What’s for supper? Vol. 94: Meat the rainbow!

Sorry this post is so long. I just can’t seem to stop talking.

Quick question: Do the photos load up more slowly or look different from usual? I’m trying a slightly different thing. Let me know!

On to the food.

SATURDAY
Birthday party!

It was a beach party, so of course the day started with thunder and downpours. But it cleared up! The rain just chased all the cowards away, so we had the place to ourselves by party time.

It was sort of a Moana party, so we cleaned out the last of the luau decorations and leis from the dollar store. The cake was the Heart of Te Fiti:

Ehh, close enough. If we needed it to restore the life to our island, I would have looked harder for the green sugar.

I tried Wilton food color spray (affiliate link, certified Kosher, not for sale in Catalina Island. Now you know) for the first time. I was terrified of making it like amateurish graffiti, so I didn’t use enough. Will probably try this stuff again if I need to do a sunset cake or an underwater effect. It smelled like chicken noodle soup, though.

I honestly can’t remember what we had for supper. Maybe burgers.

***

SUNDAY
Kids had hot dogs, chips, strawberries and blueberries; we had steak

What happened, see, was we are planning to take the kids to a giant water-and-amusement park this weekend, so we felt okay skipping the county fair this year. But then I had a sudden thought. What if we just went ourselves? 

We do have happy times at the fair, but it’s so exhausting and stressful with a crowd of kids. Without them, there would be no bracelets that cost a million dollars, no emotional agony as one kid sorely regrets squandering his One Food Treat on fried dough instead of cotton candy, no sunburned babies, no panic when kids wander away to check out the goats, no grousing, no exhausted toddlers, no “sorry, you’re still not tall enough to ride this ride,” no throwing up, no dehydration, etc.

None of this:

Just fun! Fun fun fun!

So off we went, and . . . very quickly ran out of things to do. I got some fried pickles. We pretended to consider buying a piglet. We went on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and that was nice, but then Pharaoh’s Fury was horrible. HORRIBLE. Just plain scary, with no delightful terror or exquisite tingle of fear. We just both felt like we were going to die the whole time, which we were, and it went on and on and on as death whistled past our ears and everything familiar and safe careened far, far away. When it was finally over, we staggered over to a bench and just sat there wobbling for a while. Then we gave our tickets to some kid and went to Chili’s.

***

MONDAY
Cilantro lime chicken, rice

A new-to-me recipe from Damn Delicious. It’s supposed to be for the slow cooker, but Fisher quantities didn’t fit in one Crock Pot, and I feel like the Instant Pot slow cooker isn’t hot enough.

I took a “before” picture because it was so pretty, and I wasn’t sure what it would look like cooked:

So I started it out in the IP for a few hours, then put it on high pressure manual for five minutes. I added a little water, because I wasn’t sure if there was enough liquid for the IP, but it would have been better without; it was a little soupy. I shredded the chicken easily with a fork and served it over white rice or wrapped in tortillas.

It was a good combination of flavors and textures, subject to lots of variation. Will definitely make again. Damn Delicious bills this as a make-ahead freezer meal, because you just prep everything and then throw it into the pot all together, and that’s it.

I know it’s tiresome, but it really is true that fresh ingredients make food so much better. Some days I feel very bitter about going to the trouble of those extra steps (usually because I forgot to buy the quickie version), but I’m always glad I did it when it’s time to eat. Fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, yaaas. I did use frozen corn, and it was snappy and flavorful.

***

TUESDAY
Deconstructed pork shish kabob, watermelon

Bone-in pork picnic was super cheap, so I bought two, for maybe seven pounds total. I cut the meat off the bone, trimmed the fat, and cubed it, then mixed it up with four sweet peppers, about 16 ounces of halved mushrooms, two red onions, and a few cups of marinade. All the food was cut to the size you’d want for threading it on a skewer.

The marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes.

I didn’t have time to let it marinate, but just spread it in a single layer on my two giant sheet pans (which I continue to love. We’ve put them through their paces and they have not warped a bit)

and put them under a hot broiler (one pan at a time, so they could get direct heat) until it was blackened.

Everyone loved it. It wasn’t quite the same as food cooked on the grill, because what is? But it was still delicious.

Definitely making this again. You could easily use bottled Italian dressing for the marinade. Although [irritating ticking noise made with my cheek] fresh ingredients, ya know.

***

WEDNESDAY
Kids had fish tacos, we had Chinese

Our plan was to ditch the kids again (because it’s summer! Adults should have fun in summer, too!) and I’d meet my husband at his office an hour away, and we’d have Indian take-out on a blanket for an outdoor Bollywood movie.

But I had only cleared half my schedule, and realized I’d be a country mouse fighting rush-hour traffic in the city, and then we’d have to go home in separate cars at the end of the night. Too much like dorm life with curfews! So we ditched the kids anyway, and he taught me how to drive stick shift in a parking lot. Our last stick shift lesson was almost twenty years ago. This one went better than the last time, in the same way that . . . well, you’ll just have to supply your own joke about something that was a miserable disaster the first time, but then was fine the second time. Then we got Chinese food (I had hot and sour soup, a dragon roll, and a silly drink called a Fog Cutter) and a little walk and a little drive in the dark. I do love that man.

And I love having kids who can put together a meal at home! They cooked, ate, cleaned up, changed the baby, and organized tooth brushing before we got back. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. All you need is five teenagers.

***

THURSDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, hot pretzels

I was completely wiped out by dinner time, so I asked the kids to deal with it. It seems I forgot to buy extra bread for sandwiches, so dinner was on the feeble side. Oh, well. We were supposed to have string beans from the garden, but nobody felt like picking them except for the really incompetent ones.

***

FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 92: Never trust a man who skimps on garlic

Time’s a-wastin. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Apple chicken pecan salad

A fine summer meal. I mixed up the chicken with bottled Italian dressing, then broiled it and sliced it. I served the warm chicken over salad greens along with diced green apples, bleu cheese, dried cranberries and toasted pecans.

I bought a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette. I love the combination of the tart apple and sour creese with the sweet cranberries and dressing.

Always toast your pecans! It makes the texture so much more pleasing, and brings out the flavor so much. Just run them into a medium oven in a shallow pan for 8-10 minutes, until the color darkens. So worth it.

***

SUNDAY
Garlic chicken thighs, bread, asparagus

I was agonizing over an essay about Pope Francis for an upcoming book, so I abandoned Damien with some trays of chicken thighs and two bags of asparagus. He proceeded to drive me insane with the aromas of paradise (namely, roasted garlic) as he prepared Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken from Food Network. He even sent me tantalizing pictures to distract me from my work:

Never trust a man who skimps on garlic.

The chicken was very good, the garlic was scrumptious, but the sauce was out of this world.

The bread was essential in that it stopped me from putting my face in the plate and doing unspeakable things with that sauce. Just remarkable. I’m definitely going to permit him to make this for us again.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs, beans, chips

I have no memory of Monday.

***

TUESDAY
BBQ Korean pork ribs, mangoes, pasta

Another splendid meal. We spent the afternoon clambering about in a deep, romantic chasm of a local gorge. Gorges are my favorite kind of landscape. They have everything you need. I forgot to take pictures, though.

I had a bunch of country style pork ribs, so I mixed them up with gochujang, honey, sugar, soy sauce, onions, and fresh garlic (I found a spare head quaking in fear behind a bottle of corn syrup. It alone was spared in the great Garlic Massacre of Husband Cooking), and let them marinate most of the day. My husband cooked them up on the grill in the evening. Superb. The best possible meal for hungry gorge-clamberers.

We were supposed to have rice on the side, but we had run out, so I cooked up a bunch of plain noodles, thinking half the kids wouldn’t want spicy Korean pork anyway. The little creeps gobbled that meat up! I do remember wishing they would develop more sophisticated palates, but on the other hand, they are now eating all my spicy Korean pork. They ate the noodles, too.

We also had sliced mango, which was a wonderful, cooling side dish for the pork.

***

WEDNESDAY
Fish tacos, chips

The kids were excited about this meal, because then they could go, “Mmm, fish dinner!” in a creepy voice for a reason for once. I was a bit disappointed because I forgot so many of the ingredients, and plus the cabbage turned out to be a head of lettuce. A lot of guys were shouting stuff.

***

THURSDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

My sister and her kids came for a visit, hooray! We took ten pounds of ground beef and two pounds of ground turkey (you know, for our health), a dozen eggs, breadcrumbs and seasoning and  . . . well, then I left the house, and my oldest daughter magically transformed it into untold meatballs. I can’t believe she didn’t count them, but here is a blurry picture, pre-cooking:

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I need to again empower you to free yourself from the tyranny of individually-fried meatballs. Put them in a hot oven on shallow pans on something that allows the fat to drain, and there you are.

***

FRIDAY
French toast

So let it be written; so let it be done.

I asked on Facebook for ideas for chicken thighs, and got tons of them, including the one Damien made on Sunday. Anyone interested in a separate post with just yummy-looking recipes for chicken thighs?

What’s for supper? Vol. 91: In which Aldi dreams of me

No, literally. The cashier at Aldi had a dream about me. (I turn up there three times a week, each time with a different child, and I fill two carts on Saturdays.) This is what happens when you come to Represent Something to strangers. I told her I would try to behave myself next time I haunted her subconscious, and then I gathered up my cut rate hummus and sauntered away. Then I came back to get my quarter.

SATURDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, fries

Muffaletta sandwiches are something I’ve wanted to try forever. And very good they were, muffaletta sandwiches! I guess this sandwich originates from the Italian quarter of New Orleans or something (how many quarters does that place have, anyway), and “muffaletta” can refer either to the special bread, or to the sandwich itself.

Our version was made of ciabatta rolls with olive salad, sweet capicola, prosciutto, ham, and provolone. The olive salad was made of a jar each of green and black olives, about a quarter of a cup of capers, and a jar of giardiniera salad (pickled carrots, hot peppers, cauliflower, and little onions), drained and chopped up together.

I wish I had gotten a pic of just the olive salad, because it was awfully festive-looking.

You’re supposed to toast the bread, or wrap the sandwich in foil and bake the whole thing, but we were starving, so we just wolfed it down.

It was a little pricey because I went to an Actual Deli for the meat, but a nice treat. I also think recipe pages are a little bit insane when they show how much meat goes on a sandwich. It’s always, like, seven-and-a-half solid inches of ham, and then you start in with the cheese. I like sandwiches, but I like having the use of my legs after dinner, too.

***

SUNDAY
Lasagna, garlic bread, salad, ice cream cake

Birthday! Our newest ten-year-old requested meatless lasagna.  Lasagna is my least favorite thing to make. It’s just such a pain in the neck, and I burn my fingers and wreck the whole kitchen. But it was good, if sloppy and soupy. I just used the basic recipe on the side of the noodle box.

I added basil from the garden to the ricotta for the very first harvest this year. Our growing season is so ridiculously short, and it’s been a very cool summer, so there’s not much to show. Also, string beans don’t scream and hang onto my pants legs, so I tend to forget I have a garden.

Not that you asked, but we have tomatoes, basil, cabbage, jalapeno, eggplant, string beans, rainbow carrots, pumpkins, and broccoli. And a lot of weeds. And not enough watering. Thank goodness for rain.

My window boxes turned out a little scruffy this year, too.

That hemp liner looks like I feel. Aieeee!

But check out these weird tomatoes! They’re supposed to be dark like that.

They’re less blurry in real life. Anyway, no varmints have been eating the garden this year, except for bugs. I made a fence out of an upside-down trampoline frame (we had an extra, okay? I don’t want to talk about it), chicken wire, and some zip ties. Woodchucks are supposed to be able to dig under fences, but I guess ours isn’t that ambitious.

***

MONDAY
English muffin pizzas

Wherever I was, I wasn’t home for supper. One of the kids made pizzas. There were two (as in two halves) left over when I got back, so I inhaled them, and then I ate all the leftover ice cream. And justice was restored to the world.

***

TUESDAY
Pulled pork, risotto, peas

It was murderously hot and humid, so I set the slow cooker to work making pulled pork in the steambath kitchen, and brought the Instant Pot (affiliate link) into the air conditioned dining room to make the risotto. The peas, we just ate frozen, which my kids prefer.

The pulled pork had a good flavor, but I started it too late, so it was kind of tough. I put a half pork loin into the pot with a can of beer, plenty of salt, pepper, and chili powder, about six sliced garlic cloves, and a quartered onion. It tasted as good as it smelled, which is not always a given!

I used this recipe for the risotto, minus the squash. I tripled it and lost track of how many cups of broth, so it was a little dry, but still tasty. Not a meal worth taking a picture of, though.

***

WEDNESDAY
Roasted kielbasa, cabbage, and potato with mustard vinaigrette 

A very fine summer meal, great with cheap beer, magnificent after going for a run in the evening, swimming in the pond in the rain with your husband, and then eating a late dinner while watching TV. It’s like Platonic ideal of a hot dog with sauerkraut and fries. I used three packages of kielbasa (I think they are 14 oz. each), about six pounds of small potatoes, and a large cabbage, and I made a quadruple recipe of the dressing.

The color’s off in this picture. It’s prettier in real life, and looks less like an illustration from a cheap textbook covering the post-war years of Cabbagopolis.

Here’s the recipe from Budget Bytes. Again I say unto you: measure your oven and buy yourself the biggest pans that will fit. (I got two 15×21″ aluminum pans like these [affiliate link], and they make my life better several times a week. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to cook for a crowd when you can just lay it all out there.)

Look, garlic bread for twelve on a single pan:

Or, as I see it, almost enough garlic bread for me.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I had string beans, but they went bad. Soon, soon, we will have string beans from the garden! Well, in a few weeks. Stupid slow garden.

 

***

FRIDAY
Day trip! We’re headed out and will probably grab pizza somewhere.

Oh, Amazon announcement! I now have Amazon Associate accounts that will work for Canada and the UK!
For Canada: Amazon.ca
and for the UK: Amazon.co.uk.
I’d be so grateful if you’d bookmark these pages and use them anytime you shop on Amazon. This makes up a significant part of our income. Thank you!

What’s for Supper? Vol. 89: Hot dogs and hamburgers all the way down!

What did we eat this week? I thought you’d never ask.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, birthday cake and ice cream

My son turned 15 (actually it was kind of a while ago), and his wingspan, from fingertip to fingertip, is now six feet. He can almost touch the floor and the ceiling at the same time. We have low ceilings, but still. Size 14 shoes. Boxing lessons. Life is strange, and fast.

He wanted to go to the beach with his friends and then home for a hamburger and hot dogs cookout, and so it was done. He also requested, SIGH SIGH SIGH, a laundry bag cake.

This is from the new MST3K series, where the invention exchange includes a Carvel Cake Wheel of all the possible cakes one could make with a Carvel Whale Cake Pan. Including a laundry bag cake. Considering I don’t have a whale cake pan, I thought this cake designed to look like a cake designed to look like it’s made despite owning a whale cake pan turned out pretty good.

***

SUNDAY
Curried chicken salad

I chucked a bunch of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (YES, MY HUSBAND FOUND THE MISSING VALVE COVER BEHIND A PHALANX OF LAUNDRY BASKETS!) with a can of coconut milk and a little water, and pressed the “poultry” button.

I mixed a tub of unflavored yogurt with plenty of curry powder and added the cooked, cubed chicken to that. One of the kids chopped up the salad greens nice and small, so as to, I don’t know, make it more exotic. The recipe called for raisins or grapes mixed into the curry sauce, but I didn’t like the sound of that, so we had grapes on the side, plus chopped walnuts.

It was a pretty okay dish. The people who liked curry liked it, the people who didn’t like curry didn’t like it, and there were a couple who kept asking what curry was, but refusing to taste it, so I threw them out the window. Anyway, it was easy. I also gave two of my teenage daughters a driving lesson, and then unrelatedly headed briskly to the liquor store.

***

MONDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

There was a Big Clean a-comin’, so we had a simple meal Monday. Actually we had already pressed everyone into servitude getting the house ready for the last party, not to mention the one before that, so there wasn’t all that much left to do. Relatively speaking. You set your standards to “Low Low Low,” pretend it’s okay not to own a vacuum cleaner, and off you go.

We went to the town fireworks display that night, didn’t get into any fights with any yahoos, and came home with the right number of kids in the dark, so that was a success. Corrie proclaimed the fireworks “orange” and then fell asleep.

***

TUESDAY
July 4th Cookout!

What a spectacular day. We had something like forty people, including my one and only cousin whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. Everyone brought something to eat or drink, and my father brought fireworks and read the Declaration of Independence

and handed out sparklers. The kids played in the stream and swung on swings, everyone gorged on watermelon and meat, the entire neighborhood filled up with smoke, we played Johnny Cash, and it was swell. A really happy day.

We had hamburgers, hot dog, and pork spiedies, chips, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, cookies, and brownies. There was no end of beer and soda, plus Dark and Stormies (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime). And cigars. Actual conversation, one of many similar types of conversations:

Damien: We need fifty pounds of ice. No, sixty. Better get a hundred.
Me: Are you sure?
Damien: The bags are five pounds.
Me: You sure you want me to get twenty bags of ice?
Damien: I don’t know, I’m crazy.
Me: That just seems like a lot. I’ll get ten bags.
Me, loading ten bags into cart: This doesn’t seem like enough. I better get some more. [loads several more bags into cart]
Husband texts me to say there is not going to be enough beer, so I stop at another store to buy more beer.
Me at the next store: I don’t know if we have enough ice. Here, grab that bag for me. No, the twenty-pound one.
Husband texts me to say never mind, we have plenty of beer.
WHICH WE CERTAINLY DID. Then it turned out basically everyone at the party had some reason for not drinking, so we were stuck with enough beer to float a free boat off Craigslist in, and the quantity of Dark and Stormies I personally consumed turned into Three Days of Darkness and Stormies, all with lime. I do what I can.

The spiedies were insanely good, if I do say so myself. I got about sixteen pounds of pork loin and my husband cut them into hefty chunks, which we marinated overnight in this marinade. We soaked the wooden skewers in water to keep everything moist, and my husband grilled them veddy nicely. So juicy and flavorful! There really isn’t anything better you can do for pork.

I forgot to take pictures of any food. That’s how good of a party it was!

***

WEDNESDAY
Cookout leftovers

The kids started the day eating cold pork and hamburgers, so we were reduced to leftover hot dogs and watermelon by dinner time.

***

THURSDAY
One-pan honey garlic chicken and red potatoes, salad

This is a great recipe from Damn Delicious. It tastes even better if you have not allowed the chicken to go bad. Blehhh. We all had one bite, spit it out, and ended up eating potato puffs and scrambled eggs for supper. Boo.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

I said to my husband this morning, “I don’t know what we’re having next week, but it definitely won’t be hamburgers or hot dogs.” Then he reminded me we’re camping next week.

So . . . who’s got camp food ideas besides hamburgers and hot dogs?

What’s for supper? Vol. 88: Ach du lieber clafoutis

Alles ist weg. 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

On Saturday afternoon, I put Coke, onions, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and a nice fatty pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, only to discover that someone had made off with the valve cap. Why? Probably in revenge for all those countless nights I lay awake feeding them with my own body and expending the last few ounces of my strength singing them lullabys.

So I put the pork and stuff in a ziplock bag — well, first I yelled a little, and then I bagged it up and put it in the fridge, and we had chicken burgers.

***

SUNDAY
Carnitas, tortilla chips, watermelon, clafoutis

On Sunday, the family pulled together and found not one but three small, heavy, metal and black plastic machine components floating around the house. They all looked important. I have no idea what any of them were, except that they were definitely not pressure cooker valve caps. I filed them away in a box marked “The whole world is covered with buttons.”

I dredged out the old slow cooker and got that pork going in the morning. By dinner, it was shreddy and wonderful — and then, my friends, we spread it out in a thin layer on a baking pan and tucked it up under the broiler on high, till it was crisp. Fantastico.

We served it on tortillas with sour cream, salsa, and cheese, with the first watermelon of the year on the side.

For dessert, we some some clafoutis using this recipe from Epicurious. Clafoutis is a kind of baked custard with fruit in it, and you can use just about any kind of fruit, and you can serve warm or cold, with or without powdered sugar, or cream, or whatever you like. In the past, we’ve used cherries, and once I made a chocolate plum clafoutis with cardamom.

Clafoutis is really, truly easy. You just lay the fruit in a dish, mix up the custard and pour it over, and slide it in the oven. (I got good results by sifting the flour into the other ingredients, so it’s less lumpy.) I’m on the prowl for another six ramekins so I can make individual servings for everyone — partly just for nice, but mostly because no one will know if the custard holds together or not.

You know what’s not easy? Finding a photo you took of clafoutis, a photo which is either on your phone, your husband’s phone, your son’s phone, or your iPad, and which you actually emailed to yourself several days ago so you wouldn’t lose it, but which you have whimsically titled “claw fruity,” because that’s what Benny calls it.

Anyway, I found it.

Ain’t it purty? I don’t recommend using silicone pans like I did, though, unless you want to custardize the inside of your oven.

***

MONDAY
Omelettes with havarti, mushrooms, and salami

Or bacon for adults! The kids made their own dinner while we went for an evening run, and when we got back we rewarded ourselves with leftover father’s day bacon, plus bagels and cocktails. I lost three more pounds, so I don’t want to hear about it.

***

TUESDAY
Cobb salad

I had high hopes for this meal. It was a huge hit last time

and so pretty; but things were already in chaos by Tuesday, so we had a more chaotic version of the above, and I can’t find the photo anyway.

Basic Cobb salad is bacon, lettuce, avocados, grilled chicken, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, chives, and bleu cheese dressing. I still hadn’t found the ratzer fratzin’ Instant Pot valve cover, so I was reduced to cooking the eggs in the pot and the chicken in the oven like some kind of farmer. It was awful. We also had no chives, and the avocados had gone slimy.

***

WEDNESDAY
Fish tacos with spicy cabbage slaw, corn chips

We usually have fish tacos with sour cream, salsa, avocados, lime, and shredded cabbage, but I thought to dress it up with this recipe from The Kitchn for “Quick Cabbage Slaw,” which includes jalapenos, garlic, and lime juice along with more typical coleslaw ingredients. I have a bone to pick with that name, but it’s not a very big bone. The slaw was tasty and spicy.

Hey, see my pretty new plates? One of the kids complimented me on them. I said, “Thanks! I got them at the Salvation Army!” And Benny, who is five, said, “It looks like you got this food at the Salvation Army.”

This is what happens when you have five teenagers in the house along with little guys who are just learning how to think and express themselves. You get six teenagers.

***

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, raw string beans

Always a hit, especially when supper is an hour and a half late. They gobbled up every speck, even though I had to make the rice on the stovetop like a peasant, because I still can’t find the duck plucking valve cover.

Here’s the recipe from Six Sisters Stuff. If you think the photo shows broccoli but I distinctly mentioned eating string beans, that’s on you. I can’t find my valve cover! Haven’t I suffered enough?

***

FRIDAY
Shakshuka! and pita

from Epicurious. You make a slightly spicy tomato sauce with peppers, then cook some eggs into the top. Szo naice.

Photo above is the ghost of shakshuka past. I don’t know why I feel compelled to admit this. I could rob a bank run by orphans, but I’d feel guilty about not wiping my feet on the mat as I left.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 87: Mango, Mango! Can’t trust that day!

And we’re off! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pancakes with strawberries, sausages

That’s what the kids at home made and ate. Damien and I took our latest high school graduate out to eat for a celebration meal, and we all ate long past the point of regret. Someone’s gonna put fresh, hot bread and herbed olive oil, seafood chowder, fried calamari, and shrimp scampi in front of me, what am I gonna do? I’m not made of stone. But I said no to the berry mascarpone torte, mainly because I was still finishing my beer.

My daughter made us proud all through high school, and graduated with honors in math (MATH!). Here is her crowning achievement:

Isn’t she cute?

***

SUNDAY
Burgers, hot dogs, chips, brownie sundaes

This was Father’s Day, and maybe not our best effort. Something about everyone feeling about as peppy and energetic as a, a, a thing that is tired and having a hard time coming up with interesting descriptions. So he cooked up meat on the grill and it was good.

***

MONDAY
Turkey avocado provolone wraps, raw veggies and hummus, grapes

For some reason, everyone was super enthusiastic about this meal. We had some leftover rolls and a bunch of leftover tortillas, which I set out with deli turkey and salami, avocados, onions, provolone, and various kinds of dressing. I chose honey mustard, which doesn’t even go.

I mean, it didn’t taste bad or anything, but I wasn’t prepared for the choruses of hosannas. I think it may have been the grapes, actually.

Here is a moment that Benny wanted to memorialize:

***

TUESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

I intended to use this recipe, but ran out of time to make the special dressing or chop anything small, so we had chicken, mixed bagged greens, bleu cheese, sliced almonds, red onions, and blueberries, with balsamic vinegar. I can’t seem to find the picture I took, so here’s the pic from last time:

Again, I was taken aback at how delighted everyone was. I do love these hearty salads with nuts, cheese, meat, and fruit. Very pretty and filling.

***

WEDNESDAY

It was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FINALLY, and we went to the beach, and by the time we got home, I had zero interest in making dinner, and 100% interest in letting the kids make French toast while I languished on the couch. Then I got up and ate scrambled eggs and the ice cream I virtuously declined on Sunday.

***

THURSDAY
Pork kebabs, white rice, mangoes

I was planning to make oven pork gyros using this NYT recipe, but I was just too lazy to try a new recipe with that many steps.

Instead, I put together a triple recipe of this teriyaki sauce and mixed it up with cubed pork and big wedges of onion, and let that marinate a few hours. Then I put the meat and onions on a pan with a rack and shoved it up right under the broiler, turning it once. Yummeh.

The rice, I made in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) using the 1:1 method and the rice button. I don’t understand why you have to rinse the rice, but it always comes out perfect, so I won’t argue.

We had five large mangoes which I peeled and cut up in no time using a metal cup. You try to figure out which way the pit lies and then cut the “cheeks” off the mango, leaving the pit inside a flat section of fruit.

Then you take a glass or metal cup with a thin rim and just, vooooop, slide the cup rim just under the skin and scoop the flesh right out in one piece.

Very satisfying and efficient.
It’s a little tricker to trim the rest of the flesh off the pit, but overall, this method makes mangoes worth eating, rather than an exercise in sticky, pulpy futility.

Because I must always be shilling something, and because I’m as sick of hearing about the Instant Pot as you are, these are the aluminum cups we have (affiliate link):

My damn wiener kids do lose them and bend them, but they do not break them! Ha!

***

FRIDAY

Child requested tuna noodle casserole. So let it be written, so let it be done. My husband despises this food, but he will be out picking up my oldest kid from the airport, hooray! We sure missed her.

Okay, the Fourth of July looms! We’ll probably do burgers and hot dogs and pork spiedies using this recipe, plus chips and corn on the cob (maybe fancy corn on the cob with lime, paprika, and parmesan), watermelon, and potato salad. As predictable a menu as Thanksgiving, but with food you actually want to eat. Who has exciting ideas for a picnic dessert for a big crowd? Or some kind of razzle dazzle side dish that kids would like?

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 86: ¿Qué pasa, kielbasa?

I’m having a flashback to a former life: Everyone’s schedule is all screwey for end-of-year stuff, so we spent the morning at the park trying not to throw ourselves into the waterfall, and then we got a blister so we had to cool our feet at the library. There are pregnant women chasing toddlers everywhere, and every cell in my body is shrieking out silent thanksgiving that I’m not one of ’em.

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza, birthday cake, ice cream

Birthday party! We had no end of pizza, and birthday cake in the shape of – what else? – Devil’s Tower.

It was a Close Encounters of the Third Kind party, what else? It turns out the birthday girl was kidding about wanting me to mash some potatoes so she could have a mountain-sculpting contest with her friends. Humph.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma; Cheesecake with strawberries and chocolate ganache

Birthday girl requested shawarma. I treated myself to skinned, boned chicken and set it to marinate the night before. It turned out to be breast meat, not thigh, which was a little disappointing; but it’s still always a fabulous meal. We use this recipe for oven-roasted shawarma from the NYT.

We had it with tomatoes, cucumbers, three kind of olives, feta cheese, pita bread, hummus, and yogurt sauce. I added pepper, lemon juice, and a bunch of minced garlic to plain yogurt and then basically wallowed around in it for the rest of the evening. Garlic yogurt speaks to me on a cellular level. A microcellular level. A nano-micro-weensy-cellular level. Just keep zooming in, and it’s garlic and yogurt, all the way down.

I briefly considered making the cheesecake in the Instant Pot, but then remembered that I am disgusting and don’t really clean it too good, so it’s kind of meaty in there. If there are people in the world who prefer their cheesecake meaty, I don’t want to know about it. I used this simple recipe (no sour cream) with a graham cracker crust, and used a silicone pan instead of springform. Unlike the photo, it turned out swell.

I crushed up a bunch of fresh strawberries with sugar and rum vanilla. We wanted a chocolate ganache, but I remembered in the nick of time that Aldi chocolate chips don’t really melt. So I made this hot fudge sauce with cocoa powder, butter, and condensed milk. Veddy nice.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs, corn on the cob, salad

It was horrendously hot, so I thought we might avoid filling the kitchen with corn steam if I cooked the corn on the cob in the Instant Pot instead of in a big pot of water. I guess it worked? But you do have to release the steam at the end anyway, so we kind of got it all at once. I think it helped a bit overall. It’s definitely cooler than stovetop cooking while it’s cooking.

I tried This Old Gal’s recipe for IP corn on the cob, which includes sugar, milk, and butter. It was certainly easy, and the corn was, well, sweet, creamy, and buttery. Kinda gilding the lily, though, and not really worth the extra calories. I’ll probably use the IP for just cooking plain unflavored corn on the cob in the future, though, just because it was easier than wrestling with a giant stock pot sloshing with boiling water. I always scald my abdomen.

I have the eight-quart Instant Pot (affiliate link), which fits twelve whole ears of corn comfortably, see?

***

TUESDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, salad

Just so you know I’m no Instant Pot cultist

I will here discuss an IP semi-failure: I put the pork into the IP with salt, pepper, and a can of Coke, and set it to “slow cook.” This took four hours, and then it automatically went to “keep warm” mode for the rest of the day. It came out dry and tough, and we had to pull pretty hard, which nobody wanted to do. I’m not sure if that means it was too low heat, or too high heat, or what, but it just wasn’t the same as the regular old slow cooker. Maybe if I pressed “slow cook” again after four hours, I dunno.

***

WEDNESDAY
Oven roasted kielbasa, red potatoes, and cabbage with mustard vinaigrette

From Budget Bytes, a new dish for us, and a hit! It’s very easy to make: Cut up the things, put the things on a pan, make the things hot. Add yummy dressing.

I used three 14-ounce packages of kielbasa, about four pounds of red potatoes, and one large cabbage, and tripled the recipe for dressing. It’s hearty and summery, and I liked the looks of it, too.

The only sad thing was that I finally had to admit it was time to get rid of the two giant “disposable” catering pans we got from the Chinese restaurant at Christmas. They have developed leaks, so I’m getting some Real Pans. Yet another thing I finally have enough money to buy, now that the kids are leaving home and we don’t need it as badly anymore. Oh well.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken muggets, frozen corn

We had the option to add an extra hour and a half of driving at the end of the school day in order to get to two campuses for portfolio night, or we could get ice cream.

Then we came home and had chicken nuggets. Corrie was mad because she only got to eat her ice cream and Dora’s ice cream,

and then when she dropped Dora’s ice cream, we wouldn’t get her another one. So when it was supper time, she threw herself on the floor and howled, “NO NO NO TSITSIN MUGGETS!” It’s a shame we never do anything nice for her.

***

FRIDAY

Child #2 graduates from high school this year (with honors in math!!!), so Damien and I will be in attendance this evening while the kids at home struggle along with a case of boxaroni. Cheers!

What’s for supper? Vol. 84: Eat your feelings!

Here we go!

SATURDAY
Fancied-up chicken burgers, chips

The chicken burgers from Aldi are pretty good, and taste like actual chicken. We dressed them up with bacon, honey mustard, and in-sandwich onion rings. Not bad atall. Probably didn’t need to serve chips alongside a sandwich that actually contained onion rings, but the freedom to make this kind of decision is what being an adult is all about. That and a little sex, and some booze, lots of interior pep talks, frightening conversations about major appliances, and you’re the only one who can change the toilet paper. And coffee.

***

SUNDAY
Pork Bánh mì

We’ve made steak bánh mì a few times, and it is delightful, but expensive. Pork, however, is cheap cheap cheap. So I got me a half loin (about four pounds), sliced it thin, and started it marinating in the morning using this recipe from Serious Eats.
I also sliced several carrots into thin coins and set them to quickle-pickle in wine vinegar and some sugar.

In the evening, I spread the pork slices in a single layer on broiler pans and put them right up under a hot broiler, turning once. We toasted some rolls and piled them up with the pork, pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, jalapeno slices from a jar, lots of chopped cilantro, and plenty of mayo. (You can stir some sriracha into the mayo, but there’s plenty of flavor without the extra spice, and I appreciated a little creamy coolness.)

Verdict: It smelled completely revolting as it cooked, because fish sauce; but the taste was superb. The pork picked up much more of the salty, tangy fish flavor than the beef. Put it together with the sweet, crisp carrots and the cool cukes and cilantro and the zippy jalapenos, and it was just a swingin’ party in your mouth. Ha cha cha!

***

MONDAY
BBQ chicken thighs and sausages, fruit salad, spicy grilled corn, S’mores

My husband cooked the meat outside, in the drizzle, in air so cold we could see our breath. Stupid New England. Here’s how he describes the rub he made for the meat:
Lots of kosher salt, like unhealthy amount, lots of brown sugar and white sugar, generous amounts of garlic powder, little bit of cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Works for pork, too.

I thought it was fantastic, but he is researching different chicken-cooking methods with more indirect heat. I happen to like it charred, but I will probably force myself to eat the next meal he cooks, too, because I’m a good and generous wife that way.

It’s still a bit early for really good corn, but check it out! You grill it, roll it in butter, sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese and paprika, then squeeze on some lime juice.

So nice.

Some of the kids had read about S’mores and really wanted to make them (even though they shivered as they toasted their marshmallows). S’mores are completely lost on me. They are fine, I guess. I feel resistance toward foods that don’t have a food for the noun. Corrie approved.

***

TUESDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips

Nothing to report, except that I finally smartened up and bought two tubs of sour cream, one for the family and one for Corrie.

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cucumber avocado salad

It Instant Pot time! (affiliate link) I’ve made Cuban sandwiches before, using oven-roasted pork that I marinated for several hours ahead of time. This time, I took a four-pound half loin and threw it in the IP with a bottle of Goya Mojo Criollo marinade. I don’t quite trust the “meat” button yet, so I set it to manual high pressure for 45 minutes. Perfect. It was very moist but cooked all the way through, and the marinade had permeated the meat. No yummy crust, of course, but it was fast and easy, didn’t heat up the kitchen (yeah, it suddenly got hot out. Stupid New England), and clean-up was a snap. I let it stay on “warm” for several hours until I was ready to make the sandwiches.

I sliced the meat up and put it on ciabatta with deli ham, pickles sliced into long flats, swiss cheese, and mustard. Grilled the sandwiches in butter, then pressed them hard on both sides with a glass pie plate. They were excellent and insanely filling. Here is a terrible picture:

I think authentic Cuban sandwiches are supposed to be made with spongier bread, and probably heaped ridiculously high with meat and cheese but I had zero complaints with our results.

The side was something I took from The New York Times Cooking. I took it, and then I made it slimy somehow, I dunno. My version had red onion, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, leftover grilled corn, fresh lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and feta, and I ended up just mixing everything together, rather than spooning things over other things.

It was good, but it tasted like guacamole that left home on a quest to become pasta salad, but couldn’t find any pasta, so went back home, only to discover that the guacamole family no longer accepted it. Probably won’t bother with this again. Stupid New York Times.

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

Didn’t take pictures of pizza. Husband did snap a photo of the river as we slogged by on our evening run.

Stupid New England. I mean, wait! Lovely, gorgeous New England, my love! Feeling better and being more in shape are fine incentives, but really I’m in it for the pretty views and the husband time.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna, maybe risotto?

Stupid Friday.

Tell me what you ate and how you felt about it!

What’s for supper? Vol. 82: And two hard boiled eggs

You know, this isn’t the way I always imagined an ocean voyage. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and provolone in pita pockets; spicy fries; raw broccoli

I do love grilled pita pockets. I grilled them in butter. They are so cozy and filling.

***

SUNDAY
Steak, salad, strawberry rhubarb pie with whipped cream

Irene’s First Holy Communion and Mother’s Day! We’ve had so many parties lately, we decided Sunday would be just us chickens. Irene had a very good morning.

We planned to spend the day gardening, but it was, SIGH SIGH SIGH, windy and raining and snowing. So we made some pie together

This is Irene’s Happy Pie face. The kid just loves pie. She gave everyone mini pies from Walmart for Christmas. I think it was her early exposure to Amelia Bedelia. She just loves pie! And so do I.

I made the lattice one. I wove it for a while, then got bored and just started slapping bits of dough on. Irene’s crust was made of hearts and ducks, much like her soul.

We used this recipe from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook. It was new to me, and really did taste old fashioned, especially the crust, which had a pleasantly sharp, salty flavor. The crust turned out pretty light and flaky. It was a little hard to work with, but it added more to the overall taste of the dish than the typical bland crust. I did use the neat trick of freezing the butter and then grating it with a cheese grater, so it’s very easy to incorporate it into the flour without overhandling it.

Damien made everyone steaks. I like mine so rare, you can have a conversation with it while you eat.

 

Raise your hand if this picture makes you feel uncomfortable! Too bad! It was my mother’s day! And the steak was delicious. (And I had a lovely, lovely day, all day, thank you. Many wonderful gifts and thoughtful attentions.)

***

MONDAY
Pork ramen, coconut rice, peas

Delicious, but more of a hassle than expected, probably because I had to make so much of it. (It was simplified somewhat with the beloved Instant Pot, because I could cook the meat and vegetables, deglaze, and finish the broth all in one pot. Sometimes having even one fewer pot to wash is a big freaking deal.) I found a complicated recipe and simplified it, thus:

Sear some pork ribs in olive oil until browned on all sides. Take pork out, slice very thin, set aside. Add a coarsely chopped onion, about eight cloves of minced garlic, and a few scoops of ginger paste. Saute to brown. Add a cup of chicken broth to deglaze. Add seven more cups of broth, plus 8-10 oz. sliced mushrooms, and return pork to pot. Slow cook for several hours.

Just before dinner, have a kid cook a giant bunch of ramen noodles and some soft boiled eggs.

To serve, put ramen in individual bowls, ladle pork and broth over that, add a few halves of eggs, and throw something green on top. We happened to have some zombie scallions.

It was tasty and satisfying, and the pork was very tender after cooking all day. I adore thin slices of pork in soup.

For the coconut rice, I use this Instant Pot recipe from This Old Gal, who loves unnecessary complications. I have had about enough of This Old Gal. I did have coconut milk and coconut cream, but not toasted coconut or coconut sugar. I am skeptical there is actually something called coconut sugar.

The rice was pleasant, but not amazing. Who has a recipe that makes lovely, sticky coconut rice like in a Thai restaurant? Wanty.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I have no memory of Tuesday.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken blueberry salad

Salad meals are my favorite. This recipe comes from The Blueberry Council, which, surely:

I wish I had chopped up the greens smaller, to integrate them more with the other ingredients, rather than making a bed for them to lie on, but the combination of flavors and textures was excellent.

So: mixed greens, broiled chicken, blueberries, blue cheese, red onions, and toasted nuts (we had walnuts and almonds. There must have been a nut sale at some point. Again, I highly recommend taking the extra few minutes to toast the nuts); and a sweetish dressing made of olive oil, wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

I served everything in separate bowls. To my delight, most of the kids chose to include blue cheese and onions in theirs. When I was that age, the harshly challenging flavor of something exotic, like yellow mustard, would have sent me into howling despair, but my kids are so much more adventurous. I never insist they eat anything, but I do keep serving things that I think are yummy, and I offer it to everyone every time. And here they are eating onions and blue cheese! I did a thing!

***

THURSDAY
Nachos

Not my finest hour. My plan was very basic: tortilla chips, ground meat and pre-made taco spice, jarred cheese substance, and salsa on the side.

I had to run out unexpectedly, so I directed the meat cooking and draining via cell phone, which turned out to be only slightly less nerve-wracking for both parties than when a passenger has to step up and land a damaged airplane with the help of a pilot on the ground.

Then I dashed home and dashingly forgot that the label said not to heat the cheese in the jar. Why? Because, we discovered, it balloons up like a ghastly yellow nightmare, then collapses into a rubbery hunk. Excuse me, rubbery hunk olé.

Then I set the chips on fire.

If you’re wondering why I never clean my oven: I do. I just immediately follow the cleaning with another spill. Then I set some chips on fire.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

Assuming I can figure out how to open a jar.

It occurs to me that a few of my readers may not be familiar with the phrase “and two hard boiled eggs.” Let’s fix that right now:

What’s for supper? Vol. 81: How very Montessori

Yipe, it’s late! Never mind the introduction where I mention that we were extremely busy this week. Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Pizza and birthday cake

Another birthday! Actually, this birthday was last month, but we finally got around to having the party and sleepover. Child requested calzones, but I bargained her down to pizza. The cake, I refuse to show you. Turns out it’s very possible to go very, very wrong with a simple Deathly Hallows symbol.

A few of the decorations turned out pretty good, though. Here are the candles floating over the table:

They are rolls of cardstock with electric tea lights stuck in one end, hanging from threads.

Other quickie Harry Potter party ideas: We drew banners for the four houses on poster board, and drew on white balloons to make them look like owls. We printed out “wanted” signs for the villains and tacked them up, and also printed out and cut out a photo of Moaning Myrtle, and taped that to the toilet. We wrote “The chamber of secrets has been opened” in lipstick on the front window.

Party food was not super inspired – just orange soda labelled “pumpkin juice” and lots of gourmet jelly beans labelled “Bertie Bott’s.” For an activity, the kids dipped pretzel rods in candy melt and then decorated them with various sugars and sprinkles, for wands.

***

SUNDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, chips, ice cream sundae cones

This was the actual birthday of #1 Son, who requested this fine meal. I want to say there was salad, but I don’t think there was. We got hot fudge and hot caramel, and put one in the bottom of the cone and one on top of the ice cream. Birthday!

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, roast mushrooms, fruit salad

Still the best way to make ribs if you can’t grill them outside. Salt and pepper on a rack in a real hot oven until they’re sizzling hot. So good.

Mushrooms were 79 cents for eight ounces, so I bought six packages and went to town. Here’s the recipe from Deadspin (which means it’s rambling and profane and oddly endearing). This picture is from my very worst camera, but — oooh, that smell.

Strawberries and blueberries were also on sale, so we mixed them together and pretended it wasn’t a weird side dish.

I’m trying to get away from serving potatoes all the time. Not because I have some kind of theory about dietary starches, or because I’m ashamed of my Hobbit forefathers, but . . . I don’t know why, I guess I’m just bored.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, onion rings, corn on the cob

Remember how we had hot dogs last week? Well, this week, we had hot dogs again.

The corn on the cob was first of the season, and middle-of-May corn tastes a lot like “too soon.” But setting the kids to shuck some corn is a quick way to redeem part of one day from what has lately become a discouraging stream of rushing in and out of the car, gobbling pre-packaged junk food, and realizing Sophia the First and her very unlikely rabbit friend have been gabbling away for four hours straight. Here! Shuck some good old corn! Be wholesome for a minute! Maybe we can string wooden beads later, or even — stop me if this sounds crazy — go outside.

So I get them set up with twelve ears of corn and, as I go about my business in the other room, I hear the honest, timeless sound of happy, unspoiled children hard at work at the domestic arts, up to their elbows in the fruits of the earth, smelling green smells, rediscovering the joys of industry. Then I hear,

Corrie is up on the table and she has nothing on her bottom! THE CORN! IS GOING! TO TASTE! LIKE BOTTOM!!!”

Sure enough. How very Montessori.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken apple salad, risotto

This meal was a copycat version of a salad I often get at Wendy’s. I got a few bags of mixed greens and let the kids choose their combination of warm grilled chicken, crumbled bleu cheese, diced green apples, sweet dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and some bottled berry vinaigrette dressing. (Wendy’s version has two kinds of apples, sugared pecans, and pomegranate vinaigrette.)

Fancy!

It’s totally worth the quick extra step to toast the nuts. Put them in a single layer in a baking pan in a 350 oven for about ten minutes. I know everyone is always talking about how this and that brings out the flavor of this and that, but toasting really does bring out the flavor of nuts. It also makes them, I don’t know, more pleasing to the teeth. It turns them into interesting, adult nuts instead of stupid, immature nuts. Just do it!)

I made the chicken by marinating it all day in a bag with some bottled Italian dressing, then roasting it under the broiler on a pan with some drainage. This meal was a big hit. Definitely making it again.

We also had magic Instant Pot (Amazon Affiliate link!) risotto using this recipe (skipping the squash). I’m including a picture because it looks like a lovely little cumulous butt floating through the sky.

Imagine if butts were made with sauteed onions and parmesan cheese. What would they rain down? Pure joy, that’s what.

***

THURSDAY
English muffin pizzas

We were home for about twelve minutes in between school and a concert, so English muffin pizzas did the trick. We made about 45 of them with what turned out to be, oops, cheddar cheese.
Here’s an after-concert group portrait:

Back row: My Mother Made Me Wear This Shirt and It Burnssssssss
Front Row, Left to right: Pretty Much Always Having a Wonderful Time; Angry Because Mama Said We Can Swing On the Swings Anytime, But Not Right Now; This Skirt Is Not Who I Am; and Kind of a Violin Prodigy, Kind of Over Having Siblings

***

FRIDAY
Fish tacos and corn chips

Just frozen fish sticks, shredded cabbage, jarred salsa, sour cream, and limes on tortillas, and maybe some guacamole if I can still lift my arms by the end of the day.