I see this is a milestone edition, #150. The only conclusion I can draw is I’ve finally hit upon a surefire way to make sure I stick with something: Let it be meat.
A little music, maestro!
I bless the day I found food I want to stay around food And so I beg you, Let’s go and eat.
Don’t take this bacon from one If fat must cling to someone Now and forever,
let it be meat.
Each time we eat, love I find complete love Without this meatloaf, what would life be?
So never leave me starving Tell me that’s beef you’re carving And that you’ll always
Let me go eat.
Ahem. Excuse me. Here’s what we had this week:
SATURDAY Sugar rub chicken thighs, brats, chips
Damien made supper. Good stuff. Chicken rub recipe card below.
SUNDAY Cuban sandwiches, cole slaw, mangoes
Something I’ve been thinking about for a while, Cuban sandwiches. Damien roasted the pork in a low oven, and then I sliced it and layered it on sourdough bread with mustard, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, and more Swiss, and then grilled and pressed it. YUHM.
The cole slaw was very basic, just cabbage, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and pepper. I just needed to not serve chips or fries for once. The mangoes were good.
Overall, too much sweet in this meal, but I somehow forced myself to eat it.
MONDAY Sausage, mushroom, and cheddar omelettes, home fries
I occasionally make omelettes to order, which is a pain in the neck, but it’s the only way I can come up with a decent omelette for me and Damien: By screwing up many, many other omelettes first. It seriously takes at least seven tries before I know what I’m doing. The first one, I’m like, “Hurr? Is the egg supposed to be in the shell or out of the shell? And is this a pan that one operates with one’s elbows?”
But by the time I get up to the adult omelettes, I am clear: You let the pan heat thoroughly before dropping on plenty of butter; you tilt it to spread the egg out evenly; you sprinkle your fillings on the side that’s less cooked, so you can flip the more-cooked side over more easily; you wait a little bit longer than you think you should have to before folding it over; and you approach the folding part with confidence, even arrogance. Eggs know when you are frightened, and they retaliate by splurting, damn their eyes. Ha!! Because “ei” in German is “egg,” and . . . that’s not a joke. Never mind.
The home fries or oven potatoes or whatever you want to call them are always a hit: Scrub and cut potatoes into wedges, cut some onions into big wedges, and mix it all up with olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, paprika, whatever. Roast ’em up.
TUESDAY Zuppa toscana, apple pie
Tuesday was, of course, (ptui ptui) election day, and the sky wept. It was drizzly and gusty and miserable and so were we all, so it was a good day for soup. It’s such a simple recipe, and you can add whatever you like. I liked olive oil, sausage, onions, red potatoes, plenty of kale, mushrooms, chicken broth, plenty of pepper, and half-and-half thickened with flour. (Recipe card below.)
After I made the soup and read some political commentary, I felt an urgent need to make some apple pie. I used the Fannie Farmer crust recipe, and had some help from my trusty pastry assistant.
Fannie Farmer is usually an honest gal and a straight shooter, but when she says “enough dough for a nine-inch two crust pie,” she’s lying through her teeth. I know this, and yet that’s the dough I made anyway. So I ended up making an open-face apple pie and covering the apple’s nakedness with ice cream.
Thanksgiving is coming. Do you know the pie crust secret? You chill the butter and then grate it on a cheese grater. This makes it so easy to incorporate into the dry ingredients without overworking it. Of course some of us prefer to overwork it.
I don’t really have an apple pie filling recipe. We peeled, cored, and sliced apples until it looked like enough, then added some flour, sugar, and cinnamon and a little salt, then stirred it up and piled it into the dough in the pan.
Then we added some dots of butter on top.
I covered the pie with a metal bowl for most of it so it wouldn’t dry out, and then took it off for the final ten minutes or so to brown up the edge crust.
You know what, let’s call it a galette. That galette got et.
WEDNESDAY Grilled chicken on salad greens with almonds, feta, and cranberries Dominos
Guess who splurged on boneless skinless chicken tenders to cook up easily, and then never put them in the freezer? Hillary! I mean me. I did it. And it went bad. So I sent Damien out for pizza. We all agreed that whatever it is they sprinkle on their crusts (it’s garlic salt), it’s delicious and wonderful. It’s garlic salt.
Spaghetti and meatballs
I have five pounds of ground beef, but the moths had gotten into the breadcrumbs. That’s what I get for laying up for myself breadcrumbs on earth. So I used what panko crumbs I had, and then made up the rest with an entire jar of parmesan cheese. Yeah, I’ll be doing that from now on. Yuhm.
I make my meatballs in the oven on a pan with drainage (this is an old pic, but it demonstrates how much grease you miss out on when you cook the meatballs this way)
then I transferred them into the IP on slow cook with the sauce, and let it simmer all day.
I also threw in a bunch of leftover sliced mushrooms and some leftover sausage, and life was good, at least while we were eating.
FRIDAY Quesdillas with jalapenos and scallions
Actually, we’re probably headed to Applebees, since my son is in Mama Mia and I remember how important the after-show party at Applebees is, but I sure don’t want to drive into town and back one more stinking time.
Someone remarked that she’s impressed at how often I let the kids help out in the kitchen.
This is something of an illusion, like when you take a picture of yourself on the rare days your hair looks awesome, and then years later you look through pictures and think, “Aw, my hair used to look so awesome all the time!” I will let the little guys grate cheese or mix stuff occasionally, and I will lean on the older kids to finish up meals if I’m out of the house, but in general, I find it very stressful to have kids in the kitchen when I’m cooking.
However, I remember how it was The Fun To Crown All Funs to cook and bake when I was little, so I do force myself to do it occasionally.
We do soul cakes once a year, and I approach it as an activity for the kids that I help with, not as a baking project that I let them help me with. Soul cakes is a good recipe to do this with, as they really aren’t very good, so the stakes are not high. They are basically thick, soft cookies, and have a mildly spicy, cider-y taste. They’re not bad, but they’re just, you know, brown. Sift a little powdered sugar on top and eat them hot.
Anyway! Here are some pictures of the kids making them, which I am posting to make you feel like an inferior mother. They are pictured wearing their church clothes. Usually they dress in stained rags with trashy sequins and immodest Walmart leggings with holes in the knee. Still feel bad? Blame Hillary, why the shit not.
Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit.
Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked.
Squeeze the sausage out of the casings. Saute it up in a little olive oil, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. When it's almost done, add the minced garlic, diced onion, and sliced potatoes. Drain off excess olive oil.
When onions and potatoes are soft, add flour, stir to coat, and cook for another five minutes.
Add chicken broth and half and half. Let soup simmer all day, or keep warm in slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Before serving, add chopped kale and sliced onions and cook for another ten minutes (or set Instant Pot for three minutes) until kale and mushrooms are soft. Add pepper. Add salt if necessary, but the sausage and broth contribute salt already.
This makes a creamy soup. If you want it thicker, you can add a flour or cornstarch roux at the end and cook a little longer.
Very nice meal, and the house was packed to the gills with family. We began with a prayer:
I wasn’t on the ball enough to send people home with leftovers much, but my father did score a loaf of Hobbit bread, which pleased him:
A few cooking tips from this year:
You can make the gravy ahead of time and keep it warm in the crock pot, but don’t count on the crock pot to heat up cold gravy in a few hours! Heat it up first.
My mezzaluna knife justifies its existence through cranberry bread alone. The mixing bowl from my KitchenAid (it’s narrow and has a handle) and this knife keep the nuts and cranberries from bouncing and rolling all over the place.
Also, I can never get zesters to work, so I zested the orange using the fine side of the cheese grater, and then got the zest off by using a pastry brush. Fine, I couldn’t find my pastry brush, so I used a paint brush.
To make light, supple pie dough, freeze the sticks of butter and then grate them into the flour using a cheese grater. It’s so much easier to lightly incorporate it into the flour mixture this way.
I’ve never made chocolate cream pie before, and I’m not a fan of slopping chocolate pudding into a crust, but this recipe was very different: immensely rich, thick, and wonderful. The stirring part takes some patience, but is worth it.
I can’t find the pics I took of our lovely pies, but my daughter made a very pretty effect. For one, she cut out dozens and dozens of simple leaf shapes and laid them out overlapping in concentric circles, so the pie looked like a chrysanthemum. For another, she used a flower cookie cutter and covered the pie with flowers, leaving a few gaps. For the pecan pie, I left a wide lip with the bottom crust, which she snipped into strips with scissors; then she folded the strips over each other in pairs, so they made little x’s all around the pie, like a basket. Here’s a short video with 20 ideas for pie crust:
Before baking the pies, I brushed the crusts with beaten egg yolks, for extra color and shine, and then sprinkled them with coarse sugar.
People with tiny kitchens and no storage space can always have recourse to the dryer.
I guarantee you, this is more sanitary than the kitchen of a typical four-star restaurant, which yes I have worked in.
My husband, who is usually the Thanksgiving turkey man, had to work part of the day. I hate having to baste the damn thing every half hour when I’m busy running around moaning, “I need another oven! I need another oven!” so I assigned the job to my sons, who are at the perfect age to be . . .
. . . natural master basters.
As you can see, I cook the turkey breast down for 3/4 of the time, then flip it over and finish cooking it that way. You still get nice, pretty skin, but it’s jucier overall if you let it cook mostly upside down. It does have an “executed frog” look in the oven, though.
I can offer zero “what to do with all that leftover turkey” recipes, because I only bought a 21-pounder, ::shame shame::, so we only had enough leftovers for sandwiches the next day; and then I did what I always do with the meaty carcass: I lost track of it. I think it’s still lurking in the back of the fridge. That’s the smell of Advent in our house: Fresh pine boughs, candles burning gently, and somewhere, somewhere, hidden sheltered in the night, a rancid turkey carcass.
The rest of the week was our normal crazy schedule plus what I can only describe as an extended crisis in my extended family, so we didn’t try anything fancy in the kitchen. I would appreciate any prayers you could spare for resolution! It’s been a very tough year.
Aldi had these chopped salad kits on sale for 75 cents, so I bought three. It had a bag with various chopped-up greens and cabbage, and separate packets of some kind of zesty citrus dressing, plus crunchy noodles and maybe almonds, I forget.
Very flavorful, and a nice change from the usual broccoli or string beans that I usually make for a side with this dish.
MONDAY Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, frozen french fries
Once again, the crock pots are worth the purchase price and counter space just for pulled pork alone. Chuck it in the pot with a can of beer and some salt and pepper and garlic powder, and just walk away.
I made about 4.5 pounds of pork in two crock pots, and let the kids add BBQ sauce if they wanted.
TUESDAY HAM NITE!!!!!!! Also mashed potatoes (we ate ten pounds of potatoes without batting an eye), spinach AND peas
You know what makes an easy meal even easier? Slice up the cooked ham before you heat it up.
It warms up faster and you can just throw ham at people without them hounding you while you slice it. And then they go ahead and make Food Santa anyway.
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
It’s made from a slab of ham fat, you know.
WEDNESDAY Giant pancake! Sausages, and mangoes.
To cut up mangoes! Here is how you do it: Make your best guess which way the pit is situated, and cut off the “cheeks,” getting as close to the pit as you can. Then take a glass or a metal cup with a thin edge, and use it to scoop the flesh out of the skin, rather than trying to get the skin off the flesh. Then you can trim the skin away from the rest and use a paring knife to cut the rest of the flesh off the pit. You get much more intact fruit this way.
Giant pancake is not something I’m proud of, but it’s an okay meal in a pinch. Mix up one full box of pancake mix. Dump it into a greased pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or so. You can add whatever you want: cut-up apples, raisins, chocolate chips, honey, cinnamon, etc. You could even stir in some jam, or maybe even sausage bits. Cut into wedges and call it a meal.
THURSDAY Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus
Every time I make chicken burgers, I remember when I used to remove the breading from chicken burgers because I didn’t need the extra calories. Well, now I do. Winter is coming. It is nature’s way. I need chips, too.
FRIDAY Ravioli and salad
I intend to boil the ravioli in a big pot of water. Bon appwhatever to you.
Aw, I’m in a rush and can’t find my What’s For Supper? picture with Irene threatening a pie. Add it to my list of things that are making my new site look polished and professional!
Here’s what we had to eat this week:
I was out of town, so my husband put these together. The kids marvelled at how much cheese Daddy uses. Now you know why I married him, kids. That and his beautiful eyes. But mainly the cheese.
Bacon, egg, and brussels sprouts; crescent rolls
Hear me out. You put a bunch of cut-up raw bacon in a pan with a bunch of halved brussels sprouts, along with balsamic, honey, olive oil, and garlic. You cook ’em up reeeeeal nice. And then you pull out the pan and you crack a bunch of eggs into the pan, sprinkle on red pepper flakes and parmesan, and cook it some more! Recipe from Damn Delicious.
I made this with two pounds of bacon, four pounds of brussels sprouts, and a dozen eggs. I could easily have made twice as much. And eaten it all myself. But really, I think eleven out of twelve Fishers ate it, all making yummy sounds the whole time.
It was fantastic, so savory, just spicy enough.
In the back of the fridge lurked a few cans of crescent rolls left over from that time I made an army of mummy hot dogs, so I dragged those out and made some misshapen dough hulks, and then burned them all. It’s a special charism I have.
We also served pomegranates, which are fast becoming our favorite thing to gnaw on while nodding at each other across the room and agreeing, “They’re so cooling to the tongue!”
Ham, string beans, potato tostones
HAM NITE!!!!!!!! My seven-year-old remarked that this meal was like something in a fairy tale. Note to self: find out what she’s been reading lately.
It was fun to crush them between our palms, though. Must find more recipes that involve crushing.
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, pickles
Gosh, I love pickles. I wish I had remembered to fry them right into the grilled cheese. It would have been a bright spot in a day that was otherwise like so:
Hot dogs, beans
Wednesday, I was deep in day 2 of a massive, violent cleaning project, so I just shouted down to the kids to make hot dogs, which they did. Like much of the country, we had been up until 2 or 3 a.m. the night before, watching the country tear itself apart like some kind of repulsive analogy that involves parasitical nesting insects and which I won’t share with you. Oops! Well, I won’t share the whole thing.
Well, so before we went to bed, my husband called the schools and left messages that the kids wouldn’t be in. Because their parents are too old for this shit, that’s why.
Honey garlic chicken with red potatoes and broccoli
Mighty tasty. Love love love these one-pan meals. This one is also from Damn Delicious, but we used thighs instead of breasts. Benny and I cut up the broccoli and potatoes and made the sauce in the morning, and then we threw it together in two pans half an hour before dinner time. Turns out wonderful with almost no cooking skill required.
Charred broccoli is the great, unexpected delight of my forties, just like Helen Gurley Brown promised.