What’s for supper? Vol. 247: In which beef is on sale

Yeesh, it’s been three weeks! Sorry about that. Slowly scrabbling my way back to normal. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
BLTs and root beer floats

Saturday was Irene’s fake birthday. Her actual birthday was on Good Friday, and she has decided to postpone her friend party until she can have a beach party. So on her fake birthday on Saturday, we went mini golfing, where she (a) hit the ball completely across the highway (b) hit a baby with a ball and (c) got a hole in one and (d) still came in last. She liked her presents, though, and those parents definitely should not have left that baby sitting around so close. 

And it was warm enough outside for me to slink away and eat my dinner in the yard!

I mention this because today, in this same yard, there are about 4 inches of snow outside, and it’s still coming down. 

I won’t make the joke about how I brought this on by finally putting away all the mittens and boots and snow pants a few days ago, because everyone’s making that joke. Instead I will confess that it’s because I stabbed a man and buried him under the St. Joseph statue in the pansy garden. Sorry, it’s all my fault. In my defense, he was sharing that LifeSiteNews story about how Pfizer is halfway to genocide via “top up” shots. I did what I had to do.

SUNDAY
Banh mi with liver pâté (well, chopped liver)

By a strange twist of culinary fate, we now have a tradition of eating banh mi not too long after Easter, because we usually have leftover chopped liver from Passover. Chopped liver is what most people would call pâté, and it is rich and velvety smooth and pungently wonderful. We just call it “chopped liver” to keep the goyim away so we can have it all to ourselves. I made a recipe card just for you, though:

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But first you have to pass the test of knowing that it looks like this at a certain stage, and still deciding to make it:

Now for the banh mi! I usually make banh mi with pork,

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but beef shoulder continues to be $2.99 a pound, so that’s what I used. I also only had about half the amount of fish sauce I needed for the marinade, so I made up the difference with oyster sauce, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; and I cut the sugar by about 1/3. Well, it tasted exactly the same. The strong flavors of fish sauce and garlic are so strong, that’s what came through. 

The beef was rather tough, sadly, but still tasted good. I served it on toasted baguettes with cucumbers, cilantro, your choice of mayo or sriracha mayo, jarred jalapeños, and quick-pickled shredded carrots. 

I also tweaked the pickled carrot recipe. Normally I just splash in some white vinegar, water, and dump in some sugar (yes, there’s a recipe, Jump to Recipe but I don’t always bother to look it up)  but this time I carefully measured out white vinegar and cider vinegar, honey, salt, and hot pepper flakes according to this recipe. You’ll never guess: It tasted exactly the same.

So either I’m some kind of naturally gifted master chef whose culinary improvisations are flawless, or else I just like food and don’t care much what it tastes like as long as I can gnarrrrrr. 

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, pasta salad

Chicken burgers were chicken burgers. But we had tons of leftover specialty foods in the house from various things, so it ended up as quite a nice pasta salad. I used a pasta called “casarecce,” which are sort of rolled-up little twists; and I added herb-infused olive oil, black olives, diced red onions, some bits of hard salami, sun-dried tomatoes, raw asparagus tips, and some smoked cheddar from a local farm.

Then I glopped in some jarred pesto, which probably drowned out the herbs in the olive oil, but it was delicious. I added the fixins while the pasta was still hot, so the smoked cheese melted a bit. I usually like a crumbly cheese like feta in a pasta salad, but this worked out very nicely. 

And I enjoyed the victory of not serving chips or fries, even if no one else did. I also happen to love raw asparagus. I think the taste comes through well, and they are crunchy but very light. Good stuff. 

TUESDAY
Chicken on salad with green apples and walnuts

We had tons of walnuts in the house from passover. I roasted up some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, sliced it, and served it on salad greens with green apples, walnuts, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. An elegant meal, consumed elegantly in bed. 

I had a brief urge to make rolls or something, but it passed. 

WEDNESDAY
Hamburgers, veg and dip

Nothing to report. Oh, except some of the veg were sugar snap peas, and they are so good, and, get this, 35 calories for a whole cup. I’m super tired of being fat, so I’ve started counting calories, and am very grateful that I already like raw vegetables. If you give me any advice, though, I will stab you and bury you under the St. Joseph statue in the pansy garden. 

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowls (formerly beef fajita bowls)

Just a fantastic meal. I think only one person in my family doesn’t like this meal, which is pretty darn good. The marinade is so rich and bright and tangy, I just love it. 

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The meat turned out wonderfully tender. Here is one of the more well-done hunks. The other ones were bigger and more rare.

I made a big pot of white rice and served it with strips of meat (I marinated and roasted the meat and then sliced it), fried peppers and onions, roasted corn, black beans and tomatoes with chili peppers, cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, and corn chips. 

I could easily have skipped the rice and corn chips and still had a very filling, satisfying meal. I forgot to use the lime wedge because there is already tons of flavor in this meal. 

As you can see, these aren’t strictly bowls. All our bowls were dirty, so we used plates, so I accidentally helped myself to twice as much food, oops.

I also bought but forgot to use something from Aldi called “elote seasoning,” which is cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cheese in a little bottle. It goes on corn or whatever you like. The kids thought I was just kidding about people selling corn on the street, the rubes. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

My mac and cheese recipe is just that you make a white sauce and throw in whatever cheese you have lying around, plus a little mustard and/or hot sauce. You don’t really taste it, but it gives the sauce some more depth. Mix with cooked macaroni, pour into a greased pan, and top with buttered panko crumbs, and bake at 350 until the sauce is bubbling and the top is lightly toasted.

Damien and I were actually planning to skip out on the kids and have pizza, but the heavy covering of snow is making outdoor dining less appealing. We shall see. 

Here’s the recipe cards for the week. 

Oh, wait, one more thing! I was browsing through a Julia Child book and she suggests an easy way to peel garlic: You cut the ends off the cloves and then dunk the whole head in boiling water for 30 seconds, then rinse it in cold water. The peels really do slide right off if you’ve completely detached the ends first. This is only worth the trouble if you need to peel an entire head of garlic, which I often do. I OFTEN DO. 

5 from 1 vote
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Chopped liver (chicken liver pâté)

A very rich, pungent, velvety pâté made with cheap and humble ingredients. Spread it on crackers with a little horseradish, or add it to your banh mi. It freezes very well (but takes a while to defrost, as it is dense).

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2-1/2 lbs chicken livers, rinsed and trimmed
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 onions
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • oil for frying the onion
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put the livers, the raw eggs in their shells, and one onion into a pot with the chicken broth.

  2. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for an hour. (This part looks very weird, but don't lose heart.) Drain off the broth and set aside the livers, onion, and eggs. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them.

  3. Chop the other two onions. Set one aside and fry the other one in oil until crisp.

  4. Using a meat grinder or a food processor, grind up the livers, the boiled eggs, the boiled onion, the fried onion, and the raw onion.

  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and chill. It should be moist and spreadable. If it's too dry and crumbly, add a small amount of oil.

5 from 1 vote
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Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1.5 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

5 from 1 vote
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quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

5 from 1 vote
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Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 238: Will the real potato butt please stand up?

First, some important news. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but this week, we all saw the dawn of a new era in America. It’s easy to sit around and hope for great things on a macro level, but it behooves us all to look around and see what changes we can make on a personal level. I’ve been thinking hard about the direction I want to go in, and after much prayer and reflection, I’m ready to announce the launching of a brand new project, and I truly hope you will all join me. It’s called Potatoes with butts, and you can follow it @PotatoesButts.What it is, is a twitter account that is just photos of potatoes with butts. I got the idea last week, when I saw this potato with a butt.

Here’s the thing, folks. This won’t work if I try to do it alone. My DMs are always open, and you can submit your photos of potatoes with butts and I will share them with mankind, and together we will do our part to make the world a little more full of photos of potatoes with butts. In these unprecedented times let us all work toward unity, and never allow ourselves to be cleft in two unless we are a potato with a butt. 

In other news, I am determined to be less of a potato butt on a personal level, so I started on my treadmill again, and I was passing the time by processing some food photo files. Here’s a little preview of what you’re in for this week:

That does sound tasty!

EDIT: I have unintentionally caused confusion with this joke. The screenshot above shows what autocorrect does to the names of my food photos when I’m on the treadmill and huffing and puffing too much to fix it while I upload them. If you wanted to, you could guess which of the following photos match up with irk chops, yffalo doh, hi ken plate, and Eminem inside chicken. I regret to inform you that “chickens vertical” is actually what I meant to type. I had a number of chicken photos, and in this particular one, well, they weren’t horizontal. 

Okay, here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Spaghetti carbonara, french bread

Delightful as always, and low-skill (although cooking for a crowd does require you to keep your head). I used four pounds of bacon and 3-1/2 pounds of spaghetti, and 423 mashed ends of butter sticks, and a whole thing of parmesan cheese.

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Some day I’ll get a block of parmesan and grate it fresh into the carbonara, but even the jarred stuff makes a great meal.

I haven’t made fresh bread for a while, so I was a little nervous, but it turned out well, fragrant, light, and a little sweet.

Nice simple recipe, just flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar, oil. A little cornmeal for the pan and a little butter to run over the hot top. 

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This recipe makes four long, fat loaves. (I do not intend to start a Twitter account for loaves of french bread that look like something it’s not. Because it’s VULGAR, that’s why.) A couple of them split, as you can see, because I didn’t slash them deeply enough, but no one complained. If you’re not great with bread, this is a reliable recipe, as long as you give it plenty of time to rise (it takes two rises). 

SUNDAY
Ina Garten’s roast chicken with fennel and lemon, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce

Now here is a tasty roast chicken. Damien volunteered to make the main course, and he followed Ina Garten’s recipe, which calls for stuffing the bird with lemons, garlic, and thyme, and roasting it atop a bed of fennel, onion, carrots.

Very, very juicy and tasty. The lemon, garlic, and thyme flavors really make themselves known in the meat, but it was the caramelized vegetables that really wowed me, especially the fennel. Must get more fennel into life.

This led to me browsing my way through Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Classic Cooking, so we shall see what fennel may come. 

And here, for the curious, is a picture of Eminem inside chicken:

I also opened up some cans of cranberry sauce, which turned out to be whole berry because I’m a monster; and I made some candied sweet potatoes. It’s a fine recipe

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but in retrospect, something less sweet would have been a better foil for the other two dishes. 

MONDAY
Hot dogs of many nations, cheezy weezies

Not even really hot dogs of many nations. I intended to serve Chicago-style hot dogs (mustard, tomatoes, pickles, pickle relish, onion, pickled peppers, and celery salt) and buffalo hot dogs (blue cheese, scallions, and hot sauce), but by the time dinner came, buffalo seemed adventurous enough. 

Ugh, I will be so glad when it’s finally light at dinnertime again. The lighting is killing me. You can see all the grime in my house, but everything looks so garish and dire. Oh well. 

TUESDAY
Oven fried pork chops, pink risotto, peas

I’m just over here exhausted with all my same old same old pork recipes, so I poked around a little and tried something different, yet decidedly un-exotic: Breaded fried pork chops.

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I was planning to just chunk them in the oven, but at the last minute I thought they really needed a little browning up first, so I fried them in oil just to cook the outside

and then baked them to make sure the meat was done. I thought they were great, if a little bit of a hassle (because I made 12).

Will make again, probably using boneless pork ribs. The breading could easily be made more spicy, but it had a good, balanced flavor, and the texture was perfect, crunchy and light, and the meat was juicy. My mother used to make pork chops often, and they looked and tasted like a mitten that had fallen in the slush by the bus stop and been run over repeatedly, so I feel pretty good about this.

I made my reliable Instant Pot risotto, which is so easy and always turns out creamy and lovely, especially when I’m generous with the butter and cheese. On this day I was a little low on cheese, so it was slightly less gooey than normal, but still very nice.

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It calls for chicken broth and white wine, but all I had was three half-empty bottles of rosé and merlot, so in they went. Predictably, this changed the flavor slightly, and the color dramatically. 

I definitely prefer white wine in this, but the kids thought pink risotto was amusing, and I cleared up some counter space, so overall a win. 

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

The last few times I made fancy ramen, it caused a lot of suffering, I mean really bad suffering, like really bad, because someone’s mother had made JUST RAMEN FOR SUPPER (and meat and vegetables and crunchy noodles and sprouts and sauces and eggs), and so there was a lot left over. So this time, I only made six packages of ramen. You will be surprised to hear that everyone was very excited about ramen for supper, because it’s SO GOOD, and they gobbled it up and howled for more. So Lena made some more, but by the time it was ready, everyone had left to go lie on their necks and listen to K-pop. 

Anyway, here’s my ramen.

I ha it with wilted spinach, scallions, accidentally hard boiled eggs, quick-pickled carrots, scallions, pea shoots, a little broccoli, and pork sautéed in sesame oil, then sliced and simmered in soy sauce. I usually put hot sauce on it, but I tried some sweet chili oil and it wasn’t great. The carrots and vegetables added enough sweetness. 

THURSDAY
Beef fajita bowls

I love this meal. I got the meat marinating first thing, using this very sharp, savory marinade

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I actually used lemon juice rather than lime, and didn’t really notice the difference. Then, close to dinner time, I was afraid there wasn’t enough meat, so I went out and bought more, so some of the meat only had an hour to marinate. 

Ladies and gentlemen, marinating is magic. I was too hungry to stop and take a picture, but the difference between the two hunks of meat was astounding. The acid in the lemon (or lime) juice and the Worcestershire sauce breaks down the connective tissue and makes it so tender and yielding, and really opens it up to receive the flavor. 

I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and I set out bowls of everything so people could build their dinner as they pleased. I chose, uh, everything: Rice, beef, some sweet corn slightly charred in oil, scallions, fried onions and sweet peppers, black beans with tomatoes and chili peppers, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and corn chips. Oh, and some Taijin chili lime powder.

I scooped up a bunch of the gravy and poured it over the bowl because I can’t get enough of that tangy, garlicky juice. So good. 

I really love this meal. Beef is my favorite meat by far, and this is one of my favorite things to do with it. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

I guess just tortillas, batter-fried fish from frozen, shredded cabbage, salsa, sour cream, limes, and avocados. This would be great with guacamole, or, even better, pico de gallo, but we always have it on Fridays when my ambition is so low.

Well, adios. Don’t forget to send me your potatoes with butts. DM my Twitter, or email it to simchafisher at gmail dot com, or message me through Facebook, or just throw it through my window as you drive by. 

5 from 3 votes
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Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

 

5 from 2 votes
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French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

5 from 3 votes
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Candied sweet potatoes

Easy and pleasant. Please do not top with marshmallows, as that is an abomination.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks. Canned is fine, although they will be slightly mushier.
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Grease a baking dish.

  2. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and stir to make a paste.

  3. If you're using canned sweet potatoes, drain them. Spread the potatoes in the dish and distribute the butter-sugar mixture evenly over them. Use a spoon or spatula to toss the potatoes so they are coated with the mixture.

  4. Cook for 30-40 minutes. If you're using fresh potatoes, stir every 15 minutes to keep the sauce distributed well. If you're using canned, let it be, so they don't turn into mush.

Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary. 

5 from 1 vote
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Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

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