What’s for supper? Vol. 362: Add sugar and stir

Happy Friday! I just ordered oil (we are out), set up a car inspection (it is trash), started some evaluation forms for some of the kids (just plain nuts), and I bought new batteries for my hungry hungry ClearBlue monitor, and wrote a RATHER DIRE scripture reflection about how if you are faithless, your children are gonna get burned up in demon fire; so I’m all ready to have a nice weekend now. How are you? I’m thinking of getting into winter sowing. I know there will be flowers because I’m planting seeds blah blah blah. Well, there will be squash, anyway. And I just got new glasses, and I feel like someone cleaned out my tank. 

We had some decent food this week. One new recipe and a few variations on old recipes. Read on, and please applaud for how much leftover food I thriftily used up!

SATURDAY
Rotisserie chicken and pizza rolls for kids; Mexican food for grownups

First, before getting thrifty, we all needed a little break, so I got some kid-pleasers for the kids, and Damien and I went to the local Señor Tadpole’s, where we were seated quickly, but they seemed to be a bit understaffed. About half an hour later the waitress brought over my taster’s plate and part of Damien’s order, and nervously explained that someone else had taken his fajita.

Which was unfortunate, because he had actually ordered a chimichanga. ANYWAY, eventually he got his food, and fellas, let me tell you something: A hungry man being kind and patient and understanding toward a harassed waitress is a really good way to impress a lady, for instance your wife. 

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlet sandwiches, chips

The plan for Sunday was caprese chicken burgers, easy peasy lemon squeezy; but they were out of chicken burgers, difficult difficult lemon difficult. But chicken breasts were on sale, and I was determined not to blow the budget this week, so I somewhat grumpily bought some chicken breasts, sliced them, pounded them flat, egged and breaded them, and oven fried them. 

Jump to Recipe

They turned out good, maybe a little greasier than I would like.  

Actually I tried a slightly different technique this time. I was a little short on breadcrumbs, and I was afraid the chicken might be bland; so rather than seasoning the breadcrumbs, I heavily seasoned the meat itself, and sort of massaged it in with a rubber spatula. Then I dipped it quickly in the egg mixture so the seasonings would stay on, and breaded it.

It worked great! I don’t know if it would work with chicken that has the skin on, which is what I usually use for oven frying; but chicken breast, especially if it’s been tenderized with a mallet, is basically a sponge for flavor, so why not. Get them spices in there.

I sliced up a bunch of baguettes and served the chicken with sliced tomatoes and basil, sliced cheese, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was a pretty popular meal. 

MONDAY
Japanese chicken thighs, sesame broccoli, rice 

I have this nice recipe for yakitori chicken, which is pieces of saucy chicken on a skewer. I had a bunch of thighs and definitely didn’t feel like de-boning it and threading it on sticks, but I did pull the skin off and make this lovely, easy sauce.

I divided the sauce, and coated the chicken in some of it and broiled it, and used a bit more to brush on when it was halfway cooked. I added sesame seeds and chopped scallions when it came out of the oven.

Savory, sweet and sticky, and really good! I sure wish I had thought to line the pan with parchment paper, though. But the chicken came out moist and delicious. I’ve made this recipe with the chicken grilled outside, and that’s even better; but the broiler did a pretty good job. 

The other part of the sauce, that I saved out, I put into the amazing gravy boat/pitcher/pouring vessel Clara made for me. Check it out:

But wait, check out the inside:

Boogie boogie boogie! I heartily recommend having artistic children with ancient tastes, to dress up your Japanese chicken. 

 

 

I made a tray of quick sesame broccoli

Jump to Recipe

and it was a good little meal, with just a little prep work and tons of flavor. 

The sauce was really great on the rice and broccoli, too. I may make a big batch of it and just keep it on hand for all-purpose Asian use. 

TUESDAY
Pork meatball soup, fried rice, steamed buns

Tuesday, I was set to give blood, so I did my cooking in the morning. I’m sorry if this is pushy and obnoxious, but PLEASE GIVE BLOOD IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD. There’s a horrible shortage and there’s just . . . not a substitute for blood. 

Anyway, I took the leftover pork dumpling filling out of the freezer, where I put it on New Year’s Eve. Here’s the pork dumpling recipe, and I discovered that if you forget to drain the extra moisture out of the cabbage, it still turns out fine, so you can probably skip that step. Just another service I provide by being dumb!

So I had decided I didn’t have time to make dumplings, but I did have time to fry up little meatballs. But I had used up all the breadcrumbs making the chicken cutlets, so they were a little slumpy, and not really “balls” in any meaningful sense. 

Still tasty, though, and that’s what counts. I made the soup more or less following this recipe using the leftover matchstick carrots from last week’s gochujang bulgoki. I’m determined to use up more leftover food and not throw so much out.

When the soup was simmering, I started on the fried rice. I’m so smart, I deliberately made extra rice for the previous day’s meal, so I would have some leftover for this day. I had also saved last week’s ham, which I diced up. I chopped up some carrots and the white part of the bok choy (the greens went into the soup) and a bunch of ginger and garlic, and sauteed it up in sesame oil.

Then I dumped on some brown sugar and continued heating and stirring until the sugar got a little dark

then I threw in the diced ham and the leftover rice, and then I sloshed on a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce. I also scrambled up some eggs and threw those in, and some leftover scallions. 

This is very much American Chinese food. Sometimes that’s what the people want! It’s delicious. 

Then I ran around trying to catch up with my dumb schedule, and I almost decided to just leave the meal at that, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead with my plan to make steamed buns, partially because I had bought a bamboo steamer at a thrift store. Yes, this is my third bamboo steamer, what of it? Some people use heroin, I collect bamboo steamers. 

I followed this recipe, which using baking powder instead of yeast.

And I suddenly realized I’ve been using my steamers wrong, slightly. I’ve been setting them inside larger pots or skillets of water, but really they should be on top of a vessel with a smaller diameter than the steamer, so all the steam goes into the steamer. Duh! So I did that.

The buns turned out. . . goodish? The kids liked them. The dough did not get as tender and soft as the recipe said it would, and I definitely didn’t make them as round and smooth as you’re supposed to. I think they were a little too dense; but they did get cooked all the way through (I was afraid they’d be wet and doughy). This was one of the smaller ones; some of them were puffier: 

They are sweet (but you can decrease the amount of sugar if you want) and I think it’s fair to describe them as tender. They have a lot of cornstarch in them, which gives them a silkier texture, so they’re not biscuit-like. Definitely easy, and you just have to let the dough rest for a bit, not do a full rise, so you can make it late in the day. I dunno. Will probably take another shot at them at some point. [Verna Maroney voice:] I GOT THE STEAMERS.

So all in all, a good meal, especially considering I was out of the house most of the day. 

I don’t think I said anything about the soup. It was pretty good. The meatballs were a little soft, but all the flavors were there. I left the ginger in, so it was beautifully gingery. Just a sort of non-specific Asian soup, hey. 

 

WEDNESDAY
Deli sandwiches, potato puffs, veg and dip

Wednesday, I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, but I had a strange combination of deli meats and some brioche buns, so that’s what I served. I also, as you can see, cooked some tater tots, and cut up a bunch of raw vegetables. 

And that’s my story! Thursday turned out so stupid in the afternoon, I was ridiculously consoled by those ketchup-drenched tater tots. 

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, HINT OF LIME chips and salsa

You’ll never guess: Thursday was also stupid. But I did remember to take the bag of shredded chicken out of the freezer (leftover from that nice Persian chicken barley soup from two weeks ago), and fried up a bunch of chicken quesadillas.

The real kicker was the Hint of Lime tortilla chips, which for some reason are rarely available around here. I don’t know why they’re so good, when they’re clearly just doused with some kind of horrific citric acid solution. But they’re just so good. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan red sauce

I haven’t started it yet, but here’s the stupid-easy, three-ingredient recipe:

Jump to Recipe

or if you like it in picture form, here’s that:

Last time I made this, I did it in the Instant Pot, forgetting that you really need this to simmer and reduce on the stove; so it came out really thin and soupy, rather than rich and savory. Oh well! You live and learn, and then forget, and feel bad about it, take it out on the dog, try again, and eventually end up with some decent pasta. 

I am going to try to go to this women’s retreat in Plymouth with Danielle Bean, which is … tomorrow. Ooh, that snuck up on me! It looks like there are still spots, though, so maybe if you’re nearby, you can come? That would be nice. Danielle is the real deal and I haven’t seen her in quite a while. 

I also finished a thirty-day plank challenge. It took me forty-three days, but did you hear that I FINISHED it? I started a little Facebook group to support and encourage each other, very low-key, no pressure. I’m thinking about starting a new challenge, but if you’re interested, you can take a look at the group, and join if you want to know when the next challenge starts. These things are always so much easier to stick with when there’s other people also suffering, I mean supporting and encouraging each other. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

 

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

  • broccoli spears
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

    Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds

    Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 347: Wouldn’t it be chili with no skin on?

In elementary school, we used to sing this Halloween round:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones, 
With the rest all go-o-o-o-ne,
Oooooooh!
O00-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooooh!
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?

WELL, it all comes together in today’s post. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, raw broccoli and dip

I woke up SO late on Saturday and everything got pushed forward SO far, I’m pretty impressed we had three actual distinct things for supper. 

Nothing else to report, except that I suddenly remembered a kid going through a phase of playing restaurant, and one of the featured items was “pretziles.” Which makes me remember I haven’t made homemade hot pretzels in a while. 

[Daphne Moon voice:] I don’t know whyyyy.

On Saturday, I also finally put up an extra little shelf that I’ve been meaning to put up, and now I officially have room for all my spices! If you’ll recall, this is what it looked like before. 

Then I got a bunch of spice jars and bunch of mason jars; and now I have an extra shelf as well, so here it is:

It’s . . . sigh . . . better. I swear it’s better. Only a few things are still in sacks, and everything is labelled, top and side. And I have hooks for red and yellow onions, and a little basket for my ginger and garlic. 

I haven’t organized the spices, though. There are just too many other people using them, and trying to keep them in the order I want would be asking for constant heartache.

I also still haven’t managed to re-hang the other shelf that came crashing down, that used to hold all my oils and vinegars, so that’s all crammed in there as well. It’s less upsetting if I think of it all as WEALTH, which it is. Never thought I’d need a spot just for all my various salts and peppers! My various oil! Look how lucky I am. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips, further raw broccoli

On Sunday I did a bunch of tragic gardening (I planted a few hundred bulbs and spent the time repeatedly reminding myself that absolutely none of them are going to come up and everything just dies anyway and what’s the point, oh boo hoo hoo hoo) and also put up some more skeletons. For, uh, self care. 

We have a number of skeletons year-round, partly because it helps Instacart find our house when GPS insists on sending them to the fence company and saying that’s our house; but mostly because I have had a lifelong love for skeletons. 

This one, I think the kids named Shakespeare 

and this one, Insulon, is new this year (his eyes light up):

Then we have Baba Mailbox, which doesn’t really make sense, but whatcha gonna do:

and of course The Gardener:

and also new this year is Horbert, who lives by himself.

Here is a short video of The Hoisting of Horbert:

 

who didn’t end up as high as I expected, considering how hard it was to hold that tree down. 

Then we had hamburgers for supper.

I don’t know if it’s been a long time since we’ve had burgers, or maybe I just worked up a good appetite tragically gardening and tree wrestling, but those were some especially delicious burgers. 

MONDAY
Chili verde on rice; corn

This is a nice recipe that I discovered a little shortcut for this week.

Jump to Recipe

Normally when I make chili verde, I blister the peppers and tomatillos under the broiler, then let them sit and loosen, then pull off the skins and put the insides in the food processor, along with onion, garlic, and cilantro.

This time, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I left the skins on. I also put the onions in the oven, rather than adding them raw to the blender. Time to find out! Exciting! 

I cut the pork shoulder into chunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, browned it in oil, blended up the vegetables, and then added the resulting green salsa to the pot with the pork, and let it cook slowly on the stovetop all day. 

It turned out thicker than usual and quite a bit spicier than usual, a real sinus clearer. And absolutely delicious. Mayyybe a tiny bit bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. The family polished it off, to my delight. I might add some chicken broth in the future, to make it a little thinner, but I think I will stick with leaving the skins on. It made my life easier, and the flavor was great. If anyone knows of some reason why I should be taking the skins off, speak now! 

I was gonna make corn bread or corn muffins, but a quick poll revealed that nobody actually wants that, so I just cooked up some frozen corn, and made a bunch of white rice, and that was what they wanted. We had lime wedges and sour cream for toppings, and we really needed that sour cream to ease up the spice!

Wish I had had a little more cilantro to top it off. But it was a good meal. Everyone either has, just had, or is about to get a cold, and it’s been damp and foggy out, so this worked nicely. 

On Wednesday I also got a very subtle haircut. Usually I got to Head Whompers and pay $12 to get most of my hair chopped off, but this time I went to a Fancy Place and paid quite a bit more to get little bits here and there removed.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but Damien said my head looked fluffier, so I think that’s good. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins

Jubilation. This is a highly-anticipated meal (second only to ham-peas-mashed potatoes) that I hold off making until the frost is on the pumpkin or whatever. I forgot to get mushrooms, but it was still very tasty.

Here’s the soup recipe: 

Jump to Recipe

This is the soup I make in my head when I can’t fall asleep. I go through it as slowly and meticulously as possible, paying close attention to each detail, cleaning as I go, and if I don’t actually fall asleep by the end, I usually at least feel less anxious. Thanks, soup!

In real life, it was a soccer day, so I made the soup in the morning, except for the barley, and then put together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients for the pumpkin muffins

Jump to Recipe

and then combined them when I got home, and quickly baked them right before supper. 

Full disclosure, the muffins were a tiny bit squashy (I mean technically they were 100% squashy, since canned pumpkin is actually squash; but I meant they were somewhat underdone) and the barley was a little bit chompy, because I forgot how long it takes to cook; but it was still a well-received meal. 

Piping hot muffins and a bowl of soup with tender beef, lots of wine and tomatoes, plenty of carrots and onions and pepper. What’s not to love?

Next time I need to make more soup! Some people have come around to soup recently, to my delight.

This is why I stick to my policy of just making food that seems good to me, and offering it over and over and over again. People really do come around eventually, often enough. Or if they don’t, that’s also fine. I just don’t want to fight about food. There’s enough fights. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one pepperoni, and one Things Mother Likes. To wit: Black olive, fresh garlic, red onion, fresh basil, ricotta, anchovy.

This absolute cartoon cat got to clean out the anchovy can for recycling

and I got to eat two pieces of this scrumptious pizza

so everybody was happy.

THURSDAY
Asian meatballs, pork fried rice, pineapple

I made extra rice when I made the chili verde, for the express purpose of having leftovers for fried rice. Wasn’t that smart? I feel like I am waking up out of a fog this week. I’ll probably live to regret saying this, but I stopped taking Propranalol because it wasn’t doing anything for my headaches anyway, and within a few days I felt much more awake and much less pukey; and without changing my diet, I lost three pounds. So. Go to hell, Propranalol. I have a real live appointment with an honest-to-goodness neurologist, and I’m going to insist they stick needles in my cheeks or install a skull steam valve or something. But no more stupid drugs that make me stupid! I’m already stupid enough! 

Anyway, the fried rice was good. I minced some ginger and garlic and threw it in the pan with hot oil for a bit, then added pieces of leftover pork and diced red onion, and then I dumped a bunch of brown sugar on top of that and let it get bubbly and dark.

Then I added scrambled egg (I didn’t think I was up for scrambling the egg directly into the rice today), some bagged broccoli, carrot, and water chestnut, and the leftover rice, and then I dumped on a bunch of oyster sauce, a little fish sauce, and quite a bit of soy sauce, and heated it all up.

Pretty tasty!

I made the meatballs in the morning, and cooked them while I was making the rice. I used a recipe I’ve used before (it’s not letting me put the “jump to recipe” button in, for some reason, but the recipe is at the bottom of the page: Vaguely Asian Meatballs), except instead of ground beef, I used ground turkey, which happened to be $3 a pound. I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes before dinner

and served them with a jar of sweet chili sauce, and they were delicious. Light and garlicky and just very pleasant to eat. 

I also cut up a couple of pineapples and sprinkled some more chopped scallions over everything, and it was an easy, successful meal. 

When I make two kinds of Asian-inspired food, my goal is to not use the exact same ingredients in both dishes, and I achieved this by refraining from putting ginger in the meatballs. My breath was still glowing in the dark that night from all the garlic. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas? 

Yes, I think quesadillas. I have a bunch of spinach in the fridge that I never used, so I think I’ll make spinach quesadillas, which are very nice. 

 It occurs to me that one of those skeletons should be named John, or Chili Verde, or Tomatillo, or something. Well, there’s always next year. 

Spicy Chili Verde

You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. It does get less spicy as it cooks, so don't be alarmed if you make the salsa and it's overwhelming!

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.

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground white pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 336: Aubergine positivity

Happy Friday! All this week, a certain child has spent most of her day at farm camp, and I’m not going to say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount done and slept extremely well all week because of that, but I will say I’m marking next year’s calendar to make sure we get a slot. Some people need farm camp, and that’s a fact. 

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, rice, raw string beans

Usually Saturday meals are pretty feeble because I’m shopping and not cooking, but we had chicken thighs in the freezer, so I started marinating them in the morning and Damien started smoking them around noon.

The marinade was, more or less:

About 1 cup gochujang
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
about a head of garlic, minced 

marinated several hours, and he smoked ’em good. I made a big pot of white rice (I made extra, anticipating a meal later in the week), and just served fresh string beans raw, which is my favorite way to eat string beans.

Very good indeed. 

I looked into making my own gochujang, because it’s a little expensive to buy around here. I am growing ghost peppers in my garden, because, I don’t know why, and I thought maybe I could make gochujang with them. But it’s not the right kind of pepper (you want something sweet as well as hot), and you also need other ingredients which would also be expensive to buy around here, and maybe I’ll just . . . not. I like the little red tubs gochujang comes in, anyway. 

SUNDAY
BLTs, root beer floats, strawberry galette with candied basil

Sunday was Lucy’s birthday (party and cake later), and she requested BLTs and root beer floats. Can do. 

The strawberry basil galette was just something I wanted to make. I spotted the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen, and if it interests you at all, save the recipe on your first view, because they will want you to register for a free trial and you know how that ends up. For dumb reasons, I ended up going to a second site to find a recipe for the dough, and it’s a fine recipe, but I was extremely hot, which make my IQ and reading comprehension plummet; result being that I chilled the dough way too long, and when I tried to roll it out, it got VERY RUSTIC INDEED. I think the recipe was fine; I just should have let it warm up more before I tried to manipulate it. 

The galette really is an easy recipe, though, albeit with several steps. You  hack up the strawberries and then microwave them with strawberry jam and few other things, and the dough is also just a few ingredients, mostly butter. You heap the filling on the rolled-out dough and then bundle up the sides. A trained bear could do this. 

The thing that makes this recipe special are candied basil leaves, which you also make in the microwave

and a sweet balsamic reduction drizzle

None of this is hard, per se, but I am telling you that I was extremely hot and getting dumber by the minute, and I still had to fry six pounds of bacon. So by the time it was time to put dessert together, I made a few poor choices,  including but not limited to leaving the balsamic reduction in a little glass on the counter, without telling anyone what it was. And of course it looks like motor oil, so the kid on dish duty just went “ew” and washed it out before dessert time. 

SO, tragically we had Rustic Overheated Trained Bear Strawberry Galette Without Any Balsamic Reduction Drizzle

Actually I made two, and the other one looked even more like it had been dropped out of a high window. But the pastry was flaky and buttery, the strawberries were tender and sweet, and the candied basil was so good with the fruit, it made me mad that I’ve spent my whole life not eating basil with strawberries. Will definitely make again, although probably when it’s cool enough that I can retain my human form. 

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

Monday I ended up running around all day doing I don’t even know what, so Damien roasted the chicken breast and cut it up, and we had mixed greens with chicken, blueberries, toasted almond slivers, crumbled feta, and diced red onions.

I had mine with balsamic vinegar. This is a great salad, with A#1 Hearty Salad Debris left at the bottom after you’ve dutifully eaten all your greens. 

TUESDAY
Regular tacos

Tuesday was another crazy-go-nuts day, and we have some minimalist tacos for supper, without even chips, because I forgot to buy any

but then we got the kids going on a Doctor Who and Damien and I finally took our new-to-us kayaks out, which we haven’t had a chance to do all summer.

The sky was hazy with humidity and some wildfire smoke from Canada, but the air over the water felt clear and cool, and we zooped right out to the middle of the pond. 

Fish were leaping, loons were lamenting, and water bugs bopped and skated everywhere.

We could nose right up in among the waterlilies and weeds to see what was going on on the other side (just pond things, plus more frogs).

And we had about an hour out on the water, just doing nothing at all, besides being in boats.

Kayaks are so good. I know you can learn a lot about kayaking and get really good at it, but you can get competent at kayaking on still or calm water in about ninety seconds. 

So that was pretty sweet! Must do that again soon. 

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Wednesday I set up a meat race, and whoever defrosted first got to be supper. 

I know there are ways to defrost meat quickly, but my actual goal was to put off having to think about dinner for a while, so this was the way to go. 

Hot dogs won. What a surprise! Oh well, I guess I just have to make hot dogs for supper. 

THURSDAY
Roasted pork ribs, stuffed grape leaves, fried eggplant

Thursday I finally hauled out the extra rice I had cooked earlier in the week, and Benny and I harvested a few dozen of the biggest, juiciest grape leaves we could find, and a big bunch of wild mint.

There are many theories on how to make stuffed grape leaves, and generally you will not start with already-cooked rice, but I wanted to see if I could go from untouched kitchen to finished grape leaves in as short a time as possible, so that’s what we were trying this time. So we just started throwing stuff in a bowl of cold rice. We added a ton of chopped mint, quite a lot of salt, and oregano, freshly-ground pepper, a generous amount of sumac, a diced onion, and several glugs of olive oil. 

Then I tried what would happen if we rolled up the rice in uncooked grape leaves. What happens is the leaves crack when you roll them, and sproing open when you put them down. So I boiled some water, dunked the leaves in for a few minutes, and then put them in ice water, and then we rolled them. Or I rolled a few and then dashed out to pick up Corrie, and Benny rolled most of them. 

First we consulted this video we made a few years ago, when we made dolmas for the first time. (If you have an ad blocker on, you will not be able to see the video, because it does make you watch a short ad first, sorry!)

Anyway the method is: You place the leaf on the table face down (veins up), with the point toward you. Put a scoop of rice in the middle, fold in the sides, and then fold up the bottom over the rice, and continue rolling it up to the top, and put it on a pan, seam down, to be cooked later. Easy peasy. 

It was definitely trickier working with cold, cooked rice than with a warm, sticky rice with cooked onions and such, but it was possible to do it this way. I lined a pot with parchment paper (you can also use a few layers of grape leaves), stacked the grape leaves in it, and added a few cups of chicken broth and threw some slices of lemon in there, and simmered it for about half an hour. 

While that was cooking, I broiled the boneless pork ribs with salt and pepper. I had been planning something a little more mediterranean, some kind of kebabs or something, but I was straight up out of time, and sizzling hot pork ribs with salt and pepper are never a bad choice as long as you don’t overcook them. 

Earlier in the day, Benny and I had prepped the eggplant. I had two eggplants, one from the supermarket

and one ichiban eggplant from my garden 

Now look, ichiban eggplants are supposed to look like that. They are sweet, the skin is thin and tender, and they grow quickly and you get several on a plant. But the two together did kinda look like I was setting up some kind of MLM photoshoot. 

Hey bestie! These days are gettin hot hot hot, sun wearing sunglasses emoji! that’s why I’m so grateful I have GloVolve CLEEN/ION LYFEpowdr on my side, heart eyes emoji! Just shake up a little tasty breakfast dust for myself, dynamite emoji, and this trim mama is ready to go, running woman emoji! DM me for details if you want to get in on this disgusting bullshit.

RESULTS DON’T LIE GIRLFRIEND 

Anywurrrrr, we cut them both up, skins on, salted both sides, and let them sweat it out between layers of paper towels. (This is to get the excess moisture out, and you can do it the night before or in the morning or just half an hour or so before you plan to fry the eggplant.) 

Right before supper, I made some batter, dragged I tweaked the recipe a bit, and I’m very happy with it. The texture is fantastic, very light with a crisp, shiny or knobby shell on the outside, depending on how hot the oil is

and it tastes mild at first, but has a nice spicy kick. 

The only difference I could discern between the two kinds of eggplant was that the big one was big and the little one was little. Both had their charms!  

I was very proud of myself for steaming grape leaves and frying eggplant while the meat was broiling, and I unironically consider it one of the major accomplishments of my life, to produce three hot foods cooked three ways at exactly 6:00. 

It was just such a good meal. I set out more lemon slices to squeeze over everything, and it was fab. 

Okay, YES, some kind of spicy tomato-based dipping sauce would have put it over the top and tied everything together, but it was still an excellent meal. 

Oh, so the cheater’s grape leaves were good! I’ll probably go back to consulting a recipe and doing it in some approved way next time, but just crashing everything together worked well enough and I feel like I have officially made stuffed grape leaves for the year. And it was pretty nice to have a meal with three ingredients from our own yard.

FRIDAY
Pizza

Just reglar ol pizza. No complaints from me!

Oh, our local little market is now selling goat meat! It’s pricy but I can swing a few pounds, anyway. I love goat meat. Who has ideas for what to make? Something juicy and Indian. My mortal and pestle want to know. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

veg oil for frying

3 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.