What’s for supper? Vol. 309: In which I recommend thighs

Friday again! Can it be believed? I’ll spare you the tiresome story of how I filled the refrigerator with food and then it filled itself with warm air, but I didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening right away, and so most of the meat and dairy went bad and had to be replaced. Like many things, it was my fault, for overstuffing the freezer, which blocked the vents, which prevented the cold air from reaching the fridge. Unlike many things, I was able to fix it, by throwing out a lot of stupid frozen crap and hitting the inside of the freezer with a wooden spoon. But then we had to buy all new food (or rather, Damien did, because I do not have a car), and that was a bummer. P.S. The car is also my fault.

Oops, I guess I didn’t spare you the story. Sorry. Well, here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Saturday was the first day of our grape adventure, and of course I also went shopping. In retrospect, when did we do all that grape stuff? In the morning, I guess. Sounds like a good day for store-bought pizza. I really like Aldi pizza. The crust, in particular, satisfies some deep ancient transgressive urge to eat hot cardboard. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, raw veg and dip

Sunday was grapetime, part II. I had some ciabatta rolls left over from last week, so I used those to grill some provolone and ham, and that was pretty tasty. 

If you look closely, you can tell I was sitting on the steps, eating my grilled cheese in the rain. Sometimes this is the way. 

MONDAY
Burgers, chips, quinoa with kale

I snacked so much (on marshmallows, if you must know) while making dinner that I wasn’t hungry for a burger at all, so I just had a heaping plate of quinoa and kale (steamed in the microwave) and a big glass of grape juice for dinner.

Strange but satisfying. 

TUESDAY
Cumin chicken with chickpeas, lemony onions and yogurt sauce; homemade pita

Tuesday was dark and thunderstormery, so a good day for a warming, savory dish and a little bit of baking. This is another meal that takes very little skill but turns up tons of flavor. There is a bit of prep work, but then you can just slide a pan in the oven before supper and it’s a great meal.

Jump to Recipe

In the morning, you make a simple yogurt marinade, and marinate the chicken. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are best, but drumsticks or wings are okay. The skin turns out really excellent, so I really recommend thighs. 

You also make yogurt sauce and a side of lemony onions with cilantro. You can also prep some more onions and the chickpeas (you just drain and season them), but it takes like ten seconds. When it’s time to cook, you spread the chickpeas and onions in the pan with olive oil and a little seasoning, snuggle the marinated chicken in, and cook it. I make two big pans and switch their positions halfway through so they cook evenly. 

The light was not cooperating, so this looks a little drab. In real life, the skin was a wonderful, varnished amber, and the chickpeas were shining like little gems. They are crunchy on the outside and hot and mealy inside, and the cooked onions are crisp and deeply savory. The chicken comes out incredibly moist and tender inside. 

You serve this with the bright, piquant lemon onions with cilantro and the garlicky yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

and of course some pita bread. Most of the time I buy pita, but since I’m carless and it was raining, it definitely felt like a homemade pita day. I made a triple batch of this recipe from The Kitchn and I guess I’m going to need someone’s grandmother to come over and smack the back of my hands with a wooden spoon if I’m ever going to get better at making bread, but I had fun, anyway. 

It’s an easy recipe. You just mix it all up, knead, let the dough rise once, and then divide it into lumps

and then roll it into discs and quickly bake or fry it. The kids remembered how the kitchen speaker was listening in and judging me last time I made pita and tried frying it, so the hell with that. This time, I baked it and I did it while everyone was in school. 

They really came out lovely. 

Not quite as airy and pillowy soft as the picture in the recipe, and by the time it was dinner, they had of course collapsed and turned a little tough; but I myself ate two straight out of the oven for lunch, along with a peach and a plum, and it was very good. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken nuggets and fall pasta salad

Grabbed this lovely “fall shaped” pasta from Aldi several weeks ago. I overcooked it because I can’t help myself, but it was still pretty. 

Not the most inspired pasta salad. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a bunch of pesto from a jar, the last tomatoes from the garden, and the last string beans from the garden. 

I had a terrible problem with beetles or something this year, so I got a very puny string bean crop. Oh well. 

THURSDAY
Gochujang bulgoki, rice

Great little Korean recipe, also quite easy, high flavor, moderate effort. The marinade is gochujang, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and a little sugar. 

Jump to Recipe

I sliced up a pork loin as thinly as I could and let it marinate most of the day along with several carrots and an onion sliced thin in the food processor. The carrots are supposed to be matchstick, but I do them different each time because I am a free spirit. 

Then at suppertime, I got a big pot of rice going in the Instant Pot and fried up the meat in oil on the stovetop.

Everyone kept coming in to see what the wonderful smell is, which is always encouraging. I hit the honey pretty hard in the marinade, to be honest, because I wanted people to eat dinner. 

This meal is supposed to have rice and lettuce and/or seaweed, but I forgot to buy either, so we just had rice. I did buy some broccoli to make as a side, but it went bad. So we just had the rice and bulgoki, and it was pretty tasty, if a bit spare. 

In retrospect, there are some scallions on my windowsill that I could have chopped up for at least a little green. Oh well. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

And that’s the end of that chapter! 

I have spent the week prepping my busted underwater car to sell, trying not to take extremely low offers personally, and looking for a replacement. I may have found one! We shall see. Excelsior, right? At least we have macaroni. 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

 

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. 

 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 304: It’s souvlaki all the way down

Happy Friday! The name of the game this week was souvlaki! We didn’t really have that much Greek food; I just like saying “souvlaki,” and apparently so do Greek people, because every time I look up a recipe for something Greek, they let it slip somewhere in the recipe that this is souvlaki. No matter what it is. I have looked it up, and apparently the main ingredient necessary, in order for a dish to qualify as authentic Greek souvlaki, is “various meats.”

This is what makes me take a dim view of arguments that such-and-such dish isn’t really authentic. I mean, if it’s made of sawdust, then no, it’s not authentic cuisine. One time I told my kid I was eating imitation crab meat, and she said with great condescension, “Weww, Mama, I woudln’t eat wubba cwab if I was you.” But that is as far as I’m willing to go. Beyond that, it’s all authentic souvlaki as far as I’m concerned. (This is a complicated joke about fake meat, mock turtle soup, and turtles all the way down, if you like. If you don’t like, you can just keep reading, and eventually there is a nice picture of pork.) 

Weww, Mama, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, veggies and dip, chips, cherry pies with ice cream

My sister and five of her kids came over on Friday. On Saturday, we had a lovely guest for lunch, Fr. Michael Eades, a Toronto Oratorian who was passing through, so we had a little cookout in the middle of the day, and then we went to the beach, and then we came home and had another little cookout, because It Is Summer. 

I had a lot of fun making the pies. I do recommend sitting down in the afternoon and pitting several pounds of cherries while chatting with your beloved sister, and all your kids goof around playing cousin games and being silly. It’s just nice. Then I made the pies and Corrie brushed them with egg wash for me

and of course I managed to burn them, but they still got ate up. 

Here’s my reliable pie crust recipe:

Jump to Recipe

SUNDAY
Spaghetti al carbonara 

Other meats have gotten more expensive, but bacon, which was always expensive, has stayed about the same, so I convinced myself this counted as a cheap meal, because I hadn’t gone shopping yet and it was literally the only dinner I could think of. 

Just about everybody likes it, and I managed not to burn the bacon, anyway. I bet you haven’t made carbonara for a while! Why not make it this week?

Jump to Recipe

Just pasta, bacon, parmesan, eggs, butter, and lots of pepper. Sticks to your ribs, as my grandfather used to say. You can make it fancier if you want, but the basic version is so easy and good.

MONDAY
Chicken drumsticks, pasta salad

Drumsticks really are cheap, to my sorrow. I hate drumsticks. I mean, they’re fine. On the drumsticks, I put olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika, and roasted them, turning them once. The pasta salad had olive oil, wine vinegar, black olives, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and I imagine salt and pepper. 

Not a sophisticated meal, but I went shopping in the afternoon, got home late, got the food put away because the grocery-put-away kid was at work, and then cooked supper, so everyone has hungry and appreciated food. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

I used to think Taco Tuesday was so silly. The kids would get so excited if I served tacos on Tuesday, and I just could not see what the big deal was. It was just tacos, regular tacos, and it happened to be on a day that also started with T, big deal. 

But you know what? Taco Tuesday performs the valuable service of letting me not figure something out. What day is it? Tuesday. What are we having? Tacos. What are people? Happy. Take a little nap, brain. THIS IS WORTH FORTY MILLION DOLLARS.

To the drained ground beef, I added lots of cumin, lots of chili powder, salt, plenty of garlic powder and onion powder, and some water. I guess I am officially weaned off using those little packets of taco seasoning. The secret ingredient is, as I suspected, salt. 

I went to take a picture of my tacos, and the camera was open the other way and captured this somewhat portentous photo of myself, looking like I am considering devouring not only the tacos, but the entire world, because the world is asking for it.

 

And here is the picture of my tacos.

WEDNESDAY
Pork gyros (souvlaki), homemade vanilla ice cream

The star meal of the week. I had a pork loin that I cut into thin slices and marinated in the morning. I sorta kinda followed this recipe (souvlaki), except I used a lot more garlic than it says, skipped the thyme, and went with fresh rosemary and fresh oregano. The one important thing is that this marinade includes honey, which he claims (and which I have no reason to doubt) breaks down the pork fibers. I marinated the meat about five hours and then pan-fried it in batches, and it certainly came out amazingly, yieldingly tender. 

I also made a big batch of garlicky yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

and cut up a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, and we cooked some french fries and I sent the girls out for a bunch of wild mint leaves, we and wrapped it all up in pita with feta cheese and hot sauce. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. (Actually I skipped the fries because I ran out of room and I secretly think it’s kind of gross.) I forgot to take a picture of it actually wrapped up like a wrap, because I just gobbled it up. You really cannot beat fresh herbs in a wrap. I think I’m going to take another stab at growing herbs inside this winter, because it makes such a difference. 

THEN, my ice cream maker arrived! Actually it arrived on Tuesday. I’ve been haunting Facebook Marketplace, and found a great deal on a Cuisinart ice cream maker (this one, and I didn’t spend any $83.10 on it!). We dashed out (that’s an ice cream maker joke) for some heavy cream and decided to just start with vanilla. I had put the bowl in the freezer in the morning (this is the kind you don’t need ice or salt for, but you do need to freeze the bowl for at least six hours ahead of time), and we made one batch that came out great, but the bowl did not stay cold enough in our sweltering kitchen to make a second batch. So I went ahead and ordered a second bowl from eBay, plus the Ben and Jerry’s recipe book everyone is telling me is the best. 

Benny always strives to dress appropriately for the occasion. 

So, no thrilling ice cream tales so far, but our first foray was pleasant enough. The machine is very simple to use. The ice cream comes out of th machine like soft serve, but I spread it in a pie plate and put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it came out like high quality hard pack ice cream.

There are some peaches on our peach tree, and we intend to make them into ice cream when they’re ripe; and we’re planning some ginger ice cream for next time we have Asian food, and probably, oh yes, blackberry ice cream when we get back from vacation and haven’t been scrounging away at the blackberry bushes for a whole week. 

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, cheezy weezies

Just good old oven broiled ribs with salt and pepper with the fat crisped up, nothing better. I was planning mashed potatoes, but it was and is way way too hot, so cheezy weezies it was. It’s been so hot all week. Hot hot hot. I actually got a bunch of work done on Thursday morning and then did something I haven’t done in decades: I draped myself over a floatie and just drifted around in the pool thinking about nothing. Just drifted like a screensaver, drift, bonk, driffffft. 

Actually before that, I went to jump off the little deck, got caught on a nail, and left most of my swim suit bottoms behind. Straight out of Looney Tunes. The kids may never recover. 

I’ll show you various meats. 

One of my kids immediately climbed out of the pool and went to find me a towel to cover my modesty. And another of my kids immediately shouted, “Not that one! That’s my towel!” And I am taking notes. 

Anyway, after that is when I decided I would just drift for a while. For some reason, the kids got out of the pool after my comic mishap. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

And now, I can hardly believe my luck, but we are getting ready to go to the ocean for a week. I planned (and, in a stroke of good sense, pre-paid for) this vacation back in the middle of winter, and boy oh boy. Are we going to swim in the ocean. We usually go to Hampton Beach, but we’re venturing a little further down the coast this year. I bought Aldi’s entire stock of oversized towels on clearance, and we have our shark-spotting app all fired up, and we might not have our absolute favorite kind of insulin, but we do have insulin, and the check engine lights are on but are not flashing, so off we go! The house we rented has a small balcony and a SPIRAL STAIRCASE in it. And is near the ocean!!!!!!!!!! It allegedly has a little boardwalk leading to a private beach 300 yards away, but many of those words can mean all kinds of things, so we shall see. But still. The. Ocean. I’ll probably be posting photos on Facebook and possibly Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to.

Yes, there will be someone watching the house at home, so please do not feel free to rob us of all our cool and valuable possessions, such as our, um, our very valuable, you know what, go for it. I guess the printer is only a few years old if you want. I may have a Creedence tape in there somewhere.

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

 

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. 258: There’s always enough food. What if there’s not enough food?

I have an overwhelming desire to talk about cheese! Who’s with me?

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

I took myself by the scruff of the neck and bought a mere four balls of pizza dough, with which to make a paltry four pizzas for our diminished little miniature family of eleven. We just can’t eat six pizzas anymore. There’s so much left over, it’s ridiculous. We are ridiculous with food. 

We had one olive pizza, one pepperoni, one cheese, and one with red and yellow peppers, salami and pepperoni, and fresh mozzarella. Made me want more salami, red pepper, and fresh mozzarella in my life. I would eat that on a sandwich, wouldn’t you?

SUNDAY
July 4th cookout!

We didn’t get to have this party last year because of covid. Cancelling it was especially hard, not just because it’s much-anticipated annual family reunion, but because it was supposed to be the party in lieu of a wake for my dad, which we also couldn’t have because of covid. So, this year, we did it! Almost all my siblings were there, many of their children, and also a dear friend from college that I haven’t seen in something like ten years. It was a wonderful, wonderful day.

Plenty of food, great weather, tons of sparklers and kind of a lot of fireworks, and poppers and glow sticks and tiki torches, temporary patriotic tattoos, candy, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and everything. 

The only thing approaching a disappointment was that my brother’s dog didn’t like our dog. Our dog was too dumb to realize this, though, so he, at least, was spared the disappointment. I did make frozen ham balls for both of them (you put ham and various dog treats in a bowl or bag of water and freeze it, and licking it it keeps them entertained and cool at outdoor events), but that wasn’t enough to forge a friendship over. 

We do a basic American cookout food, no fancy tricks with fish sauce or shallots or bechamel anything. Hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and sausages, veggie burgers and dogs, and smoked chicken thighs. Damien also made some clams in white wine and lemon juice just for fun, and we had pasta salad, and potato salad, veggies and hummus, chips and dip, and watermelon, and more store brand soda than you could shake a stick at (oh yes, there was Dr. Perky and Mountain Lion), and cheap domestic beer, and dark and stormies. For dessert, we had ice cream cups, chocolate and vanilla pudding cups, and red and blue jello cups with whipped cream. U.S.A!. U.S.A! It was a good, good party. Nobody even got burned or drowned.

I think we ended up with about 4o people. Damien got a bird’s eye view with his drone. You can see the kids lining up to get their sparklers lit.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0245.JPG

I didn’t get a lot of food photos. The potato salad was potatoes, mayo with cider vinegar and sugar, fresh dill, celery, and salt and pepper. The pasta salad was farfalle, fresh basil and parsley, red onions, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper and oregano, and fresh parmesan. 

MONDAY
Leftover chicken, hot dogs, and brats, and salads

So, maybe we made too much food. Plenty of leftovers.

Oops, I forgot to share the smoked chicken recipe. Here:
Jump to Recipe

TUESDAY
Leftover burgers, chips

Yep, still plenty of leftovers. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, watermelon

Hoping to avoid an insurrection, we threw out the rest of the leftovers and had chicken sandwiches with provolone, tomato, and basil on ciabatta rolls.

There was some leftover watermelon, but I craftily cut it into chunks, rather than serving slices.  They weren’t fooled, though, and I had to eat most of it myself. 

THURSDAY
Steak and blueberry salad with lemon feta crisps; cherry pie

Something completely different. Steak was on sale, so Damien made a sugar-salt rub, grilled them and sliced them, and I served the meat on salad greens with blueberries. 

I wanted to try making cheese crisps, which I have heard are very easy. Well, they were easy, but I would not call them crisp in any way. Cheese disks, I guess. Cheese blips. 

It was probably the type of cheese I used. I crumbled some feta cheese and mixed in some shredded mozzarella and the zest of a few lemons, put the mixture in little piles on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and baked for 6-7 minutes. I tried 375 and 400, but they really just came out chewy, even after they cooled on a rack for a few hours. The flavor was excellent, though, and really perfect to go with the steak and blueberries. Next time I will try just parmesan and see how that goes. 

We had some guests and I was a tiny bit concerned there wasn’t enough food (even thought there is always always always enough food. There is always too much food), so I decided to make some cherry pies. I was planning a lattice crust, which I usually manage without any trouble, but I was rattled due to trying to make a lattice crust while simultaneously getting embroiled in one of the wildest goose chases I’ve been in in years, involving Facebook marketplace and some wooden pallets, heavy rain, an allegedly disgruntled ex-tenant (not mine), a security camera, LOTS of screenshots, at least two people taking photos of each other’s license plates, and the police force in two different towns; and the kids were playing Dungeons and Dragons very loudly the whole time, which is not to say this was their fault, but it definitely did not help. I may possibly write it up at some point, but the short version is I never did get my pallets. We saw a nice turkey family on the way there, though, and some pretty fawns on the way home. I never got any pie. 

And look! I have a video of Benny showing us how to pit cherries with nothing but a bottle and a chopstick (and a cherry). This must be about a year old, because it’s shortly after Benny’s haircut, but before I painted the kitchen yellow. And it’s cherry season.  

Anyway, I ended up making one pie with a sort of twisted spiral crust

and one rather tacky flower one.

Did I mention I never got any pie? Too embroiled. I hope there is some leftover. (Of course there is some leftover. THERE’S [waves arms like deranged orchestra conductor] ALWAYS ENOUGH FOOD AND THERE’S ALWAYS SOME FOOD LEFT OVER.)

FRIDAY
Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce and pasta, garlic bread

Marcella Hazan to the rescue. 

Jump to Recipe

It’s still raining. I believe we’re having another dinner guest. What if there’s not enough food? Maybe I should run out and get more food. I would hate to not have enough food. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

Cherry pie filling for TWO pies

Keyword cherries, cherry pie, desserts, fruit desserts, pie

Ingredients

  • 7 cups cherries pitted
  • 2-2/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Instructions

To pit cherries:

  1. Pull the stem off the cherry and place it, stem-side down, in a bottle with a narrow neck, like a beer bottle. Drive the blunt end of a chopstick down through the cherry, forcing the pit out into the bottle.

To make the filling:

  1. Mix together the pitted cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and let it sit for ten minutes or so until they get juicy. 

  2. Stir the almond extract into the cherry mixture and heat in a heavy pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes. Stir in the butter.

  3. Let the mixture cool a bit, then pour into pie shells. 

Recipe Notes

This would also be fine over ice cream. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 255: I’m in the zarn

I was kind of blah about writing this post today, but as I went through my photos, and gosh, we had some pretty good food this week. We had several meals where leftovers were successfully rolled into the next meal, which is always gratifying. Is it weird that I’m enjoying this food all over again by writing about it? That’s okay.  

SATURDAY
Burgers and chips

Nothing to report, but tasty.

Cooked outside, eaten outside, and you can see I haven’t killed my mother’s day flowers yet. 

SUNDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw

I don’t remember what I put in the slow cooker with the pork. I think some ginger ale and misc spices. I was planning to serve it with bottled sauce, so it really just needed to shred, not taste like anything in particular. I had mine with Carolina-style sauce, red onions, and jalapeños, and it hit the spot. The sweet, citrus-y sauce was great with the sharp onion and spicy jalapeño.

Cole slaw was real simple, just cabbage and carrots with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, a little sugar, and pepper. I use half a cabbage and just throw the rest away, which feels terrible, but it’s just bowing to the inevitable. Yes, I know I can compost it. I won’t, though.

MONDAY
Chicken caesar salad with fresh duck egg dressing

I mentioned how much I like duck eggs last week. Well, my friend Roberta brought over some more, and I made some VERY POWERFUL caesar salad dressing with them. Duck egg yolks, fresh garlic, kosher salt, fresh lemon juice, a little mustard, and tons of freshly-grated parmesan, anchovies, and vegetable oil. 

I accidentally bought anchovies wrapped up around capers, but it didn’t seem like the time to be cowardly, so I threw them all in there, along with the fish oil. You are supposed to mix together most of the dressing ingredients and then slowly drip the egg yolk in one drop at a time, but life is short. I just put everything in the food processor. 

Jump to Recipe

I swear, if you put a fuse in this thing, you could blow up a city block.

I roasted up the chicken breasts with some basic seasonings and served it with Romaine lettuce, the dressing, some more shredded parmesan, and something called parmesan crisps, which I guess is fried cheese? They’re pretty good, but they put, like, eight in a bag. I know I’m giving my kids food issues when I say “okay, everybody gets four,” but that’s how it worked out. 

Anyway, the salad was delicious.

Big hit. There was way too much dressing, and I ended up throwing away the extra, because I’m brave enough to eat raw duck egg yolk, but not for more than 48 hours. 

TUESDAY
Roast beef, chimichurri, garlic knots, raw veg, etc.

Now this was a lovely meal. I suddenly remembered about chimichurri, which made me think of roast beef, which made me think of garlic knots, and then it just went from there. 

We ended up with those three elements, plus raw broccoli, raw sugar snap peas, some lovely cheddar left over from Opera Nite, and some crackers, and some feta, and some beautiful dry salami, and of course some last-chance duck egg caesar salad dressing. Everyone loved this meal. I have no idea who ended up with what, but there was something for everyone. 

I made the roast beef by giving it a heavy coating of kosher salt, pepper, and onion powder, and sloshing some red wine over it and cooking it uncovered for maybe 40 minutes in a 375 oven. It came out lovely and rare and juicy. 

The garlic knots were from frozen pizza dough. Chop into 12 pieces, roll into snakes, knot and pinch, and top with butter and garlic salt, and bake at 350 for 11 minutes or so. You can also bake these first and then roll them in melted butter, and maybe some parmesan, but I prefer this less-greasy type.

Oh, the other thing is that my food processor broke. The little tab that activates the motor snapped off, and there is no workaround that didn’t sound like an electric shock to me. So I tried making chimichurri in the blender, which only reminded me that I hate all blenders and think they should be illegal. In my madness, I then tried making chimichurri in the standing mixer with the whisk attachment. I knew it was stupid, but I just had to try. (Do not try this.) So finally I just put it in a bowl and chopped away for a very long time like a peasant. Of course it worked fine. Chopping works.

(I did have some regrets about being the kind of person who doesn’t bother to cut the stems off parsley, though. You can get away with that if you use a food processor! Anyway, my friend Tina is very graciously sending me her extra Cuisinart, and I’m SUPER EXCITED. Oh, the things I will process!

Anyway, if you don’t have chimichurri in your circulation, you really should. It goes on all kinds of foods and makes them taste like a summer day.

Jump to Recipe

The recipe is very adaptable to what kind of herbs you have and how spicy you like it. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, pasta salad, leftover broccoli

Damien made the sandwiches. He not only puts mayo outside the sandwiches before frying them in butter, he puts mayo on the inside of the bread, for purposes of having more mayo. Did I mention he’s lost 65 pounds this year? He should write a book.

The pasta salad was nice. I used farfalle, and just threw in the rest of the chimichurri, plus some leftover salami and red onions and feta, and some sun dried tomatoes, and some sea salt. 

It really could have used a little brightening up with wine vinegar, but I was too lazy to open a bottle. 

THURSDAY
Chicken drumsticks, risotto, salad

Bit of a crazy day. I was super distracted, and I have no idea what I did, but the Instant Pot kept beeping and burning and not cooperating, and I kept accidentally eating leftover pasta salad even though it was almost supper time.  The risotto ended up quite creamy and delicious, but I had no idea what I would find when I finally opened the lid. (It’s a good recipe, I was just in another zarn.*)

Jump to Recipe

The drumsticks were uninspired, just salt and pepper and olive oil, roasted on a tray with drainage until they were done. Hey, hot food!

This picture makes me laugh. I couldn’t figure out how to position a lone drumstick so it didn’t look like it was pointing at something. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

At the kids’ request. (For those not in the know, this is a casserole of canned tuna mixed with cream of mushroom soup and egg noodles, topped with crushed corn flakes and potato chips, served with a dressing of ketchup and mayonnaise. If you know, you know.)

I forgot this is the feast day, though: Sacred Heart. I feel like it would be contrary to the spirit of the day by serving meat that happened to be all the meat we have leftover in the fridge, but on the other hand, meat. It’s a struggle. What are you all having? 

*This is a family joke I just remembered. There was some song that went, “It’s so hard to love you / when you’re in another’s arms” and some kid misheard it as “in another zarn,” which they took to mean “not here.” So whenever we saw someone spacing out or mentally absent, that became “in another zarn.” But I think I can truthfully say I was mostly in the zarn this week!

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.

Chimichurri

Dipping sauce, marinade, you name it

Ingredients

  • 2 cups curly parsley
  • 1 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Whir until it's blended but a little chunky. 

  2. Slowly pour olive oil in while continuing to blend. 

 

Instant Pot Risotto

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY
BLTs and root beer floats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, pasta salad

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Chicken on salad with green apples and walnuts

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Hamburgers, veg and dip

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

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowls (formerly beef fajita bowls)

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

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

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

Here’s the recipe cards for the week. 

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

Chopped liver (chicken liver pâté)

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

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

Veggies and dressing

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 239: Nobody tell Marcella Hazan

Wow, is it Friday? Sorry for the radio silence on the site. I’ve been working on a bunch of other projects, like, a BUNCH. It’s a real feast-or-famine life for a freelancer. By which I mean I don’t know how to budget my time and I’m a mess. No, a planner would not help, because I would lose it. Yes, even if it was a special holy planner with stickers and lifestyle bookmarks or whatever you people are doing. 

My mother has COVID. She had her first dose of the vaccine before she tested positive, and her symptoms are fairly mild so far, no fever, just bad cold symptoms. Of course we can’t visit her, and I keep thinking how she used to be such a stoic, but now she doesn’t have any means of understanding what’s happening to her. But she does appear to be recovering, and they are taking good care of her. I keep thinking how this is her favorite kind of weather right now: Sparkling bright, dry, cold, plenty of snow on the ground. She absolutely loved shoveling, for some reason, and I remember being awestruck at her going at it without a jacket on. Here’s a picture of her when she had some dementia but was still living at home:

In the background you can see her beloved grapevine, which she pruned and netted, where she poured out Elijah’s cup after the Passover seder, and where she buried precious things. At some point we are going to have to figure out what to do with that house, but NOTTTTT NOWWWW. P.S., does anybody want to buy literally 12,000 used books? DM me.

Anyway. Distance schooling has been extended for another week. I have lost one of the slippers I got for Christmas, and it’s so dang cold. But, I had a massive craving for cheese before bed last night, and managed to muscle it into submission and just go to bed cheeseless, so **feeble cheer for minor victory**

I need to shake up my menu. People just aren’t eating what I’m cooking, and I’m throwing away so many leftovers. Also, the kids have taken to storing any and all leftovers in ziplock bags, which works, but it’s just so squalid. We need to either buy a goat or,  you know what, maybe I’ll stop buying so many delicious snacks. The snacking situation is UNTENABLE. I’m going to start a system where they can eat as much as they want, as long as they’ve grown it themselves on windowsills in little recycled egg cartons. Then we’ll see who’s hungry for . . . [checks notes] . . . slow cooked . . . thing. Anyway, I need to shake up my menu.

You know who likes my cooking? The birds! Chickadees, tufted titmice, and nuthatches, with the occasional cardinal and dark eyed junco. Here’s my recipe for birdseed cakes, and I’ve discovered a coffee filter makes a great liner when you freeze it. Helps keep the shape and peels off easily. 

5 from 1 vote
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bird seed cake

This recipe makes a sturdy hunk of bird food full of fat and protein. It's best for the kind of bird feeder with an enclosure or support system to hold it as the birds peck at it, but you can make your own free-hanging "bird bell" by feeding a loop of thick string into it before you freeze it, or by making a spot for a hole and then threading a rope through afterward.

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We like the kind of bird feeder that has a little platform and a central prong, so I make the seed cake in a round food storage container lined with parchment paper or, even better, a coffee filter. To make a hole, I roll up a wad of tinfoil to make a column for the center, and pour the bird seed mixture around that, and then dig the tinfoil out when it comes out of the freezer.

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This recipe makes TWO flat, round cakes about 5" in diameter and 2" deep

Ingredients

  • 1 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cups shortening (can add bacon grease)
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup birdseed

optional:

  • raisins, popped popcorn, cranberries, seeds, nuts

Instructions

  1. Prepare a container for the birdseed for a mold. If it's not a flexible container, line it with parchment paper.

  2. In a pot, melt the shortening and peanut butter over low heat, and stir to combine.

  3. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared container. Remember, if you want to hang it or put it on a prong, you will need to put something in so there will be a hole.

  4. Freeze for several hours until the cake is solid. Remove from the mold and put it out for the birdies!

Here’s what the humans had this week:

SATURDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, tater tots

Not much to say about this. I put beer, apple cider vinegar, fresh jalapeños, and a couple other things in the slow cooker and let it cook all day, then fork shredded it. It was fine. Nice with some raw red onions.

We briefly discussed learning how to make actual BBQ sauce, but the concluded that Baby Ray’s or Sugar Ray’s or Honey Ray Ray’s or whatever it’s called is fine, and we always have 11 open bottles anyway.

SUNDAY
Pizza

I made six 16-inch pizzas, and was relieved to discover that was too much pizza. I made one cheese, two pepperoni, one olive, one olive-basil-ricotta,

and one basil-ricotta-fresh garlic-artichoke hearts-red onion-anchovy-red pepper flakes

which melded together verrrrry nicely.

They all got mozzarella, parmesan, and garlic powder and oregano. That last one was magnifico. 

I also had a lovely lunch of scrambled eggs mixed with various fajita beef bowl fixins from last week, so I got rid of some ziplock bags that were sloshing around in the fridge. I was excitedly telling my son about this wonderful lunch option, where you scramble a few eggs while heating up leftovers in the microwave and then jumble it together in a nice bowl, and he just looked at me. In a way that reminded me how we used to look at my mother when she would take whatever was leftover and heat it up in a pot with a giant glug of salsa from her giant salsa jug. 

Ohh the cat’s in the cradle and the salsa jug
Little boy blue and his ugly mug
When you shutting up, kids?
I don’t know when
I just wanna eat my lunch, guys. 
Let your mother eat her lunch.

To be fair, I was the one who called him over to look at my lunch, which is a rookie mistake my mother never would have made. 

MONDAY
Asian meatballs, rice, steamed broccoli

I went grocery shopping on Monday and didn’t get home until after dinner, partly because it was Benny’s shopping turn and she had some business to conduct at the Dollar Store, and these things can’t be rushed; so dinner was a real group effort. Started to make meatballs, sent son out to buy crackers, got daughter to finish making meatballs, asked husband to cook meatballs plus rice and broccoli.

Here are some meatballs I made back when there were sunshine and vegetables

I do like these meatballs. A few ingredients, simple preparation, mild flavor, and not too heavy. If you’re feeling inspired, you can dress up the meatballs with nice sauces and dips, or you can just have soy sauce. Soy sauce, brownest of the brown sauces. So tempting. 

TUESDAY
Spaghetti with bolognese sauce

I got it into my head to make a bolognese sauce, but really what I wanted was a ragu. Don’t ask me why I didn’t use the ragu recipe Damien always makes, which is superb. Well, the reason is that it looked a lot easier. I don’t know what I messed up, but it was extremely watery and kind of bland, despite all the lovely ingredients. I ended up having to siphon off about a quart of liquid, and probably ended up sopping up all the flavor with it.

I used Marcella Hazan’s recipe via Epicurious, and I sized it up x4, and that’s probably where my mistake came in. Also, I guess you’re supposed to use broader pasta with bolognese and save the spaghetti for ragu. This is not Marcella Hazan’s fault. She has been very clear about which sauces go with what pastas, and I just didn’t listen.

Oh well, it was still good. Just not the heavenly treat I was anticipating.

You can see I did buy a block of parmesan and shred it right before supper, so that was nice. 

WEDNESDAY
Instant pot beef teriyaki with rice and steamed vegetables

Another okay meal. I used this recipe and it was fine, but a little sweeter than I’d prefer, and it didn’t thicken up very well. No sauce I have ever made in my life thickens up well. IN MY LIFE. 

I meant to serve this with fresh broccoli very lightly steamed, but I ended up with microwaved bags of mixed vegetables that turned out to have sauce on them already. It was fine. Nice and easy, and the meat did come out very tender.

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets and pasta salad

I reorganized my cabinets and weeded out a lot of stuff I will want at some point, but not right now. It’s pretty great! Now when I want peanut butter, I can just get it, rather than shoving around coconut cream and matzoh meal and molasses and packets of unflavored gelatin to find it. I know this is why you come to this site: For the amazing kitchen hacks. Tired of having cabinets that need cleaning out? Try cleaning out your cabinets! It really works!

The pasta salad was pretty good.

I had some sun dried tomatoes, fresh garlic, basil-infused olive oil, wine vinegar, pepperoni, feta cheese, and some more of that freshly-shredded parmesan, and plenty of freshly-ground pepper and sea salt. The feta cheese was probably not a great match, but nobody complained. 

I guess I had some kind of spasm at Aldi and bought four bags of chicken nuggets, which is 200 chicken nuggets. At the last moment I didn’t open the fourth bag, but of course that was still too many. But if I had only cooked two bags, there would have been a riot. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. 

I also managed to use three more boxes of my Ludicrous Pasta Backlog. There’s another hack for you. Tired of having nine boxes of pasta hanging around? Try cooking some of it! It really works!

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Truthfully, only some of this will be macaroni, because in yesterday’s Pasta Hack, I only managed to use three boxes of pasta. They are not the ideal shape to receive cheese sauce. Nobody tell Marcella Hazan.

Here’s the one and only recipe card for the week, unless you want my recipe for chicken nuggets.

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

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

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

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

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

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

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 220: Livin’ it up on top

Hola, amigos. What gives? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but there’s been all sorts of craziness going on.  But enough about me. Here’s what we cooked this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

Oh, well, we didn’t actually cook this, as it was Aldi pizza. I mean, we put it in the oven. Saturday was when we got home from our splendid ocean vacation.

Wait, I have a few last pic from last week! Friday was our last full day at the ocean, and after one final swim, the kids stayed at the house and had grilled cheese and candy, I believe, and Damien and I found a restaurant with a breezy terrace

and had llllllllobster. Note my expert technique.

You will find it much easier to crack open a lobster once you’ve had three cocktails made of lemonade, soda water, and blueberry vodka. It just makes you more dextrous overall. Oh, we also had fried calamari and seared tuna.

Dammit, I was okay with not being at the ocean, and now I want to go back. Ah well. I still can’t believe we got to go!

Four of the older kids didn’t come on vacation with us, and they had been implored and entreated and cajoled and importuned not to ignore bad food smells and not to let my flowers die and not to let the puppy become too egregious, and they listened! So it was a pretty easy re-entry. The pool had taken on a vibrant emerald hue, unfortunately, and Damien is still battling the algae. As of today, it’s only chartreuse, which is progress. 

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs

I think? One of our kids was moving into her own apartment on Sunday, and there was some kind of secondary hullabaloo. It’s a duck blur (duck not included). Damien cooked supper.

MONDAY
Pesto chicken pasta

I finally actually cooked something, if not using an actual a recipe. I cooked the chicken breasts in the instant pot and cubed/shredded it and mixed it with farfalle. Then I added a sauce in I made in the food processor with lots of fresh basil, lots of fresh garlic, lots of olive oil, lots of grated parmesan, salt and pepper, and — here’s the secret ingredient — two jars of pesto. 

Not terribly photogenic, but pretty tasty!

While I’m on the subject, did you know you can make pesto out of all kinds of things? The most traditional kind is pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmean, salt, and olive oil, but you can use other herbs and other nuts. I once made a spinach walnut pesto that was fab.

Jump to Recipe

 

I need to revisit various pesti while we’re still livin’ it up on top. [sighs until dead]

Made it to the town pond around sunset for an hour or so.

We still have a few weeks left, right?

TUESDAY
Honey balsamic Brussels sprouts with bacon and eggs

A great one-pan meal which I think is suitable for any time of the day.

Jump to Recipe

It’s a simple recipe, and only a time consuming if you have to make vast quantities, mainly in trimming and halving all those Brussels sprouts, but it’s absolutely a crowd pleaser and takes no particular skill.

I wished I had had some crusty bread, but it was so good. 

I didn’t even follow the recipe for the sauce, just sloshed together a bunch of honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder because I was too lazy to crush garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix it up with the sprouts and some chopped bacon, cook it all until the bacon is done, then crack some eggs over it, cook a bit more, and top with parmesan and hot pepper flakes. And I guess a sprinkle of holy water, if that’s the kind of day you’re having:

WEDNESDAY
Tortas, grilled corn

A new dish for us! I had told Damien steak was on sale, and he said, “WAIT.” and sent me some recipes. I checked them out and it idea seems to be “Mexican things, but with bread!” Can do. 

Damien seasoned the steaks heavily with chili lime powder and grilled them rare, then cut them in slices. I found some soft rolls, and I set them out with the meat, refried beans, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges, sour cream, mayonnaise, and queso fresco. I toasted my roll.

Damien also grilled some corn in the husks over the coals, and I had mine just with lime juice. At some point I guess you could assemble the sandwich and grill the whole thing, but you’d need some kind of containment system. This was a huge shambles of a sandwich. I ate mine outside because it was cooler and also so nobody could see me ravaging it. 

THURSDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

On Thursday I finally got around to excavating the jungle of my container garden, and was glad I had chosen to buy some extra basil just in case. The slugs are so bad this year. Next year I’ll . . . do better. Take care of stuff. Or whatever. Anyway, the sandwiches were good. I guess I forgot to take a picture, so here is a chicken caprese sandwich of ages past:

I heavy seasoned the chicken breasts with salt and “Italian seasoning” (I think it’s just basil and oregano) and olive oil and roasted and sliced them. We had plenty of tomatoes, basil, and leftover queso fresco, ciabatta rolls, olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. 

We were supposed to go to the drive in movies to see Inside Out and Monty Python Holy Grail, and possibly stay for The Big Lebowski, but I somehow misread the schedule, and they were showing It and Harry Potter and the Part Where It Starts Getting Crappy. So we went mini golfing instead. Corrie got the highest score, which means she won.

And now we are all set with mini golf for another eleven years.

Gosh, I hope drive in movies make a comeback because of the pandemic. Wouldn’t that be neat? The first drive in movie I remember seeing was Superman. I was wearing footie pajamas, and my father put the back seat down in the orange Subaru, and kept it down on the drive home so we could sleep. 

FRIDAY
Tuna boats, curly fries

And that’s it! Hey, I know this sounds stupid because I clearly have a very rich, full, and lucky life, with photographic evidence and everything, but I am actually massively depressed and have been for several weeks and I’m having a hard time climbing out of this hole. Please pray for me and I’ll pray for you, because I know I’m not the only one. Thanks. Duck blur over and out. 

 

5 from 2 votes
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Spinach walnut pesto

You can play with the proportions to get the consistency you like. This version is cheaper than using pine nuts and all basil. Makes 2-3 cups of pesto for adding to pasta or spreading on bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cups fresh baby spinach (can include radicchio, etc.)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Whir nuts in food processor until crumbed. 
    Add basil and greens, and whir until blended. 
    Slowly add olive oil and blend again.
    Add salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese and blend again until it's the consistency you like. 


Bacon, eggs, and brussels sprouts in honey garlic balsamic sauce

Adapted from Damn Delicious.  An easy and tasty one-pan meal that would work for any meal. Great with a hearty bread like challah. 

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 lbs uncooked bacon, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 18 eggs
  • oil for greasing pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish (optional):

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease two large oven sheets. 


  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix Brussels sprouts and bacon together, spread evenly in pans, and pour sauce all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Cook until bacon is almost done (almost as crisp as you like it) and Brussels sprouts are very slightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

  4. Pull the pans out of the oven and carefully crack the eggs onto the Brussels sprouts and bacon, here and there.

  5. Return pan to the oven and cook a few minutes longer, just enough to set the eggs. The yolks will get a little film over the top, but don't let them cook all the way through, or you'll have something resembled hard boiled eggs, which isn't as good. You want the yolks to be liquid so you can dip forkfuls of fod into it.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes and serve. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 218: In which I make poor choices with peppers

Two or three new recipes this week! And, because you’re very lucky, one of my top notch very expert photoshop jobs so you really feel like you were there when it happened! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, pasta salad

The salad was mixed greens, buffalo chicken from frozen, cut in strips; blue cheese, and crunchy fried onions from a can. Clara made a nice pasta salad with one of those infused olive oils, parmesan, feta, lots of garlic, black olives, and basil from the garden.

 

It had a kind of potluck feel, but still a fine summer meal. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, pasta salad, cheezy weezies

Damien made the burgers outside

and I spent the afternoon putting in tiles for the backsplash in the kitchen! I’ve never had a backsplash before, much less put in a marble backsplash by myself, and I . . . did not do it right. But it looks pretty and I am happy. I still have to do the ceiling, and then I will do a follow-up kitchen reno post. Here is my post about the walls, floor, and trim

MONDAY
Italian sandwiches

Damien made his trademark Fancy Sandwiches For All. 
He split a bunch of baguettes down the middle and drizzled the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then layered plenty of ham, prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni, mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, and Italian seasoning.

I know I always say that whatever sandwich I’m currently eating is the ideal sandwich, but I’m telling you, this was a good one. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, strawberries and blueberries

If I were a millionaire, I would still have frozen breaded chicken burgers on potato bread buns with horseradish sauce every few weeks. Yum.

I went shopping on Tuesday and for once remembered to serve the berries on the same day I brought them home. Aldi berries are so cheap — I think the strawberries were $1.29 a pound, and the blueberries were 99 cents a pint — but you really cannot dawdle. 

WEDNESDAY
Chili verde

 

Jump to Recipe

I was at the store and made my usual desperate attempt to match up my pepper list with the pepper bins and the pepper labels, and then I went home and asked Facebook what I had. 

It seems I had four Anaheim peppers and a bunch of habañeros, which was a pepper error, because I meant to get some other kind of pepper, but I forget what. So that was pepper error #1. Pepper error #2 was when I heard everyone saying they were super hot, and I was like, “oh, okay, I like hot stuff, but not too too hot, so I will only use two habañeros in my chili.”

I roasted the peppers along with a bunch of tomatillos and jalapeños on a greased pan.

Then I let everything sort of steam itself under plastic wrap, then I skinned them all. This part is fun.

Then I put all the skinned peppers and tomatillos in the food processor with a bunch of onions and garlic and cilantro, and puréed it. That is fun, too, but the picture came out blurry.

I did not seed any of the peppers first. This was pepper error #2a.

I cut the pork into chunks and seared it in oil with plenty of salt and pepper. I wish I had let it brown up a bit more, but at least I didn’t crowd the pot for once. 

Then I put the puréed salsa verde into the pot with the pork and let it simmer for several hours.

You can add water or chicken broth, but I wanted it fairly thick. Just before serving, I squeezed some limes over it and served it with cilantro and sour cream.

And now for pepper mistake #3: I ate so much of it. It hurt my whole face and I was sweating from my toenails by the time I was done, and I kept getting more sour cream, but I ate so much. I sopped up the sauce with tortillas, and congratulated myself for not even suffering any heartburn afterward. 

My confidence continued until Thursday morning. 

Thursday went something like this:

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztec-human-sacrifice.htm (public domain)

But, that was some really good chili verde. 

THURSDAY
Greek chicken skewers, yogurt sauce, rice

 

Jump to Recipe

I made a marinade out of lemon zest and lemon juice, tons of fresh mint, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper, and marinated chicken breast chunks for several hours, then threaded them on skewers with grape tomatoes and wedges of red onion. Thunderstorms chased us inside, so we had to broil rather than grill it, but it was still tasty. Fresh mint is the best. 

Corrie took this picture and is very proud of it:

And I was fairly proud of the meal overall. I served it with pita and yogurt sauce and, as you can see, white rice.  Benny made the yogurt sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

 

I spent several hours wondering if I should make stuffed grape leaves, and then realizing it was 5:00 and far too late, so I just made a big pot of rice. I made so much rice I may use the leftover for inauthentic grape leaves made with leftover cooked rice today, and no one can stop me! The wild grapes are going nuts this year, and I love cooking with foraged stuff.

FRIDAY
Eggs migas

We had a spell where we kept running out of eggs, and the kids were just WORN OUT with my incompetence and malfeasance, because they want to cook themselves heaps and heaps of eggs for lunch every day. So I got 3 dozen eggs, and then forgot I had done so, and got 5 dozen eggs.

Guess whose children abruptly stopped cooking eggs? 

It’s fine. I’m trying a new dish: Eggs migas. I bought corn tortillas, which I don’t normally do. The basic idea is to cut or tear up tortillas and fry them up in oil until they’re crisp, then scramble an egg into the pieces. You can add various things in while you’re cooking, or you can serve them as garnishes/sides after cooking. I think we’ll stick with salsa, sour cream, and maybe some refried beans. I’m excited! New Mexican food really hits the spot for me. I shall report back on our success. 

Okay, here’s a few recipe cards: 

Spicy Chili Verde

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

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for cooking
  • 2 cups chicken broth or beer (optional)

For the salsa verde:

  • 4 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 habañero peppers
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 medium onions
  • 12 tomatillos
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • additional cilantro for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.

  3. Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add chicken broth or beer. At some point, if you don't want the pork in large chunks, press the meat with the back of a spoon to make it collapse into shreds.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

 

Greek chicken skewers

Serve with yogurt sauce. Add pita and rice pilaf or stuffed grape leaves for a nice meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 pints grape tomatoes
  • 5 red onions, cut into wedges

For the marinade:

  • 4 lemons zested and juiced
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1-2 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and let it marinate for at least three hours.

  2. When you are ready to cook, thread the marinated chicken onto skewers, alternating with tomatoes and onion.

  3. Grill over coals or broil in a pan in the oven until slightly charred.

  4. Serve with 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[wa]’s for supper [last week]? Vol. 214: The highlight reel

I didn’t do a What’s for Supper? last week. I didn’t actually publish anything last week. Turns out I can actually be shut up! For a week. But that’s it. 

Here’s the yummiest meals we had: 

SUNDAY
Beef koftas and Jerusalem salad

Something new for us. Koftas are ground meat, onions, and seasonings formed onto sticks and then grilled. Wikipedia says “Kofta is a family of meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent, South Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and Central Asian cuisines.” But that’s it! Nowhere else! I read a bunch of recipes from various regions and concluded that you could add anything but grape jelly and consider it an authentic recipe. (After I wrote this, I dreamed that I saw someone making koftas with grape jelly, and I thought, “Dammit, now I have to fix that paragraph.” But it was just a dream. If my father were here, he would comment, “I dreamt I was making koftas in my Maidenform bra.” There was always a Maidenform bra joke.)

Since it was our first time, I decided to keep them relatively bland. I used ground beef (I mean lamb is like $15 a pound), onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and za’atar. It is bound together with, uh, wet toast.

FABOLOUS.

Sidenote: if you don’t have a food processor, may I suggest you slap on your mask and hop on over the Salvation Army and find yourself one? Don’t be a snob, get the one in Harvest Yellow with the missing foot, as long as it works. Having a food processor has expanded my cooking so much. If my brother Izzy read my blog, I’d made a coulis joke here, but he doesn’t, so I won’t. 

Anyway, for the koftas, I combined the ingredients very thoroughly, smooshed the meat mixture onto the skewers as tightly as I could, and refrigerated them for several hours, but many of them still fell apart when Damien grilled them. He ended up using an oiled cast iron griddle on the grill. They were EXTREMELY tasty and juicy, really bursting with flavor. The kids really liked them, which means I can probably get away with turning up the spice next time. 

There is a technique wherein you extrude the meat through the neck of a soda bottle, too. 

It’s not any uglier than me just smooshing it on with my hands, and probably somewhat less horrible than me inserting cheese into sausages. 

I have my doubts about the part where he puts some cheese on the grill and then just rolls the cheese up around the meat. I guarantee you, that wouldn’t work if I tried it. BUT, look at the part where he dips it in yogurt sauce and then rolls it in french fried onions! I don’t know. Maybe it would be a case of potato tornados all over again, and I’m not ready to relive that.

Anyway, the koftas we made were swell, if not exactly beautiful to behold. I made plenty of yogurt sauce, and a nice Jerusalem salad on the side.

Jerusalem salad is just tomatoes and cucumbers, parsley and red onions. I squeezed a few lemons over it and drizzled a little olive oil on it, and maybe some kosher salt, I forget. Maybe some mint. We have no end of wild mint in the yard, so I hope I put mint in. 

MONDAY
Chicken nachos

I’m including this meal because it was way more delicious than it should have been. I came up with it on the fly when I was at Aldi and discovered that the price of ground beef had gone up over a dollar a pound. They had some kind of frozen chicken tenderloins, whatever those are, so I bought a bunch. 

I honestly didn’t think anyone would like this meal, but it was quite popular. I cooked the chicken in the Instant Pot with WATER. I remember being tired at the time. Then I pulled it out of the water, shredded it up, and put a disgusting amount of Tajin chili lime powder on it. 

I put the chicken on chips and sprinkled a disgusting amount of cheese over that, and put it in a hot oven until the cheese was melted. I set out sliced jalapeños, sour cream, salsa, limes, and queso which I had microwaved. 

Look at that queso, glowing in the twilight. 

TUESDAY
Grilled sugar rub pork ribs, cole slaw, biscuits

Damien uses some variation of this sugar rub

Jump to Recipe

for all kinds of meat. He says the most important parts are the sugar, garlic, and chili powder, and then everything else is whatever he has on hand. 

These ribs turned out SO GOOD. Look at that lustrous caramelized sugar. It’s sweet and hot and charred, just magnificent, and comes out so juicy. 

I made this biscuit recipe again and it turned out just as good this time, so it’s definitely a keeper. It has eggs and cream of tartar, which I’ve never seen in biscuits before, but gosh, it works. I made twelve big biscuits and cut the rest of the dough into squares, which amused me. 

Very basic cole slaw, just cabbage, mayo, vinegar, sugar, pepper. Tastes like summer. Here’s a slightly more complicated recipe I use sometimes:

Jump to Recipe

THURSDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, pasta salad, tiramisu

It was Dora’s birthday, and this was her requested meal. I grilled the chicken and served it on ciabatta rolls with fresh sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and freshly-ground salt and pepper. 

She made herself a pasta salad using those Frankie’s Oils with some nice feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Damien made tiramisu, and we forgot to get rum, and the espresso pot was missing a part. Guess what? It’s just as good with whiskey and strong coffee. I only got a crummy picture, but it was creamy and lovely and delicious. 

Okay, that’s it for last week’s foods. Recipe cards below. 

Oh, and yesterday a kid asked to visit the newly re-opened Salvation Army, so we went. GUESS WHAT I FOUND FOR THREE DOLLARS.

AS SEEN ON TV. 

So, hold onto your butts. 

 

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. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

 

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 215: In which I get carried away with chickpeas

Hey, who wants to talk about food? I do! Here’s what we had this week. For goodness’ sake, don’t skip over the biscuit recipe. 

SATURDAY

Burgers and chips

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig from early morn till night.
We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up everything in sight.
We dig up diamonds by the score [not really].
A thousand rubies, sometimes more [actually not even interesting rocks].
But we don’t know what we dig ’em for [increasingly true].
We dig dig dig a-dig dig [accurate].

It seems unfair that this song should still be going through my head, but I suppose I deserve it. Damien made burgers on the grill, which is better than I deserve. 

SUNDAY
Lemon honey mustard drumsticks, broccoli and dip, biscuits

You’ll be surprised to learn that we spent Sunday digging in the yard. We’re almost done, though! Really!  

In the morning, we watched mass on Facebook Live, then drove to the church to receive communion. When we got home, I roasted up a bunch of drumsticks with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I made a sauce with lemon juice, honey, and mustard, and mixed up half the drumsticks with it, and left the other half plain, and put it all in the fridge. The longer the chicken sits with the sauce, the yuhmmier it gets. 

I really wanted biscuits, and I do believe I’ve found the perfect recipe. It’s a little fussy, with more ingredients than seems strictly necessary, but my goodness, those were some perfect biscuits.

Light and airy on the inside with a paper-thin crisp outside, and wonderfully buttery. 

I, uh, had five. They were small! (I made a quadruple recipe and got 48 smallish biscuits.)

This was a very pleasant, picnic-y kind of meal after a day of hard work.

We started moving some of the dug-up rocks to a different part of the yard, which is very disorderly and overcome with vicious blackberries, so I am very pleased. It almost looks like someone lives here now. And the hard labor is a good thing. A very good thing. Many, many times this week, I put down my phone and went out to the yard with a pair of clippers or a shovel and took care of a problem I could take care of. I don’t think I have solved racism yet, but anyway I’m sleeping better. 

We’re all sleeping better. Some of us in our parents’ beds, but whatever.

MONDAY
Chicken enchiladas, pineapple

We had a bunch of smoked chicken thighs left over from . . . something. So I shredded those up and added them to chicken I shredded after pan-frying it in oil with plenty of chili powder, salt, and cumin. I basically follow Pioneer Woman’s recipe

You know, my enchiladas are kind of gross. Not in a bad way, necessarily, but undeniably kind of gross. They’re just really flabby. Are they supposed to be flabby? I just don’t know. 

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, Bugles

All I have to say about this meal is that the Bugles had a A Quiet Place: Part II tie-in, for reasons known only to Bugles. I bought them to make Lena laugh, and it worked.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, pasta salad

And what a pasta salad it was!

Dora gave me a set of fancy infused olive oils for mother’s day. They are Frankie Muniz’ special olive oils, and very good they are, Frankie Muniz’ special infused olive oils for mother’s day. She went with the basil-infused one. 

She added cherry tomatoes, plenty of fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, and I guess salt and pepper, not sure what else. I advised her to use a ludicrous amount of whatever she added to the pasta, so it wouldn’t be bland, and she was listening. You could almost hear the flavor. So good. I ate so much. 

Oh, Wednesday was the day we went to the BLM rally

I was smiling in a friendly way in this picture, honest!

As a side note, Frankie and Paige Muniz say: “Learning about Ultra Premium Olive Oils is one of the best things to ever happen to us.” You might want to print that out and show it to a child who wants to be an actor when he grows up. 

THURSDAY
Pork, pepper, and onion skewers; roasted chick peas, sugar snap peas

I chopped up a pork butt and set it to marinate with my spiedie marinade, including fresh wild mint the kids went out and picked. This is an excellent, easy marinade. You want to add more stuff, but everything in it packs a big punch, and it’s perfect as is.

Jump to Recipe

The plan was just to broil up the meat and serve it on rolls, but it was a little skimpy, so I decided to add some peppers and onions, and then Damien offered to grill it outside, so I put it all on skewers, which takes a long time, but on the other hand, once the idea of meat on a stick comes into my head, it’s very hard to get it out.

So. 

Marinating is magic. I feel like not enough people realize this. The lemon juice breaks down the fibers in the meat and lets in all the other flavors, and it was like eating a . . . hot juicy meat cloud with charred edges. Delicious beyond all reason. 

The side dish situation had become confused, so I took the opportunity to roast up some chick peas, which the kids remember fondly from back when I was counting every penny and figured out that roast chick peas were marginally cheaper than chips. I drained and rinsed eight cans of chick peas and spread them out in pans, drizzled them with olive oil (Frankie Muniz’ garlic infused olive oil) and seasoned them heavily with pepper and kosher salt. Then I baked them in a 300 oven for about two hours, stirring occasionally. They came out very crunchy, but about half still had a little chewy center. 

The kids were not as thrilled as I expected to have their old friend toasted chick peas back in the game. I like chick peas so much. They are so straightforward. “Here,” they say. “I can offer you what I am, which is a pale legume, through and through. No tricks, no razzle dazzle, just some textured protein, plus a cute little skin just for fun.” They are like sitting on a couch in the afternoon, reading a book you have read so many times, you can almost recite it, and it’s kind of boring, but maybe you want to be bored, you know? They’re not too shabby with the manganese, either. 14% of RDA. Well done, chickpeas. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

I bought a ton of canned tomatoes while under the impression that tomatoes go in enchiladas. So I guess I will make a big pot of sauce with onions and garlic and wine and olive oil.

And maybe, just maybe, we will dig.

Oh, I have some pictures of that mango coffee cake I made last week. It was good, not great.

A lot of trouble (lime zest! toasted pecan streusel!) for something that tasted like normal coffee cake; and I must regretfully admit that baking doesn’t do mangoes any favors. Now I know!

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice.