What’s for supper? Vol. 363: Do you reject garlic and all their little paperwork?

Happy Friday! Happy February, finally! Let’s get hoppin.

SATURDAY
Beer brats, fries

Saturday and Sunday were unusually busy for us. I went to one of Danielle Bean’s very fine You Are Enough day retreats in Plymouth and got home in the late afternoon, so I didn’t have time to shop. Damien bought and made beer brats (brats boiled in beer and onions and then grilled), which we haven’t had in quite some time. Yum yum. 

A retreat! A long chat with my friend! A dinner made by someone else! What a Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Sunday we had a QUITE long family “retreat” for the faith formation. Our parish has switched to the family model, which means that the parents come in for regular lecture and discussion sessions, and then we go home and teach our kids; and there are also all-family events. It’s good stuff, and I see the benefit, especially when there are parishioners coming from all different backgrounds and different levels of . . . having been catechized. (I can’t figure out how to say that better.) But man, some of the events are long. 

So we did get home late, but Damien had had the foresight to make burger patties the night before. So I just broiled them up, so that was easy. 

I was going to clear off the island for this picture, but this is how it be. 

MONDAY
Smoked pork ribs, coleslaw, salad, loaded baked potatoes; king cakes

Monday we had a GUEST. Fr. Matthew from Louisiana, who comes for an annual visit while visiting family up north. I briefly considered making an authentic Louisiana meal, but I remembered the video where Gordon Ramsey confidently gives some pad Thai to an actual Thai chef.

and I don’t need anybody looking at me like that, even internally. So Damien dug out the smoker and made some of those luscious ribs, which I would defend with my life no matter where you’re from.

Jump to Recipe

He smoked them for about five hours and then finished them in the oven. I baked a bunch of potatoes and kept them warm in the crock pot, which I forgot you could do. I mean, then I remembered, and I did it. I served them with crumbled bacon, shredded pepper jack cheese, sour cream, and scallions. I also made some simple coleslaw and a nice salad.

When we were eating. Fr. Matt (who loved the ribs) asked what I call the coleslaw. I said “coleslaw.” He said okay, because he was once at a Mardi Gras dinner where they served something they were calling “Authentic Louisiana Cabbage Salad,” and he wanted to know if I had ever heard of such a thing. I had not! But that’s why I decided not to make gumbo or étouffée or something! I know my limits!

OR DO I. I decided to make a couple of king cakes, because I asked around and learned that, even in New Orleans, there are a million variations, and sometimes real live cajuns will make king cake out of refrigerated cinnamon rolls.

So I made a triple recipe of just the dough for Alton Brown’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (which is the recipe I use at Christmas every year, so I know it turns out well) and also a triple recipe of just the cream cheese filling from this King Arthur king cake recipe. I divided the dough into two and rolled each one into a long rectangle. 

The first one, I made a very long, thin rectangle and just spread the cream cheese filling down the middle of it, and then sprinkled a bunch of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. Then I just sort of rolled it up into a big tube with the cream cheese in the middle and pinched the long seam shut, and uncomfortably wrestled the whole thing onto a greased pan and squashed the two open ends together, so it was a ring shape, sort of. It was leaky as heck and not round in any meaningful way. 

I was getting pretty strong “this can’t possibly be the way to do it” alarms in my head, but without any accompanying “you should actually look up how to do it” signals; so for the other cake, I rolled a less skinny rectangle, spread on the rest of the cream cheese filling and the contents of a can of strawberry pie filling I found, and then rolled it up in a spiral like I do with cinnamon rolls. This one, I rolled out on parchment paper, so I carefully squashed the open ends together and then just slid the whole thing on the paper onto a pan. This one was more respectable looking. 

I covered the cakes and refrigerated overnight, and took them out in the morning to get up to room temperature; and then I baked them at 350 for . . . a while. I lost track of how long they were in there, because I was so nervous they’d be doughy and underbaked, I kept adding 3-4 minutes. Probably 35 minutes all together. 

Then when they came out, I poured cream cheese icing over them and sprinkled on some colored sugar-sprinkles. The icing was not exactly a recipe, because I forgot to buy powdered sugar, so I ended up just whipping up a bunch of sugar, a little butter, some vanilla extract and a little lemon juice, a tiny bit of salt, and then a bunch of warmed-up cream cheese when I realized it was too runny. They came out so pretty!

The center of the ring disappeared, though, and it was really just a big dome that was kind of crinkly in the middle. To my vast relief, though, both cakes were thoroughly baked. 

ctually a little over-baked, as you can see by the browned bottom. But the somewhat dry crumb was rescued by the abundance of creamy filling, which was delicious. The spiral-rolled one didn’t turn out discernibly better than the one that was just a stuffed snake, except that the shape was a little more regular. 

So now I know how to make very respectable king cakes! At the last minute, I remembered to shove some “babies” in (what we could find was a couple of plastic figurines on loan from Elijah). We didn’t find them until the next day.

I guess traditionally, whoever gets the baby has to buy next year’s king cake, and I’m the one who found it anyway, so I suppose that can be arranged. Definitely one of those things that I got all worked up over for no particular reason. But with a happy ending, because we had cake. 

TUESDAY
Walmart pizza

Oh no, it was Tuesday and I still hadn’t gone shopping! I got some pizzas from Walmart because I developed a sudden aversion to going to Aldi.

WEDNESDAY
Nachos

On Wednesday I dropped off the van at the mechanic and was astonished to discover that I still hadn’t gone shopping? So I took Damien’s car and went to Aldi and did shopping for one day, because apparently I was determined to save myself the trouble of going shopping, and instead wanted to go shopping. 

For nachos, I usually make 2/3 spicy meat and 1/3 plain, in two separate pans; and I got two bags of “hint of lime” tortilla chips, and one bag plain. But then I was seized with a sudden doubt, and had a long, inadvisable, circular conversation with the kids about whether a desire for spicy meat matched up with a desire for seasoned chips, and if so, how many people experienced that desire, and if not, how many people felt strongly about not experiencing that desire, and so on. I’m not exactly a people pleaser, but I don’t like getting yelled at about nachos, so I really tried to narrow in on what they wanted. I was starting to get a pretty clear picture about what I should do, when the chief kid I was interrogating said, “Actually, I don’t like nachos.”

So I ran them over with my van! Just kidding, the van is in the shop. I made two pans of nachos, with jalapeños on the spicy meat and lime chip one

and ate mine in the kitchen.

Then I ate the last piece of king cake. 

THURSDAY
Chicken shawarma

Thursday, you’ll never guess what I did: I went shopping. But this time, I, genius, bought enough food for TWO days. We had chicken shawarma on Thursday, with pita, yogurt sauce, olives, feta, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

I was in a bit of a rush while I made the marinade, and my recipe

Jump to Recipe

calls for crushing an entire head of garlic. Which is fine if you have nice garlic with big, swollen cloves and loose skins. But what I had was that triflin’ little shrinky dink garlic from Aldi, which has puny, miniature cloves and tight, sticky skin. Then I remembered it was my kitchen and I could do whatever I want, so I put the head of garlic in a mug with about half a cup of water, microwaved it for two minutes, and then just pulled that garlic right out of its skin. It’s not really cooked, but it’s soft and loose that way. Then I put the skinned cloves in a sandwich bag and beat the hell out of them with a meat tenderizer. And that’s how you do it when nobody is looking. 

Oh, the title comes from a funny tweet I saw 

and that’s how I always think of it now. Sometimes it can be a satisfying, meditative little task; sometimes you just don’t have time for all the effing paperwork. (Yes, I know you can crush garlic with the skin on, and then pick the skin out, but I hate and resent doing this, for reasons I can’t really explain.) 

Then I remembered I also needed to put garlic in the yogurt sauce, as well, so I was like HEY GARLIC POWDER EXISTS. 

Anyway, the meat turned out great

and everyone was happy

Really no way to be unhappy with a plate like this. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

This was actually Damien’s idea, even though he not only dislikes tuna noodle, he can’t stand the smell of it. But I did manage to buy the ingredients yesterday, so at least nobody has to go to the fwiggin store. As I write, the plan is for him to make himself a grilled cheese, but maybe I can pull rank and insist on some supermarket sushi or something. OR, I think there is a bag of shrimp in the freezer. So we shall see. 

I just remembered I also have a ton of egg whites in the fridge. The cinnamon bun recipe called for an awful lot of egg yolks, and I didn’t want to just throw the whites away. How long would you trust egg whites to keep in the fridge, and what should I do with them? Maybe a pavlova. Maybe a SHRIMP pavlova. Maybe I’ll ask Gordon Ramsey what he thinks.

sugar smoked ribs

the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.

Ingredients

  • rack pork ribs
  • yellow mustard
  • Coke
  • extra brown sugar

For the sugar rub:

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp white pepper

Instructions

  1. Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture

  2. Smoke at 225 for 3 hours

  3. Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.

  4. Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.

  5. Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.

  6. Finish on grill to give it a char.

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 351: In which I finally get my head examined

Happy Friday! Gevalt, what a week. Today, in just a little bit, I am going to a REAL NEUROLOGIST. I am very excited. And we had a busy little week, full of candy and screaming! Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Tacos for kids, Indian food for adults

Saturday was the last installment in our rolling 26th anniversary celebration. Damien and I took the kayaks out on the Ashuelot River down by one of the covered bridges. We paddled upstream as far as we could until an uprooted tree blocked the way, and then we floated gently back down again among the yellow leaves.

We took a little detour into — I don’t know what you’d call it, the equivalent of a cul-de-sac for a river. It was SO QUIET in there, and the buggies were jumping around on top of the water because no one would bother them, and a giant blue heron lifted off and flapped away. By the time we got back where we started, it was getting chilly and a little dark, and it really was time to go, but we didn’t want to leave quite yet, so we paddled under the covered bridge. I howled a little bit, because of the acoustics, and then as soon as we popped out the other side, I SAW AN EAGLE. I’ve never seen one before. Absolutely unmistakable. What a wonderful trip. 

 

We stopped off home to change out of our damp clothes, and make sure the kids tore themselves away from that new Mario whatnot to get some tacos started, and we went to Royal Spice in Troy. We got an appetizer of assorted vegetable thingies, and then Damien got lamb saag and I got lamb biryani. Very, very fine. 

I also had a laugh because the waitress (who was very nice) asked us if we wanted “Naan? Nyaaaayn? Bread?” We had all three, thank you very much. Also papadum. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, tomato bacon bisque

Sunday the plan was grilled ham and cheese, but it was so gray and drizzly, and there was this stray pound of bacon in the fridge, so I got the idea of tomato bisque in my head, and couldn’t get it out even after I looked up the recipe and discovered I was missing, like, five ingredients. 

Jump to Recipe

Not that it’s a complicated recipe, but it does have more than bacon and a can of tomatoes in it. But I realized if I had to run to the store, that would be an excuse to go pick up Clara and bring her to the house for pumpkin carving. So that was nice. 

And dinner was very nice indeed! Perfect for a chilly, rainy day. 

I also realized it really was getting cold, and this was a trend that wasn’t likely to reverse itself soon, so if I was gonna pick some mint for the winter, then today was probably the day. So that’s what I did. 

I still haven’t fixed my food processor, so I made do with the Ninja blender, and blended it up as best I could with a little olive oil. My best wasn’t very good, and I lost a little enthusiasm for the project at this point, and then squunched the kind of uneven results into an ice cube tray, 

and lost at least another 20% of enthusiasm when I saw what I had done. I dunno. I just wrapped it up and chucked it in the freezer, and next time I want some mint for a marinade or something, let’s see if I remember it’s in there. 

I also have these ghost peppers in my garden. I don’t know what to do with them. 

Why did I grow them? I don’t know. 

I spent the rest of the evening putting the next-to-last last touches on the Halloween costumes. And I remembered to take the pizza dough out of the freezer!

MONDAY
Under-over pizza

My pride at remembering to defrost the pizza evaporated when I realized I had forgotten that the oven was still broken. So I did what any red-blooded American would do (?): I broiled the pizzas until the top was bubbly, and then put them on the stovetop, carefully rotating them over the hot burner, in an attempt to firm up the underside of the crust. 

It . . . didn’t completely not work. 

Good effort, edible pizza. And anyway, we had Halloween costumes to finish.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, popcorn

Tuesday was, of course, Halloween, so we had our traditional quickie meal, at a table graciously decorated appropriately for the day:

and then we were off trick or treating! Here’s some photos from the evening: 

 

A successful night, and boy am I old and tired. Got home, lit the jack-o’- lanterns just to see them lit (nobody comes to our house because we don’t have sidewalks), and put on Army of Darkness, which I slept through. 

I had just snuggled in under the covers of my bed when I suddenly remembered I was planning bo ssam the next day. And that means getting the meat going the night before. SO I DID.  Hero! I’m a dinner hero. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, kiwi

Wednesday was All Saint’s Day and we let the kids stay home from school because, not because of the saints at all, we were just tired. So tired! And there was a real hard frost. The nerve.  We made it to the noon Mass with just a little screaming.

Wednesday I did remember the oven situations and was prepared to make the bo ssam in the Instant Pot and finish it up under the broiler, but Damien, who is the other hero around here, fixed the oven in the morning. I was so excited about it being fixed that I put the pork in right away, so it was done cooking at like 4 PM. So then I moved it to the slow cooker (not the Instant Pot, because I needed that to make rice) so it would stay warm but not dry out, and then back to the oven about ten minutes before supper with the little finishing glaze of brown sugar, sea salt, and cider vinegar that gives it that opulent caramelized crust. I use the My Korean Kitchen recipe, but I just do the salt and pepper overnight part, and then the brown sugar glaze part at the end. Very basic and easy, big return. 

Everybody likes bo ssam! We had lettuce to wrap up the rice and shreds of meat it, and I added some sweet chili sauce to mine, which was tasty. 

I also cut up a bunch of kiwis because I like to have something cool and juicy with this meal, because the meat is so outrageously salty. 

 

A very fine meal. 

THURSDAY
Shakshuka (eggs in purgatory), soul cakes, pomegranates, pumpkin seeds

Thursday was All Soul’s Day and I must have my little joke and serve eggs in purgatory, which is basically shakshuka, and soul cakes. 

In the morning, I dropped off all the kids and spotted a ton of free fencing on the side of the road, but got a text from Moe that his battery was dead. So I started stuffing fencing into the car as fast as I could, sincerely wishing I had remembered to take the Dalek out of the back. A crusty old Yankee stopped to help, and we fit all but two rolls of fencing. I explained that I have a little duck problem , and that’s my story. He understood. The Dalek goes in front. I drive into town, locate Moe’s car, annnd discover my jumper cables are missing a clamp. So we decide to drive to Harbor Freight, but first we have to put the Dalek into Moe’s car so there’s room in my car for Moe.
 
I can’t just go into the store myself because I am wearing bright pink pajamas.
 
So he buys the cables, I Google instructions, we fearfully hook it up, wait five minutes, and it works! Moe goes off, I go home with the alarm
going off the whole time because the back door is slightly open, and unload the fence, which I’m 80% sure is terrible fence and useless, and all is well. I may need a tetanus shot from getting poked with fence wires. I forgot the Dalek.
 
I sat there for a few minutes on the couch trying to figure out if I was an idiot or not. Then I just had some coffee and wrote two essays and made some dough. 
 
Here’s the recipe:
Jump to Recipe
 

made the shakshuka sauce and moved it into the slow cooker

(here’s the recipe:)

Jump to Recipe

and prepped a bunch of pumpkin seeds, and then it was time to go again, and I had to stop at Walmart, and then I went to the school, and GUESS WHAT? 

There was still some free fence on the side of the road! And there was no Dalek in my car anymore, due to me having forgotten. So this time, there was plenty of room. Sort of. 

So then we got home, and the kids cut out the soul cakes. This year we did skulls, ghosts, and angels. There’s some silly little theological allegory there but we’ll just skip it

I added some detail with this weird dried fruit I had in the cabinet, that I got on clearance at the International Market a while back, and then I sifted some powdered sugar over them when they came out of the oven. 

The fruit is called Tutti Frutti Mix, which implies in not one but two ways that there are two or three kinds of fruit in there. Right? “Tutti” and “Mix,” not to mention that “Frutti” is surely plural. 

It turns out it’s just papaya! 

It tasted fine, and the texture was pleasant. I was expecting a kind of gummy consistency, like those red and green cherries that go in one of those yucky fruitcakes, but it was chewy with a little edge, almost nutty. So there you go. I have a lot more of it (IT WAS ON SALE).

So first I made the pumpkin seeds

and I remembered to save a few dozen out to dry, rather than roasting them, so we can plant some nice big pumpkins in the spring. (I just tossed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt and spread them in two shallow pans in a 350 oven, stirring them up every twenty minutes or so, for maybe forty minutes or an hour.)

When those were done, I baked the soul cakes, and when those were almost done, I started poaching the eggs in the shakshuka sauce

You’re supposed to have parmesan or feta, and parsley, for the top; but I didn’t have either. It was a nice sauce, though, with plenty of vegetables, and rather spicy. 

I cut up the pomegranates I’d been withholding all week

and we had ourselves a weird little meal for All Soul’s Day

And that’s my story!

FRIDAY
Shrimp lo mein

If I make it home alive. 

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bacon (peppered bacon is good)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 56 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 46 oz tomato juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy fried onions (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, chop it up, and drain out all but a a few teaspoons of grease.

  2. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the grease and sauté until soft.

  3. Add tomatoes (including juices), bay leaves, rosemary, and tomato juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Save some rosemary for a garnish if you like.

  4. With a slotted spoon, fish out the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and most of the rosemary, leaving some rosemary leaves in. Discard most of the rosemary and bay leaf. Put the rest of the rosemary and the tomatoes in a food processor with the 8 oz of cream cheese until it's as smooth as you want it.

  5. Return pureed tomato mixture to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Heat through. Add chopped bacon right before serving, or add to individual servings; and top with crispy fried onions if you like. Garnish with more rosemary if you're a fancy man. 

 

Soul cakes

Servings 18 flat cakes the size of large biscuits

Ingredients

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

optional:

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while they are warm

 

Eggs in purgatory

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spicy loose Italian sausage
  • 30 oz diced tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 8 eggs
  • parmesan cheese

optional:

  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 2 thinly sliced bell peppers
  • dash chili oil
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste, if you like it firmer
  • coarsely chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a wide, shallow pan, brown up the sausage and garlic (and pepper flakes if using).

  2. If you're using onions or peppers, add them and cook until slightly soft.

  3. Add the diced tomatoes with juice. Cover and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the tomato paste if you want it firmer.

  4. Make eight shallow indentations in the sauce and carefully break an egg into each one.

  5. Cover the pan loosely and let it poach for six or seven minutes, until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are as solid as you want them to be.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese toward the end, and serve immediately in scoops or wedges. Garnish with parsley if you like.

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 341: You’re tellin me a pork bought this dresser?

Friends, it is the end of an era. This blackboard that has served me faithfully for many years has finally gone irreparably kablooey.

It was in pretty tough shape already, and half the black part was scratched up and hard to write on, and the “wood” frame was all puckered and horrible. But I loved it so! It marked the moment when I first started to really plan my weekly menu out, and that meant making a detailed shopping list, and that meant looking hard every single week at my calendar and my bank account and the weather forecast and my energy levels, and it’s been an excellent lynchpin for organizing my life in general.

Luckily, I can just go out and buy another blackboard. I really liked this one, though, and I haven’t found one that’s set up the same. Pour one out for the menu blackboard, friends.

And here is what we ate on this, the last week of summer vacation: 

FRIDAY
I’m including Friday because although belongs to last week, I started making Saturday’s food then: specifically, mango ice cream

Jump to Recipe

and a batch of Indian candy called coconut ladoo. 

The mango ice cream I’ve made a few times, both with canned mango and with fresh mango. People liked both, but I vastly preferred the fresh. Canned mango has that syrupy, cloying taste that made me think I didn’t like mango for much of my life, because I only had mango flavored things, and never fresh mango. Anyway, this time I made it with the canned puree. I’ll give it this: The color is much more vibrant, and it’s definitely easier!

The coconut ladoo was a recipe I stumbled across by accident, and it had so few ingredients, I could’t resist. This one is just dried coconut, condensed milk, milk, ghee (but I used butter), cardamom, and red food coloring. The recipe says you can do it in the microwave in just a few minutes, but it took many, many minutes before it finally thickened up into the doughlike texture required. Probably the stovetop would have been faster. Possibly it took longer because I used butter instead of ghee, I dunno. 

But you just heat and mix the stuff up and roll it into balls and then roll the balls in more coconut, and chill them. The perfect activity for when your big sister is staying up late to watch The Mummy and you’re too young for that but you can’t sleep without your big sister, but your mother is doing something interesting in the kitchen around midnight, and it’s still summer vacation, so nobody ever goes to bed, ever. 

We made a double recipe and got a few dozen ladoo, and refrigerated them. 

SATURDAY
Green lamb curry, rice, fried eggplant, watermelon; mango and coconut ice cream and coconut ladoo

Saturday I woke up SO much later than I meant to, and zoomed around the house and yard with my mug of coffee, picking mint from the yard and eggplant from the garden and getting a marinade made for the curry I was planning. I still had some lamb breast plate left over from that amazing sale they had a while back, and I had made this green masala curry with goat meat a few weeks ago and it was divine; so I thought it would be scrumptious with lamb, too. 

I haven’t had a chance to glue my food processor pitcher back together yet, but my $20 thrift store Ninja blender did just fine with some pretty hefty ingredients:

and then I washed off all the eggplants I could find. I had two Ichiban ones that had been nibbled a bit by buggies, and a two Black Beauties that were small but pretty. 

Got those sliced and salted to sweat, and got the lamb marinating. 

Then, moving faster than I thought I could, I made a batch of coconut ice cream.

Jump to Recipe

And then juuuuuuust before I left the house, I chucked the lamb in the oven at a low temperature, I think maybe 250, and then I zipped up to Claremont to meet some of my siblings for our annual cemetery party. We are fun! 

The lilac I planted is doing fine; the rose bushes are not thriving, but they’re not dead, so that’s nice. If I can get up there again before winter, I’ll bring some crocuses, which my mother always enjoyed. I think. I don’t know, I don’t remember anything. 

I got back to the house around five and the lamb was heartbreakingly tender and succulent.

This is a VERY fatty cut, so there was more fat that you may want to see in your meat, but there was plenty of meat; you just had to be discerning. The curry is medium spicy, just enough to be entertaining but not too challenging. I love it.

I cut up a watermelon and found some mango chutney and mint chutney. I was planning to fry the eggplant, and briefly considered tweaking my recipe to make it more Indian, but it’s so tasty as is, with a more middle-eastern bent, I thought it would go well enough, and we’d just call it fusion.

Jump to Recipe

It comes together very fast, and as soon as I had the eggplant fried, we ate. 

I also made a lovely tub of yogurt sauce, fresh garlic, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, kosher salt. Bu-huh-huh-huht, I give it a little taste to see if there’s enough salt, and . . . it was vanilla yogurt. So we did not eat that! But we ate everything else, and it was so good. I highly recommend this fried eggplant. The batter has baking powder in it, which gives it a kind of crisp, glossy little crust with a puffy inside. They turn out so well every time. 

The REASON I was making a big meal on a busy day was because my sister Sarah came over, and spent the night! I didn’t get even one single picture, but we had an excellent time just hanging around and yacking. Everybody likes Sarah and it was just a delight to have her over without having to rush somewhere else, for once. 

For dessert, we had the mango and coconut ice cream and the coconut ladoo. 

Looks like the mango is melty, so I’m thinking maybe I made the coconut on Friday night and the mango on Saturday morning. That seems likely. 

Anyway, I really liked the ladoo. They were chewy and creamy and buttery, and the addition of the spicy cardamom saved them from being overpoweringly sweet. Will definitely make again. Next time I will add more food coloring! There are all kinds of ladoo, apparently. 

SUNDAY
Hot dogs, party mix, root beer floats

Sunday I was supposed to go shopping, since I didn’t do that on Saturday, but I didn’t get to sleep until after 3 a.m., and it turns out I am too old for that. So I got some hot dogs and called it a day. 

MONDAY
Cheeseburgers, fries, raw veg 

Monday I was like, huh, I am still extremely tired. Corrie had a friend over and that quickly felt like the main thing I could accomplish that day. So I bought some hamburger meat and Damien made burgers, I made fries, and we had that with some raw vegetables.

 

INCLUDING two cucumbers from my garden!

I completely forgot that I had planted cucumbers, so that was a surprise. Gardening is thrilling when you don’t really know what’s going on. 

TUESDAY
Aldi pizza

Tuesday, I forget why, but I had big plans to check out a thrift store in Troy (a small town which is not named after the ancient city of Troy. It is named after Troy, New York. That seemed more interesting when I was writing it than it does now, so I went to Google to find another fact about Troy, NH, and the only other thing I now know is that somebody rated it one star. Pretty good thrift store, though), and the kids, who may not have had the most thrilling summer thus far, enthusiastically joined in. Then we picked up Elijah, got ice cream, and went to another thrift store, and then I dropped everyone off and finally went shopping for the rest of the week, and heated up some Aldi pizza.

WEDNESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

On Wednesday I did the one other thing I’ve been meaning to do all summer: I cleaned out the middle room upstairs. Clara moved out of the house, Lucy moved from the middle room into the room Clara formerly shared with Sophia, and now Benny and Corrie have the middle room to themselves. Let me tell you, it was not . . . it was not nice, up there. I generally follow the policy of never, ever going upstairs, and if I can’t avoid going there, I don’t wear my glasses; but on Wednesday, I bit the bullet, found a bunch of trash bags, and implemented my just get it done protocol. It took four and a half hours, but I moved all the furniture and cleaned under it, threw out three full bags of trash, put hundreds of books back on the shelf, and generally made it look like a bedroom instead of a crime scene. High fives all around.

Lena grilled some chicken for me and we had salad greens with chicken, walnuts toasted in the microwave, your choice of leftover feta or leftover goat cheese, and blueberries. 

I had mine outside, because I couldn’t stand to look at anybody or be with anybody or know about anybody. 

The ducks came over to see what I was doing, so I threw some blueberries to them, and they were like, “What? What?” and the blueberries just rolled into the cracks.

They are so very dumb. 

THURSDAY
Pork fried rice, egg rolls, rice rolls

Thursday we once again had to do, among other things, more back-to-school shopping (we usually do it all in one fell swoop, which is horrible and torturous, but this time I elected to do it in three separate trips, which was torturous and horrible) but then get home early to get to Clara’s play, so I threw some rice in the Instant Pot and threw bunch of sugar and salt on a boneless pork sandworm and put it in the oven at 325 before I left the house. 

Got home and cut the pork into chunks, realized we didn’t have eggs, sauteed some diced onions and minced garlic in oil, put the pork in, put the rice in, threw in some frozen mixed vegetables, doused it with a ton of soy sauce, a medium amount of oyster sauce, and a little bit of fish sauce, and you know what? It basically tasted like pork fried rice, more or less. 

We also had egg rolls and crunchy rice rolls, both from Aldi. 

The fried rice thing needs refining, but it tasted fine, and I’m super glad to have another fast, easy meal that can be thrown together without a recipe. 

Clara did great in her play! She was Ariel in The Tempest. 

Very funny, and she has such a lovely singing voice. Corrie loved the part with the bees. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Friday was a supremely silly morning wherein we discovered that a kid who had paid for a dresser and needed to pick it up today had actually bought two dressers, one of which he didn’t actually want; and also, I had the foresight to borrow Damien’s car, which is bigger than mine, to pick it up, but not the foresight to remember that the back door to that car doesn’t super duper open. And then while we were finding a measuring tape and scratching our heads, both the dresser kid and another kid were like, oh hey, I have to be at work now. And it was raining. And the lady at the store was like, “Don’t mix up the drawers! You have to keep them in order, or else you won’t be able to tell which one is which!” and I was like, I HAVE BEEN TO COLLEGE, I WILL FIGURE IT OUT.

Which we more or less did. I gotta make some mac and cheese, though, and get to adoration, then Damien and I are, going camping? I’m looking forward to it, but if there is some way we could arrange for another two hours per day, that would be helpful! 

Oh, one more thing, Clara gave me some dried lotus seeds, and I haven’t had a chance to figure out what to do with them yet.

Who has an idea for me??

Mango ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

  3. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

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

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

 

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 339: Inshallah, I’ll take pistachio

Happy Friday! I see lots of you poor suckers are going back to school already. We, on the other hand, are still enjoying the last lazy days of summer, by which I mean frantically running around Doing Vacation Things and feeling terrible and panicked about summer being almost over, and also mortality (maybe that’s just me. I am fun). 

I also made two wonderful culinary discoveries this week: Collard greens, and lamb breast plate. We had two days of rather elaborate meals and then a bunch of very much not so meals. Read on!

SATURDAY
Varia 

On Saturday, the Fishers were uncharacteristically sociable. Lena was carousing with a friend in Boston, Clara met up with Dora and they went off to see The Mountain Goats; Sophia, Lucy, and Irene had tickets to see Ricky Montgomery; and Damien, after bowing to his fate and driving them to said concert, brought Benny and Corrie to see the new turtle movie. That just left Elijah, who had to work, and me, who had ten minutes at home COMPLETELY ALONE, which I spent eating TWO cartons of yogurt without explaining myself to anybody, and going to the bathroom with the door open, before going shopping. Then I picked up Elijah and, since it was just the two of us, we had dinner at Chili’s. I had some kind of salad with shrimp. I almost always order some kind of shrimp when I eat at a restaurant. It’s just good! Elijah had a burger, presumably for the same reason. We talked about Godzilla.

SUNDAY
McDonald’s 

Sunday we got to the ocean! The sky was blue, the sun was hot, and the water was about twelve degrees. Seriously, that one year when we went a few miles further south with slightly warmer water has absolutely ruined me for frigid New Hampshire beaches. I did go in the water, out of sheer honesty, but I spent most of my time on the shore saying, “Whoa, that was a big one! Woo, look at you!” and wondering if it’s as much fun to be a seagull as it looks like. 

Bunch of pictures here:

We chose Hampton Beach because, if you’re only going to have one day at the ocean, it should be ocean that has fried dough and skee ball. We packed sandwiches and fruit and Twizzlers for lunch, and hit the drive-thru on the way back for dinner. 

MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, corn on the cob

A little yellow dinner. Sometimes that’s just what you want. (And if that’s a thing on Urban Dictionary, I don’t want to know about it.) 

TUESDAY
Nachos, pineapple

Damien mentioned that maybe the nachos I make could use a little more cheese, so I thought I would be fancy and buy a second KIND of cheese, and a Mexican one, at that.

Sadly, I am dumb, so I picked something called “queso fresco,” which is apparently known for its incredible ability to withstand heat. So we had tortilla chips with seasoned ground beef, cheddar that melted and queso fresco that did not, jalapeños, and some corn I shaved off the leftover corn from yesterday, and then sour cream and salsa. Pineapple on the side. 

It wasn’t bad, but next time I’ll just buy extra cheddar for that “more cheese” experience.

I was feeling pretty good on Tuesday, though, because I got home from my annual physical knowing my blood pressure is NORMAL. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have that back under control, after it was so bonkers for so long. I also haven’t lost the weight I gained when I tried Lexapro, but I haven’t gained any more, and I been eating nachos, so that seemed fair. And I’m not anemic and my lungs seem more or less back to normal. I guess I had Covid, I don’t know. My OBGYN was trying to convince me to go on an IUD for medical reasons, and I was trying to tell her that I don’t have any ethical problems with getting one for medical reasons, but right now I have all my other symptoms like 

and I don’t want to MESS with anything.

Anyway, we had nachos. 

WEDNESDAY
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, collard greens, watermelon

This meal came about because a few months ago, I was looking for strawberry plants and they were sold out, but they had some collard greens on clearance, so I got a few plants and stuck them in my garden. Now they look like this

and everything else in my garden is making flowers or vegetables or something, but the collard greens are just getting bigger and bigger, so it was time to figure out what they heck they are for. 

Chicken drumsticks and thighs were 99 cents a pound, so I figured chicken and collard greens sounded like a thing. First thing in the morning, I started soaking the chicken in milk and eggs (one cup of milk per two eggs) with salt and pepper.

Then I made some biscuits.  I actually have an excellent biscuit recipe

Jump to Recipe

but it only turns out really well if you bake them right after you make the dough; or maybe if you refrigerate the dough and then bake it. I never remember this, though, and always make the dough and cut out the biscuits in the morning, when I have time, and then bake them in the afternoon, because I want hot biscuits, and so the butter has softened and the biscuits turn out flat. I swear, it’s a good recipe! Just don’t leave the dough out like I do. 

Anyway, the chicken “recipe” I followed last time calls for putting a few inches of melted butter and canola oil (half and half) in a couple of roasting pans in a 425-degree oven and letting that heat up, but I had used up all the butter in the biscuits, and all I had in the house was olive oil, so OH WELL, I guess I had to use that. 

So I put plenty of flour in a bowl and heavily seasoned it salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and I think some chili powder. I put the chicken in the pans of oil, skin side down, and let it cook for about half an hour, then turned it and let it finish cooking for another 25 minutes or so, baking the biscuits at the same time. 

And yes, I felt might accomplished pulling these two huge pans of hot food out of the oven. 

But back to the collard greens! You can make them with bacon or ham hocks, but I didn’t have either one, so I poked around until, to my immense relief, I found the website that carried the information I was too shy to google directly: BlackPeoplesRecipes.com. This is the link for vegan collard greens, and it uses liquid smoke. I always feel like that’s cheating, but at what, I’m not exactly sure. 

Anyway, you fry up some onions and garlic, smoked paprika and hot pepper flakes, and then add in some cider vinegar to sweeten the bitter collard greens. 

I washed the greens very well (because I’ve been watering them with duck poo water) and then stripped the stems off

and cut them into strips, and put them into the hot onion mixture and cooked them down a bit, then added chicken broth (no longer a vegan recipe, but that’s what I had) and liquid smoke, and some salt and pepper. Then I moved it to the Instant Pot and set it on “slow cook” for the rest of the day.

They were magnificent. 

Just a beautifully intense, smoky, savory dish. The closest flavor I can think of is kale, but the texture was much more tender, between cabbage and spinach. Damien and I thought it was just wonderful, and we’ll definitely be having this again. 

Benny helped me make a giant pot of mashed potatoes (I saved out a little pat of butter for this purpose), and I made a pot of gravy with the chicken pan drippings and some flour and some leftover chicken broth from the collard greens. 

OH WHAT A MEAL. 

I didn’t even finish the chicken or the mashed potatoes, although they were very good, but I went back for seconds of the collard greens.

Okay, I had three biscuits, because I’m a monster.

But wow, everything was so tasty. The chicken was crisp on the outside and juice and tender inside, just perfect. It felt so good to cook a big meal from scratch, which I haven’t done in a while. 

And it was nice having leftover baked goods in the house, which certain other people enjoy with jelly the next morning.

Also on Wednesday, I started some ice cream going for the next day. Mid-August, and I’ve barely made any ice cream! I made one batch of strawberry, using the Ben and Jerry’s recipe

Jump to Recipe

and one of mango-peach-nectarine, which less fancy than it sounds. I just couldn’t find any pureed mango in cans, which I usually use, so I ended up mashing up all the fruit in the house that was about the same color and just blending it together.

Jump to Recipe

When the ice cream was done churning, I put the freezer bowls back in the freezer, hoping to make at least another batch the next day. 

THURSDAY
Lamb breast plate, stuffed grape leaves, yogurt sauce, taboon; strawberry, mango, and almond ice cream

Thursday was the day I was ready to find out what I had bought on Saturday. I can’t remember what the original plan was, but I got to Aldi and discovered several packs of something called “lamb breast plate” for $2.99 a pound.

Nothing lamb is ever $2.99 a pound, so I bought three three-to-four-pound packs of it, and then went back for a fourth pack later. I put two packs in the freezer and cooked two on Thursday. 

Moses and his girlfriend were coming over, and I wanted a middle eastern meal, and I briefly, longingly considered a recipe where you slit the meat open to make a pocket, and stuff it with rice, dried fruit, nuts, and more ground lamb, and then sew it shut; but prudence prevailed, and I went with this recipe from I’mHungryForThat, because all you do is marinade it, cook it slowly, and then pour a little sauce on at the end. 

The marinade is hot pepper flakes, cumin, sumac, pepper, brown sugar, minced garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt, all of which I had, and juniper berries, which I did not, but I substituted fresh rosemary. 

Then I just rubbed it all over the meat and let it be.

So, you can see that lamb breast plate has little ribs and is quite fatty, and the meat is mostly in between the bones, plus there are sort of flaps of meat on the other side. Everything I read said that this is a severely underrated cut of meat, and is very tasty and tender as long as you prepare it properly. 

While that was marinating, I went out to gather grape leaves. I usually only make stuffed grape leaves once a year, when they are flush and green and tender. This is mid-August, and they are somewhat past their prime, and many had succumbed to beetles, but were also twining all over the place, in places grapes have never been before (I have three Concord grape vines I planted, and several wild grape vines in other spots in the yard). I found one enormous leaf, the size of a dinner plate, sagging under the burden of two overgrown wild blackberries that had fallen under their own weight and half rotted already, too much for even the birds and bugs to keep up with, and I suddenly realized I was standing right next to the spot where my old garden used to be.

When we moved here, the whole yard was overgrown and formless, and I hacked and chopped and mowed and cleared, and dug and sifted and cultivated, and moved so many rocks around, and made a clear spot to grow my little patch of vegetables, and I kept it up for several years.

I have raised beds now, in a different spot, and the old garden spot has disappeared. It’s hip-high in green again, all overgrown and thorny, just wild grapes, wild blackberries, goldenrod, whatever. And it happened so fast.

I’ll tell you, people worry about not leaving a trace when they go out in nature, and they fret about disruptive hikers piling up rocks or disturbing the natural balance of things. They don’t want the world to know that they were ever here. They don’t want to be arrogant and intrusive. Let me tell you, “leave no trace” is going happen anyway, faster than you think. You pass through and it closes right up behind you, and that’s that. 

Anyway, I got a good pile of leaves and went back inside.  Washed ’em good to get rid of any leggy passengers, and dunked them in boiling water for two minutes to soften them up, and then left them in cold water. 

Last time, we tried making stuffed grape leaves with leftover cooked rice, and it was pretty sloppy. This time, I used raw rice with a bunch of herbs and spices (chopped wild mint, salt and pepper, I think sumac, nutmeg, cinnamon, I think coriander and cumin, and I don’t know what, and minced onions) and rolled them. Corrie helped this time. 

Not the absolute tidiest production, but we made plenty of them, and for once I ran out of grape leaves and filling at about the same time. 

Then I line the Instant Pot with parchment paper, carefully piled the rolled grape leaves in it, threw some lemon slices in, and filled it about halfway up with chicken broth. Then I somewhat recklessly pressed the “rice” button.

I think they may have come out okay with this cooking method, but then I just left them there for quite a bit longer, and the end result was some rather overcooked rice. They were okay! Just kinda, well, you know what overcooked rice is like. I also wish I had used more of every kind of seasoning I put in. It was a good flavor, but I wanted more of it. 

About two hours before dinner, I put the lamb into the oven, covered with tinfoil. I also made a batch of dough for taboon bread

Jump to Recipe

which I think I like even more than pita, and it’s easier, because you’re not trying to get a pocket to form. Sometimes, if I’m make a juicy meat dish, I’ll make a big slab of taboon bread and serve the meat right on top of it; but sometimes I made separate little pieces, and that’s what I did this time. This recipe is enough for twelve little loaves about 8-10 inches across. I love this recipe because it only has to rise once, and it bakes in about twelve minutes, so you can decide almost at the last minute that you feel like making bread after all. 

Oh, and I made a bowl of yogurt sauce with fresh garlic and fresh lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper. I misread the lamb recipe, and you’re supposed to take the tinfoil off and finish cooking it and then pour some sauce on; but I poured the sauce on and then finished cooking it. (The sauce is chopped mint, lemon juice, and brown sugar.)

IT WAS STILL VERY GOOD INDEED.

Super juicy.

I would recommend getting some shears to separate the ribs, though. We struggled a little with cutting it, not because the meat was tough, but because it was so fatty. The meat itself was so good, though. Tremendously savory and tender. If you like lamb, this is a wonderful way to prepare it. 

The bread and the lamb finished cooking at the same time, and I once again felt pretty pleased with myself for hauling out all these giant, laden pans of food onto the table. 

I had hoped to make some kind of ice cream with at least a middle eastern nod, but I just ran out of time. People needed to be driven here and there and Thursday was the day the cat, as Damien put it, took his vows, and I went to drop off a kid at work and take another kid for a haircut, and I was like, I think that’s it? That’s all the people I’m responsible for right this minute? So I started to drive home, and then I remembered OH THE CAT.

Pretty rough day for the little guy. First the cut his balls off, then they forget to pick him up. To add insult to injury, we found out that this cat which we got a month ago, and who was allegedly eight weeks old at the time, is NOW eight weeks old. So he was only four weeks old when we got him, poor baby!

We knew he was younger than they claimed, but didn’t realize how much younger. No wonder he sucks on blankets. Anyway, today he is feeling frisk and fine and we just have to keep the dog away from his stitches for a week, which should be easy as pie, hahah ahaha hahahhaaa. 

Anyway, I decided to make some almond ice cream, which is the same as the strawberry ice cream recipe, below, except you add a few teaspoons of almond extract, you skip strawberries of course, and you let the ice cream freeze for a few hours, and then stir in 2/3 of a cup or so of toasted almonds, and then let it finish freezing. 

The kitchen was pretty hot by the time I got around to making this third batch of ice cream, so it didn’t really freeze up right. I don’t actually mind when this happens, as it results in a kind of ice milk with a pleasant crystalized texture. The flavor was great (I actually used 1 tsp of almond extract and 1 tsp of vanilla) and it was quite popular. It would be great with some bittersweet chocolate chips, but it was good on its own. 

Here’s the three ice creams, looking dramatic:

I also discovered that, if I really wanted to make middle eastern ice cream, I would make something called booza, which has mastic in it and is stretchy. I am fascinated with this idea and would absolutely love to try some, but chances of me making it myself are pretty low, because anything that depends on being a certain texture is not my forte. Perhaps in paradise. The leaves will close over me, all traces will disappear, and Allah will appear in a blaze of glory and hand me a bowl of stretchy ice cream. That sounds pretty great. I’ll take pistachio. 

FRIDAY
I believe we’re going to have scrambled eggs, maybe beans and rice, and leftovers. There MUST be leftovers in this house.

I leave you with one final image. This is the white board which I mounted to the front door, the door through which everyone goes when they leave the house. As you can see, it has the days of the week on it, and I BEGGED and PLEADED and IMPLORED and ABASED MYSELF to the kids, in the hopes that they might deign to write their schedules on it, so I would know before the last minute who needed to be where and when. 

Here is that white board now: 

Little bastards. Good thing I love them. Maybe I’ll make them some more biscuits, or some ice cream. 

moron biscuits

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. 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.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

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

For the ice cream base

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

Instructions

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

Make the ice cream base:

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

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

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

Put it together:

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

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

 

Mango ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

  3. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

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

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

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

What’s for supper? Vol. 335: Cushioning where it matters

Happy Friday! Here is a picture of a happy Friday:

More on that in a bit!

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I took a picture just so I would remember what it was we had. Here is that picture:

Is there a name for when you always think photos of sandwiches are making rude noises at you? {Clutches wedding guest’s sleeve:} Is there a name for that??

SUNDAY
Pulled pork, spicy fries, corn on the cob

World’s okayest pulled pork. I seared it in hot oil with salt and pepper, then threw it in the Instant Pot with apple cider vinegar and water, lots of cumin, some jalapeños, and I forget what else, maybe some cinnamon sticks. Oh, a quartered onion. I wasn’t really paying attention, which is what the Instant Pot is for. I pressed “meat” and just like magic, a few hours later I opened the lid and there was meat inside! I pulled it out and shredded it and put some of the broth back in with the meat to keep it warm while the fries and corn were cooking. 

Not a very pretty meal, but a tasty one. 

MONDAY
Chicken caesar salad

Monday I was running around like a maniac, but supper came together quickly. I drizzled some chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoned them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and broiled them on both sides, then sliced them. 

I set out dishes of chicken, chopped romaine lettuce, freshly-shredded parmesan cheese, croutons, and a beautiful creamy yellow dressing

which I made in the food processor.

Jump to Recipe

I forgot to buy anchovies for the dressing, but it still came out incredibly tangy, and I didn’t really miss anything. Very pleasant little meal with lots of sharp, rich flavor.

Last time I made this dressing, I used duck egg yolks, which are heavenly, –or, not heavenly, but earthly in the best way. Our ducks haven’t started laying yet, but they have started . . . acting like they’re thinking about it? I don’t know. Who knows what a duck is thinking. Very little, I’m sure. 

Corrie made the croutons. We always have leftover hamburger and hot dog buns hanging arounds, so she cubed those, then melted a stick of butter and poured it over the bread and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. 

They’re supposed to toast slowly for a long time at a low temp, and we didn’t really have time for that, but nobody complained about salty, buttery croutons with soft middles. I’m a little salty and buttery and soft in the middle myself, and I’ll just go ahead and end this sentence right here. 

Hey look, a truck full of me. 

Speaking of which, has anyone ever made those croutons out of grilled cheese sandwiches? I read about them in the NYT one time and I could never decide if they sounded good or disgusting. Maybe if you cut them up small enough. 

TUESDAY
cold cereal or whatever

Tuesday was KITTEN DAY.

In this house, we are poor, deprived, neglected waifs who have no pets, no pets at all, just a dog and a bird and a lizard and four ducks and some sea monkeys, and we don’t even have any kittens! So on Tuesday, Damien took some of the kids out to get a little gray kitten. (I think I mentioned before that our poor other cat died, so it’s been a plan to replace him.)

May I present to you: FRIDAY.

He is a fine fellow. Actually he has fleas and an eye infection and possibly worms, but that’s not his fault, and of course we’re treating him for all those things,

and his personality is awesome so far. He’s just valiant and fearless and cuddly like a kitten should be, and he and the dog are getting along pretty well.

 

I’m happy Sonny will have someone to pal around with when the kids go back to school (and I’m happy we didn’t have to get a second dog for that purpose).

Friday is definitely not a purebred, but he looks like he has at least some Russian Blue in him, which is nice. They have good personalities, and he seems to be settling in really well. Good little kitty cat. 

You can see his eyes are still cruddy, but they’re improving day by day, and if the antibiotics don’t work, we have a vet appointment lined up. Also haven’t spotted a flea in over 24 hours, so WHEW. 

Oh, about dinner. Enough people were gone around dinner time that I just couldn’t get myself to cook something, so we just scrounged. I had a giant mug full of Honeycomb, which is the best cereal. 

WEDNESDAY
Koftas, Jerusalem salad,  pita, yogurt sauce

Wednesday I allegedly had nothing to do, and yet somehow still got home excruciatingly late, but luckily I had this easy meal planned. 

I do have a recipe for koftas

Jump to Recipe

but I make them a little different each time. This time it was about five-and-a-half pounds of ground beef, six eggs, two or three cups of bread crumbs, and then I just started dumping in spices. Lots of green za’atar, lots of garam masala, some cumin, some cinnamon, and a decent amount of Aleppo pepper, and some salt. I think that’s mostly it, mixed thoroughly with my hands. I have an unholy appetite for raw ground beef, so I didn’t mind tasting it while it was uncooked, and it tasted pretty lively. I meant to add mint, but I forgot.

I formed the meat into logs and then inserted a skewer into each one. These are, of course, supposed to be cooked over a fire, but they’re still pretty good cooked under a hot broiler, which is how I cooked them. 

I made a bunch of peppy yogurt sauce with Greek yogurt, fresh garlic, salt, and bottled lemon juice (keep forgetting to buy lemons), and a Jerusalem salad of cut-up Roma tomatoes and cucumbers with a little diced red onion, tossed with chopped fresh mint and parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. And I had store bought pita.

Served with a little more chopped fresh mint on the side. This is just a lovely summer meal. Savory but not too heavy, with the bright, cool flavors of mint and lemon throughout; and I guess it’s even pretty low carb if you’re into that.

Sometimes I make koftas in meatball or patty form, but you really can’t beat sizzling hot meat on a stick. 

THURSDAY
Tacos al pastor, black beans, plantain chips

I was actually kind of dragging by Thursday, but there was a hunk of pork and two rapidly-aging pineapples staring balefully at me, so we went ahead. I usually make this recipe for tacos al pastor which is a little bit complicated, but well worth it, with really explosively delicious flavors. 

However, I was in a hurry, so I made this simpler recipe, and skipped a few ingredients I had forgotten to buy:

tacos al pastor: Jump to Recipe

So it basically had two flavors (pineapple and chili powder), but that’s not such a bad thing! It marinated for 3-4 hours and then I broiled it in one pan and broiled chunks of the second pineapple (the first pineapple goes into the marinade) in a second pan.

Served on tortillas with sour cream and cilantro, with lime plantain chips on the side.

I also made some black beans in the Instant Pot, and they weren’t my very best, because I started them late, used too many beans and not enough seasoning, and didn’t drain enough of the liquid. Here’s my basic recipe, that I fiddle with and add all kinds of things as the spirit moves me (including egregiously white lady stuff like KALE) 

Jump to Recipe

and they were truly perfectly good beans.

And I got to eat it outside on the patio I built, with my jubilant yellow Mother’s Day hibiscus in bloom, and I was feeling pretty, pretty good about my life!

FRIDAY
Shrimp and summer squash lo mein

Shrimp is pretty cheap right now, for some reason, especially if you know only about half the family is going to eat it. I picked up some fetuccine for the noodles, and a summer squash and a zucchini squash. I don’t know what the difference is between zucchini squash and zucchini, to tell the truth. I’ll probably throw some fresh minced garlic and ginger in there, and possibly some radishes.

Jump to Recipe

We have had rain rain rain this week, and I wish I could send some of it to you guys in the parched states! My garden is not unhappy, though, and we have had bursts of hot sun in between. This year I have Brussels sprouts, ghost peppers, basil, collard greens, eggplants, watermelon, butternut squash, and pumpkin, and in my perennial beds, strawberries, asparagus, and rhubarb. It sounds like a huge garden, but it’s actually tiny, and I squashed everything all in together because that’s how I live, so who do they think they are? Sorry, can’t stop being crazy, won’t stop. Anyway, I saw a recipe for candied basil, which you use in a strawberry galette. MAYBE. MAYBE. 

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

 

koftas

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 3 onions
  • 1 head (head, not clove) garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 5 slices bread
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp zataar

Instructions

  1. Put the wooden skewers in water to soak for about thirty minutes before you plan to form the kebabs.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and chop it.

  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and add the chopped onion mixture to it.

  4. Toast the bread, then put it in a bowl with warm water to soften it. Squeeze the water out and add that to the bowl with the meat.

  5. Add in the seasonings and squish it up with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined.

  6. Using your hands, form logs of meat around the skewers. They should be about an inch and a half in diameter.

  7. Grill over coals if you can. If they fall apart too much, you can cook them on a hot oiled griddle, or broil them. Turn to brown all sides.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

 

Tacos al pastor

Ingredients

  • 8-10 lbs pork butt or loin

For the marinade:

  • 2 pineapples, cut into spears (one is for the marinade, and set the other aside for cooking separately)
  • 3 onions quartered
  • 1.5 cups orange or pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ancho chili powder
  • 1 entire head garlic
  • 3 chipotles in adobo
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp oregano

For serving:

  • flour tortillas
  • sliced red onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the pork.

  2. In a food processor or blender, combine one of the pineapples and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Blend until smooth. (You will probably have to do it in batches.)

  3. Marinate the sliced meat in the marinade for at least four hours.

  4. Pan fry, grill, or broil the meat and the spears of the second pineapple. Roughly chop cooked meat and pineapple.

  5. Serve pork and pineapple on tortillas with sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 331: Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Happy Friday! Are you ready for some PEPPERSSSSSS!!!!!!!

But first, just like old times, there’s a little dust-up going on in my combox, which began when one reader wanted to know how it is that I’m over here eating kale salads and lean protein crumbles, but yet feeding my kids buttered corn dog nuggets and hot salt slop noodle casserole pie. A few readers jumped to my defense, which I appreciate very much, but the real answer is simple: I don’t like my kids. Please address any further questions to my menu planning assistant, who can be contacted here.  

I kid, I kid. I love yez all, more or less. 

The real question of the day is, WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS RHUBARB? 

Short version, I planted a rhubarb root in early spring, and it didn’t come up at all, but by the time I had given up hope, nobody in town was selling rhubarb anymore. Or so I thought! I stopped by the Cheshire Floral Farm, honestly mainly just to cheer myself up, because it’s so pretty up there. It’s a nursery built on top of a hill, and it’s the cleanest air I’ve ever breathed in my life. Even the birdsong has a special clarity, because the air is so clear. The man who owns it is 74 years old, and he has thousands and thousands of plants which he appears to know intimately, individually, and everything is thriving. He showed me the rows of pots with seedlings he has prepped for next spring. Next spring!

So I mentioned rhubarb, and he started hiking up to the top of the hill, and I panted up after him. There were half a dozen potted rhubarb plants about two feet high, and half a dozen smaller ones. He said, “This rhubarb has a history, you know.” It started as a plant in England that his grandfather grew, and they divided the root and brought it over, and he planted it here in New England, and off it went. I chose a smaller plant, and he knocked the seeds off and told me to dig a deep hole and fill it with manure. Then he kept walking up hill, so I followed, panting. We went through a gate, across a lawn, past a garden, and around a shed, and there, my friends, were three rhubarb plants, each as big as a Volkswagon Bug. He snapped off three stalks and presented them to me. 

So now I have rhubarb! Rhubarb for now, and for tomorrow, and for all my days to come, if I don’t screw it up. Usually I just make strawberry rhubarb pie, because it’s expensive and I only get it once a year, and that’s my favorite treat. But now I have plenty! What else do you like to make? Pickled rhubarb? Rhubarb jam? 

He also said you can chop up the poisonous leaves along with some tobacco leaves, boil them, and make an insecticide, which you use as a spray. I’ll probably leave that one alone, but I love knowing that there’s a use for the leaves besides murder. 

Okay! So here’s what we ate this week. And I apologize in advance, but I added in a lot of medical complaining, because it was that kind of week. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs

H.O.T. D.O.G.S., and I think fries

SUNDAY
Cuban sandwiches, coleslaw, fruit salad

Sunday I took a big step forward with the patio, finally. I salvaged some pressure treated lumber from various old projects, and shoved them in around the perimeter, and staked them in place with lawn stakes. I rented a vibrating plate compactor and ran it over the soil. Then I roped the kids into trucking the gravel down to the backyard, spread that out, ran over it with a makeshift screed, and ran over it with the compactor several more times.

Then the dog ran over it several times, because of course he did. It’s fine. He’s helping compact everything. The gravel I ended up getting is not exactly what I wanted, but I did want to move forward, and I achieved that! So, hoot hoot. Next is sand, and then finally bricks. 

A few hours in, I remembered “oh, supper,” and I had a boneless pork loin or something, so I threw it in the Instant Pot along with several giant glugs of apple cider vinegar, some water, a lot of cumin and garlic powder and some salt and pepper. I pressure cooked it on high for 22 minutes and it came out non-beautiful but very tender and quite tasty. 

For the sandwiches, I had big pieces of sourdough bread, and I built them in this order: bread, mustard, Swiss cheese, pork, pickles, ham, more Swiss cheese, mustard. Mayo on the outside, fried in butter. 

There is no particular reason this heavy, greasy, carby sandwich appears to be leering at you. You’re just imagining it. 

I made a nice fruit salad with watermelon, mango, strawberries, and blueberries, and a quick coleslaw with cabbage and carrot with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, a little olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. 

MONDAY
Lemon pepper chicken, taboon, and muhammara (red pepper walnut dip)

Last week, I asked for more recipes with pomegranate molasses, which I had used so deliciously in the cherry walnut herb salad. Several people suggested muhammara, which is a Turkish red pepper walnut dip.

SEVERAL PEOPLE WERE RIGHT. I followed this recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, and made a triple recipe. It calls for two red bell peppers, but I had four red and two orange. I keep learning and then forgetting again that red and orange (and yellow) bell peppers are just green bell peppers at different stages of ripeness (and therefore sweetness). Red is the sweetest; orange is the medium stage. (Yellow, which I didn’t have, is the first “turning” stage.) But it’s all the same pepper. 

Anyway, I oiled and roasted them peppers, which is something I enjoy.

So pretty. 

These recipes always tell you to cover the roasted peppers with plastic wrap and let them steam themselves, to loosen up the skins; but I have found (by the scientific process of forgetting to do it) that this isn’t necessary. The skins come off just as easily if you just let them sit. 

So I pulled off the skins, which I enjoy, and yanked out the core and scraped off most of the seeds. This is about half the pepper flesh. 

And then you just whiz it up in a food processor along with toasted walnuts, olive oil, raw garlic, tomato paste, bread crumbs, of course pomegranate molasses, sugar, sumac, and salt. Now, this recipe also calls for Aleppo pepper, and says cayenne pepper is optional. I didn’t have either, and suddenly got an attack of the cheaps at the store, so I only bought cayenne.

Since I had so much dip, I divided it and added cayenne pepper (somewhat more than the recipe called for) to only one portion. 

Friends, for something so earthy, it is heavenly. This is one of these profoundly nourishing, joyful foods. It just tastes like it’s feeding your whole being. It’s wonderfully tart but not in an aggressive way. The heat in the peppered one built gradually, and it tasted good with chicken, with vegetables, and with bread. And just by itself. 

I made twelve little taboon breads. Last time I was a little unhappy with how they turned out, rather tough and chewy. Not sure if this is what caused it, but I realized that I forgot to put the pan in the oven to heat up before putting the dough on it to bake. This time I followed that step, and they turned out much more tender and fluffy. I love taboon. 

It’s so easy, and you can start it less than two hours before you want to eat. Fast as a quick bread, but with the texture and heft of a yeast bread. So good. It doesn’t puff up and separate into a pocket like pita, so don’t expect that. It’s more bready, while still being a flatbread, so you could use it for wraps, or for scooping or sopping purposes.

I just made very simple roast chicken breast sprinkled with a lemon pepper seasoning mix and cut up, and spinach, black olives, and cherry tomatoes.

Damien and I ate the muhammara steadily for lunch and snacks for the rest of the week. It was wonderful with those flattened pretzel chip things, and also really nice with baby carrots, and with cucumbers. I am completely sold on muhammara. 

Still happy to hear about more pomegranate molasses recipes, but if this is all I ever use it for in the future, diyenu

TUESDAY
Tacos

Tuesday I made a bunch of taco meat, put it in the slow cooker, and then I was like, screw it, I’m going to the ER. Here’s the most exciting part:

Yes, that is my blood pressure. No, I did not eat tacos when I eventually got home, even though they had ruled out heart attack, as well as cancer and pulmonary embolism. But I do not recommend this blood pressure, at all. 

WEDNESDAY
Shawarma

Wednesday I wanted to get back to normal as much as possible, but I had lots of help! Clara made the shawarama marinade, Corrie made the yogurt sauce and Benny cut up the cucumbers and gathered and chopped the mint, and I had bought readymade pita and hummus, so it was just a matter of finishing everything up.

And very good it is, shawarma. 

At this point, I had learned that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with my heart, and all my lab work so far came back showing that I’m actually extremely healthy, except for when my terrible doctor takes me off my medication and makes my blood pressure go nutsy; so yeah, I had a big blob of yogurt sauce. Ugh, I guess I’m self conscious about my food pictures now. Boo. 

THURSDAY
Aldi pizza

Thursday I drove up to the pulmonologist in Lebanon and they did all the breathing tests. I stopped to check on my parents’ grave (they are still dead, whew), and the lilac tree and rose bushes I planted made it through the winter, so that was nice! I said a decade and went on my way. Damien bought and served Aldi pizza, and Moe came by and helped with the driving. 

FRIDAY
Spinach chickpea stew

Friday morning I found out that my lungs are very healthy, capable, and working fine! Which is great, except . . . you know, I still can’t breathe, and my chest still hurts, and my lungs still make a sound like bacon frying at night. Like, other people can hear it, so I can’t be making it up. I don’t know! I don’t know. I’m getting an echocardiogram at the end of July, and I’m going to look into chronic anemia and sleep apnea, because I don’t know what else it might be. It’s not the smoke from the wildfires, because this has been going on since November. Albuterol doesn’t help at all. Maybe I’m just making bacon in my lungs. If anyone could, I would.

ANYWAY, today we are having this lovely lemon chickpea spinach stew

the recipe for which you can find here at Saveur. This weekend I’m going to work on my patio without worrying it’s going to be my last act on earth, so that will be nice. 

Anyway, rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb. Allegedly that’s what crowds of extras on movie sets are supposed to say, in order to convincingly sound like they are having a conversation in the background. Someone smarter than me can write an essay about turning food into the logos. Imma go lie down.

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

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

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

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

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 326: Wads for supper

All week long, the kids have been asking me why it is raining. I don’t know why they’re asking me. It’s not like they think I know anything. The truth is, I made it happen, partially because I like to suffer, and partly so I could make soup one more time before summer. But I didn’t tell them that; I just made the soup, so we could all suffer. (It was delicious soup!)

SATURDAY
Fried chicken caprese sandwiches, Aldi Cheetos

I bought one of those enormous sacks of miscellaneous chicken breasts suspended in frozen wads of broth, with the intention of doling them out over three meals. It actually worked, to my surprise (I was expecting doom and disaster, as usual). This chicken is actually okay, as long as you’re using it as a sort of raw material, like tofu or polymer clay, rather than as a centerpiece. 

Saturday we had chicken caprese sandwiches. If I have actual fresh chicken breasts, I will roast them with oil, salt, and pepper, but I thought these chicken wads needed more help than that. So I dredged them in eggs and milk and then seasoned panko crumbs, pan fried them, and then put them in the oven for a while to make sure they were done all the way through. 

I served them on ciabatta rolls with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and of course mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Not spectacular, but fine. 

I haven’t really started my garden yet (we can’t plant anything but the heartiest things until May), but I’m already feeling the freedom of knowing I have decided not to grow tomatoes this summer. Homegrown tomatoes bring me nothing but grief, and hardly any tomatoes. I’m just going to excuse myself this time, and grow mostly flowers, plus a bunch of vegetables that don’t have all this weird cultural “oh yeahhhh, this here is the good life” baggage. I’m planning rhubarb and asparagus and strawberries and maybe some eggplant, probably various squashes and pumpkins, and I think some Brussels sprouts made it through the winter. And flowers! 

SUNDAY
Spicy pulled pork on tater tots with cheese

First I started some focaccia dough for Tuesday. I saw all those beautiful focaccia loaves people made over the pandemic, with little garden scenes picked out in vegetables, but I never got around to trying it. But Sip and Feast promised an easy, no-knead recipe that is best if you start it fermenting several days in advance, so that’s what I made. 

So much olive oil, goodness! I made a double recipe. 

So I put that away in the fridge, rested on my laurels for a minute, feeling domestic goddess-y and accomplished thinking about how Tuesday’s dinner was already halfway done, until I suddenly realized we also needed to eat something today. Boo.

But, pulled pork is easy. It was a bit of a strange combination in the slow cooker, but here is what I did: First I cut the pork into hunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, and browned it in oil. Then I put it in the Instant Pot with a can of Cherry Coke Zero, three clementines cut in half and squeezed, a few big dark reg, glossy guajillo peppers, a handful of little orange arbol peppers, a heaping tablespoon of cumin, and a bunch of oregano. I left all the seeds in the peppers, and just tore the tops off.

Then I pressed “meat,” which just makes me laugh. Do it! Go be meat! Away! and left it alone to think about life for the rest of the day. 

When it was almost time to eat, I pulled out most of the clementine rinds and about half the peppers, and shredded the meat.

I drained the liquid, but ended up adding some back into keep the meat moist while it was heating back up while I cooked some tater tots and shredded some cheese and sliced some onions.

I had my pile of food in this order: Tater tots, then shredded cheddar cheese, then hot pork to melt the cheese; then cool onions and sauce on top of that.

It was really good. Not a delicate or sophisticated dinner, but REALLY GOOD. I did a bunch of digging and heavy yard work on Sunday, and this was a fine reward. 

MONDAY
Cobb salad

On Monday I drove an hour and a quarter to a super Newhampshirey-ish place to pick up a free load of bricks, and let me tell you, it was a lot of bricks! A! Lot! 

I haven’t figured out exactly how many I will need for my patio, but if the answer turns out to be “quite a few,” I may have arrived. I did start digging, and I’m gonna do a lot more digging this weekend, when it stops raining. 

For supper: Chicken wads, day 2! I broiled them with oil, salt, and pepper and served them in slices with salad greens, chopped bacon, hard boiled eggs, red onions, leftover croutons from last week, shredded cheese, and those crunchy fried onions that come in a pouch.

Nice little salad, much protein. I had mine with ranch dressing. This isn’t strictly speaking a Cobb salad, which is supposed to be laid out in cute little stripes and is supposed to have avocados, tomatoes, and I forget what else — I think chives, and probably some other kind of dressing. Get off my back, man! Cobb salad  sounds better than “wadd salad!” 

TUESDAY
Sausage and kale soup, focaccia bread

Tuesday it was time to take the dough out of the fridge, that had been lurking there since Sunday afternoon. It needed 3-4 hours to rise, and then you just spread it in a pan, let it rest a little bit and then re-spread it, and then let it rise a little more, and then you can decorate it and bake it

I was rushing a bit and hadn’t really made a plan for how to decorate it, so I just grabbed what I could find, which was grape tomatoes, radishes, scallions, some garlic scrapes, red onions, and kale.

I thought the design turned out pretty (well, one did. The other one was kind of lame), but I didn’t know how well it would hold up in the oven. 

I actually baked it for slightly less time than it recommended, but one pan was still slightly burned, and the other was right on the verge. 

Still pretty, though! The dough is very stable as it bakes, so the design stays where you put it. I call it a success. 

Although the truth is, if you ever want me to do anything, anything at all, just offer me hot tomatoes baked into fresh bread. I will walk off a cliff with my eyes wide open, if I think there’s hot tomatoes baked into fresh bread at the bottom. 

It had a thin crust and was quite chewy, and the inside had very large air holes

(which I imagine was the result of letting it ferment for three days). I’m not a big focaccia expert, but I think this is how it’s supposed to come out. 

Guess what? Most of the kids wouldn’t even try it, because it had kale on it. Honest to goodness. Kale isn’t even that big of a deal. I feel like it’s like Sriracha sauce or Mondays or the word moist: NOT EVEN THAT BIG OF A DEAL. It’s just that people keep talking and talking about it, until everyone’s like, “oh my gosh, KALE, what is it even for, it’s garbage, only insane aliens would be in the same room with it!” Like, it’s a leafy green, it has a mildly sweet taste, and you can put it in salads or soups or whatever you want. It’s kind of dense, but who the fuck isn’t. People need to settle down about kale. 

Anyway, then I made some soup, also from Sip and Feast, with sausage, potato, cannellini beans, and kale. Very simple, easy li’l soup, tastes nice. I took a bunch of extremely blurry pictures for some reason. 

I grated some parmesan and set that out with the soup and the piping hot focaccia

and everyone stared at it and went to get some ramen or frosted flakes. I’m actually only pretending to be mad. I ate most of both loaves of focaccia myself. Can’t be mad. Too full of focaccia, here at the bottom of my cliff. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken fried rice, steamed pork and mushroom dumplings

On Wednesday, Elijah made supper, hooray! He took a cooking class last year and has a few recipes he likes. 

It was tasty if basic,with rice, onions and garlic, some frozen veg, chunks of chicken, scrambled eggs, and soy sauce. 

But nothing can beat that wonderful flavor of someone else making dinner, let me tell you. And we also got a lot of mileage out of “you telling me ELIJAH fried this” etc etc.

I stopped at the Keene International Market and picked up some frozen pork and mushroom dumplings, which I steamed in my nice little bamboo steamer,

and I served them in one of the dozens of dishes Clara brought home from pottery class. 

I’ll tell you, one minute you’re wiping bottoms, pouring juice all day long, and begging them to stop eating crayons, and then next minute you’re eating the dinner they cooked you off the pottery they made by hand. And looking the other way while they eat crayons, because you know everyone is on a journey. 

But seriously, Clara brought home some amazing pottery. 

 

and we don’t even have crayons in this house. 

THURSDAY
Koftas, yogurt sauce, Jerusalem salad, pita

Thursday I made what probably can’t really be called koftas, because they’re round instead of sausage-shaped, and broiled in the oven rather than grilled or roasted on a spit, and not on sticks. They were, however, juicy and delicious and to me they tasted middle eastern. 

I mixed about five pounds of ground beef, five eggs, and then just started slamming in anything that smelled like it belonged in a hot tent: sumac, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, onion powder, garam masala, za’atar, and salt, and a big handful of fresh mint from the yard. Then I discovered I had used up all my breadcrumbs on the chicken on Sunday, so I made about six pieces of toast, and then microwaved them to really blitz the moisture out, and then ran them through the food processor. 

When it was almost time to eat, I cooked the meatballs on pans on racks in a 450 oven for about 25 minutes.

I also made a bunch of yogurt sauce with fresh garlic and fresh lemon juice and kosher salt, and I made a nice Jerusalem salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mint, fresh flat-leaf parsley, a little red onion, fresh lemon juice, and salt. And that was it! A simple but nicely balanced meal. 

I briefly considered making pita or maybe making taboon bread, but we still had leftover focaccia, so I just stopped at the store and bought some pita. 

FRIDAY
I think we are having quesadillas. Truly, I hated this week. Everyone was fighty and bighty, especially me, and it rained a lot, and I forgot about a bunch of forms I was supposed to fill out, and even though the sack of chicken wads worked out, it made me mad all week. The more I think about it, the more it was clearly the chicken’s fault. 

However, the ducks are growing nicely. EJ has started quacking, not just peeping, and Corrie has been great with them. They’re huge! Almost ready to live outside.

And I think the sun is going to come out this weekend. Literally, I mean, and also maybe figuratively; who can say? And I do have a lot of bricks. And ducks. Oh, and I fixed the What’s for supper volume numbering. Well, I didn’t fix it, but I got back on track. It went: 323, 324, 325, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 242, 242, 243, 244, 245, 11. But now we’re back on track. Quack! 

What’s for supper? Vol. 11. Vol. 11!

It has come to my attention that I have been numbering these posts wrong. I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit down and figure out how long this has been going on, but somewhere along the line, I think months ago, I jumped the track and slipped back into the 200’s, when I should actually be halfway through the 300’s. I think. I don’t know, I don’t know! I just keep cooking food and they just keep eating it, and then I keep taking pictures of it, and they keep making fun of me, and I keep saying, “But people like it! Well, some people, anyway.”

For example:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs grilled outside

Don’t remember much about Saturday, ‘deed I don’t. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps

Sunday I was planning tacos al pastor, but by the time I got it going, I didn’t think the meat would have sufficient time to marinate, so I decided that would be tomorrow’s meal, and for now we would have wraps. Nothing spectacular, but tasty enough: Turkey, salami, bacon, and provolone with horseradish sauce.

And I had a nice little time working on the marinade. This is the recipe I use, and it’s rather time-consuming, but fantastically delicious. First you blister up the guajillo peppers

then you scrape the seeds out

and then you soften them up

and then you blend them up with a bunch of other ingredients,

including achiote paste, which I can never find, so I also make that out of a bunch of other ingredients

which you make into a paste

and then chuck it all into the food processor. Actually, I ran out of ground cumin, so I had to grind some up in my mortar and pestle. At this point I was starting to feel like it was possible this recipe was Too Much Work, but I was in too deep, so I went ahead and pestled it. And that was the last ingredient.

And then you can marinate the meat overnight, which I did. Whew. It felt a lot like finally getting a beloved but rather dramatic child to bed. (If you are planning to eat the child later, with sour cream.)

MONDAY
Tacos al pastor; pico de gallo and tortilla chips

Monday I made a big bowl of pico de gallo out of very sweet little grape tomatoes, onion, fresh lime juice, kosher salt, and cilantro. 

Jump to Recipe

And when it was almost dinner time, I heated up a bunch of tortillas, and then set up two greased pans to broil: One with the marinated meat

and one with chunks of pineapple; and I switched them and stirred them up a bit, so they both got a little charred. (The pineapple takes several minutes longer than the meat to cook, which I always forget.)

And that’s it. I had mine with just a little sour cream on the tortilla, just the meat and the grilled pineapple, and a little cilantro, with pico and chips on the side. 

Stupendous. The marinade has so much flavor, it’s ridiculous, and you will not want to add any hot sauce or salsa or anything. It’s got a tangy, nutty, smoky kind of sweetness that’s incredibly pleasing, and the meat is of course so tender from all that marinating. The pineapple turns almost candy-sweet on the outside when you grill it, and I am completely in love with the combination of the savory meat and the juicy pineapple with a little sour cream. It was not Too Much Work. It was Totally Worth It. I have made this recipe many times and it never even occurs to me to look for another one. 

TUESDAY
Korean beef bowl with rice; cucumbers

Haven’t had Korean beef bowl for a while.

Jump to Recipe

It came out so nice. I used plenty of fresh garlic and fresh ginger, and what I’ve been doing is cooking the meat about 80% of the way through, draining the fat, and then adding the minced ginger and garlic and cooking it. The ginger and garlic bits stay really bright and pungent that way. 

I served it over white rice, and just served plain cucumbers on the side. I briefly considered one of those cute little piquant cucumber salads with the rice vinegar and the hot pepper flakes, but sometimes I like to have mercy on the kids and just serve regular old cucumbers.

WEDNESDAY
Moussakhan and taboon

Always a popular meal. This time I had some especially good sumac from the International Market, and woof, it made my nose quiver. Lovely dark plum color, in glossy little flakes.

This is quite an easy recipe with a massive return on your effort, and you can serve it over rice or just eat it plain, or with pita, or whatever you want. I do like the dramatic presentation of the enormous platter of piping hot taboon bread, with all the chicken and its juice served on top of it, so everyone can help themselves to whatever pieces they want, and tear off some taboon to go with it.

I had a long tray of drumsticks and a half dozen thighs, and you slash the meat to the bone to get the marinade really deep in there, and then just marinate it for half a day or so. 

I only had two regrets: One was that I ran out of lemons to juice, and decided to use lime juice, which wasn’t disastrous, but it’s not ideal; and the other was that I was working outside on moving my raised garden beds around and whatnot, and was so afraid I would get garden madness and lose track of time, so I checked the clock frequently and had it all worked out exactly when I had to put everything in the oven so it would be done on time, and I did work it out, down to the minute, but then I . . . . forgot to do it. And you know, it really just doesn’t cook well that way, I find, when you don’t actually put the food in the oven. Awfully slow.

But EVENTUALLY we did have supper, and it was delicious. 

I made my Giant Pan o’ Taboon, which is quite fast to make, and only takes one rise, so you can start it about an hour and a half before you want to get dinner on the table, and that’s enough time. 

Jump to Recipe

and I used the last of the big pouch of pine nuts I splurged on a while back. You toast them up in olive oil just before serving the meat,

and you put the chicken and onions on the bread, and sprinkle that with sizzling pine nuts and chopped parsley, and BOY is it good. 

Just so good. 

I decided that the taboon recipe as written had a silly amount of salt in it, so I decreased it, and you know, I just didn’t like it as much. I honestly don’t know if the amount of salt I wrote is a typo or not, but I like it that way, so I’m going back to a truckload of salt next time I made this. Salty taboon for all!

THURSDAY
Ravioli

The kids were on vacation all week, so most days this week, I have been rushing around doing a lot of pent-up yard work and gardening and whatnot. The ducks have been spending more and more time outside, and overall I like the looks of things around here, and I’m making slow but steady progress toward my patio area. Thursday Benny and I made a little trip into Massachusetts to get some used bricks,

and then she had a couple of pals over. Corrie had a friend over earlier in the week. Why is it so hard to have friends over! I guess it’s because we live far away from everything, and so does everybody. But having ducks helps. People do want to come see ducks, even if they have their own ducks. 

FRIDAY
Aldi pizza

Friday Elijah and I climbed Mt. Cesar.

This is not a very big mountain, but it was steep enough to make me wheeze like a, like I don’t know what, a big wheezer. I’m not even in bad shape, it’s just my dumb lungs. Whatcha gonna do. Go to the doctor, I guess. But Friday was also the most important day all year in our little town: Rummage sale day!!! It’s not even a very good rummage sale, but there are people crowded outside the door waiting to get in. So we went and got our weird mugs and our dubious John Le Carré paperbacks and our little glass hummingbirds and our rusty scooter and then came home and,,, had some Aldi pizza. 

And this is the kind of paragraph that makes me think it doesn’t really matter much which volume of What’s For Supper? it really is. It’s eleven. It goes up to eleven. 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

 

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

 

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 241: Troubles with soup are better than troubles without soup

Happy whatever day it is! I didn’t do a food post last Friday because, I forget why. Oh, because I was complaining about the pope.  Anyway I wanted to share the results of a recipe from the previous Friday. It’s sabanekh bil hummus, Palestinian spinach and chickpea soup. I followed the recipe from Saveur and it was deeee-lectable. 

You saute some onions in olive oil, and then you toast some spices (cumin and coriander) and then grind them, then add them to the onions along with some garlic, plus allspice and nutmeg, and pepper, and cook a little longer, then add chickpeas and stock. (It called for vegetable stock, but I had chicken.)  

THE SMELL.

Simmer for about half an hour, add in fresh baby spinach, fresh lemon juice, some kosher salt, and a little more olive oil. Look-a here, now.

It was so good. The earthy spices combined with the bright lemon juice and the tender chickpeas and spinach made it a surprisingly interesting dish, considering it’s just broth with chickpeas and spinach.  Damien and I absolutely loved it. Definitely adding it to the Friday rotation. 

I’m kind of mad about this, but I’m now fully converted to the notion that fresh ingredients are worth the trouble. Sometimes you just plain don’t have the time or energy, and then it’s a blessing to use convenience foods! It’s fine, it’s not a moral issue! But if you can grind spices and squeeze lemons and crush garlic and chop herbs, oh man. Do yourself a favor. It eventually stops feeling laborious and extravagant and just feels like the normal way to cook, and it elevates your flavors so much.

Of course I still buy bouillon powder, rather than making my own stock, and I still routinely buy frozen pizza dough and so on. Let’s not be silly. I know you’ll agree that I draw the line at exactly the right arbitrary spot. I KNOW YOU’LL AGREE.

Damien and I were both insanely busy all week. Just tons of writing, and we had two birthdays, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even remember. Also Sophia went to Rome with her high school class, and we had to get both cars fixed (my car was doing something that was causing people to stop me and say, “Excuse me, do you know your car is–” and I would have to sigh, “Yesss, I am aware,” and I drove around like that for over a week before I had a chance to get it fixed. So penitential, much litany of humility. Damien’s car was fine, except for the brakes, pff), and Lena taught the dog to roll over, which was more emotionally fraught for the whole family than you might expect.  Also the dryer broke, and I hit some lady’s mailbox on the way home from band. I really kranged it good, and it was very cold out, so it shattered, so I had to knock on her door and say, I’m sorry, I hit your mailbox, and there was a very old, unclothed man sleeping in the living room with purple old his legs sticking out. Probably can’t really blame the dog for that (I do not take him to band). 

I did manage to get the one stinking maple tree tapped finally, though. It’s a long story and probably nothing will come of it, but I really hate not finishing projects, so I’m forging ahead. Look-a here, now!

 

I’m sorry I keep saying that. I’ve been listening to funk music lately and it stuck, for some reason. 

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Words cannot describe how long ago that Saturday and those hamburgers were. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese

We had these sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. I really hate cooking with an iron frying pan, but it does come in handy for laying on top of a puffy sandwich and weighing it down when you’re trying to get cheap Aldi cheese to melt. 

MONDAY
Southwest chicken salad

I drizzled some chicken breasts with something called elote seasoning, which seems to be mostly chili powder, salt, and dehydrated cheese powder, and roasted the chicken, and served the chicken slices over mixed greens with shredded cheddar, some corn sautéed in olive oil, and chipotle ranch dressing, with corn chips. 

I feel like there were beans, but maybe they remained in the realm of hypothesis. Anyway, it was a good salad. 

TUESDAY
Lasagna, Mars cake

Tuesday was Elijah’s birthday celebration, and he requested Damien’s amazing lasagna, which he makes using the Albert Burneko recipe. Absolutely stupendous. Creamy cheese sauce, ultra savory tomato sauce with meat, just fab. I always get a terrible picture of this lasagna because, once he sets it on the table, no power on heaven or earth can slow me down.

It weighs about 87 pounds and it’s so good. 

I also made a Mars cake. Elijah likes Mars a lot, and I thought it would be nice to throw together a little fondant Mars Perseverance Rover with wheels that turn and a little gum paste Ingenuity helicopter with a rotor that spins, how hard could it be??

Well. I took a chance and broke away from my filthy box cake ways and used the King Arthur “Simple and Rich Chocolate Cake” recipe and it was exactly that, simple and rich (and chocolate, and cake. And a recipe. You guys, I’m so tired). And the cake turned out very well! I made a simple frosting with butter, a little salt and vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk, and the Mars part was pretty enough.

Then, well, things got out of hand a little bit with the robots

What can I say, an attempt was made. The good news is, he turned down my original idea, which was a galaxy mirror glaze cake with a surprise Mars-shaped heart baked right into it. So like when you cut space open, there’s Mars inside! Just like in real life! So we didn’t do that, which is good, because I can’t do that. Instead, we had the robuts, held together with toothpicks. They would have been better if he had let me put candy eyeballs on them, but I learned just in time that he actually feels strongly about robots and eyeballs. Look-a here.

WEDNESDAY
Tacos

Man, it’s a good thing I wrote this down, because I don’t remember this at all. What a week. I fell asleep on the couch so many times. 

THURSDAY
Mussakhan and taboon bread, tabouleh 

This I do remember. This is the second time I have made this meal, recipe also from Saveur, and it was just as popular this time. It’s quite easy, but packs a huge punch with flavor. You just have to get your chicken parts and onions marinating several hours ahead of time, and then you just roast it up.

Just before it’s done, you fry up some pine nuts and toss them over the top of the sizzling hot chicken, which you have lavishly spread over the piping hot taboon bread,

Jump to Recipe

which you have whipped up a few hours before dinner because you believe in yourself. Actually I timed it a little wrong and the chicken was ready a few minutes before the bread, so people started eating it before I could put it on the bread. A minor disappointment, soothed by the implied compliment that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on that chicken. I still had my chicken on bread, and I spooned up plenty of the lovely sumac-laden roasting juices to ladle over the tender, dimpled taboon. 

This meal is so good, you can’t imagine. The chicken is so juicy and the mixture of spices is just heavenly. You got the happy salty little bread cloud floating underneath and it’s really just hard to stop eating. 

I also picked up a few boxes of tabouleh, already mixed with seasoning, so you just had to pour hot water over it to wake it up, and then I added some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and feta cheese. I ate, uh, kind of a lot of that, too, even though it was just boxabouleh. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Just regular old pizza, whew.

Oh, I was planning to tell you about the whole other cake, but I guess that belongs in next week’s post! I mean this week’s post. I did start it on Thursday. Well, next time, I’ll tell you allll about it. It just about killed me. 

And now it’s Tuesday. We got a massive dump of snow, the power is out, and I guess we are going to have corn flakes and melted snow for supper. 

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

What’s for supper? Vol. 239: Spot the fiendish thingy

Happy Friday! Happy Friday indeed. 

As if a long, rambling post about some stranger’s dinner weren’t entertaining enough, today’s post comes with a little bonus game: A scavenger hunt. Yeah!

One of these photos has something in it that doesn’t belong. Did I notice it while I was cooking? No, I did not. Did I notice it while I taking the the photo? Again, not at all. I will give myself credit for managing to notice something was amiss before any foreign objects went down my gullet, so I have that going for me. I remember when I swallowed a penny and the doctor said my mother had to, well, find it, and she was pretty mad. 

You know, this is the only way to start off a food blog. The only way. 

Anyway, the thing. The pearl of great price. The fiendish thingy. See if you can spot it! See if you can guess what it is! See if I care! 

Here’s what we ate (and almost ate, before we were like, “agghhh, what is that??”) this week:

Oh wait, first, last week, on Friday we had pepper and egg sandwiches and fruit salad. Quite tasty. All I did was cut up two red and two green bell peppers and a sweet onion, fry them in olive oil until they were somewhat soft, and then scramble about ten eggs into it

and serve scoops of it on soft rolls with a little salt. 

We had fruit salad as a side dish and it was a nice little meal.

Always glad to find another meatless meal that’s reasonably popular. You can definitely add cheese to this sandwich, but it didn’t need it to be hearty and filling. I had mine with a dash of hot sauce. 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers and chips

Busy day, easy meal. I had mine with bottled aioli. I took a picture but it looks gross, as anything dripping with aioli is likely to do.

SUNDAY
Hot wings, hot dogs, droopin’ onion; strawberry ice cream, chocolate M&M ice cream

Sunday was the Super Bowl, which we didn’t care much about, but it’s fun to make football foods. Except that we were all exhausted, so it was only a little bit of fun. I cooked up some hot dogs, Damien made hot wings with celery and blue cheese sauce

Jump to Recipe

which turned out very tasty indeed

and I made an onion blossom which turned out . . . edible. I have an onion blossom cutter that I use once a year. It’s usually a happy occasion, as you see here (you will not be able to see the video below if you have an ad blocker on):

because I am easily amused; but I dunno what happened this time. I lost the directions, I wasn’t paying attention, and I was just so freaking tired, so I cut the end of the first onion off, and of course there was nothing to hold the petals together, so it was just a loose collection of onion fringes.

Luckily, I had bought two onions, and I figured out my mistake with the second one. But don’t worry! I also managed to screw up the batter somehow, so even though the second onion got cut right

it definitely did not fry right

Ah well. I ate it! Don’t get me wrong, I ate it.

I also ate a bunch of hot wings, goblin style. 

For dessert we had two kinds of ice cream, one batch of strawberry

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with additional sugared strawberries on top, which turned out well even though I wasn’t paying attention and used all cream instead of cream and milk

and one batch of chocolate M&M. I used the Ben and Jerry’s recipe for chocolate ice cream and, you’ll never guess, I messed that up, too! Everyone said it was good, but it’s really not supposed to have flecks of chocolate all through it. OH WELL. I’m the only one who was complaining. 

MONDAY
Butter chicken and rice

Monday’s dinner went much better. I made butter chicken using this easy recipe from RecipeTin Eats. Or maybe all butter chicken recipes are easy, I don’t know. 

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs were on sale, to my delight, so I cut them into bite-size pieces and marinated them in a marinade made of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic.

Ghee is super expensive right now, so I used butter to cook it in (and you know, it’s not called “ghee chicken,” so there you go) (yes I know what ghee is). I melted a bunch of it in two pans, added in the chicken and cooked it through,

then stirred in a punch of tomato puree and heavy cream, a little sugar, and some salt. HOO HOO.

And that’s it! Such fun to stir the white cream into the brilliant yellow turmeric marinade and red tomato puree. You let it simmer for a while and then serve it over rice.

I know I bought some cilantro to garnish it, but it disappeared into the bowels of the refrigerator and has not emerged.

This is just a mild, cozy, warming, pleasant curry that about half the kids liked, which is pretty good. I thought it was completely delicious. Great comfort food. 

So here’s an Indian food question for you: If I’m serving Mexican food and I want the whole family to eat it, I’ll make it mild, and people who like it hotter can add tobasco sauce or something similar to their portions. Is there something like this I can put on the table to hot up Indian food? Some of us really like spicy food, but I don’t necessarily want to make the whole thing spicy.

TUESDAY
Pork nachos

I was actually feeling a little gloomy about this meal. Pork was super cheap so I felt like I had to buy it, but I was not looking forward to producing something that smelled amazing but came out super bland. WEWLL, for once throwing random things into a pot paid off. And for once, I wrote down what I threw in. 

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I cut the pork into chunks and seasoned them heavily with salt and pepper, and browned them in oil. Then I chunked them into the Instant Pot and added a can of Coke, three quartered clementines, a few bay leaves, about a tablespoon of cumin, and –here’s the key — three large, extremely occult-looking dried chipotle chili peppers I found in a bag. 

I closed the vent and pressure cooked it on high for 24 minutes and hoo man. That meat was ready to collapse. 

I picked out the bay leaves and orange peels and peppers, which, in retrospect, I could have cut open; but they were sufficiently spicy intact

pulled out the meat and shredded it, and made one pan of meat on tortilla chips with sharp cheddar cheese with jalapeños, and one without. 

That meat was so good! Sweet and spicy and flavorful. I skipped the sour cream and salsa, because I just liked the meat so much. I was terribly pleased. Nothing sadder than flavorless pork, but that day, we were not sad.

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day but I had to take a rain check on Damien’s offer of dinner out because I’m on official band nerd and it was practice night. It was, however, very romantic when he replaced not one but two broken refrigerator door shelves, which somehow broke even though the Frigidaire company makes its components out out of only the finest eggshells held together with fairy spit. He glued one back together with Flex Paste, and the other one is just some random stick. 

I guess it’s a PVC pipe? I cannot tell you how much it has improved my life to have these shelves back in my life, so everything isn’t all stuffed into the main body of the fridge, rolling around and crammed in sideways and upside and all horrible. It was like the third world in there. 

WEDNESDAY
Kofta meatballs with yogurt sauce, Jerusalem salad, giant taboon

Ground beef was also on sale, on account of the football, but again I was feeling a little glum about my prospects with it. We’ve had hamburgers, and spaghetti and meatballs, and meatball subs, and meatloaf, and Korean beef bowl, and bleh, I’m just tired of it all. 

SO, encouraged by my success winging it with the pork, I pulled out all the spices I could find that looked middle eastern

and dumped them into the ground beef, along with some eggs and panko crumbs. This time I didn’t write anything down, but basically if it smelled good, I shook some in, and if it smelled really good, I shook a whole lot in. I made about 40 large meatballs and put them on metal racks on a baking pan (to be cooked at 400 for about 25 minutes).

(Koftas are actually ground meat formed around sticks and grilled or roasted. My kids just simply absolutely cannot get over how turdly they look, though, so I make them in meatball form.)

Then I made some nice yogurt sauce with fresh lemon juice and fresh garlic and a little salt

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and a Jerusalem salad, with tomatoes, cucumbers, a little red onion, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and fresh mint and parsley. 

This was going to be the entire meal, just the salad and meatballs and sauce; but I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a piping hot taboon bread. But we didn’t have bread flour, and also I needed to make a few extra stops, so I didn’t think I would have time.

WEWLL, it turns out I can do my afternoon errands and run to the supermarket and get home at 4:15, wash up, start the taboon, and still get dinner on the table at about 6:15. How about that! The dough needs an hour to rise, and then it needs a little resting time, but especially if you are making one big slab of bread, rather than individual portions, it’s incredibly non-fussy. Especially if the people eating it are non-fussy. 

Is this what taboon is supposed to look and taste like? 

I HAVE NO IDEA. But it was 6:15 and I put out a piping hot flatbread and a tray of sizzling, savory meatballs, and by gum, people ate that supper. 

Gosh, it was delicious. The meatballs were juicy and fragrant, the bread had a light, salty, tender crust and pillowy insides, the Jerusalem salad was fresh and piquant, and everything was set off beautifully by the cool, sour yogurt sauce.

I set out more chopped parsley and mint to sprinkle on top of everything. Just a joyful kind of meal. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

I couldn’t remember how many pizzas we eat these days, so I made four. I made one pepperoni, two plain, and one with fresh garlic, a lot of feta, red onion, and spinach, and some olive oil drizzled on top. 

Really good stuff. I love a pizza that has a softer cheese under a layer of mozzarella. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli

At the kids’ request. Damien and I may sneak out for a belated Valentine’s taco or something. I’m very fond of him, you know. 

So next week is vacation and Corrie and I are going to tap some maple trees.We have surprisingly few on our property, but there are a few. We’ve tapped trees before, back when we homeschooled. It’s fun, if you’re easily amused. We got some silicone tubing and you just drill a hole in the trunk and cram it in, and collect the sap in a milk jug over the course of days or weeks, depending on how many trees you have and how much you want. Sap is really just barely sweet. It takes forty gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup! Then you boil it down and evaporate most of the water, leaving the sugar, and that’s maple syrup. I expect to get about half a cup of syrup this year.

The other thing is, we looked around the house and thought the main thing that was lacking was four pekin ducklings, so Damien went out and ordered them. He’s going to start building a duck house this weekend, and we’re going to have a brooding box innnnnnn the bathroom, and we’re going to have a movable duck run, and, that is the plan! Get ready for a lot of viaduct jokes, although I will tell you right up front, I don’t really know vi. 

Don’t forget the foreign object scavenger hunt! If this were a proper food blog, there would be a prize, but I think I’ve been pretty open about what kind of operation I’m running here.  

Hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip (after Deadspin)

Basic, tasty hot wings with blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • chicken wingettes
  • oil for frying

For the hot sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • salt
  • vinegar (optional)

Blue cheese sauce:

  • sour cream
  • blue cheese
  • optional: lemon juice, mayonnaise
  • celery sticks for serving

Instructions

  1. Fry the wingettes in several inches of oil until they are lightly browned. Do a few at a time so they don't stick together. Set them on paper towels to cool.

  2. Melt the butter and mix together wit the rest of the hot sauce ingredients. Toss the wings in the hot sauce.

  3. Mix together the sour cream and crumbled blue cheese. Use a food processor or whisk vigorously to break up the blue cheese. You can add lemon juice or a little mayonnaise to thin it.

  4. Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

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

For the ice cream base

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

Instructions

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

Make the ice cream base:

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

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

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

Put it together:

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

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

 

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Pork nachos

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs pork butt/shoulder, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying
  • 2-3 oranges or clementines
  • 3 chipotle chiles
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 can Coke

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Heavily season the pieces of meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides.

  2. Transfer the meat to the Instant Pot. Add the Coke and the rest of the ingredients. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes.

  3. Discard bay leaves and orange peels, remove meat from broth, shred, and serve.

 

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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