What’s for supper? Vol. 371: St. Joseph’s Pizza!

Happy Friday! I’m going through my food photos and noticing that we are not doing great with the part of Lent where you don’t eat a lot. But really, there are two whole other important pillars of Lent. To wit: Praying, and giving alms. And those are going very, you know what, mind your own business.

Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Saturday I went shopping, of course, so we just had chicken burgers and chips for supper. I did make a second batch of maple syrup, even smaller than the last one, though.

Annnd I may have overcooked it a skosh. 

I was planning an Irish breakfast for Sunday, which was St. Patrick’s day. But I couldn’t find sourdough bread at either supermarket, so I decided to try making my own. In my usual thorough researchly fashion, I Googled “sourdough bread without a starter” and clicked on the first recipe that popped up. Started the dough and set it to rise in a warm spot (in the box of socks in the laundry room, which is over a heating vent) overnight. 

I also, feeling very pleased with myself for all the things I was getting done, put both ice cream bowls in the freezer for the next day.

I also rented a pickup truck for the next day, so I could pick up an amazing offer from Facebook marketplace: Two docks, one 8×8 feet, one 16×4 feet, and the long skinny one had a handrail!!! Free!!!! And only about half an hour away. 

The reason I wanted these was because I’m planning to build a bog bridge over the swampy area of the yard so we can get to the stream more easily. I had thrilling plans of using the long dock as a sturdy entrance point to the bridge, and the square one as a sort of floating deck halfway there, and I was thinking of adding birdhouses and solar-powered lights and geraniums in terra cotta pots, and a couple of tasteful deck chairs, and it would be such a lovely little project that would really transform that part of the property, and I was feeling incredibly lucky to have been the first one to jump on the offer, and they were really well-made, solid docks with no rotten wood, and it was all coming together!

You can probably tell, based on how excited I am about this, that it all went to hell. It really, really did. Read on! 

SUNDAY
Irish breakfast, maple walnut ice cream

Sunday we went to Mass, I started some maple walnut ice cream going, using the syrup I had made yesterday, which I warmed up in a pot of water until it was soft enough to stir. (Here’s a similar ice cream recipe, and just ignore the part about coconut cream, and instead add 1/4 cup maple syrup, and then stir in some chopped walnuts after you churn it)

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I also made a batch of chocolate chip ice cream (same base, but add chocolate chips). Jammed those in the freezer and headed out to get my wonderful docks. 

Okay. So. I really can’t stand to revisit every last horrible detail, but it included a woman screaming “STOP!” and a man shouting, “What are you DOING??” and then when we got past that part and found the right field instead of the Very Wrong Field, there was a long spell where Damien and I were standing in the rain in that field, coming up with every last possible scenario we could that might possibly end up with us loading up these docks and bringing them home.

When we got to the part where I suggested going back home, getting our mini chainsaw and as many teenagers as we could find, and then using all our might to load the hacked-up pieces of dock into the truck and making maybe five or six trips to get it home, and then returning the pickup truck to U-Haul on time, we just kind of looked at each other and said, ” . . . Yeah, no.”

It was sad. It was tragic. But the fact is, we really needed a winch and a flatbed for this job. I did call a flatbed company and had a short argument with the dispatcher, but when they finally called back, I missed the call, and that was the final chapter in a long and stupid story called “It Was Just Not Meant To Be.”

So I went home and cried a little bit, to be honest with you, because I really wanted those docks, and also I felt like I was the dumbest person in the world because nothing every works out, boo hoo hoo, and the maple syrup was all my fault, and I had forgotten to buy potatoes for the Irish breakfast, and then I fetched the dough for the alleged soda bread that had been rising for 20 hours, and it was . . . in keeping with the rest of my efforts that day.

 

HOWEVER, I baked what I had, and they turned out somewhat reminiscent of bread.

Damien made the bacon, and we actually had a really tasty meal. I roasted some mushrooms with — I don’t remember, probably garlic, salt, pepper, butter, oil, and then some lemon juice at the end, and I roasted some tomato halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

 I cut the bread into thick little wedges

and I heated up some baked beans, and then I fried a bunch of duck eggs in bacon grease, and yes, all together it was delicious. 

Even without potatoes. 

But! The ice cream didn’t freeze! I don’t know why! Maybe my freezer is overstuffed and the bowls are not getting sufficiently chilled. What can one say. Begorrah. We definitely ate it anyway, but it was more like a thin milkshake than ice cream. 

MONDAY
Mussel lo mein

Monday I was pretty ready to have everything go better, and it did. Aldi was selling pouches of cooked mussel meat for $3 a pound a while back, so I pulled those out of the freezer and let them defrost while I did yoga. My sprained (or whatever) ankle was finally feeling well enough to do a full class again, so that was nice; and the cat stole one of the bags of mussels but did not manage to open it, so that was also nice!

At dinner time, I boiled three pounds of linguine, and started the lo mein with minced garlic and ginger, then added diced red onion and sugar snap peas, and then the mussels,

and then I put in 2/3 of the pasta and the sauce, and it was a lovely lo mein.

I served the rest of the pasta plain, for people who prefer that. 

The lo mein was so good. I adore this recipe. It’s so fast and easy, and just delicious, and you can put whatever you want in it. 

TUESDAY
Pizza, cannoli 

Tuesday I had to face the fact that, even though I love St. Joseph very much, I had just plain forgotten that it was his feast day. Most years, we do a big Italian feast, but we were pretty zonked this week, so I just made pizza. 

I did make a pretty deluxe pizza for the wild card one (I generally make one pepperoni, one plane, and one wild card pizza): Fresh garlic, roast tomatoes (left over from the Irish meal), spinach, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and black olives. 

Ahem: 
 
I can see a new horizonUnderneath the blazin’ sky.I’ll be where the sauce is flyin’(Not Srebenica!)

Gonna be your mom in motionAll I need’s this bag of cheese.Take me where my future’s lyin’St. Joseph’s pizza! 

Look, the original song doesn’t make any sense, either. 

We also happened to have cannoli shells in the house, which Damien grabbed months ago because they aren’t always in stores, so you get them while you can. I made a basic filling (ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and powdered sugar) and piped it into the shells, then decorated them with rainbow sprinkles. 

Not actually very swanky (I didn’t have time to let the filling drain, so it was kinda wet), but heyyy. St. Joseph. Not Srebenica. 

WEDNESDAY
Butter chicken, rice, dal

Wednesday was duckling day! We ordered them a while back, thinking they would arrive after Easter when things had “”””””calmed down a little,”””””” but in fact they came on Wednesday. Here they are, noisily waiting in the post office to be picked up

The last batch of ducks we got were named after some of Damien’s great uncles, E.J., Coin, Fay, and Ray; so these ones are named after my paternal grandmother, Annie, and her sisters Mickey and Bebe.

They’re a little confused

but quite winsome

Here’s a couple of videos from the first and second day, meeting the rest of the animals. 

They are Black Swedish ducks, and their personalities are somewhat different from the last little flock we got, which are pekin ducks. They are less sleepy and more jumpy, and they already look more duck-shaped than the pekins did at this age. (The pekins were just fuzzy blobs for about a week, but these guys have discernible necks already.) 

Last time, we got a straight run, meaning nobody had figured out yet what sex they are. We ended up with two boys and two girls, which is not ideal (there are some power struggles). So this time we paid extra to get them sexed, and these are all girls. They’re supposed to be friendly and cold-hearty and good foragers, and the shells of their eggs will be a darker, bluish shade. This is what they will look like as adults

One of my upcoming projects is to make a better fence, because our current flock finds it very easy to escape, and they’ve been roaming all over the property and also off the property, and we’re not really sure if everyone else finds them as charming as we do. They do get plenty of exercise this way, and nobody has eaten them yet. 

Anyway! Still had to make supper, and the menu said butter chicken and dal. I’ve never had or even seen, much less made dal before. I followed the recipe in Julie Sahni’s cookbook, except I think I had the wrong kind of lentils. It said yellow or pink, and I had ones that were kind of orangey and are called “football lentils.” 

Anyway it was a super easy recipe. You just simmer the lentils in water with turmeric until they’re tender,

whisk them until they’re blended (that was fun), and then at the end, add some oil that you’ve browned a bunch of sliced garlic in.

I think it came out much thicker than it’s supposed to be — more of a paste than anything you could conceivably sip — but it was DELICIOUS. 

The butter chicken is also so easy. You just have to start early (or the night before) so it can marinate, but then I followed this recipe from RecipeTinEats, except I accidentally bought vanilla yogurt instead of plain, so I used sour cream instead. Worked great. You just cook up the chicken, then put in your tomato, cream, salt, and sugar, and let it simmer a bit longer.

I ended up with a lot more sauce than we needed for the chicken (possibly it was thinner because it was sour cream instead of yogurt? I don’t know), but better too much than too little. 

I sure wish I had some naan or some other kind of bread, but I was — well, to be honest, I was tired because I was so excited about the ducks. So I just made a big pot of rice to go with it. Set out some more cilantro and there it was. 

Such a nice, lovely meal. I ate so much.  Just about everybody likes butter chicken. The dal was not a huge hit, but I myself loved it, so I’m probably going to try again on a day when I can also make naan, and maybe I can talk them into it that way. 

THURSDAY
Banh mi, Doritos

Thusday we had banh mi, which we haven’t had for quite some time, because the smell is a bit of a trial for some people who live in this house. 

I made a very slight tweak in the marinade

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(running the cilantro through the food processor, rather than just chopping it up coarsely) and I liked it, so I’ll do it that way from now on.

I quick-pickled some carrots 

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and did the ol’ glass-skull-full-of-pickled-carrots maneuver 

I just cut up the cucumbers and left them unpickled, because there are so many sharp, attention-getting flavors in this sandwich already. 

The meat turned out extremely tender.

I had my sandwich with pickled carrots and fresh cilantro and some sriracha mayo, but I forgot to add cucumbers and jalapeños. I did toast the rolls, though, which I don’t always bother to do. 

Magnificent. This is truly one of the great lights in the universe of sandwiches. My only regret was the pickled carrots were too sweet, but (so) the kids liked them a lot. We also had Doritos, which were a surprisingly good accompaniment to this sandwich. Or maybe I just like Doritos. 

Late Thursday night, we lost one of the ducklings. I mean it died, we didn’t lose track of it. They were only a few days old and I don’t really know what happened. It just happens sometimes. The other two seem pretty hale and hearty, and now . . . I have to figure out which name I should assign to the one who didn’t make it, which is an unforeseen pitfall of naming brand-new ducklings after real people!

Ah well. 

FRIDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese sandwiches

Friday was Benny’s school conference (Corrie’s was Thursday afternoon), and we made a stop afterwards at a favorite thrift store, where Benny found an absolutely lovely, brand new dress that fits her like a dream, and I found eighteen matching tiny wine glasses for $4. Perfect for Passover, which we will be celebrating on Holy Saturday as usual. Which is . . . .coming right up, isn’t it. There isn’t much in the way of Passover food to be found in the supermarkets, because actual Passover isn’t for more than another month, but I’ll figure it out. 

Deep down, I’m glad I’m not frantically trying to figure out what to do about the two docks that are in my driveway right now. It just took a couple of days to realize I felt that way. 

It is snowing.

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

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

for the rest

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

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

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Pork banh mi

Ingredients

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

 

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 370: Meatball style

Happy Friday! I’m sitting outside the library typing in my car, because it has been and continues to be That Kind Of Week. Despite the week’s worst intentions, we did manage to have a few tasty meals, though. Read on!

SATURDAY
Hot dogs and chips

Into every life, a little hot dog must fall. I happen to love hot dogs and would serve them once a week if I could get away with it. Alas. 

But piping hot, natural casing hot dogs are just so good. The only thing that could make this better is a little sauerkraut and the square kind of bun with the ends all torn up and inhabiting a space just barely this side of food, rather than some kind of cotton batting. And the bun should be steamed like at a baseball game. And I guess maybe a plate, but that is negotiable.

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

On Sunday, I faced my fate and made dinner for the youth group. Actually I made the meatballs Saturday night, because everything always takes longer than it should, and I wanted to have that part squared away. 

As you can see, I put them on baking racks and cooked them in the oven, which is the fastest and tidiest way to make a large amount of meatballs. 

On Sunday, I chopped up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers and made a bunch of garlic bread and a quadruple batch of brownies, and then I dragooned Clara into helping me lug it over to the church basement, where I started a giant pot of water heating up, and prepped everything. 

It was completely delightful to be back in an industrial kitchen. The dank smell of propane and the sharp smell of stainless steel, the faint milky stank of the giant refrigerator, the no-nonsense aprons, the vast rolls of plastic wrap, the capacious ladles, the quantity of tongs. I don’t even know how many kitchens I’ve worked in, but it’s a lot! My natural habitat. 

HOWEVER, it’s been a while, and I did forget just how long it takes for one of those massive pots of water to boil. It was a nail-biter (not literally. We are very sanitary here, and we keep our paws out of our mouths), but I did get the pasta cooked just in the nick of time.

The church hall, where the kitchen is, has some bathroom issues they’re working on, so the group was eating in a separate building on the second floor, rather than next to the kitchen. So we lugged over a big pot of sauce and meatballs, a big bowl of spaghetti, the pans of garlic bread, the salad, several jugs of juice, salad dressing and grated cheese, and a big platter of frosted brownies. They offered to have us eat with them, but we decided instead to skulk back to the kitchen and clean it in peace, and then we went home to eat. I did sign up to make another meal in a few months, but I think I’m gonna serve something cold next time. I can cook or I can lug, but I don’t want to do both. 

I had also made spaghetti and meatballs for the people at home, and the best way to describe the situation we found ourselves in at the end of that day is: That sure was a lot of meatballs.  

MONDAY
Meatball subs, raw vegetables

Truly, a lot of meatballs. I had been planning to make spiedies this week, but I put the pork back in the freezer and used the rolls for meatballs subs. 

And I made a giant platter of raw vegetables, because I’m half rabbit these days. 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday I had a longish trip in the morning and came back feeling pretty floppy, so Damien made these pizzas: One pepperoni, one cheese, and one, you’ll never guess, or maybe you will guess: meatball. 

This may or may not have been the last of the meatballs. Either the last of them went on the pizza, or the last of them pissed someone off and they threw them away. Doesn’t matter which one. I feel like justice was served, meatball style. 

Also on Tuesday, I started boiling my maple sap. I made some dumb mistakes storing it, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I found myself at a crossroads, so it was boil or nothing, and for various other reasons that I also don’t want to talk about, it was also boil inside or nowhere. I started out with about four gallons

and let them simmer for several hours, until it was time to go to bed, and I had this:

and then the next morning, I started boiling it again until it reached 220 degrees, and I got this:

Nice color, intense flavor, plenty thick, not much of it! I’m still collecting sap and hope to have a second boil this weekend, and I’m thinking of making what I’ve got into maple walnut ice cream. 

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, pumpkin muffins

And now for something completely different! A  . . . different kind of meatball!!!!

Ground turkey was $3/lb., so I made a one-and-a-half recipe of this Sip and Feast version of Italian wedding soup. The changes I made were: Skipped the celery because I accidentally ate it all (see: rabbit), I used kale instead of escarole because I remembered the recipe wrong when I was shopping, and I used orzo because I did buy acini de pepe specifically for the soup, but it disappeared when it came home and nobody knows how. 

It’s oh such a pleasant, nourishing soup, though. First I made the meatballs, which I baked on parchment paper. Then you chop and sauté your veggies. (I threw the onion and carrots in the food processor, which doesn’t make the most elegant results, but it does the job.)

Then add chicken stock. You’re supposed to add the pasta now and then the meatballs and then serve, but I was making soup in the morning and didn’t want the pasta to get mushy, so I put the meatballs in and let it simmer all day, and then added the orzo shortly before dinner. Turned out perfect. Lovely, lovely soup. 

It would have been great with hot, crusty bread or some garlic knots, but what I had on hand was muffin ingredients, so I made a batch of these pumpkin muffins 

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This recipe makes two loaves or 18 muffins, and I have made dozens of times, and it only turned out bad one time that I can recall. 

They are just tender and pleasant, nothing earthshaking, but reliable and a great way to round out a meal. 

Sometimes you want something that is the same all the way through. No tricks! Just muffin. 

I had a little more parmesan cheese to top the soup (the meatballs also have grated parmesan in them) and it was a very fine meal. 

Also MILLIE came home on Wednesday! so I brought her a few muffins and she gave me a sewing machine. So nature has been restored. 

THURSDAY 
Japanese chicken thighs, rice, cucumbers; strawberry rhubarb pie and peach pineapple pie

Thursday some of the kids had dentist appointments, and the driving situation was such that I decided it made more sense to just keep those kids home for the rest of the day. Which they thought was a great idea until the middle schooler realized she was missing the Pi recitation contest at school, because March 14 is Pi Day, and she hadn’t exactly been working hard to memorize pi, but she had definitely been stressing out about it, and now she was missing it. So I was more or less forced to make a couple of pies. 

The truth is, I’m almost always on the verge of making pies, and it takes very little to push me over the edge. 

First I made a sauce for the chicken, though. It’s nice and easy – you just throw everything into a pan and get your resident nine-year-old to stir it for you until it thickens up. This particular child approaches cooking just like I do: Recipes are all very well, and of course it would be nice to end up with something that tastes good, but the main part is staring at the pan and thinking about why bubbles are like that. 

This is the recipe I used, which is intended for chicken yakitori, which is pieces of chicken on skewers. Someday I will actually make that, but in the mean time, the sauce is top notch. I actually double the amount of fresh garlic and ginger, and I stand by that. When it was close to dinner time, I lined a pan with parchment paper, tossed the chicken thighs in the sauce so they were all coated, and just cooked them in a 350 oven for maybe thirty minutes. 

Juicy and delicious. If I had been cooking the chicken by itself, I probably would have turned the heat up, and maybe broiled it at least at the end, but I was also baking some pies, so we all had to make some compromises. The chicken was great, I just would have liked the skin a little more crisp. 

The flavor was tremendous, though. As you can see, I made some rice and cut up a bunch of plain cucumbers. I had made a triple batch of the sauce and saved out a third of it, and served it on the side for dipping and for the rice.

Make the sauce! It’s so good.

So now the pies. I made a double recipe of this pie crust

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and made the mistake of thinking to myself, “My pie crust always turns out so good. I should make a video to show people how I do it.” So of course you know what happened. The frickin’ stuff would not hold together, and it was just a crumbly mess. No idea why. (I do know why:  Not enough water. The mystery is, why didn’t I add more water? I don’t know.)

I managed to roll out two bottom crusts and get them in pie plates, and then I had to figure out the filling. I did NOT want to go to the store, so I found a can of sliced peaches and a can of crushed pineapple in the cabinet, drained them, and added a cup of sugar, half a cup of flour, some cinnamon, a little lemon juice, a little vanilla, and some butter on top

You can see the raggy-ass crust I was dealing with here. I did manage to piece together a lattice top, which looks difficult but is super forgiving once it’s baked, especially if you brush it with egg and sprinkle it with sugar. 

Then I dragged out the rhubarb I threw in the freezer last summer and chopped that up.

I toyed with the idea of a rhubarb pear pie, and I still think that sounds good, but also like a good way to go to a lot of trouble making a pie that only you eat, which doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes, except possibly — no, really nobody’s. 

So I settled on strawberry rhubarb, and asked Damien to bring home some strawberries. This does not count as going to the store, because we also needed milk, and half-and-half, and various things, and a little Spongebob figurine for the sea monkey tank, and so on. I more or less followed the Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for the filling. I have such mixed feelings about old Sally. She gives you SO much detail, and she’s so bossy about every little thing, but on the other hand, she indisputably knows what she’s talking about. I bet she never gets stuck with meatballs for four days.

I only had a little crust left because, well, I had eaten a lot of the dough. So I rolled it out and, remembering how pretty the elite pita turned out last week, I used the swirly embossed rolling pin, thinking it might turn out decorative and ornate, maybe? 

Probably if the dough had been more supple, I would have had something, but as it was, the crust just came out looking less decorative, and more like I don’t know how to make pie crust, which allegations I cannot beat. 

Blorp.

It was delicious, though. Sweet and tart and tender, and honestly the crust was great. Not beautiful, but very flaky and tender. 

The peach pineapple one came out looking a little more respectable, except I overbaked it by a few minutes

And it tasted . . . exactly like what it was. If I were trying to sell this recipe, I’d say it was a nostalgic throwback to those cans of fruit cocktail that mom used to serve for lunch. Not bad! Just not terribly sophisticated. No regrets, because we had pie. 

My other big excitement on Thursday was that I got a big load of pressure treated wood from Facebook Marketplace. I’m really gonna make that walkway across the marsh!

Here’s the spot I want to span:

and here’s the two piles of wood I have to work with:

Some of the short pieces are pretty thick, so I might be able to use them as supports to go underneath; or I might scout around and see if I can find a fallen tree, and cut that into sections; OR, I might get some barrels and use those. It’s about sixty feet of space and I really think I can do this, and then the stream will be so much more accessible. Right now it’s an adventure with thorns and muck, and it’s worth it, but sometimes you just can’t make yourself do it. 

But imagine if I had a lovely wooden walkway, and maybe a string of lights and a birdhouse or two? Maybe.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, tater tots

There is some kind of terrible dance recital this evening. I would really just as soon stay home with the kids and make precious memories of watching TV, but that’s not how you get a free T-shirt, so I guess we’re going. 

If I have time, I will make tuna burgers, which is one drained can of tuna, one egg, and half a cup of breadcrumbs, plus whatever seasonings you want, and then you form them into four patties (or possibly two, per can? I haven’t made this in a long time), and fry them gently in oil until they are brown on both sides and hot all the way through. I think exactly two people in the family like tuna burgers. I did buy tater tots, so that should get me something. 

This will only be possible if we can get the car started, though. I’m currently outside the library sitting in a dead car, waiting for Damien to come rescue me again. Such. Is. Life. At least we had plenty of meatballs.

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

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.

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

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

SATURDAY
Tacos for kids, Indian food for adults

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

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

 

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

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

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, tomato bacon bisque

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why did I grow them? I don’t know. 

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

MONDAY
Under-over pizza

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

It . . . didn’t completely not work. 

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

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, popcorn

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

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

 

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, kiwi

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

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

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

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

 

A very fine meal. 

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

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

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

made the shakshuka sauce and moved it into the slow cooker

(here’s the recipe:)

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

It turns out it’s just papaya! 

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

So first I made the pumpkin seeds

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s my story!

FRIDAY
Shrimp lo mein

If I make it home alive. 

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Soul cakes

Servings 18 flat cakes the size of large biscuits

Ingredients

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

optional:

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while they are warm

 

Eggs in purgatory

Ingredients

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

optional:

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

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

for the rest

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

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 350: In which I do not really use the oven

Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya. I actually wrote quite a bit this week, but ended up doing whatever the digital version is of crumpling up the paper, and whatever the sitting on your ass version is of stomping off to go stand in a corner and sulk. This has not been a wonderful week for (a) a Jew who (b) has been following the Catholic sex abuse scandal closely for years and (c) lives next door to Maine. You know what doesn’t help? When the 12-year-old public radio host who is reading the headlines suddenly puts on her raggedy, tormented sad kitty voice and says, “Hope you’re taking care of yourself today. Deep breaths, everybody,” before abruptly perking up and announcing that it will be sunny this weekend and there will be a punkin festibal. I’ll sunny you! Good heavens. 

Anyway, I’ve been making steady progress with Halloween costumes this week, so I’ve got that going for me. I managed to almost completely avoid sewing this year. LOTS of duct tape, lots of hot glue, and a tremendous number of zip ties, though. Corrie is going to be Dalek Sec, with a light-up helmet

and Benny is going to be Classic Green Goblin. 

They both needs more work, but we’re in pretty good shape for Oct. 28. 

The oven broke on Sunday (just the bottom heating element) and we haven’t had a chance to fix it yet, but I lucked out and happened to have planned a menu that can be made with the broiler, the stovetop, and of course the Instant Pot. Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips

On Saturday we went to a rummage sale in the morning. We love rummage sales. Corrie has been losing just dozens of teeth lately, so she had a glass jar stuffed with bills to spend. The first thing she bought was, practically, a wallet. She then transferred her money to the wallet and went on an incredible spending spree. She was buying Crayola Glow Domes, she was buying Christmas earrings, she was buying t-shirts bragging about our Bernese Mountain Dog. Zero regrets.

I myself bought a leather motorcycle jacket for some reason (well, the reason was that it was $12) and a bunch of kitchen wares. The duality of mom.

Then we came home and I got some pulled pork going in the Instant Pot

and then we all went to the Pumpkin Festival in Keene. 

it was raining, but we had a pretty good time. The theme this year was “Please Do Not Light Any Cars on Fire” and with an undertone of “How Much Can We Charge For Fried Dough and Still Sleep At Night?” and they nailed it. 

We all got home pretty wet and tired, so I was mighty pleased to have a hot pot of pulled pork waiting. We had sandwiches and chips. 

I made up a new card for the new way I make pulled pork.

Jump to Recipe

I like the flavor so much, I don’t even put BBQ sauce on my sandwich. You definitely can, but it’s plenty flavorful by itself. This is a rare recipe of mine that doesn’t have any garlic in it! Behold, it can be done! It has a wonderful, warming, autumnal taste with the apple cider, apple juice, cumin, and cloves. You can remove the jalapeño seeds and/or membranes to make it less spicy, but it’s not overpowering as is, just perky. 

SUNDAY
Chicken burgers, nacho chips

Sunday was when we noticed the oven was broken, and also when we discovered you can broil frozen chicken burgers and they turn out fine. 

MONDAY
English muffin pizzas

We used to have this alllllll the time. It’s been several years, I think, and it’s a meal a few of the kids have been agitating for. Damien was going to be out of town, so I took the opportunity. I even got little bitty mini pepperonis to make it cute

I don’t really miss this meal, but it wasn’t terrible. I feared and hated the sourness of English muffins when I was little, and I still have to consciously flip a switch in my head to enjoy the taste of them. 

TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, quesadillas

I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from last week I had chucked into the freezer, so I used that to make one of my favorite soups. The recipe

Jump to Recipe

calls for cooking the raw chicken directly into the broth, and I wasn’t going to do that, so I added extra chicken bouillon to make sure it had some flavor. It also calls for chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and I couldn’t find that at all in the three stores I went to. So I just added more of all the other ingredients. 

The result was . . . honestly, pretty bland soup. 

Pretty, though. Aldi had these fancy tri-colored crunchy tortilla strips for toppings, so I grabbed a bag of those, and I also topped mine with avocado and cilantro. I made a bunch of quesadillas. It was fine. Not an amazing meal, but it wasn’t the recipe’s fault. 

WEDNESDAY
Mexican beef bowls, pineapple

On Wednesday, I re-burnished my reputation somewhat with a meal everybody likes: Mexican beef bowls.

Jump to Recipe

Roast beef was on sale, so I made the lovely, piquant marinade in the morning and sliced the meat thinly, and let it marinate all day

When it got to be close to supper, I made a pot of rice, sliced up a few pineapples, shredded some cheese, roasted some corn, chopped some cilantro, cut up some limes, and dug up some sour cream, and then I broiled the meat

Honestly I overcooked it, because I forgot how thin it was, but it was fine. 

So yummy. Tons of flavors. 

Earlier in the day, I also made a pot of black beans. Actually I only had one can of beans and one can of kidney beans, so that’s what we had. 

Jump to Recipe

Only a few people like beans, so I added as much spice and garlic as I wanted, which was a lot. I’m a huge bean fan. (I realize that’s a slightly ambiguous sentence. I mean it all the ways.) So much so that the kids stored the leftovers in a ziplock bag, and I ate cold bagged beans as a snack the next day and managed to feel guilty about the opulent luxury of it all.

THURSDAY
Blackened shishito chicken sandwiches; veggies and hummus

This is one of my favorite sandwiches, quite popular at our house. This time I had Tony CHachere’s seasoning, rather than some kind of generic “cajun seasoning,” and I forgot how salty Tony CHachere’s is! So they were a little overly aggressive, salt-wise. Still so tasty, though. 

This is a Sip and Feast recipe. You season the chicken thighs and cook them slowly and thoroughly in hot oil 

(this pan is one of my rummage sale finds! A lovely multi-ply stainless steel pan, very sturdy. I love stainless steel the best)

and then you top them with American cheese and let that melt

and while those keep warm, you quickly blister up the shishito peppers in the pan that you cooked the chicken in

and serve it all on toasted or untoasted brioche buns with barbecue sauce and red onion slices

and it’s just a damn fine, sloppy, tasty, delicious sandwich, even if you burn the buns like I did. 

FRIDAY
Regular spaghetti

On Friday, we had already been a million places, and we had a million places to be, so all signs pointed to spaghetti with sauce from a jar. And that’s my story! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some Dalekanium and a hot glue gun. I suggest taking shallow breaths and being hard on yourself, and writing legally actionable hate mail to your local public radio host. But you know yourself. 

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.

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Adapted from twosleevers.com. This is a very flavorful chicken soup. It has a little hotsy totsy burst of spice with the first taste, and then the more complex flavors come through slowly. Magic.

It's fairly brothy, and then you heap up all the garnishes you want on top.

This is a little over a gallon of soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 med onions
  • 1 lb (4 medium) tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 chiles in adobo sauce plus some of the sauce
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (include seeds for more heat)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • water
  • salt to taste
  • garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, chopped scallions

Instructions

  1. Cut the onions and tomatoes into chunks so they will fit in the blender or food processor. Put the onions, tomatoes, jalapeño, chili pepper and sauce, garlic and cilantro into a blender or food processor and blend it until it's a thick sauce. You may need to do it in batches, or just keep poking the big pieces down so everything gets blended in.

  2. Add enough oil to the Instant Pot pot to cover the bottom. Press "sauté" and let the oil heat up for a few minutes.

  3. Pour in the tomato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until any liquid is mostly absorbed. You may need to press "sauté" again to keep it hot.

  4. Cut the chicken breasts into pieces and put them in the pot. Add six cups of water.

  5. Close the top, seal the valve, and press "pressure cook," then the + button until it goes to 20 minutes. When it's done cooking, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.

  6. Open the top and fish out the chicken. Shred it and return it to the pot. Add salt to taste.

  7. Serve the soup with garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and chopped scallions.

 

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.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 347: Wouldn’t it be chili with no skin on?

In elementary school, we used to sing this Halloween round:

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones, 
With the rest all go-o-o-o-ne,
Oooooooh!
O00-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooooh!
Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?

WELL, it all comes together in today’s post. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, raw broccoli and dip

I woke up SO late on Saturday and everything got pushed forward SO far, I’m pretty impressed we had three actual distinct things for supper. 

Nothing else to report, except that I suddenly remembered a kid going through a phase of playing restaurant, and one of the featured items was “pretziles.” Which makes me remember I haven’t made homemade hot pretzels in a while. 

[Daphne Moon voice:] I don’t know whyyyy.

On Saturday, I also finally put up an extra little shelf that I’ve been meaning to put up, and now I officially have room for all my spices! If you’ll recall, this is what it looked like before. 

Then I got a bunch of spice jars and bunch of mason jars; and now I have an extra shelf as well, so here it is:

It’s . . . sigh . . . better. I swear it’s better. Only a few things are still in sacks, and everything is labelled, top and side. And I have hooks for red and yellow onions, and a little basket for my ginger and garlic. 

I haven’t organized the spices, though. There are just too many other people using them, and trying to keep them in the order I want would be asking for constant heartache.

I also still haven’t managed to re-hang the other shelf that came crashing down, that used to hold all my oils and vinegars, so that’s all crammed in there as well. It’s less upsetting if I think of it all as WEALTH, which it is. Never thought I’d need a spot just for all my various salts and peppers! My various oil! Look how lucky I am. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips, further raw broccoli

On Sunday I did a bunch of tragic gardening (I planted a few hundred bulbs and spent the time repeatedly reminding myself that absolutely none of them are going to come up and everything just dies anyway and what’s the point, oh boo hoo hoo hoo) and also put up some more skeletons. For, uh, self care. 

We have a number of skeletons year-round, partly because it helps Instacart find our house when GPS insists on sending them to the fence company and saying that’s our house; but mostly because I have had a lifelong love for skeletons. 

This one, I think the kids named Shakespeare 

and this one, Insulon, is new this year (his eyes light up):

Then we have Baba Mailbox, which doesn’t really make sense, but whatcha gonna do:

and of course The Gardener:

and also new this year is Horbert, who lives by himself.

Here is a short video of The Hoisting of Horbert:

 

who didn’t end up as high as I expected, considering how hard it was to hold that tree down. 

Then we had hamburgers for supper.

I don’t know if it’s been a long time since we’ve had burgers, or maybe I just worked up a good appetite tragically gardening and tree wrestling, but those were some especially delicious burgers. 

MONDAY
Chili verde on rice; corn

This is a nice recipe that I discovered a little shortcut for this week.

Jump to Recipe

Normally when I make chili verde, I blister the peppers and tomatillos under the broiler, then let them sit and loosen, then pull off the skins and put the insides in the food processor, along with onion, garlic, and cilantro.

This time, I suddenly wondered what would happen if I left the skins on. I also put the onions in the oven, rather than adding them raw to the blender. Time to find out! Exciting! 

I cut the pork shoulder into chunks, seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, browned it in oil, blended up the vegetables, and then added the resulting green salsa to the pot with the pork, and let it cook slowly on the stovetop all day. 

It turned out thicker than usual and quite a bit spicier than usual, a real sinus clearer. And absolutely delicious. Mayyybe a tiny bit bitter, but not in an unpleasant way. The family polished it off, to my delight. I might add some chicken broth in the future, to make it a little thinner, but I think I will stick with leaving the skins on. It made my life easier, and the flavor was great. If anyone knows of some reason why I should be taking the skins off, speak now! 

I was gonna make corn bread or corn muffins, but a quick poll revealed that nobody actually wants that, so I just cooked up some frozen corn, and made a bunch of white rice, and that was what they wanted. We had lime wedges and sour cream for toppings, and we really needed that sour cream to ease up the spice!

Wish I had had a little more cilantro to top it off. But it was a good meal. Everyone either has, just had, or is about to get a cold, and it’s been damp and foggy out, so this worked nicely. 

On Wednesday I also got a very subtle haircut. Usually I got to Head Whompers and pay $12 to get most of my hair chopped off, but this time I went to a Fancy Place and paid quite a bit more to get little bits here and there removed.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but Damien said my head looked fluffier, so I think that’s good. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins

Jubilation. This is a highly-anticipated meal (second only to ham-peas-mashed potatoes) that I hold off making until the frost is on the pumpkin or whatever. I forgot to get mushrooms, but it was still very tasty.

Here’s the soup recipe: 

Jump to Recipe

This is the soup I make in my head when I can’t fall asleep. I go through it as slowly and meticulously as possible, paying close attention to each detail, cleaning as I go, and if I don’t actually fall asleep by the end, I usually at least feel less anxious. Thanks, soup!

In real life, it was a soccer day, so I made the soup in the morning, except for the barley, and then put together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients for the pumpkin muffins

Jump to Recipe

and then combined them when I got home, and quickly baked them right before supper. 

Full disclosure, the muffins were a tiny bit squashy (I mean technically they were 100% squashy, since canned pumpkin is actually squash; but I meant they were somewhat underdone) and the barley was a little bit chompy, because I forgot how long it takes to cook; but it was still a well-received meal. 

Piping hot muffins and a bowl of soup with tender beef, lots of wine and tomatoes, plenty of carrots and onions and pepper. What’s not to love?

Next time I need to make more soup! Some people have come around to soup recently, to my delight.

This is why I stick to my policy of just making food that seems good to me, and offering it over and over and over again. People really do come around eventually, often enough. Or if they don’t, that’s also fine. I just don’t want to fight about food. There’s enough fights. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one pepperoni, and one Things Mother Likes. To wit: Black olive, fresh garlic, red onion, fresh basil, ricotta, anchovy.

This absolute cartoon cat got to clean out the anchovy can for recycling

and I got to eat two pieces of this scrumptious pizza

so everybody was happy.

THURSDAY
Asian meatballs, pork fried rice, pineapple

I made extra rice when I made the chili verde, for the express purpose of having leftovers for fried rice. Wasn’t that smart? I feel like I am waking up out of a fog this week. I’ll probably live to regret saying this, but I stopped taking Propranalol because it wasn’t doing anything for my headaches anyway, and within a few days I felt much more awake and much less pukey; and without changing my diet, I lost three pounds. So. Go to hell, Propranalol. I have a real live appointment with an honest-to-goodness neurologist, and I’m going to insist they stick needles in my cheeks or install a skull steam valve or something. But no more stupid drugs that make me stupid! I’m already stupid enough! 

Anyway, the fried rice was good. I minced some ginger and garlic and threw it in the pan with hot oil for a bit, then added pieces of leftover pork and diced red onion, and then I dumped a bunch of brown sugar on top of that and let it get bubbly and dark.

Then I added scrambled egg (I didn’t think I was up for scrambling the egg directly into the rice today), some bagged broccoli, carrot, and water chestnut, and the leftover rice, and then I dumped on a bunch of oyster sauce, a little fish sauce, and quite a bit of soy sauce, and heated it all up.

Pretty tasty!

I made the meatballs in the morning, and cooked them while I was making the rice. I used a recipe I’ve used before (it’s not letting me put the “jump to recipe” button in, for some reason, but the recipe is at the bottom of the page: Vaguely Asian Meatballs), except instead of ground beef, I used ground turkey, which happened to be $3 a pound. I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes before dinner

and served them with a jar of sweet chili sauce, and they were delicious. Light and garlicky and just very pleasant to eat. 

I also cut up a couple of pineapples and sprinkled some more chopped scallions over everything, and it was an easy, successful meal. 

When I make two kinds of Asian-inspired food, my goal is to not use the exact same ingredients in both dishes, and I achieved this by refraining from putting ginger in the meatballs. My breath was still glowing in the dark that night from all the garlic. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas? 

Yes, I think quesadillas. I have a bunch of spinach in the fridge that I never used, so I think I’ll make spinach quesadillas, which are very nice. 

 It occurs to me that one of those skeletons should be named John, or Chili Verde, or Tomatillo, or something. Well, there’s always next year. 

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.

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

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. 343: Duck eggs and fox nuts

Happy Friday! Today I am here to make you feel relatively stable and sane. 

Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Regular tacos

Nothing to report. I took this picture mainly to remind me what we ate on Saturday, but best practice is to include lots of photos in the post, so here ya go.

Oh, I guess I actually have to report that I wasn’t paying attention when I sprinkled in the hot pepper flakes, and a lot of people made “wooooo!” sounds when they tasted the meat, which I took as a compliment. 

SUNDAY
Pizza

Sunday was freeeeeaking hot. I made myself do some gardening anyway, because I know that, by the time it’s time to plant bulbs, I’m going to have strep throat or tendonitis or the cold robbies something, and I won’t be able to manage it. So I prepped the little patio St. Joseph garden, which had gotten to look like this:

and now it looks like this

Now it just needs to get a little colder, and I can stuff the mulched area full of daffodil, tulips, and crocus bulbs. This will be nice in the spring, but it’s mostly to give me something to think about all winter, so I don’t kuh-kuh-kuh-kay em ess. 

I’ve also been gathering cosmos and marigold seeds. I’ve been deadheading my marigolds several times a week, and putting the heads up to dry for a week or so, and then pulling the seeds out, which is fun. LOOK how many seeds I have. 

And there’s more to come! Next year, I will have an UNSPEAKABLE amount of marigolds. 

Then, after gardening, it was time to make pizza! One olive, one pepperoni, and one arugula and prosciutto. I guess it’s time to make up a recipe card for this pizza. Here you go: 

Jump to Recipe

I actually had a mix of arugula and spinach, and I have to say, I prefer just arugula for this pizza. It stays a little snappier in texture, and the peppery flavor is nice. I also couldn’t find the olive oil. We have had a week of Everything Breaking, and one of the more minor things that broke was the shelf where I keep all my bottles, daily pills, and most-used measuring cups and spoons

Just came crashing down,

and it’s proved strangely difficult to put it up again (as you can see by the variety of screws, anchors, and adhesive whatnot on display now). So everything is here and there and not to be found, which is aggravating.

Despite these handicaps, it was still very delicious pizza. I did not hold back with the parmesan.

I had two pieces and didn’t really want a third, but I really, really wanted some more pizza crust, which I mentioned wistfully, so Damien got another piece and ate it except for the crust, which he offered to me. Find yourself a man who etc. etc.

MONDAY
Burgers and brats

Monday, Labor Day, we executed a plan we had . . . sort of worked out. That is to say, we’d been planning to do it for about a week, and had thought about the details up to a point, but maybe not quite as granularly as we mights have. Which is to say we left five hours later than we meant to, and it turns out two kayaks and a canoe are not really enough boats to get ten people to an island, unless your husband is willing to paddle back and forth a ridiculous number of times, dragging empty kayaks behind him.

The other part of the plan was that we would visit the island, then go get ice cream, and then get home at a normal time and have a little cookout, but I had already made various other errors during the week, and already used up some of Monday’s burger meat to compensate for those errors, but was then so overwhelmed by Boat Happenstances that I forgot this had happened, so, you know whattt, mistakes were made. Basically Dora was at our house for three hours playing with the cat and waiting for us to get home and give her a burger, and she eventually gave up and went home, and then the rest of us went and got ice cream in the dark, except for me because I was still in a swim suit, because my clothes were sopping wet because I have forgotten how to get in and out of a boat without falling in the water; and Damien went home and cooked not-quite-enough-burgers in the even darker, and the rest of us went home and ate them. Good thing it’s just labor day and not a real holiday!

Anyway, while we were on the island, we met a family with a little girl named Elise, maybe four years old, who was VERY ADAMANT THAT WE REMEMBER HER. Her name is Elise, and don’t you forget it. She blew us several kisses as her somewhat weary-looking mom paddled her away. They, too, seemed to be running a bit behind schedule on this, the most laborious of holidays. 

TUESDAY
Tuna and shrimp poke bowls, tropical fruit, and caramelized lotus pods

This was quite a delicious meal. Last time I made poke bowls, they were so good, I saw no reason to try any other variation, so I just recreated them: A big pot of rice, raw ahi tuna cut into little chunks, shrimp sautéed in chili oil with minced garlic and a little lime juice,

and chili lime cashews, and pea shoots and raw sugar snap peas, and some Polynesian sweet hot sauce. 

Boy, it was good. I also made a platter of watermelon, mango, and papaya, which accidentally formed itself into an Eye of Sauron, but was mostly harmless

The other thing was the lotus pods. Also known as — no, not monkey nuts. Foxnuts. Wow, if you knew how many things I had to stop and look up today, you would wonder if I were still fit to be Senate Minority Leader. Anyway, Clara gave me a couple packets of lotus seed pods,

and I thought the most popular thing to do would be to candy them, so that’s what I did, forgetting for the moment that I’m an idiot and do really poorly with caramelizing anything. 

So I followed this recipe, mainly because I had bought some jaggery quite a while back and really wanted to use it. The author, Ruchi, introduces her page by saying, “Welcome to my incredible food paradise! If you are passionate about food, this is the right place to explore exquisite recipes. From tasty starters, delicious meals, and blissful sweet delights, here you will find everything to please the gourmet in you.” Which, I will be honest, I was just not in the mood for. My therapist wants me to keep a food journal, and write down how I feel and what I think when I eat more than I plan to, and even though I am passionate about food, getting welcomed to an incredible food paradise by Ruchi with her foxnuts is just not helping anything.

I mean, yes, I realize that, as usual I realize that [waves arms dramatically like an exasperated orchestra conductor], I’m the one choosing to do all of this, but it still pissed me off. All of it. The cooking, the new recipe, the fox nuts, the therapy, everything. Whatever. If you had seen me trying to get out of a kayak while everyone was watching, maybe you would alter your opinions of exactly how much I’m in control of my actions. 

Anyway, I fucked up the fox nuts. I burned them, and then I added coconut and burned the coconut, too. Then I switched pans, to get away from the burny taste a little bit. That wasn’t a terrible idea, but then I still had to get the jaggery to the right temperature, and I’m really just awful at making candy, and it was also extremely humid out. So I ended up with this:

It may look like a platter of snacky bits, but it’s all one solid piece. You can break off individual pods, but they were hard as rocks. YES I ATE THEM ANYWAY. What do you take me for. 

And it was a delicious meal. What’s that? How did I feeeeel while I was eating it? I felt great! Eating makes me feel great! That’s why I do it all the time! Stupid question. Boring conversation anyway [shoots food journal].

WEDNESDAY
Kielbasa, potato, Brussels sprouts with honey mustard sauce

Wednesday, I somehow managed to forget that I had to make dinner altogether until it was almost five o’clock. This is what’s called “learning moderation.” And that’s what sheet pan meals are for! 

Every time I make this meal, I veer further and further away from a recipe. This time, I preheated the oven to 425 and trimmed and halved three pounds of Brussels sprouts, sliced five pounds of red potatoes (that were mysteriously the same price as yellow potatoes), and three ropes of kielbasa. I spread all the pieces of everything on two big sheet pans, drizzled it with oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and chunked it in the oven for twenty minutes. 

While it was cooking, I mixed up a bunch of honey, some wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and some stone ground mustard (after floating the idea that stone ground mustard is the boba tea of mustards, which is disgusting but kinda true), and decided I was too lazy to crush up any garlic. When twenty minutes was up, I poured half the sauce over one pan, and then decided I wanted to take a pretty picture in the afternoon light, so I poured on a little more

and then realized I didn’t have enough left for the second pan. So I just drizzled on a bunch of honey and glopped on some mustard and swazzled on some wine vinegar on that one, mixed everything up so it wouldn’t stick, and threw both pans back in the oven, switching the top and bottom pans. Cooked it for another ten minutes or so.

When it came out, I mixed both pans together to even out the sauce situation

Maybe it was the boba mustard or maybe it was the “oops, I forgot to eat today,” but this was a very popular meal, even among husbands who don’t really like kielbasa. 

Wait, that can’t be it, because we had lunch! We had lunch of DUCK EGGS.

That’s right, Wednesday was the second day SOME of our pets started to finally pull their weight around here. 

Not them.

To be fair, I don’t think even I would eat a dog egg. Fox nuts, yes. But I have my limits. 

Gosh, I just talk talk talk. Anyway, our dear lady ducks, the interchangeable Fay and Ray

finally started to lay eggs on Tuesday,

and they did it again on Wednesday  

and again on Thursday

so I guess it’s gonna be a thing! What do you know about that! I was halfway convinced they were either just do-nothing ducks, or else laying secret eggs in the woods somewhere, and we were never going to find them; but they actually just lay them demurely in the hay in the corner of their duck house first thing every morning before breakfast. Amazing. 

On Wednesday, I made fried eggs for lunch for me and Damien. Fresh eggs are always head and shoulders above supermarket eggs. They just cook up better and the whites are fluffier. Duck eggs are like that, and they’re also bigger than chicken eggs, and the yolks are extremely rich. 

I was so proud of the ducks, I gave them some watermelon, which they devoured with great splurting violence. One of these days I will give them some cherries or beets or pomegranates, and I will film it in low light, and I will win a Sam Peckinpah award. 

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowl again … OR WILL I???

Everybody liked it last time, so I’m a-makin’ it agin. Actually we had leftovers from the steak and cheese subs last week, so I stashed it in the freezer, with the intention of using the power of Worcestershire sauce and lime to thriftily transform it into Mexican beef bowls.

Jump to Recipe

But I took a look at how much meat it is this morning, and, through the magic of not wanting a repeat of Monday, I realized it it’s not as much meat as I thought! Need more. 

So I was dropping the kids off at school and thought I would just quickly nip into the supermarket for a little more beef, so I asked the kids if I could shop dressed the way I was. They said, “With your shirt inside out?” This was news to me, because I thought I only had my skirt on inside out. I then became aware that I also had no shoes on, and also no underwear. FOXNUTS! 

UPDATE: I wrote the above paragraph on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, it was in the 90’s and super humid, more than one person was mad at me (???) because we had to pick up a kid at soccer, and my desire to not cook several different foods had reached a tipping point, so I just got Aldi pizza.

No ragrets.

FRIDAY
Salmon tacos

Regular fish tacos with cheapo fish sticks was the plan, but sometimes having a kid who works at the fish counter pays off, like when they can text you about a flash sale because someone ordered way too much salmon.  So I picked up a big filet and I am going to try Ina Garten’s recipe for roasted salmon tacos, which looks pretty tasty. I have everything but dill, and there are even some cucumbers very ready to be picked from the garden right meow. As soon as I get off the couch. 

Just one duck egg this morning! Maybe somebody had a bad dream. 

Oh, last chance to enter the giveaway for the new Tomie dePaola book

Okay, I really think that’s everything. Going to adoration this afternoon, bringing all yer lousy intentions with me.

Prosciutto arugula pizza

Ingredients

  • oil or butter and flour for pan
  • pizza dough
  • sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • prosciutto, torn up
  • arugula
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Grease and flour the pizza pan, stretch the dough over it, pierce it with a fork, spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese as usual.

  2. Spread the garlic and a little rosemary on the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil if you like. Cook as usual.

  3. While it is cooking, make a salad of the arugula, lemon juice, and a little olive oil, plus salt and pepper.

  4. When the pizza comes out, lay the torn-up prosciutto over the top and throw the arugula on top of that. Top with parmesan cheese. Let it sit for a few minutes before slicing, to let the arugula wilt slightly.

 

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. 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. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 338: Please refer to the affidavit

Happy Friday! I have been bumbling around with a migraine all week, and I managed to lose my freshly-refilled bottle of migraine meds before I got any of it. It wasn’t the worst headache in the world, but I was CONFUSED and CONFUSED and also did not know what was going on. So a few of these meals are a little ,,, irregular. 

You may also notice that most of these photos are either outside or on my bed, because I was hiding from everybody all week. I love them all but they are fricken LOUD. 

I feel so much better today, though, thank the Lord. I woke up this morning with no headache, dizziness, nausea, jaw pain, tooth pain, or photophobia to speak of, and I am so glad. So glad!

Although I just got through all my photos, and finished uploading the last one of the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtle cake with all the buttercream icing, and I’m remembering how much icing I ate and . . . I think maybe I know where my headache started. Huh. 

Well, here is what we had: 

SATURDAY
Chicken caprese burgers, chips

Just frozen chicken burgers on buns with tomatoes, basil from the garden, sliced cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil and vinegar. 

I wanted to be a hero, so I bought salt and vinegar chips. Works every time. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, chips; blueberry rose tarts with candied lemon

On Sunday, we had promised to take the kids kayaking, which we did! Benny and Corrie had their first experience paddling on their own, and they did great. 

 

But first, I got it into my head that I needed to make blueberry pie, which I haven’t made yet this summer. So I planned an easy dinner because I knew dessert was going to be time consuming. 

Damien fried the bacon, and we had sliced turkey (actually I think it was chicken), some leftover fancy salami from opera nite, and on mine I skipped cheese and had spinach and ranch dressing, and the wrap was allegedly spinach flavored, but this was not discernible. I think I put cheese out, but I skipped that. 

I love wraps. Probably if we had them more often, they wouldn’t seem like such a treat, but I find them so enjoyable to eat, so festive and friendly. 

I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out baby carrots and dip.

For dessert, I thought it would be fun to make separate blueberry tarts, rather than two big pies. I made a double recipe of this reliable pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

But I was super hot and getting a little flustered, and it took much more water than usual, for some reason, so I was struggling. I eventually got eleven large ramekins lined with pastry dough, and then made the filling using the recipe on this site. I had my doubts, because it calls for lemon zest, which is good, but also both flour and corn starch, which sounds STODGY; but I followed it. 

My original plan was to make individual lattice tops, but I had eaten so much raw pie dough that there wasn’t enough left for that. So instead, Benny and I made some dough roses. 

Roses are quite easy to make. You just cut out 4-5 discs, stick them together in a line, roll them up, cut the rolled-up cylinder in half, and pinch the flat edge together; then carefully tease open the other end, to open up the petals. Here’s the site where I learned to do it

Our roses were a little bit chunky because we were lough on dough and made them out of only four circles each, rather than five. I also rolled them out a little too thick. My baking style can best be described as — remember that Doctor Who episode where Mickey gets changed into a plastic guy and his hands are just big mallets and he goes lurching around the room whacking things? That’s how I make little pastry roses. 

So I baked them, and I thought they needed a little dressing up, so I made some candied lemon slices. I followed the very simple recipe here. Basically you just cook up some sugar water with a little lemon juice in it and simmer the lemon slices in it for 15 minutes, and then fish them out and let them dry.

They don’t dry completely, but stay a bit tacky. But they are very good and very pretty. The peels are edible, but most definitely still lemon peels (delicious if you like lemon!). If you wanted to make them sweeter and more candy-like, I imagine you could roll them in sugar when they come out of the pan; but that would ruin the stained glass effect of the candied pulp. 

So when the tarts came out, I sort of twisted up the lemon slices and tucked two into each one, to make little leaves or wings. 

Awfully pretty in the afternoon sun.

I took several pictures, and now you people are gonna hear about it. 

So they were definitely cute, but I saw room for so much improvement. The ramekins just weren’t the right vessels for this dish. I should have made them in cupcake tins or something with slanted sides, so I had some shot at pulling them out of the pans. I also didn’t roll the dough thin enough, so the roses were just kind of wads, and too much dough for people to eat. I also meant to brush the roses with egg white and sprinkle them with sugar, to make them shiny and sweeter, but I forgot. And I meant to make the edges more decorative, at least pressing them with a fork, rather than just leaving them ragged, but I forgot that, as well. 

But the biggest problem was the blueberry filling. It was just bland and too thick. You want fresh blueberry pie to be juicy and messy and luscious. This almost tasted store-bought. I was really disappointed! BUT THEY WERE PRETTY. Oh well. I made some whipped cream, which was good. Honestly, everyone liked these pies and ate them up, so this is just me complaining. 

Anyway, blueberry season isn’t over, and I will probably take another crack at this. I loved the candied lemon thing. Blueberries and lemons forever, man. Maybe I will make a blueberry lemon panna cotta! Who will stop me!

Or I still have some rhubarb in the freezer. Maybe I’ll make a blubarb pie. Maybe I’ll make a UNICORN blubarb pie. 

This one looks like . . . cherry and strawberry, actually? I don’t remember. But it looks like I remembered to glaze and sugar the dough, anyway. 

MONDAY
Mexican beef bowls

Beef was on sale, which it rarely is these days, so I got several hunks, sliced it up, and marinated it in this lovely sauce with lots of lime juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

Normally, I make this meal with rice, beef, charred corn, maybe some fried onions and sweet peppers, and then things like salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, etc., and I often make a pot of delicious black beans, too

Jump to Recipe

But I was just so spacey while I was shopping. It turned out we only had a little rice in the house, so I cooked a few cups of rice, and people filled out the dish with tortilla chips or corn chips. I did buy beans, but I was too tired to cook them. I forgot corn altogether. It was still a tasty meal, just a little irregular. 

Oh, I see there were avocados and lime wedges! That actually looks really good. Anyway, this marinade is very tasty and you should try it. 

TUESDAY
Pulled pork grilled cheese; veggies and dip

Last week, the phrase “pulled pork grilled cheese” popped into my head, and I knew there was only way to get it out again. This was probably the most planned meal of the week, and oddly it was a little disappointing. 

The pulled pork part of it turned out great, though. I hacked up a fatty hunk of pork loin or something and seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, some oregano and lots of cumin, and browned it on all sides in hot oil.

Then I moved it into the Instant Pot and added about 3/4 -1 cup cider vinegar and one juice box of apple juice, three fresh jalapeños with the seeds, a chopped onion, some red pepper flakes, and a lot of ground cloves. 

I closed the valve and hit the “meat” button, and then let it do a natural release and keep warm for the rest of the day. When I was ready to make the sandwiches, I pulled the meat out, and it absolutely shattered to pieces under the fork. It was very tasty, spicy and warming with the jalapeño and cloves, but not fiery hot, and worked really well with the cumin and apple. (The oregano was pointless and I will skip it next time.) 

I had meant to buy American cheese, because I wanted something kind of bland and very melty, but I forgot. And the convenience store didn’t have any! So I used what we had in the fridge, which was extra sharp cheddar. I had sourdough bread, which I spread with a little skim of mayonnaise and then fried in butter. 

It was good. But the cheese completely overpowered the flavor of the pulled pork, and it just tasted like a highly textural grilled cheese sandwich. Next time I will use American cheese, and I will maybe add fried onions or jalapeños. 

Or I’ll just make this version of pulled pork on its own, because it was really good!

I also made a bowl of unremarkable coleslaw. 

Onward!

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One pepperoni, one plain, and one with leftovers from various other meals, which turned out to be: Feta, red onion, black olive, pesto, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and some fresh parmesan shredded over the top.

I forgot to buy pepperoni for the pizza, but we had some sandwich pepperoni from some sandwiches last week, so I sliced it up and put it on the other pizza. This is what passes for ingenuity at our house!

THURSDAY
Ramen with some kind of chicken situation

Usually when I make “fancy ramen,” we have some kind of pork, but for some reason I bought chicken; and I usually get some kind of crunchy Chinese noodles, but I forgot. So I ended up drizzling the chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkling them with Chinese five spice, and then heaping some brown sugar on top, and then roasting them.

It tasted . . . fine? It was a little unsettling, because it was hard to shake the “why isn’t this pork” sensation, but it didn’t taste bad. It certainly got supper on the table fast.

I chopped up a bunch of scallions, and set out raw spinach, and I sliced up some giant mushrooms and sautéed them in olive oil and soy sauce, and when I cooked the ramen, I threw some eggs in the pot, and if people wanted an egg, they had to fish it out and shell it themselves like absolute peasants. 

Not a bad meal, considering I had zero plan and went from cold kitchen to dinner time in about 25 minutes. I also put out sugar snap peas and some kind of hot yuzu sauce, which I didn’t end up yuzing myself. 

Here’s another picture, because I have two pictures and I’ve lost my ability to make small decisions:

Look at that fricken mushroom. I actually could have made a full meal of just the broth, the spinach, and the mushrooms. Aldi has two big portobello mushrooms for $1.49 or something crazy, and I think I need to buy them more often. Mushrooms are such a gift. 

FRIDAY
Tuna sandwiches, fries

No tricks, just tuna sandwiches. Tuna sandwich and no headache; I’ll take it! 

Oh wait, I forgot to share pictures of the TMNT cake I made last Friday after the food post went up! I more or less followed the coconut cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which is pretty easy and turned out well, tender and moist. I made three rounds and about a dozen cupcakes. I stacked up two of the rounds and then sort of dug holes for the cupcakes, which I anchored with toothpicks.

I used fondant to cover the bottom and buttercream on the cupcakes, with candy eyeballs and fondant masks.

At this point, I stopped, and thought pretty hard about what shape turtles’ heads actually are. I thought about how hot it was in the kitchen, and about the limits of buttercream, and then I went into the other room and basically made the kid sign an affidavit that she understood and acknowledged that her mother did try.

Then I put the third round on a circle of cardboard, to keep it from cracking, and set it on top of the cupcakes, stuck it on with buttercream, and covered that with fondant as well. 

And then I made a series of mistakes and irreversible bad decisions involving black sugar and continued hot kitchen, which seemed funnier and funnier to me as they devolved. I ended up using a paintbrush to paint the cake with black icing from a tube, and it looked really neat for a while, but then I ruined it, because I was very hopped up on icing and had no judgment left. These turtles were absolutely leering at me, and I couldn’t stop laughing and making it worse. 

I ended up deciding to make a logo out of fondant and more brushwork, which was a pain in the neck, but fairly effective. Except I knew I should sketch out the letters with a toothpick first, to make sure there was room; I knew I should. But I just didn’t want to. So it says “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJ'” because I ran out of room.

But there were turtles!

Or, or something. Anyway there were four green entities, with red, yellow, blue, and purple . . . . things. 

I feel like it’s a cake the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtles themselves would have appreciated, anyway. (And Lucy liked it, too, even though it continued to slide and melt after I took these pictures, and then it turned out the candles I got were actually trick candles, and she had to blow them out about fifteen times and then finally dunk them in water. Please refer to the affidavit.) 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 332:  ¿TRES leches?  ¿En ESTA economia?

 Oh, I’ve been a terrible blogger and failed to blog last week. We have just been terrifically busy. A few people mentioned that they were worried I had dropped dead or something, and I’m sorry about that! I haven’t figured out what’s wrong with my stupid body yet, but they have ruled out everything scary and terrible, so I’m just full steaming ahead. I did just do a really neat interview with an artist yesterday, that I can’t wait to tell you about, and I wrote up a thought or two I had about a thing or two about the Pope, so those should be up soon. I appreciate the prayers so much. They are helping. 

Here’s something you might enjoy: I won a couple of awards from the Catholic Media Association: first place for Best Family Life Column (for Parable Magazine) and second place for Best Writing – Analysis (for my feature on annulments for America). Not everybody got a picture along with their announcement, BUT I DID:

I love the desperate little smile, clearly pleading for someone to come rescue me from my own hair. OH WELL. 

My patio is growing. It’s a menace. It’s a farrago. It’s a travesty. It’s Santa Maria in Travesty. And if your life has certain frustrations in it, may I recommend tearing up the sod and replacing it with bricks of different sizes that don’t quite fit together and need to be slammed repeatedly with a mallet until they do fit? I may pave the whole yard. 

Meanwhile, we et! Here’s what we et:

SATURDAY
Smoked ribs, fries

On Saturday, I went to my hometown for the alumni parade. I graduated from high school 30 years ago, can you believe it? Of course you can believe it, I’m decrepit. It was a cool parade, though, and it was fun to see old classmates floating by, as well as bagpipes, fife and drum corps, Abraham Lincoln, Shriners, and misc., and my kids got tons of candy, as well as corn and ketchup packets, which one group of alumni were throwing. 

Damien bought and smoked some amazing pork ribs.

Absolutely luscious. 

I spent the rest of the day working on my patio, and by dinner I was ravenous and became a complete hooligan in the presence of those ribs. 

SUNDAY
?

Corpus Christi! After Mass we had a wonderful procession down Main Street, with adoration on the commons

Then I went shopping in the afternoon, and for the life of me I cannot remember what we ate. Something easy, I imagine. Actually I think we just had leftover ribs. 

Clara made a cake for Dora. Here is the cake. 

As Benny said the other day in another context, “Mixed feelings all around, let’s move along.”  

MONDAY
Chicken enchiladas, beans and rice, guacamole and chips, tres leches cake

Monday we had a belated celebration for Dora’s birthday. I also belatedly discovered that we didn’t have any chili powder in the house, which makes a Mexican meal a bit of a challenge; but don’t worry, my caucasicity won the day and I found some old envelopes with orange powder in them, and faked my way through it. 

I sorta kinda followed Pioneer Woman’s enchilada recipe, except I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, and I used flour tortillas because I do what I want. I made some with red sauce and some with green, and they were okay, not my best. I was rushing like crazy, and didn’t buy enough sauce.

I threw together the beans and rice with white rice, black beans and kidney beans, canned tomatoes and diced chili peppers, and probably some onions in there, and then just whatever seasonings I could find. It was again not the greatest, but not bad.

The guacamole was tasty. A decent meal, with plenty of leftovers for people to bring home. 

The tres leches cake was a challenge for me. I have had one (1) tres leches cake in my life, and that was in college, and I all I remember is that it was, like me, white. So I followed a recipe from the Versailles recipe in Miami; but I believe I underbaked it, so when I poured the milk filling over it, it was, frankly, a little sloshy. 

But I went ahead and refrigerated it for the rest of the day, and then made the meringue and spread it over, and served the pieces with maraschino cherries. 

Kind of a blurry picture, but it was kind of a blurry cake.

I had made a double recipe so there was enough cake that I could serve the fully-baked parts and avoid the marshier spots, and there was still QUITE A LOT OF CAKE. I liked it! But my land, that is a sweeeet dessert. Probably I should have a properly-made tres leches cake before I make any judgments, but right now I’d just as soon have tiramisu. 

TUESDAY
Chicken salad with strawberries

The plan was blueberries, but I got to the store and discovered I had misread the flyer, and what was on sale was actually blackberries. I consulted with the produce guy and we both felt that nobody wants a blackberry chicken salad. First I was worried I was being annoying by asking him, but then he started going on about how he was “a tactile guy,” so I grabbed some strawberries and got out of there.

A lot of crops were blighted by the late frost here (my peach tree never even blossomed, and they say we lost 75% of the apple crop in the state, which is horrible), but the strawberries are cheap and plentiful and huge and sweet this year. Hooray strawberries!

So, mixed greens, roast chicken breast, feta cheese, slice almonds, diced red onion, and balsamic vinegar. 

Quite good, and very pretty. My photos are all dark and terrible this week for some reason. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one pepperoni, and one garlic, red onion, artichoke heart, feta, tomato, and parmesan.

Damien chaperoned the high school kids and friends at their class trip to Six Flags, and all he got was this halfway decent pizza. 

THURSDAY
Graduation!

Irene graduated from 8th grade! Look how delighted she is. 

Kids at home had chicken nuggets and cheezy weezies, and Damien and Irene and I went to Local Burger and had some nice local burgers, and then we dropped Damien off at home to do some more work and I scooped up the rest of the kids to get ice cream (ha, I guess that’s why I said “scooped”) (even though most of them got soft serve).

FRIDAY
Cheeseburgers, fries, chocolate cake

Friday we had a belated celebration of Moe’s birthday, and he had requested that I surprise him with the cake theme. I made the King Arthur simple and rich chocolate cake, which always turns out well, and I forgot to make any plans for icing, so I wung it. I threw a lot of unsalted soft butter in the standing mixer and creamed it, then sifted in a bunch of cocoa powder and kept creaming. Then I beat in some half and half and a little vanilla, and then sifted in a ton of confectioner’s sugar and continued mixing until it was smooth and whippy. I already had a migraine, so I went ahead and tasted the frosting, and it was nice. It was like hot cocoa in frosting form. 

I baked a large cake in a metal mixing bowl, and a bunch of little cupcakes, which I frosted and then decorated with caramel creams I had smooshed with a rolling pin. I sort of had it in my head that it would be the turtle holding up the world, but there are only so many hours in the day (and this was a day when I also wrote 1200 words and drove two hours and picked up 600 bricks), so instead I gave him a bed of kiwis so swim on and decided it was fine.

You can see by his face that he has seen some stuff. And Moses was, indeed, surprised. 

Friday was finally, finally the last day of school for the last kids, thank goodness. We haven’t done anything for summer fun yet, except splashing in the pool and not going to school. Just kind of shell shocked still. 

And that was last week! I spent most of my in-between hours fetching, hauling, and fitting bricks, and although I have gone through something like 1500 bricks, I am again almost out of bricks. Here is where I am right now: 

I’m going to finish it by the 4th of July if it kills me. AND IT WILL.

Check in. What’s just about killing you today? You gonna make it? Do you need a turtle cake? Are you holding up the world?  

sugar smoked ribs

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

Ingredients

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

For the sugar rub:

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

Instructions

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

  2. Smoke at 225 for 3 hours

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

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

  5. Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.

  6. Finish on grill to give it a char.

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 327: Yay, poke!

First, a word from Fay, Ray, EJ, and Coin: Peep! Peep-peep! Peep-peep-peepWONKpeep-peep-peep.” Yes, they have begun to quack. Just a bit, and it’s mostly Coin and EJ, and it’s more muttering than quacking, but it’s hilarious. They’re very good ducks, and I think you should get some. Or you can just check out my Facebook page which has been overrun with ducks. 

And here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Sushi, etc. 

On Saturday, Lena graduated from college! We are SO proud of her. 

 

Most of the kids had various frozen foods for dinner, and Damien and Lena and I went and checked out the newish Japanese restaurant in town, Kurama Omakase. I had a salmon skin salad and tried some of Lena’s takoyaki, which is some kind of breaded balls of I-don’t-know-what with bits of octopus inside, deep fried and topped with some other I-don’t-know-what. Terrible pictures (dark restaurant) but the takoyaki was STUPENDOUS. 

I also ordered the “Trust the Chef Lite” sushi and sashimi assortment, and it was lllovely.

Very nice place. The only other customers was some kind of gathering of a dozen or more men who didn’t already know each other, but were in the same business. Maybe car salesmen? After their meal they took a picture of all of their watches. After they left, I heard the waitress tell the bartender, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” DO  tip your waitress!

SUNDAY
Maybe burgers? 

Sunday was fun! After a week of rain, the weather finally cleared, so I worked on digging up the ground for my patio, and Damien worked on the duck house. I paid kids to shake soil out of the sods for my new raised gardens, and there were plenty of worms for everyone

The dog had the greatest day of his life, AGAIN. 

Damien grilled burgers, if I remember correctly. 

MONDAY
Normal tacos

I didn’t shop on the weekend, because of the graduation, and did only a partial shop on Monday, because I didn’t feel like it, and came home with a wretched frozen log of beef that needed to be constantly scraped and flipped while it cooked. 

I tried to tell myself it was sort of like when they have a leg of lamb on a spit and they’re shaving bits of meat off for shawarma, but no dice. 

(I know there are various ways of defrosting meat, but honestly they’re only slightly less laborious than standing there scrabbling at the frozen wad as it fries, so you might as well suffer.)

TUESDAY
Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Tuesday I went shopping again, for real this time. Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!

Maybe by the end of the summer, we’ll have duck eggs! Or not. We don’t even know if we have girl or boy ducks yet. We definitely have ducks. Boy do we have ducks. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pickled radishes

Pork shoulders were 99 cents a pound, and I had got a big, giant one, and started it with the salt and sugar rub on Tuesday night. I put it in the oven around 10:30 on Wednesday morning, and then right before dinner, I poured the extra little cider vinegar brown sugar sauce on:

and let it finish up. Truly a grisly yet magnificent beast basking proudly in the setting sun. 

Everything the light touches belongs to you, bo ssam.

I also pickled some radishes and made a pot of rice, and cut up some romaine lettuce for wrapping. The meat shredded at the mere sight of a fork, the skin was intense and caramelized to the hilt, and it was a pretty good meal. 

And only pretty good. This is the first time bo ssam hasn’t absolutely rocked my world, and I don’t know what happened. The pickled radishes were only so-so, too. Annnnd just now writing this, it occurred to me that I’m probably sick, and the food actually tasted fine, and it’s me. Crap. OH WELL. 

THURSDAY
Poke bowls

As is our habit, we were talking about other food while we were at the restaurant, and we got to talking about poke bowls, which Damien and I have never had before. It certainly sounded like something we’d be into. Aldi carries ahi tuna steaks that are frozen at sea, so I bought a few packages of those (I think six little steaks in total), and also a pouch of raw shrimp that happened to be on sale. They also had some kind of Polynesian sweet hot sauce that looked likely, plus some chili lime cashews. I also got five ripe mangoes and two packages of sugar snap peas at Aldi.

Then at the other supermarket (when you shop at Aldi, there’s always going to be a second supermarket, and you must just accept this), I got pea sprouts and rice (Aldi rice cooks weird). 

So I just basically chopped everything up, cooked up a big pot of rice, and cut the fish into half-inch cubes. I sautéed the shrimp with some minced garlic in chili oil, and then squeezed a lime over it. 

(The glass with the root in it isn’t some exotic tincture; I’m just trying to keep a rose cutting alive after the plow knocked one of my flower beds all out of whack, and I haven’t gotten around to replanting it yet.)

I was planning to make sushi-style rice, but I didn’t have any rice vinegar, so I left it plain. I put out a jar of mango chutney and some red pepper flakes.

Here was my bowl:

Wow, it was delicious. Sweet mild fish and greens and rice, syrupy mango, and then the hot jangly sauce and nuts. Very satisfying and entertaining, kind of like the dinner version of an ice cream sundae — not in taste, of course, but in the experience. I threw some shrimp in there, too, just because I’m not gonna say no to shrimp.

I was surprised at how many of the kids liked the raw tuna! Everyone found something they wanted, even if it was just rice and mango, and I’ll definitely be making this again. Yay, poke! 

Now tell me about your poke bowls. I understand there are countless variations. What are your favorite combinations?

FRIDAY
Pizza

Today has turned into a stupidly complicated day because a bad light came on in my car, but the mechanic can’t look at it until next week, and lots of people still have to be in lots of places, and Lucy needs to be trained on her new insulin pump system at the doctor which is an hour away, and I bought tickets to Peter and the Wolf which is also an hour away, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it all just doesn’t quite work out. But I’m gonna try! But I’m gonna make those pizzas right meow. 

Ugh, I didn’t put any recipe cards. Do you want recipe cards? Tell me if you want some and I’ll put them.