What’s for supper? Vol. 109: When bad things happen to good pots

After years of training, self-discipline, and habit of forcing my will do to things that make no sense, are utterly uncalled-for, and should be shot in the face, I went shopping for more food on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Then I cooked it. But I didn’t like it!

Little did I know, the post-Thanksgiving malaise was a mere nothing compared to the stark onslaught of tragedy ahead. [The following post contains images that may be disturbing to some viewers.]

Here’s what happened:

SATURDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches and chips

A delicious meal, and so fast. If you are on the fence about buying an Instant Pot for Christmas, listen to this:

I got home from shopping at 5:00. About seven minutes later, I had chopped a four-pound round roast in half, put it in the pot, and dumped in a jar of pepperoncini with the juice, and set it to cook. By 6:28, the meat was tender and ready to shred with forks.

I served it on crusty rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. No dishes except the one pot. Didn’t turn on the oven or the stove. Pressed some buttons and went to lie down until supper was ready. Everyone liked it. I was practically wriggling in delight to be using my IP again! It had been out of commission for a few weeks because I lost the steam release handle, and the replacement took forever to come. But it finally came!

Little did I know how quickly that spicy beef would turn bittersweet in my memories. Or something. You see, my friends, I didn’t put my Instant Pot away. I left it, in fact, on the stovetop. The child who cleaned the stove somehow bumped the stove dial. It turned on. We all wondered what that burning smell was. We thought maybe it was the lamp in the living room.

It was not.

Yep, that’s the base of my beloved Instant Pot. I know it’s real life, but I haven’t processed it yet. Meat cooks quickly, but grief comes slow.

But I know you’re not gonna say, “That’s why you should never leave appliances on the stove top.” I know you’re not gonna say it.

***

SUNDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Damien made the burgers. They were good.

***

MONDAY
Mismatched chicken salad

Without my Instant Pot, I was forced to roast the chicken in the oven like a brute cave-dweller. I had some pomegranates I forgot to serve at Thanksgiving, so I thought they’d make a nice salad topping, along with the leftover walnuts I’d been hoarding. But then I got some overripe tomatoes involved, so I don’t know what kind of salad this was.

We had cucumbers and some kind of raspberry vinaigrette dressing, which gave me a mild allergic reaction, much to the kid’s amusement. Well, I guess they were partly laughing at me for going ahead and finishing the salad anyway. There were walnuts at the bottom!

***

TUESDAY
Bagel, egg, and sausage sandwiches

Always a crowd pleaser. Fried eggs, round sausages, everything bagels, and cheese if you can find it. I didn’t burn the bagels, either, which means that Cardinal Burke was right.

***

WEDNESDAY
Filipino pork adobo on rice; roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts and carrots

Two new recipes on Wednesday; two!! One was a bit of a disappointment, one was a pleasant surprise. The punch line is, even if they had both turned out well, they didn’t belong in the same meal together. Oh, well.

I tried this Filipino pork adobo recipe from Salu Salo. It was certainly easy, fast, and cheap, but the sauce turned out gray and soupy, rather than a rich, glossy chestnut, like in the picture; and the flavor was a mite harsh. I might actually make it again, but maybe adding vegetables in to mitigate the strong flavor of the sauce. I ended up cooking the meat in the slow cooker at the end, it was quite tender.

Oh, I happened to grab some sriracha-flavored toasted sesame seeds (I’m just linking because I’m an Amazon hound. I did not pay $11.99 for 3.5 oz. of sesame seeds!) so I sprinkled those on top of the meat and rice. I’m not crazy about sriracha in general, but these little crunchy kicks of heat were a nice addition to the meal, and would do a lot to perk up, say, plain steamed broccoli.

My post-Thanksgiving funk prevented me from planning a suitable side dish. Brussels sprouts were on sale, and we had a lot of baby carrots which I keep buying so I will eat them instead of fruit snacks. So I did a quick ingredient search and found this recipe from Damn Delicious. It was so good! Sweet, with tons of flavor. I didn’t have cranberries, but I may buy some to make this recipe again. It would definitely make a better side dish for something not southeast asian.

Not a ravishing photo, but you get the idea. Sweet, charred veggies with a little crunch left in them. Mmwah.

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

And we had to cut it with scissors. Everybody’s against me.

***

FRIDAY
I guess pasta. 

Now tell me something good.

What’s for supper? Vol. 100: Same as it ever was

Once, an single young man tried to persuade me that NFP was bad because you might not be able to have sex on Valentine’s Day. He had me there.

Along not-really-similar lines, here we are at this momentous occasion of my one hundredth “What’s for Supper?” post, and I’m just marking it by telling you what we had for supper. Hey, at least I know what day it is. I even put on this special potholder just for you.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham, apple, and cheddar sandwiches on sourdough bread; pickles; chips

It was so good last week, we had it again.

The pickles, sadly, were not Siberian this time.

***

SUNDAY
BBQ Korean pork ribs with rice and nori, roast broccoli, strawberries

I made a marinade with about 3/4 cup of gochujang, 1/3 cup of honey, 2 Tbs sugar, 2 Tbs soy sauce, and a bunch of minced garlic (which I’ve started buying in jars), mixed in some sliced onions, and let the meat sit and dream beautiful dreams about the future all day. Then my husband cooked the meat over the coals, and there was rejoicing.

I cut the broccoli into small pieces, mixed them up with olive oil, pepper, a little soy sauce, and sesame seeds, and put them in a shallow pan in a hot oven for twelve minutes or so, until it was a little blackened at the tips. Sesame oil is better, but I was out.

The rice was from the Instant Pot, using the 1:1 method. I prefer the Instant Pot if you want the rice a little sticky but are too cheap to spring for good rice. I ate as much pork as I could manage, then made a roll out of seaweed, rice, and the spicy onions. Hot damn.

***

MONDAY
Honey mustard chicken thighs with red potatoes and broccoli 

I actually didn’t have any honey left after the Korean pork (a worthy sacrifice), so I made sauce with a little maple syrup and brown sugar, plus dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and whatever, salt and pepper and garlic powder or something.

Probably I should have mixed the sauce with the potato wedges, then added the meat and seasoned it separately, and then added the broccoli near the end of the cooking, but I just tossed it all up together and put it in a greased pan and cooked it at 425 for about forty minutes. It turned out fine. The broccoli soaked up a lot of the sauce, which made it damp but tasty. Not bad at all.

I have a strong memory of taking pictures of this dish — the crisp chicken skin was especially pretty in the last dying light of afternoon — but I have no idea where they went.

***

TUESDAY
Egg-in-toast, grapes

So nice. Such a reassuring food. Use plenty of butter.

***

WEDNESDAY
Nachos

I says to my kids, I says, Someday you’re going to grow up and begin your own life and form new relationships, and then someone’s going to give you a tray of actual nachos, and you’re going to be very angry at me.

Just chips, ground beef, and pepper jack cheese. I bought sour cream, but it got pushed to the back of the fridge and froze. We had salsa, but it got pushed to the back of the fridge, and then it worked its way back up to the front, where it presented itself as fresh. IT WAS NOT. It was fermented. I spent the next three hours going “Phbbbbblehhh.”

***

THURSDAY
Spaghetti with sausage, salad

Just jarred sauce with hot sausage, peppers, and onions added in.

Everyone was hungry, so it went over well.

***

FRIDAY
Chicken shawarma and pita

It’s Friday, but it’s also CLARA’S BIRTHDAY! And when the birthday girl wants shawarma on Friday, she gets shawarma on Friday. She will also eventually get presents. Amazon Prime ain’t what it used to be.

Clara, however, will always be this:

in my head, anyway.

What’s for supper? Vol. 97: Beautiful schlopp

Hold the cherry.

SATURDAY
Steak and pear salad, rolls, fruit cobbler and ice cream

Well, steak was still on sale, and I’m not made of stone. My husband heavily seasoned and perfectly grilled the meat over the coals

and then sliced it up, and I put together mixed greens, scallions, blue cheese, and sliced red pears.

It’s so good, you can’t imagine. A little fresh pepper and a vinaigrette on top. Damn.

I got some snowflake rolls from the supermarket, and the shopping turn kid wanted rhubarb pie, but I guess rhubarb is over for the year. Instead, we got strawberries, blueberries, and peaches

and made a basic cobbler, to be topped with vanilla ice cream. Cobbler, if you recall, is very easy to make.

Well, we ended up having ice cream with hot, delicious fruit schlopp ladled over it. Oh well. It tasted good, even if it was completely formless. It’s a swell combination of fruits, perfect for late summer. I SAID “LATE SUMMER.” Not fall. Back off, man.

We did run 5k on Sunday for the first time!

It felt fantastic. Since then, with school and no babysitters, we’ve been fitting in shorter runs in the evening, which is far, far less exhilarating; especially, as most people wouldn’t have to learn the hard way, if you accidentally eat a drippy pork carnita with sour cream forty minutes before you head out. See: Wednesday.

***

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs, chips, brownies

This was supposed to be our traditional end-of-summer “head out with a giant bag of candy and swim at the pond all day long and never, ever, ever have to go home until we want to” day, but kids were throwing up. So we just cooked stuff on the grill. We had brownies even though people were puking because puking kids are not the boss of us.

On Sunday, which was also the day the Mormons came, I also took a big step in Operation Very Slowly Renovate Kitchen: I yanked down rotten, miserable, useless wall cabinet. I don’t even know what this thing was for: It had shelves all way across, but a door on only one side, with the hinge in the middle. So you had to pull everything out if you wanted to reach the stuff on the left side. Also, it was falling off the wall, so the door swung out and bonked everyone in the head all the time. Some things hurt more, but few things make you hurt angrier than getting conked in the top of the skull unexpectedly by a rogue cabinet door.

Anyway, here is a crummy before-and-after shot:

You can’t really tell, but it’s SO much more light and open in there. I also took the doors off most of the remaining cabinets, and I’m going to paint them yellow. I bought some rather corny rustic, cast iron shelf brackets off eBay, and I’m going to put in open shelving where the miserable, rotten cabinet was.

Now we just need to do something about the ceiling, which is stained, sagging acoustic tile full of dead mice, and the floor, which is torn linoleum designed by Satan and installed by also Satan.

***

MONDAY
Chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, raw string beans

This was supposed to be our very, very last chance to have summer fun that is fun, even if all we do is go to a playground or something, because there were still a few kids left who hadn’t started school yet. I don’t even remember what happened, but we just ended up having chicken nuggets and no fun. I think there was some kind of lizard emergency.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

First day of school. And the first day since 1998 where it was routine to be home alone with one child. I was nervous, since the child in question had spent a good part of the the last three weeks rolling around on the floor, gnashing her teeth, and spurting hot tears over, for instance, “NO, YOU NOT [whatever you just did because she told you to do it]!!!!!!”

But it went fine. We had a very peaceful day, and was remarkably undemanding when she has no competition. She is an adorably earnest help in the kitchen. She also packed some Altoids in a sandwich bag, zipped them into a spare backpack, and announced she is going to high school.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork carnitas, Doritos

Pretty good. I put a half pork loin (I actually did this Tuesday, that’s how easy Tuesday was) in the slow cooker with some Coke, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, pepper, cloves of garlic, and chopped onion. I let it cook all day, then shredded it and spread it out in a pan and browned it up under the broiler.

Served on tortillas with sour cream, salsa, and cheese.

Did I mention that it was too dark to run in our usual spot, so we drove downtown and trotted back and forth for two miles on sidewalk, much to the fascination of the people taking their ease with fancy nitrogen ice cream? At least I didn’t throw up.

***

THURSDAY
Mac and cheese with kielbasa; peas

Corrie helped again. We made this nice, simple Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe from CopyKat, and added chunks of browned up kielbasa. Then I put it in a buttered pan and added buttered bread crumbs on top. Everyone who likes mac and cheese and kielbasa liked this dish of mac and cheese and kielbasa.

Damien and I actually snuck out to Chili’s. I had the baby back ribs I’ve been hearing about all my life. Meh.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, risotto

Who has neat ideas for tuna burgers? I usually make them by adding one beaten egg and half a cup of bread crumbs and some seasoning to each can of drained tuna, then forming patties, and frying them up in a little oil. What would make them more interesting? I feel like I’ve asked this before, but I can’t find the answers. I do have horseradish sauce.

Okay, now I need some other inspiration. For Labor Day, we’re going to fulfill a request for Hot Dogs of Many Nations. Sort of a hot dog buffet with everything you could possibly want on a hot dog. This is not my wheelhouse. What do I set out? My ideas so far: Chili, onions, sauerkraut, cheese . . . . maybe bacon . . . I don’t know.

What’s for supper? Vol. 96: Tearwater tea

This week was what we call a “dramatic airport.”

(Sorry about the weird framing. I guess it’s to get around copyright?) Anyway, this week, two kids packed and left for college for the first time. High school started, the the other school starts next week; Benny starts kindergarten; and I’ll be home with one child for the first time in eighteen years. In addition to pretty much the whole world leaving, there’s a bunch of serious trouble and turmoil with folks I love. And this is the short version! It has been a hard week, and we would appreciate prayers! Thank you.

Happily, you can always count on food. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Lasagna, challah, salad, cake

And I didn’t cook any of it! It was a family reunion and goodbye party for my niece Mary, who is entering a cloistered convent.
My parents have forty-two grandchildren, most of whom are pictured here:

along with two great-grandchild, one not born yet. Here is my father with all of his children:

My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is no longer able to go to events like this. She would have loved it.

***

SUNDAY
Grilled hamburgers and bratwurst

The eight girls and I had a “spa day” at home.

Me: “. . So it will be a special afternoon just for girls! Maybe we can watch a girly movie for once.”
Benny: “LIKE THE TEMPLE OF DOOM????”

Well, sure. We also dragged in nail polish, make up, facial masks, and fancy snacks and drinks, plus some intergenerational compromise music, which turned out to be Graceland.

It turns out that cold cucumbers are super hard to keep on your eyes

unless you just camp out on the floor

and that weird sensation of pulling off a dried facial mask is an acquired taste

Corrie’s piggies look good in any color

and Dora had a roomful of jewelry looking for a new home

Corrie may or may not have a future as an aesthetician

and girly stuff is actually completely exhausting.

I also discovered that, while I’ve loosened up enough to let my little girls try on makeup at home, I am not loose enough to share pictures of them on the internet.

My husband and the boys went to the laundromat, went bowling, and picked up supper, which involved meat, charcoal, and magic. I had a dream someone was trying to tell me how handsome he is, and I was like YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TELL ME.

***

MONDAY
Steak, baked potatoes, veggies and dip

Last day with my second-oldest daughter home. My husband, who is the only one qualified to handle steak, had tons of delays at work, so I was reduced to cooking them under the broiler and topping them with fried onions. We had baked potatoes with the requisite sour cream and bits of bacon flavored whathaveyou, and ice cream.

It was good, but it did not make up for my second-oldest daughter leaving. It really didn’t.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, strawberries, watermelon

Last beach day of the year. (Okay, maybe not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “closed” sign on nature and on happiness in general.)

***

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl, white rice, watermelon and grapes

Last day with my oldest daughter home. It’s a good recipe, but not good enough to make up for my oldest daughter leaving. It really isn’t.

***

THURSDAY
Penne with sausage and creamy tomato sauce, garlic bread, salad

A new recipe for the Instant Pot (affiliate link) from a very thorough Instant Pot recipe site called Paint the Kitchen Red. Turned out quite tasty.

 

I only doubled the recipe, and it was enough for our suddenly tiny family of ten. You guys.

***

FRIDAY
Waffles with whipped cream, scrambled eggs

I bought too much cream for the previous recipe, so we’ll whip it up for waffles. And maybe have some tea.

What’s for supper? Vol. 94: Meat the rainbow!

Sorry this post is so long. I just can’t seem to stop talking.

Quick question: Do the photos load up more slowly or look different from usual? I’m trying a slightly different thing. Let me know!

On to the food.

SATURDAY
Birthday party!

It was a beach party, so of course the day started with thunder and downpours. But it cleared up! The rain just chased all the cowards away, so we had the place to ourselves by party time.

It was sort of a Moana party, so we cleaned out the last of the luau decorations and leis from the dollar store. The cake was the Heart of Te Fiti:

Ehh, close enough. If we needed it to restore the life to our island, I would have looked harder for the green sugar.

I tried Wilton food color spray (affiliate link, certified Kosher, not for sale in Catalina Island. Now you know) for the first time. I was terrified of making it like amateurish graffiti, so I didn’t use enough. Will probably try this stuff again if I need to do a sunset cake or an underwater effect. It smelled like chicken noodle soup, though.

I honestly can’t remember what we had for supper. Maybe burgers.

***

SUNDAY
Kids had hot dogs, chips, strawberries and blueberries; we had steak

What happened, see, was we are planning to take the kids to a giant water-and-amusement park this weekend, so we felt okay skipping the county fair this year. But then I had a sudden thought. What if we just went ourselves? 

We do have happy times at the fair, but it’s so exhausting and stressful with a crowd of kids. Without them, there would be no bracelets that cost a million dollars, no emotional agony as one kid sorely regrets squandering his One Food Treat on fried dough instead of cotton candy, no sunburned babies, no panic when kids wander away to check out the goats, no grousing, no exhausted toddlers, no “sorry, you’re still not tall enough to ride this ride,” no throwing up, no dehydration, etc.

None of this:

Just fun! Fun fun fun!

So off we went, and . . . very quickly ran out of things to do. I got some fried pickles. We pretended to consider buying a piglet. We went on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and that was nice, but then Pharaoh’s Fury was horrible. HORRIBLE. Just plain scary, with no delightful terror or exquisite tingle of fear. We just both felt like we were going to die the whole time, which we were, and it went on and on and on as death whistled past our ears and everything familiar and safe careened far, far away. When it was finally over, we staggered over to a bench and just sat there wobbling for a while. Then we gave our tickets to some kid and went to Chili’s.

***

MONDAY
Cilantro lime chicken, rice

A new-to-me recipe from Damn Delicious. It’s supposed to be for the slow cooker, but Fisher quantities didn’t fit in one Crock Pot, and I feel like the Instant Pot slow cooker isn’t hot enough.

I took a “before” picture because it was so pretty, and I wasn’t sure what it would look like cooked:

So I started it out in the IP for a few hours, then put it on high pressure manual for five minutes. I added a little water, because I wasn’t sure if there was enough liquid for the IP, but it would have been better without; it was a little soupy. I shredded the chicken easily with a fork and served it over white rice or wrapped in tortillas.

It was a good combination of flavors and textures, subject to lots of variation. Will definitely make again. Damn Delicious bills this as a make-ahead freezer meal, because you just prep everything and then throw it into the pot all together, and that’s it.

I know it’s tiresome, but it really is true that fresh ingredients make food so much better. Some days I feel very bitter about going to the trouble of those extra steps (usually because I forgot to buy the quickie version), but I’m always glad I did it when it’s time to eat. Fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, yaaas. I did use frozen corn, and it was snappy and flavorful.

***

TUESDAY
Deconstructed pork shish kabob, watermelon

Bone-in pork picnic was super cheap, so I bought two, for maybe seven pounds total. I cut the meat off the bone, trimmed the fat, and cubed it, then mixed it up with four sweet peppers, about 16 ounces of halved mushrooms, two red onions, and a few cups of marinade. All the food was cut to the size you’d want for threading it on a skewer.

The marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes.

I didn’t have time to let it marinate, but just spread it in a single layer on my two giant sheet pans (which I continue to love. We’ve put them through their paces and they have not warped a bit)

and put them under a hot broiler (one pan at a time, so they could get direct heat) until it was blackened.

Everyone loved it. It wasn’t quite the same as food cooked on the grill, because what is? But it was still delicious.

Definitely making this again. You could easily use bottled Italian dressing for the marinade. Although [irritating ticking noise made with my cheek] fresh ingredients, ya know.

***

WEDNESDAY
Kids had fish tacos, we had Chinese

Our plan was to ditch the kids again (because it’s summer! Adults should have fun in summer, too!) and I’d meet my husband at his office an hour away, and we’d have Indian take-out on a blanket for an outdoor Bollywood movie.

But I had only cleared half my schedule, and realized I’d be a country mouse fighting rush-hour traffic in the city, and then we’d have to go home in separate cars at the end of the night. Too much like dorm life with curfews! So we ditched the kids anyway, and he taught me how to drive stick shift in a parking lot. Our last stick shift lesson was almost twenty years ago. This one went better than the last time, in the same way that . . . well, you’ll just have to supply your own joke about something that was a miserable disaster the first time, but then was fine the second time. Then we got Chinese food (I had hot and sour soup, a dragon roll, and a silly drink called a Fog Cutter) and a little walk and a little drive in the dark. I do love that man.

And I love having kids who can put together a meal at home! They cooked, ate, cleaned up, changed the baby, and organized tooth brushing before we got back. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. All you need is five teenagers.

***

THURSDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, hot pretzels

I was completely wiped out by dinner time, so I asked the kids to deal with it. It seems I forgot to buy extra bread for sandwiches, so dinner was on the feeble side. Oh, well. We were supposed to have string beans from the garden, but nobody felt like picking them except for the really incompetent ones.

***

FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

***
And it’s time to start thinking about last hurrah of summer meals! Or maybe special eclipse meals. Or Perseid meals. Whatcha got?

What’s for supper? Vol. 93: Bei mir bist du shwarm

In which I cook and complain my way through another week. Join me, won’t you?

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Saturday seems like so long ago, and yet the week flew by. Good thing I wrote down meals so there’s some evidence the week even existed.

Speaking of which, have I told you lately how much it helps to have a meal plan blackboard? I’m not the super organized type [the universe chuckles mirthlessly, choking back a sob of agreement], but I lurve my blackboard menu. I have one similar to this one hanging in my kitchen. Some days, there is no more wonderful feeling than lifting up your eyes and seeing right there in black and white what you’re supposed to be doing. One damn thing settled, anyway.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma, grilled baby eggplant

This meal never fails. We usually use this recipe from the New York Times and cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the oven. (Note: If you want to save a NYT recipe, copy it for your records now! You only get a certain number of free views, and you’ll definitely want to return to this one repeatedly.) I set the meat marinating, and then we went to the beach, where the water is clear as clear can be, the salamanders are plentiful, and everything is nice.

It’s a pond at the peak of a series of hills, so I suppose the water is all fresh and new.

This time, for the shawarma, we used the same marinade but cooked bone-in thighs with skin on the grill. The marinade didn’t permeate the meat as much as it does when it’s skinless, of course, but it was a reasonable trade-off, as the skin was fabulous.

We also cooked up the red onions from the marinade.

We may have told the kids to go sit down for dinner and then stood out by the grill sopping up marinade with pita bread for a good ten minutes while the chicken “finished cooking.”

We served it with pita bread, four kinds of olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, a variety of tomatoes, and yogurt quivering with crushed garlic, lemon juice, and fresh parsley.

This is one of those meals where, if you were an ancient Roman elite guy and you were rich and happy and well-respected and you just ate the shawarma, you’d start to think about warm baths and sharp blades, because it’s all downhill from here.

I am fun!

We had these cute little baby eggplants. It says on the internet that baby eggplant skin is tender enough to eat, but it kind of wasn’t. We sliced it pretty thick (the long way, so it wouldn’t fall through the grill. We need one of those veg basket things), then brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled on salt and pepper, and put them on the grill.

Not bad, not ravishing. Looking at the eggplants, that was ravishing.

Impudent strumpets.

***

MONDAY
Chicken nuggets, broccoli

I chose an easy dinner because Monday night was ANNUAL OPERA AND FANCY SNACK NITE!! Last summer, we showed the kids Don Giovanni, which we all, even the illiterate ones, enjoyed immensely. I really wanted them to see The Marriage of Figaro, but it seemed like we should watch The Barber of Seville First. We set up a free trial of Met Opera On Demand. I dunno, I almost fell asleep. Rosina could go suck an egg. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a bunch of people fussing over letters. Anyway, we assembled fancy crackers and an assortment of cheeses (brie, sharp cheddar, some kind of herbed gouda or something, and some honey goat cheese), mini eclairs, rolled chocolate wafers, and cherries and strawberries. This is where Aldi really shines.

Look how cultured:

The kids enjoyed the opera more than I did, so that was a win. But I want to watch The Marriage of Figaro next! Or Carmen. I’ve never seen Carmen.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday escapes me. I imagine we were running around.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken pesto pasta salad

I had high hopes for enchiladas on Wednesday, so I started some pork in the slow cooker with a can of Coke, half a jar of jalapenos, about six cloves of minced garlic, a chopped onion, salt, pepper, and maybe some chili powder. It cooked allllll day and smelled better and better and better, but then I had to go run 2.3 miles, do some writing, do an interview for SiriusXM radio, drive some kids to work and appointments, finish writing in the library, go home, and drag a washing machine, a TV, and a bunch of demolished cabinets to the dump (and got some dump mugs!), and then I realized I had promised to take four kids out for haircuts. So there was No Time For Enchiladas.

Instead, I poached about five chicken breasts, then cubed them and mixed the chicken up with bowtie pasta, olive oil, chopped fresh basil, minced garlic, a ton of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and some jarred pesto sauce just to help it along, because we all need a little help.

Tasted more interesting than it looks. Oh, pesto, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind.

***

THURSDAY
Pork enchiladas, chips and salsa

All Thursday, the spicy pork howled and clamored from the fridge to be brought forth into new life as enchiladas, and it would not be denied. So fine, I dragged out the meat and shredded it onto a shallow pan, then browned it up until it was a little crisp under the broiler.

I more or less followed Pioneer Woman’s instructions for enchiladas, dipping both sides of the tortillas in warm sauce, then rolling them up with meat, cheese, and onions, and topping them with more sauce, cheese, green onions, chili powder, and tomatoes. I made some with red enchilada sauce and some with green, and served it with sour cream. Probably the green onions would have been better added after the enchiladas cooked, ooops. They were still divine.

A little gummy on the ends, but who isn’t?

***

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

I’ll probably use this Instant Pot recipe for mac and cheese from Copy Kat recipes. It’s not anyone’s favorite, but it’s so very easy.

I’ll tell you what, I worked too freaking hard this week, and I am pigzausted. That’s like exhausted, but pig. So much running around, so many appointments and shows and concerts and trips and extra jobs and trotting back and forth and back and forth like a wind-up toy. I think I’ll declare next week lump it or leave it week. Frozen burritos all around, and keep ’em coming.

What’s for supper? Vol. 91: In which Aldi dreams of me

No, literally. The cashier at Aldi had a dream about me. (I turn up there three times a week, each time with a different child, and I fill two carts on Saturdays.) This is what happens when you come to Represent Something to strangers. I told her I would try to behave myself next time I haunted her subconscious, and then I gathered up my cut rate hummus and sauntered away. Then I came back to get my quarter.

SATURDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, fries

Muffaletta sandwiches are something I’ve wanted to try forever. And very good they were, muffaletta sandwiches! I guess this sandwich originates from the Italian quarter of New Orleans or something (how many quarters does that place have, anyway), and “muffaletta” can refer either to the special bread, or to the sandwich itself.

Our version was made of ciabatta rolls with olive salad, sweet capicola, prosciutto, ham, and provolone. The olive salad was made of a jar each of green and black olives, about a quarter of a cup of capers, and a jar of giardiniera salad (pickled carrots, hot peppers, cauliflower, and little onions), drained and chopped up together.

I wish I had gotten a pic of just the olive salad, because it was awfully festive-looking.

You’re supposed to toast the bread, or wrap the sandwich in foil and bake the whole thing, but we were starving, so we just wolfed it down.

It was a little pricey because I went to an Actual Deli for the meat, but a nice treat. I also think recipe pages are a little bit insane when they show how much meat goes on a sandwich. It’s always, like, seven-and-a-half solid inches of ham, and then you start in with the cheese. I like sandwiches, but I like having the use of my legs after dinner, too.

***

SUNDAY
Lasagna, garlic bread, salad, ice cream cake

Birthday! Our newest ten-year-old requested meatless lasagna.  Lasagna is my least favorite thing to make. It’s just such a pain in the neck, and I burn my fingers and wreck the whole kitchen. But it was good, if sloppy and soupy. I just used the basic recipe on the side of the noodle box.

I added basil from the garden to the ricotta for the very first harvest this year. Our growing season is so ridiculously short, and it’s been a very cool summer, so there’s not much to show. Also, string beans don’t scream and hang onto my pants legs, so I tend to forget I have a garden.

Not that you asked, but we have tomatoes, basil, cabbage, jalapeno, eggplant, string beans, rainbow carrots, pumpkins, and broccoli. And a lot of weeds. And not enough watering. Thank goodness for rain.

My window boxes turned out a little scruffy this year, too.

That hemp liner looks like I feel. Aieeee!

But check out these weird tomatoes! They’re supposed to be dark like that.

They’re less blurry in real life. Anyway, no varmints have been eating the garden this year, except for bugs. I made a fence out of an upside-down trampoline frame (we had an extra, okay? I don’t want to talk about it), chicken wire, and some zip ties. Woodchucks are supposed to be able to dig under fences, but I guess ours isn’t that ambitious.

***

MONDAY
English muffin pizzas

Wherever I was, I wasn’t home for supper. One of the kids made pizzas. There were two (as in two halves) left over when I got back, so I inhaled them, and then I ate all the leftover ice cream. And justice was restored to the world.

***

TUESDAY
Pulled pork, risotto, peas

It was murderously hot and humid, so I set the slow cooker to work making pulled pork in the steambath kitchen, and brought the Instant Pot (affiliate link) into the air conditioned dining room to make the risotto. The peas, we just ate frozen, which my kids prefer.

The pulled pork had a good flavor, but I started it too late, so it was kind of tough. I put a half pork loin into the pot with a can of beer, plenty of salt, pepper, and chili powder, about six sliced garlic cloves, and a quartered onion. It tasted as good as it smelled, which is not always a given!

I used this recipe for the risotto, minus the squash. I tripled it and lost track of how many cups of broth, so it was a little dry, but still tasty. Not a meal worth taking a picture of, though.

***

WEDNESDAY
Roasted kielbasa, cabbage, and potato with mustard vinaigrette 

A very fine summer meal, great with cheap beer, magnificent after going for a run in the evening, swimming in the pond in the rain with your husband, and then eating a late dinner while watching TV. It’s like Platonic ideal of a hot dog with sauerkraut and fries. I used three packages of kielbasa (I think they are 14 oz. each), about six pounds of small potatoes, and a large cabbage, and I made a quadruple recipe of the dressing.

The color’s off in this picture. It’s prettier in real life, and looks less like an illustration from a cheap textbook covering the post-war years of Cabbagopolis.

Here’s the recipe from Budget Bytes. Again I say unto you: measure your oven and buy yourself the biggest pans that will fit. (I got two 15×21″ aluminum pans like these [affiliate link], and they make my life better several times a week. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to cook for a crowd when you can just lay it all out there.)

Look, garlic bread for twelve on a single pan:

Or, as I see it, almost enough garlic bread for me.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I had string beans, but they went bad. Soon, soon, we will have string beans from the garden! Well, in a few weeks. Stupid slow garden.

 

***

FRIDAY
Day trip! We’re headed out and will probably grab pizza somewhere.

Oh, Amazon announcement! I now have Amazon Associate accounts that will work for Canada and the UK!
For Canada: Amazon.ca
and for the UK: Amazon.co.uk.
I’d be so grateful if you’d bookmark these pages and use them anytime you shop on Amazon. This makes up a significant part of our income. Thank you!

What’s for supper? Vol. 90: We put the “amp” in camping

Hoop de doo! Here we go.

SATURDAY
Meatball subs, fruit

On Saturday, armed with only a sledgehammer, a reciprocating saw, and a thirteen-year-old boy, my husband built a new floor for our gutted murderboat, tentatively named “The No Regerts.”

Still ahead: sealing the wood and dragging it down to the stream. I SAID NO REGERTS. So I thought we could all use a hearty meal.

***

SUNDAY
Beef cabbage stir fry, rice, roasted rustlebutts

Here’s a nice recipe from Budget Bytes I make every six weeks or so. It’s easy and tasty and pretty cheap, and you can easily adjust how sweet or spicy it turns out.

Brussels sprouts were very cheap, so I got a ton and cut them in half and spread them on one of my fabulous new giant pans with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and just roasted ’em up under the broiler.

Corrie recoiled in horror and angrily refused . . . RUSTLE-BUTTS. So let it be written.

By the way, the best purchase I’ve made in a long time those two 15″ x 21″ baking sheets (affiliate link). I measured my oven and bought the biggest pans that would fit, and they make life so much easier. You can just cook everything up all at once, rather than trying to Tetris various small pans in there. They also double as serving trays for parties, and are useful for moving board games intact when we need the table.

***

MONDAY: Camping, day 1
We packed ever so slowly, and then had to go to urgent care for an ear infection, and had to stop to tighten the canoe that wanted very much to become a wild, wild canoe that hops on the nearest jet stream and resettles in Canada, so we didn’t get to the campgrounds until late, and then it turned out the lake was closed because of bacteria.

HOWEVER, the yurts were still airy and cool, and dinner was pork spiedies, watermelon, and Pringles, with S’mores for dessert. The spiedies were insanely delicious.

 

even though I forgot to pack tongs, and Mr. Husband had to make ridiculous BBQ chopsticks with a hair rubber band

I had made the meat at home the night before and packed it in ziplock bags along with the marinade, which leaked all over the inside of the cooler. I also forgot soap.

Faced with these realities, I decided pretty early on that I was going to take a three-day break from believing in cooties, and so what if the baby wanted to paddle around in the puddle under the spigot where I washed not only the pork juice with no soap but also her poopy bathing suit? I don’t want to hop on a jet stream and resettle in Canada! Not at all. Hey look, a yurt! So airy and cool.

I actually spent most of my time putting my feet up and complaining, while my husband made fires, told ghost stories, read Treasure Island to the kids, and grabbed flying children out of mid-air before they burned or impaled themselves.

Oh, and we took turns being fruit ninjas.

and I did get some rare photographic evidence that Corrie’s brain is, indeed, on fire.

***

TUESDAY: Camping, day 2
The kids had their hearts set on roasted apples for breakfast, but they ate most of the apples on day 1, so with a heavy heart I threw a box of Honey Buns at them while Damien went to Dunkin’ Donuts and got us coffees. Just kidding about the heavy heart part. Whatever it was in me that once relished the idea of waking up early and building a fire before breakfast, it’s dead now.

Lunch was sandwiches and cookies on the beach (a different beach, without water cooties), where we swam in the rain. Then the sun came out, so we bought a ton of candy and went to see Wonder Woman. Look, I never said we were good at camping.

Dinner was walking tacos, which taste so much better than is reasonable. I cooked ground beef and seasoned it at home, and we heated it up over our lovely propane stove. Each person got a personal little bag of Doritos, into which went meat, shredded cheese, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.

We also had grilled corn on the cob. You cook it in the husk over the coals until the husks are blackened, and it comes out so sweet.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist these cute Little Debbie brownies with animal tracks in them.

WEDNESDAY: Camping, day 3
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bagels, hot chocolate with rainbow marshmallows!!!!
Next time, I’ll remember to pack a real pan. And butter. And a decent cooking utensil. I did, however, remember the salt!

Never, ever forget the salt.

Lunch: Candy.
I would say we had something else, but really we basically had candy. And then we went home. Some more more pleased about this than others.

 

Supper (at home): Bagel, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches. I had to run to the convenience store for more eggs, and since I was already conveniently paying top dollar, I ponied up a little bit more for local eggs. This is one “fresh, local, organic” food that truly lives up to the hype. The yolks are darker and more flavorful, the whites are fluffier and lighter, and it’s very charming to see how many different egg sizes find themselves together in one box.

But lorramercy

I feel like they could wash them.

We’re home again. Cooties are real.

***

THURSDAY
Pork ramen, broccoli

On Thursday, my true love took the sledgehammer we found in the murderboat and smashed up my kitchen, just liked I’ve been asking him to do.

So I made dinner on a dining room chair.

I browned up some sliced garlic in olive oil using the saute function of the Instant Pot, then browned up a bunch of pork ribs. I took them out and sliced them, sauteed them some more, then took them out again. In the same pot, I hard boiled a bunch of eggs, then took them out, peeled and halved them. Then I added water and scraped up all the yumminess that was in the bottom of the pot, and cooked ramen noodles in it with the flavor packets, then added the pork and some chopped spinach. I served the noodles and pork with the eggs, some scallions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and crunchy noodles on top.

Not an especially sophisticated or complex taste, but it was fine and filling. And I cooked it all on a chair! And that’s why people love the Instant Pot.

***

FRIDAY
French toast casserole, I guess? I think Damien and I are going out for pizza. A full week of family togetherness is about enough for now.

What’s for Supper? Vol. 89: Hot dogs and hamburgers all the way down!

What did we eat this week? I thought you’d never ask.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, birthday cake and ice cream

My son turned 15 (actually it was kind of a while ago), and his wingspan, from fingertip to fingertip, is now six feet. He can almost touch the floor and the ceiling at the same time. We have low ceilings, but still. Size 14 shoes. Boxing lessons. Life is strange, and fast.

He wanted to go to the beach with his friends and then home for a hamburger and hot dogs cookout, and so it was done. He also requested, SIGH SIGH SIGH, a laundry bag cake.

This is from the new MST3K series, where the invention exchange includes a Carvel Cake Wheel of all the possible cakes one could make with a Carvel Whale Cake Pan. Including a laundry bag cake. Considering I don’t have a whale cake pan, I thought this cake designed to look like a cake designed to look like it’s made despite owning a whale cake pan turned out pretty good.

***

SUNDAY
Curried chicken salad

I chucked a bunch of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (YES, MY HUSBAND FOUND THE MISSING VALVE COVER BEHIND A PHALANX OF LAUNDRY BASKETS!) with a can of coconut milk and a little water, and pressed the “poultry” button.

I mixed a tub of unflavored yogurt with plenty of curry powder and added the cooked, cubed chicken to that. One of the kids chopped up the salad greens nice and small, so as to, I don’t know, make it more exotic. The recipe called for raisins or grapes mixed into the curry sauce, but I didn’t like the sound of that, so we had grapes on the side, plus chopped walnuts.

It was a pretty okay dish. The people who liked curry liked it, the people who didn’t like curry didn’t like it, and there were a couple who kept asking what curry was, but refusing to taste it, so I threw them out the window. Anyway, it was easy. I also gave two of my teenage daughters a driving lesson, and then unrelatedly headed briskly to the liquor store.

***

MONDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

There was a Big Clean a-comin’, so we had a simple meal Monday. Actually we had already pressed everyone into servitude getting the house ready for the last party, not to mention the one before that, so there wasn’t all that much left to do. Relatively speaking. You set your standards to “Low Low Low,” pretend it’s okay not to own a vacuum cleaner, and off you go.

We went to the town fireworks display that night, didn’t get into any fights with any yahoos, and came home with the right number of kids in the dark, so that was a success. Corrie proclaimed the fireworks “orange” and then fell asleep.

***

TUESDAY
July 4th Cookout!

What a spectacular day. We had something like forty people, including my one and only cousin whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. Everyone brought something to eat or drink, and my father brought fireworks and read the Declaration of Independence

and handed out sparklers. The kids played in the stream and swung on swings, everyone gorged on watermelon and meat, the entire neighborhood filled up with smoke, we played Johnny Cash, and it was swell. A really happy day.

We had hamburgers, hot dog, and pork spiedies, chips, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, cookies, and brownies. There was no end of beer and soda, plus Dark and Stormies (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime). And cigars. Actual conversation, one of many similar types of conversations:

Damien: We need fifty pounds of ice. No, sixty. Better get a hundred.
Me: Are you sure?
Damien: The bags are five pounds.
Me: You sure you want me to get twenty bags of ice?
Damien: I don’t know, I’m crazy.
Me: That just seems like a lot. I’ll get ten bags.
Me, loading ten bags into cart: This doesn’t seem like enough. I better get some more. [loads several more bags into cart]
Husband texts me to say there is not going to be enough beer, so I stop at another store to buy more beer.
Me at the next store: I don’t know if we have enough ice. Here, grab that bag for me. No, the twenty-pound one.
Husband texts me to say never mind, we have plenty of beer.
WHICH WE CERTAINLY DID. Then it turned out basically everyone at the party had some reason for not drinking, so we were stuck with enough beer to float a free boat off Craigslist in, and the quantity of Dark and Stormies I personally consumed turned into Three Days of Darkness and Stormies, all with lime. I do what I can.

The spiedies were insanely good, if I do say so myself. I got about sixteen pounds of pork loin and my husband cut them into hefty chunks, which we marinated overnight in this marinade. We soaked the wooden skewers in water to keep everything moist, and my husband grilled them veddy nicely. So juicy and flavorful! There really isn’t anything better you can do for pork.

I forgot to take pictures of any food. That’s how good of a party it was!

***

WEDNESDAY
Cookout leftovers

The kids started the day eating cold pork and hamburgers, so we were reduced to leftover hot dogs and watermelon by dinner time.

***

THURSDAY
One-pan honey garlic chicken and red potatoes, salad

This is a great recipe from Damn Delicious. It tastes even better if you have not allowed the chicken to go bad. Blehhh. We all had one bite, spit it out, and ended up eating potato puffs and scrambled eggs for supper. Boo.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

I said to my husband this morning, “I don’t know what we’re having next week, but it definitely won’t be hamburgers or hot dogs.” Then he reminded me we’re camping next week.

So . . . who’s got camp food ideas besides hamburgers and hot dogs?

What’s for supper? Vol. 87: Mango, Mango! Can’t trust that day!

And we’re off! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pancakes with strawberries, sausages

That’s what the kids at home made and ate. Damien and I took our latest high school graduate out to eat for a celebration meal, and we all ate long past the point of regret. Someone’s gonna put fresh, hot bread and herbed olive oil, seafood chowder, fried calamari, and shrimp scampi in front of me, what am I gonna do? I’m not made of stone. But I said no to the berry mascarpone torte, mainly because I was still finishing my beer.

My daughter made us proud all through high school, and graduated with honors in math (MATH!). Here is her crowning achievement:

Isn’t she cute?

***

SUNDAY
Burgers, hot dogs, chips, brownie sundaes

This was Father’s Day, and maybe not our best effort. Something about everyone feeling about as peppy and energetic as a, a, a thing that is tired and having a hard time coming up with interesting descriptions. So he cooked up meat on the grill and it was good.

***

MONDAY
Turkey avocado provolone wraps, raw veggies and hummus, grapes

For some reason, everyone was super enthusiastic about this meal. We had some leftover rolls and a bunch of leftover tortillas, which I set out with deli turkey and salami, avocados, onions, provolone, and various kinds of dressing. I chose honey mustard, which doesn’t even go.

I mean, it didn’t taste bad or anything, but I wasn’t prepared for the choruses of hosannas. I think it may have been the grapes, actually.

Here is a moment that Benny wanted to memorialize:

***

TUESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

I intended to use this recipe, but ran out of time to make the special dressing or chop anything small, so we had chicken, mixed bagged greens, bleu cheese, sliced almonds, red onions, and blueberries, with balsamic vinegar. I can’t seem to find the picture I took, so here’s the pic from last time:

Again, I was taken aback at how delighted everyone was. I do love these hearty salads with nuts, cheese, meat, and fruit. Very pretty and filling.

***

WEDNESDAY

It was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FINALLY, and we went to the beach, and by the time we got home, I had zero interest in making dinner, and 100% interest in letting the kids make French toast while I languished on the couch. Then I got up and ate scrambled eggs and the ice cream I virtuously declined on Sunday.

***

THURSDAY
Pork kebabs, white rice, mangoes

I was planning to make oven pork gyros using this NYT recipe, but I was just too lazy to try a new recipe with that many steps.

Instead, I put together a triple recipe of this teriyaki sauce and mixed it up with cubed pork and big wedges of onion, and let that marinate a few hours. Then I put the meat and onions on a pan with a rack and shoved it up right under the broiler, turning it once. Yummeh.

The rice, I made in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) using the 1:1 method and the rice button. I don’t understand why you have to rinse the rice, but it always comes out perfect, so I won’t argue.

We had five large mangoes which I peeled and cut up in no time using a metal cup. You try to figure out which way the pit lies and then cut the “cheeks” off the mango, leaving the pit inside a flat section of fruit.

Then you take a glass or metal cup with a thin rim and just, vooooop, slide the cup rim just under the skin and scoop the flesh right out in one piece.

Very satisfying and efficient.
It’s a little tricker to trim the rest of the flesh off the pit, but overall, this method makes mangoes worth eating, rather than an exercise in sticky, pulpy futility.

Because I must always be shilling something, and because I’m as sick of hearing about the Instant Pot as you are, these are the aluminum cups we have (affiliate link):

My damn wiener kids do lose them and bend them, but they do not break them! Ha!

***

FRIDAY

Child requested tuna noodle casserole. So let it be written, so let it be done. My husband despises this food, but he will be out picking up my oldest kid from the airport, hooray! We sure missed her.

Okay, the Fourth of July looms! We’ll probably do burgers and hot dogs and pork spiedies using this recipe, plus chips and corn on the cob (maybe fancy corn on the cob with lime, paprika, and parmesan), watermelon, and potato salad. As predictable a menu as Thanksgiving, but with food you actually want to eat. Who has exciting ideas for a picnic dessert for a big crowd? Or some kind of razzle dazzle side dish that kids would like?