Friday again! With so little warning, too.
With food prices so high, I’m making a big push to shop the sales, to think about what food we already have in the house, and to plan the menu pretty strictly around that. So we ended up with some slightly peculiar meals, and a few really spectacular days. I think I ended up saving a little bit of money. You’d think it would be easy to tell, but somehow it’s not.
Here’s what we ate this week:
Damien cooked the burgers while the kids swam in the pool. I didn’t get any food pics, but I did catch this quintessential big brother-little sister moment
Pizza at Hillsborough HOP
Sunday we went the Polar Caves in Rumney, NH, which we’ve been talking about doing for years. I haven’t been since I was seven, and to my delight, they are really, really caves. You clamber down into these holes in the ground, and you’re absolutely surrounded by rock, some of it dripping wet, and you have to clamber back up out of another hole. One cave had ice in it! It’s very exciting. You can feel the cold breath of the earth coming up at you as you get close, so you know right away it’s going to be a weird experience.
Having recently done a tiny amount of wood working, I was also vastly impressed by the catwalks, staircases, balconies, and other wooden pathways built directly onto the side of the mountain, in and around the rock. Of course I got zero photos, but the work is beautiful and ingenious. At the same time, they just made it accessible, and no more, and didn’t turn the caves into rides. The kids all had a good time and said it was worth a two-hour drive each way.
They also have a small animal park with deer and waterfowl, and a little playground and games like cornhole so you can stretch your legs and wait your turn. The cave tours are timed for two hours. There is also a clean, pleasant picnic area, and the bathrooms are also clean. Overall, highly recommended!
We stopped for pizza on the way home at Hillsborough House of Pizza. Tasty food, cheerful service. (We saw they have a drive-thru pizza window, which is fun.) My choice was a Greek pizza with spinach, feta, olives, and tomatoes. Quite tasty.
Muffaletta sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit salad
This sandwich has strayed pretty far afield from authenticity, but it (a) was easy to make on the day after a big trip, (b) was yummy, and (c) used up some of the Tremendous Cheese Hoard that’s clogging up my fridge.
I made the olive salad in the food processor with green and black olives, a few pepperoncini, some banana peppers, some scoops of red hot pepper relish, I think maybe some pesto, some olive oil and wine vinegar, and misc. Oh, and a handful of fresh parsley from something or other.
We had a few kinds of salami, some ham, and I think there was also some deli turkey, which is definitely not muffaletta-approved. And we had it on kaiser rolls.
I don’t know if people have different recipes for deviled eggs. Mine is pretty basic: About 2 parts mayo to one part mustard, a little salt and pepper, and some paprika on top (and some more parsley).
You can see that I got a little carried away with the presentation for a Monday afternoon, but frankly I had a lot of bullshit in my head that needed clearing away, and working on deviled eggs for a while is as good a way as any to do a little mental tidying-up.
I also made a lovely mid-July fruit salad. Watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. The blackberries in the yard are still green, but these juicy monsters were on sale. I forgot how much it adds to a fruit salad to have peaches in it! Must get more peaches in life in general.
Altogether, a very pleasant summery meal, which I ate outside next to a patch of milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and black eyed susans. Very July.
A hummingbird stopped by and acted like a little weirdo before zipping off. A seaplane passed over the yard. Very July indeed.
Maiale al latte with leeks and bread
Pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I got the biggest, fattiest one I could find and away we went. This recipe is from my new favorite site, Sip and Feast. Maiale (say “my-ALL-lay”) al latte just means “pork with milk,” and the thing to know is that the milk is supposed to curdle as it cooks. You end up with these scrumptious, savory curds in the sauce that honestly do not look especially deluxe, but they are delicioso, and you do not want to skip over them when you scoop up the sauce.
This meal was lots of fun to make. And I think I have discovered a General Principle: The worse a dish looks, the more pictures I will take, in an effort to capture and convey how yummy it is. This is because I am a friend of food. I want you to like it. I am the XXXX.* I speak for the food.
You start off browning the seasoned pork all over in olive oil on the stovetop
and then you take the meat out and add in some wonderfully fragrant ingredients: Butter, lots of rough-cut garlic, thick peels off a lemon, lots of sage (sadly I couldn’t find leaves, so I used ground sage), bay leaves, and chili flakes. Cook that up, add some white wine,
cook it down some more, and add in plenty of milk, and then the pork goes back in.
you cover it, and it goes into the oven for a few hours. That’s pretty much it.
Hello! Look at the little curds clinging to it.
You can add some leeks into the sauce and cook them up right at the end, to serve with the meat. And that is what we did, and we also warmed up some baguettes to sop up that toothsome sauce.
Gosh, the sauce was wonderful. You can imagine how fortifying and rich it tasted, with those ingredients. I did up hot pepper flakes and garlic quite a bit from the suggested amount, and so it was on the spicy side, but really just mostly just savory and cozy. And I did go back for seconds of just sauce and curds.
I ended up cooking the meat a little longer than I meant to, because I had to run out and pick up a kid who wasn’t needed at the yogurt shop after all because they were predicting hail, so the meat came out of the oven shreddy, rather than sliceable. Look how it fell apart.
Nobody complained! But next time I will take it out a little sooner.
Now let’s talk about leeks. I have never cooked with leeks before, that I can remember, so I had to look up how to prepare them. They are large and a little intimidating, like oversized scallions.
They grow right in the soil, so they need some pretty aggressive cleaning. This site suggested cutting off the root and tough green ends, slitting them up the side, dunking them in water, and then agitating them, so I filled a pot with water, plunged the leeks in, and shouted, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THERE DAY AND NIGHT? WHY DON’T YOU GET OUT OF THERE AND GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE?”
This is why I’m so popular!
But just about everybody in the family liked this meal. Several of them also carefully mentioned that it would be an especially delicious meal if it were, for instance, cold out, and not, for instance, 84 degrees and humid; and I had to agree. The weather report said it was going to rain! And hail! Oh well. It was still a wonderful dish, and I’ll make it again soon, when the price of pork and the temperature drop. And I do like leeks, even if they are bathroom hogs.
Meatball subs, watermelon
Ground beef still on sale from July 4th, I guess. Nobody complains about my meatball subs. I put plenty of Worcestershire sauce into the meatballs, which is an easy way to make sure they don’t come out bland.
Jump to Recipe
25 minutes or so on a broiler rack on a pan in a very hot oven, and then I moved them to the crock pot with some sauce for the rest of the day.
And finally, the final half of the final watermelon I bought and forgot to serve on July 4th has been consumed, amen.
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, Asian cucumber salad, grilled sweet potatoes, pineapple
My friends, this was a queen among meals. I could not have been more pleased about how all of it came together.
The chicken and the sweet potatoes are new recipes for us. We’ve made gochujang pork a number of times, but chicken thighs were on sale and Damien was willing to cook outside, so this from My Korean Kitchen sounded good. Same website I got my bo ssam recipe from.
I started the meat marinating the night before (and had a tiny adventure when I blindly grabbed for ginger in the basket where I keep ginger, and AUGH)
Initially, I marveled at the cleverness of whoever put little Wicket or Weechee in there, artfully matching its brown and furry trunk-like legs with the bulbous limbs of the ginger root as a devilish little prank for some unsuspecting cook; but I quickly realized they actually put it in there because it is a basket, and if I leave a basket out, people will stuff random things in it.
The marinade was pretty dramatic in itself.
It has Sprite in it, which apparently makes an appearance in a lot of Korean recipes. I started to hunt around for some background on this topic, just so everyone gets their money’s worth, and was right on the verge of clicking on a story called “Korean cold noodles for gay men,” and then I thought, you know,,,not right now.
The recipe calls for chicken filets, but I bought bone-in thighs and just pulled the skins off. I also bought a few drumsticks because What If There’s Not Enough Food? And so wages the eternal battle between the thrifty mom who wants to save money and the anxious mom who wants to stuff everyone’s face.
Well, they were fantastic. Fiery spicy, but with a good layering of flavors, and wonderfully juicy. Really perfect. Here’s my plate:
We prepared the sweet potatoes very simply, and I really liked how they turned out. I just cut raw sweet potatoes in thick slices (I tried to cut them the long way, to get the largest pieces possible), brushed both sides with olive oil, and sprinkled both sides with sea salt and pepper. They were medium-small sized potatoes and I got about five slices per potato.
Then Damien grilled them along with the chicken, about 3-4 minutes per side, until they were soft all the way through.
They made a really nice change from our usual Asian side dishes of rice or coleslaw. Very popular with me.
I cut up a couple of pineapples, and I made a cool little quasi-Asian cucumber salad. (I also cut up some cucumbers plain for the babies.) This is a great little salad.
Jump to Recipe
It takes about five minutes and it’s got so much flavor, and always strikes me as rather sophisticated.
Cucumbers, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, red onion, sesame seeds, and a little kosher salt. Sweet, slightly tangy, and refreshing, and also pretty. You do want to eat it the same day, because it’s best when the cucumbers are still fresh and crunchy.
I discovered that you can buy one bag of chopped-up frozen breaded pollock-or-whatever patties, and that won’t be enough for the family, or you can buy two bags, and it will be way too much and you’ll feel terrible throwing out all that wadded-up uneaten fish, OR, for the same amount of money as too much pollock, you can buy just the right amount of frozen salmon portions. So what the heck, I’m not made of stone, and I was tired of standing there with my head in the Aldi refrigerator thinking about it. I got the salmon, and some burger buns and tartar sauce.
I will probably just pan fry the fish in butter and squeeze some lemon juice on top and call it good. Yeah, it was a good week!
*For this joke, I consulted the rhyming dictionary to find a funny substitute for “Lorax,” and the best one I could come up with was “Withholding Tax,” which is not very, you know, what do you know about Korean cold noodles for gay men? Because maybe it’s time.
Meatballs for a crowd
Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs.
ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
panko bread crumbs
grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.
Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.
Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.
Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)
boneless pork, sliced thin
in matchsticks or shreds
gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap
Combine pork, onions, and carrots.
Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables.
Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.
Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.
Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat.
spicy cucumber salad
A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly.
cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
rice vinegar or white vinegar
red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)