In elementary school, we used to sing this Halloween round:
Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones,
With the rest all go-o-o-o-ne,
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?
WELL, it all comes together in today’s post.
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, raw broccoli and dip
I woke up SO late on Saturday and everything got pushed forward SO far, I’m pretty impressed we had three actual distinct things for supper.
Nothing else to report, except that I suddenly remembered a kid going through a phase of playing restaurant, and one of the featured items was “pretziles.” Which makes me remember I haven’t made homemade hot pretzels in a while.
[Daphne Moon voice:] I don’t know whyyyy.
On Saturday, I also finally put up an extra little shelf that I’ve been meaning to put up, and now I officially have room for all my spices! If you’ll recall, this is what it looked like before.
Then I got a bunch of spice jars and bunch of mason jars; and now I have an extra shelf as well, so here it is:
It’s . . . sigh . . . better. I swear it’s better. Only a few things are still in sacks, and everything is labelled, top and side. And I have hooks for red and yellow onions, and a little basket for my ginger and garlic.
I haven’t organized the spices, though. There are just too many other people using them, and trying to keep them in the order I want would be asking for constant heartache.
I also still haven’t managed to re-hang the other shelf that came crashing down, that used to hold all my oils and vinegars, so that’s all crammed in there as well. It’s less upsetting if I think of it all as WEALTH, which it is. Never thought I’d need a spot just for all my various salts and peppers! My various oil! Look how lucky I am.
Hamburgers, chips, further raw broccoli
On Sunday I did a bunch of tragic gardening (I planted a few hundred bulbs and spent the time repeatedly reminding myself that absolutely none of them are going to come up and everything just dies anyway and what’s the point, oh boo hoo hoo hoo) and also put up some more skeletons. For, uh, self care.
We have a number of skeletons year-round, partly because it helps Instacart find our house when GPS insists on sending them to the fence company and saying that’s our house; but mostly because I have had a lifelong love for skeletons.
This one, I think the kids named Shakespeare
and this one, Insulon, is new this year (his eyes light up):
Then we have Baba Mailbox, which doesn’t really make sense, but whatcha gonna do:
and of course The Gardener:
and also new this year is Horbert, who lives by himself.
Here is a short video of The Hoisting of Horbert:
who didn’t end up as high as I expected, considering how hard it was to hold that tree down.
Then we had hamburgers for supper.
I don’t know if it’s been a long time since we’ve had burgers, or maybe I just worked up a good appetite tragically gardening and tree wrestling, but those were some especially delicious burgers.
Chili verde on rice; corn
This is a nice recipe that I discovered a little shortcut for this week.Jump to Recipe
Normally when I make chili verde, I blister the peppers and tomatillos under the broiler, then let them sit and loosen, then pull off the skins and put the insides in the food processor, along with onion, garlic, and cilantro.
This time, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I left the skins on. I also put the onions in the oven, rather than adding them raw to the blender. Time to find out! Exciting!
I cut the pork shoulder into chunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, browned it in oil, blended up the vegetables, and then added the resulting green salsa to the pot with the pork, and let it cook slowly on the stovetop all day.
It turned out thicker than usual and quite a bit spicier than usual, a real sinus clearer. And absolutely delicious. Mayyybe a tiny bit bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. The family polished it off, to my delight. I might add some chicken broth in the future, to make it a little thinner, but I think I will stick with leaving the skins on. It made my life easier, and the flavor was great. If anyone knows of some reason why I should be taking the skins off, speak now!
I was gonna make corn bread or corn muffins, but a quick poll revealed that nobody actually wants that, so I just cooked up some frozen corn, and made a bunch of white rice, and that was what they wanted. We had lime wedges and sour cream for toppings, and we really needed that sour cream to ease up the spice!
Wish I had had a little more cilantro to top it off. But it was a good meal. Everyone either has, just had, or is about to get a cold, and it’s been damp and foggy out, so this worked nicely.
On Wednesday I also got a very subtle haircut. Usually I got to Head Whompers and pay $12 to get most of my hair chopped off, but this time I went to a Fancy Place and paid quite a bit more to get little bits here and there removed.
I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but Damien said my head looked fluffier, so I think that’s good.
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins
Jubilation. This is a highly-anticipated meal (second only to ham-peas-mashed potatoes) that I hold off making until the frost is on the pumpkin or whatever. I forgot to get mushrooms, but it was still very tasty.
Here’s the soup recipe:Jump to Recipe
This is the soup I make in my head when I can’t fall asleep. I go through it as slowly and meticulously as possible, paying close attention to each detail, cleaning as I go, and if I don’t actually fall asleep by the end, I usually at least feel less anxious. Thanks, soup!
In real life, it was a soccer day, so I made the soup in the morning, except for the barley, and then put together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients for the pumpkin muffinsJump to Recipe
and then combined them when I got home, and quickly baked them right before supper.
Full disclosure, the muffins were a tiny bit squashy (I mean technically they were 100% squashy, since canned pumpkin is actually squash; but I meant they were somewhat underdone) and the barley was a little bit chompy, because I forgot how long it takes to cook; but it was still a well-received meal.
Piping hot muffins and a bowl of soup with tender beef, lots of wine and tomatoes, plenty of carrots and onions and pepper. What’s not to love?
Next time I need to make more soup! Some people have come around to soup recently, to my delight.
This is why I stick to my policy of just making food that seems good to me, and offering it over and over and over again. People really do come around eventually, often enough. Or if they don’t, that’s also fine. I just don’t want to fight about food. There’s enough fights.
One cheese, one pepperoni, and one Things Mother Likes. To wit: Black olive, fresh garlic, red onion, fresh basil, ricotta, anchovy.
This absolute cartoon cat got to clean out the anchovy can for recycling
and I got to eat two pieces of this scrumptious pizza
so everybody was happy.
Asian meatballs, pork fried rice, pineapple
I made extra rice when I made the chili verde, for the express purpose of having leftovers for fried rice. Wasn’t that smart? I feel like I am waking up out of a fog this week. I’ll probably live to regret saying this, but I stopped taking Propranalol because it wasn’t doing anything for my headaches anyway, and within a few days I felt much more awake and much less pukey; and without changing my diet, I lost three pounds. So. Go to hell, Propranalol. I have a real live appointment with an honest-to-goodness neurologist, and I’m going to insist they stick needles in my cheeks or install a skull steam valve or something. But no more stupid drugs that make me stupid! I’m already stupid enough!
Anyway, the fried rice was good. I minced some ginger and garlic and threw it in the pan with hot oil for a bit, then added pieces of leftover pork and diced red onion, and then I dumped a bunch of brown sugar on top of that and let it get bubbly and dark.
Then I added scrambled egg (I didn’t think I was up for scrambling the egg directly into the rice today), some bagged broccoli, carrot, and water chestnut, and the leftover rice, and then I dumped on a bunch of oyster sauce, a little fish sauce, and quite a bit of soy sauce, and heated it all up.
I made the meatballs in the morning, and cooked them while I was making the rice. I used a recipe I’ve used before (it’s not letting me put the “jump to recipe” button in, for some reason, but the recipe is at the bottom of the page: Vaguely Asian Meatballs), except instead of ground beef, I used ground turkey, which happened to be $3 a pound. I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes before dinner
and served them with a jar of sweet chili sauce, and they were delicious. Light and garlicky and just very pleasant to eat.
I also cut up a couple of pineapples and sprinkled some more chopped scallions over everything, and it was an easy, successful meal.
When I make two kinds of Asian-inspired food, my goal is to not use the exact same ingredients in both dishes, and I achieved this by refraining from putting ginger in the meatballs. My breath was still glowing in the dark that night from all the garlic.
Yes, I think quesadillas. I have a bunch of spinach in the fridge that I never used, so I think I’ll make spinach quesadillas, which are very nice.
It occurs to me that one of those skeletons should be named John, or Chili Verde, or Tomatillo, or something. Well, there’s always next year.
Spicy Chili Verde
You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. It does get less spicy as it cooks, so don't be alarmed if you make the salsa and it's overwhelming!
- 5 lbs pork shoulder
- salt and pepper
- oil for cooking
- 2 cups chicken broth or beer (optional)
For the salsa verde:
- 4 Anaheim peppers
- 2 habañero peppers
- 4 jalapeño peppers
- 4 medium onions
- 12 tomatillos
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
- 1 bunch cilantro
- lime wedges
- sour cream
- additional cilantro for topping
Preheat the broiler.
Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.
Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.
Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.
In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.
When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.
Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add chicken broth or beer. At some point, if you don't want the pork in large chunks, press the meat with the back of a spoon to make it collapse into shreds.
Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.
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
- 30 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.
Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce
Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.
- 2.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 head garlic, minced
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp ground white pepper
For dipping sauce:
- mirin or rice vinegar
- soy sauce
Preheat the oven to 425.
Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.