What’s for supper? Vol. 316: All Fall

We made it through Halloween and the Spooky Triduum! Plenty of cozy fall foods this week, although no applesauce as of yet. Here’s what we did have: 

SATURDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

By popular request. Your choice of ciabatta rolls or sourdough bread, roast chicken breast, bacon, thick slices of sharp cheddar, slices of tart Granny Smith apples, and honey mustard dressing.

Just an excellent sandwich. Nestle plate in among fabric paint and other craft materials because you are still frantically finishing up Halloween costumes. 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and ragù; garlic bread; blueberry and pumpkin walnut ice cream 

Damien made this, following the Deadspin recipe. It turns out a little different each time. This time was a little spicy, and wonderfully — look, nobody likes it when I describe a meat sauce as “fluffy,” but the English language is just not helping me out. Here, have a picture:

If you’re thinking of pasta with a standard sluggish tomato sauce with some ground meat thrown in, think that no more. This is entirely different, and absolutely scrumptious. 

The kids miraculously scooped out the pumpkins on Friday while we were out of town, sorted out the pulp and seeds, and cleaned up. I know! So over the weekend, they carved their pumpkins, and all I had to do was roast the seeds.

I spread them in shallow pans, drizzled them with oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt, then cooked them in a 250 oven, stirring them occasionally, and switching the pans once so they’d cook evenly, until they are crunchy but not burnt.

I never know how long this takes because I always, always forget they are in the oven and almost burn them. Maybe forty minutes? I have no idea. 

I had a slightly better handle on dessert. Blueberries were on sale, so I bought a few pints, planning to make ice cream, with lemon pound cake from a mix. But then I felt bad that I hadn’t made any kind of Halloween-themed meal or dessert, so I decided it was important to make pumpkin ice cream.  (In the past, for Halloween I have made SPOOKY MEATLOAF

and once I made those mummy hot dogs

and you know, that was not a good use of my time. As usual, I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to come up with this stuff. Anyway, the ice cream turned out to be a great idea. I thought the two flavors would be terrible together (Watch: This Food Blogger Thinks Dessert Will Be Terrible But Makes It Anyway For Some Reason!), but they were actually great.

The blueberry was sweet and a tiny bit tart, and the pumpkin had all the comfy, custardy flavors of pumpkin pie, and somehow together they worked in the same way that peanut butter and jelly work together. They didn’t taste like peanut butter and jelly, you understand; it was just the same kind of combination. Fruity + earthy, or something. 

I did also make the lemon pound cake mix, but overbaked it, and I was worried the lemon would not go well with the other flavors (I had bought it just thinking lemon + blueberry), and this time I was right. Should have just skipped the cake. Oh well!

Imma have to come back later and write out the ice cream directions. I used Ben and Jerry’s recipes for both, except that I doubled the amount of blueberries for one, and added walnuts to the other, and increased the spices a bit. They both use the basic sweet cream base and do not require cooking. I will say that double blueberry was too much, and the berries clumped together in a way that wasn’t completely pleasant, because the tiny seeds get a little gritty one you get a certain volume of blueberry (they were macerated but not cooked). Next time I’ll just follow the recipe! But the walnuts were an excellent addition to the pumpkin ice cream, and I stand by that. I may make this again for Thanksgiving, or possibly this butternut squash ice cream with candied curry pecans.

MONDAY
Chicken nuggets; candy

Halloween! Dinner is only there to keep child protective services away. The kids had parties at school and ate all kinds of nonsense, then we zipped home and hurried to get costumes on for trick or treating. 

Benny and Corrie were Sarah and Duck

and I assisted them as Scarf Lady 

Lucy, Sophia, and Irene were Doc Ock, Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, and a robot 

You can’t really tell, but the robot has three special features: It lights up in several colors, it has a little secret compartment for storing things, and it is wearing a fanny pack full of diabetic supplies for its sister, so as not to mess up her Doc Ock costume.

The other kids dispersed to various parties and promised me they would send pictures, but they did not!

TUESDAY
Bagel, sausage, egg, cheese sandwiches; caramel apples

On Tuesday I had an easy meal planned (bagels with sausages, egg, and cheese)

because everyone was exhausted and of course we had to get to Mass for All Saints Day, but I also suddenly couldn’t stand how there were apples all over the place, so I made caramel apples. We usually get the easy-peasy kind where you just stretch a sheet of caramel over the apple and warm it up to meld it on, but the boxes can be a little misleading, so I had two kits of the kind you need a candy thermometer.

Which reminds me of the last time we attempted this, which was one of my favorite Irene moments, when she was about seven. 

Irene, stirring caramel: “We don’t want it to get too hot. Not hard ball. Or hard crack. Or . . . [peering at thermometer] fish donut.”

WELL, THAT’S WHAT IT SAYS. The adult world can be very confusing, and you just have to go with it, even if it sounds a little fish donut.

So I made about 20 apples. 

They turned out lovely, but I surely did not have room for 20 sticky apples to cool and harden in the fridge, so I just left them out all afternoon. Usually our kitchen is about as cool as a refrigerator anyway, but we’re having a little warm snap, and by evening, the caramel had ooooozed its way downward until what I had was a panful of apples, each with its own caramel penumbra, sitting in a pool of caramel. Oh well! At least I got rid of the apples. Some weeks, cooking is like a game whose goal is to get rid of all the food. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken and salad; soul cakes

This was an okay idea that didn’t quite come off. I had the vague idea to serve a Greek-inspired salad with chicken. While I was out, Damien roasted some chicken breasts with plenty of lemon pepper seasoning, and I sliced up the meat and served it with a big green salad, black olives, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, chopped walnuts, and cucumbers and tomatoes.

I think the tomatoes were the mistake.  You really can’t have tomatoes on pomegranates in the same plate. They threw the whole thing off. Also I forgot to buy any kind of dressing, so we were forced to dig through the fridge and take our chances. Damien found some creamy Italian dressing, and I was trying to tell him that we also had some kind of vinaigrette, but I couldn’t think of the word, so I called it “greasy Italian.” Which goes to show that describing things accurately is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I also just this minute remembered that I bought pita chips to go with this salad, and totally forgot about them. 

Regarding the pomegranates, I briefly considered looking up some clever TikTok idea for how to get the seeds off the rind in no time flat, but these things never, ever work for me. It’s always a video of some sun-kissed woman with shining, blue-black hair and a peasant blouse, standing in her garden going, “Oh, you cut up your pineapple with a knife, you DUMBASS? Try it like this!” and she grins at the camera and sticks a toothpick in the bottom, and all the pineapple just falls out into a basin in perfect little edible chunks and she eats one with very white teeth. Or else there is some perky dude with weirdly inflated biceps bopping around a spotless kitchen showing us how, when he wants 400 cloves of peeled garlic, all he does is make a little slit in the side and then tap it with a spoon, and the garlic absolutely cannot wait to scurry off and arrange itself into useful rows, all perfectly peeled and not a bit wasted. So I watch this stuff and it looks quite easy, so I imitate them exactly, and somehow slice the tips off my three favorite fingers, and then I have to explain to the ER nurse that I was trying to be like someone on TikTok.

So I decided to just cut the pomegranate into quarters and then just sort of scrabble at it until the seeds came out. And I got a bowlful that way. 

And then I took a picture, so there. 

OH, I also made soul cakes on Wednesday. I guess soul cakes are the original treats that people would give to beggars who would come to their house, and offer to pray for the souls of the dead in exchange for a cookie? I don’t know. I still had a shit ton of apples left, so I was getting ready to make applesauce when I suddenly remembered that the kids had asked about soul cakes, so that’s what I made. 

Jump to Recipe

It’s a very quick recipe, and I do like the taste. They have a faint cidery flavor from the cider vinegar, and they’re soft and a little spicy, very nice. I cut out two kinds and told the kids they represented souls before and after being prayed for. 

Raisins in purgatory, and then you upgrade to half a dried apricot when you go to heaven. That’s some high octane theology for you. 

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowls and beans

Everyone was pretty excited about this meal. I actually started marinating the meat the night before. 

Jump to Recipe

I had already cut up the meat before marinating it, so I just fried it up in a giant pan along with the marinade. 

Earlier in the day, I made a big bowl of guacamole

Jump to Recipe

and a pot of black beans. The beans were completely yummy,

Jump to Recipe

but I wish I had cooked them with the lid off for a little longer (they were in the Instant Pot on “slow cook” most of the day) to simmer off more of the liquid. 

But all in all, a very tasty meal.  I made a big pot of rice, put out salsa, chopped scallions, sour cream, lime wedges, and corn chips, shredded some cheese, and heated up some corn. Everyone found something they liked to eat.

Mmm, I think I will have leftover beans for lunch. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas

Lots of leftover fixins from Thursday’s meal, so I’m just going to make plain cheese quesadillas and people can dress it up as they like. I also bought some plantain chips, which I will no doubt forget to serve. 

Happy Friday! If you want some apples, come over. I have a lot. 

Soul cakes

Servings 18 flat cakes the size of large biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, chilled
  • 3-3/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice (can sub cloves)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar (can sub white vinegar)
  • 4-6 Tbsp milk
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

optional:

  • raisins, currants, nuts, candied citrus peels, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

  2. Put the flour in a large bowl. Grate the chilled butter on a vegetable grater and incorporate it lightly into the flour.

  3. Stir in the sugar and spices until evenly distributed.

  4. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs, vinegar and milk. Stir this into the flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough.

  5. Knead for several minutes until smooth and roll out to 1/4 thick.

  6. Grease a baking pan. Cut the dough into rounds (or other shapes if you like) and lay them on the pan, leaving a bit of room in between (they puff up a bit, but not a lot). If you're adding raisins or other toppings, poke them into the top of the cakes, in a cross shape if you like. Prick cakes with fork.

  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until very lightly browned on top.

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while they are warm

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 16-oz cans black beans with liquid
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put olive oil pot of Instant Pot. Press "saute" button. Add diced onion and minced garlic. Saute, stirring, for a few minutes until onion is soft. Press "cancel."

  2. Add beans with liquid. Add cumin, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Close the lid, close the vent, and press "slow cook."

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

Twenty-five years calls for baked Alaska!

On Tuesday, Damien and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

We did it in the way we know best: With a lot of food. Damien made a spectacular meal of Korean fried chicken, roast broccoli, and rice (more about that tomorrow!), and I was in charge of dessert. 

Twenty five years ago, I baked our wedding cake at the last minute, because my mother got sick, or accidentally cut off her own hand, or otherwise made sure she didn’t have to make the wedding cake. Which, understandable. I don’t remember what recipe I used; I just remember just baking more and more and more cake until it finally seemed wedding-sized, and I was very tired, so I stopped. And that’s how you do it!

We didn’t have a little bride and groom or even a floral topper. This is because I forgot. It was just cake. At the reception, my friend Kate noticed it was just bare white, and gathered up loose flowers and ferns from the bridesmaid’s bouquets and strewed them over the cake, and last I heard, this does not invalidate a marriage.

Nevertheless, someone told us it was traditional to save the top layer of cake and eat it on your first anniversary, so someone wrapped it up and we dutifully put it into the freezer. 

And then we moved, and moved the cake to the freezer of the new house. And then we were pretty busy, so we forgot about it, and then we moved again, and then we moved several times, and had ten kids and probably half a dozen refrigerators, and after a certain point, I got a little weird about the cake and wouldn’t let people throw it away even though it was taking up valuable space and there was no possible way it was edible. 

Anyway, maybe I had the sort of semi-disastrous wedding cake in my head as I hatched the idea to make a baked Alaska for our 25th anniversary. And let me apologize for the lack of photos in the first part of this. It does get less wordy and more pretty as it goes!

This was my first attempt at making baked Alaska, which is a cake topped with ice cream surrounded with meringue which is then toasted and/or set on fire. You can toast it with a torch, as I did, or you can bake it in the oven, and you can eat it that way, or you can toast it and then douse it with 80-proof liquor and flambé it. Either way, the novelty is that the ice cream stays frozen while the outside is briefly very hot indeed.

No part of it was difficult, but it did take some planning, because I wanted to make the ice cream and other components from scratch, and you have to freeze the ice cream bowls for 12 hours before making ice cream, and I was making three kinds. You can make it with store-bought ice cream, though, and you don’t need any special equipment to make the baked Alaska. You can use a kitchen torch, but you don’t have to. I will include a condensed version of the recipe at the end. 

As I mentioned, the meal was Korean or Korean-adjascent. With that in mind, this is what I ended up with for dessert, from the bottom up: 

Pound cake (which I made from a mix, because my baking is unreliable)
Raspberry-blackberry jam and pecan pralines
Mango ice cream
Pecan pralines
Coconut ice cream
Raspberry-blackberry jam
Strawberry ice cream
Meringue, toasted with a torch and then flambéd with spiced rum

Here’s the timeline, with recipes for each component

SATURDAY
I made a double recipe of Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry ice cream. Damien loves strawberry ice cream, and he said this is the best he ever had. 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the ice cream base

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them with the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Make the ice cream base:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and continue whisking to blend.

Put it together:

  1. Mash the strawberries well, or puree them in a food processor. Stir into the ice cream base.

  2. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

It comes out a lovely petal pink and is full of strawberries. What more could you want?

SUNDAY

On Sunday I made coconut ice cream. I used the Ben and Jerry’s recipe for this as well, and it was very easy: Just a sweet cream base with a can of coconut cream stirred in. Here’s that recipe:

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 15 oz coconut cream

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and coconut cream (discarding the waxy disk thing) and continue whisking to blend.

  4. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

This ice cream would be an excellent base for all kinds of lovely add-ins, nuts and chocolate chips and things. It was very rich and pleasant just plain, though. 

MONDAY

Monday I made mango ice cream, cake, and pralines. 

First the mango ice cream. I fiddled with various recipes, and here is what I ended up with:

Mango ice cream

Ingredients

  • 30 oz (about 3 cups) mango pulp
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 mango, chopped into bits

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, and salt until blended.

  2. Add in the mango pulp and cream and stir with a spoon until blended.

  3. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

  4. Stir and transfer to ice cream maker. Follow instructions to make ice cream. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes.)

  5. After ice cream is churned, stir in fresh mango bits, then transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for several hours.

My goodness, this was fantastic. If you like mangos, this is your ice cream. Lovely golden color, too. 

While it was churning, I made two boxes of Betty Crocker pound cake mix. I made two nine-inch rounds, plus an extra heart-shaped pan. I knew I was going to have to cut up the cake and reassemble it into a larger circle, so I wanted to have lots of curved pieces to choose from. 

I also made a batch of pecan pralines.

My computer has weirdly evaporated any trace of this recipe, so I’ll have to come back later and fill it in when I find it. It was just a basic recipe with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and egg white, as I recall, and a low oven with the timer going off every fifteen minutes to stir the dang things. They came out nicely light and crunchy, very hard to stop snacking on them. 

TUESDAY

Tuesday was our actual anniversary. The first thing I did was clear out a space in the freezer, so there would be plenty of room to freeze the dang thing. Then I decided at the last minute to make some fresh jam to go in between the baked Alaska layers. This was a good idea, but I wish I had made more, because it was a little dry in between the cake and the first ice cream layers, but I only had a few cups of berries (half blackberry, half raspberry). 

It’s super easy. You combine three parts very ripe berries to one part sugar, and a li’l spoon of fresh lemon juice, bring it to a gentle boil in a pot, turn it down to simmer, and keep it simmering, stirring it frequently, until it thickens up. The recipes say it takes twenty minutes, but nothing takes twenty minutes. It took probably forty minutes to turn into anything I could honestly call “jam.” But it was a chilly, drizzly day and I did not mind hanging around sniffing the gentle clouds of berry steam. 

And then I was ready! Ready to make a baked Alaska! I had watched a few videos and read a few recipes, and chose out the most reasonable-sounding instructions. Here is what I did. 

My goal was to have the whole thing assembled at least four hours before dessert time, so it would have plenty of time to freeze. I took the three tubs of ice cream out of the freezer to let them soften up.

Note: The coconut ice cream softens up faster than the others, and eventually separates, so if you’re using it, maybe leave it in the freezer longer. 

I was planning an enormous baked Alaska. It probably could have served 15 people. I sprayed a plastic salad bowl 12″ in diameter with neutral cooking spray. Then I lined it with two ribbons in a cross shape, to make a handle to lift the frozen ice cream out at the end.

Then I lined the whole thing with plastic wrap, leaving some hanging over the edges. 

I really did not want that ice cream to get stuck!

I also made a diagram of what I wanted my finished baked Alaska to look like, because I knew I was going to get confused. Remember, you’re making it upside down, so the first thing you put in is going to be on top of the finished product.

I mushed up the strawberry ice cream a bit to make it the consistency of soft serve, and spread it in the bowl, making a smooth surface with a spatula.

Then I put it back in the freezer for 25 minutes or so. The jam was still pretty hot from being cooked, so I popped that in the freezer, too. When the ice cream had solidified a bit, I spooned some of the jam over the top and spread it out. Then I took the coconut ice cream, mushed it, and spread it out, and sprinkled pralines over the top, and put it in the freezer to harden a bit. Then I repeated the process with the mango ice cream, making the third layer. I spread the rest of the jam and the rest of the pralines over this. 

(I wanted this baked Alaska to be in layers, but you can also make it with random scoops or blobs of different kinds of ice cream, and this is easier and faster, because you don’t have to let it freeze in between, and you don’t have to try to smooth it down. But you don’t get stripes, and where’s the fun in that?)

Then I folded the flaps of plastic wrap over the ice cream to compress it all and make it as smooth as possible. 

Then it was time to cut up the pound cakes! I had two nine-inch rounds and a heart-shaped caked. First I leveled them, then I cut one of the rounds in half and laid them along both edges of the bowl. I cut a long rod out the center of the second round and used it to fill up the center. Then I cut rounded wedges from the heart to fill in the remaining gaps. I was pretty proud of how well it all fit together. 

You can see that I put the crust edge down, touching the ice cream, and the trimmed edge up. I wish I had done it the other way, so the more tender cake would be in contact with the jam and ice cream. Next time!

Many people use brownies for the base. Any baked good is fine, as long as it’s dense and can hold up to the weight of a lot of ice cream. When all the gaps were filled in, I folded the extra plastic wrap flaps over the cake again, and added a little extra, to keep it dry in the freezer, and that part was all done. I got it in the freezer by noon. 

I also did some prep for the meringue early in the day. I separated eight eggs gave the yolks to the dog, and set the whites aside so they would be room temperature when it was time to make the meringue. Then I made some superfine sugar: I put two cups of regular granulated sugar into the food processor and whirred it for a couple of minutes, and then set that aside as well. 

The meringue turned out to be the only part that gave me trouble. After dinner, I started whipping the egg whites in the standing mixer with the whisk attachment along with 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar. I whisked it until it was frothy, and then started adding the superfine sugar, one little scoop at a time, with the whisk going on high. And it went and it went and it went and it went, but it the peaks just never got stiff. Every time I tested it to see if they would stand up straight, they would flop over. I know it takes a long time with a lot of eggs, but it really got to be ridiculous after a while, and I was afraid I was going to break the eggs, so I decided to just go ahead and work with what I had. 

With great trepidation, I put a pan under the ice cream bowl, flipped it over, gave it a tap, and . . . it came right out, no problem whatsoever. I didn’t need the handle or anything. The plastic wrap peeled off easily. Here’s how it looked at this point:

At this point, you don’t have a lot of time. You have to spread the meringue all over the whole thing, including down to the bottom of the cake base, before the ice cream melts. The meringue insulates the ice cream and keeps it from getting melted by whatever kind of heat you apply. I frantically meringued it with a spatula and then added scallops (I mean designs, not the shellfish) with a fork, then I toasted the whole thing with a kitchen torch. That was fun! It brought out the design like magic, like those books you get when you’re little, that you brush with water and a hidden picture appears. 

Next step: Flambé! I had bought a nip of Kraken spiced rum and just sort of splattered it all over the baked Alaska, and then turned the torch on it, and up it went.

It just made a small flame, so I threw some more rum on and torched it again, and that was a little more impressive.

 

 

There is supposed to be a video above! Please tell me there is a video above. 

Some of the instructions I read said you were supposed to
warm the rum, which I forgot to do, and some said you were supposed to pour it into an eggshell (?) and set it on fire and then pour it onto the baked Alaska, which sounded like a wonderful way to set your arm on fire. My method worked fine, and it burned itself out fairly quickly, without blackening the dessert too much. 

And then it was time to cut! I thought it would be an absolute menace to hack through, but it was actually quite easy, and the knife slid right through. The ice cream held together in distinct layers, yet the cake wasn’t hard and frozen. I was so pleased.

The meringue even held in place and didn’t really start to slide until I was almost done cutting slices for everyone. All in all, a complete success, way beyond what I was hoping for. 

You guys, it tasted so good. I guess I was halfway expecting it to be some kind of novelty monstrosity dessert that would impress the kids because it was on fire, but instead it turned out to be truly delicious. 

I was entirely happy with the combination of creamy, tropical fruity flavors, and the jam and nuts added a lot of interest so it wasn’t just sugar and sweetness.

I do wish I had made more jam, but the jam itself was a great idea. Cold jam made from fresh fruit is an absolute delight. The meringue itself had more depth of flavor than I was expecting. The light torching had caramelized it slightly, and it had a wonderful cozy, toasty taste that added a real layer of appeal. 

I will absolutely be making this again. Absolutely! Not for a while, though! 

Ah, but what about the top tier of the wedding cake, the one we saved for a quarter of a century, brought with us through several moves and held onto throughout countless power outages? WHAT OF IT? 
 
Well, I happen to have this video of Damien finally unwrapping it, and I think you’re just perverse enough to be curious. Enjoy! Enjoy! 
 

Well. Anyway, you can make a baked Alaska in a day. You can see I did this the slightly insane way, but you can get a readymade cake, get a quart or two of ice cream from the store, and make a meringue, and set it on fire! Do it! 

Here are the assembly instructions for baked Alaska, without all the recipes and chit-chat. This is for a somewhat smaller one than the one I made, but you can fiddle with the proportions.

Spray or grease a bowl.
Lay a cross of ribbons inside it to make a handle, to help you lift out the frozen ice cream dome. 
Line this with plastic wrap, leaving some hanging over the edges. 
Add small scoops of various flavors of softened ice cream. Or add softened ice cream in layers, smoothing it down and letting it freeze in between. 
Continue filling the bowl, and leave a space on top. Fold the plastic wrap over the top and smush it down, to compress it and make the top smooth. 

Get a pound cake, slab of brownies, or other dense cake, and cut it into slices about half an inch thick. Fit these over the top of the ice cream like a puzzle, filling up all the gaps. 
Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the cake and freeze the bowl for at least four hours until the ice cream is rock hard. 

Make the meringue: Make a cup of superfine sugar by whirring it in the food processor for a minute. 
Separate four egg whites and add in 1/4 tsp cream of tartar. Whisk with an electric mixer until frothy.
Spoonful by spoonful, add in one cup of superfine sugar until the meringue  is smooth, not grainy, and the peaks are stiff. (Test by pulling out the whisk and turning it upside down. If the meringue stands up straight and does not flop over, they are stiff.)Take the ice cream bowl out of the freezer and flip it upside down on a flat pan. If it doesn’t pop out, use the ribbon handles to pull it out. Peel off the plastic wrap.
Spread the meringue all over the ice cream and cake, all the way down to the bottom, and make it into decorative swirls, using a fork to add details if you like. 

Lightly torch the meringue to toast it.
(If you don’t have a torch, you can toast it in the oven, but you will need to re-freeze the whole thing for a few hours first, before popping it into a 500 oven for 4 minutes.)
 
To flambé the meringue, pour a few tablespoons of 80-proof liquor like rum or brandy over the top of the meringue and touch a flame to it. It will burn itself out in a minute or so. 
 
Cut with a sharp knife. If it’s too hard to cut, dip the knife in hot water. 
 
 

What’s for supper? Vol. 314: The sound of stroganoff

Happy Friday! Before we go any further, I have to show you last Friday’s lo mein. I posted the WFS post before I made dinner, so there was no photo, but it turned out so good. I made the basic recipe but added shrimp, zucchini, yellow bell pepper, and matchstick ginger. 

Fabulous. Here’s the recipe in case you need it.

Jump to Recipe

Very easy and fast. I usually use fettuccine for the noodles, and that makes it cheap, too. I think I got everything at Aldi except the rice vinegar.

Okay, on to this week! Here’s what we had. 

SATURDAY
Burgers, chips

Not tired of burgers and chips yet. Especially when Damien cooks them outside. 

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries 

On Sunday we went apple picking, and then stopped at my parents’ graves to say a decade and plant a bunch of crocuses. Very glad to see the two rose bushes and the lilac tree I planted in the summer are still alive! 

Here’s a little album from Facebook because I’m lazy. 


 

Then we came home and had Italian sandwiches. I had mine with plenty of red pesto, yum yum.

Damien got an extra package of prosciutto for later in the week, as you shall see. I flubbed dessert (I had bought some Halloween-shaped rice krispie treat kits that you had to make and decorate spookily, which not even the kids felt like doing after a couple of hours in the car), but Damien had had the foresight to buy a sack of cider donuts at the orchard, which he put in the microwave for dessert, and they were delightful. I was feeling the teensiest bit emotionally bruised after the cemetery visit, and a hot sugary donut definitely helped. 

MONDAY
Oven fried chicken, roast butternut squash, apple hand pies

The fried chicken I made a few weeks ago was so very tasty, but such a pain in the pants, so I took the advice of my friend Patti and tried oven frying it. It was quite good, and so much easier. 

Early in a day, I let the chicken (drumsticks and thighs) soak in milk and eggs with salt and pepper. Then at dinner time, I put a few inches of melted butter and canola oil (half and half) in a couple of roasting pans in a 425-degree oven. While it was heating up, I rolled the chicken parts in flour seasoned with lots of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I put the chicken in the pans, skin side down, and let it cook for about half an hour, then turned it and let it finish cooking for another fifteen minutes or so. 

Not quite as spectacularly crackly-crisp as pan fried chicken, but still crunchy and delicious, and moist and tasty inside. Will definitely do it this way again. 

I wasn’t able to fit all the chicken in the oven pans, so I pan fried the extras, got distracted, and burned the ever loving hell out it. Completely black. Then I turned it over and, just to be fair, did the same thing to the other side. Then I threw it away. 

I also made hand pies. Corrie loved the pumpkin empanadas from last week so much, and it made mornings so much easier when she had something tasty and homemade to grab for a car breakfast, so I decided to make pineapple empanadas with the rest of the Goya dough discs I bought. I’ll spare you the details, but I managed to ruin quite a lot of pineapple, and then light dawned on blockhead, and I realized we had 9,000 apples in the house. So I pulled out my lovely old fashioned apple peeler-corer-slicer and made apple empanadas, or really just little pies at this point. See my pies! See my pies!

Chicken and pies, Mr. Tweedy. 

The pie filling was apple sliced and dusted with flour and sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and a little butter. I forgot salt. I folded them into the dough, cut some vents, and brushed the tops with egg, then sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, and baked them on parchment paper at 375 for about half an hour. 

I’m not gonna lie, I was also doing a lot of running around and shouting and waving my arms about something completely unrelated to food, while I was making 20 pies, and ruining pineapple, and rolling chicken in flour, and burning it, and burning the other side, and snatching apple peels away from the dog, and so on. It is an actual miracle that I get dinner on the table every day, even when I’m not all worked up about something, which I was. It’s like a Greek tragedy in there every day, I don’t know what goes on. But eventually everything got cooked, and I had it in my head that we needed butternut squash, too, so I chopped that up, drizzled it with honey and olive oil, sprinkled it with kosher salt and chili powder, and broiled it until it was a little blistered, and I guess we had pie for supper and squash for dessert, I don’t know. ἔξοδος.

TUESDAY
Beef stroganoff

Yeah! Stroganoff! Someone, and I’m very sorry I don’t remember who, posted this on Twitter

and the vision that was planted in my brain/still remains./And I haaaaad/ to make stroganoff. 

I usually make stroganoff with ground beef, but honestly, it’s gotten so expensive that it was only like three dollars more to get a big hunk of roast. It’s called “budgeting,” sweaty. I followed the Deadspin recipe. These recipes are invariably delicious, but incredibly obnoxious, so I went ahead and made a card. 

Jump to Recipe

I was very busy on Tuesday, so I did all my chopping and slicing and mincing in the morning,

and when dinner came, it all came together in a flash. It’s very easy, and is a great way to furnish yourself with enough calories to survive an eighteen month siege.

First you lightly fry the sliced meat in butter

And I was very determined that this stroganoff would turn out tender, not tough, so I fried the meat very lightly indeed. Then you remove meat from the pan and fry up the onions in more butter, salt it, then add in the garlic 

then the mushrooms and tarragon and pepper.

This is the point where you add brandy if you have any, which I did not.

Then you put your meat back in, heat it up, blorp in an insane amount of sour cream, heat that up, adjust your salt, and that’s it. 

While you are cooking this, you boil up a pot of egg noodles, and you serve the stroganoff over noodles.

So delicious. My only disappointment was I didn’t taste the tarragon much. I don’t use tarragon often, so I was looking forward to it. Maybe I should have saved some out and used a bit to garnish the top and bring up the flavor a bit. We all have colds, though, so it’s a miracle we can taste anything.

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Three pizzas, and I made the mistake of not making one plain cheese pizza. Oh, there was howling and complaining. I have heard the cries of my people, and next time I will make one plain cheese pizza. 

This time, I, monster, made one pepperoni, one mushroom and olive, and one prosciutto and arugula (that’s what the extra prosciutto was for. That’s called building suspense. Look it up, sweaty). That third pizza was just remarkable. Fresh little curls of parmesan frolicking on top, so nice.

First you make an arugula salad: A few handfuls of baby arugula, the juice of a small lemon, a few drizzles of olive oil, and kosher salt and pepper.

Then you make a normal cheese pizza but spread plenty of thinly-sliced raw garlic on it, and some fresh rosemary if you have it (which I did not), and drizzle a little olive oil over that, and give it a little salt and pepper. Bake as normal, and when it comes out, spread it with torn-up prosciutto, and top it with the arugula salad.

It’s so good, it almost makes me mad. What the hell is this? Why is it so delicious? Who comes up with this stuff? Gosh! 

THURSDAY
Kielbasa, potato, and Brussels sprouts

The kids were helping me make the shopping list on Saturday morning, and more than one shouted “Kielbasa!” They are prone to shouting things like “Kielbasa!” without meaning anything in particular by it, but I wrote it down anyway. But they were all pretty adamant that they didn’t want any cabbage, and they seemed to mean it. I don’t really know any kielbasa dishes besides the one-pan deal with potato, kielbasa, and cabbage, so I thought why not make the same basic thing but swap in Brussels sprouts, which people do like? 

It turns out lots of other people have had this idea, including the New York Times. I followed an uncharacteristically simple recipe by them (well, they sort of sheepishly suggested tossing some mustard seeds and almonds in there, but they admitted that it wasn’t really necessary), and it turned out fine. I’m a fool and didn’t save the recipe when it let me in for a free view, but it’s just a basic sheet pan deal with potatoes, some kind of sausage, and Brussels sprouts cooked with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a while, and then you toss it with a honey mustard dressing and continue cooking it. 

I used three ropes of kielbasa, two pounds of Brussels sprouts, and probably three pounds of potatoes (red would have been nice, but they were like a dollar a potato, so I just cut up some baking potatoes), and I think the honey mustard was four tablespoons of mustard and six tablespoons of honey. Something along those lines. 

So I cooked it at 425, I think, for about 25 minutes, I think, stirred it one time and then drizzled the honey mustard on and finished cooking it, then pulled it out about twenty minutes later

I guess the almonds would have been pretty good, and it would have been good to use dijon mustard instead of cheapo yellow mustard, but it was fine as it was, and it certainly was easy. Maybe a tiny bit dry.

I think next time I will make extra honey mustard sauce for a little dipping after it’s cooked. 

The original plan was to make King Arthur hot pretzels to go with this meal, but there was nothing anywhere near enough time for that. Next time! 

Come to think of it, I do know another kielbasa meal: Jambalaya. Ooh, it’s been quite a while. I think I’ll make that next week. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Just whatever. 

And now! Next Tuesday is our twenty-fifth anniversary! We will be going out for a little outing at a later date, but for the day itself, we thought it would be fun to just cook a nice meal for the family. We like cooking together, as long as we’re not too rushed. 

Damien is probably going to make Korean fried chicken, which is guaranteed scrumptious, and I am thinking of making a baked Alaska, probably with strawberry, coconut, and mango ice cream. You’re supposed to spread softened ice cream onto the cake in layers and let it freeze, so that will work well with homemade ice cream, which comes out of the machine soft anyway. 

I have had baked Alaska only once, in 8th grade when our French class went to Quebec and were horribly obnoxious to everyone in the entire hotel and city and country the whole time, but never so much as when they wheeled out the baked Alaska. I am very sketchy on the details besides that everyone was screaming, especially my friend Becky, so if anyone has any more useful details or experience with baked Alaska, please share! We do have a small blow torch. It seems like the individual components are easy, and it’s mainly a matter of starting well in advance, sticking to the plan, and not panicking, and that’s how you earn the moment where you set it all on fire. Kind of like,,,, twenty five years of marriage.

Anyway, I may get someone else to make the cake part, because I’m not great with cake. I’m good with ice cream, though. And setting things on fire. 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

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)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

Deadspin beef stroganoff

The tastiest, coziest, most calorific cold weather comfort food known to mankind. You can make this with ground beef, but it's so good with thin, tender slices of beef. Please don't ask me what cut of beef to use, as I don't know.

Calories 500000000 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs beef, sliced into thin, flat pieces
  • 4-6 Tbsp butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced or sliced thin
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red wine (optional)
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • bunch fresh tarragon, minced (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 32 oz sour cream
  • egg noodles that you will need to cook while you are making the stroganoff

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, melt most of the butter and cook the beef pieces very lightly, until they are just a little brown but still partially pink.

  2. Remove the beef from the pan, put the remaining butter in, and put the onion in, and cook it until it's slightly soft. Sprinkle it with salt, stir, and add in the garlic and cook for another few minutes.

  3. If you are adding wine, splash that in. Add in the mushrooms, tarragon, and pepper, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft and fragrant.

  4. Add the beef and any juices back into the pan with the mushrooms, and heat it up. Stir in the sour cream and continue stirring and heating.

  5. Add salt if necessary, and serve stroganoff over hot egg noodles.

Concord grapes, three ways

WELL, I HOPE YOU LIKE PICTURES OF GRAPES.

This past weekend was the very last weekend to pick our Concord grapes, which have gone completely cuh-razy this year.

They were so ripe, some of them were spontaneously dripping on the vine

and the birds and the yellow jackets were having a continual feast. Buzz buzz buzz, gobble gobble gobble.

So we got some scissors, and some buckets and boxes and bowls

and we snipped off as many bunches of grapes as we could before we got too scared of getting stung.

It was quite a lot!

Last year, we picked about this many, and made grape jelly, which turned out . . . not wonderful. Some of it never set right, and some of it did, but it turns out nobody really likes grape jelly all that much. But we sure did make a lot of it! So this year, my goal was to process the grapes into something people actually wanted. 

The kids voted for juice, and I wanted to try gelato or sorbet, so we split the grapes up and made both. 

The first step was to clean and de-stem them.

This took about two-and-a-half hours. Because I only do this once a year, I’m always shocked and amazed to discover that tannins or histamines or something in Concord grapes make your hands itch all the way up to the elbows. But we forged ahead, rescued several spiders, snails, and other annoyed critters, and finally got through the whole harvest. The green ones you see here are not unripe; they are so ripe that the skins have sloughed right off. 

Toward the end I became fascinated by the many forms taken by rotten grapes, especially those whose innards had been sucked out by birds and bees and whose skins were left intact to wither around the seeds. Sometimes the skins are gone but the translucent flesh remains with the seeds just visible inside, giving it a startlingly embryonic look. I took uhhh kind of a lot of pictures of rotting grapes, but I won’t share any of them! I’ll just keep them for myself, for reasons. 

I lined the cooler with a kitchen trash bag and filled that sucker with clean grapes.

The first project was sorbet. I chose a very simple recipe (non-hinky, with reviews this time, unlike the mysterious blueberry sorbet evaporating recipe). I also treated myself to a larger sieve, after the somewhat unhappy experience making twice-sieved Lucky Charms-infused ice cream.

Grape sorbet is very simple. Two ingredients, and only a few steps. I used this Epicurious recipe. You throw the raw grapes in the blender and puree them. The seeds survive the blender, but part of the skins get pulped up, so you end up with a pretty thick raw grape pulp. This you dump into the sieve

and push it through, leaving the seeds and some skin debris behind

Then you whisk some superfine sugar into the pulp.
Superfine sugar is finer than regular granulated sugar, but not as fine as powdered sugar. I made it by whirring granulated sugar in the food processor for two minutes while whispering “ssssuperfine” to myself.

Several of the comments in the Epicurious recipe said to use half the amount of sugar in the recipe. I tried this, but everyone who tasted it gasped and said “WOW” like in the vodka scene in Stalag 17, so I ended up using about 3/4 the full amount of sugar called for (I made a double recipe). I don’t know if our grapes are just more snarly or what, but they did need some sweetening up. Here’s the grape and sugar mixture.

I don’t know if anyone else is fascinated by the subtle changes in color and texture throughout the process, but I could do this all day, pushing grape mash through sieves, running it through blenders, dumping it in and out of various bowls and pots, blorp blorp. In fact it is what I did pretty much all day, and all weekend. My therapist is going to be so happy.

So you chill the grape and sugar mixture for several hours, and then you can put it into the ice cream machine. I discovered I hadn’t put both freezer bowls in the freezer, though, so I ended up chilling the grape mixture overnight and finishing making the grape sorbet in the morning. 

I also made a double batch of Neapolitan trail mix ice cream with a Ben and Jerry’s vanilla cream base. 

I also had about 2-1/2 cups of grape pulp left over, that I never added sugar to. I just stored that in the fridge to think about. And that was about enough excitement for one day!

The next day, Sunday, first thing in the morning, I put the chilled sorbet mix into the ice cream machine for half an hour, and then into the freezer.

Then after Mass, we got started on the juice. I followed these instructions. (She also took a lot of grape photos.)

The first step is to mash the grapes with a potato masher. We did it in several batches. 

Benny changed into purple, in preparation for splashes. 

A few times, I ran the mixture through the sieve to separate out the solids to mash again, so the skinless grapes didn’t just slip away from the masher along with the juice. 

Then you put the juice and mash, seeds and crushed skins and all, into a big pot

 and bring it to a simmer, and let it go for ten minutes. It looks very dire and occult at this point. Strange purplish frothy scum collects, and then bright raspberry-colored lava seethes up from underneath. It smells ancient and wonderful. 

 

Everybody is impressed by this part.

Then you run the mixture through a sieve, or through cheesecloth. I know I have cheesecloth in this house somewhere. I remember bagging it after the jelly debacle, grimly thinking “Next time will be different.” I looked for a while, then gave up and called the convenience store and made them look, was delighted to hear that they do have some; gave Benny some instructions for how to keep the pot from boiling over, grabbed my purse, and . . . remembered I don’t have a car. So, sieve it was. This is fine, except that you’re supposed to let it sit for several hours or overnight, and the sieve was only big enough to hold about 1/3 of the grapes. I ended up putting some grape mash in the sieve over a bowl and the rest carefully in a colander, just hoping the seeds wouldn’t slip through the holes. 

After a while, I started smushing the pulp in the sieve to help it finish dripping, and then I transferred the colander pulp to the sieve and smushed that too. I’ll smush you all, eventually. 

And that, my friends, is how you make grape juice. Everything that drips through is 100% pure, powerful, pungent, tart, extra-purple grape juice. It’s the grapiest. It tastes the way it feels to dive from a hot sunny rock down into a cool dim pond. Sploosh!

Look at those beaded bubbles winking at the brim.

I have to say that at least once a year, to prove I went to college. 

You can add some sugar if it’s too tart, but we thought it was great the way it was. I don’t know why the grape juice was sweet enough without sugar when the grape sorbet was too sour. I suppose the cooking brought out the sugar in the fruit.

We got about three quarts of juice.

Of course it was still hot from cooking, so I put it in the fridge to cool. You’re supposed to run it through a sieve a second time to get any sediment out, but I forgot.

Then I remembered that last bit of leftover raw pulp! I briefly considered grape pie, but I just don’t think people want that. At least, not on the same night as we have grape juice and grape sorbet. 

So I found an old sheet and tore it until it was about the size of a curtain. I mixed the 2-1/2 cups of grape pulp with four cups of water and four heaping tablespoons of salt, heated that up, and then started simmering the cloth.

It made me feel extraordinarily thrifty to be using up every last bit of the grapes we picked. Basically Kristin Lavransdatter over here, whipping Husaby into shape. I simmered the cloth for about three hours. There wasn’t quite enough dye to submerge it, so I knew it was going to come out somewhat splotchy, but all I had to lose was a torn sheet and some leftover mashed grapes. 

It was covered with gritty little bits of grape crud when it was done

so I rinsed it off in the shower and let it dry. Tah dah! On Monday morning, after drying overnight, it was most definitely a pleasant lavender shade, and seems to be colorfast. 

But back to Sunday. After supper, we had the trail mix ice cream and the grape sorbet. I was delighted at how it came out. It was luscious. Dusky and tart, but not sour, just very intense and refreshing. 

Will absolutely make again, and we’re getting ideas for other fruit sorbets. Next time I make Indian food, I think a mango sorbet would be so nice. Possibly even . . . . superfine. 

And that is the story of how I used up all the grapes, and I didn’t get stung, and I didn’t even yell at anyone! Please clap. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 308: A kind of Koyaanisqatsi mouthfeel

This week starts so well.

But, dear reader, read on. 

SATURDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Always a tasty option. A variety of cured meats from the deli, some jarred pesto, olive oil and vinegar, basil and tomatoes, and plenty of fries. 

And cheese! Do not forget the cheese. 

SUNDAY
Bagel, bacon, egg, cheese sandwiches, OJ

Ran out of eggs; was not sad to have to send a kid to go get some fresh local eggs, some with those lovely blue shells. Fresh eggs just fry up different, especially in bacon fat. 

I set a timer for eighty seconds to toast the bagels in the oven, and immediately forgot they were in there, so if you were wondering how quickly I can forget something, it’s much shorter than eighty seconds. 

This reminds me of a joke Irene once told when she was four, when she owned a riddle book and would adjust most of the jokes to make them funnier:

Irene: Will you remember me in a year?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Will you remember me in eight years?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Will you remember me in a million years?
Me: Yes.
Irene: Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
Irene: HIYA, GRAMPAW!!!!!!!!!
 
Anyway, I didn’t burn the bagels OR the bacon. 

 

Still some chances to eat outside. The hummingbirds have departed, though. 

On Sunday I also made two batches of ice cream for Monday, as I will describe shortly. 

MONDAY
Smoked pork ribs, coleslaw, grapes; homemade ice cream

Monday was Labor Day, and the two moved-out kids came by for dinner, which was lovely. Damien smoked three racks of pork ribs for several hours using his sugar rub and Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce. (This recipe says “chicken thighs,” but it’s the same rub)

Jump to Recipe

An absolute pile of luscious, juicy, tender ribs, so good. Lena made a bowl of wonderfully tart coleslaw and I contributed by washing off some grapes. 

We all liked the ribs, but Corrie really enjoyed them. 

Then for dessert, we had ice cream sundaes. I made two kinds of ice cream: Chocolate and Lucky Charms. I just now had to google “Marshmallow Mateys vs” to remember the phrase “Lucky Charms,” because my brain is too smooth to remember the name of rich person’s cereal at this late date.

I followed the recipe at We Are Not Martha because they told a sad story about how they once got picked up by Bon Appétit but now the food blogging world is clogged with Pinterest copycats and people who put all their effort into photography, and I guess I have a soft spot for people who lead with a kvetch. 

The recipe was fairly labor intensive, because they are trying to get the taste of cereal without including actual cereal, which would be gross. So you have to infuse some milk with Lucky Charms cereal for half an hour, then strain out the cereal

and then use that milk to make a custard

Any time I use a thermometer in a recipe, I feel so put-upon. I feel like I’m using a bellows or an Erlenmeyer flask or forceps or something. Of course this was all 100% my idea, but never ind. I have the ability to create resentment against nobody at all, out of thin air, and to sustain it for hours. So you whisk and heat this custard and then mix it with heavy cream and push it through a sieve again, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill it for four hours. And then you can actually put it in your ice cream machine. 

I churned it for thirty minutes, then added some marshmallow fluff and the marshmallows I suddenly realized I needed to pick out of the remaining box of cereal; and then I refrigerated it overnight. I have to admit, it turned out great. It’s very cute ice cream. The ice cream has a very cozy, custard-y taste that absolutely reminds you of watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, which is something I don’t think I ever actually did. We did not have a TV when I was growing up. I remember once my father brought home a film projector from the college where he worked, and he tacked up a sheet on the living room sliding doors and we watched Koyaanisqatsi, and that’s why I am the way I am.

The marshmallows softened slightly, but some of them still had that peculiar cereal marshmallow crunch. I skipped the sauce and whipped cream and just had ice cream with a cherry. 

I also made chocolate ice cream, which I somehow haven’t made yet, in all our ice cream-making adventures. I was reading over the various recipes and Corrie was looking over my shoulder and reading the little recipe descriptions. 

Corrie: ‘Mouthfeel?’ What’s mouthfeel? 
Me:  It just means how it feels in your mouth. I think I’ll make this simpler recipe, instead.
Corrie: Dang. I like mouthfeel.
So obviously you know how this story ends. I used the Ben and Jerry recipe for Jerry’s Chocolate, which is the version with, as the book says, “a more complex texture. Jerry refers to this as ‘mouthfeel.'” 
It’s a slightly more time-consuming recipe than some of the others I’ve been making, but mainly just because you have to chill the cream mixture for a few hours before you pour it into the machine to churn. I froze it overnight and our freezer is having some kind of personal crisis, and parts of it are MUCH colder than others, so this one came out so hard, I couldn’t scoop it at all. I had to pry it out of the container with a pancake flipper and then carve it into blocks with a knife. Yes, I covered it. I bought a special container with a lid, and lectured the family about how it was just for ice cream, and everything.
 

It was delicious, though. I already had a migraine, so I had a spoonful, and it was very rich, like the ice cream version of very good hot chocolate. And that mouthfeel! Superb. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

Back to school. My car mysteriously broke down, so we had to do a rigamarole with borrowed cars to get everyone to school. I shalln’t keep you in suspense: We just got the call today that my car will need an ennnnntirrrrreee newwwww enginnnnne. Yes this is my “nice” “new” car, which I took out a loan to pay for for the first time in my life, which I have had for less than a year and a half, and which already required, among other major repairs, a new t i m i n g c h a i n, which takes twenty hours of labor. My feelings about the car are . . . not very mouthfeel, let me tell you. 

Unless you would like to buy it from me. In which case it’s a great little vehicle, very clean, hardly driven. DM me. 

Anyway, we had tacos. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken shawarma with pita and yogurt sauce

On Tuesday, because I was carless at home, I decided to prep Wednesday’s meal ahead of time, so I marinated the shawarma meat. Then on Wednesday, all I had to do was cut up some cucumbers, wash a bunch of little tomatoes, chop up some parsley, make a batch of yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

open a bunch of cans and bottles of various kinds of olives, cut up a bunch of feta, pile up a bunch of pita bread, and slice up a bunch of onions. I’m making it sound like a lot, but it’s like 20 minutes of work, and the rest is just fishing the meat out of the marinade where it has been resting all night,

Jump to Recipe

spreading it in a pan, festooning it with onions, and cooking it just nicely. This is such a low-skill, high-reward meal. Look at this lovely chicken. I included some breasts, some thighs. Red onions are better than yellow, but it’s all good. The thighs are the superior meat for this dish, but it’s all good. 

And here’s my lovely tasty plate. 

Just a fantastic meal. Everybody likes at least a few elements of this meal, and several people like every last bit of it. Everyone’s happy on shawarma night. 

THURSDAY
Pulled pork, cheesy cabbage, hash browns

On Thursday I industriously got the pork into the slow cooker bright an early. I added half a liter of Coke, some onion quarters, a few chopped jalapeños, and bunch of cumin, salt, and pepper, and I set it to low and went away happy. 

Several hours later, I realized Suzy Homemaker here never plugged the damn thing in.

Luckily, the Coke was very cold and the crock pot kept it chilled, so the meat was okay. I moved it all to the Instant Pot and pressure cooked it on high for 22 minutes, then moved it back to the slow cooker for the rest of the day. Came out looking promising.

and it shredded well enough.

I had been planning coleslaw, but I’m a little tired of coleslaw, so I looked up other cabbage recipes, and guess what? They all suck. The only one that seemed remotely tasty was a kind of au gratin idea, with a cheese sauce and maybe a buttered crumb topping. But I was caught between some obnoxiously high brow recipes that called for gruyere and heavy cream and braising, and some distressingly trashy ones that wanted you to smother the whole thing with Cheez Wiz and top it with Ritz crackers. Caught between two worlds, story of my life, very tragic.

So I ended up cutting the cabbage into eight wedges, drizzling it with olive oil and salting and peppering it, and roasting it for about 45 minutes. Then I made a white sauce and added in plenty of various kinds of cheese, plus paprika, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. This I spread over the roasted cabbage, and topped it with crunchy fried onions and parsley. Then I baked it in a high oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese was melted. 

It was disgusting. Never making this again. I don’t know what I was thinking. Cabbage can go screw. 

Here’s a nice picture I took before I tasted it.

I mean it was not the worst thing I’ve ever had in my face. But the cabbage was underdone and the cheese only reached the top layer, so most of it was just plain cabbage; and the cheese sauce had a flavor I can only describe as . . . bricky. It tasted like if you ground up a brick and tried to pass it off as seasoning, with cheese. Maybe put some pennies in there. I don’t know what happened. 

I also served some hash browns. Well, that was the plan. I bought four bags of what it said were hash browns (and this may actually explain what was up with the freezer. That is too many bags), but which turned out to be just straight up shredded potatoes, nothing else. Which is fine, but look, I don’t know, I guess I can’t read. I definitely cannot think. By this time the sun was low in the sky and I was already worried about the cabbage, not to mention the demoralizing Suzy Homemaker situation, so I just spread the potato shreds in a pan, drizzled it with oil, and sprinkled it with salt, and cooked it at a high heat until some of it was burnt and some of it was pale and limp, and it was just going to have to do. Good grief. We did have some leftover Baby Ray’s sauce and everyone was very nice about it.

FRIDAY
We have two different school cookouts that we’re supposed to be at, and we were going to try to split up and go to both, IF the mechanic was done with my car by now. And you know how that story ends! It ends well! My car is diagnosed as having a terminal case of cheesy cabbage and there is no hope. Oh well, maybe there’s some ice cream left. 

Speaking of ice cream, this weekend I intend to hide from reality and spend my time picking the millions of concord grapes we grew for some reason, make some grape juice, and see about making grape gelato. The only reason people don’t make grape gelato more often is that they are cowards, I’m sure of it. 

God save the queen. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. 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. 

Jerry's Chocolate Ice Cream

This is the more textured chocolate ice cream from the Ben and Jerry's ice cream recipe book. It has a rich, dusky chocolate flavor and texture. Makes 2 quarts. This recipe requires some chill time before you put the cream mixture into the machine.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate. I used a double boiler, but you can use a microwave if you're careful. Whisk in the cocoa and continue heating until it's smooth. It's okay if it's clumpy. Continue heating and whisk in the milk gradually until it's all blended together. Remove from heat and let cool.

  2. In another bowl, whisk, the eggs until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the sugar and continue whisking until completely blended. Add in the cream and vanilla and continue whisking until blended.

  3. Add the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for about three hours, or until it is cold.

  4. Use the cold mixture in your ice cream machine. I used my Cuisinart and let it churn for thirty minutes, then let it cure overnight.

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 306: In which I talk myself into, then out of, then into making ice cream again

By SIMCHA FISHER with additional reporting by CORNELIA FISHER 

Happy Friday! It’s summer for another, like, eleven minutes, and we’re squeezing the last few drops out. We told the kids we couldn’t afford to go to an amusement park this year, and we were right, but then, I don’t know, we went anyway. Do not take financial advice from me. All I know is eat fried dough & lie. 

Here’s what else we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Smoked ribs, cole slaw, chips and salsa

Saturday morning, I drove up to see some of my siblings and tend to our parents’ grave a bit. Look, ma! I remembered soapy water and a scrubbing brush!

Did some planting, sat on the grass telling some old stories in the hot hot sun, left the cemetery and got some lunch, and then drove back home, and one of my sisters was able to come too and join us for a bit, much to the dog’s delight. And of course everyone’s delight, but the dog was very especially delighted.

Damien smoked up a pile of ribs most wonderfully, and made a big bowl of coleslaw. 

He made his nice spicy sugar rub

Jump to Recipe

and smoked the ribs for about four hours, then brushed them with Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce and gave them a little char in the fire, and then moved them into the oven for a while, just to make absolutely sure they were cooked all the way.

They came out so juicy and tender. 

SUNDAY
Burgers, chips

I guess I must have gone shopping on Sunday, and Damien made supper. I have no memory of this day at all. 

From the looks of it, I had been suffering from some kind of pickle deficiency. Took care of that. 

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad with homemade croutons 

Roast chicken breast on mixed greens with fresh blueberries with diced red onions and homemade croutons. I forgot to buy nuts, and for some reason I decided to get a wedge of parmesan instead of a bunch of feta, which was a little sad. Then, to be perfectly honest, I ate so many hot buttered croutons right out of the oven that I didn’t really feel like eating a chicken salad, so I skipped supper, and then I think I had a bunch of crackers and fruit roll-ups at night, and I feel like I also ate some candy. Not been my most stellar week, nutritionally. I got really excited about having lost four pounds, and have been celebrating by oh you know.

Also it’s the end of summer and I’m sad. Which is the only appropriate way to feel, and if the reason you don’t feel that way is because you live in Arizona, then that’s just an inappropriate place to live. Have some croutons, it will help, temporarily. Have some ice cream. 

I also forgot to take a picture of the salad, but here is a similar salad from the past: 

Moe moved out and left behind some of his bougie sesame rolls, which I also made into croutons and also ate. 

TUESDAY
Chili verde 

The idea of chili verde has become more and more insistent over the last few weeks, and finally on Tuesday it manifested itself right on my stovetop.

Jump to Recipe

Actually it was much more fun than that, in that I got to unwrap a dozen sticky, crackly little tomatillos and chop the heads of a variety of peppers

rrrrroast them up

pull their skins off and then hurl them into the food processor with a bunch of onions, an entire peeled head of garlic, and a big bunch of cilantro. And I seared up some lovely seasoned pork in hot oil until it was crackling brown, and then into the big heavy pot goes the meat and all the peppers and whatnot, and I let it simmer for the whole rest of the day. The dog got so much pork fat that he became overwhelmed and started to growl at it (not at me; at the pork fat. He’s not smart), which I understand completely. I also am not smart, but I do know how to make chili verde. 

Sometimes I break up the meat into shreds after it cooks, but this time I left it as hunks. Sometimes I add some chicken broth to loosen up the pepper sauce, but this time I just let it be. Served it just plain, with cilantro and sour cream. Forgot to cut up limes. 

My friends, it was so good. AND THO THPYTHY. Spicy enough that it required me start talking funny. At no point did I remove any seeds or membranes from the peppers, and I stand by this! I do kind of regret not making a pot of rice or anything, and in fact went around spooning up extra pepper sauce from other people’s bowls. 

I went to bed happy, but the next day, things that were not entirely excellent occurred in and around my stomach. Totally worth it. But next time, I’ll make rice. 

I had also intended to grill some pineapple spears, and totally forgot. Grilled pineapple is ahhhhmazing. The juice turns to golden-sweet nectar and the little charred bits set off the creamy sweet flesh of the rest.

Especially nice with a little vanilla ice cream. IF you’re the kind of person who always has ice cream in the house, which I now am. 

WEDNESDAY
Canobie! Lake! Park! 

This was the day! We left a mere half an hour behind schedule, and I only took one wrong exit. I actually heard my GPS say “sorry,” which I don’t really understand, but we got right back on track, parked, ate our supermarket sandwiches, and it was off to the races. Well, Damien had to sit in the parking lot and listen to a hearing for a while and then write about it, but then he was off to the races, and we had a great day. Canobie is a wonderful place, clean, friendly, safe, well-run, and beautiful. 

 Here are more photos of the day on Facebook, if you want to take a peek. I ate a piece of fried dough the size of a 

and here is where I am reflecting that I’m not looking forward to school starting at all, but on the other hand, Corrie is watching me write and, whenever my fingers pause, she shouts words that she thinks should come next. I’m know I’m only writing about fried dough, but still.

Okay, so it was a very large piece of fried dough, and I ate it all, and then we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home anyway, and when we got home, I waited for the kids to get out of the car and then I ate some of the emergency diabetes candy that was in the glove box. This is why I generally steer clear of sugar. Once I have a little bit of it (or a lot of it, like a piece of fried dough the size of, okay Corrie, the size of a ROCK), then I turn into a panicky sugar-seeking machine. 

THURSDAY
Old Bay chicken drumsticks, carrots, and chips; homemade ice cream

The plan was to spend all day at the beach, according to a summer-long sword of Damocles promise, but various situations conspired against me, and instead a friend came over, we made ice cream, and we did some back-to-school shopping, which I’ve elected to make easier on myself by doing it in tiny increments, over and over again over the course of several weeks instead of getting it all over with at once. I am just chock full of good ideas these days. Then we went to a thrift store and to *ptui* Spirit. 

Anyway, one good idea I had was that, when we finally got home, I melted a couple of sticks of butter, poured them over the drumsticks, and sprinkled both sides liberally with Old Bay seasoning, and broiled them on both sides, with a little half-hearted basting halfway through. 

Well, I did this eventually. First I pre-heated the oven and set up the pan of chicken with butter and seasoning, and then I went into the living room with a can of seltzer and my phone, and put my feet up, and gradually began to wonder why the smell of chicken wasn’t filling the house. The answer turned out to be “because you have to put the chicken into the oven.” Live and learn. 

Delicious, because how could it not be, eventually? I served it with carrots and not hummus, because that turned out to be moldy, and chips. 

Worth noting: When I was labelling photo files, my phone changed this one to “bowl of old bat chicken.” So what?

Earlier that day, we made two batches of ice cream, both using Ben and Jerry’s basic sweet cream base (two eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 cups heavy cream). For one, I added 1.5 teaspoons of mint extract and most of a bag of frozen mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and three drops of green food coloring and a good mixing before freezing it for five or six hours.

The other one got a few teaspoons of vanilla, a jar of halved maraschino cherries (drained), about half a bag of frozen white chocolate chips, and two big handfuls of cashews before it went into the freezer. 

Both great! Both hits. The cherry one honestly would have been better with peanuts, which certainly would have been cheaper, as well. I was going for a sort of sundae-in-a scoop taste, but without chocolate, and this achieved that. I adore frozen maraschino cherries. They make me feel like a little kid who feels like a grownup. 

I really love making ice cream. It’s like cooking, because once you understand the basics, you can more or less go with your gut about what will be yummy; but it’s like baking, because you do all the work in the front end and then just let it go, and end up with dessert. And I get the fun of doing something homemade with whole ingredients, but I know the kids will actually enjoy and appreciate it. Usually you have to pick either one or the other. But honest to goodness, if you see me eating anything with sugar it in today, please hit me with a rock, or a piece of fried dough, whichever’s bigger. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas 

Today one kid had new student orientation, and then we’re going to do more school shopping with the remaining two kids who somehow still haven’t gone, and it’s supposed to rain, so we can’t go to the beach. I wish I was back on the carousel. I wish I was back in the ocean. Truly, if I end up just making more ice cream, there are worse things. 

That reminds me, I have a really good fried dough recipe. Fried dough is easy to make, and if you do it at home, you can put a reasonable amount of sugar on it. Just a light dusting. 

And you can make it in a reasonable size, the size of a small boulder.

Do it. Fry some dough. Maybe scoop a li’l ice cream on top. For tomorrow we die. 

Fried dough

Makes about 15 slabs of fried dough the size of a small plate

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) cold butter
  • 1-1/2 cups lurkworm water
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
  • cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Cut the cold butter into bits and work it gently into the dough.

  3. Add the water and stir until the dough is all combined.

  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes

  5. Separate the dough into pieces and flatten each piece into a thin disk with your fingers. If it's sticky, put a little confectioner's sugar on your work surface.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan. You can deep fry it or use less oil and fry it in a small amount of oil; your choice. The oil is ready when you put a wooden spoon in and little bubbles form around it.

  7. Carefully lay the disc of dough in the hot oil. Let it cook a few minutes, just barely getting brown, and then turn it and cook the other side.

  8. Remove the dough, let the excess oil drain off, and sprinkle it immediately with sugar and cinnamon if you like.

  9. You can keep these hot in the oven for a bit, but they're best when they're very hot.

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. 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. 

 

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • additional cilantro for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. 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.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. 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.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

The Stupids buy an ice cream machine

I know it’s just about the end of summer, but I promised a homemade ice cream report in my last What’s For Supper, so here it is!

First of all, this is the machine I got: A Cuisinart ICE-20P1.

It is about $70 new, but I got mine on Facebook marketplace for much cheaper.  There is a newer model of this same basic machine, the ICE-20P1. There seem to be lots of like-new ice cream machines for sale for cheap, probably because people get them as unwanted presents, or decide they’re not worth the counter space. I have decided no such thing. I love making ice cream.

The other kind of machine in my price range were hand-cranked ones that require salt and ice and tend to have a much larger capacity. The smaller, automatic ones are smaller, but they are automatic (no, I don’t have a writing agent, why do you ask?), and I am definitely at a point in my life where I want to push a button and walk away for a while.

The machine is very simple. The bowl has liquid inside its walls, and you put the bowl in the freezer for many hours, preferably 12 or more, until the liquid is completely frozen. When you’re ready to make ice cream, you fit the bowl onto the machine, put the dasher inside the bowl, fit the large plastic guard over both, turn it on, and pour your ingredients in while it is running. And that’s it. The machine turns the frozen bowl and the dasher stays in place, so the ice cream freezes and gets churned.

You can peek in the top and watch it churning, and maybe even stick a spoon in and grab a taste. 

After about 25 minutes, the ice cream is like soft serve and you can eat it that way if you like. If you want harder ice cream, you pour it into a container and return it to the freezer for another 4-6 hours. (If you are going to leave it in the freezer longer than that, cover it with wax paper.) 

The machine makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream, which is about as much ice cream as one of those oblong cartons from the supermarket.

In theory, you can make one batch, empty it into a container, and re-use the still-frozen bowl to make a second batch of ice cream. But every time I try this, it just doesn’t freeze properly, probably because my kitchen is just too hot and the bowl thaws out too much. So I bought a second bowl on eBay (the same size works for the older and newer model of Cuisinart), so I can make one batch after another. They do take up room in the freezer, but nobody has complained yet. 

Okay, on to the ice cream! Here is what we have made so far:

VANILLA

My first foray. I just used the recipe in the Cuisinart booklet, which is:

Whisk together 1 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of sugar. 
Stir in 2 cups chilled heavy cream. 
Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract. 
Pour into machine and mix 25-30 minutes. 

We ate it right out of the machine, so it was soft serve consistency. It was delicious, but it was then that I discovered that 1.5 quarts was not as much as I thought. 

PEACH

I followed the recipe from Like Mother Like Daughter. (Totally different mother and daughter, FYI. She doesn’t even yell at you or try to sell you a set of expensive books while reminding you that working women inevitably raise crack whores; she just gives you the recipe for peach ice cream. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.)

Nice and easy. You peel and chop fresh peaches and macerate them in sugar, then throw them in the food processor, then mix the blended peaches with a standard mixture of milk, cream, vanilla, and more sugar, and then churn and freeze.

It came out very pleasant and peachy with little bits of fruit all through it, and the ice cream itself was mildly peach flavored. This time, I let the ice cream harden up, but I served it in wedges, which blunted its appeal somewhat. It also didn’t help that it was on the plate next to this– well, you’ll see.

Buying an ice cream scoop and being able to serve nice curled-up scoops of ice cream made a big difference for how well the ice cream was received. I might make this recipe again with a little cinnamon and/or ginger or maybe rum, especially when the peaches on our tree ripen up. 

BLUEBERRY GINGER MINT SORBET I GUESS

So I made one batch of peach ice cream and wanted to make a second batch of something contrasting to go with it. I found this amazingly, suspiciously simple recipe for a blueberry mint ginger lime sorbet. My spidey sense told me the website looked hinky, but as you may know, my specialty is forging ahead through hinkiness, for no reason at all. 

Yeah, so, it turned out terrible. It was kind of gritty and pulpy and much too gingery, and it certainly didn’t freeze right, so it was kind of like a very chilly . . . relish. The crazy thing is, I can’t find the recipe at all now. I can’t find it online, and it’s somehow not in my search history. I swear I did not hallucinate this dreadful recipe, and yet. Let’s just move along. 

NEAPOLITAN TRAIL MIX

After the blueberry relish debacle, I promised the kids something yummy and fun would be next. Aldi had these bags of trail mix with chocolate chips, vanilla chips, strawberry chips shaped like ice cream cones, cashews, almonds, and freeze-dried strawberries. 

What really sold me was the ice cream cone-shaped chips. I really needed it to be crystal clear that this was ice cream we were dealing with. Ice cream!

By this time, my Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book had arrived

so I used the recipe for Sweet Cream Base 1, which is what they recommend for fruit, cookies, and candy. It is similar to the recipes I’d used before, except it has eggs. The recipe:

Whisk 2 eggs for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add in 3/4 cup sugar and continue whisking for another minute. Add in 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup milk and blend. This makes a quart of ice cream.

I churned up a double recipe of this and then stirred in the trail mix, which I had been keeping in the freezer. This turned out just excellent. I built in time to let it sit in the freezer for four hours before dinner, and I even bought an ice cream scoop, so it came out just like “real” hard pack ice cream.

Very rich, smooth, and creamy. I was afraid the whole nuts would be too big and I should have chopped them up, but they were just right. The only flaw was the freeze-dried strawberries, which were somewhat hard to chew, being both freeze-dried and frozen. But everyone liked this ice cream and said I should make it again. 

By this point, I was in the habit of washing out the freezer bowls, drying them off, and returning them to the freezer as soon as the ice cream was done churning. 

LEMONADE SLUSHIES

On a whim, I made a big pitcher of lemonade (water, bottled lemon juice, and sugar), and dumped it into the machine and let it go for 25 minutes. It came out just a tiny bit more watery than a frozen drink you’d get at the 7-11 or whatever, but there were no complaints. There was a bit left over, which I poured into a cup and froze. Voila, an Italian ice with which to bribe an intractable child the next day. 

My only sadness is that no one in this house is young enough to call them “Flushies” anymore. 

GINGER ALE SLUSHIES

Next day, we tried the same thing with ginger ale, and it did not work at all! The dasher froze to the bottom of the machine, and we just ended up with very cold ginger ale with some drifts of slush floating in it. I have no idea why this happened. 

SAFFRON ROSEWATER PISTACHIO (BASTANI) 

Back on my bullshit. You can see, I have been alternating between cute, fun, summery, silly ice cream, and effete, exotic, difficult frozen confections. Time for something difficult!

There were many recipes for this ice cream, which is Persian and is called “bastani,” so I listened to my heart and chose the one from the site called The Delicious Crescent. One mark against it is that you have to stand there whisking a custard for a long time until it thickens up. Most people can manage this, but I have custard problems, and it always takes eleven times longer than normal, if it thickens at all. 

One mark in its favor was that it has you grind up saffron with salt using a mortar and pestle, which I got for mother’s day and haven’t had a chance to use yet. That was fun! Here is a nice handful of saffron threads

and here it is, all ground up in the mortar with a little salt

You make a simple custard and chill it in an ice bath, and then soak the ground saffron in rosewater

then stir that into the custard along with cream, and chill that in an ice bath. Lots of exciting changes in color along the way!

Then you pour the final chilled saffron rosewater custard into your ice cream maker and churn it. You add the pistachios in afterward, and then continue freezing. The recipe called for unsalted pistachios, but I had salted, and I thought they were great. I also omitted the vanilla that the recipe called for, and did not miss it at all.

I made a triple batch of this recipe and to me it seemed like the most successful yet. Wonderful, silky, creamy consistency, and a very rich flavor.

Many of the kids just didn’t like it, because saffron and rosewater, but I thought it was lovely. I don’t know how to describe it, because nothing else really tastes like saffron or rosewater. The flavors intensified over time, especially the rosewater, which I discovered because I kept going back for more over the next few days, and I did valiantly eventually manage to eat the whole thing. 

Next! Orange slushie!

We gave slushies another chance, this time with orange soda, and it worked great. 

Nice and frozen, very refreshing. It comes out more frozen along the edges, and you stir it up to even it out the consistency before ladling it into cups. I like knocking on kid’s doors and they groan, ” . . . whaaaaaaat” thinking I’m going to say “Can you please take the garbage out?” but instead I say, “Do you want a little orange slushie?” They do!

VANILLA M&M

Yesterday morning, I made a double recipe of Ben and Jerry’s basic cream base plus a little vanilla, and threw in a bag of M&M’s when it was done churning. The M&M’s got a little blurry as I stirred them in, and gave the ice cream a kind of swirly pastel effect, which wasn’t terrible, but it was a little unexpected. I think I could have prevented this, and kept the M&M’s more intact, by freezing them for an hour or so. I just forgot to do that, and they were probably pretty warm from sitting on the shelf.

I put the churned ice cream back in the freezer for about four hours, and it came out somewhere between hard pack and soft serve. Solid enough to cut into wedges, but a tiny bit softer than I would have liked for our purposes. Benny made chocolate chip cookies, which she spread into pans and cut into bars, so people could make ice cream sandwiches.

I didn’t taste either, because me and chocolate don’t get along, but everyone said it was good, except for one kid who was inexplicably complaining about HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE M&M ICE CREAM SANDWICHES. It’s hard to believe a child of mine would turn out to be a complainer, and yet here we are.

NEXT! 

Next up: My plan is white chocolate chips, maraschino cherry halves, and cashews. Eh? Eh? I think that sounds like party ice cream, and yes it will give me a headache, but probably not a migraine. Gonna remember to freeze the white chocolate chips this time. 

I have also bought a few bars of baker’s chocolate, so I can make some chocolate ice cream. It is absolutely time to start experimenting with something besides the basic sweet cream base. 

I’m also looking, heaven help me, at recipes for Lucky Charms ice cream. They have brought home a box of actual store brand Lucky Charms and requested that I made it into ice cream. All the recipes require you to make a bowl of Lucky Charms-infused milk, run it through a sieve, and then make a custard out of that, and hey ,why not make your own bespoke marshmallow fluff as long as you’re insane? and for some reason I’m thinking about how much fun it would be to clean the dusty grease off the top of the refrigerator, instead. But I guess if I can make rosewater bastani, I can make Lucky Charms ice cream. 

I actually have a kid who works in an ice cream shop, and the other day a customer was asking about various toppings, and she was trying to explain that one of the choices was Fruity Pebbles; but having been brought up in dire poverty, she kept saying “Fruity Dyno-Bites” instead, and they had to call the manager over the clear up the confusion. You know, people are always going on and on about lead paint and predatory landlords and no running water, blah blah blah, but you never hear about the devastating hardship of growing up so poor that, when you talk about cereal, you speak Malt-O-Meal, and nobody knows what you’re talking about. O, the humanity!

I’m also looking at my grapes.

This is the view from my murderboat, which has been utterly consumed by grapes in the last few years.

Last year, we made grape jelly, for reasons that are kind of unclear, because we don’t super duper like grape jelly, and we sure did make a lot of it. I’ve been promising the kids we would just make grape juice this year, which people actually want to consume. But I’m thinking grape gelato could be pretty wonderful. We’ll see! And the war between fun and effete wages on. Maybe I should buy a second ice cream machine. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 305: We all scream “bastani!”

Hi! Hi! I meant to do a food-and-ocean pictures post last week, when we were in Cape Cod, but I became overwhelmed and it languishes unfinished in my drafts folder. It’s worth summarizing, though, because I realized I actually have a routine down for vacation week, though, which takes into account limited budget, limited packing space, and a desire to avoid that “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean” effect, but also a desire to not just eat boring everyday food, because we are near the ocean. (I should note that, at home and at the beach, Damien does all the laundry! And in fact he did most of the cooking while we were on vacation, too, so there.) Here is what we had (and what we did): 

First day: Sandwiches on baguettes (the most portable bread) and fake Pringles (the most compact chips). We have to bring a cooler anyway, for use at the beach, so I cram it with as much deli meat and cheese as possible, and we have this for our first meal, plus for lunch throughout the week. I also brought coffee, milk and cereal for the first breakfast, so we don’t have to leave the house until at least mid-morning of the second day.
Here are some pics on Facebook from our first day, discovering that the water on this part of Cape Cod is amazingly warm. 

Second day: 
Pics on Facebook from day 2. Our lovely house was literally a one-minute walk from the beach, but we wanted to see what else was in walking distance. Turns out, other beaches! But this one had a sign warning you not to swim there if you are bleeding, and not to wear dangly, shiny jewelry, or be too delicious. 

This picture is for all the haterz who ever wanted to BURY ME (I got out)

Before the beach, I went shopping, came home with rotisserie chickens and salad and chips, plus food for the rest of the week.

I had beach town supermarket sticker shock, so between that and the fact that Corrie came shopping with me, I came back with an awful lot of Jello, which came in handy later in the week when it was rainy and we needed something to fling around the kitchen.

Third day: 
We went to Paine’s Creek Beach and explored the tide pools. A dreamlike spot I’d love to go back to someday.

I think we actually went to a second beach that day? It’s all a blur. Damien grilled tasty burgers outside and made fries in the oven for dinner.

Fourth day: Seafood boil. We had some half-assed plans to dig our own clams, but there were complications with the permit and the equipment, so we decided to buy the seafood this year and plan to plan ahead next year. Still a huge treat. Recipe from the Narraganett beer can:

Damien made this meal as well. He got a bunch of littleneck clams, a few oysters, lots of mussels, and some kind of other big clams, and some kind of Spanish sausage, and we had cute little red potatoes and onions, bay leaves and peppercorns and parsley. Skipped the breakfast sausage. It’s all supposed to get boiled together, but we ran out of room, so he grilled the corn in its husks on the grill, and that turned out great. Man, that was a delicious meal. 

The tragedy was we didn’t think of getting some crusty bread to sop up the broth, which was tremendous. I liked the little neck clams best. Oh, what a feast. I had, uh, four helpings.

Most of the kids had chicken nuggets and corn, because what do they know. 

This was the day we rented kayaks and canoes! We paddled up Swan River, out into the ocean a bit, and then back down the river. A most excellent adventure, and now I am absolutely on the prowl for some used kayaks so we can do this more often. 

Fifth day: Restaurant

It rained and thundered, so we went to the movies, and then went out to eat and got ice cream. We always have one restaurant day when we go on vacation. We descended upon Kate’s Fried Seafood and Ice Cream in Brewster, which was very good. I kind of regret not ordering a big fried platter like the others did, because it turned out to be not greasy and just nice, but the salmon burger and sweet potato fries I picked was also very tasty and fresh.

That night we played poker for Swedish Fish and I believe it was also that night Damien and I both fell asleep on the couch for some reason. 

Sixth day: Frozen pizza
The weather cleared up enough for some more swimming, and there was a spectacular sunset for our final evening. 

Last day: Supermarket sandwiches on the way home. We had to be checked out by 10:00, so we had a quick breakfast, cleaned like maniacs, drove for a while, stopped for cheeseburgers, drove more, fulfilled my recently acquired lifelong dream to tour the U.S.S. Constitution, which is the world’s oldest ship still afloat!

and then to be honest the day started to go downhill, but Damien always listens to my stupid plans, so we walked a mile to the T station and rode the train to Chinatown. This would not have been a bad idea except that it was at the tail end of a very long and exhausting day and week, and nobody was at their best. So we got some reasonably tasty treats,

wandered around for a bit, and discovered they were having some kind of amazing food and dance festival at this very spot tomorrow, and decided to call it a day. Back on the T, another mile walk, couldn’t super duper remember where I parked the car, found the car, drove about an hour, stopped and got sandwiches at the supermarket, drove another two hours home, and BOY was the dog happy to see us. BOY WAS HE. 

And that was vacation. It was beautiful. 

Here’s what we had this past week: 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic bread

Damien shopped for and made dinner. Absolutely delicious. 

His recipe, and I’m running so ludicrously late today, I don’t have time to make a recipe card at the moment:

One chopped onion per can of tomatoes, (he used 4 cans) and a diced head of garlic. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes until you can smell the oil in the room, then add the onions only and cook till soft. Add a little salt. Add the garlic and cook some more, and then add tomato paste (one can per can of tomatoes, so four cans.) Cook that a bit then add sugar and some glugs of wine. Add the tomatoes and simmer, adding wine and a little olive oil as needed/wanted. When most of the tomatoes are broken down it’s pretty much ready.

It was good to be home. And the weather was suddenly autumnal, which was kind of unnerving. We expect to have some more summer heat soon, but we have definitely rounded a corner. 

MONDAY
Chicken sandwiches with marinara sauce, provolone and basil; lemon rosemary olive oil cake

There was lots of wonderful sauce left over, so I bought some chicken burgers and cut up some baguettes, and we had sandwiches with a slice of provolone, a few basil leaves, and generous scoop of hot sauce to melt the cheese over everything. 

Always tasty.  

And then Clara made an amazing cake for the Assumption: A lemon olive oil rosemary cake with rosewater. She said there was a lot of prep work, with all the chopping and zesting, but the baking itself was quite simple, and it came out light and luscious, and you could really taste all the elements. 

So pretty. So nice to have someone else spontaneously coming up with cakes!

TUESDAY
Tostadas

Tostada Tuesday! Like Taco Tuesday, but when all the stores are out of taco shells so you suddenly realize that you can buy that bag of tostada shells you’ve been walking past and not buying your whole life, and no one will stop you. 

I’m not going to say tostada Tuesday changed my life, but it was fun, like discovering a new shape of pasta or a new . . . uhh, I don’t know, I got nothing. I gave up alcohol over a week ago and I’ve been sleeping through the night every night for the first time in many years, but it’s just made me stupider, which doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, I wonder what else I’ve been walking past all these years, week after week, and never even considering buying, besides tostada shells. 

I also made a big bowl of guacamole.

Jump to Recipe

The avocados looked fine, but they tasted so pale and watery. No one else noticed, but I was really dismayed. Hope it’s a fluke. Not an actual fluke. That would be disgusting. 

WEDNESDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

I planned these solely because people were kind of cranky and I wanted them to like me again. A Vermonter sandwich is thick, crusty bread (preferably sourdough or ciabatta, but I got baguettes), thick slices of roast chicken or turkey, lots of bacon, thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, slices of tart green apple, and lots of honey mustard dressing. 

It is a very hearty, cheering sandwich and it will make you friends. Corrie claimed that, once, I bought cheddar cheese that was so sharp, she cut her finger, and she absolutely insisted that this literally happened, and she will die clinging to this story. 

THURSDAY
Bo ssam, rice and lettuce, Asian cucumber salad, watermelon; saffron rosewater pistachio ice cream 

Thursday was supposed to be pork ribs, and they were supposed to be $1.49 a pound, but the supermarket flier lied to me, so I ended up pacing back and forth in front of the meat section, snarling quietly to myself, and then gloomily purchasing a giant fatty pork butt with no particular plans. 

Sometime during the week, the bottle of rosewater left over from the Assumption cake began to work on my brain, though, and I realized I had a jar of saffron threads I had never used, and Lucy had given me a mortar and pestle for mother’s day that I had likewise never used, and all that was lacking was a bag of pistachios, and then I could make . . . BASTANI. Bastani is persian ice cream made with, as you no doubt surmised, saffron, rosewater, and pistachios, and the idea of it has been haunting me. If you’ve never been haunted by the idea of persian ice cream, then baby, you are missing out. 

So from there, I says to myself, I says, what kind of pork goes with this kind of ice cream? And of course the answer was bo ssam. Usually I make bo ssam and then figure out what kind of soothing, mild thing I will serve along with it, but this time, I worked in the other direction. 

I have made bo ssam half a dozen times, and I keep simplifying the recipe, until I’m not even sure if it’s bo ssam anymore. All I do is, starting the night before, I mix a cup of salt with a cup of sugar and rub it all over a fatty piece of pork butt or shoulder, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it overnight. Then around noon I heavily line a pan with tinfoil, unwrap the meat, and put it in the pan, and cook it for six hours at 300. That’s it. We eat it with lettuce, rice, and whatever Asian sauce I can find, and something soothing to the palate.

I’m telling you, I could make this with recipe with my eyes closed. I could make this recipe with my feet. It’s so simple, and everybody acts like I’m some kind of conquering hero genius, and they gobble it up. It is so tender, it is just barely holding itself together under the caramelized salt and sugar crust. It’s ridiculous meat. There should be a law! 

I cut a watermelon into chunks, I made a pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and I made a bowl of Asian cucumber salad, which is always refreshing and pretty and takes literally five minutes to throw together. 

Jump to Recipe

And there it all was. I brought my plate outside and ate alone so no one would see me acting like a monster with it. This was just a spectacular meal, an absolute festival of flavors. 

Everybody ate a lot, and had to rest up for a while, and then I brought out the ice cream! PERSIAN ICE CREAM.

Not gonna lie, this was kind of a pain in the pants to make. I am going to write a whole separate post about various ice creams I have been making since I got my ice cream maker, so I will go into more detail there, but I made a triple recipe, and it just took a long time because you have to stand there whisking the custard until it thickens, and I have a special knack for making custards take a ludicrously long time to thicken (well, probably because I’m always making triple recipes). I thought it turned out great, though. About half the family liked it, which is not bad. You could smell but not taste the rosewater. It was a wonderful color, and I was very pleased with how the saffron tasted warm, because it was saffron, but cold, because it was ice cream. I used plenty of salted pistachios (the recipe calls for unsalted) because that’s what I could find, and that turned out perfect. I did not use vanilla, and didn’t miss it. All in all, a success. But I have promised them to go back to something like chocolate chip or rocky road for the next batch. They are pretty good sports, but they have their limits with my globalist nonsense. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

There are four balls of pizza dough defrosting on the counter, and that is as far as I have gotten. Next thing you know, people will want me to get dressed. 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

5 from 3 votes
Print

spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 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

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 304: It’s souvlaki all the way down

Happy Friday! The name of the game this week was souvlaki! We didn’t really have that much Greek food; I just like saying “souvlaki,” and apparently so do Greek people, because every time I look up a recipe for something Greek, they let it slip somewhere in the recipe that this is souvlaki. No matter what it is. I have looked it up, and apparently the main ingredient necessary, in order for a dish to qualify as authentic Greek souvlaki, is “various meats.”

This is what makes me take a dim view of arguments that such-and-such dish isn’t really authentic. I mean, if it’s made of sawdust, then no, it’s not authentic cuisine. One time I told my kid I was eating imitation crab meat, and she said with great condescension, “Weww, Mama, I woudln’t eat wubba cwab if I was you.” But that is as far as I’m willing to go. Beyond that, it’s all authentic souvlaki as far as I’m concerned. (This is a complicated joke about fake meat, mock turtle soup, and turtles all the way down, if you like. If you don’t like, you can just keep reading, and eventually there is a nice picture of pork.) 

Weww, Mama, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, veggies and dip, chips, cherry pies with ice cream

My sister and five of her kids came over on Friday. On Saturday, we had a lovely guest for lunch, Fr. Michael Eades, a Toronto Oratorian who was passing through, so we had a little cookout in the middle of the day, and then we went to the beach, and then we came home and had another little cookout, because It Is Summer. 

I had a lot of fun making the pies. I do recommend sitting down in the afternoon and pitting several pounds of cherries while chatting with your beloved sister, and all your kids goof around playing cousin games and being silly. It’s just nice. Then I made the pies and Corrie brushed them with egg wash for me

and of course I managed to burn them, but they still got ate up. 

Here’s my reliable pie crust recipe:

Jump to Recipe

SUNDAY
Spaghetti al carbonara 

Other meats have gotten more expensive, but bacon, which was always expensive, has stayed about the same, so I convinced myself this counted as a cheap meal, because I hadn’t gone shopping yet and it was literally the only dinner I could think of. 

Just about everybody likes it, and I managed not to burn the bacon, anyway. I bet you haven’t made carbonara for a while! Why not make it this week?

Jump to Recipe

Just pasta, bacon, parmesan, eggs, butter, and lots of pepper. Sticks to your ribs, as my grandfather used to say. You can make it fancier if you want, but the basic version is so easy and good.

MONDAY
Chicken drumsticks, pasta salad

Drumsticks really are cheap, to my sorrow. I hate drumsticks. I mean, they’re fine. On the drumsticks, I put olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika, and roasted them, turning them once. The pasta salad had olive oil, wine vinegar, black olives, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and I imagine salt and pepper. 

Not a sophisticated meal, but I went shopping in the afternoon, got home late, got the food put away because the grocery-put-away kid was at work, and then cooked supper, so everyone has hungry and appreciated food. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

I used to think Taco Tuesday was so silly. The kids would get so excited if I served tacos on Tuesday, and I just could not see what the big deal was. It was just tacos, regular tacos, and it happened to be on a day that also started with T, big deal. 

But you know what? Taco Tuesday performs the valuable service of letting me not figure something out. What day is it? Tuesday. What are we having? Tacos. What are people? Happy. Take a little nap, brain. THIS IS WORTH FORTY MILLION DOLLARS.

To the drained ground beef, I added lots of cumin, lots of chili powder, salt, plenty of garlic powder and onion powder, and some water. I guess I am officially weaned off using those little packets of taco seasoning. The secret ingredient is, as I suspected, salt. 

I went to take a picture of my tacos, and the camera was open the other way and captured this somewhat portentous photo of myself, looking like I am considering devouring not only the tacos, but the entire world, because the world is asking for it.

 

And here is the picture of my tacos.

WEDNESDAY
Pork gyros (souvlaki), homemade vanilla ice cream

The star meal of the week. I had a pork loin that I cut into thin slices and marinated in the morning. I sorta kinda followed this recipe (souvlaki), except I used a lot more garlic than it says, skipped the thyme, and went with fresh rosemary and fresh oregano. The one important thing is that this marinade includes honey, which he claims (and which I have no reason to doubt) breaks down the pork fibers. I marinated the meat about five hours and then pan-fried it in batches, and it certainly came out amazingly, yieldingly tender. 

I also made a big batch of garlicky yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

and cut up a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, and we cooked some french fries and I sent the girls out for a bunch of wild mint leaves, we and wrapped it all up in pita with feta cheese and hot sauce. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. (Actually I skipped the fries because I ran out of room and I secretly think it’s kind of gross.) I forgot to take a picture of it actually wrapped up like a wrap, because I just gobbled it up. You really cannot beat fresh herbs in a wrap. I think I’m going to take another stab at growing herbs inside this winter, because it makes such a difference. 

THEN, my ice cream maker arrived! Actually it arrived on Tuesday. I’ve been haunting Facebook Marketplace, and found a great deal on a Cuisinart ice cream maker (this one, and I didn’t spend any $83.10 on it!). We dashed out (that’s an ice cream maker joke) for some heavy cream and decided to just start with vanilla. I had put the bowl in the freezer in the morning (this is the kind you don’t need ice or salt for, but you do need to freeze the bowl for at least six hours ahead of time), and we made one batch that came out great, but the bowl did not stay cold enough in our sweltering kitchen to make a second batch. So I went ahead and ordered a second bowl from eBay, plus the Ben and Jerry’s recipe book everyone is telling me is the best. 

Benny always strives to dress appropriately for the occasion. 

So, no thrilling ice cream tales so far, but our first foray was pleasant enough. The machine is very simple to use. The ice cream comes out of th machine like soft serve, but I spread it in a pie plate and put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it came out like high quality hard pack ice cream.

There are some peaches on our peach tree, and we intend to make them into ice cream when they’re ripe; and we’re planning some ginger ice cream for next time we have Asian food, and probably, oh yes, blackberry ice cream when we get back from vacation and haven’t been scrounging away at the blackberry bushes for a whole week. 

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, cheezy weezies

Just good old oven broiled ribs with salt and pepper with the fat crisped up, nothing better. I was planning mashed potatoes, but it was and is way way too hot, so cheezy weezies it was. It’s been so hot all week. Hot hot hot. I actually got a bunch of work done on Thursday morning and then did something I haven’t done in decades: I draped myself over a floatie and just drifted around in the pool thinking about nothing. Just drifted like a screensaver, drift, bonk, driffffft. 

Actually before that, I went to jump off the little deck, got caught on a nail, and left most of my swim suit bottoms behind. Straight out of Looney Tunes. The kids may never recover. 

I’ll show you various meats. 

One of my kids immediately climbed out of the pool and went to find me a towel to cover my modesty. And another of my kids immediately shouted, “Not that one! That’s my towel!” And I am taking notes. 

Anyway, after that is when I decided I would just drift for a while. For some reason, the kids got out of the pool after my comic mishap. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

And now, I can hardly believe my luck, but we are getting ready to go to the ocean for a week. I planned (and, in a stroke of good sense, pre-paid for) this vacation back in the middle of winter, and boy oh boy. Are we going to swim in the ocean. We usually go to Hampton Beach, but we’re venturing a little further down the coast this year. I bought Aldi’s entire stock of oversized towels on clearance, and we have our shark-spotting app all fired up, and we might not have our absolute favorite kind of insulin, but we do have insulin, and the check engine lights are on but are not flashing, so off we go! The house we rented has a small balcony and a SPIRAL STAIRCASE in it. And is near the ocean!!!!!!!!!! It allegedly has a little boardwalk leading to a private beach 300 yards away, but many of those words can mean all kinds of things, so we shall see. But still. The. Ocean. I’ll probably be posting photos on Facebook and possibly Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to.

Yes, there will be someone watching the house at home, so please do not feel free to rob us of all our cool and valuable possessions, such as our, um, our very valuable, you know what, go for it. I guess the printer is only a few years old if you want. I may have a Creedence tape in there somewhere.

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 303: We all scream for Joachim

All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be, well, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels

I vaguely remember Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Thai food

The kids had chicken nuggets at home and Damien and I went to a party at the house of one of his editors. We had a really nice time! We took our time coming home and stopped for dinner at Siam Orchid Thai Bistro in Concord, which has a pleasant outdoor table area. Lovely meal. We had a plate of various appetizers, all very fresh and delicious, and then Damien had some kind of amazing crunchy duck arrangement on spicy noodles, and I had a spicy beef and vegetable situation, also scrumptious. My rice came in an adorable little basket. 

We felt like such hot shots, we even ordered dessert. Damien had mango fried ice cream and I had coconut ice cream with peanuts on sticky rice. 

This refreshed and enchanted me so much, I went home and starting mooching around for information about ice cream makers, and I ended up getting an excellent deal on a like-new Cuisinart ice cream maker on FB Marketplace. It should get here in a few days, so hold on to your butts. 

MONDAY
Blueberry almond chicken salad

Easy and pleasant. The blueberries are sweet and cheap this year. I roasted some chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder, sliced it, and set it out with mixed greens, blueberries, slivered almonds, thinly-sliced red onions, and some freshly-shredded parmesan cheese.

I had mine with red wine vinegar for a dressing, and stale crackers on the side. I didn’t toast the almonds, because it was already monstrously late, and sometimes you feel like you don’t even have two more minutes to spare. But here is my periodic reminder that you can easily toast nuts in the microwave, and it makes them crunchier and nuttier, and only takes two minutes.

TUESDAY
Chicken enchilada bowls

I keep making this meal and it keeps not being anything more than okay. Why do I keep trying? Nobody knows.

I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and roasted the chicken breasts with olive oil and lots of Tajin seasoning, and then shredded it. I mixed half the shredded chicken with red enchilada sauce and half with green enchilada sauce, from cans. And I served the rice and two saucy chicken varieties with some black beans, shredded cheddar cheese, corn chips, and sour cream.

It was fine. I guess I’m just going to have to break down and make actual enchiladas again, though. I guess the real problem with this dish is that it’s not actual enchiladas. 

Tuesday, or possibly Wednesday, was also the feast of Saints Anne and Joachim. The only reason I know that is because I was looking for something that rhymes with “ice cream” for the title, and I was like, hey; so I looked it up the date, and I was like, hey! Or should I say: “AIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” 

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole and tortilla chips, corn on the cob

Now this meal turned out great. I made a large dish of guacamole, including one of the more successful tomatoes from our largely unsuccessful garden

Every year, I plant six tomato plants, and five of them are spindly, wizened, and blighted, and one of them is cheery, robust, and prolific. I water and fertilize them all exactly the same, and they all get the same amount of light. I know why this happens, though. It’s to drive me crazy.

I didn’t take a picture of the guacamole, but one must imagine guacamole. One must imagine Simcha happy. Guacamole makes Simcha happy. 

Jump to Recipe

For the carnitas, I followed John Herreid’s simple, delicious recipe, which I have finally made up into a card, because I altered it slightly.

Jump to Recipe

It turned out so lovely. You cook the seasoned meat up in oil and Coke with cinnamon sticks, orange quarters, and bay leaves,

 fish out the flavoring elements, continue cooking, and then scronch that meat.

I forgot to drain the fat out of the meat at the end, but there were zero complaints. I took my plate outside with the carnitas, some guacamole chips, and an ear of corn, and listened to Benny talk about how beautiful the world is.

And this is the best possible way to eat carnitas. 

THURSDAY
Burgers and ever so many raw vegetables

I’m vegcoring

I ate outside again and saw THREE hummingbirds. Here are two of them.  I think they were mad at each other:

I installed the Merlin app on my phone, and it’s very entertaining, but I can’t say it’s taught me anything. I’ve always had a hard time remembering all but a few bird calls, and now that my phone tells me what they are, I still can’t remember them unless I’m looking at my phone. Nicely designed app, though. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Later today MY SISTER IS COMING OVER. I AM EXCITE!!!!! Get ready for lots of food, because that’s what I do when I am excite!!!!!!! She and several of her kids are staying the weekend, and we are also having lunch tomorrow with a priest who is passing through on his way home from seeing the pope. I hope the hummingbirds behave themselves. 

And don’t forget to tell me about your homemade ice cream! I want to make ridiculous delicious flavors. We still have a few weeks of vacation left, and we are most definitely open to all kinds of ideas. 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

 

Carnitas (very slightly altered from John Herreid's recipe)

Ingredients

  • large hunk pork (butt or shoulder, but can get away with loin)
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • salt, pepper, oregano
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 can Coke

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork into chunks and season them heavily with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the cup of oil, the Coke, the quartered orange, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours

  4. Remove the orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  5. Turn up the heat and continue cooking the meat until it darkens and becomes very tender and crisp on the outside

  6. Remove the meat and shred it. Serve on tortillas.