meatball story. 

WEDNESDAY
Bibimbap, pineapple

This was my favorite meal all week. I had a big pork shoulder or something, which I sliced into bite-sized slices and marinated in the basic magic: soy sauce, brown sugar, maybe three inches of fresh ginger, minced, and several cloves of fresh garlic, minced. I let it marinate all day.

When it was almost time to eat, I sautéed the meat along with all the marinade, because I wanted lots of sauce to go with this dish. 

While it was cooking, I made a big pot of rice, and I chopped up a bunch of sugar snap peas and shredded some red cabbage, and just before supper I fried up a bunch of eggs in hot oil.  And I stuffed a little bit of spinach into the bowl to wilt under the hot rice. LOOK HOW PRETTY. 

I drizzled mine with a little of that Polynesian hot sauce from last week’s poke bowls and ladled some of the sweet marinade over it. I like to fry the eggs so they’re crispy on the bottom but still a little runny in the yolk. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. I also put out some crunchy Chinese noodles and some fresh pineapple chunks, and it was such a good meal. 

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets, chips, cucumbers

All week was busy, but Thursday was an especially crazy-go-nuts day. I can’t even remember what-all happened, but I was just running around like a duck all day, until finally I did the final pick-up of the day after dinner, and I was so tired, I just pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine, and fell asleep in the car. BUT!!! The dog still had plenty of energy, and there was some kind of fluke accident where he got startled, and jerked on his lead so hard that it flew out of the wall of the shed, and the end of it hit the pool and split the seam, and water started gushing out. Sooooo it was time to wake up and have a little unscheduled dip, because the pool holds 9,000 gallons of water, and when there is a hole, you have to patch it from the inside as well as the outside.

We did have some Flex Tape in the house, but not enough, so Lena went to Walmart for more, and I got it more or less patched up. And you know what, we had a frost the other day, and it’s been in the 30’s at night, so that water was somewhat less than hospitable. The whole thing was so dumb, I couldn’t even bring myself to blame the dog for it. Very high levels of dumbness.

So what, it’s still spring. We have a Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal coming to our feeder (the dude stands on the fence and stares irately at the world while his wife has a snack) plus lots of purple finches and yellow finches, and I think I spotted a bluebird, so I hope there will be more, because they come in gangs. And hummingbirds! And my Karl Lagenfield peony that I planted a few years ago has some buds for the first time this year, and the lupines seeds I planted over a year ago finally decided it was safe to come up, which cheered up both me and my neighbor Millie, whose seeds they were.

I scavenged a bunch of felled aspen trees, and I’m going to use them as posts to hang strings of lights from, if I ever get my patio done. I’m so close to being done digging, and this weekend I’ll level it and order some gravel and sand, and then I can start laying brick! Very excited. 

Do keep Millie in your prayers. She fell last weekend, and has been needing more help than she wants, so I’ve been driving her around a bit. I love spending time with her, but it’s frustrating for her. She just wants to be out raking and weeding, and instead she has to be at the doctor constantly. She is about 140 years old and starting to slow down a little. 

FRIDAY
Seafood lo mein, steamed dumplings

Today, my brother is coming over, and also Moe and his girlfriend! All people who are either okay with the house and yard being a complete wreck, or else they aren’t gonna say anything about it. 

I’m going to make a big batch of seafood lo mein, and steam some dumplings I got at the Keene International Market. Maybe I will get some more sugar snap peas or something. Or just, yanno, not.

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. 327: Yay, poke!

First, a word from Fay, Ray, EJ, and Coin: Peep! Peep-peep! Peep-peep-peepWONKpeep-peep-peep.” Yes, they have begun to quack. Just a bit, and it’s mostly Coin and EJ, and it’s more muttering than quacking, but it’s hilarious. They’re very good ducks, and I think you should get some. Or you can just check out my Facebook page which has been overrun with ducks. 

And here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Sushi, etc. 

On Saturday, Lena graduated from college! We are SO proud of her. 

 

Most of the kids had various frozen foods for dinner, and Damien and Lena and I went and checked out the newish Japanese restaurant in town, Kurama Omakase. I had a salmon skin salad and tried some of Lena’s takoyaki, which is some kind of breaded balls of I-don’t-know-what with bits of octopus inside, deep fried and topped with some other I-don’t-know-what. Terrible pictures (dark restaurant) but the takoyaki was STUPENDOUS. 

I also ordered the “Trust the Chef Lite” sushi and sashimi assortment, and it was lllovely.

Very nice place. The only other customers was some kind of gathering of a dozen or more men who didn’t already know each other, but were in the same business. Maybe car salesmen? After their meal they took a picture of all of their watches. After they left, I heard the waitress tell the bartender, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” DO  tip your waitress!

SUNDAY
Maybe burgers? 

Sunday was fun! After a week of rain, the weather finally cleared, so I worked on digging up the ground for my patio, and Damien worked on the duck house. I paid kids to shake soil out of the sods for my new raised gardens, and there were plenty of worms for everyone

The dog had the greatest day of his life, AGAIN. 

Damien grilled burgers, if I remember correctly. 

MONDAY
Normal tacos

I didn’t shop on the weekend, because of the graduation, and did only a partial shop on Monday, because I didn’t feel like it, and came home with a wretched frozen log of beef that needed to be constantly scraped and flipped while it cooked. 

I tried to tell myself it was sort of like when they have a leg of lamb on a spit and they’re shaving bits of meat off for shawarma, but no dice. 

(I know there are various ways of defrosting meat, but honestly they’re only slightly less laborious than standing there scrabbling at the frozen wad as it fries, so you might as well suffer.)

TUESDAY
Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Tuesday I went shopping again, for real this time. Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!

Maybe by the end of the summer, we’ll have duck eggs! Or not. We don’t even know if we have girl or boy ducks yet. We definitely have ducks. Boy do we have ducks. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pickled radishes

Pork shoulders were 99 cents a pound, and I had got a big, giant one, and started it with the salt and sugar rub on Tuesday night. I put it in the oven around 10:30 on Wednesday morning, and then right before dinner, I poured the extra little cider vinegar brown sugar sauce on:

and let it finish up. Truly a grisly yet magnificent beast basking proudly in the setting sun. 

Everything the light touches belongs to you, bo ssam.

I also pickled some radishes and made a pot of rice, and cut up some romaine lettuce for wrapping. The meat shredded at the mere sight of a fork, the skin was intense and caramelized to the hilt, and it was a pretty good meal. 

And only pretty good. This is the first time bo ssam hasn’t absolutely rocked my world, and I don’t know what happened. The pickled radishes were only so-so, too. Annnnd just now writing this, it occurred to me that I’m probably sick, and the food actually tasted fine, and it’s me. Crap. OH WELL. 

THURSDAY
Poke bowls

As is our habit, we were talking about other food while we were at the restaurant, and we got to talking about poke bowls, which Damien and I have never had before. It certainly sounded like something we’d be into. Aldi carries ahi tuna steaks that are frozen at sea, so I bought a few packages of those (I think six little steaks in total), and also a pouch of raw shrimp that happened to be on sale. They also had some kind of Polynesian sweet hot sauce that looked likely, plus some chili lime cashews. I also got five ripe mangoes and two packages of sugar snap peas at Aldi.

Then at the other supermarket (when you shop at Aldi, there’s always going to be a second supermarket, and you must just accept this), I got pea sprouts and rice (Aldi rice cooks weird). 

So I just basically chopped everything up, cooked up a big pot of rice, and cut the fish into half-inch cubes. I sautéed the shrimp with some minced garlic in chili oil, and then squeezed a lime over it. 

(The glass with the root in it isn’t some exotic tincture; I’m just trying to keep a rose cutting alive after the plow knocked one of my flower beds all out of whack, and I haven’t gotten around to replanting it yet.)

I was planning to make sushi-style rice, but I didn’t have any rice vinegar, so I left it plain. I put out a jar of mango chutney and some red pepper flakes.

Here was my bowl:

Wow, it was delicious. Sweet mild fish and greens and rice, syrupy mango, and then the hot jangly sauce and nuts. Very satisfying and entertaining, kind of like the dinner version of an ice cream sundae — not in taste, of course, but in the experience. I threw some shrimp in there, too, just because I’m not gonna say no to shrimp.

I was surprised at how many of the kids liked the raw tuna! Everyone found something they wanted, even if it was just rice and mango, and I’ll definitely be making this again. Yay, poke! 

Now tell me about your poke bowls. I understand there are countless variations. What are your favorite combinations?

FRIDAY
Pizza

Today has turned into a stupidly complicated day because a bad light came on in my car, but the mechanic can’t look at it until next week, and lots of people still have to be in lots of places, and Lucy needs to be trained on her new insulin pump system at the doctor which is an hour away, and I bought tickets to Peter and the Wolf which is also an hour away, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it all just doesn’t quite work out. But I’m gonna try! But I’m gonna make those pizzas right meow. 

Ugh, I didn’t put any recipe cards. Do you want recipe cards? Tell me if you want some and I’ll put them. 

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

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

PEEP.

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

They’re terribly shy, as you can see:

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

It’s quite sad, how neglected they are.

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

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

SATURDAY
Burgers and chips

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

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

SUNDAY
Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing; matzoh brei

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

MONDAY
Chicken quesadillas with spinach and caramelized onions

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Corn dogs and chips

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

How the tables have turned, Mother Rabbit.

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Banh mi

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

but not before having a larf over the branding 

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

THURSDAY
Fancy ramen

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

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

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

 

It’s a decent meal. 

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

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

FRIDAY
Mac! and! cheese!

Just because it’s been a while. 

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

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

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

Veggies and dressing

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 239: Spot the fiendish thingy

Happy Friday! Happy Friday indeed. 

As if a long, rambling post about some stranger’s dinner weren’t entertaining enough, today’s post comes with a little bonus game: A scavenger hunt. Yeah!

One of these photos has something in it that doesn’t belong. Did I notice it while I was cooking? No, I did not. Did I notice it while I taking the the photo? Again, not at all. I will give myself credit for managing to notice something was amiss before any foreign objects went down my gullet, so I have that going for me. I remember when I swallowed a penny and the doctor said my mother had to, well, find it, and she was pretty mad. 

You know, this is the only way to start off a food blog. The only way. 

Anyway, the thing. The pearl of great price. The fiendish thingy. See if you can spot it! See if you can guess what it is! See if I care! 

Here’s what we ate (and almost ate, before we were like, “agghhh, what is that??”) this week:

Oh wait, first, last week, on Friday we had pepper and egg sandwiches and fruit salad. Quite tasty. All I did was cut up two red and two green bell peppers and a sweet onion, fry them in olive oil until they were somewhat soft, and then scramble about ten eggs into it

and serve scoops of it on soft rolls with a little salt. 

We had fruit salad as a side dish and it was a nice little meal.

Always glad to find another meatless meal that’s reasonably popular. You can definitely add cheese to this sandwich, but it didn’t need it to be hearty and filling. I had mine with a dash of hot sauce. 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers and chips

Busy day, easy meal. I had mine with bottled aioli. I took a picture but it looks gross, as anything dripping with aioli is likely to do.

SUNDAY
Hot wings, hot dogs, droopin’ onion; strawberry ice cream, chocolate M&M ice cream

Sunday was the Super Bowl, which we didn’t care much about, but it’s fun to make football foods. Except that we were all exhausted, so it was only a little bit of fun. I cooked up some hot dogs, Damien made hot wings with celery and blue cheese sauce

Jump to Recipe

which turned out very tasty indeed

and I made an onion blossom which turned out . . . edible. I have an onion blossom cutter that I use once a year. It’s usually a happy occasion, as you see here (you will not be able to see the video below if you have an ad blocker on):

because I am easily amused; but I dunno what happened this time. I lost the directions, I wasn’t paying attention, and I was just so freaking tired, so I cut the end of the first onion off, and of course there was nothing to hold the petals together, so it was just a loose collection of onion fringes.

Luckily, I had bought two onions, and I figured out my mistake with the second one. But don’t worry! I also managed to screw up the batter somehow, so even though the second onion got cut right

it definitely did not fry right

Ah well. I ate it! Don’t get me wrong, I ate it.

I also ate a bunch of hot wings, goblin style. 

For dessert we had two kinds of ice cream, one batch of strawberry

Jump to Recipe

with additional sugared strawberries on top, which turned out well even though I wasn’t paying attention and used all cream instead of cream and milk

and one batch of chocolate M&M. I used the Ben and Jerry’s recipe for chocolate ice cream and, you’ll never guess, I messed that up, too! Everyone said it was good, but it’s really not supposed to have flecks of chocolate all through it. OH WELL. I’m the only one who was complaining. 

MONDAY
Butter chicken and rice

Monday’s dinner went much better. I made butter chicken using this easy recipe from RecipeTin Eats. Or maybe all butter chicken recipes are easy, I don’t know. 

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs were on sale, to my delight, so I cut them into bite-size pieces and marinated them in a marinade made of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic.

Ghee is super expensive right now, so I used butter to cook it in (and you know, it’s not called “ghee chicken,” so there you go) (yes I know what ghee is). I melted a bunch of it in two pans, added in the chicken and cooked it through,

then stirred in a punch of tomato puree and heavy cream, a little sugar, and some salt. HOO HOO.

And that’s it! Such fun to stir the white cream into the brilliant yellow turmeric marinade and red tomato puree. You let it simmer for a while and then serve it over rice.

I know I bought some cilantro to garnish it, but it disappeared into the bowels of the refrigerator and has not emerged.

This is just a mild, cozy, warming, pleasant curry that about half the kids liked, which is pretty good. I thought it was completely delicious. Great comfort food. 

So here’s an Indian food question for you: If I’m serving Mexican food and I want the whole family to eat it, I’ll make it mild, and people who like it hotter can add tobasco sauce or something similar to their portions. Is there something like this I can put on the table to hot up Indian food? Some of us really like spicy food, but I don’t necessarily want to make the whole thing spicy.

TUESDAY
Pork nachos

I was actually feeling a little gloomy about this meal. Pork was super cheap so I felt like I had to buy it, but I was not looking forward to producing something that smelled amazing but came out super bland. WEWLL, for once throwing random things into a pot paid off. And for once, I wrote down what I threw in. 

Jump to Recipe

I cut the pork into chunks and seasoned them heavily with salt and pepper, and browned them in oil. Then I chunked them into the Instant Pot and added a can of Coke, three quartered clementines, a few bay leaves, about a tablespoon of cumin, and –here’s the key — three large, extremely occult-looking dried chipotle chili peppers I found in a bag. 

I closed the vent and pressure cooked it on high for 24 minutes and hoo man. That meat was ready to collapse. 

I picked out the bay leaves and orange peels and peppers, which, in retrospect, I could have cut open; but they were sufficiently spicy intact

pulled out the meat and shredded it, and made one pan of meat on tortilla chips with sharp cheddar cheese with jalapeños, and one without. 

That meat was so good! Sweet and spicy and flavorful. I skipped the sour cream and salsa, because I just liked the meat so much. I was terribly pleased. Nothing sadder than flavorless pork, but that day, we were not sad.

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day but I had to take a rain check on Damien’s offer of dinner out because I’m on official band nerd and it was practice night. It was, however, very romantic when he replaced not one but two broken refrigerator door shelves, which somehow broke even though the Frigidaire company makes its components out out of only the finest eggshells held together with fairy spit. He glued one back together with Flex Paste, and the other one is just some random stick. 

I guess it’s a PVC pipe? I cannot tell you how much it has improved my life to have these shelves back in my life, so everything isn’t all stuffed into the main body of the fridge, rolling around and crammed in sideways and upside and all horrible. It was like the third world in there. 

WEDNESDAY
Kofta meatballs with yogurt sauce, Jerusalem salad, giant taboon

Ground beef was also on sale, on account of the football, but again I was feeling a little glum about my prospects with it. We’ve had hamburgers, and spaghetti and meatballs, and meatball subs, and meatloaf, and Korean beef bowl, and bleh, I’m just tired of it all. 

SO, encouraged by my success winging it with the pork, I pulled out all the spices I could find that looked middle eastern

and dumped them into the ground beef, along with some eggs and panko crumbs. This time I didn’t write anything down, but basically if it smelled good, I shook some in, and if it smelled really good, I shook a whole lot in. I made about 40 large meatballs and put them on metal racks on a baking pan (to be cooked at 400 for about 25 minutes).

(Koftas are actually ground meat formed around sticks and grilled or roasted. My kids just simply absolutely cannot get over how turdly they look, though, so I make them in meatball form.)

Then I made some nice yogurt sauce with fresh lemon juice and fresh garlic and a little salt

Jump to Recipe

and a Jerusalem salad, with tomatoes, cucumbers, a little red onion, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and fresh mint and parsley. 

This was going to be the entire meal, just the salad and meatballs and sauce; but I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a piping hot taboon bread. But we didn’t have bread flour, and also I needed to make a few extra stops, so I didn’t think I would have time.

WEWLL, it turns out I can do my afternoon errands and run to the supermarket and get home at 4:15, wash up, start the taboon, and still get dinner on the table at about 6:15. How about that! The dough needs an hour to rise, and then it needs a little resting time, but especially if you are making one big slab of bread, rather than individual portions, it’s incredibly non-fussy. Especially if the people eating it are non-fussy. 

Is this what taboon is supposed to look and taste like? 

I HAVE NO IDEA. But it was 6:15 and I put out a piping hot flatbread and a tray of sizzling, savory meatballs, and by gum, people ate that supper. 

Gosh, it was delicious. The meatballs were juicy and fragrant, the bread had a light, salty, tender crust and pillowy insides, the Jerusalem salad was fresh and piquant, and everything was set off beautifully by the cool, sour yogurt sauce.

I set out more chopped parsley and mint to sprinkle on top of everything. Just a joyful kind of meal. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

I couldn’t remember how many pizzas we eat these days, so I made four. I made one pepperoni, two plain, and one with fresh garlic, a lot of feta, red onion, and spinach, and some olive oil drizzled on top. 

Really good stuff. I love a pizza that has a softer cheese under a layer of mozzarella. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli

At the kids’ request. Damien and I may sneak out for a belated Valentine’s taco or something. I’m very fond of him, you know. 

So next week is vacation and Corrie and I are going to tap some maple trees.We have surprisingly few on our property, but there are a few. We’ve tapped trees before, back when we homeschooled. It’s fun, if you’re easily amused. We got some silicone tubing and you just drill a hole in the trunk and cram it in, and collect the sap in a milk jug over the course of days or weeks, depending on how many trees you have and how much you want. Sap is really just barely sweet. It takes forty gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup! Then you boil it down and evaporate most of the water, leaving the sugar, and that’s maple syrup. I expect to get about half a cup of syrup this year.

The other thing is, we looked around the house and thought the main thing that was lacking was four pekin ducklings, so Damien went out and ordered them. He’s going to start building a duck house this weekend, and we’re going to have a brooding box innnnnnn the bathroom, and we’re going to have a movable duck run, and, that is the plan! Get ready for a lot of viaduct jokes, although I will tell you right up front, I don’t really know vi. 

Don’t forget the foreign object scavenger hunt! If this were a proper food blog, there would be a prize, but I think I’ve been pretty open about what kind of operation I’m running here.  

Hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip (after Deadspin)

Basic, tasty hot wings with blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • chicken wingettes
  • oil for frying

For the hot sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • salt
  • vinegar (optional)

Blue cheese sauce:

  • sour cream
  • blue cheese
  • optional: lemon juice, mayonnaise
  • celery sticks for serving

Instructions

  1. Fry the wingettes in several inches of oil until they are lightly browned. Do a few at a time so they don't stick together. Set them on paper towels to cool.

  2. Melt the butter and mix together wit the rest of the hot sauce ingredients. Toss the wings in the hot sauce.

  3. Mix together the sour cream and crumbled blue cheese. Use a food processor or whisk vigorously to break up the blue cheese. You can add lemon juice or a little mayonnaise to thin it.

  4. Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

 

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.)

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pork nachos

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs pork butt/shoulder, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying
  • 2-3 oranges or clementines
  • 3 chipotle chiles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 can Coke

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Heavily season the pieces of meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides.

  2. Transfer the meat to the Instant Pot. Add the Coke and the rest of the ingredients. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes.

  3. Discard bay leaves and orange peels, remove meat from broth, shred, and serve.

 

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.

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. 318: That’s the way the Brussel sprouts

Friday! We made it! Nobody has to make a lunch for tomorrow! What bliss. 

Speaking of lunch, let me tell you about an excellent lunch I’ve been making for myself pretty often these days, because it’s cold and drizzly and I crave deeply nourishing foods: 

Heat up a pan, spray it with cooking spray, and throw on two or three big handfuls of spinach. Cook it a little bit to slightly wilt it. Then crack two eggs into it and continue cooking lightly until the whites are firm but the yolk is still runny. Grind some fresh pepper and sea salt over all.

Eat with a side of  cherry-on-bottom Greek yogurt, and a large green apple cut up slowly with a paring knife. 

I don’t know why, but this is just a restorative meal, a lunch of great balance. It’s also less than 400 calories for kind of a lot of food. You could grate some parmesan over the egg while it’s cooking, but you don’t need to.

I spent most of the week being sick and complaining about being sick, and dragging myself off one couch only to land heavily on the other, so nothing super inventive happened in the kitchen this week. Still, we had some decent meals, including one final homegrown vegetable (Brussels sprouts). 

SATURDAY
Spaghetti and Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient red sauce 

Yum.

Damien shopped for and made this. Always unreasonably delicious. Just tomatoes, butter, and onions. 

Jump to Recipe

I always say this, but it really does taste like there’s some kind of meat involved in this sauce. But nope. 

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Damien shopped for this and put it together. Also yum. 

Red pesto, so nice. 

MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips

This is the third picture in a row that was actually taken some previous month or year, because I was too tired to take pictures of my actual food this week. For shame! From now on, only authentic Nov. 2022 food photos.

TUESDAY
Chicken cutlets with leftover red sauce, raw broccoli and dip

I cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise and soaked them in seasoned milk and egg. Actually I languished on the couch and begged Elijah to do it for me. Then sometime when dinner really began to loom, I heated up the leftover red sauce from the other day, heated up some oil and butter, dredged the chicken in seasoned panko crumbs, and fried those mofos

and we had chicken cutlets with sauce. 

Quite good. I felt like the chicken should have had provolone and basil, or else pasta, or else it should have been on a sandwich, but it was pretty tasty.  Panko is certainly your friend. We had plain broccoli on the side, and talked about fried breaded broccoli and how, yes indeed, people do that. People do whatever they want. I had broccoli tempura at a Japanese restaurant in New York City when I was very little and I never forgot it. I forget why we were in New York City, but I remember that broccoli. We were probably talking about some other meal while we were eating it, too. 

WEDNESDAY
Meatloaf, roast butternut squash and baby Brussels sprouts

We got our first snow, finally, on Wednesday. Just enough to get the kids wound up, and then it turned to rain. That was my cue to go outside and finally harvest the Brussels sprouts

which, and this is crazy, I planted six months ago. I just looked it up: May 20, and harvested Nov. 16. I’m not gonna say I put a ton of work into them, but I did keep them watered, and I did fertilize them, and put up a little fence to keep Mr. Nibbly Rabbit away, and then a mere six months later, there I was, bringing in a grand harvest of an entire pint of Brussels sprouts, some of them somewhat larger than a pea.

Of course the real benefit to this crop was checking on it every time I went out and getting excited at the progress they were making, and laughing at what silly plants they are

and being glad something was still growing when everything else was dead or dying. Brussels sprouts actually get a little sweeter if they’re exposed to a light frost or two. Ain’t that the way. 

So this is how many Brussels sprouts I grew for my family:

Can you even imagine making a garden that would actually feed your whole family all year ’round? CAN YOU? I simply cannot. But the sprouts were sweet, and tiny and tender. I cut some butternut squash in thin little wedges so it would cook quickly, and tossed it together. I drizzled it all with olive oil and sprinkled it with brown sugar and kosher salt and a little hit of wine vinegar, and roasted it at a high heat, and it was nice. 

The meatloaf was fine. A good dollop of Worcestershire sauce in there makes it pretty tasty, and yes, I spread ketchup on the outside before cooking it.

Jump to Recipe

The secret to meatloaf is not making it too often, so people still get excited about it.

THURSDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, toasted tortilla strips

You’ll never believe this, but it was cold and drizzly on Thursday. Soup to the rescue! I like this soup because it has plenty of flavor, but you don’t have to go through a whole song and dance. It’s easy to make when you want a hot soup because you’re feeling poorly, but you’re feeling poorly and you don’t feel like cooking much.

You just jam them everything in the food processor and puree it 

(that’s garlic, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from a can, and several fresh tomatoes)

and then you heat up some oil in the Instant Pot (or obviously you could do this on the stove top) and thicken up that purée for a little bit. Then add some water and toss in your hunks of raw chicken, and cook it until the chicken is done. Pull the chicken out

shred it up

and put it back in.

At this point you’re supposed to add in tortilla strips, which are supposed to be corn, which thickens up the soup. But I don’t like corn tortillas, so I used to use the flour kind, then I started using nothing, and then I started making crunchy tortilla strips instead. And this is how I always make it now. It doesn’t thicken the soup, but it bulks it up, and it adds texture and flavor, and it’s just fun.

You cut up a bunch of tortillas into strips, spread them in a shallow layer on a pan, toss with oil, sprinkle heavily with chili lime powder, and bake at 350, stirring every 10- 15 minutes, until they are toasted. 

I aways heap too many in there so they don’t all get toasted and some of them stay chewy. Guess what, I like them that way. I like chewy, gummy, floppy things. There is a part of me*, especially when I am tired and blue, that would probably just eat flour paste all day long. Maybe I would put it in the microwave, but maybe not. 

So it’s not a thick soup, but a kicky broth with plenty of chicken. You top it off with a good handful of crunchy chili lime tortilla strips, and some of them get soaked with broth and some of them stay crunchy; plus chopped scallions, sliced avocados, cilantro (or parsley if that’s what you have), shredded cheese, and sour cream.

 

Truly a great soup for when you’re sick. I made it pretty spicy, and it cleans out your head like a son of a gun. 

FRIDAY
French toast casserole, OJ

I planned this meal to make myself deal with how much bread is building up in the house. So far it’s gotten to the stage of me hearing the kids blame each other for not doing anything about it, and that’s pretty good, but it’s not sustainable. 

French toast casserole is just you tear up your old bread and soak it in egg and milk and some sugar, and a little cinnamon and vanilla if you like. Butter a pan, pour it in, maybe dot it with butter, maybe sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top, and bake at 350 until the custard is cooked. Serve in wedges with syrup or jam. 

Here’s a rather arty photo, from back when stone fruit was in season: 

Today what’s in season is I have is a can full of ashes from the wood stove, that I’m saving to spread under the peach tree for next year. Ah well, it’s almost Advent. 

*my mouth, I should hope

 

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.

 

Meatloaf (actually two giant meatloaves)

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk OR red wine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder or fresh garlic, onion powder, fresh parsley, etc.

  • ketchup for the top
  • 2 onions diced and fried (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Mix all meat, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together with your hands until well blended.

  3. Form meat into two oblong loaves on pan with drainage

  4. Squirt ketchup all over the outside of the loaves and spread to cover with spatula. Don't pretend you're too good for this. It's delicious. 

  5. Bake for an hour or so, until meat is cooked all the way through. Slice and serve. 

 

 

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!

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.