With an audible wrenching sound, I have forced myself to start cooking real meals again, even though we are fully back in school and having to set alarms in the morning and everything. Well, with a few exceptions, like Damien cooking and us buying pizza. Well, I made a few things, anyway. Look, I found my potato masher, and now you have to look at my sausage pictures.
I remember when I used to think that people who went to the Saturday vigil Mass were technically not sinning, but rrreeallly, I mean my goodness, maybe if they just tried a little bit harder, they could make it to actual Sunday morning Mass like a real Catholic.
Ehh, sorry about that. Anyway, we decided to go to Saturday Mass for the sole purpose of being able to sleep in on Sunday, and then we decided to go out for pizza after Mass for the sole purpose of I don’t wanna cook. I forgot it was some kind of community art festival, and this band had set up across the street in front of a tire store. Lena went over and asked them to play Wonderwall, but they pretended not to hear, which was not very Freebird of them.
I was working on my pallet garbage enclosure all day, and Damien shopped for and cooked dinner, and installed the faucet in the bathroom sink and caulked the vanity into place. I know it sounds like I’m coming out way ahead here, but consider: My husband has allowed — nay, encouraged — all the children to pronounce it “kwassadillas.” They also say “gwack-a-mole.”
Burgers and brats, clams, chips, onions three ways
Labor day! I love Labor Day, because you get to go, “Workers are important; go, unions!” and then you’re all set to have a day off, and you don’t have to carefully arrange your attitude and make sure you’re celebrating properly or enjoying your hamburger in a fashion that’s appropriate to the season or something. Damien grilled up a bunch of burgers, brats, and clams. Oh man, the smells. The smells!
The brats, he boils in beer and onions and then grills. He also fries up a bunch of onions, and also chops up a bunch of raw onions. We just like onions, okay? There are also onions in the clams.
Here’s the clam recipe, which works with all kinds of shellfish:Jump to Recipe
Honey garlic pork ribs, rice, tangy cucumber salad
The pork rib recipe was a real “ship of Theseus” situation. You’re supposed to brine the pork (which is supposed to be chops, not ribs) for 24 hours, then pepper it, then cook it in a low oven for an hour, then pan sear it with this lovely sauce. I ended up brining them, yes, but then broiling, then pouring the sauce over the meat and finishing cooking it covered it foil. It was tasty and juicy, but of course it lacked any kind of glaze. Also I uh ran out of honey and chucked in a bunch of orange marmalade, and used white wine instead of sake. Don’t own a probe thermometer. Sauce never did thicken up. Didn’t even consider garnishing with thyme. And it was kind of undercooked so I had to put it in the microwave. Whatever! You don’t know me! It had a nice sweet, garlicky flavor and just about everyone who likes pork liked it, and I made plenty of rice, which I only burned a little bit.
I served it with a tangy cucumber salad, which turned out a little more vinegary than was strictly necessary, because as previously mentioned, I was pretty low on honey, and I also couldn’t find my sesame oil, so that made it considerably less flavorful than it might have been.Jump to Recipe
It’s a nice simple salad, though, and tastes sophisticated and refreshing along with something savory. Just don’t skimp on the honey.
Bangers and mash with onion sauce, cheesy pretzel bites
The day started off damp and dark, with a shivery, chilly mist enveloping the world. Brr, I thought, how perfect would it be to welcome my family home at the end of the day to a huge platter of steamy, hearty sausages smothered in creamy, garlicky mashed potatoes topped with a rich, savory onion gravy. The only flaw in my plan was that, by the time dinner time rolled around, it was in the high 70’s, sunny, and humid. OH WELL, TOO BAD. EAT YOUR TATERS.
I made ten pounds of mashed potatoes, intending to make garlic parmesan mashed potatoes,Jump to Recipe
but unable to find the parmesan cheese.
I more or less followed this recipe for onion gravy, except I used even more corn starch than it called for and it still didn’t thicken up properly. This is my cross to bear. My gravies don’t thicken.
I also made several boxes of frozen pretzel bites stuffed with pepper jack cheese from Aldi, which were exactly as advertised — chewy and sour on the outside, melty and salty inside.
Pretty tasty hot, pretty un-tasty as soon as they cooled down.
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, broccoli and carrots
Around 6 PM, my kitchen was full of gigantic adult children shouting at each other about how disappointed they were about how the movie Candyman ended, which caused me to burn half the sandwiches. Not my fault.
I, virtuous, skipped the chips and just ate vegetables (drowned in french onion dip).
The kids asked me why some of the sandwiches didn’t have ham in them, and I just stared at them, bug-eyed, and shrugged like I couldn’t even believe they would ask such a dumb question. It actually was a perfectly reasonable question, but on the other hand, let’s see how they like it! Ha ha!
Shrimp lo mein
It’s been a while since we’ve had lo mein. It’s been . . . lo these meiny months. I don’t know. Some of the kids said they didn’t really like it, and I said what should I make instead, and they said wah wah wah, so I’m making lo mein. (Actually they suggested tuna noodle casserole, which I just don’t like making, so there.)
I cut up some peppers and red onion and scallions, and cleaned the shrimp, and any minute now I’m going to get up off my bed of pain and make some sauce. Then all I have to do is boil up the noodles before supper and we’ll have a lovely little meal to throw together. I really love lo mein, and was delighted to discover what a simple recipe it is.Jump to Recipe
You can put in whatever vegetables and proteins you like. Here’s one with shrimp and sugar snap peas:
And that’s my story.
Grilled clams or mussels in wine sauce
- 1 white or red onion
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- live clams or mussels
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups white wine
- 2 sticks butter
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
Prepare sauce: Coarsely chop the onion and sautee it in the olive oil with the red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper.
Add two sticks of butter and let them melt. Add the wine and lemon juice.
Light the fire and let it burn to coals. While it's burning down, sort and clean the shellfish, discarding any damaged or dead ones. (If they're open, tap them. If they don't close, they're dead. If they're closed, they're fine.)
Lay shellfish on grill until they pop open. The hotter the fire, the shorter the time it will take - five minutes or more.
Add shellfish to sauce and stir to mix.
spicy cucumber salad
A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly.
- 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 1+ tsp honey
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
red pepper, diced
- 1/2 red onion diced
Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)
Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes
- 5-6 lbs potatoes
- 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 8 Tbsp butter
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 8 oz grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.
Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.
Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.
basic lo mein
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)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.