What’s for supper? Vol. 384: One caprese summer (relics notwithstanding)

Happy Friday! I had a week that was just plain weird.

Let me tell you about it, and also what we ate. 

SATURDAY
Nachos

Saturday I was still in the grips of whatever it was that made food into my mortal enemy last week. I went grocery shopping verrrrry slowly and cautiously, and then came home and made nachos, but did not take a photo, because I can buy food and make food, and even eat a little bit of food, but apparently pointing a camera at it is a bridge too far. 

My nachos are not terribly inspiring anyway. I just cook and season some ground beef and sprinkle it over tortilla chips, throw some jalapeños over that, and cover it with shredded cheese, then heat it up, and serve it with sour cream and salsa. It’s one of those dishes I don’t really want to start making better, because then people will expect it, and I need to preserve some quick and brainless meal preps for myself.

In the afternoon, I rested for a bit and then to the flower farm up at the top of the hill, because the rabbits gobbled my beloved poppies up, and I was just feeling tragic about my garden and its stubs. It had been murderously hot and and humid for several days, but it suddenly turned cloudy and breezy, and flower son stood gazing at the horizon, and said, “. . . In about five minutes.” And then it started to sprinkle.

So I scurried around grabbing what I came for (perennial dianthus, tickweed, and some eggplants), but not fast enough. SUCH A DOWNPOUR. I briefly turned into Fielding Mellish

But I got my flars!

SUNDAY
Grab whatever

Sunday was a little rough. I ended up having to leave Mass early and go sit in the car because I was feeling so blehhhhh. Not too bleh to take a selfie because my hair was having a nice day, though. 

Clara and Damien went to a Bonny Light Horsemen concert, and a bunch of the other kids were doing this and that, so I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to cook anything for the small group that was left. I may have had a bagel, but I truly don’t remember.

MONDAY
Steak and peach salad

Monday I was feeling quite a bit better, and agreed to take the kids to the library. Then on the way home, I remembered we needed duck food; and then the exit from the feed store is a weird traffic spot where it’s hard to turn left, so I decided to go right and take the long way home, and as long as we were on that road, I asked the kids if they wanted to hit the Salvation Army. 

And that is how I found the first class relics of Saint Peter, Apostle, and St. Helena, Empress. 

I am not kidding. They were in the jewelry case for $3 each and I was like, “oh, um, could I see those little round pieces, please?” and then I was like, “um, oh, I will take them, please.” I zipped them into my Vera Bradley wallet, because I didn’t know what else to do. And that is where they still are, actually. 

I didn’t have my reading glasses onat the store, so I couldn’t read the little labels until I got home. It just felt too insane to take in, and still does.

But I carefully unscrewed the backs

and saw this:

I talked to Sean Pilcher of Sacra Relics and sent some photos, and he said they are “doubtlessly authentic,” and that the wax seal inside is the seal of Giuseppe Nicolini, the bishop of Assisi who founded the Assisi Network that saved hundreds of Jews during World War II.

So. 

I have relics. Most likely.

I still have to pack them up and send them over to be cleaned and repaired, and I hope they can be documented. Pilcher said one of the major misconceptions about relics is that Catholics expect you to accept on blind faith that they are what we say they are; but actually it’s a pretty rigorous process of authentication that draws on expertise from several different fields. So we shall see!

In the mean time, it sure looks like our household picked up a couple of amazing new friends. I’m working on writing a long piece about it, and just trying to understand what it could possibly mean that I’m temporarily sharing a bedroom with some nearly 2000-year-old bone fragments of a man who was chosen by Jesus to be the rock on which the Church is built, and the woman who found the true cross. I’m open to ideas! I’m open to all kinds of things. 

My sister and her husband are making a reliquary for them, for as long as they will be in our house, and I’m waiting to hear back from my pastor about whether our parish wants and can accommodate them, and I talked further with Sean Pilcher and left some messages with Fr. Carlos Martins who hosts Treasures of the Church. My first goal is to have them as local as possible, with as much access for the faithful as possible.

I just. I don’t know. At first I was frightened and distressed, but now I am growing attached. 

Told you I was having a weird week! And yes, I did go back to the Salvation Army to see if there was . . . anything else. Which there was not, except for a silly nicknack from Target or something that looks exactly like a monstrance, except with a mirror in the middle. I talked to the manager about what I had found, and she said that, if someone drops off relics again, they will call a priest. (I was like, “So, for future reference, these are human remains. . . ” and she was like, “We can’t know everything!” and I was like “OH, I KNOW.”)

But! Relics none the less, I still needed to make supper. And this is still a food blog. So.

London broil was on sale, so I got four nice cuts. I seasoned them with salt and pepper, heated a skillet up screamingly hot and melted some butter on it, and then seared each steak for three or four minutes per side. 

Very nice. 

Some of it was a little underdone, even for us, so I threw those pieces back in the pan and finished them up while I cut up a bunch of peaches. So we had mixed greens, beef strips, peaches, crumbled goat cheese, and a sweet vinaigrette. 

Superb. I was feeling extremely depleted in general, so some lovely rare beef really hit the spot. 

TUESDAY
Corn dogs and chips

Tuesday I was feeling very much better, and RELICS NONETHELESS, I scurried around getting caught up on weeding and mulching and yard work. The grass was pretty high, and that is how I mowed right over an aerosol can of bug spray, which exploded with a bang and a cloud. No biggie, I have St. Peter and St. Helen in charge of the house now. I can run over whatever I want!

I’m just talking. I don’t know what is going on, for real. 

WEDNESDAY
Caprese pasta

Wednesday was our long-anticipated annual dumpstravaganza, relics howbeit. The kids cheerfully and willingly, just kidding, helped me drag a year’s worth of clutter and horrible crap from the yard into the driveway

and then I ruthlessly cleared off the porch, and four trips to the dump later, it looks like human beings live here.

You know you’re having a wonderful day when the dump guy asks if you’re okay. I was okay! I was just hot and exhausted and deep in “WE HAVE TO THROW EVERYTHING OUT AND WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE AND WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THIS HOUSE” mode. You’d think a dump guy would be familiar with that look, honestly. 

Got home and decided to tear down the vines that I had spent the last five or six years cultivating to grow over the porch to disguise its shabbiness. I had ordered Concord grape vines, which arrived as bare roots. I dutifully watered and fertilized and trained them, and was so excited that they finally started putting out fruit last year! And that is when I discovered that I may have ordered grape vines, but what they sent me were actually porcelain berry, which is poisonous and invasive. LE SIGH. So we’re starting over. 

Around 5:00, I saw to my dismay that I had scheduled myself to make a brand new recipe, which wasn’t ideal for how hot and pissed off I already was, but I didn’t want to waste the tomatoes and basil I had bought. So I made this caprese pasta from Sip and Feast.

Tiny little bit of prep work

but it came together very fast, and I thought it was delicious. 

Tasted exactly like what it was, of course (you can’t see it, but there are hunks of half-melted fresh mozzarella in there, and a good amount of red pepper flakes), which is a good thing. Lovely summer dish.

And now the last three times I made pasta, I did not overcook it! I can learn. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

On Thursday (relics regardlessly) I finally finally finally got back to working on the deck. In my old age, I have gained enough wisdom to realize that nobody who is feeling weak and shaky needs to be messing with a Sawzall, so I kept putting it off and putting it off.

But Thursday I was ready, and I got so much done. I took out the bad joist and put in a new joist with different hardware (and it fit, and *ahem* I rejoist) and cut and installed some floor planks, to close up the gap between the original structure and the new platform

Before:

and after:

Then I added a post on one corner and reinforced it with a sort of sheath of two long boards; and then I put a bottom sort of kickboard thingy (I don’t know what you call anything) and a top railing on. 

So today, all I need to do is buy some spindles or something, to fill in the railing, and then paint or stain it all, and it will be DONE.

I really wanted stairs for it, but that will be next year’s project. It has a ladder on one end and a climbing wall on the other, so it’s easy enough to get up and down. I know this, because I did it approximately 927 times yesterday, because I am constitutionally incapable of thinking about what tools I will need before I climb up a ladder.

I am so pleased with how it’s turning out.  I know it still looks very much like something that most people would be finally getting around to getting rid of; but it’s quite stable and strong, and the kids like hanging out of it. Once it’s had a little sanding and it’s all one color, I think it will look a lot more reputable. I have a vision, I tell you! And my secret is being too dumb to stop even when I realize I don’t know what I’m doing. 

Clara kindly made pizza for us. One pepperoni, one cheese, and one with leftover goat cheese, leftover basil, and red onion, which was fantastic. I forgot to eat all day, so believe me when I tell you. That was some good pizza. Relics notwithstanding. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Just tortillas, frozen breaded fish, avocados, salsa, and sour cream. I just this moment realized this is supposed to have shredded cabbage on it, which I forgot to buy. Maybe I will chop up some collard greens, which are coming in nicely and desperately need thinning.

Oh, and fish tacos are supposed to have cilantro and limes. WELL, maybe I will go to the store. Maybe I’ll go to Aldi and find the Ark of the Covenant, who knows? 

Also, in relics notwithstanding news, I think I can say for certain that the weight loss I experienced when I was in full on NO FOOD NO HOW mode was not “just water weight.” I lost nine pounds when I was super sick, but I’ve been back to eating normal food for several days now, and, deliberately riding the wave of encouragement from having lost nine pounds, I lost another three pounds, meaning I’m back under The Terrible Number once again. 

My only regret is that I’m still revolted by even the idea of shrimp. Shrimp used to be my all-time favorite luxury treat, and now it feel like more of a threat. But you know, when I was about six, I had some Crackerjacks and then threw up out the window of my grandfather’s Toyota on the New Jersey Turnpike, and it was years and years before I could even think of Crackerjacks again. But now I can! Crackerjacks, crackerjacks. See? I’m fine. So I’m sure someday I’ll live to shrimp again. 

And that was my week! Headed to adoration in a bit, and I will ask St. Peter and St. Helena to watch over all of you, and make your collards grow or your power tools behave or your fat melt or your kids be helpful or whatever it is that you need. It’s on the house, especially if you’re too dumb to stop when you realize you don’t know what you’re doing. What a world. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 381: Excuse me, stewardess. I speak chive.

I don’t know if you guys realize this, but June is, in fact, bustin’ out all over.
The feeling is getting so intense!
And the Fishers are so busy
That I’m always in a tizzy
But I still have time to make a wattle fence!

Because it’s Junnnnnnne!

And I do what I wannnnnnnt! Overall. 

I do apologize for how dead the site has been lately. I honestly have been writing, and I hope to have more up next week! I also think I have fixed the issue with the com box. If you left a comment last week and it didn’t show up, it’s because I had a leetle spam problem and still have to manually sort through almost 6,000 comments, which, honestly, I might just . . . not do. But like I said, I think I fixed it!

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, watermelon

Shopping day, uff cawse. I had planned grilled ham and cheese last week, but didn’t make it, so we had plenty of sourdough and sliced cheddar and ham. Easy peasy, and it was a good thing, because one kid had a party to go to (and a present to buy), two kids needed to be at work, and there was an art thing downtown and the non-working kids were helping the other kids set up, and I realized that meant the other kid was gonna be alone all day, so we invited a friend over for her, which turned into her meeting the friend at the beach (not that beach, the other beach) and then coming here, and then everyone needed to be picked up from their parties and jobs and arts and confession and whatnot, and, long story long, we had grilled cheese. 

Kids had a fire and made s’mores after dinner. I will eat many, many disgusting things, but I draw the line at s’mores, for some reason. 

A few months ago, when I still thought we had a 50/50 chance of seeing the parousia before June, I signed up to make dinner for the youth group. But I lost that bet, so on Saturday night I started hacking up pork shoulder and browning it.

I had bought some ludicrous number of pounds of pork, too much to fit in the slow cooker, so I put it in a giant casserole dish and covered it tightly with tinfoil and cooked it in the oven at 225 for about five hours. 

Here’s my pulled pork recipe.

Jump to Recipe

I bumped up all the seasonings a bit, used jarred jalapeño instead of fresh (without the juice), and added a heavy hit of liquid smoke. Oh my dammit, it smelled amazing. I thought I’d have to leave it cooking slowly overnight, but it was shreddy betty and so good. 

SUNDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, broccoli slaw, watermelon

Sunday was Corpus Christi, which I love so much. My 90-year-old friend has been coming to Mass with us, which is excellent, but of course she wasn’t quite up for a long walk in the blazing hot sun afterward, so I brought her home while the rest of the family joined in the procession. Found out later that Benny, who is not even 90, fainted! Just too much sun and not enough water, and plus we had stayed up late to watch Godzilla Minus One the night before. So down she went, and bopped her head on the pew when she fell. SHE IS FINE. But it was a worrisome day, because we have some medical nonsense in this family to worry about. But she was just very dehydrated. 

It turns out everyone else in the parish is also super busy in early June, so the youth group was a very small group, and even taking that into account, I absolutely CLOBBERED them with food. One smart thing I did, though, was realize that a cooler isn’t just for ice, but will also keep hot food hot. So I didn’t have to muck around with cooking in the church basement and trucking the food over to the other building this time, but just heated everything up at home and then brought it straight to the yoot. 

We had kaiser buns and pulled pork and two kind of BBQ sauce on the side, but the meat truly didn’t need it. Bunch of sliced onions and some of that hot cheese sauce I love so well for the sandwiches, tons of potato chips, tons of watermelon cut into chunks, and tons of soda. At the last minute I also made some broccoli slaw just to have something green.

I threw the broccoli into the food processor and then jammed some carrots in, but I wasn’t thinking clearly, and ended up with basically minced broccoli and discs of carrots. Which is fine, but it looked . . . dated. Can’t explain it, but it looked like someone’s elderly aunt had brought it to a birthday party and called it her famous slaw.

Anyway, I made the dressing from this coleslaw recipe, which calls for mayo, dijon mustard, maple syrup, celery seed, salt, and pepper. I skipped the celery seed and didn’t even notice it called for dijon mustard until about the middle of this sentence. Then I threw in some sliced almonds, and probably would have put in dried cranberries if we had had any. Considered sunflower seeds and realized I’m at least allegedly feeding teenagers, not chipmunks. 

Look, I took a few gummies last night to help me sleep, and I’m feeling too dumb to write short paragraphs, so you’re just gonna get the whole . . . pork. I don’t know. 

Anyway, there was SO much dang pork. Which is not a bad thing! I thought the addition of the liquid smoke was excellent, so I’ll be adding that from now on. 

MONDAY
Roast pork ribs, flavored rice, watermelon, broccoli slaw

Monday I wasn’t ready to look at pulled pork again yet, and I had arranged my day so that I was somehow doing errands for strangers much of the day? I live like I have a personal assistant who has a grudge against me. Anyway I got it all done, and got supper started at like five o’clock. Not pulled pork but roast pork ribs, because they were 99 cents a pound and I’m not made of stone. 

Pork ribs sprinkled heavily with salt and pepper and thrust under a hot broiler, turned once; leftover watermelon (did I mention that watermelons were on sale so I bought four?), leftover broccoli slaw, and something the kids covet ardently and I should probably make more often: Rice cooked in chicken broth. Truly, your jaw would drop if you saw how excited they were about this faintly yellow rice. 

And you know what, it’s good. Tastes like chicken. 

I don’t think I mentioned how the broccoli slaw turned out. The dressing tasted WONDERFUL when I made it, really zippy and nice; but it was one of those mysterious recipes that went flat right away, and got flatter every hour thereafter. So it was quite, quite bland by Monday. I was still happy to have something cool and vegetabally, but it was not exciting. I did like having the crunchy almonds in there. 

TUESDAY
Pizza with chive blossoms

My chives peaked over the weekend, and I had been meaning and meaning to fry the blossoms, but I just did not have time. So I made some pizzas on Tuesday: One pepperoni, one plain cheese, and one with black olive and leftover peppers and onions sauteed up, and then when it came out of the oven, I threw chive blossoms on top of it. 

Kinda wish I had put some of them on first before baking, because I think they would have been nice with a little frizzled, but they were good as they were. Kinda cute, not mindblowing.Tasted like chives. So now I know! 

WEDNESDAY
Pork tacos, watermelon

Wednesday I had to face the fact that I had forgotten to put the leftover pulled pork in the freezer, so it was do or die. Pork or die.

It was supposed to be taco day, so I just heated up the pork and served that with taco fixings. Did not adjust the seasoning or anything, and guess what, it was yummy. 

Or maybe I was just starving because I was going crazy with yard work, but I thought they were great. 

Wednesday I also culled baby peaches. Last year we had a late frost that killed all the buds, and we had zero peaches. This year we have . . . I honestly think over a thousand, on just the one tree. It just went berserk with pent-up peachiness. At first I was delighted, and then I realized that letting that many peaches grow to maturity would yield a bumper crop of small, tasteless peaches, and would probably also split the tree when they got heavy.

I HATE thinning baby plants. It’s not as bad as pinching off blossoms, but it’s pretty rough. Just feels so brutal and wrong. But I want to take care of my tree, so I spent a LONG time plucking off baby peaches, and after about an hour of staring up into the sun between the leaves, calculating six inches between peaches, and repeatedly getting a face full of crispy old peach blossom debris and picking baby peaches out of my cleavage, that particular emotional knife had been blunted quite a bit. 

Here’s what they look like. They’re the size of large olives, and they are too young to have pits. 

I have filled two gallon ziplock bags and I’m maybe 1/4 of the way through the tree. It turns out you can pickle baby peaches. This lady says they don’t taste like much, so they take on whatever flavor you put in the vinegar solution. I told myself I was going to try this, but honestly I think I’ll offer them on buy nothing and let them be someone else’s broken dreams this year. Or maybe just feed them to the ducks. Ducks have no dreams. 

THURSDAY
One-pan garlicky chicken thighs with potatoes and zucchini

Thursday was the first day this week I deliberately cooked something specifically for that day, rather than just dealing with whatever nonsense that hostile PA had set up for me. Samantha, or Simba, or whatever her name is.

What I had was a bunch of chicken thighs that were on sale, and zucchini that reminded me that I once made a zucchini dish that everybody liked, and it was on a week we were replacing the bathroom floor, so I figured it must be easy. So I made it again! Yay!

Got the chicken marinating in the morning. It’s a simple marinade, just olive oil and balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar, plus garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and fresh basil and garlic. I prepped the garlic by peeling it, putting it in a sandwich bag, and bashing it with the end of a rolling pin, so it was it kind of flattened fragments. I don’t know if there’s a name for this form of garlic, but I find it very useful in marinades, because it imparts garlic flavor to the whole thing, but also has little bits of garlic you can bite into.

So that marinated all day. I forgot to buy summer squash, but I cut up about four pounds of potatoes (skin on) and two large zucchini, also skin on. I cut them into thickish quarter-round wedges, and put them in a bowl covered with cold water to keep them from browning.

Later that day, I was worried they’d be getting soggy, so I drained the water off, recalling that I have heard that potatoes that have been doused with cold water will not get discolored even if you drain the water off. I wish I had done this sooner, so I’d have a better idea of how long you can do this in advance of cooking them, but I can say that they will go at least two hours after draining the water off without turning brown. Nice.

I sprayed a couple of giant sheet pans, put the chicken on, and then arranged the potatoes and zucchini in between the chicken. I didn’t pour all the marinade in, but I did fish out the basil and garlic with a slotted spoon and spread that over the chicken. Then I sprinkled the potatoes and zucchini with more garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, and just cooked it undisturbed for about forty minutes. 

It doesn’t look glamorous, but it’s really delicious. Probably wouldn’t have hurt to stir up the potatoes and zucchini 20 minutes in, so they’d be more brown on the top; but they had a great little crust and wonderful flavor on the bottom, so no complaints.  

 

The fresh garlic and basil are really pleasant and summery, and the chicken came out super juicy. I’m not a giant zucchini fan, but I remembered to cut it into big enough wedges so it didn’t get slimy, and it was really tasty with the slightly sweet, sharp marinade. Would have been good with some crusty bread to sop up the extra sauce. 

If you’re looking for an easy, one-pan meal that’s nice and summery, this is the one!

If you’re looking for something really fantastic to do with zucchini, I recommend this zuchhini agrodulce recipe from Sip and Feast. It’s quite a hassle, but holy wow, it is fantastic. I hope I have time to make this when vacation starts. 

FRIDAY
Lemon garlic shrimp pasta

This bag of shrimp I got on sale a few weeks ago has been in the freezer long enough. I had kind of a long argument with the kids wherein they accused me of CONSTANTLY serving shrimp lo mein, which I KNOW is not true, and even if it were, WHO COMPLAINS ABOUT SHRIMP LO MEIN. They were, of course, just yanking my chain, but I just dangle it out there all the time, begging one or more of our innumerable chain-yankers to come yank it. 

ANYWAY, I’m not going to make shrimp lo mein. I’m going to make lemon garlic shrimp pasta from Sip and Feast, who claims that it is easy and impressive. I like all those words (lemon, garlic, shrimp, pasta, easy, and impressive, not to mention sip and feast), so I don’t see how this can be bad. The jerks can eat plain pasta with butter, which I will admit is also delicious. 

This week the main things I’ve been working on are — well, Millie’s garden and Millie’s fall alert system, to be honest, and also my garden (got the last bits filled in with collard, hooray!) and adding legs to the final piece of salvaged platform, so we can have a little pool deck. I’ve only been to Home Depot three times so far, and I know that’s not going to be enough to satiate the project gods.

Oh, I also did some more work on my wattle fence, which is my pride and joy. It’s very possible it looks stupid and nobody wants to say anything, but I just love it so much. Any time I have more than half an hour free, I get the giant clippers and call the dog, and we go out to the woods and cut down as many saplings as I can drag. Then I sit and trim off all the green and all the twigs, and then I weave what’s left into my fence. It’s deeply satisfying.

I also have an ongoing project that’s less satisfying, and that is putting a lot of energy into not dealing with or even seeing the five trash bags of foam fragments that are in the dining room, which used to be in Corrie’s oversized bean bag chair, and which . . . hey, is there a violent stomach bug going around where you are? Because there is here. All I’m gonna say about that is: If you have a kid who is going through a picky stage and only eats rice for dinner? SOMETIMES THAT’S NOT A BAD THING. 

Anyway, we have ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL LEFT, the peonies all burst open the other day, Merlin says there is an indigo bunting somewhere in my yard, and I’m gonna get those legs on that deck if it kills me. And it will! But I plan to die at home, doing what I love (eating pork). 

Oh, today is the feast of the Sacred Heart, and I’m thinkin of making this Coeur à la Crème with Blackberry Sauce. I’m thinkin about a lot of things. 

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

  • fatty hunk of pork
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for browning
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup apple juice
  • 3 jalapeños with tops removed, seeds and membranes intact
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Cut pork into hunks. Season heavily with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat oil in heavy pot and brown pork on all sides.

  3. Move browned pork into Instant Pot or slow cooker or dutch oven. Add all the other ingredients. Cover and cook slowly for at least six hours.

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

One-pan garlicky chicken with potatoes, summer squash, and zucchini

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • more salt, garlic powder, and onion powder for sprinkling
  • 4 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
  • 6 assorted zucchini and summer squash, washed and sliced into discs with the skin on

Instructions

  1. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, garlic, garlic powder, onion, powder, salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Marinate the chicken thighs in this mixture for at least half an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400.

  3. Grease two large baking sheets. Arrange the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables on the sheet with as little overlap as possible.

  4. Sprinkle additional salt, onion powder, and garlic powder on the potatoes and vegetables.

  5. Cook about 40 minutes or until chicken is completely done and potatoes are slightly brown on top.

What’s for supper? Vol. 340: Happy new sandwich to me!

Friday again! It’s Friday again. I remember when the weeks were long, but they ain’t long now. 

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Sausage and pepper sandwiches, raw veggies and dip

Satisfying little meal. Fried peppers and onions, sausages in jarred sauce. Easy peasy.

Aldi didn’t have any sausage-shaped rolls, so we had kaiser rolls and did not die. 

SUNDAY
McDonald’s

Sunday we went to Mystic Aquarium! A wonderful place with some very personable belugas. 

We also fed the cow nose rays, who have the most alien faces I’ve ever encountered on a creature that size. Their noses are bifurcated, sort of like a cow’s, and then when they want to eat, the bottom of their face sort of unfolds like origami;

but their actual mouths are  underneath this part, and you can feel them avidly vacuuming up the food between ridged plates of teeth. Freaky!

We also caught the seal show, and we saw the jellyfish that light up, and the octopus with his toy, and the leering sharks, and the little tiny baby sharks thrashing silently around inside their egg cases, and everyone had fun. We packed sandwiches for lunch, and grabbed McDonald’s on the way home.

I’m still getting used to having family outings that are so straightforward, because everyone’s so grown up. No diapers, no nursing stops, no need to pack three changes of clothes and a plastic bag to sequester the pants that have become unspeakably soiled; no constant terror that someone’s going to wander off and drown; no random meltdowns because small people are having too much fun. We didn’t even have drama in the gift shop, because some people have their own spending cash, and others have started to catch on that a smushed penny really is a cooler souvenir than a stuffie that you could get at the dollar store back home. I am somehow managing to feel sad about this, because I have the superpower of turning any experience into melancholy, hooray. 

Anyway, our family is still big enough that a family membership is cheaper than buying individual tickets, so we hope to go back within the year! It was extremely hot, so it would be nice to go back on a day when it’s less tempting to dive into the pool with the sea lions and take your chances. But if you’re within driving distance of this aquarium, I recommend it. Mystic Seaport is also really cute and fun to explore (they have a drawbridge in the middle of town), but we didn’t have time to go there this time. 

MONDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, crunchy rice rolls, sugar snap peas

Monday, I suddenly couldn’t stand the mess in the dining room for one more second, and I sorted shoes and threw out about 1/3 of them. This isn’t even the most Converse we’ve ever had at the same time, and all but one pair was in absolutely disgraceful condition.

So I swept and wiped and organized, and now you can actually walk through the room, rather than dodging and sashaying and squirming your way through a clear path down the center.

Won’t last long, but it feels good for now. 

Supper was quick and easy: Some rice in the Instant Pot, and some Korean beef bowl on the stove.

Jump to Recipe

Aldi had those yummy crunchy rice rolls in stock, so I bought several packages, and we had raw sugar snap peas. 

Sugar snap peas are one of the few vegetables that really do satisfy the craving for something crunchy. Love ’em. 

It was also my turn to clean the kitchen. I have Mondays, Damien has Tuesdays, and the kids who don’t have jobs do the rest of the days, and the older kids fill in as needed. There were so many fruit flies and I was so hot and aggravated by the time I was done, I set my phone to play some Bach guitar music, slithered into the pool, and just sloshed around by myself in the dark until I felt human again. 

Also on Monday, Clara moved out! Oh me oh my. She’s still close by and we’ll see her soon. 

TUESDAY
Oven fried chicken, peach salad

Chicken wings were 99 cents a pound, and everyone liked the oven fried chicken from last week so much, I figured I’d do that again. Tuesday was the Assumption, so I quietly told myself we would have wings for the assumption, ho ho ho. Got to the noon Mass. 

The oven fried chicken recipe: Make a milk and eggs mix (two eggs per cup of milk), enough to at least halfway submerge the chicken, and add plenty of salt and pepper, and let that soak for a few hours before supper.

About half an hour to 40 minutes before dinner, heat the oven to 425. In an oven-safe pan with sides, put about a cup of oil and a stick or two of butter and let that melt and heat up.

Then put plenty of flour in a bowl (I always give myself permission to use a lot and waste some flour, because I hate it when there’s not enough and you have to patch it together from whatever’s left, and it gets all pasty) and season it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and whatever else you want – chili powder, cumin, etc. It should have some color in it when you’re done seasoning! Take the chicken out of the milk mix and dredge it in the flour. 

Then pull the hot pan out of the oven and lay the chicken, skin side down, in the pan, return it to the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Then flip it and let it continue cooking, probably for another 15 minutes or more, depending on how big the pieces of chicken are. 

It turned out fine. It wasn’t as good as last time, probably because last time all I had in the house was olive oil, but this time all I had was canola oil and margarine, which I haven’t used in years.  

The side was a peach salad, which I had qualms about, and I should have listened to my qualms. I follow this recipe except I skipped the corn, because that just didn’t sound right. I don’t know what the problem was. The goat cheese just kind of went pasty, and the peaches were maybe overripe, and –oh, one big problem was I used real maple syrup in the dressing, and discovered too late that it had gone rancid, which I forgot syrup can do! 

It looks okay, but it just wasn’t great. The whole meal was just a bit disappointing. It was STODGY. 

What I really want is to recreate this amazing peach burrata dish with cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction that I had at a restaurant a while back:

Man, that was outstanding. Oh well. 

Anyway, we had fried chicken and fresh peach salad with goat cheese and toasted almonds on a Tuesday, so I did try! Sometimes it just doesn’t come together, oh well. Excelsior. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Wednesday we had to hit urgent care with Lucy with a possible broken foot, but happily it’s just a sprain. The doctor recommended, rather than an ice pack, filling a bucket with cold water and soaking it for 20 minutes while spelling the alphabet with your foot. So on the way home from the hospital, I bought a bucket, and also some other things we needed: milk, half and half, and a sack of duck food. Lucy said that sounded like a tasty bucket of breakfast. And that’s why I’m in charge of the menu and she is not. 

Got home, made some pizza. All they had at the store for dough was wheat dough and something called “bac’n dust,” neither of which are food words. It tasted okay, not bad, but not something I’d ever make any effort to recreate. I made one plain cheese pizza, one olive, and one with pepperoni and leftover sausage. 

Here we see one of Van Gogh’s less known sunflower works, in which he experimented with both a limited palette and leftover meat.

Look, these are the jokes. Excelsior. 

THURSDAY
Spicy chicken sandwich with peppers, chips

On Thursday, the big kids all had plans, so I decided to take Benny and Corrie out school shopping. We usually do this with everyone at the same time, at the last possible minute, to create the maximum stress, but apparently you don’t have to do it this way.

So we got school supplies, and also TMNT shirts, unicorn headbands on clearance, new shoes, a fuzzy pink hoodie because we’re still planning to go see Barbie, and so on. We also stopped at a thrift store I like, and I got a Ninja blender for $20, so we’ll see what smoothies may be. 

We have this very wimpy Oster blender that can only manage, like, chocolate milk. Looking forward to pulverizing stuff. Also Corrie got a recorder at the thrift store, which I said yes to. 

Supper came together fast, and it was an absolute triumph, as far as I’m concerned. I followed this recipe from Sip and Feast, which has so far never steered me wrong. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was what he calls “blackened seasoning.” I thought I had some Tony Chachere’s, but couldn’t find it, so I used a stray bottle of McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun seasoning. 

First I blistered the shishito peppers. You just cut the tops off and blacken them quickly in a hot pan with oil and a little salt, turning once. 

You’re supposed to do this after you cook the chicken, but I did it first and just kept it on the stove on the plate, and it stayed warm enough.

Then I took boneless, skinless chicken thighs (one per person) and seasoned them heavily with the Cajun seasoning, and cooked them slowly in hot oil on medium heat, turning once. 

When the chicken was almost done cooking, I put a slice of American cheese on each one and covered the pan, and let the cheese melt for a few minutes. 

Then I toasted some brioche buns (he recommends putting them in the pan to toast, but the rest of the food seemed greasy enough), put a little BBQ sauce on the bottom (we like Sweet Baby Ray’s), then the chicken with cheese, then the blistered peppers, then some sliced red onion, more BBQ sauce, and the top bun.

Guys, this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, at home or anywhere. Sweet, tangy, spicy, with the little crunch from the peppers and onions and the melty cheese . . . wow. The whole thing was just a treat, and I would absolutely serve this to guests.

 Of course you can grill the meat and peppers, if you don’t want to pan fry them. Definitely spring for the brioche buns. The shishito peppers (which I’ve never had before) were great, mild and sweet, like bell peppers in jalapeño form. If you can’t find them, the guy suggests poblano for a substitute, or you could go with jalapeños if you really want it spicy. I loved having whole peppers with their skins on piled onto the sandwich, though, so it was nicer than bell peppers; and it was very easy to just wash them and chop the tops off and chuck ’em in the pan. I also didn’t bother trimming the fat off the thighs, so it was just simple all around. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle for kids; for adults: ??

The kids wanted tuna noodle casserole (canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles in a casserole dish, topped with toasted corn flakes and potato chips, served with “pink stuff” dressing, which is ketchup, mayo, and vinegar) and I didn’t want to make it, but then they said they would make it, and I’m no dummy. But I think Damien and I may run away and get some supermarket sushi and take the kayaks out. What with one thing and another, it’s been a hell of a week, and the urge to just  . . . paddle away . . . is strong.

But we always come home again. That’s the deal. You can leave, but you have to come back. 

Hey, my garden is finally getting going. I’ve had a bunch of big hearty butternut squashes so far, but that was it; but suddenly there are cucumbers, four or five eggplants, some bitty little ghost peppers, and a watermelon the size of a gumball. And more collard greens, and some cute little Brussels sprouts, and a steady trickle of strawberries. Asparagus and rhubarb are just getting started this year, but in a few years, I expect a nice little harvest from them. 

And grapes!

We’re just going to make juice this year. UNLIMITED JUICE. 

 

Korean Beef Bowl

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

The Stupids buy an ice cream machine

I know it’s just about the end of summer, but I promised a homemade ice cream report in my last What’s For Supper, so here it is!

First of all, this is the machine I got: A Cuisinart ICE-20P1.

It is about $70 new, but I got mine on Facebook marketplace for much cheaper.  There is a newer model of this same basic machine, the ICE-20P1. There seem to be lots of like-new ice cream machines for sale for cheap, probably because people get them as unwanted presents, or decide they’re not worth the counter space. I have decided no such thing. I love making ice cream.

The other kind of machine in my price range were hand-cranked ones that require salt and ice and tend to have a much larger capacity. The smaller, automatic ones are smaller, but they are automatic (no, I don’t have a writing agent, why do you ask?), and I am definitely at a point in my life where I want to push a button and walk away for a while.

The machine is very simple. The bowl has liquid inside its walls, and you put the bowl in the freezer for many hours, preferably 12 or more, until the liquid is completely frozen. When you’re ready to make ice cream, you fit the bowl onto the machine, put the dasher inside the bowl, fit the large plastic guard over both, turn it on, and pour your ingredients in while it is running. And that’s it. The machine turns the frozen bowl and the dasher stays in place, so the ice cream freezes and gets churned.

You can peek in the top and watch it churning, and maybe even stick a spoon in and grab a taste. 

After about 25 minutes, the ice cream is like soft serve and you can eat it that way if you like. If you want harder ice cream, you pour it into a container and return it to the freezer for another 4-6 hours. (If you are going to leave it in the freezer longer than that, cover it with wax paper.) 

The machine makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream, which is about as much ice cream as one of those oblong cartons from the supermarket.

In theory, you can make one batch, empty it into a container, and re-use the still-frozen bowl to make a second batch of ice cream. But every time I try this, it just doesn’t freeze properly, probably because my kitchen is just too hot and the bowl thaws out too much. So I bought a second bowl on eBay (the same size works for the older and newer model of Cuisinart), so I can make one batch after another. They do take up room in the freezer, but nobody has complained yet. 

Okay, on to the ice cream! Here is what we have made so far:

VANILLA

My first foray. I just used the recipe in the Cuisinart booklet, which is:

Whisk together 1 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of sugar. 
Stir in 2 cups chilled heavy cream. 
Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract. 
Pour into machine and mix 25-30 minutes. 

We ate it right out of the machine, so it was soft serve consistency. It was delicious, but it was then that I discovered that 1.5 quarts was not as much as I thought. 

PEACH

I followed the recipe from Like Mother Like Daughter. (Totally different mother and daughter, FYI. She doesn’t even yell at you or try to sell you a set of expensive books while reminding you that working women inevitably raise crack whores; she just gives you the recipe for peach ice cream. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on.)

Nice and easy. You peel and chop fresh peaches and macerate them in sugar, then throw them in the food processor, then mix the blended peaches with a standard mixture of milk, cream, vanilla, and more sugar, and then churn and freeze.

It came out very pleasant and peachy with little bits of fruit all through it, and the ice cream itself was mildly peach flavored. This time, I let the ice cream harden up, but I served it in wedges, which blunted its appeal somewhat. It also didn’t help that it was on the plate next to this– well, you’ll see.

Buying an ice cream scoop and being able to serve nice curled-up scoops of ice cream made a big difference for how well the ice cream was received. I might make this recipe again with a little cinnamon and/or ginger or maybe rum, especially when the peaches on our tree ripen up. 

BLUEBERRY GINGER MINT SORBET I GUESS

So I made one batch of peach ice cream and wanted to make a second batch of something contrasting to go with it. I found this amazingly, suspiciously simple recipe for a blueberry mint ginger lime sorbet. My spidey sense told me the website looked hinky, but as you may know, my specialty is forging ahead through hinkiness, for no reason at all. 

Yeah, so, it turned out terrible. It was kind of gritty and pulpy and much too gingery, and it certainly didn’t freeze right, so it was kind of like a very chilly . . . relish. The crazy thing is, I can’t find the recipe at all now. I can’t find it online, and it’s somehow not in my search history. I swear I did not hallucinate this dreadful recipe, and yet. Let’s just move along. 

NEAPOLITAN TRAIL MIX

After the blueberry relish debacle, I promised the kids something yummy and fun would be next. Aldi had these bags of trail mix with chocolate chips, vanilla chips, strawberry chips shaped like ice cream cones, cashews, almonds, and freeze-dried strawberries. 

What really sold me was the ice cream cone-shaped chips. I really needed it to be crystal clear that this was ice cream we were dealing with. Ice cream!

By this time, my Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book had arrived

so I used the recipe for Sweet Cream Base 1, which is what they recommend for fruit, cookies, and candy. It is similar to the recipes I’d used before, except it has eggs. The recipe:

Whisk 2 eggs for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add in 3/4 cup sugar and continue whisking for another minute. Add in 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup milk and blend. This makes a quart of ice cream.

I churned up a double recipe of this and then stirred in the trail mix, which I had been keeping in the freezer. This turned out just excellent. I built in time to let it sit in the freezer for four hours before dinner, and I even bought an ice cream scoop, so it came out just like “real” hard pack ice cream.

Very rich, smooth, and creamy. I was afraid the whole nuts would be too big and I should have chopped them up, but they were just right. The only flaw was the freeze-dried strawberries, which were somewhat hard to chew, being both freeze-dried and frozen. But everyone liked this ice cream and said I should make it again. 

By this point, I was in the habit of washing out the freezer bowls, drying them off, and returning them to the freezer as soon as the ice cream was done churning. 

LEMONADE SLUSHIES

On a whim, I made a big pitcher of lemonade (water, bottled lemon juice, and sugar), and dumped it into the machine and let it go for 25 minutes. It came out just a tiny bit more watery than a frozen drink you’d get at the 7-11 or whatever, but there were no complaints. There was a bit left over, which I poured into a cup and froze. Voila, an Italian ice with which to bribe an intractable child the next day. 

My only sadness is that no one in this house is young enough to call them “Flushies” anymore. 

GINGER ALE SLUSHIES

Next day, we tried the same thing with ginger ale, and it did not work at all! The dasher froze to the bottom of the machine, and we just ended up with very cold ginger ale with some drifts of slush floating in it. I have no idea why this happened. 

SAFFRON ROSEWATER PISTACHIO (BASTANI) 

Back on my bullshit. You can see, I have been alternating between cute, fun, summery, silly ice cream, and effete, exotic, difficult frozen confections. Time for something difficult!

There were many recipes for this ice cream, which is Persian and is called “bastani,” so I listened to my heart and chose the one from the site called The Delicious Crescent. One mark against it is that you have to stand there whisking a custard for a long time until it thickens up. Most people can manage this, but I have custard problems, and it always takes eleven times longer than normal, if it thickens at all. 

One mark in its favor was that it has you grind up saffron with salt using a mortar and pestle, which I got for mother’s day and haven’t had a chance to use yet. That was fun! Here is a nice handful of saffron threads

and here it is, all ground up in the mortar with a little salt

You make a simple custard and chill it in an ice bath, and then soak the ground saffron in rosewater

then stir that into the custard along with cream, and chill that in an ice bath. Lots of exciting changes in color along the way!

Then you pour the final chilled saffron rosewater custard into your ice cream maker and churn it. You add the pistachios in afterward, and then continue freezing. The recipe called for unsalted pistachios, but I had salted, and I thought they were great. I also omitted the vanilla that the recipe called for, and did not miss it at all.

I made a triple batch of this recipe and to me it seemed like the most successful yet. Wonderful, silky, creamy consistency, and a very rich flavor.

Many of the kids just didn’t like it, because saffron and rosewater, but I thought it was lovely. I don’t know how to describe it, because nothing else really tastes like saffron or rosewater. The flavors intensified over time, especially the rosewater, which I discovered because I kept going back for more over the next few days, and I did valiantly eventually manage to eat the whole thing. 

Next! Orange slushie!

We gave slushies another chance, this time with orange soda, and it worked great. 

Nice and frozen, very refreshing. It comes out more frozen along the edges, and you stir it up to even it out the consistency before ladling it into cups. I like knocking on kid’s doors and they groan, ” . . . whaaaaaaat” thinking I’m going to say “Can you please take the garbage out?” but instead I say, “Do you want a little orange slushie?” They do!

VANILLA M&M

Yesterday morning, I made a double recipe of Ben and Jerry’s basic cream base plus a little vanilla, and threw in a bag of M&M’s when it was done churning. The M&M’s got a little blurry as I stirred them in, and gave the ice cream a kind of swirly pastel effect, which wasn’t terrible, but it was a little unexpected. I think I could have prevented this, and kept the M&M’s more intact, by freezing them for an hour or so. I just forgot to do that, and they were probably pretty warm from sitting on the shelf.

I put the churned ice cream back in the freezer for about four hours, and it came out somewhere between hard pack and soft serve. Solid enough to cut into wedges, but a tiny bit softer than I would have liked for our purposes. Benny made chocolate chip cookies, which she spread into pans and cut into bars, so people could make ice cream sandwiches.

I didn’t taste either, because me and chocolate don’t get along, but everyone said it was good, except for one kid who was inexplicably complaining about HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE M&M ICE CREAM SANDWICHES. It’s hard to believe a child of mine would turn out to be a complainer, and yet here we are.

NEXT! 

Next up: My plan is white chocolate chips, maraschino cherry halves, and cashews. Eh? Eh? I think that sounds like party ice cream, and yes it will give me a headache, but probably not a migraine. Gonna remember to freeze the white chocolate chips this time. 

I have also bought a few bars of baker’s chocolate, so I can make some chocolate ice cream. It is absolutely time to start experimenting with something besides the basic sweet cream base. 

I’m also looking, heaven help me, at recipes for Lucky Charms ice cream. They have brought home a box of actual store brand Lucky Charms and requested that I made it into ice cream. All the recipes require you to make a bowl of Lucky Charms-infused milk, run it through a sieve, and then make a custard out of that, and hey ,why not make your own bespoke marshmallow fluff as long as you’re insane? and for some reason I’m thinking about how much fun it would be to clean the dusty grease off the top of the refrigerator, instead. But I guess if I can make rosewater bastani, I can make Lucky Charms ice cream. 

I actually have a kid who works in an ice cream shop, and the other day a customer was asking about various toppings, and she was trying to explain that one of the choices was Fruity Pebbles; but having been brought up in dire poverty, she kept saying “Fruity Dyno-Bites” instead, and they had to call the manager over the clear up the confusion. You know, people are always going on and on about lead paint and predatory landlords and no running water, blah blah blah, but you never hear about the devastating hardship of growing up so poor that, when you talk about cereal, you speak Malt-O-Meal, and nobody knows what you’re talking about. O, the humanity!

I’m also looking at my grapes.

This is the view from my murderboat, which has been utterly consumed by grapes in the last few years.

Last year, we made grape jelly, for reasons that are kind of unclear, because we don’t super duper like grape jelly, and we sure did make a lot of it. I’ve been promising the kids we would just make grape juice this year, which people actually want to consume. But I’m thinking grape gelato could be pretty wonderful. We’ll see! And the war between fun and effete wages on. Maybe I should buy a second ice cream machine. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 221: You can count on food

Gah, I missed another week! So first, here are the food highlights from last week:

Oooh, bibimbap!

I cooked some sliced pork in a gochujang sauce 

Jump to Recipe

and made a big pot of rice, and set out the pork, pea shoots, crunchy noodles, spinach, and whatnot, and everybody put together what they wanted and then reported to me for a fried egg. I like to put the spinach under a layer of something hot, so it wilts a bit. The egg seeps down and the meat sauce seeps up, and it’s pretty great.

I also sprinkled something called “balsamic crispy beets” on top of mine, along with hot sauce and sesame seeds. They were maybe a little too sweet and balsamic-y for this dish, but I liked the taste in general, and will probably get them again. They would be great on top of a salad with chicken. I always felt like I am destined to enjoy beets, but I never do, so this beet form is a little bonus.

Uhhhhh clams steamed in beer, chicken and pepper fajita deconstructobabs, bread, and more spinach

An incoherent but tasty meal 

I sautéed some onions in lots of butter, then added red pepper flakes and a few cans of beer and then the clams, and let them simmer for a bit until the shells opened, then squeezed some lemon over them. Yum yum yum. 

The plan was to make fajita chicken kebabs, but when it came down to it, I did not feel like threading anything on skewers, and Damien did not feel like grilling. So after I marinated the meat and peppers for a few hours, I just spread them on a pan and broiled them in the oven, and it was most definitely good enough.

The marinade was, I don’t know, oil and lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, etc. Just standard “weakly Mexican.” Served with salsa and sour cream to dip. 

Drumsticks, potato salad, and peach salad
Two salads, no greens! The kids were very impressed.  Or possibly they were mocking me. 

So, here we have an odd duck: a recipe that didn’t really need the prosciutto. It was sliced peaches, chopped fresh mint, crumbled feta cheese, and torn up prosciutto dressed with a honey lemon sauce, and it was super summery, fresh and full of vivid flavors.  

So vivid that the prosciutto didn’t really stand out, and therefore wasn’t necessary. What do you know about that.

I thought the potato salad was also nice, not too gloppy. Potatoes with the skin on, hard boiled eggs (which I cooked in the same pot as the potatoes, much to the amazement of one easily-amazed kid), and scallions, with a dressing of mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt, and plenty of pepper. 

Dora was supposed to stop by for dinner, but she had car trouble and Damien had to rescue her, so she got here. She’s no longer in our bubble, and we needed to keep the visit outdoors, so to prolong the outdoorness of the evening, I made a fire and we toasted marshmallows, which I have apparently been buying every week for the last five weeks, intending to someday have a campfire. 

Here is Lena telling Corrie a ghost story. 

Just the right amount of funny and scary. This particular spooky story was about a green, hairless gorilla who lives in the sewer.

And Friday was pizza with fresh basil and slices of garlic, and ricotta, and red pepper flakes, WHICH. I. RECOMMEND. I want to make this same pizza except with also eggplant, or possibly even broccoli. 

And now for this week, here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Party!

Irene’s birthday was back in April, right when everything started closing down, so we finally had her party last weekend at the town pond before school starts and everything closes down again.

I did not cover myself in glory with birthday cakes this week. She wanted a Gravity Falls cake with Bill Cipher made of rice krispies. I got off to a bad start by referring to him as Cyber Bill, even though I am not 67 years old. Then his arms kept falling off, and then it was kind of downhill from there. Please don’t give me any advice on how to do it better. I know how to do all things well, and sometimes I just choose to do them poorly, for personal reasons.

But she liked it! And there were thunderstorms right up until an hour before the party, and then the sun came out. The party kids had deli sandwiches; I forget what the people back home had.

SUNDAY
Party!

Lucy’s birthday was back in July back when everything etc. etc. so we finally had her party while etc. She asked for a cake with All Might from My Hero Academia on it. This was pre-doomed to failure even before I discovered we don’t own any food coloring and I would have to color everything with sugar and leftover icing. All Might is a weird looking dude and this was a weird looking cake, so, there you go. 

But, she liked it, and there were thunderstorms that stopped before the party.  

And they got their parties in before everything gets locked down etc. etc. etc.  The party kids just had snacks; I forget what the people back home had.

MONDAY
Koftas with yogurt sauce, pita, Jerusalem salad

The first time I made koftas I thought they were SO tasty, but they kept falling off the sticks when Damien grilled them. So this time I just made a bunch of big meatballs and broiled them, with yogurt sauce to dip them in. Good stuff, with the added bonus of not looking so much like giant turds.

Oh, I also made a big bunch of Jerusalem salad while tomatoes are still king. Cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt. A cooling, easy side dish to lighten up a savory main dish.

If anyone makes koftas on the grill and knows how to keep them from falling apart off the stick, I’d be glad to know it.

TUESDAY
Chicken and salad, fruit

I got home soooo late from shopping. I just sprinkled the chicken with olive oil and Italian seasoning and broiled it, then served it in pieces over greens with Caesar salad dressing from a bottle. We had strawberries and blueberries, plus some pineapple that I forgot to serve last week. 

WEDNESDAY
Dino nuggets, chips, veg and dip for kids, restaurant for adults

Many months ago, maybe even a year ago, Damien was out of town and my car was in the shop and OF COURSE somehow Lucy ran out of insulin. So we had to call Dora and get her to leave work and go the pharmacy for us, and bring the insulin home, and then it was somehow the wrong insulin (“somehow” meaning CVS, which we briefly used because it has a 24-hour drive thru; but also does stuff like gives you the wrong insulin and then lies about it), so she had to leave work again and get the other insulin and bring it home and then go back to work, and she was very nice about it. So, we said we would take her out to dinner. 

And we did!

Like a year later.

I myself had an insane amount of food: Fried calamari, minestrone soup, and veal piccata, not to mention a bit of Dora’s bruschetta and a bit of Damien’s gondola bread; and some kind of cocktail with bitter orange. It’s actually getting nippy here at night (hence the soup), so they had these neat patio heaters among the tables with a giant flame enclosed in a glass pillar. I guess I’m a country mouse; I was impressed. I’m not saying I would follow it into the desert, but it was a very nice flame. 

THURSDAY
Philly cheesesteak

I don’t know what is going on with cows, but steak is still $2.99 a pound. One of the fringe benefits of my kitchen reno (which is still not done. I have to finish painting and then install the ceiling tiles, and then I will take pictures!) is I finally found the little column that holds up the disc cutter on my food processor, so I sliced a ton of peppers and onions and then the steak. 

IS there some way of shredding steak in a food processor without having to constantly stop the motor, take the top off, and drag out the meat that gets wrapped around the central pin thingy and caught between the blade and the cover? I did freeze the meat a bit first, but it was still very soggy going. It took a long time, but the results were good. Nice and shreddy, just like in Philly, as far as I can recall. 

Honest to goodness, I took pictures of my sandwich, but they look gross. You all know what a good cheesesteak looks like, so picture that. 

FRIDAY
Eggs migas with refried beans

Here is a picture of the migas I made last time. SO GOOD. 

Did I share a recipe for simple migas? I cut a bunch of corn tortillas into strips and fried them in oil until crisp, then scrambled a bunch of eggs into them, and served them with hot sauce and standard taco fixings. I love this meal. You know who would have loved it? My mother. Heck, maybe I can actually make it for her at some point, once the nursing home stops being locked down, etc. etc. 

And there it is. School starts on Monday. We’ll see how long it lasts, 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. 

 

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.