What’s for supper? Vol. 123: House of carbs

Sometime before dawn, a shelf holding my son’s swords collapsed, falling on the hamster cage, which released the hamster, which caused the cat to go berserk and knock over some boxes of tools. That’s what woke me up, and I leaped out of bed thinking this was clearly the noise of my daughter struggling to get to my door before she crumpled into a diabetic coma.

Which hasn’t actually happened yet. Yay! We’re doing fine, overall. She’s doing great. I’m trying to strike a balance between reading enough real-life accounts of managing the inevitable crises so I know what to do when it happens, and not reading so much that I feel like we’re always about to fall off a cliff. We’re doing fine, overall. Oh, and the hamster survived, who cares.

Anyway, CARBS. We’re counting them, and starting to venture into figuring out how different kinds of carbs affect blood sugar. Most days, diabetes management feels like a hassle, more than a calamity, and basic recipes have suddenly become unfamiliar territory, because I can’t eyeball anything anymore.

I won’t bore you with more details. I’ll just say that even though I wasn’t grateful to Mrs. Dootlittle when I was in third grade and she made us learn math, I’m grateful now. (Yes, we have a calculator. You still have to know what the hell you’re doing.)

So here’s what we had. You can see that Lucy is not on a special diet, exactly, except the “for crying out loud, let’s get some meat on your bones” diet. She eats normal food; we just have to know exactly what’s in it and how much she gets, and keep an eye on her. I’m going to include the carb counts at the end, in case anyone’s interested. Let me know if this is something you’d like to continue to see in food posts.

SATURDAY
Cranberry pecan chicken salad

I had a migraine, so Damien roasted some chicken breasts, and served them sliced up over mixed greens with dried cranberries, toasted pecans, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Always a popular meal (although I noticed that the younger kids ate everything except the greens, so I probably shouldn’t call it salad. Salad bar, maybe).

This meal was so low carb, Lucy had an entire chocolate bar for dessert and still stayed within her target.

SUNDAY
Shrimp linguine, garlic bread, roast Brussels sprouts

There was a crazy sale on frozen whole shrimp at Aldi, so I bought . . . kind of a lot. Damien used this Deadspin recipe, which starts with boiling a big pot of saltwater. Not salty water, but saltwater, “like the ocean, briny and harsh and intense.” Then you shell and devein the shrimp and dump the shells in the water, too, and then fish them out, and then you cook the pasta. The recipe notes, “You may now dump those shells in the trash and tell them that you will see them in hell.” Then you cook up the shrimp with olive oil, minced garlic, hot pepper flakes, and white wine. There are more steps, but you can see what kind of ridiculously flavorful deliciousness this is.

Normally, a dish like this will have you working through some insipid pasta to get to the occasional bright light of the shrimp, but this dish was worth your full attention with every bite.

I ate so much, and I’m not even sorry. I had it for lunch the next two days, too.

The Brussels sprouts were cut in half, mixed with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper, and I think parmesan cheese, and put under a hot broiler until they were gorgeously charred. The chompy texture was the perfect accompaniment to the creamy shrimp linguine.

We had Italian ices for dessert.

And here is Clara getting the garlic bread ready, so you can see exactly how well our kitchen renovations are going.

MONDAY
Tacos and tortilla chips

Nothing to report.

TUESDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, frozen peas

Still the best way to serve pork ribs, if you’re not going to get all fancy with smokers and three-day commitments. Sprinkle the ribs with plenty of salt and pepper, put them on a shallow pan with drainage, and shove them under a hot broiler for a few minutes on each side until they’re browned and sizzling. Juicy and wonderful.
I made a double recipe of risotto in the Instant Pot, using this recipe minus the squash. I forgot to take pictures.

WEDNESDAY
Beef teriyaki stir fry, crunchy noodles, white rice

Blithely ignoring what cut of meat it was, I trimmed and sliced the hunk of beef as thin as I could in the morning, then set it to marinate in half a bottle of teriyaki sauce. At dinner time, I sauteed the meat, then added two bag of frozen mixed stir fry veggies and the rest of the bottle of sauce. Made a bunch of white rice and put out crunchy noodles. No complaints.

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets, raw veggie platter and dip, deviled eggs, chocolate milk

Sort of a “preschooler’s delight” meal. If we haven’t hit Lucy’s carb target for a meal, we often make it up with milk, and this time, we had so much to make up, we had chocolate milk. So of course everyone had to have chocolate milk. Again, no complaints.

Well, Corrie threw up, but we think that was more because she ate most of a bag of salted pumpkin seeds not long before dinner. But it was good for a good two-hour terror while I thought about what would happen if it was a virus and Lucy started throwing up. This is why there is Buspar in the world. Not that I took any, because I am stupid.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese, raw veg

I haven’t worked out the carbs yet, but I’ll probably use this Instant Pot recipe, and maybe add a layer of buttered bread crumbs on the top.

And there it is. Now I’ll list the carb counts for these meals. Don’t forget to let me know if you feel strongly, either way, about me including these in the future!

Cranberry chicken salad:

2 cups Aldi Simply Nature organic spring mix: 3
chicken:  0
pecans 1/4 c : 3
dried cranberries 1/4 c: 25
2 Tbs Italian dressing: 3
(doesn’t want feta)

Shrimp linguine meal:

1 cup cooked linguine 43
shrimp – 0
garlic and white wine – 2
garlic bread – 1/8 baguette from Hannaford – 28
1/2 cup brussels sprouts – 4

Italian ice: 26

Tacos:

tortilla: 18g each per small fajita size (20 count bag)

ground beef: 0
Alsi Casa Mamita taco seasoning mix is 2 tsp, 3 g; 12 tsp total in package; usually use 2 packs
cheddar cheese: 1 g
roma tomato: 3 g per whole tomato
sour cream – 1 carb per Tbs
salsa – 3 g per 2 Tbs
tortilla chips 19 g per 7 chips

Pork, risotto, peas:

rice 4 cups uncooked: 576

beef broth 8 cups: 5.6

olive oil: –

onion medium red: 11
garlic minced 1 Tbs: 3 g
sage 1 tsp: 1.2
salt and pepper: .5 (1/2 tsp pepper)
parmesan cheese 8 oz (full jar): 0
risotto total: 597.3 for ten cups of cooked risotto

about 60 g per cup

pork: 0
peas: 2/3 cup is 13 g

Beef stir fry with rice and noodles:beef: 0

cooked rice: 45 g per cup
sauce: entire bottle, 192 Kikkoman teriyaki original sauce
vegetables: 48 g total in TWO bags Birds Eye broccoli stir fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, onions, red peppers, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and celery)
MeeTu chinese noodles: 20 g per 1/13 of a bag
10 cups of meat, veg, and sauce: entire = 240 entire batch
1 cup rice: 45
1 meat, veg, sauce: 24
2 moderate daddy handfuls of noodles: 20

Chicken nuggets meal:

I guess I forgot to save this info.

Mac and cheese:

Not ready to face this yet.

What’s for supper? Vol. 122: Why is Walmart garlic powder taking over the world?

The theme this week was “very basic ingredients.” The most exotic seasoning to pass through my hands all week was garlic powder. Part of the New Three Sisters: salt, pepper, and garlic powder. And you know what? We ate really well. We had some snow days, so I even baked!

SATURDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips, strawberries

Chuck roast was as cheap as it ever gets around here, so I got a five-pound hunk. Damien coated it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and browned it in a heavy pot in oil until it was crisp on all sides, then put it in the oven at 350 for about an hour. We like it rare, as you see.

We had it on rolls with horseradish sauce and slices of provolone, and I put mine in the oven to melt dat cheese.


Man. Pork is great, chicken is swell, but there is nothing like a slice of rare beef. It’s just what meat is supposed to taste like.

***

SUNDAY
Salmon burgers, asparagus, fries

I wrestled with my conscience for a while, then graciously conceded and  bought a crap ton of salmon filets that were on sale because it’s “the Lenten holiday.”

Here’s the cooking technique: Dry the filets and salt them lightly. Heat up a pan like crazy, coat the bottom with oil, and lay the filets down, skin side down. Let them cook more than halfway up, then carefully turn them over, and cook for a few more minutes. Serve sizzling hot.

I served them on soft, sweet little brioche rolls, because they too were on sale. A good companion to the tender fish, with pesto mayonnaise (my recipe: put pesto in mayonnaise) and some lettuce.

Veddy good.

MONDAY
Hot dogs, cheezy weezies, broccoli

I forget what happened Monday, but it wasn’t pretty.

TUESDAY
Meatball subs, salad

Birthday! Like fresh meat needs salt, a fourteen-year-old boy needs meatball subs on his birthday. I took seven pounds of ground beef and added seven beaten eggs, about four cups of breadcrumbs, and tons garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and minced onion.

I bake them at 350 for about forty minutes or more on a pan with drainage. See how much fat gets drained away? So easy.

Then I layer them in a glass pan with sauce, cover, and keep them warm for several hours, so the sauce has a chance to soak in a bit. Pass the parmesan.

WEDNESDAY
Roman egg drop soup, roast chicken, salad, challah

We had yet another storm, and for other complicated and boring reasons were homebound all day; so I decided to make challah. I am a terrible baker, but challah is easy, as long as you have lots of time and a warm spot in your house.

Here’s the recipe I used. I doubled it to make two giant loaves:

In a bowl, I mixed together:
6 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt

Then I added:
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup canola oil

In a small bowl, I put
1-1/2 cups warm water
and dissolved into it one envelope of fast-acting yeast.
Then I mixed this into the other ingredients.

I tried kneading it in my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook, but it was just too much dough (remember, I made a double recipe. If you make a single, this method should work fine), so I had to knead it by hand. I hate kneading dough, and always give up too soon. The dough should be smooth, but very thick and not sticky at all. You may have to add more water or more flour. My dough was still kind of knotty when I got tired of kneading.

I put plastic wrap (you can also use a damp cloth) on the bowl of dough and put it in the oven to rise. (I have a cold kitchen, so to let dough rise, I turn the oven on for a few minutes, then turn it off, let it cool a bit with the door open, and then put the dough in.)

I let it rise for maybe an hour, then punched it down and formed the loaves. For each loaf, I divided the dough into four balls which we rolled into long snakes. We braided three of the snakes, pinching the ends together, and then divided the fourth one into three again, braiding those, and laying the smaller braid on top of the larger one.

Then I laid the loaves on a buttered, floured pan (I prefer corn meal to flour, but we were out), covered them again, and let them rise again for another hour or so.

Then I took the loaves out, preheated the oven to 350, and prepared an egg wash with a few egg yolks and a little water beaten up in a cup. We brushed that over the dough.

We were out of poppy seeds, or we would have sprinkled those over the top. And yes, I made Corrie put a shirt on just for the picture.

Then I baked the loaves in the middle of the oven for maybe half an hour, until the top was all golden.

Isn’t it lovely, hmmmm?

The insides were a little dense,

I suppose because I got lazy with kneading; but it was still soft and delicious. Sweet and eggy, and so fragrant. Coziest bread in the world.

The egg drop soup is a new recipe to me. Basically you take chicken broth, add some spinach, and then mix together raw egg and shredded cheese, and then whisk that briskly into the broth. It’s very cheap and simple, so I hoped it would become a miraculous new family favorite.

Instead, I got what looked remarkably like a warm pot o’ vomit.

The eggs are supposed to turn into delicate, wispy shreds when you whisk them into the broth. Mine clumped. Also, I used frozen spinach, which turned out to be in shreds. Then I overheated it, and the egg mixture kind of boiled up to the surface and got clotty.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my soup non-clotty. Just one of my peculiarities.

It did look better in individual bowls.

The taste was actually pleasant, if not thrilling. It reminded me of quiche, or of my grandmother’s noodle kugel. If anyone has any tips on how to make them eggs shred, I may even make it again. It certainly is fast, easy, and cheap. JUST LIKE ME. Womp.

The chickens, I just slathered with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and, you’ll never guess, garlic powder. I cooked them in a 375 oven, breast down, for forty minutes, then flipped them over, seasoned the other side, and kept cooking them until they were done. You get more tasty skin this way.

I hate cooking whole chickens, and I don’t even know why. Oh shucks, the challah got into the picture again! That keeps happening. Hello, lovely! I see you!

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, Brussels sprouts

Sometimes, it’s nice to just let pork be pork. You put the ribs on a pan with drainage, sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper (but not garlic powder. Let’s not be silly), and slide them under a hot broiler, turning once, until they are sizzling. So good.

The Brussels sprouts were just boiled from frozen, so not the greatest, but on the other hand, vegetable.

I’ve decided 2018 is officially a good year because I can now make Instant Pot risotto without checking the recipe. Here’s how (and this serves about 10. You can halve it):

Press the “sauté” button and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add a diced onions and a few teaspoons of minced garlic, plus a bunch of salt, pepper, and sage. Brown the onions.

Add four cups of raw rice, still on “sauté.” Keep stirring the rice with a wooden spoon until it’s all opaque, about five minutes. Then add eight cups of chicken broth, stir it up, put on the lid, close the valve, and set it to “pressure cook” on “high” for seven minutes.

When you suddenly notice it’s been done for a while while you were gooning around on Facebook, do a quick release, and then dump in as much parmesan cheese as your conscience will allow. I find it’s helpful to say to oneself, “This is the last time I will ever eat parmesan cheese. I wonder how much I should add?” and then see what happens.

Stir in the cheese carefully and serve immediately. Then, if your rotten, no-good son ever gets around to sending you the picture you took with his phone, you can post a picture of it.

EDIT: Oh, what a good boy.

About the risotto: Someone asked if I use regular rice instead of arborio. I do! Just plain old white rice. It doesn’t turn out as good as arborio rice, but it’s still very, very good. And food you actually make always tastes better than food you can’t afford to buy.

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

Done-zo.

What’s for supper? Vol. 118: Everyday Gras

You will become fatter just reading this post.

SATURDAY
Grilled chicken with cranberry salad

Quick quick, gobble gobble.

I doused some chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper, and plenty of garlic powder, and broiled it, turning once, then cut it into slices. Bag o’ mixed greens, a few pouches of dried cranberries, some crumbled feta cheese, and a bag of chopped walnuts, toasted for a few minutes while the chicken was finishing up. I could eat this every day. As long as you plan ahead, it takes maybe twenty minutes to put together.

SUNDAY
Hot dogs, hot wings, terrible Russian pickles, chips, ice cream sundaes

Food fit for a superb owl.

Damien made these hot wings from Deadspin . We agreed they could have been cooked a tiny bit longer before they got sauced, to make them a little more crisp, but they were still extremely tasty. He made a big bowl of sauce with sour cream and blue cheese, which I ate with the wings, with the celery, with the hot dogs, and with anything else I could fit in my paw, one little dippy dab at a time, for the rest of the week.

We happened to stop into the Siberian Food Mart and Damien told me to pick out something nice for myself, so I chose this imposing jar of giant pickles.

Well, it took three people and a knife to get the lid off, and they tasted mostly of ammonia. Boo! We also spotted one of our kids casually hanging around on the label of a box of cocoa or something.

MONDAY
Meatloaf, baked potato, salad

Guess what tastes great on baked potatoes? BLUE CHEESE SAUCE.

My basic meatloaf recipe:
Mix together with your hands:
Five pounds of ground beef, two pounds of ground turkey
About four cups of bread crumbs
Seven beaten eggs
Maybe a cup and a half of milk.
Tons of minced garlic, salt, and pepper and whatever.

Form into two tapered loaves on a pan with some drainage. Drizzle the outside with ketchup, you with your filthy eastern ways. Put them in a 400 oven for about two hours, until it’s done all the way through.

I actually had to put it back in the oven for 25 minutes or so after I took this pic.

You can add all kinds of things to the meat mixture, of course. Minced onions, worcestershire sauce. Actually that’s all I can think of. I don’t know, maybe horseradish. You can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, too.

Oh, check out this potato. Check out this frickin’ potato.

This is why you support independent Catholic journalism. Who else will show you frickin’ potatoes like that? No one named Leila, that’s who.

TUESDAY
Sausage and spinach risotto; roasted balsamic vegetables

The NYT had a recipe for sausage risotto, but instead of reading it, I wung it.

In the morning, I squeezed the meat out of a few pounds of sweet Italian sausages and browned it and drained it. Then, closer to dinner time, I made a big batch of basic risotto in the Instant Pot. Here is the recipe, adapted from Good Housekeeping. I tripled the recipe, but here’s the amounts for about four servings:

1.Put some olive oil or butter into the IP, enough to coat the bottom. Add whatever spices you like, plus diced onions if you like. Use the “sauté” setting until whatever you chose is browned up and smelling nice.
2.Add two cups of uncooked rice, and keep it moving with a wooden spoon for about four minutes (longer if you use more rice, obviously), until the rice starts turning opaque. Don’t let it brown. Press “cancel.”
3.Add four cups of chicken broth or other broth, and stir the rice so it’s all submerged.
4.Lock the lid, close the valve, and set it on high pressure for six minutes.
5.When it’s done, do a quick release, then dump in so much parmesan cheese. Add pepper, and more salt if needed.

For this meal, I put the cooked, drained sausage in with the broth and let the risotto cook that way. Then, after adding the parmesan, I stirred in a few handfuls of raw baby spinach, letting the heat wilt it.

For the vegetables, I combined a pound of whole baby Brussels sprouts, one head of cauliflower florets, one cubed butternut squash, and a pound of quartered mushrooms. I spread them in a shallow pan in a single layer, then drizzled them with honey, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, rustled it up a bit, and sprinkled salt and pepper on top. Then I slid it right under a hot broiler until it was a little bit charred.

For the record, this was a completely magnificent meal. The risotto was creamy and savory; the vegetables were toothsome and sweet. I was the only one in my house who thought so. Corn flakes and frozen pizza were consumed. Too bad for them.

I also ate kind of a lot of pretzels dipped in blue cheese sauce while waiting for the Instant Pot to stop venting.

WEDNESDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches; fries

Wednesday was a snow day, and since we are having guests on the weekend, I made the kids do a lot of cleaning. One cleaned out the refrigerator. She found a small bowl of some lumpy, white substance, and she . . . threw it out. Thus was broken the thrall of blue cheese sauce over my heart.

For the pulled pork, I just chunked the meat into two slow cookers with some Narragansett beer, a lot of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and the remains of some jars of sweet pepper rings and jalapeno peppers with the juice, and put it on low for six hours.

This meal never tastes quite as good as it smells, but it smells like a meat god has descended on your kitchen and it will be your last day on earth, so I guess a step or two down from that is okay. I served the meat with sub rolls, bottled BBQ sauce, and red onions.

I brought up the possibility of broccoli, but everyone just flapped their hands at me dismally, so I saved myself the effort.

THURSDAY
Ham and egg English muffin sandwiches

With a side of No-Choice Broccoli.

FRIDAY

Oh, wait till I tell you. A friendly priest is passing through the area, and arranged for this to be delivered:

and this:

So, I’m gonna get some beer and some French bread and make some green salad and potato salad and rice, and I believe we’re going to have a Vendredi Gras (?).

And what about you, ma fren? Do you have plans for Mardi Gras?

What’s for supper? Vol. 115: If you believe in yourself, you can bibimbap.

I still want to talk about food.

Here’s what we had this week, with hardly any pictures, because I used my son’s camera for most of them, and he’s . . . somewhere.

SATURDAY
Oh, I don’t know. Hamburgers. Yes. 

***

SUNDAY
Bibimbap

When Benny was little, she used to call herself “Bem,” and so we did, too. Then I became aware there was a ubiquitous Korean dish called “bibimbap,” or “bibembop.” So we started calling her “Bem-bop.” Then we became aware there is a Japanese anime character called “Bem, the Human Monster.”

So  . . . . well, we were at the pediatrician’s for a well-child visit, and the doctor says, “I have a theory about the youngest child of big families. Does little Benny have a strange, complicated nickname?” And we had to confess that, yes, we call her “Bem-Bem-Bop, the Human Monster.” There’s a little tune, too.

Anyway, bibimbap (rice with meat and vegetables) is amazing. It’s fantastic. It’s the strongest it’s the quickest it’s the best! It’s one of those dishes that you can make with whatever elements you like, more or less. You’re supposed to have a stone bibimbap bowl, too (Affiliate link!), so you can serve it up in one big dish and keep it warm on the table. Apparently the rice on the bottom gets crunchy over time, which sounds lovely.

Our kids are much more likely to eat new dishes if they can pick and choose what goes into them, so I set out bowls and plates of ingredients, and everyone got some rice in their own bowl, added whatever they wanted, and then lined up for their fried egg topper.

I used up the rest of that lovely expensive rice we had for our New Year’s Eve sushi party and set out bowls of the following:
pickled carrots and pickled cukes (in the morning, I sliced them as thin as possible and set them in a jar with white vinegar and a few tablespoons of sugar, and they were quick-pickled by dinner time), raw bean sprouts, and spinach sauteed in olive oil and a little sesame oil. OH I’M SO FANCY. Oh, and sauteed mushrooms, too. I didn’t buy tree ears or any crazy Asian mushrooms, just regular buttons. And some sesame seeds and soy sauce.

I looked through recipes for meat, and they didn’t look great, so I went ahead and made gochujang pork again. I just sliced it up thin and let it marinate overnight, then fried it up at dinner time.

I also made some cheater’s kimchi. My source (oh no, I didn’t name her! Now I’m all discredited and whatnot!) says bibimbap isn’t really a kimchi dish; but on the other hand, bibimbap is whatever you like. So I made the fake kimchi. This is pure white lady food, and I don’t care who knows it. I squeezed out about a cup of sauerkraut, added some gochujang (chili paste) and some sambal oelek (also chili paste) (fine, I have no idea what the difference is. See: white lady), minced garlic from a jar, and squeeze ginger from a bottle.

So everyone got a big scoop of rice in their bowl, then piled whatever they wanted on top, and then got a fried egg with a runny yolk on top. So good.

SO GOOD.

And here, my friends, is a picture of Bem-Bem-Bop eating Bibimbap.

Ain’t she cute?  I got her that hat at the Salvation Army and she wears it all day long.

***
MONDAY
Onion soup; bacon cheese garlic bread

I usually make a very simple French onion soup using Fannie Farmer’s recipe. It does take a long darn time to caramelize all those onions, but I had heard you could do it quickly in, you’ll never guess, the Instant Pot (Affiliate link!)

I used these directions from Serious Eats, which explain the science behind what happens. You saute the onions in the open pot first, with butter, salt, and a pinch of baking soda (“Baking soda raises the pH of the mixture, which speeds up the rate of the Maillard reaction,” it says, and I believe it), then close the lid and cook it on high pressure for 2o minutes, then vent the steam. Then you open it and cook it some more while stirring until the liquid boils off.

The recipe says the onions will then be “ready to be piled on your burger, stuffed into your grilled cheese, added to your stews or sauces or gravies, spooned over your steak.” I guess? But it was basically pulp. It tasted wonderful, amazingly sweet and rich, but I don’t see how you could pile them on anything. It certainly didn’t save any time or labor, overall. Overall, I rate this technique an M for “meh.”

Anyway, I just added a bunch of beef broth, pepper, and parmesan and piled the soup into bowls. It was tasty.

One of the kids had been begging for onion soup (and I don’t want to believe it was only to annoy her sister, who hates and fears onions), but I knew we’d have a riot if I served it without meat. So I went with this ridiculous bacon bread stuff. You split loaves of french bread in half lengthwise, make it into long loaves of garlic bread, and toast it slightly (I SAID SLIGHTLY! Aw, dammit). Then mix together ranch dressing, shredded cheddar, and crumbled bacon, spread that on the bread, and put it back in the oven to melt the cheese. I burned the hell out of it, but they gobbled it up anyway.

***

TUESDAY
Scrambled eggs, sausage, harsh browns

This was supposed to be omelettes, but I just didn’t have enough life force, so it was just one big pan of eggs.

***

WEDNESDAY
Roast chicken drumsticks, mushroom risottto, salad

Small resurgence of life force. Not having made omelettes the day before, I had a bunch of mushrooms. So I sliced them and sauteed them in olive oil with diced red onions and minced garlic, salt and sage. Then I followed this reliable risotto recipe for the Instant Pot (skipping the butternut squash). It turned out great! Mushrooms and risotto get along so well, and sage was a good choice.

***

THURSDAY
Pizza

Burned the hell out of it.

***

FRIDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

I have no idea why I wrote meatballs. I’m not making meatballs.

Happy Friday to all, even you rat bastards!

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. 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.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 74: This is why everyone needs an Instant Pot

Maybe you’re wondering what is the big deal about the Instant Pot. Is it really so great? Why does everyone go so cuckoo over it? Should I be worried that my spouse has bought a pair of spotless doves and is sharpening a knife?

And why does Simcha insist on making these embarrassingly chimpy images with very primitive software and a crying toddler on her lap?

I have the answer.  To the first question, not the second.

It’s because of risotto.

Risotto, risotto, risotto. I love risotto with my whole heart, but it is a pain in the neck to make. Hovering over the pan, stirring, adding in a little broth, stirring, waiting, simmering, waiting, stirring, adding some more broth, stirring, waiting, and it smells divine, but your entire life is passing you by while you wait for it to be done.

In the Instant Pot, it’s easy. Truly easy, and fast. And it tastes just as good as the difficult kind. This, in itself, is a reason to own an Instant Pot. All the other stuff is bonus. Now you know!

Here is the obligatory reminder that all my links to Amazon products are Amazon Associates links, and I get a small percentage of every purchase made using my links. Amazon is restructuring its pay scale soon, to the detriment of people who mostly plug books and toys; so I would be very, very grateful if you could bookmark my link and use it any time you shop on Amazon!

I’m gonna come right out and tell you: we rely on Amazon for our car payments. My husband has a 1.3-hour commute, and absolutely needs a reliable car. So! Please use my links, so my husband doesn’t have to drive to work in the Instant Pot. It’s good, but it’s not that good.

Thank you.

And now, back to risotto.

Last Friday, we had tuna fish patties and butternut squash risotto. I used this butternut squash risotto recipe from Good Housekeeping. I used onions instead of shallots, ground sage instead of fresh, and regular old white rice instead of arborio. It was fabulous. Creamy but not mushy and packed with flavor. Amazing.

I spent a good half hour wandering around the house, taking people by the shoulders, holding them with my glittering eye and quothing at them, “Do you even realize the possibilities?” Risotto with fresh tomatoes. Risotto with bacon. Risotto with scallops or garlicky shrimp. Risotto with asparagus and gorgonzola. Risotto with lemon, mint, and peas. Risotto with hazelnuts. Risotto with saffron and fennel. I don’t even know what fennel is! But I will!

The other reason for having an Instant Pot is because venting the steam is fun. Some days, it is the most fun you will have all day.

***

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Cousins over again. They responded very positively, with shrieking, to the idea of hamburgers and chips. So let it be written; so let it be done. I had planned sweet peppers and hummus, but there were just too many runny noses and double dippers in the population, so, in the interest of good health, we skipped the veg.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlets with basil; mushroom risotto; salad

Farewell to cousins and hello to my parents. Here is my niece with one of her favorite playthings: My father’s beard.

Damien made one of his absolute most magnificent dishes, the late lamented Deadspin’s chicken cutlets. You pound the chicken flat, bread it (Damien used panko crumbs), fry it (Damien used olive oil and butter), then top it with a fresh basil leaf and a slice of cheese (Damien used mozzarella, but provolone is great, too), and ladle some homemade tomato sauce over that.

This meal makes me go absolutely insane. It’s so good, you can’t imagine. As I ate it, I thought of starving people in the third world and then thought, “TOO BAD.” With these chicken cutlets, you could — dare I say it? Rule the world.  

Also, I had some mushroom left over from last week, when I accidentally didn’t make soup. So I went with this mushroom risotto recipe from This Old Gal. This Old Gal discourages using plain old regular mushrooms, but I did it anyway, and it was good. I didn’t have fennel or parsley, so I went with sage again, and really peppered it up. Completely delicious.

***

MONDAY
Leftovers with spaghetti

Damien had made 38 chicken cutlets, so we put the leftovers in a pan, spread the rest of the sauce over it, added a layer of sliced cheese, and warmed it up in the oven, then served it on spaghetti.

There was no leftover risotto because I devoured it for lunch.

I feel like there was salad.

***

TUESDAY
Korean beef bowl; rice; steambed broccoli and cauliflower

I just noticed that I wrote “steambed” instead of “steamed,” but I think the “b” expresses how lightly I didn’t steam them.

Have you tried Korean beef bowl yet? You won’t regret it.

It’s so easy, and it’s just spicy enough to be warming and comforting, without assailing your mouth. Wonderful use for ground beef. Also a wonderful use for immortal zombie scallions, if you happen to have any haunting your kitchen.

I used, you’ll never guess, the Instant Pot for the rice. This really is easier than stovetop rice. It comes out slightly sticky, which we like, and you just put in water, rinse the rice and dump it in, and then press a button and walk away.

Oh, I thought of another advantage for the Instant Pot. InstantPot.com has plenty of useful, simple recipes, like the rice one above. It also has a slew of completely bonkers recipes that were apparently written by a malicious robot who flunked out of ESL. Here is one of my current favorites: Beer Potato Fish!

A photo of something, who knows what?

“The Beer Potato Fish would be a challenge for a non-professional cooker,” it muses, shaking its head in empathy for the old, dark days so tragically rife with amateurish attempts at beer potato fish, “But it is now a different story with Instant Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker.”

It calls for a pound of fish, some oyster flavored sauce, a cup of beer, and a tablespoon of rock candy. Doesn’t that sound tasty? It also instructs you to push the fish button, which does not exist. I suppose someone is making money off this in some way, and I kind of feel like they deserve it.

***

WEDNESDAY
Oven-roasted pork ribs; mashed potatoes; mixed veg

The Instant Pot had acquitted itself so well this week, I thought maybe I’d try one of the many, many pork rib recipes that are available. But then I remembered that I could also sit on the couch and tell my son how to some pork ribs in a 450 oven on a roasting rack with a little salt and pepper, and I knew they would be scrumptious. And so I did, and so they were.

If there’s a better way to prepare pork ribs, I just don’t care.

I also considered making Instant Pot mashed potatoes, but the recipes all looked more complicated than stovetop recipes. So I just went ahead and boiled them in a non-instant pot and mashed them. I left the skin on, which I almost never do. To me, this adds excitement and piquancy. To others, it’s like hanging around with that weirdo who keeps on harping on the idea that, in many regions, apple cores, corn cobs, and chicken bones are considered a delicacy.

The vegetables were that good old supermarket blend of frozen peas, carrots, corn, string beans, and lima beans. This makes me feel six years old, in a good way.

***

THURSDAY
English muffin pizzas

Since our bishop has given us a St. Patrick’s Day dispensation to eat meat on Friday, we did our meatless meal on Thursday. Except I forgot, and had leftover Korean beef bowl for lunch. For my penance, I had massive heartburn all night, and dreamt I was endlessly editing and re-editing a blog post about best and worst dresses of the Oscars; only I had to do it on taped-together paper with sidewalk chalk and then take photos of it with a Kodak disc film camera.

So, I am all caught up on Lent.

***

FRIDAY
Corned beef boiled dinner; Dublin coddle

So, St. Patrick is, like, the second-tier patron of our regional arch-diacistry, or something; and my husband is tremendously Irish, so we prayerfully discerned that have no choice but to eat three different kinds of meat today.

The kids love boiled dinner, so I’ll be cooking up some corned beef with red potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and adorable little onions, and serving it with gobs of mustard, as St. Patrick himself did. It’s how he drove the snakes away.

We’re also trying a new dish, Dublin coddle (recipe from Southeast Missourian, for some reason) which is a nice little thing with bacon, sausage, sweet and russet potatoes, herbs, carrots and apples. No argument from me. The two other recipes on this page actually sound way better. Maybe when I win the lottery.

Nobody likes soda bread, because it is terrible. Last year, I looked up authentic irish desserts, and quickly discovered why people usually just go with, like, brownies with green frosting.