Friday again! It’s Friday again. I remember when the weeks were long, but they ain’t long now.
Here’s what we ate this week:
Sausage and pepper sandwiches, raw veggies and dip
Satisfying little meal. Fried peppers and onions, sausages in jarred sauce. Easy peasy.
Aldi didn’t have any sausage-shaped rolls, so we had kaiser rolls and did not die.
Sunday we went to Mystic Aquarium! A wonderful place with some very personable belugas.
We also fed the cow nose rays, who have the most alien faces I’ve ever encountered on a creature that size. Their noses are bifurcated, sort of like a cow’s, and then when they want to eat, the bottom of their face sort of unfolds like origami;
but their actual mouths are underneath this part, and you can feel them avidly vacuuming up the food between ridged plates of teeth. Freaky!
We also caught the seal show, and we saw the jellyfish that light up, and the octopus with his toy, and the leering sharks, and the little tiny baby sharks thrashing silently around inside their egg cases, and everyone had fun. We packed sandwiches for lunch, and grabbed McDonald’s on the way home.
I’m still getting used to having family outings that are so straightforward, because everyone’s so grown up. No diapers, no nursing stops, no need to pack three changes of clothes and a plastic bag to sequester the pants that have become unspeakably soiled; no constant terror that someone’s going to wander off and drown; no random meltdowns because small people are having too much fun. We didn’t even have drama in the gift shop, because some people have their own spending cash, and others have started to catch on that a smushed penny really is a cooler souvenir than a stuffie that you could get at the dollar store back home. I am somehow managing to feel sad about this, because I have the superpower of turning any experience into melancholy, hooray.
Anyway, our family is still big enough that a family membership is cheaper than buying individual tickets, so we hope to go back within the year! It was extremely hot, so it would be nice to go back on a day when it’s less tempting to dive into the pool with the sea lions and take your chances. But if you’re within driving distance of this aquarium, I recommend it. Mystic Seaport is also really cute and fun to explore (they have a drawbridge in the middle of town), but we didn’t have time to go there this time.
Korean beef bowl, rice, crunchy rice rolls, sugar snap peas
Monday, I suddenly couldn’t stand the mess in the dining room for one more second, and I sorted shoes and threw out about 1/3 of them. This isn’t even the most Converse we’ve ever had at the same time, and all but one pair was in absolutely disgraceful condition.
So I swept and wiped and organized, and now you can actually walk through the room, rather than dodging and sashaying and squirming your way through a clear path down the center.
Won’t last long, but it feels good for now.
Supper was quick and easy: Some rice in the Instant Pot, and some Korean beef bowl on the stove.Jump to Recipe
Aldi had those yummy crunchy rice rolls in stock, so I bought several packages, and we had raw sugar snap peas.
Sugar snap peas are one of the few vegetables that really do satisfy the craving for something crunchy. Love ’em.
It was also my turn to clean the kitchen. I have Mondays, Damien has Tuesdays, and the kids who don’t have jobs do the rest of the days, and the older kids fill in as needed. There were so many fruit flies and I was so hot and aggravated by the time I was done, I set my phone to play some Bach guitar music, slithered into the pool, and just sloshed around by myself in the dark until I felt human again.
Also on Monday, Clara moved out! Oh me oh my. She’s still close by and we’ll see her soon.
Oven fried chicken, peach salad
Chicken wings were 99 cents a pound, and everyone liked the oven fried chicken from last week so much, I figured I’d do that again. Tuesday was the Assumption, so I quietly told myself we would have wings for the assumption, ho ho ho. Got to the noon Mass.
The oven fried chicken recipe: Make a milk and eggs mix (two eggs per cup of milk), enough to at least halfway submerge the chicken, and add plenty of salt and pepper, and let that soak for a few hours before supper.
About half an hour to 40 minutes before dinner, heat the oven to 425. In an oven-safe pan with sides, put about a cup of oil and a stick or two of butter and let that melt and heat up.
Then put plenty of flour in a bowl (I always give myself permission to use a lot and waste some flour, because I hate it when there’s not enough and you have to patch it together from whatever’s left, and it gets all pasty) and season it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and whatever else you want – chili powder, cumin, etc. It should have some color in it when you’re done seasoning! Take the chicken out of the milk mix and dredge it in the flour.
Then pull the hot pan out of the oven and lay the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, return it to the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Then flip it and let it continue cooking, probably for another 15 minutes or more, depending on how big the pieces of chicken are.
It turned out fine. It wasn’t as good as last time, probably because last time all I had in the house was olive oil, but this time all I had was canola oil and margarine, which I haven’t used in years.
The side was a peach salad, which I had qualms about, and I should have listened to my qualms. I follow this recipe except I skipped the corn, because that just didn’t sound right. I don’t know what the problem was. The goat cheese just kind of went pasty, and the peaches were maybe overripe, and –oh, one big problem was I used real maple syrup in the dressing, and discovered too late that it had gone rancid, which I forgot syrup can do!
It looks okay, but it just wasn’t great. The whole meal was just a bit disappointing. It was STODGY.
What I really want is to recreate this amazing peach burrata dish with cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction that I had at a restaurant a while back:
Man, that was outstanding. Oh well.
Anyway, we had fried chicken and fresh peach salad with goat cheese and toasted almonds on a Tuesday, so I did try! Sometimes it just doesn’t come together, oh well. Excelsior.
Wednesday we had to hit urgent care with Lucy with a possible broken foot, but happily it’s just a sprain. The doctor recommended, rather than an ice pack, filling a bucket with cold water and soaking it for 20 minutes while spelling the alphabet with your foot. So on the way home from the hospital, I bought a bucket, and also some other things we needed: milk, half and half, and a sack of duck food. Lucy said that sounded like a tasty bucket of breakfast. And that’s why I’m in charge of the menu and she is not.
Got home, made some pizza. All they had at the store for dough was wheat dough and something called “bac’n dust,” neither of which are food words. It tasted okay, not bad, but not something I’d ever make any effort to recreate. I made one plain cheese pizza, one olive, and one with pepperoni and leftover sausage.
Here we see one of Van Gogh’s less known sunflower works, in which he experimented with both a limited palette and leftover meat.
Look, these are the jokes. Excelsior.
Spicy chicken sandwich with peppers, chips
On Thursday, the big kids all had plans, so I decided to take Benny and Corrie out school shopping. We usually do this with everyone at the same time, at the last possible minute, to create the maximum stress, but apparently you don’t have to do it this way.
So we got school supplies, and also TMNT shirts, unicorn headbands on clearance, new shoes, a fuzzy pink hoodie because we’re still planning to go see Barbie, and so on. We also stopped at a thrift store I like, and I got a Ninja blender for $20, so we’ll see what smoothies may be.
We have this very wimpy Oster blender that can only manage, like, chocolate milk. Looking forward to pulverizing stuff. Also Corrie got a recorder at the thrift store, which I said yes to.
Supper came together fast, and it was an absolute triumph, as far as I’m concerned. I followed this recipe from Sip and Feast, which has so far never steered me wrong. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was what he calls “blackened seasoning.” I thought I had some Tony Chachere’s, but couldn’t find it, so I used a stray bottle of McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning.
First I blistered the shishito peppers. You just cut the tops off and blacken them quickly in a hot pan with oil and a little salt, turning once.
You’re supposed to do this after you cook the chicken, but I did it first and just kept it on the stove on the plate, and it stayed warm enough.
Then I took boneless, skinless chicken thighs (one per person) and seasoned them heavily with the Cajun seasoning, and cooked them slowly in hot oil on medium heat, turning once.
When the chicken was almost done cooking, I put a slice of American cheese on each one and covered the pan, and let the cheese melt for a few minutes.
Then I toasted some brioche buns (he recommends putting them in the pan to toast, but the rest of the food seemed greasy enough), put a little BBQ sauce on the bottom (we like Sweet Baby Ray’s), then the chicken with cheese, then the blistered peppers, then some sliced red onion, more BBQ sauce, and the top bun.
Guys, this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, at home or anywhere. Sweet, tangy, spicy, with the little crunch from the peppers and onions and the melty cheese . . . wow. The whole thing was just a treat, and I would absolutely serve this to guests.
Of course you can grill the meat and peppers, if you don’t want to pan fry them. Definitely spring for the brioche buns. The shishito peppers (which I’ve never had before) were great, mild and sweet, like bell peppers in jalapeño form. If you can’t find them, the guy suggests poblano for a substitute, or you could go with jalapeños if you really want it spicy. I loved having whole peppers with their skins on piled onto the sandwich, though, so it was nicer than bell peppers; and it was very easy to just wash them and chop the tops off and chuck ’em in the pan. I also didn’t bother trimming the fat off the thighs, so it was just simple all around.
Tuna noodle for kids; for adults: ??
The kids wanted tuna noodle casserole (canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles in a casserole dish, topped with toasted corn flakes and potato chips, served with “pink stuff” dressing, which is ketchup, mayo, and vinegar) and I didn’t want to make it, but then they said they would make it, and I’m no dummy. But I think Damien and I may run away and get some supermarket sushi and take the kayaks out. What with one thing and another, it’s been a hell of a week, and the urge to just . . . paddle away . . . is strong.
But we always come home again. That’s the deal. You can leave, but you have to come back.
Hey, my garden is finally getting going. I’ve had a bunch of big hearty butternut squashes so far, but that was it; but suddenly there are cucumbers, four or five eggplants, some bitty little ghost peppers, and a watermelon the size of a gumball. And more collard greens, and some cute little Brussels sprouts, and a steady trickle of strawberries. Asparagus and rhubarb are just getting started this year, but in a few years, I expect a nice little harvest from them.
We’re just going to make juice this year. UNLIMITED JUICE.
Korean Beef Bowl
A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.
- 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 lb2 ground beef
- scallions, chopped, for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.
Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.
Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.