Hup! Here we go! Here’s what we ate this week:
Sandwiches and fries
Damien brought home some baguettes and and assortment of deli meats and cheese and some jarred peppers and things. Very tasty. Forgot to take a picture.
Which reminds me, people complain about Twitter, and sure, it can be rough, but there’s also this:
Ask not for whom the gabagools. It gools for thee
— Shenanigans (@Shenanigans_luv) September 2, 2021
Nobody can remember what we had on Sunday. It has been erased from the books, wiped clean from the slate, carved clear of the tablets of history. Probably burgers.
Oh, now I remember: Sunday I was picking up Lena from Granite State Comiccon. She did really well, selling prints, stickers, and masks. I happen to have one of her stickers on my laptop
and these apparently sold very briskly. I’ll let you know when she gets her Etsy store restocked.
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins
Corrie has been begging for beef barley soup and Benny has been begging for pumpkin muffins, so even though it was in the mid 70’s, I caved. The leaves are changing, the ducks are flying south, there’s a fog rolling across the dried grass in the mornings, and people who live within a mile of actual corn fields are paying $7.88 for disinfected stalks of corn from Walmart to attach to their porches with zip ties. Sounds like soup weather to me.
The beef barley soup turned out very nice, although I forgot to buy mushrooms. I made it on the stovetop, but here is a recipe you can easily make in the Instant Pot if you’d preferJump to Recipe
I also made about 18 pumpkin muffins, and they turned out a little weird. The can of pumpkin I was counting on turned out to be pumpkin pie mix, which already has spices and sugar added to it, plus who knows what else.
(It’s a good, reliable, hearty recipe IF you use actual just plain canned pumpkin! Jump to Recipe)
Then I didn’t help matters by somehow bobbling the hot pan and dumping every single muffin out onto the oven floor, which is currently foul and horrible. So a bunch of them got charred and a bunch of them picked up miscellaneous oven crap, and they weren’t sweet enough, and they had a weird texture, more like cake than muffins, but somehow not in a good way.
Corrie has been putting them in her lunch every day, though, so it wasn’t a total loss. Her lunch gets inspected because there is a kid with a nut allergy this year, so either the teacher is impressed that I bake a lot, or the teacher is horrified that I’m sending my kid to school with charred pumpkin lumps, not sure which.
Chicken burgers, chips, veggies and dip
A very deluxe meal, as you can see.
I’ve been putting bowls of fruit on the table, to dissuade myself from eating chips. It works, in the sense that I eat fruit with my meal, and then go back after supper and eat everybody’s leftover chips.
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah, Earl Grey cake with vanilla bean frosting
Clara’s birthday! She requested this coziest of meals. I more or less followed my mother’s recipe for chicken soup, and the recipe on the can for matzoh balls. I made the soup the day before, so it could cook all day long and get very rich and golden. Forgot to take a pic of the finished soup, but here it is being made. I used just some legs, plus carrots, celery, onions, dill, and parsley, and lots and lots of simmering time:
I made two big challahs and they turned out pretty nice. It was chumid as chell, which maybe made the loaves a little flabbier than strictly necessary, but they were pretty good.
The Early Gray tea cake from Liv For Cake was quite a project. I am not much of a baker, and have long since resigned myself to making box cakes for most birthdays. I followed this recipe slavishly, though, and it came out well. Maybe a little dry; I guess I baked it a hair too long. And my oven really needs leveling!
You have to make tea milk and add that to the batter, as well as adding ground tea. You can also make tea syrup to brush over the baked cake, which I ended up not having time for. Very pleasant, cozy, old fashioned flavor, almost citrusy, not too sweet, and the cake has a very fine grain.
The vanilla bean frosting that goes with it was also a little more labor intensive than I normally attempt, and I will be honest, it didn’t taste that spectacular to me. You cream egg whites and sugar, then whisk them over a double boiler, then put them back in the stand mixer and keep whisking until they are stiff, then add in the butter and vanilla bean paste. The texture is extremely light and has a creamy flavor — like it tastes like there is cream in it — but it also tasted like shortening to me, which was pretty disappointing, since the actual ingredients (unsalted butter, vanilla bean paste) were actually pretty expensive. Maybe I just don’t like buttercream that much. Everyone else liked it, and it was very easy to work with.
For some reason I got the idea to make a Great Wave off Kanagawa cake.
I guess the sort of frothy buttercream looked wavy. If I had planned ahead, I would have bought some nonpareils for the foam, but I just piped it in with a sandwich bag and a butter knife. I forgot to put the boat in. Anyway, Clara liked it.
Damien made pizzas. He tried toasting the pepperoni before adding it to the pizza, just to give it a little extra crunch. I didn’t try any, but he said it was good, not spectacular. He also made one cheese, one pepperoni, and one with anchovies, artichoke hearts, and garlic. Guess which one I held out for.
The kids requested pasta that is shaped like tubes, in sauce that comes in jars. That I can do.
And now I’m excited, because my Foley mill arrived in the mail!
This is a lovely little machine, very well designed. It clips onto the side of a pot or bowl, and when you turn the crank, the high end of the inside blade catches food underneath it and forces it down through the little holes as it turns, so it crushes it and also sorts out the seeds and skins and whatnot; and at the same time, a little pin turns on the bottom
to keep it clear as you work. Very nice.
I bought it from eBay, to replace the food mill I threw out at some point last year. I guess I was doing some kind of kitchen purge and thought, “What is this dumb thing taking up space? I can’t use it more than once a year!” Well guess what, stupid? Here we are at the one time of year when I want to make applesauce, and a food mill is really the only thing that works. I like to cook the apples with the skin and cores in, and then strain them out afterward. You can do it with a sieve, but it’s horrible work and takes forever, and a food mill is just fun to use. Our terrible little apple tree also has plenty of terrible apples on it this year. They’re not really good for anything else besides apple sauce, but they have an intriguing smoky flavor that makes very pleasant sauce. The tree’s name is Marvin.
If you’ve never made your own apple sauce, it’s super easy, and a good way to use the million apples your toddler took one bite of and then discarded. Cut them into quarters, leaving on the skins and cores, and put them in a big pot with an inch or two of water on the bottom. Cover loosely and let it simmer for . . . okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe forty minutes? Long enough that, when you poke the apples, they don’t resist at all, but collapse into mush. (Softer apples, like Macintosh, are best for applesauce, obviously.) Then you dump everything into a food mill (or sieve) and crush out all the skins and cores.
Add however much sugar and cinnamon you like, and a little butter, and stir. That’s it. Best applesauce you’ve ever had, and the smell is heavenly. Warm, rosy homemade applesauce with a little vanilla ice cream on top will bring tears to your eyes.
You can also trim the cores and peels off first, and then you can just use a blender or whatever to make the apples into sauce, but the flavor and color won’t be nearly as nice.
And that’s it! Headed out to adoration in a bit. Praying for you all, cheese bags.
Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)
Makes about a gallon of lovely soup
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
- 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 6 cups beef bouillon
- 1 cup merlot or other red wine
- 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
- 1 cup uncooked barley
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened.
Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley.
If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary.
Pumpkin quick bread or muffins
Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins
- 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup veg or canola oil
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 3.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional
Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend.
Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice.
Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves.
Challah (braided bread)
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
- 2 eggs
- 6-8 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp yeast
- 2 egg yolks for egg wash
- poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
- corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking
In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.
In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.
(If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)
Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.
Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.
Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.