Happy Friday! I’m rull sorry I haven’t posted anything this week. I did try. I guess I’m still adjusting to the school schedule, and then I got my flu shot, which unexpectedly kicked my ass. I started like four essays, and it all seemed incredibly stupid, so I couldn’t get myself to finish any of it. The second half of the month is going to be a doozy, let me tell you.
There was also a certain amount of this kind of thing:
We had some nice meals, though. Shook things up a little bit, in a good way. Here’s what we had:
Homemade waffles, sausages, strawberries, OJ
We had a bunch of duck eggs, including one that was suspiciously large
and I also got a bee in my bonnet and cleaned out the island cabinet, and found the old waffle iron Damien’s Aunt Willie gave us for a wedding present. I used to make waffles allll the time when we first got married, because we got eggs from WIC and my mother’s cousin Fran had given us a cookbook
with a waffle recipe in it. This was before there were recipes on the internet, so even though it was kind of an annoying recipe (it’s a little complicated, and she also says “smashing” twice on the same page), I stuck with it. It calls for separating the eggs, beating the whites, and folding them into the batter
But I have to admit, it makes damn fine waffles.
Crisp on the outside, fluffy and eggy inside. It probably didn’t hurt that the suspiciously large duck egg turned out, as I suspected, to have two yolks:
This is apparently fairly common as the ducks gear up their egg-making parts. We also get the occasional “jello egg,” which is a normal egg with a soft, squishy shell, usually laid in the grass instead of in the duck house. Apparently we might also get an egg within an egg! We had about a week of two eggs per day, and now production has slowed down for some reason. I’m going to start giving them ground-up egg shells in their feed, in case they need more calcium.
Oh, so we had waffles, good sausages, strawberries, and OJ for dinner.
We call this “breakfast for dinner” even though we generally have things like popcorn, apples, or nothing for actual breakfast.
Also on Saturday, I suddenly remembered that, back when I was deep in “oh nooo, summer is almost over and we didn’t doooo anything” panic, I bought a ticket for something which I have on my calendar as “Jurassic thing,” and that Jurassic thing was today! But after being able to find only the meagerest of photos and videos of the actual show, it dawned on me that this was probably aimed at slightly slow-witted toddlers. And of course the closest thing we had to a toddler was an eight-year-old, and she, of course, did not want to go. She wanted to stay home and watch TMNT cartoons.
But I had a ticket! So me and the teenagers and two adult kids piled into the car and we went and saw the Jurassic thing. It’s supposed to be accompanied by an audio tour that you download on your phone, but they set up out in a field in Swanzey, where nobody gets any data; so we just motored slowly past about a dozen audibly creaking animatronic dino statues in different stages of emotional distress
and that was the Jurassic thing. We honestly had a really nice time. Sometimes you just gotta go out and drive slowly past some creaky dinosaurs, I guess. Lena tried her best to make up an audio tour on the fly, but her efforts were not received with respect, so she gave up.
Shepherd’s pie, Halloween cupcakes/North African food
Sunday, Damien and I went to a party at the home of one of his editors, and the kids at home decided they wanted shepherd’s pie, so I was like, you go right ahead. It’s pretty great having older kids. Here’s how that worked out:
Damien and I stopped at an African food store in Concord, mainly because I was hoping to find some teff so I can try making injera. That’s an Ethiopian flatbread, though, and this was a Ghanian store, and the guy had never even heard of teff or injera, so I picked out a box of fufu mix instead,
fufu being the only other African food that I know what it is. (I did read up a little and find out that fufu is a kind of “swallow food,” which is a category of soft, pliable foods that you’re supposed to eat without chewing! Which, I haven’t checked my food journal app yet, but I’m pretty sure eating without chewing is not going to earn me a healthy habits puzzle piece that I’m supposed to be collecting through, even though I can already tell it’s just a picture of Shakira.)
I also looked up the slogan on the box, “Wo be di sa!!!!” and apparently it means “You will eat continuously stop eating it.”
So, I’ll just jot that down in my food journal, I suppose. Or possibly just on my gravestone.
ANYWAY, I chatted up the poor man running the store, and he said it’s his sister’s store, and she also has a restaurant in town. So we zipped right over to Maddy’s Food Hub and ordered up a bunch of North African and Carribbean food: Fried plantain with a rrrrremarkable savory shrimp sauce
and Damien had smoky rice jollof and goat with some kind of herby garlic sauce
and I had croaker (red snapper) in palm nut stew with a cream rice ball
Let me tell you, everything was completely delicious, just mouthwatering. Spicy, but not overpowering. The palm nut stew is a flavor I’ve never had before, but it still somehow tasted incredibly nostalgic and comforting. So nourishing.
The food came really fast, the service was very friendly, the place was very clean and quiet, the prices were reasonable, and if you’re anywhere near Concord, I highly recommend this great little restaurant, which has only been open for just over a month. They also do GrubHub and catering.
Oven fried chicken, cat biscuits, collard greens
Monday I got some chicken soaking in egg and milk and salt and pepper in the morning, and picked another round of collard greens from the garden.
I got them cooking in the Instant Pot using this vegan recipe from Black People’s Recipes. One of these days I will use ham or bacon, but this recipe is nice and savory as is.
Somehow on the way home from school, I got myself into a situation where I needed a bribe, so I rashly promised Corrie I would make cat-shaped biscuits.
I used this recipeJump to Recipe
and we definitely have a cat-shaped cookie cutter in the house somewhere, but where, I do not know. So I used one that’s supposed to be a tulip, and squashed the extra points down, so it was . . . sort of cat-shaped? Just the head, I mean. I also made a bunch of stars, because I had my doubts about the cats.
I put them in the fridge and warned Corrie repeatedly that biscuits are not like cookies (this is America!), and they’re not going to keep their shape very well when they bake.
I’m annoyed at myself for not having written up a recipe card for oven fried chicken yet, but I’m going to copy-paste what I tapped out last time (including the milk and egg part, which I had done in the morning):
Make a milk and eggs mix (two eggs per cup of milk), enough to at least halfway submerge the chicken, and add plenty of salt and pepper, and let that soak for a few hours before supper.
About 40 minutes before dinner, heat the oven to 425. In an oven-safe pan with sides, put about a cup of oil and a stick or two of butter and let that melt and heat up.
Then put plenty of flour in a bowl (I always give myself permission to use a lot and waste some flour, because I hate it when there’s not enough and you have to patch it together from whatever’s left, and it gets all pasty) and season it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and whatever else you want – chili powder, cumin, etc. It should have some color in it when you’re done seasoning! Take the chicken out of the milk mix and dredge it in the flour.
Then pull the hot pan out of the oven and lay the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, return it to the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Then flip it and let it continue cooking, probably for another 20 minutes or more, depending on how big the pieces of chicken are.
In the very last part of cooking the chicken, I slid the biscuits in there, and do you know, they more or less kept their shape!
I probably could have left them in for another minute or two to darken up, but they were really good. Extremely light and fluffy with tear-apart layers, a rich buttery flavor, and a lovely, flaky outside.
And Corrie stared into their blank, floury faces and declared them cats. So that was good.
The collard greens were also swell, super smoky and flavorful.
The chicken also turned out excellent. The skin was so crisp, it really crunched.
Yep, I was pretty pleased with this meal overall.
I award myself one biscuit star.
(And miraculously, I did in fact eat just one biscuit. It’s this freaking food journal. It’s actually working, and I’m so mad.)
Tuesday the original plan was a Cobb salad, but the host of the party we went to insisted that we bring home tons of food, so we had a giant spinach salad with dried cranberries, blue cheese, and walnuts in it, plus lots of good sliced turkey and ham, and some soft rolls.
So I cooked up a few pounds of bacon, made a bunch of deviled eggs, cut up some tomatoes and a giant cucumber from the garden, and we just had a sort of “chef’s salad and so on” meal, which is always popular.
One of the biggest favors I have ever done myself is forcing myself to start enjoying salad without dressing. I really prefer it that way now, and it’s …. helpful. Just another way of chipping away at calories without making giant changes in how I eat. It’s always easier to make adjustments than revolutions!
I couldn’t find any mayonnaise, so I made the deviled eggs with aioli and mustard, and they were quite nice that way. The kids didn’t notice the difference, but they had a little extra adult tang to them that I enjoyed.
Spiedies, fake Doritos
Wednesday I made a marinade in the morning
This is such a simple, easy marinade, and you can also use it for shish kebab, or it would probably be great on chicken. I had a couple of boneless pork somethings (I can never keep my cuts straight), and cut them into cubes and let that all marinate all day.
Then in the evening, I broiled the meat in one big sheet pan, and another sheet pan with a bunch of cut-up bell peppers and mushrooms with a little olive oil and garlic salt and pepper. I toasted some buns and put a little mayo on, and we had lovely sandwiches.
Hey look, I got my thumb in this shot! Nice.
But seriously, the meat gets nice and tender, and this is a real low-effort, high-flavor meal. Fifteen minutes of work in the morning, fifteen minutes of cooking in the evening, boom.
Italian meatloaf, no brussels sprouts
Thursday in the morning, I made two big Italian meatloaves more or less following the recipe from Sip and Feast, a site I heartily recommend.
I stopped on the way home and picked up Brussels sprouts for a side, but by the time I got home, I was incredibly exhausted and cranky, so I couldn’t get myself to cook them.
You’re supposed to put the vegetables in the pan with the meatloaf and tomato wine sauce and let it all cook together, but I had chosen a pan that was too small, and it was already overflowing. Then I suddenly realized that I didn’t even have mushrooms, because the ones I had put in the spiedies the previous day were actually supposed to be for the meatloaf. But we had some leftover! So I cut up onions and cooked them, added the leftover mushrooms and peppers (the recipe does not call for peppers, but it worked well enough), and just served that on the side. I’m sorry, I’m on a details jag and can’t stop now.
The upshot is we had a nice, tasty, slightly off-recipe meatloaf with a bunch of hot Italian-style vegetables on top of it
and we even had some leftover bread from the party, and then I took a three-hour nap, and then I remembered that I had just gotten a flu shot, and that’s probably why I couldn’t get myself to make Brussels sprouts.
Get your flu shot! It will excuse you from Brussels sprouts! Rah rah!
WELL, the kids requested regular spaghetti with sauce from a jar, with no fancy ethnic tricks or lumpy things or anything, and I was happy to comply, but then some of the kids had a back-to-school picnic. So some of us were going to go to that.
BUHT, someone in the house just tested positive for Covid this morning. So here we freaking go. I think we’ll skip the picnic. Stay home and eat Brussels sprouts. Wo be di saa indeed.
Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.
- 6 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 450.
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.
Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.
With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.
Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)
- 1 cup veg or olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
- 4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
- peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks
Mix together all marinade ingredients.
Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight.
Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.
Serve in sandwiches or with rice.