What’s for Supper? Vol. 378: In which nobody goes to the emergency room

In haste! In haste! For today is a half day, and I have to go get my punkass kids. It is the final day of teacher appreciation week, and I love that they’re topping it off by making all the kids go away. Truly the gift from the heart. 

Speaking of gifts from the heart, this week having been mother’s day week, I decided to make all foods that I like this week. It was a very tasty week! But also very stupid, as you will see. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Well, I do like hot dogs, but this was more about convenience on a shopping day. But I do like hot dogs. And convenience!

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries, lemon meringue pie with strawberry compote

Damien shopped for and put together these excellent sandwiches (toasted baguettes with red pesto, olive oil, and vinegar, with provolone, prosciutto, capicola, sandwich pepperoni, tomatoes, and fresh basil), and made fries

and Clara made some wonderful pies, using my pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

and the filling and meringue from Sally’s Baking Addiction,

plus, as you can see, a layer of homemade strawberry compote between the lemon and meringue

Absolutely splendid. Perfect. I wish I had gotten pictures from the morning, when she made it, because by dessert time it had gone the way meringues tend to go, but it was still airy and wonderful. 

All the kids came over, and showered me with thoughtful and delightful presents. I spent most of the day following my heart, which meant working on my bog bridge. I worked on it off and on throughout the week, when I had 45 minutes to spare and it wasn’t raining, and it’s almost ready to put in place! I AM VERY EXCITED. In fact, at one point I got a little over-excited. As you will see. 

MONDAY
Fajita beef bowl, pineapple

London broil was on sale, so I got a bunch and sliced it up thin and marinated it most of the day in this yummy marinade

Jump to Recipe

I did all the prep work in the morning: Sauteed some sweet peppers, roasted some corn, chopped cilantro, cut up some limes, and found the shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips, and I prepped the rice in the Instant Pot. Sometimes we also have black beans with this dish, but we just had them last week and I just wasn’t bean ready yet. We also usually have chopped scallions, but I forgot. 

Before dinner, I cranked up the broiler and (to be honest, slightly over)cooked the meat

and I piled up my bowl with rice and meat and toppings and ate outside with the birdies. 

Oh, I also cut up the pineapple I meant to serve last week. Lovely meal, very popular. 

TUESDAY
Two pizzas, not three

On Tuesday, I was super busy all day with I don’t even remember what, so I as soon as I got home in the afternoon, I made three pizzas very fast. One olive, one half plain and half Hawaiian using the leftover pineapple from Monday, and one pepperoni using leftover pepperoni from the Italian sandwiches. We had a lot of pepperoni left, so I was pretty lavish with the toppings on this.

Feeling very brisk and accomplished, I preheated the oven, set the pizzas on the counter, and asked Elijah to put them in at 5:10. Then I went outside to work on my bridge. 

I was slapping wood stain on as fast as I could, and even though I was increasingly covered with wood stain and blackfly bites, feeling pretty great about life in general, when Elijah comes out and says, “You don’t have to come inside or anything, but how many pizzas are there?”

I say there are three. I’m the tiniest bit annoyed, because it’s not like it’s a big kitchen or something. Three extra large pizzas, pretty much front and center, can’t really miss them. Definitely three pizzas. 

He says, “Okay, I can only find two. And there is an empty pan.” 

So of course I go inside, and he is correct. Two pizzas which are now in the oven, and one pizza pan, still on the counter, with smears of grease and flour on it.

WHAT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY HAPPENED TO IT? 

What indeed.

Now, you know I’m sharing this story because the dog did not die. I will also confess that we did not take him to the vet. If we took that dog to the vet every time he ate something stupid, we’d be investigated by GoFundMe for an implausible number of emergencies. 

And to be honest, we weren’t 100% convinced it was the dog who made the pizza disappear. First we searched all over the house in case it somehow . . . left. Which sounds dumb, but it was very strange! The pan was there, the pizza was gone. We thought of the cat, who does steal whatever food he can carry and has no conscience at all. And we thought of, uh, other possibilities

And the dog seemed fine! He wasn’t bloated or uncomfortable or acting like his butt was any more haunted than usual.

But we couldn’t think of any other place the pizza might have gone, besides down his gullet. He does have very poor impulse control, even for a dog. 

The danger is that the dough would expand in his tummy and do terrible twisty things to his innards, or that it would produce alcohol and poison him from the inside out. Soooo Damien stayed up until 2 a.m. observing him. That makes nine full hours after the dog apparently ate the raw pizza. He did burp. And that was all. 

Friends, this is the almighty power of a boxer’s digestive system. You can judge us if you want for not taking him to the ER, but Sonny himself would give you some side eye for that. 

Well, maybe not a side eye, because his eye placement doesn’t really allow for that, but he would do his best. Sonny always does his best. As do we all. 

WEDNESDAY
Sweet spicy Korean meatballs, sweet pepper lo mein

New recipe! I came across this recipe for gochujang meatballs with apricot glaze and couldn’t look away. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used fresh ginger instead of powdered. Super easy, and it was fab. Tasted like party food. You just mix up the meatball ingredients and bake them, and then roll them around in the heated glaze which is just three ingredients, and serve.

I had already served rice that week and I was planning to do it agin, so rather than making rice as a side, I made a vegetable lo mein, as you can see. I usually make lo mein with linguine or fettuccine, but this time I had some very thin Chinese noodles I had grabbed at the International Market. They boiled up in no time, like two minutes, which was fun. I did my easy lo mein sauce

Jump to Recipe

I sauteed up some minced ginger and garlic, then added the leftover sweet peppers, then a little mirin, then the noodles and sauce and heated it all up. Delicious. The whole meal came together, start to finish, in like 45 minutes (moving fast). 

Definitely making these meatballs again. They tasted like party food. They would also be good, maybe even better, with ground turkey.

THURSDAY
Chicken biryani, giant taboon

I’ve had biryani on my mind for a few weeks, so today was the day. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, and that really is the superior kind of chicken for it, but what was on sale was chicken ribs, so that’s what I used. 

I also used actual basmati rice, which I sometimes am too cheap for. I had forgotten this, but it cooks up much faster than short grain white rice; so if you struggle with getting the rice cooked all the way through with biryani, it definitely helps to have the right rice! Anyway I anticipated undercooked rice, so I made the biryani in the morning and put it in the slow cooker for the rest of the day, which generally takes care of any chompy rice by dinner time. 

Turned out great. This being Mother’s Choice week, I did not omit the golden raisins, which the kids don’t like. But they’re easy to pick out, so that’s what they did.

And maybe I went around after dinner and ate up all the little plump, savory, leftover golden raisins on their plates, who can say. Maybe I’m the one who ate the pizza!

(I did not.) So, the chicken breast was a little bit dry, as I expected. Still a wonderful dish. I keep thinking I might try a different biryani recipe, but everyone likes this one, so why. 

At the last minute, I decided to make a Giant Taboon. My naan is kind of hit or miss, mostly miss, and it was too late to start it anyway, but taboon is fast and easy and delightful. Five minutes to put the ingredients together, an hour to rise, ten minutes to rest the dough, and 10-15 minutes to bake. I called everyone down for supper, and then I pulled this lovely pneumatic lady out of the oven:

I made it with a big rolled lip out of force of habit, because I usually make tabboon to go along with mussakhan (Palestian chicken with sumac and red onions) and you serve the chicken right on top of the bread

and I like to make a little lip to keep the juices in. Aghh, I gotta make mussakhan again. It’s so good. 

Oh, I’m almost at the end of the week and I didn’t tell you about my leetle misadventure with wood. The short version is that I had already cut away the rotten wood, replaced it with sound wood, and attached cross pieces on, and stained the underside; and also retrieved the pieces I already laid into the swamp before I realized I really needed to stain them. So then I wanted to flip the two long pieces over so I could stain the other side; but I couldn’t do it the horizontal way, which is easier, because I didn’t want to snap the cross pieces off

So I did what any mother would do: I dragged the kids into it. Four of us hoisted up one short end and carefully walked our hands down until it was basically standing on its end. Then I was like, “Okay, now just me and Lena, and everyone else get out of the way, and Lena, you stand to the side, because it might leap out!” 

You know this is a dumb story. Dumber than the dog eating the whole raw pizza, because his excuse is that he is a dog, whereas I am a college graduate and this was a very dumb idea. 

So we gave it a big shove, and of course it did leap out, but not like I expected, and it thwacked both me and Lena so hard that we both fell down and its fwiggen lucky we didn’t both have multiple broken bones. Do you want to see my leg?? 

Well, I just spent kind of a long time trying to figure out how to insert some code for one of those “click to see image” things, but I’m too full of raw dough, I mean I can’t figure it out, but for some misbegotten reason I really want to show you my leg, which isn’t even that bad. Lena’s is much worse. I’ll put the image at the end of the recipes, and if you are really motivated, you can scroll all the way down and see my leg. I find bruises fascinating, and this one kind of looks like a leaping rabbit. Madeline would be proud.

Oh, so then the long piece was somehow suspended in the air like this

I slapped a bunch of stain on it and dragged a tarp over it just as it began to rain, because I may be an idiot, but I’m not really sure how this sentence is supposed to end.

Damien promised that, when I was ready to flip the second long piece over, I should call him and he he would come over and say, “No, not like that! You’ll get hurt!” (He also said he would help flip it over.) This is what you call traditional marriage roles, and I didn’t even have to become a football player to figure it out. 

P.S. The dog did go to the vet today for his shots, and they confirmed that he is fine, and just likes pizza. Who among us. 

FRIDAY
I don’t know. 
I was planning tuna boats, but Moe and Eliora are coming over, so maybe I will take it up a notch. Or maybe not! Maybe I will throw some wood at them and pretend I thought they ate the pizza. This is MY WEEK, and I can do what I want! Which always turns out well. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

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

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

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

for the rest

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

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

WATCH OUT, HERE COMES A PICTURE OF MY LEG 

Probably not as bad as you were expecting, with all that build-up. But doesn’t it look like a rabbit? 

What’s for supper? Vol. 376: Lassi, get help!

Hap the Friday! We had another super busy week, because late April and May are “quick get this in before school ends” time, and then rather than using my free time to get caught up on writing, I made the irrational but irresistible choice to get started on my bog bridge and some other stuff. I cannot tell you how good it is to be outside building again, with all the sounds and smells and busy creatures of spring. I may have shouted, “HELLO, BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL” at a wasp, who was not impressed. But have you seen the world?

My dear peach tree has more blossoms than I’ve ever seen on it, and the tulips all suddenly popped open yesterday.

Just delightful. I have a very beautiful life. 

Here’s what we ate!

SATURDAY
Italian deli sandwiches, chips

Saturday was shopping day, of course, and I opted for nice, easy sandwiches. Baguettes and various salamis and whatnot, plus tomatoes and red pesto, olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. 

The ideal Saturday meal, even if I did forget the basil. 

SUNDAY
Rigatoni alla disgraziata

Sunday I dug up some of the yard and put together a little raised bed next to the rhubarb. I’m very pleased with myself for spending zero doll hairs on this.

 

The border is partly wattle fence harvested from the woods, partly slabs of wood stolen from Damien’s woodpile, and partly rocks that I’m about 83% are not pet grave markers. I filled it with compost from my compost heap, which I’ve haven’t touched all winter. I didn’t do any of the things: Didn’t water it, didn’t turn it, didn’t layer it, whatever. I just dumped anything biodegradable there — soil from other yard projects, food waste, and used duck bedding. I was nervous about digging into it, not knowing if it would be horrible wads of banana peels and eggshells mixed in with sprouting weeds, or what. 

Behold, my gorgeous compost:

Isn’t that lovely? It is soooo rich and dark.

I’ll probably plant peas and eggplants in this bed. You can see the strawberries and asparagus are still covered with straw. We can’t really grow much outdoors until the end of May here. 

 

Speaking of eggplant, I had a few eggplants I bought and didn’t use last week, so I made rigatoni alla disgraziata,

Jump to Recipe

which is very tasty and filling. Once I added sausage to this dish, but it just felt like overkill, so this time I made it with just the regular ingredients: Toasted breadcrumbs, chunks of eggplant, pasta, a red sauce, and plenty of cheese (good mozzarella and freshly-grated parmesan on top)

I was actually rushing a bit and undercooked the eggplant slightly, so it wasn’t as soft and well-combined as it could have been, but it was still delicious. I also made a quick sauce to go with it:  Sautéed some garlic and onions in olive oil, then added a couple of cans of whole tomatoes, torn up, with the juice; a couple of little cans of tomato paste, some red wine and some water, and red pepper flakes. Savory and lovely. 

On Sunday I also discovered that Sonny has been roaming the whole neighborhood, and not just our property, as I foolishly believed. This is not great because the neighbors have a rescue dog who doesn’t think Sonny is charming at all, and in fact wants to kill him. So he’s been having supervised outdoor trips all week, which is exhausting for us and baffling for him; so, it looks like we’re going to spend the weekend making some kind of stupid ass fence out of the snow fence I picked off the side of the road a while back. I was planning to make an enlarged duck pen with the snow fence, but while it turns out the ducks also have been visiting the neighbors, they’re smarter than Sonny, and stay away from ferocious dogs.

in short, we are the problem. Can’t even smooth things over with free duck eggs, because everyone around here has ducks. Perhaps a dozen dog eggs– no no, that’ll never work. 

MONDAY
Pork chops, asparagus cheese tart

Monday I had some pork chops, which is not my favorite.  Hard to know what to do with them so they don’t dry out. I decided to make a quick sauce using this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats (which is a whole meal with potatoes, but I just made the sauce). I was extremely distracted and the sauce came out really thin, and I didn’t feel like basting the chops, so guess what? The pork chops were dry. 

I thought I’d make up for it with a sure-fire side dish, an asparagus tart. This is super easy: You just roll out some puff pastry dough, sprinkle it with shredded cheese (I had gruyère), lay the asparagus on top, and bake it until it’s puffy and lightly browned. 

I myself thought it was delicious, but the kids were not terribly impressed. I definitely ate cold, chewy asparagus tart for lunch for the rest of the week, though, so not a total loss. 

So this meal fell a little flat

But! I ate it outside under the peach tree with the sparrows and cardinals hollering happily from the bushes, so no real complaints. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, vegetables and dip

Tuesday we had appointments in the morning and then an awards ceremony in the evening, so this was a problem only chicken burgers could solve. I did cut up a big tray of vegetables and serve it with dip. Did not take a picture of food; did manage to snap Sophia being recognized for her art.

and it’s a good thing she was recognized, because you wouldn’t be able to do that based on my photography! (She is holding a puppet of the head of her art teacher, who wasn’t able to be there in person.) 

WEDNESDAY
Frozen whatnot

Wednesday I swear I was writing some stuff, but then somehow I was out in the woods cutting down young aspens to clip and make into more wattle fence.

Sonny had some business of his own to attend to, but there’s nothing really terrible he can do in that direction, so I let him roam, and then we went back to work on the fence. 

This sometimes causes misunderstandings, because at other times, I like to play “No, that’s MY stick! You can’t have it! You give me that stick back!” with Sonny, and he thinks it’s hilarious. But when I’m working on the fence, I really mean it, and it’s very confusing for him. Poor guy. 

Anyway, does the fence look elegant and wonderful? Not really! But it’s surprisingly sturdy, and I immensely enjoy sitting on a plastic milk crate (which is the absolute best seat for outdoor work, if you get a real milk crate, not one of those flimsy college dorm storage things) and forcing whippy little branches in out of stakes. It’s like a little puzzle, choosing the right one to go next, and also figuring out if it should go in the front or the back of each stake. 

I am now quite sure there is something amiss with my brain, because I have a VERY very hard time with simple alternating patterns. Same thing happens with left/right movements in yoga. Sometimes I just can’t see it, and the harder I push, the more confused I get. Brains are weird. Luckily, this is completely made-up project that I’m doing just because I enjoy it, so I can just go, “Hey, brain-o, you tried” and get back to wattling. 

Wednesday we were supposed to go the youth group cookout, but the afternoon quickly devolved into WHY NOT SPEND HOURS DRIVING, INSTEAD? and the kids thought Aldi pizza would save the day. But Aldi, being Aldi, was out of pizza. Well, they had some cauliflower crust pizza, and some pizza with teriyaki chicken or something on it, which. Listen. 

So I got a bunch of frozen taquitos and found some pigs in a blanket in the freezer

and nobody was mad. I also bought them soda just because they asked for it. But I got store brand, because I’m still the boss.

THURSDAY
Green masala lamb curry, rice, minty yogurt sauce, mango lassi

Thursday, I got dinner started in the morning. I had bought one of those weird lamb breast plates on sale a while back, so I defrosted that and got it marinating in this green curry from Flavours Of My Kitchen. Not gonna lie, it has a lot of ingredients

and I think I used too much mint. The mint is the weird icy green cubes you see in the bowl, top right, with the jalapeños. I was using some mint I had frozen last fall, so it was hard to judge how much I was using, and I think it overpowered the cilantro a bit. (The other bowl is yogurt with turmeric and salt.) Plus I used black coriander instead of green, which I KNOW is not the same; and also jalapeños are not the right pepper. But I was having fun anyway, because Indian cooking is just a lot of fun.

So I made the curry paste and got the meat marinating, and then, again without making any conscious decisions, I just found myself outside working on the bog bridge. The area looked like this:

The dark part in back is the stream, which is a heavenly spot, but not very easy to get to.

So first I waded in (it’s VERY wet this year) and picked out the trash and pulled out those rotting pallets we laid down a few years ago when it was less wet. And let me tell you, I’m kind of a connoisseur of schlorping sounds, and the schlorp those pallets made when I dragged them out of their muddy home was top notch. Just exquisite. 

Well, when it’s done, I’ll probably write a whole other post about my ridiculous process, but the upshot is I DID make progress and I did NOT step on any nails and although I THREATENED to drill a hole in the dog’s head and let the sap run out, I did not follow through. 

And when I ran out of outdoor screws, I resisted the urge to use drywall screws, or little random bent nails, or hot glue. Maybe I have learned something after all. 

Anyway, I eventually went back inside and scraped a tremendous amount of smelly mud and swamp slime off my legs and got back to dinner. First I warmed up some spices in oil

in the Instant Pot. Then I moved it to a skillet for more space, fried up a bunch of red onions, and then seared the lamb in the onions. 

Then I moved it all back to the Instant Pot and pressure cooked it with a little water for 22 minutes on high. Then I moved it back to the skillet to keep warm while I cooked the rice. (This is why I don’t make cooking videos: Because it’s mostly me going, “oh, crap, I need to make rice. Argh” and the fishing a dirty pan out of the sink.)

While the rice was cooking, I decided the curry tasted a little bit harsh, because of my aforementioned ingredient substitutions; so I thought a cooling sauce would help, and added some mint and lemon juice and a little salt to yogurt. Then I thought, speaking of cooling, dang, I could make mango lassi.

Frozen mango chunks are really cheap at Walmart, and I keep them in the house for snacks. Can’t find the lassi recipe I used, but I just threw some frozen mango chunks in the food processor along with a bunch of plain Greek yogurt, some milk, and a little sugar, and blended it until it was smooth and pretty. I couldn’t find my ground cardamom, so I added cinnamon. I think a little lime juice would have been nice, but I didn’t think of it. (If you’re using mango that isn’t frozen, you’ll need to add ice.)

It was a good meal! I found a little jar of coriander chutney, which I adore, and it was just yummy all around. 

You can see the mango lassi was nice and thick, based on how alertly that straw is standing at attention. Definitely making lassi again. The kids were enthusiastic. 

I will probably take a break from lamb breast plate, though. It is SO fatty, and it’s impossible to eat without being an absolute caveman about it. What meat there was was super tender, though, and juicy like crazy. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle?

We are going to an awards ceremony for Moe this time, so I’m not sure who is eating what and where. The kids did say they’d make themselves tuna noodle if I got the ingredients. 

And that’s it! I’ll end this on a musical note. Corrie is going to her first dance (she’s in third grade, so I guess this is going to be a pretty wholesome event) and they asked kids to list their most-wished-for songs. Here is her list:

 

 

 

She is available to DJ your wedding. Must be fed mango lassis. 

Rigatoni alla disgraziata

A hearty, meatless pasta dish with eggplant, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 2 lg eggplants with ends cut off, cut into one-inch pieces (skin on)
  • salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, plus a little extra for frying bread crumbs
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 3 lbs rigatoni
  • 6 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb mozzarella
  • grated parmesan for topping

Instructions

  1. In a very large skillet or pot, heat up a little olive oil and toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Put the 3/4 cup of olive oil in the pan, heat it again, and add the cubed eggplant. Cook for several minutes, stirring often, until eggplant is soft and slightly golden. Salt to taste. Add in sauce and stir to combine and heat sauce through. Keep warm.

  3. In another pot, cook the rigatoni in salted water. Drain. Add the pasta to the eggplant and sauce mixture. Add in the toasted breadcrumbs and the shredded mozzarella. Stir to combine. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

What’s for supper? Vol. 375: Laurus! Eagle! Burger!

Happy Friday!

First order of business: I am asking your prayers for a dear person who should be just about out of cancer surgery right now. There is a very good prognosis, but still! Thank you!

And here is our week. 

I didn’t look up a single recipe this week. Most of the kids were on April Vacation and I had it planned out down to the half-day, according to everyone’s work schedule and my to-do list and the weather forecast in two states. My friends, I did every single thing I meant to do. I am very proud of myself, and I had a really nice week with the kids.

The downside is, when I stop using recipes, I relapse straight into “hot meat topped with hot cheese” territory. Which is not necessarily a bad thing! Just, you know, not very vegeteful.  

SATURDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches

Saturday of course I went shopping, then did a ton of yard clearing. I picked up SO much trash, including burnt-out fireworks from July 4th, and hacked away a bunch of wild blackberry canes (and I do mean wild. I’m still digging thorn tips out of my skin), and I cleared out a bunch of flower beds, mostly stuff that is just barely coming up and is still just green babies, but also some stuff I put in while utterly loopy with Covid

The tulips are done, but the daffodils will keep on multiplying for years to come. Sometimes when you’re out in the woods, you’ll see the remains of scattered stone walls, and you can guess that this was once pasture land, back when New Hampshire was wall-t0-wall sheep. Or sometimes you will even see the remnants of a root cellar or the foundations of the house, all smothered and overgrown with greenery, and you will think, “This grove of pines is standing right where someone used to have their kitchen.”

Or sometimes, there will be only a few stray rocks, and it’s hard to tell if they were set there on purpose by human hands, or just by the slow rearranging of the world by the push of water and crumbling earth. But then you see daffodils, evenly spaced, and that is all that is left of someone’s home. They’re not as easy to get rid of as something temporary like a homestead! So, this is why I plants lots and lots of daffodils every fall. 

I also put together an extremely chimpy little potting station

which might not look like much, but now I have a PLACE for things. I’m not saying I WILL put my trowel and my clippers and my zip ties away when I’m done with them, but now I CAN. 

And then I came in and sorted shoes, threw away many, many ragged, stinky pairs, and matched up 90% of the boots and put them away, started washing the winter jackets and snow pants, and bagged the hats and gloves. Whew! So then we had a quick, easy dinner.

The kids claim not to like duck eggs, but they eat them as long as I don’t tell them they’re duck eggs. As if you can’t tell! Look at that giant yolk. 

SUNDAY
Blackened chicken thigh sandwiches with peppers and cheese

Sunday I did a ton of writing and then we had spicy chicken thigh sandwiches with shishito peppers, melted cheese, red onion, and barbecue sauce, using this recipe from Sip and Feast.

I usually make this recipe when boneless, skinless chicken thighs are on sale, but this time I got plain thighs and skinned and de-boned them myself. I was surprised to find that they take much longer to cook this way, probably because . . . something something muscle fiber integrity and moisture retention, I don’t know. Just something to know for the future.

You just season them heavily (I used Tony Chachere’s) and fry them slowly in oil on both sides. When they were finally cooked, I shifted them into one pan and laid the cheese on to melt, while blistering up the peppers and toasting the buns.

Served them with BBQ sauce and raw red onion, yum yum.

I made a giant raw vegetable platter and we had that with dip. 

That evening, we had a long-promised fire and roasted marshmallows. I often struggle with building fires, so I was really happy to discover that I do fine with wood and kindling I have gathered myself. I just struggle with lighting fires from gross, waxy chunks of wood with a plastic handle stapled to it that I purchased at the supermarket. 

I HATE buying wood. I might build a little shelter and spend an afternoon gathering up a summer’s worth of dry wood, just for marshmallow purposes. But this was a fine fire. 

Then we doused it with water and stirred it with a stick. 

MONDAY
Pizza

Monday I did more writing and more flowerbed clearing and forgot to take the pizza dough out of the freezer in time, so I had to defrost it in the microwave, which produces less-than-satisfactory results. It wasn’t inedible, but definitely not the finest crust. 

I made one olive pizza, one pepperoni, and one misc refrigerator discoveries: Leftover shishito peppers, leftover red onion, some fresh garlic, and some ricotta cheese. 

Pretty tasty, even with the bum crust. 

TUESDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Tuesday, some of the kids and I set out to explore Otter Brook Dam. Damien and I have kayaked on the lake, and sometimes Damien and Moe go fishing there, but we’ve never tried out the hiking path. Excellent day. 

 

And we saw a bald eagle! When I was growing up, there were zero nesting pairs in NH, and I never thought I’d see an eagle in the wild. Now there are about 100 active nesting pairs, and they’re all over! Amazing. I love a good recovery story. 

I figured we’d be hungry after hiking, so we had hamburgers again. I make burgers in the oven under a hot broiler, using 70% lean beef. The fattier ground beef is much easier to handle and shape, and it’s cheaper, too; and then you cook them over something with drainage

and they turn out juicy but not greasy. 

Burgers and chips, yay!

I think this was the night we watched Men In Black. That movie is hilarious and really holds up. 

WEDNESDAY
Pan fried chicken, fries

Wednesday was rainy, and I girded my loins and we cleaned Corrie’s half of the room. No power under heaven could make me show you a “before” or even an “after” picture, but we cleaned that room. She agreed it was time to pass along the rocking horse known as “Toe Crusher” to some other lucky family, and I found one (1) bag of corn (previously frozen, now thawed and halfway to moonshine). And it turns out she DOES have pants. I told her she had pants. 

I had been planning to make chicken cooked in this yakitori sauce, plus rice and maybe fried eggplant, but I ran out of time, so I just seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder, and slowly fried it in hot oil. 

and I cooked a bunch of frozen fries. Not spectacular, but I was running so late, everyone was starving by supper time. For the amount of time it took, I could have made breaded and oven-fried chicken, which is a tasty recipe

Jump to Recipe

but the oven was full of fries. It was good enough!

THURSDAY

On Thursday we took advantage of the free kid’s ticket deal at Old Sturbridge Village, which is, in fact, like the 1830’s except without the racists, and I bet you five bucks Taylor Swift went to Old Sturbridge Village in fourth grade just like I did. I remembered exactly two things from that trip: The lady making cookies on a fire, and the gift shop. So I wasn’t actually sure how much fun it would be, but it was great! We met my friend Theresa

We strolled around for several hours. Bunch of pictures here:

 

Really good day, and everyone enjoyed it. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home. I wanted to listen to the Trump trial on the way there, but on the way back, Lucy took charge and we were treated to her curated Box Social Playlist, which includes De La Soul, The Killers, The Beastie Boys, a little French Electroswing, and so on. My kids are all such interesting monsters. 

I stayed up super late because we went to bed around midnight and then I thought I would read for ten minutes or so to help me drift off to sleep, and the book I picked up was Laurus, and the part I was up to was the part where he meets Ustina . . .

So, if you have read this book, you will know that I did not drift off to sleep. I read for two hours with my eyes bugging out and other parts of me clenched, and when I finally forced myself to put the book down and go to sleep, I had some weird frickin dreams. NO SPOILERS PLEASE. I’m only on page 101!

FRIDAY
Ravioli

Ravioli is what they wanted, so ravioli they shall get. And maybe I will do something with that eggplant. 

We’ve had a certain amount of duck drama this week. Spring is an emotional time for ducks, especially drakes, and EJ and Coin had some interpersonal issues to work out; and then, in an unrelated incident, EJ hurt his leg, so he’s been spending his nights in the infirmary, which happens to be Damien’s office. But he’s doing much better and hobbling around and looking good (I mean EJ, not Damien. Damien always looks good, but he was not hobbling!), which is a relief, because if I was going to kill and eat anyone, I would really prefer it to be Coin.

And now Ducklings Annie and Bebe are outside for the first time in their lives, so get ready for a bunch of duckling content while we work on integrating them with the big ducks! Corrie just went to get some peas, and not one but two of my kids intercepted her to nab some frozen peas for themselves before the ducks got them. So, stay tuned for increased vegetable content this coming week, too, I guess. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

What’s for supper? Vol. 373: Little lamb, who ate thee?

Happy Friday! This week at our house was A DOOZY. Possibly multiple doozies. Luckily, most of it was scheduled dooze, except for both cars having issues (my sliding door stopped closing, and one of Damien’s tires blew out spectacularly, and also his alternator lost its will to alternate) and also Damien has been working on Dora’s car, so, you remember how Damien once added “and cheese” to every item on my shopping list? It was like that, except every day had “and everybody needs a ride” added to it. 

BUT IT IS SPRING. And that counts for so much! We had a big snowstorm last week, but it slowly warmed up over the weekend, and it’s been raining for a few days, so the snow is now mostly gone. 

I tried THREE new recipes this week and a new decorating technique, and Corrie had TWO sacraments, and NO ducks died, although some of them tried to kill each other. I think there is a dead mouse somewhere in the WALLS. And we are having SPAGHETTI for supper. We are all pretty TIRED. But it is spring, for real! 

SATURDAY
Pizza? 

Saturday I did a monstrous shopping because I skipped shopping last week. I feel like there was something else big going on, but I don’t remember what. We had just regular pizza. 

SUNDAY
Banh mi, german chocolate cake 

Sunday we celebrated Lena’s birthday! They had pork belly on sale at Aldi, so I poked around for recipes and decided to try the Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi from Recipe Tin Eats, because Nagi has never failed to delight, and also because, despite our best efforts, we still had chopped liver in the house.

Before I forget, here is my chopped liver recipe. Chicken livers are cheap and this is an easy recipe. Why not make up a bunch, separate it into servings, and keep some in the freezer in case of banh mi? I think you should. 

So, pork belly is the cut of meat that’s made into bacon. If fat upsets you, you will not like this recipe! But if you are someone who has fond and lavish imaginings of what could possibly be meant by “crispy pork belly,” then I urge you to give this a shot. It was magnificent. And easy! But it did take some planning. 

You have to let the meat dry out in the fridge overnight, or at least several hours. Then you rub the flesh side with oil, kosher salt, white pepper, and Chinese five spice, and make a sort of foil packet to enclose the sides and bottom, so none of the juice will escape while it’s cooking. Then you cook it in a low oven for two hours.

You’re supposed to check it halfway through and tighten up the foil, because it shrinks as it cooks, but I forgot. The pork will have changed shape at this stage, so you level it off by putting balls of tinfoil under the lower side. 

Then you turn the oven way up to 465 and let it brown up for about half an hour, rotating it halfway through and using foil to protect any spots that are browning too fast. You salt it at some point, but I forget when. 

Sooo, here is how it came out:

ooooh. 

Probably could have let it get a little browner, but I really have no regrets.

This particular dish is meant to be cut into chunks, rather than shredded, so I cut it up

and served it on toasted baguettes with mayo, cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, chopped liver (paté) and the wonderful, velvety sauce suggested in the recipe (hoisin sauce, coconut milk, and a little soy sauce), and also some crunchy fried onions from a can. 

Amazing. Pretty different from the banh mi I usually make, which has fish sauce and is a different texture. 

Jump to Recipe

This was sweeter and less bitey but also richer and more complex. An excellent, excellent sandwich, and the sauce was so good. I did make the pickled carrots using her recipe, and I think I prefer mine, which are less sweet,

Jump to Recipe

but it was a negligible difference. 

The pork belly chunks were sublime. The fat layer on top was salty and crackly, and the flesh inside was so juicy and succulent, and it had layers of fat inside that were meltingly tender. No chewiness in any part, and each individual piece of meat was, I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but almost like a layered sandwich in itself. So it was like a sandwich full of little baby sandwiches. Not, uhhhhh, an everyday food, for a variety of reasons. But I enjoyed it so much. 

And I made a cake! I decided to use the Tastes Better From Scratch recipe for German Chocolate Cake. I actually made the two frostings on Saturday, to save time, but then left them sitting on the stove all night by mistake. One has egg in it, and I wasn’t crazy about the texture anyway, so I decided to remake it. Because I was being smart. 

I then proceeded to be very dumb and decided that, when I got to the part of the cake recipe where you add a cup of boiling water to the batter, I would use a metal measuring cup without a handle.

Do you know, boiling water is hot? I didn’t realize this. So I basically tipped a little water in and then shrieked and flung the measuring cup into the moving mixer, with predictable results

So I wiped down every single surface of every single thing that was in the kitchen and then I remade the coconut pecan frosting. I made a double recipe of the cake, and it came out, like so many of us these days, a little too fragile. Also the chocolate frosting was so thick, you couldn’t really spread it, but you could squish it, so that is what I did. So the resulting cake looks a little like someone held it at shoulder level and then dropped it

but everyone assured me it was delicious! You have to agree, this is definitely a lot of cake. I have finally started on Emgality, so who knows, maybe some day I will have chocolate again, and find out for myself. 

MONDAY
Eclipse! 

Monday, if you recall, was the eclipse! We were in the 95% range, and we’ve seen a partial eclipse before; so I decided to excuse the kids from school and hop in the car to see totality. Our goal was St. Johnbury, VT, which is normally about two hours away. It took about 3.5 hours, so I deployed the car DVD player, which is reserved for the longest trips, and we watched Ice Age, which holds up, at least if you’re only listening to it. 

We were thrilled to see clear skies, and it was one of the warmest days of the year so far, so we felt very lucky. Staked out a spot, ate our sandwiches, checked out the craft tables and information booths, and then the moon started to steal across the sun, and then . . . 

I don’t know if you guys realize this, but the sun is what is making us alive, and when it gets covered up, things change DRAMATICALLY and IMMEDIATELY. We went from sweating in the sun to shivering, and the light was . . . not twilight, like when the sun is going down. It also wasn’t “there’s a storm brewin'” light. It was light I have never seen before in my life, and there above me were immense heavenly bodies silently moving themselves in a completely new way. Everybody stood up. People shouted and cried out. I wept. It was quiet and cold. I don’t know what to say.

I did take a few pictures

but of course they aren’t anything like what it was like. Neither, I may say, are the dramatic, high resolution pictures that people have been sharing. If you haven’t seen a total eclipse, it is simply not like anything else

We did bring a colander and use it as a pinhole projector to make the little crescent shapes before totality.

Strange, strange stuff. The whole thing was just so strange. And it was just the sun, and the moon! The sun and the moon, that we already know about and have lived with all these years. If this is how strange the physical world can get, it makes you wonder what other surprises may be in store. Phew. Phew. Quite a day. 

Lots of people turned right around and zipped off to their cars the very second totality was over, but we hung out and kind of caught our breaths, and then headed over to the Fairbanks Museum, which is a strange little natural history museum full of taxidermy and cultural oddities from all over the world. I enjoyed every bit of it, including the document hand written by Robert Louis Stevenson deeding his birthday over to a little local girl who had the misfortune of having been born on Christmas. Sweet man. 

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that just before totality, we saw strange ruby-red gems of light on the bottom edge of the sun. These turned out to be something called Bailey’s Beads, and it is the sunlight leaking out between the crags of the moon just before the moon moves totally over the sun. 

So after the museum, we plunged back into traffic and spent another 3.5 hours getting home. We watched Help on the way back, and Corrie lost a tooth, and we sampled Wendy’s Orange Dreamsicle Frosties (exactly what you’d expect), and then we came home and collapsed. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Tuesday I was like, wow, I’m not even that tired. I got the kids to school, took one kid to a rather fraught doctor appointment, cleaned out the car for the first time in months because Corrie lost her tooth and then lost it again, and was pretty distraught about it; and then I decided that it was time to do something about the duck house, which was in a truly shocking state. And then I thought I would sit down for a minute, and of course I fell asleep. SO asleep. So ASLEEP. It was such a deep nap, I feel like I’m still waking up several days later. Man. 

So yes, chicken burgers and chips for supper. It was finally warm enough to eat outside, so that is what I did!

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, fries

Wednesday was the rehearsal for Corrie’s First Communion and confirmation right around supper time, so I got Elijah to manage supper and we got it done! Wednesday was supposed to be nachos for supper, but I had so many other things to do, we didn’t even have time for that, so hot dogs. 

After dinner, I made a cake for the next day – just a box mix, which are really quite good these days. I made some kind of white cake that uses just egg whites.

THURSDAY
Qeema and rice with minty sour cream and coriander chutney; white cake 

Thursday I just . . . didn’t want to make nachos. I don’t know why. So I went back to Recipe Tin Eats begging for a ground beef recipe, and dear Nagi said I could make qeema. 

I’m telling you, that lady does not miss. I minced up a bunch of garlic and ginger, cooked that a bit, added finely diced onion, cooked it some more, and then added the ground beef along with kosher salt, cayenne pepper, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and browned up the meat. Then you just add some water and simmer it until most of the water evaporates.

And that’s it! I set up some rice in the Instant Pot for Damien to start while I got the kids, and I wanted to make some yogurt sauce, but since I had been planning nachos, I had bought sour cream, and we didnt’t have yogurt. So I defrosted a couple of the mint cubes I had put away last fall

and stirred that in with the sour cream (I froze them with a little olive oil. I also found a bottle of coriander chutney in the cabinet and chopped up some cilantro, and IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS.

Definitely making this meal again. I told the kids it was like Korean Beef Bowl

Jump to Recipe

except Indian, which is sort of true, but also kind of a silly thing to say. It was not spicy, but was absolutely bristling with garlic and ginger, which I love. Just a wonderful, warm, homey taste, and the sauce from the meat soaked right into the rice and made the whole thing savory and good, and so nice with the cool chutney and minty sour cream. Great meal, and really quick (or a great make-ahead meal). 

I also realized that I’m very tired of not really knowing how much meat I actually have (the ground beef was in a ziplock bag from last week, after I divided a giant package and used the first part on areyes. So I got a cheap kitchen scale, and I’m looking forward to seeing if this improves my baking, too, if I can measure dry ingredients by weight rather than volume. Probably not! I think I’m just a mediocre baker, and I’m mostly okay with that. But who knows, maybe this will change everything. Anyway, I’ll know how much meat I have. 

We ate really early and then headed off for Corrie’s confirmation and First Holy Communion! 

Bunch of pictures here. 

It was lovely. Just lovely. Clara was her sponsor, and she chose the name Casilda, who is a saint she learned about from Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s excellent book Saints Around the World. It didn’t ring a bell at the time, but Saint Casilda of Toledo is the subject of this famous painting by Francisco de Zurbaran

which was the reference for a painting by Roméo Mivekannin which we saw in person a few months ago at the Currier Museum in Manchester.

 We do get around. 

For the cake, I often make a stained glass cake for sacrament parties. You cover the cake in royal icing to make a stable surface, let it dry, pipe lines in black, and the carefully fill them in with various jellies whipped up with a little water. This isn’t the greatest example, but it gives the general idea:

I wanted to try something different, so I frosted the cake and then melted some white candy melts and just kind of dabbed them onto parchment paper

When they were dry, I peeled them off and arranged them into a flower. 

I thought it was pretty, if a little rough; but it didn’t really say “Catholic” to me. First I attempted to make crosses out of candy melt. They looked pretty terrible when I cut them out with a knife; and when I tried to use a cookie cutter, they kept breaking when I tried to release them. So I found some gum paste and

behold, it’s THE LITTLE LAMBY OF GOD. 

This is the cutest religious cake I have ever made. Corrie loved it, and I’m happy to have a new way to decorate cakes. I see many possibilities. 

I’ve been on a poem-printing kick lately. I follow several poets and poetry lovers on social media, and the printer has been amazingly obliging lately (= it prints things???), so any time something strikes my fancy, I print it out and stick it to the wall. Here’s The Lamb by William Blake, if you’d like to do the same. When we were at the Fairbanks and I pointed out the Robert Louis Stevenson document to the kids, I reminded them that he was the one who wrote At the Sea-Side (“When I was down beside the sea/A wooden spade they gave to me…”) which is the poem that’s been hanging in the bathroom for several years, and my favorite poem of all time; and one of my kids said, “Oh, I have it memorized. I stare at it every time I take a dump!” So I guess you could say [looks smugly at fingernails] I really know my stuff, parent-wise. 

And now, my friends, all ten of my children have been baptized and confirmed and they’ve all been to confession and received Communion. And they’ve memorized at least one poem. I’m not saying my work is done, but it sure feels like a milestone. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti? 

I believe we’re having spaghetti. I gotta clean up the kitchen from yesterday (it was Benny’s turn, but we got home so late), and the ducklings are meep-meep-meeping and the dog is whining and I’m still in my pajamas and there are things overdue and there simply isn’t time for it all, but I am so glad for my life. What a life! 

And look at my flowers, which did NOT DIE.

The greens are daffodils and possibly red tulips, I don’t remember. Some of my winter sowing jugs are finally poking out of the dirt. And the buds on my peach tree look fine! We had a freeze and I was rushing around in the dark, draping sheets over things and weeping, as one does, but it looks like everything survived. 

Happy Friday! I’ll pray for yez all at adoration this afternoon. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Korean Beef Bowl

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

5 from 1 vote
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Pork banh mi

Ingredients

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

Veggies and dressing

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

5 from 1 vote
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quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

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

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

Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

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

Annnd I may have overcooked it a skosh. 

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY
Irish breakfast, maple walnut ice cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 I cut the bread into thick little wedges

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

Even without potatoes. 

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

MONDAY
Mussel lo mein

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Pizza, cannoli 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Butter chicken, rice, dal

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

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

They’re a little confused

but quite winsome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY
Banh mi, Doritos

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

I made a very slight tweak in the marinade

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

I quick-pickled some carrots 

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

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

The meat turned out extremely tender.

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

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

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

Ah well. 

FRIDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese sandwiches

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

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

It is snowing.

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

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

for the rest

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

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

5 from 1 vote
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Pork banh mi

Ingredients

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

Veggies and dressing

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 369: In which I trust the process

Friday again! What do you know about that. I had no way of knowing this was coming, but here we are. 

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I guess I went shopping, and I guess we had chicken burgers when I got home. Plausible, but I have no memory of it. 

SUNDAY
Cumin chicken with chickpeas, elite pita

I sort of remember Sunday. Some of the older kids were over, and chicken thighs were on sale, so I made this simple but tasty sheet pan meal: Lemony, cuminous chicken thighs marinated in yogurt with onions and chickpeas. 

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I got the chicken marinating in the yogurt sauce in the morning, and I made the red onion, parsley, and lemon juice side dish, but discovered to my sorrow that I hadn’t bought enough yogurt to also make yogurt sauce. 

I did, however, make homemade pita. I followed the recipe from TheKitchn, which has directions for both oven-baked and pan-cooked pita. I started a double recipe of dough and set it to rise, and then I finally got around to tapping some maple trees.

We have 1.25 acres of land, and I went around with my Picture This app, identifying leafless trees, and we have more trees than I can count . . . except maple. We turned out to have a grand total of two maple trees, and one of them is just a little guy.

I tapped it anyway, as you can see, but it hasn’t produced much. (Normally I’d be excited to see the stream running and not frozen, but it barely froze this year!)

The other tree is a pretty good producer, although the nights have been warming up, so it’s stop-and-start.  

I had been storing the sap outside in bags inside a bin, but I misjudged the temperature, and I’m afraid the sap I already collected may have spoiled. I made a new dumb mistake every year I do this, very exciting! Anyway there’s still some late winter left, so I haven’t given up. Too dumb to give up.

I also scoped out the wattle materials situation, and I gathered up a variety of straight, supple branches that I will probably practice on before I invest in a large amount of stakes. Trying out all different kinds of wood and vines. 

And I planted the last of my winter sowing jugs. I didn’t end up with as many as I wanted, but there’s a lot of variety, vegetables and flowers.

The group I’m in keeps saying “trust the method,” which is what groups always say when things are clearly going horribly wrong, but I also have not given up on this. It was WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL to be outside in the fresh air. And I have a variety of flowers and vegetables sprouting indoors, as well. 

So then, feeling frisk and fine, I went inside and slid the chicken and chickpeas in the oven and started on the pita.

Now, I own a wooden rolling pin and a marble rolling pin and even a pink plastic toy rolling pin that can be useful in a pinch, but they had all vanished into . . . I don’t know where. I imagine there is some shadowy, cthonic kitchen cabinet somewhere with all my useful kitchen stuff in it, waiting fearfully in the dark for what comes next. There abide the whisk with the nice handle, floating around eerily, wreathed in mist and flour; biscuit dough cutters flickering in and out of visibility and wailing, unheard, longing to be touched by human hands once more. That one butter knife with the pretty pattern on the handle, just clattering fruitlessly around in the gloom.

However, I did find the embossed rolling pin we got one of the kids for Christmas one time, and that is how I made my very first . . . . 

ELITE PITA

Isn’t that lovely?

I wasn’t sure if the pattern would stay when I baked it, but it did! 

Only on one side, of course, because rolling the dough out presses it flat on the other side. So the other side got the characteristic “pressed bubble” pita pattern when I flipped it over in the pan. 

I used an iron frying pan, and kept a little olive oil and a brush nearby, as well as a wad of napkins for wiping out the oil and flour in between pitas. This keeps the pita from getting blackened residue on it when you cook it.

I was delighted with this pita. It tasted good, too. 

I also discovered, about 7/8 of the way through the 16 pieces of pita, that they do puff up if I leave them in the pan about ninety seconds longer than I think I should. This is something I discover every single time I make pita, about 7/8 of the way through. I would trust the process, but I’m too dumb. 

The chicken turned out great. The onions are crackly-crisp, the chickpeas are nutty and crunchy with a hot, mealy core, and the chicken has a ridiculously delicious skin, and it’s all set off beautifully by the piquant lemon onions. 

I forgot to take a picture, but here is an old one:

It was about 50% tragic that we didn’t have garlicky yogurt sauce to dip everything in, but it was still a pretty good meal. The pita got all eaten up, which made me happy. It’s so embarrassing to make something you think of as a treat, and then have tons and tons of leftovers!

MONDAY
Hammy mac and cheese, raw veg and hummus

On Monday I faced last week’s leftover ham that was still lurking in the fridge. I made two batches of mac and cheese, one plain and once with diced ham. (I don’t really have a recipe; I just made a bunch of white sauce, then shred up any cheese I can find and mix it all up, then stir that up with cooked macaroni, and top it with buttered breadcrumbs and bake it until it’s bubbly. I usually add mustard or hot sauce or both to the cheese sauce, but since I was adding ham, I didn’t think it needed it.)

It was pretty good. 

About half of the ham one and half of the cheese one got eaten, so I call that a success.

I also made a tremendous platter of raw vegetables and put that out, along with hummus. My goal is to make a tremendous platter of raw vegetables early in the week every week, and then keep putting it out until it’s gone. This is basically me lately, on the right: 

Ol’ Melon Pelvis, they call me. Olllll’ Corn Ulna. Lady Kale Pecs. 

TUESDAY 
Pork fried rice, egg rolls, raw veg

Tuesday I got the small hunk of pork out of the freezer that I stashed away a few weeks ago, when I made most of it into chili verde. I’m getting better at this “buy what’s on sale and use it all” thing. I cut it into little bits and made some fried rice, using the vegetables I had on hand, which turned out to be peas, carrots, scallions, onions, cabbage, and mushrooms, and of course garlic and ginger.

The ducks are laying reliably again, so I scrambled up three eggs and tossed that in as well. 

I guess I’ve made this often enough that I should do a recipe card, so here’s that:

Jump to Recipe

It’s less of a recipe and more of a “recipe,” but I do consult it every time I make this, so it seemed worth making a card!

We also had some frozen egg rolls for Aldi (not bad) and some raw vegetables. 

On Tuesday night, I baked a cake and started some gum paste decorations, because I wanted them to be dry by Wednesday.

I even remembered to anchor some toothpicks in them while they were still wet, so they would stay put on the cake. I am a golden god. 

WEDNESDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, fries, birthday cake

Wednesday I had a bunch of errands and cuckoo running around to do in the afternoon, so I got hopping on the cake right away. Mr. Birthday had requested a Shadow the Hedgehog cake, and sent me these reference images:

and I was willing to make a gum paste hedgehog head, hands, and feet, but for some reason I just didn’t want to make a gum paste hedgehog torso. Just didn’t want to do it.

So I looked at the reference images again, and thought I could probably get away with having him busting out of the cake in a sort of explosive . . . exploding cake situation. Couldn’t be simpler!!!

Then I thought, oh, he sent the logo as a separate image, so that must be important. I printed one out and did one of those icing transfer things. You print an image backwards, tape it to the counter, tape parchment paper or wax paper over it, and use a piping bag to trace the image. Then you freeze it, flip it onto your cake, and carefully pull the paper away. Trust the process, right? 

Well, this only works if you . . . you know what, never mind. Never mind. All you need to know is that, within half an hour, I was feeling the need to remind myself that I used to be a National Merit Scholar, and lots of people struggle with candy melts, and my hand tremor is not my fault, and if he got a terrible cake it would probably be good for his character in some way. I ended up starting over twice and significantly downgrading my vision, and at the last minute I decided that the logo thingy needed to stand up, rather than lie flat. So I used candy melt to cement a couple of lollipop sticks to the back of the logo.

Then I used more candy melt to color in the feet and head, and then ran out to the store to get some hard candies. 

I bashed them up in a bag with a rolling pin and spread them out on parchment paper in a medium oven for a few minutes — one butterscotch with pieces of ruined candy melt logo mixed in, for embers

and one just butterscotch, and I sort of feathered the edges while it was still hot, for flames

Then I let it cool and broke the candy sheets into pieces. Then I had another mental breakdown or two but eventually THIS IS HOW IT TURNED OUT

Shadow the Hedgehog APOCALYPSE. But I didn’t think through the angle of the feet when I was making them, so I had to pipe some little legs on, and it ended up looking like he is sort of angrily lounging in some kind of extremely hot hot tub. I was laughing so hard while I was putting it together. It was at this point that I called Irene over to see my cake, and she said, “Well . . . it has heart!”

Here’s how it looks with 20 candles:

It turns out twenty candles will absolutely melt a candy logo in the time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday.” Now I know!

Anyway, the birthday boy liked it and, whew. 

Damien made the requested bacon cheeseburgers

and some of the adult kids came over and we had a nice time. Whew. 

And there was . . . leftover bacon. It’s still in the fridge right now. I really don’t understand. 

THURSDAY
Spaghetti with sausage sauce

The plan was just loose sausage and jarred sauce, but I seemed to have a lot of canned tomatoes, so I cooked some diced onion along with the sausage, then broke up the tomatoes and added those in along with some tomato paste and some bay leaves and salt and sugar, and oops, some belated oregano, and some hot pepper flakes. Good enough for the likes of us. 

Actually, it was just plain good. This is one of those meals, like whole chicken, that I used to make constantly when we were broke, so I’m kind of sour on it, but every once it a while, on a foggy, rainy day, it’s perfect. 

FRIDAY
Pepper and egg sandwiches

We have quite a backlog of duck eggs, so this meal seemed like a good Friday choice.

Beat a bunch of eggs and set them aside. Then chop or slice green peppers and onions and sauté them in olive oil in a large pan for a few minutes, then add a little water, cover the pan, and let them cook gently for several minutes until they are soft. Uncover the pan and cook a few more minutes to let the remaining water evaporate, and then season the peppers and onions with ground pepper and salt. Add in a little more olive oil, then add the beaten eggs and scramble it all up together. Serve on nice rolls. (I think I got potato rolls, but kaiser buns would have been better.) I like mine with a little hot sauce. 

Previous egg and pepper sandwiches:

I wish we had fruit salad, but we may have to settle for string beans.

Okay! And that is what we ate!

Couple of food chat odds and ends: One is that I found a perfectly good TAGINE for sale at the thrift store.

A tagine is the name of a variety of North African stews, and also the name of the vessel you cook it in. I, myself, would enjoy something with lamb and pistachios and apricots and nonsense like that, like this restaurant meal we had a few years ago for an anniversary or something:

but I don’t think anyone else would want that. So what would you cook in a tagine? 

Second thing is that I recklessly signed up to cook dinner for the youth group, assuming the world would come to and end before the date came up, but it turns out it didn’t. Or at least, it hasn’t yet (fingers crossed for Sunday). It’s only about 20 people. Our current youth says that, if you make anything besides pasta, they laugh at you. I say I don’t mind being laughed at by teenagers, but I actually do. I did just find out that the vegan kids are not going to be there this week, so that’s easier (my plan had been to serve them a hot steaming bowl of Tough Luck anyway). 

In the past, for youth group, I have made shawarma, rice pilaf, pita and hummus, and baklava, and then last time we made Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient sauce on spaghetti, with garlic bread and fruit and salad. I think I’ll just have one large oven to cook or heat food in, otherwise I’d just made a bunch of pizzas. It’s supposed to be a main dish, a side, dessert, and drinks. I may just do stuffed shells, but I’m not happy about it, so if you can think of something relatively cheap that 20 kids would eat without too much scorn, I would love to hear it. 

5 from 1 vote
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Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

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

Ingredients

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

For garnishes:

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

Garnishes:

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

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

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

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

5 from 1 vote
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Basic stir fried rice

This is a very loose recipe, because you can change the ingredients and proportions however you like

Ingredients

  • cooked rice
  • sesame oil (or plain cooking oil)
  • fresh garlic and ginger, minced
  • vegetables, diced or shredded (onion, scallion, peas, bok choy, carrots, sugar snap peas, cabbage, etc.)
  • brown sugar
  • raw or cooked shrimp, or raw or cooked meat (pork, ham, chicken), diced
  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • eggs

Instructions

  1. In a very large pan, heat up a little oil and sauté the ginger and garlic for a few minutes. If you are using raw meat, season it with garlic powder and ginger powder and a little soy sauce, add it to the pan, and cook it through. If you are using shrimp, just throw it in the pan and cook it.

  2. Add in the chopped vegetables and continue cooking until they are cooked through. If you are using cooked meat, add it now.

  3. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the brown sugar is bubbly and darkened.

  4. Add in the cooked rice and stir until everything is combined.

  5. Add in a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce, and stir to combine completely.

  6. In a separate pan, scramble the eggs and stir them in. (Some people scramble the eggs directly into the rest of the rice, but I find it difficult to cook the eggs completely this way.)

  7. If you are using cooked shrimp, add it at the end and just heat it through.

What’s for supper? Vol. 362: Add sugar and stir

Happy Friday! I just ordered oil (we are out), set up a car inspection (it is trash), started some evaluation forms for some of the kids (just plain nuts), and I bought new batteries for my hungry hungry ClearBlue monitor, and wrote a RATHER DIRE scripture reflection about how if you are faithless, your children are gonna get burned up in demon fire; so I’m all ready to have a nice weekend now. How are you? I’m thinking of getting into winter sowing. I know there will be flowers because I’m planting seeds blah blah blah. Well, there will be squash, anyway. And I just got new glasses, and I feel like someone cleaned out my tank. 

We had some decent food this week. One new recipe and a few variations on old recipes. Read on, and please applaud for how much leftover food I thriftily used up!

SATURDAY
Rotisserie chicken and pizza rolls for kids; Mexican food for grownups

First, before getting thrifty, we all needed a little break, so I got some kid-pleasers for the kids, and Damien and I went to the local Señor Tadpole’s, where we were seated quickly, but they seemed to be a bit understaffed. About half an hour later the waitress brought over my taster’s plate and part of Damien’s order, and nervously explained that someone else had taken his fajita.

Which was unfortunate, because he had actually ordered a chimichanga. ANYWAY, eventually he got his food, and fellas, let me tell you something: A hungry man being kind and patient and understanding toward a harassed waitress is a really good way to impress a lady, for instance your wife. 

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlet sandwiches, chips

The plan for Sunday was caprese chicken burgers, easy peasy lemon squeezy; but they were out of chicken burgers, difficult difficult lemon difficult. But chicken breasts were on sale, and I was determined not to blow the budget this week, so I somewhat grumpily bought some chicken breasts, sliced them, pounded them flat, egged and breaded them, and oven fried them. 

Jump to Recipe

They turned out good, maybe a little greasier than I would like.  

Actually I tried a slightly different technique this time. I was a little short on breadcrumbs, and I was afraid the chicken might be bland; so rather than seasoning the breadcrumbs, I heavily seasoned the meat itself, and sort of massaged it in with a rubber spatula. Then I dipped it quickly in the egg mixture so the seasonings would stay on, and breaded it.

It worked great! I don’t know if it would work with chicken that has the skin on, which is what I usually use for oven frying; but chicken breast, especially if it’s been tenderized with a mallet, is basically a sponge for flavor, so why not. Get them spices in there.

I sliced up a bunch of baguettes and served the chicken with sliced tomatoes and basil, sliced cheese, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was a pretty popular meal. 

MONDAY
Japanese chicken thighs, sesame broccoli, rice 

I have this nice recipe for yakitori chicken, which is pieces of saucy chicken on a skewer. I had a bunch of thighs and definitely didn’t feel like de-boning it and threading it on sticks, but I did pull the skin off and make this lovely, easy sauce.

I divided the sauce, and coated the chicken in some of it and broiled it, and used a bit more to brush on when it was halfway cooked. I added sesame seeds and chopped scallions when it came out of the oven.

Savory, sweet and sticky, and really good! I sure wish I had thought to line the pan with parchment paper, though. But the chicken came out moist and delicious. I’ve made this recipe with the chicken grilled outside, and that’s even better; but the broiler did a pretty good job. 

The other part of the sauce, that I saved out, I put into the amazing gravy boat/pitcher/pouring vessel Clara made for me. Check it out:

But wait, check out the inside:

Boogie boogie boogie! I heartily recommend having artistic children with ancient tastes, to dress up your Japanese chicken. 

 

 

I made a tray of quick sesame broccoli

Jump to Recipe

and it was a good little meal, with just a little prep work and tons of flavor. 

The sauce was really great on the rice and broccoli, too. I may make a big batch of it and just keep it on hand for all-purpose Asian use. 

TUESDAY
Pork meatball soup, fried rice, steamed buns

Tuesday, I was set to give blood, so I did my cooking in the morning. I’m sorry if this is pushy and obnoxious, but PLEASE GIVE BLOOD IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD. There’s a horrible shortage and there’s just . . . not a substitute for blood. 

Anyway, I took the leftover pork dumpling filling out of the freezer, where I put it on New Year’s Eve. Here’s the pork dumpling recipe, and I discovered that if you forget to drain the extra moisture out of the cabbage, it still turns out fine, so you can probably skip that step. Just another service I provide by being dumb!

So I had decided I didn’t have time to make dumplings, but I did have time to fry up little meatballs. But I had used up all the breadcrumbs making the chicken cutlets, so they were a little slumpy, and not really “balls” in any meaningful sense. 

Still tasty, though, and that’s what counts. I made the soup more or less following this recipe using the leftover matchstick carrots from last week’s gochujang bulgoki. I’m determined to use up more leftover food and not throw so much out.

When the soup was simmering, I started on the fried rice. I’m so smart, I deliberately made extra rice for the previous day’s meal, so I would have some leftover for this day. I had also saved last week’s ham, which I diced up. I chopped up some carrots and the white part of the bok choy (the greens went into the soup) and a bunch of ginger and garlic, and sauteed it up in sesame oil.

Then I dumped on some brown sugar and continued heating and stirring until the sugar got a little dark

then I threw in the diced ham and the leftover rice, and then I sloshed on a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce. I also scrambled up some eggs and threw those in, and some leftover scallions. 

This is very much American Chinese food. Sometimes that’s what the people want! It’s delicious. 

Then I ran around trying to catch up with my dumb schedule, and I almost decided to just leave the meal at that, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead with my plan to make steamed buns, partially because I had bought a bamboo steamer at a thrift store. Yes, this is my third bamboo steamer, what of it? Some people use heroin, I collect bamboo steamers. 

I followed this recipe, which using baking powder instead of yeast.

And I suddenly realized I’ve been using my steamers wrong, slightly. I’ve been setting them inside larger pots or skillets of water, but really they should be on top of a vessel with a smaller diameter than the steamer, so all the steam goes into the steamer. Duh! So I did that.

The buns turned out. . . goodish? The kids liked them. The dough did not get as tender and soft as the recipe said it would, and I definitely didn’t make them as round and smooth as you’re supposed to. I think they were a little too dense; but they did get cooked all the way through (I was afraid they’d be wet and doughy). This was one of the smaller ones; some of them were puffier: 

They are sweet (but you can decrease the amount of sugar if you want) and I think it’s fair to describe them as tender. They have a lot of cornstarch in them, which gives them a silkier texture, so they’re not biscuit-like. Definitely easy, and you just have to let the dough rest for a bit, not do a full rise, so you can make it late in the day. I dunno. Will probably take another shot at them at some point. [Verna Maroney voice:] I GOT THE STEAMERS.

So all in all, a good meal, especially considering I was out of the house most of the day. 

I don’t think I said anything about the soup. It was pretty good. The meatballs were a little soft, but all the flavors were there. I left the ginger in, so it was beautifully gingery. Just a sort of non-specific Asian soup, hey. 

 

WEDNESDAY
Deli sandwiches, potato puffs, veg and dip

Wednesday, I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, but I had a strange combination of deli meats and some brioche buns, so that’s what I served. I also, as you can see, cooked some tater tots, and cut up a bunch of raw vegetables. 

And that’s my story! Thursday turned out so stupid in the afternoon, I was ridiculously consoled by those ketchup-drenched tater tots. 

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, HINT OF LIME chips and salsa

You’ll never guess: Thursday was also stupid. But I did remember to take the bag of shredded chicken out of the freezer (leftover from that nice Persian chicken barley soup from two weeks ago), and fried up a bunch of chicken quesadillas.

The real kicker was the Hint of Lime tortilla chips, which for some reason are rarely available around here. I don’t know why they’re so good, when they’re clearly just doused with some kind of horrific citric acid solution. But they’re just so good. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan red sauce

I haven’t started it yet, but here’s the stupid-easy, three-ingredient recipe:

Jump to Recipe

or if you like it in picture form, here’s that:

Last time I made this, I did it in the Instant Pot, forgetting that you really need this to simmer and reduce on the stove; so it came out really thin and soupy, rather than rich and savory. Oh well! You live and learn, and then forget, and feel bad about it, take it out on the dog, try again, and eventually end up with some decent pasta. 

I am going to try to go to this women’s retreat in Plymouth with Danielle Bean, which is … tomorrow. Ooh, that snuck up on me! It looks like there are still spots, though, so maybe if you’re nearby, you can come? That would be nice. Danielle is the real deal and I haven’t seen her in quite a while. 

I also finished a thirty-day plank challenge. It took me forty-three days, but did you hear that I FINISHED it? I started a little Facebook group to support and encourage each other, very low-key, no pressure. I’m thinking about starting a new challenge, but if you’re interested, you can take a look at the group, and join if you want to know when the next challenge starts. These things are always so much easier to stick with when there’s other people also suffering, I mean supporting and encouraging each other. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

 

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

  • broccoli spears
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

    Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds

    Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 357: Ich bin ein ludicrous display

Happy birthday to me! Today, for my birthday, I wish for you a very happy take your vitamins and drink some water, and many happy returns of the move your body and thank God for the day. 

Yesterday, we got some . . . medium-rotten financial news, which I delivered while Damien was replacing his brakes on his car, one of the kids called because their car had broken down, and while I was picking her up, my check engine light came on, and then we got home and one of the kids tested positive for Covid, which would explain a thing or two. We’re supposed to be getting ready for Benny’s birthday party, but of course we had to cancel. El bummer supremo.  

However, excelsior. Right? What is the other option? This year was better than last year, and I can only conclude that the coming year will be even better. I am 49 and I thank God for the day.

Hey, this is the year I finally got the hang of deep frying things without freaking out or trashing the kitchen. AS YOU WILL SEE. 

Here is what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Chic-ken-bur-gers! [clap! clap! clap-clap-clap!]

And chips. 

SUNDAY
Ham, peas, and mashed potatoes

The supermarket Dora works for got a shipment of . . . mislabeled hams, or something? So everybody got hams. Some days, the two most beautiful words in the English language are “fully cooked.” 

On Sunday I decided it was time to finally get around to dealing with the rugelach dough I made last week or possibly the week before. If you are wondering, the dough is still good! It’s just butter and cream cheese and flour, so it’s hard to hurt, as long as you wrap it up good. 

Jump to Recipe

The dough becomes sweet, and it gets a lovely little fragile crisp outside, because you roll it out on drifts of sugar. It’s really surprisingly tender, considering how dense the ingredients are.

Then you spread your fillings over the circle you’ve rolled out, cut it into triangles with a pizza cutter, and roll them rugelachim up

Then you do it 4,000 more times, and bake them on sprayed baking racks. This was my big breakthrough with rugelach production, because the filling leaks out now matter what I do. This way, it leaks onto the pan below (which you have lined with parchment paper), and the rugelach stay above the fray.

Let the rugelach cool for about ten minutes before you try to remove them from the rack. The easiest way is to push up on them from underneath, to pop them off the rack in one piece. 

So I ended up making some Nutella, some apricot walnut, some strawberry jam, and some with honey, cinnamon, and pistachios.

These are unbaked, demonstrating that you can re-use the parchment paper and bake several batches without having to clean the pan. 

And here are the honey pistachio cinnamon ones, baked. I made some with the pistachios sprinkled over the dough, and some with the pistachios rolled right into the dough. I also drizzled more honey over the top of the second variety. 

And I could not taste the difference. They were all good! 

It’s always a little startling to see how few you come up with, after such a long time rolling and baking, but on the other hand, I think we still have a few leftover today, Friday (after giving away several tins of them), so I guess it was the right number. 

You can save time by rolling the dough into a rectangle, rather than a circle, and spreading the filling on and then rolling it up in a log, like you would cinnamon buns; and then you just slice it into a bunch of little pastries all at once. Much faster. But then you get spirals/rosettes, rather than these sort of snail-shaped treats, and I just like them better this way. Why can’t more things be snail shaped? 

Tonight is the last night of Chanukah, but I am here to tell you that you can still make rugelach all through December and beyond, because nobody says “no” to rugelach. 

MONDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches and raw veg

I started (I mean years ago) trying to make these sandwiches as close to the authentic originals as possible, but now we just do whatever. This time it was baguettes for the bread, ham, turkey, salami, pepperoni, and I think some Italian speck, and provolone, and I used the food processor to make an olive salad with black and green olives, banana peppers, and red onion, with olive oil and wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Maybe not authentic muffaletta sandwiches, but they were good. 

I made a big platter of raw vegetables

and I’ve been snacking on it all week. There is a time of day, every day, when I’m really not hungry in any meaningful way, but I cannot seem to convince my mouth that it doesn’t need to be chomping on something, so it’s helpful to have some pre-cut vegetables. Easy to transport, easy to grab.

So I snack on these, and THEN I start gobbling leftover cookies and whatnot. Follow me for more strategies on putting a ton of energy into not losing weight. 

TUESDAY
Chicken biryani, pomegranates

Been thinking about biryani for several weeks now. I use this basic recipe and adjust the seasoning as I see fit. It’s not hard at all. You just have to brown up the chicken, which you have opened up by slicing it along the bone

and then cook up your onion and ginger and spices in the hot oil, and then add in the rest of your stuff. It’s a little more involved than that, but it’s all in one big pan.

I didn’t have golden raisins, so I chopped up some apricots

So I cook it all up as early in the day as I can, and then transfer it to the slow cooker and keep it warm all day. This almost always makes the rice/liquid proportions come out even, and you don’t end up with soupy biryani or chompy rice

I accidentally threw the cilantro in with the chicken when I was cooking it, so I just added more fresh on top, along with some toasted almonds. Yum. We also had pomegranates. 

Oh, the apricots kind of turned to mush, which was disappointing. I didn’t think of it, but I guess raisins are better because they cook inside their little skins. It wasn’t bad, but the apricots didn’t really add anything. 

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

I was informed that one cheese, one olive, and one pepperoni pizza would “do numbers,” so that’s what I made. 

I also felt a sudden urge to make sufganiyot before Chanukah was over. I used this recipe from Once Upon a Chef. I made the dough in the early afternoon and set it to rise while I did my afternoon errands. When I got back, I rolled it out and cut it into 48 squares

and then you just fry them in a few inches of oil, about six at a time, and they puff up.

I always have a larf when I get out my candy thermometer. I can’t remember if I’ve told this story before, but when Irene was little, we were making caramel for something, and she said, while stirring: “We don’t want it to get too hot. Not hard ball. Or hard crack. Or . . . [peering at thermometer] fish donut.” 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Little kids are heroes. They are so willing to accept so much NONSENSE from the adult world. They’re just like, “Welp, I guess fish donut is a thing, and I just have to deal with it,” and off they go. 

We just made donuts, though. No fish involved. 

When the donuts are cool enough to handle, you cut a little slit in the side and get some filling in there. I used pastry bags and did half raspberry jelly

and half vanilla pudding.

Then you dust them with powdered sugar and eat them up. They were nice! They didn’t inflate as nicely as the ones in the recipe picture, so they stayed pretty square-ish, which was a little odd; but they were cooked all the way through, and had a nice crisp exterior and fluffy interior. I’ll probably use this recipe in the future. Everyone was very impressed, and 48 turned out to be the right number. (They’re smaller than, say, Dunkin’ Donut donuts, but bigger than Munchkins or whatever they’re called.)

THURSDAY
Roast turkey, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts and squash, potato latkes

I had bought an extra turkey while they were still on sale for Thanksgiving, and Damien roasted it slowly with lemon halves and an entire head of garlic shoved inside, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder outside. Delicious and moist. 

I roasted a pan of Brussels sprouts and butter nut squash wedges along with, I don’t know, olive oil and honey, salt and pepper, and shoved that in the oven while I was frying up the potato latkes. 

Jump to Recipe

Every year I think I’m going to try some interesting variation on the recipe, or at least some onion or something, but every year, Chanukah comes right when I’m barely keeping my head above water with a million other projects. So basically just potatoes, eggs, flour, and little salt and pepper it is! And lots of oil, of course, which is what makes it a Chanukah food. 

They turned out pretty good. 

I served them with sour cream and mashed-up whole berry cranberry sauce, which turned out to be not really a great companion for latkes. So now I know! But it was a nice meal. 

We also discovered our dreidels are all missing, so I made one out of a paper plate and a matchstick,

annnnd then drew the letters on upside down by mistake. 

But it spun fine and fairly, and that’s what matters. I had bought chocolate coins back when everyone else was getting ready for St. Nicholas day, so that was set, anyway. The kids had a surprisingly good time playing dreidel. 

 

We have been doing okay keeping up with Chanukah candles and Advent candles and the Jesse tree. By “okay,” I mean we mostly didn’t skip it, and when we did do it, nobody got into a fist fight. Mehr licht

Thursday was the day I put up my annual Ludicrous Display (this began years ago, when I nailed a giant garbage bag spider on the shed for Halloween, and I kind of thought Hurricane Irene would take care of it after Halloween, but it didn’t, because I used so many nails; so we just put a Santa hat on it and let it stay. Thus began a tradition of putting up Halloween decorations with an eye toward longevity, so if there are skeletons, they put on bunny ears for Easter, and so on.

This is less funny than it used to be, because lots of people now have permanent skeletons; so I was looking for something a little different this year, and for some reason I got it into my head that we needed a Sacred Heart. So I made one out of foam and zip ties.

and added some lights and gold whatnot. Then I took the Groucho glasses and bats and whatnot off our front skeletons and made them look like they were paying impressed, and I put the heart up, and 

ehhh, I thought maybe it would look better in the dark

but it still looks kinda dumb! I guess it needs some work. Or whatever. I was okay with weird, but this is just confusing. Anyway, I took the bats down. 

The mailbox looks pretty good

and we haven’t gotten one of those chiding postcards from the post office yet. 

FRIDAY
??

I don’t know, I got tuna and fries for the kids, thinking Damien and I could go out for my birthday, but I think I’ve done enough plague superspreading for one week, going to the store 5,000 times and not realizing we all had Covid. (This year’s Covid seems to look like feeling kinda low and yucky for a few days and then throwing up one time, and then feeling much better, but sneezing.)

Oh, speaking of feeling better, I started a 30-day plank challenge group on Facebook, if anyone wants to join. We’re on day 4 today. No pressure, and nobody’s a super athlete or anything. It’s just easier to get this kind of thing going if you’re not alone! 

And that’s my story.  Next year, I’m gonna make blintzes. Blintzes with blueberry and pot cheese. Then we’ll see a ludicrous display. 

Rugelach

These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.

Servings 80 rugelach

Ingredients

dough

  • half pound butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling

filling

  • 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.

  2. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400.

  4. Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.

  5. Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.

  6. Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.

  8. Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.

  9. Repeat for each ball of dough.

  10. Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.

  11. When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.

  12. When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.

  13. Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 355: I like my men like I like my Kentucky Hot Brown. . .

. . . not necessarily especially brown, but actually just named after a hotel. 

I swear this seemed like a joke in my head.

Anyway, here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Turkey sandwiches, spanakopita triangles, chips

The last of the Thanksgiving leftovers. Not spectacular sandwiches, just a split baguette with turkey, lettuce, tomato, and Swiss cheese.

Damien reheated the last of the spanakopita triangles, and even though they’re amazing when they’re piping hot fresh out of the oven the first time, they’re still pretty darn good when they’re a little soft and old and leftover. As who among us is not. 

If you’re having a party in December, I do heartily recommend spanakopita triangles. They’re easy to make if you get ready made phyllo dough (what are you, crazy? of course get ready made) and they come out great if you make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until the guests are almost there, and then you just pop them in the oven. 

Jump to Recipe

So nice. 

SUNDAY
Green masala beef curry, rice, naan

I had bought a couple of of those weirdly cheap lamb breast plates several weeks ago, and threw it in the freezer, planning to make this excellent green masala curry. I also picked up a few extra lamb chops just to make sure there was enough meat. 

So, but, when it was time to cook, the lamb just did not smell right. I inquired on social media, and most folks claimed lamb is supposed to smell weird. Gamey, metallic, and so on, especially if the butcher wasn’t careful and let the wool contact the meat, giving it a lanolin flavor. I just kept sniffing and sniffing it, and I wasn’t sure if it was normal-weird or rancid-weird. 

Then I recalled that a few kids already had a stomach bug even before eating potentially bad meat, and I threw that meat away. No ragrets. I had been planning to make beef barley soup later in the week, so I cut up the beef I have saving and used that instead of mutton.

This is quite an easy recipe. I ground up everything in my food processor and set it to marinate with the meat in the morning. Then the only thing left to do is wake up some spices in oil (I didn’t have everything, just cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves)

and then add the meat and marinade, and let it cook. 

I do prefer lamb or goat, but the beef was great. Extremely tender, and the sauce is lovely, not too spicy but very warming. I actually did quite a few substitutions: I had black cardamom instead of green; I forgot jalapeños, so I just threw some green Tobasco sauce in there; and I forgot cilantro, so I used Italian parsley and extra mint (I had some of those cubes of frozen mint I saved from before the frost). I forgot the poppy seeds, and of course it was beef instead of mutton. STILL GOOD. Indian cooking is so forgiving. 

I decided we wanted homemade naan, so I pulled up the King Arthur recipe and made a double batch. It needs about an hour to rise, and then you separate the dough into balls

and let it rest for twenty minutes. Then you just fry each one on both sides in a hot pan, and brush it with butter or ghee

I find it helpful to keep a damp cloth by the stove to wipe the flour out of the pan in between each piece. Otherwise, it just hangs around and gets black and makes your naan taste burnt when it isn’t.

I put the naan in a pan and kept it warm in the oven, but I forgot to cover it, so some of them were a little too crisp and dry by the time it was dinner; but a lot of the were still chewy and reasonably tender. Nothing I bake really comes out very tender, but fresh hot naan is fresh hot naan! 

I splurged on basmati rice and made a big pot of that. I moved the meat into a pot on the stove, and used the Instant Pot to make the basmati rice. I did a 1:1 with rinsed rice and water, taking out a bit of the water afte measuring, to compensate for what would be on the rice after rinsing it; and I cooked it for ten minutes with ten minutes of natural release before venting. And we had a lovely meal.

I want to try more Indian recipes, but the few I have are so tasty, I just keep coming back to them. Maybe next week!

MONDAY
Turkey barley soup, hot pretzels

When I pulled the last turkey off the Thanksgiving bird over the weekend, I simmered the carcass all day in water with carrots, onions, and parsley, thinking it would be nice to have some good stock for later. So I figured Monday counted as later, and just pulled that out again and threw some more carrots and a bunch of barley and some mushrooms in, and we had some okay soup. 

I guess I just don’t like turkey soup that much. It was fine, just nothing to write home about. I heated up some frozen hot pretzels and it was fine. 

TUESDAY
Ham, mashed acorn squash, green beans with cashews

The kids were a little dismayed that I had not planned their ideal dinner, which is ham, peas, and mashed potatoes, but I’m not ready to mash potatoes again yet. Instead, I mashed squash! That’ll larn ’em!

I cut two acorn squashes in half, scooped out the seeds and gunk (and I saved the seeds! My empire of saved seeds continues to expand), sprinkled them with baking soda and a little kosher salt, and put them in the Instant Pot with half a cup of water. (The reasoning behind the baking soda is that it raises the pH of the squash, which hastens and deepens the caramelization that happens when you cook it. Does this really work? Nobody knows, but it’s so easy that I’m not gonna do an experiment and risk having slightly less flavorful squash.) I cooked the squash at high pressure for like 24 minutes. 

I couldn’t find the little metal trivet that keeps the food from touching the bottom, so I put some mason jar rings in there under the squash, and it worked fine. Probably raised the pH even more, who can say. 

Then I scooped them out, burning myself forty-six times; and then mashed it up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and cloves. The recipe I usually follow

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calls for nutmeg, but it had disappeared. My kitchen is like a shifting mirage, where things drift in and out of reality without regard for the fact that I am trying to get supper on the table. But the cinnamon and cloves tasted great. I love this dish. 

The ham was already cooked, so Damien heated it up the oven while I went to get the kids, and then while the squash was cooking, I made some quick string beans. 

I had cashews left over from the green curry, so I chopped up a bunch. I trimmed the string beans and cooked them in boiling water for like four minutes. Then I drained them and ran cold water over them until they were cool. (This is because, when they get hot enough, they will continue cooking away inside their little skins, even if you take them out of the hot water, and they get overcooked very quickly; so you need to cook them just a little and then make sure they stop cooking!)

Then I heated up some olive oil in a pan, slightly browned up the chopped-up cashews, and added the string beans back in and kept them moving until they were hot. I guess I added salt and pepper at this point. 

And it was a nice little meal!

If I had to do it over, I’d cook the string beans in butter, rather than oil. They were a little greasy. But still pretty good. 

WEDNESDAY
Regular tacos

100% regular. I heard the kids reading the blackboard menu and commenting that “regular tacos” sounded a little suspicious, like probably I was trying a little too hard to lull them into thinking that it was going to be a normal meal, WHEN IT WASN’T. Joke’s on them: They really were just normal tacos. Everybody wins, except the taco. 

THURSDAY
Kentucky Hot Brown

So, in retrospect, what would have made my turkey soup better is if it had had more turkey in it. But actually I had pulled the meat off the carcass and frozen it, and then I took the meat out on Thursday to try this sandwich recipe. But because I’m the queen of making things hard on myself for no reason, preferably over the course of several days, the meat I saved was enough meat for soup, but not really enough for sandwiches. So we ended up with sub-par soup, and then I had to run out anyway and buy some chicken and roast it so we’d have enough meat for the sandwiches, which are perfect for when you have tons of leftover turkey in the house and you don’t know what to do with it, and/or you are crazy. 

NEVERTHELESS, they were good sandwiches! I had some thick Italian bread which I toasted in the oven, and on top of that you put the turkey, then some sliced tomatoes, then a mornay sauce (which is just a white sauce with cheese in it. I used freshly grated parmesan, some cheddar, and a little pepper jack) with plenty of nutmeg (which had graciously appeared again), and then bacon on top of that. 

You’re supposed to toast the whole thing under the broiler, but I forgot. Still good!

I made the mornay sauce in the pan that the bacon had been fried in, because fat.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas I guess

I think I saw the writing on the wall (the writing saying “Mene mene you keep using up food that you meant to save for another meal, you dope!”) and, when I was making the mornay sauce, I actually hid some cheese from myself, so I would have some for the quesadillas and not have to go to the supermarket yet again. I don’t know where I hid it, but it’s gotta be in the fridge somewhere, and WHEN I FIND IT . . . I’m gonna make some quesadillas. 

And that’s why they call me Kentucky Hot Brown. (They do not.) 

Spanakopita triangles

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs spinach
  • 1 stick butter, plus 1 Tbsp for sautéing spinach
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 roll phyllo dough, thawed

Instructions

To make the filling:

  1. In a big pan, melt the 1 Tbsp butter and sauté the spinach until it's soft. It will be a giant heap of greens at first, but it cooks way down and will fit in the pan when you're done!

  2. Let the spinach cool and then squeeze out as much water as you can.

  3. In a bowl, mix together the cooked spinach with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and stir in the feta until it's combined. Set aside.

  4. Preheat the oven to 375

  5. Melt the stick of butter and set it aside. You'll need it handy for assembling the triangles.

  6. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover it with a slightly damp cloth to keep it from getting brittle. Take what you need and keep the rest of the stack covered.

To assemble the triangles:

  1. Carefully lay a phyllo dough square on your workspace, long side horizontal. Brush it with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top of it and brush that with butter.

  2. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into three strips.

  3. Put a scoop of spinach mixture at the bottom of each strip. Then fold that section of dough up diagonally, enclosing the spinach, so it forms a triangle. Continue folding up to make triangles, like you'd fold a flag, until you reach the top of the dough. If you're having trouble figuring out how to fold it, here is a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVwA3i_tmKc&t=2s

  4. If there's a bit of leftover dough on the triangle, fold it under. Lay the finished triangle on a baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with butter again.

  5. Continue until the phyllo dough is gone. I made 18 pockets, two sheets thick, with one roll of phyllo dough, but you can change the proportions and make lots of smaller triangles if you like.

  6. Bake about 25 minutes until golden brown. Let them sit in the pan for a moment before removing. Serve hot or cold.

Instant Pot Mashed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn quashes
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Cut the acorn squashes in half. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the cut surfaces.

  2. Put 1/2 a cup of water in the Instant Pot, fit the rack in it, and stack the squash on top. Close the lid, close the valve, and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Do quick release.

  3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop it out into a bowl, mash it, and add the rest of the ingredients.

What’s for supper? Vol. 353: SOMEBODY in this house is possessed by soup.

Friday has arriven! It’s about damn time. And may I just say, my food pictures are really pretty this week. I tried THREE new recipes. One (butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach) turned out great, one (Turkish flatbread) was pretty bad, and one (cranberry chicken) was fine. That’s how you find out! 

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Caprese chicken burgers; veg and dip

Quick frozen meal for shopping day, with a little extry to make it nice. Aldi’s chicken burgers are actually pretty good, for processed chicken patties. They have a pleasant texture and the breading is crip. So I cooked those and put out tomatoes and basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then got into a protracted argument with a kid about cheese. This particular kid, see, is PAID to put the groceries away every week, and so you’d think that when I ask a simple question like . . 

you know what, never mind. If you have kids, you’ve heard enough. Anyway I found a little package of fresh mozzarella in the back of the fridge, and SOME of us had nice cheese on their sandwiches. Everyone else had pre-sliced whatevercheese.

I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out a tray with French onion dip. No chips and no French fries! They said it couldn’t be done! But I’ve been snacking on leftover vegetables all week and only feel prey to clearance Halloween candy one time, so you tell me. 

SUNDAY
Omelets for kids; Chinese food for adults

Sunday, Moe and his girlfriend took me and Damien out to eat, just to be nice! Wasn’t that nice? We had an excellent Chinese meal at Cherry Garden in Keene. I had pork gyoza and a spicy coconut chicken curry. Splendid. 

The kids at home opted to have omelets. Lucy is reigning omelet queen these days.

They also had some kind of waffle fries. 

Look at us! One kid takes us out to eat, and one kid feeds all the rest! Amazing. It could happen to you too. 

MONDAY
Sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Monday I took a little drive to pick up something from Facebook marketplace for Corrie’s birthday, which is in February. Sometimes you have to snap up a good deal when it comes along, and then you drive around with a giant secret tortoise habitat in the back of your car for a few months, so what. So we had a quick meal. I didn’t burn the bagels or the eggs!

I must say, I’m looking forward to spring when the ducks start laying eggs again. They knocked off for the year several weeks ago, and we have to struggle along with these inferior chicken eggs. 

TUESDAY
Butternut squash soup with lentils and spinach; yufka; grilled cheese

Tuesday it really snowed for real. It only stuck around for a few hours, but as it fell, it whispered “soup,” so I was powerless. I was still thinking about that lovely coconut curry I had, so I found this recipe for lentil butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach.  Very promising ingredients: 

Pretty simple seasonings, just cayenne pepper and cumin along with the onion and garlic, which you cook up with some tomato paste

Add in the cubed butternut squash (from my garden!), chicken stock, and lentils, and let that cook.

I had brown lentils instead of red, but the next step was to blend it anyway, so I didn’t think it mattered much. Then you add the coconut milk and puree it all.

Another small triumph: I remembered before it was too late that hot liquid expands when you puree it, so I did it in batches in the blender

and there was no hot fountain of orange goo, not at all! Not this time. 

Hey, this is a good time to make sure you have anything you might need to order for Thanksgiving, which is less than a week away. I finally got around to ordering a new bowl for my food processor. The blender actually did really well with this particular job, though. I like the pouring spout on top.

Then you return the puree to the pot and put the spinach in and let it cook down, and that’s it. I transferred it to the Instant Pot and set it on “keep warm” and just left it for the rest of the day. The IP’s “warm” button is not as hot as a crock pot, but if you have enough time, it’s fine. 

I had been listening to Milk Street Radio and they were talking about this flaky Turkish bread, yufka, that you can make it no time – like 25 minutes, allegedly. It doesn’t have any leaven, and you just have to let the dough rest a few times before you fry it up. 

Welp, I couldn’t access the recipe they mentioned, so I found a similar one, except you don’t let it rest as much. Then you roll the pieces out and cook it them a hot pan, and that’s it.

So, I’m not sure where I went wrong with this. I made the dough in the morning and let it rest at room temperature, and then I put it in the fridge, which it said you could do. Maybe I used too much olive oil? Maybe the pan wasn’t hot enough? 

They were . . . okay. They looked okay. 

But they were so rubbery! A few parts tasted more or less like I expected, but they were so dang dense. Oh well. The soup more than made up for it. The recipe suggest squeezing some fresh lime juice over the top, and I was skeptical about that, but it was AMAZING. Just a fabulous combination of creamy and piquant flavors. I also floated a few roasted  pumpkin seeds over the top and that was a good idea as well.

Okay so the color of this soup is not necessarily the most elegant. It’s kind of orangey-yellowy-green. I think if I had used red lentils, it would have been a cheerier yellowy-orange. But the taste was superb. It was so warming and nourishing, but not heavy or muddy, like if pea soup went to finishing school, and it had a little sizzling spicy kick with the cayenne and cumin. So good. I had two bowls and had to stop myself from going back for more. 

I also made grilled cheese, because I was pretty sure the soup would not be popular, and I was right.

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole 

Good old pork butt still goes for 99 cents a pound pretty often. I got a couple of big hunks and off we went. This is such an easy recipe with tons of flavor.

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You heavily season the pork chunks and then just chuck them in the pot with oil, Coke, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and some orange quarters (I had clementines).

Then you just cook it down for several hours until it gets dark and yummy

You can drain off the liquid and keep cooking it at this point, or you can do what I did and just pull the meat out, shred it, and brown it up under the broiler. I added back a little of the yummy citrusy pot juice along with the meat before putting it under the heat, to keep it from drying out. 

I often make beans and rice with carnitas, but I just did guacamole this time.  Boy, is it satisfying when you choose the perfect day to slice open the avocados. I forgot to buy tomatoes, so this guac just had avocados lightly mashed, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper.

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It was great! I may skip the tomato from now on. 

I put out all the regular stuff for carnitas – tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges – but I didn’t feel like putting together the whole thing. I heated up some frozen corn and I opted for pretzels instead of chips, and I enjoyed the heck out of this slightly peculiar plate, modified for those who want to lose weight but are choosing their battles. 

And that’s my story. I am down ten pounds at last count, so there.

THURSDAY
Cranberry skillet chicken; roast potatoes, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts

I was planning just some kind of sheet pan thing with chicken and vegetables, but I saw this recipe from a local supermarket chain, and I did have a bag of cranberries, so, again, powerless. It’s a very simple recipe. You season the chicken and brown up the skin side, then take it out of the pan

then add in some diced onion and cook that in the chickeny oil, then add in the cranberries, some brown sugar, and some oregano, and let it all bubble around a bit 

and then you put the chicken back into the cranberry mixture and put the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking. I knew I was going to be out around dinner time (another Facebook Marketplace adventure for a different birthday kid. Here’s a tip: Raise your kids to understand that used is FINE), so I cooked this in the morning and moved it into a casserole dish; but technically that is a one-pan dish and can be made in a single skillet.

Pretty! I only had one bag of cranberries, but I had a bunch of chicken, so I just browned up the rest up with oil and salt and pepper, and also put that  in a separate dish to finish cooking. 

Then I went out and harvested my poor Brussels sprouts. They struggled early on in the growing season with a brassica-specific bacteria, and they never really bounced back; but I thought I had lost them altogether, so I was pretty happy to have even these little bitty sprouts.

I popped them all off their stems and washed them well (there was one worm stowaway) and beheld my mighty harvest.

Eh, that’s what supermarkets are for. I also had another butternut squash from the garden, and a few pounds of red potatoes. I spread it all in a pan and hit them with olive oil, cider vinegar because my wine vinegar looked weird, honey, and salt and pepper. So I roasted that up before dinner while heating up the chicken 

So it was all . . . fine. Everything was a little too greasy. I think the chicken would have been quite good if I had just cooked it and served it right away. Cooking it in the morning and heating it up in the evening turned the cranberries into mush, sadly. 

Live and learn! At least I finally did something with those dumb brussels sprouts and I can stop thinking about them. Next year, I’ll remember to pull the leaves off the plants so I get more sprouts. Somebody enjoyed the leaves, though. 

THE ASSASSIN, that’s who. 

Who, meeee? Me-MEOWWWWW? 

Oh gosh, that reminds me. Tell your kids, “SOMEBODY in this house is possessed by an owl.” Then when they say “Who?” you just stare at them. 

Anyway, I might make this cranberry dish again when I can do it properly. It was so easy, and people weren’t fully against it. 

FRIDAY
Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s magic 3-ingredient sauce

We haven’t had this savory, stupid-easy sauce for a while. Seriously, three ingredients. You will be tempted to add garlic or basil or so forth, but it really doesn’t need it. It’s simple and perfect, and truly absurdly easy. 

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You’re supposed to take the onions out before serving it, but we all like the onions, so we leave them in. 

And that’s my story! Try the soup! 

John Herreid's Carnitas

Very easy recipe transforms pork into something heavenly. Carnitas are basically pulled pork tacos with the meat crisped up. Serve with whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • pork butt/shoulder, cut into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • oregano
  • oranges, quartered
  • cinnamon sticks
  • bay leaves
  • 1 can Coke or Mexican Coke
  • 1 cup or less vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the chunks of pork with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the oil and Coke, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours. The oranges will start to get mushy and the liquid will begin to thicken.

  4. When the meat is tender, remove the oranges, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat up and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat has a dark crust. Be careful not to let it burn.

  5. Remove the meat and drain off any remaining liquid. Shred the meat. It it's not as crisp as you like, you can brown it under the oven broiler, or return it to the pot without the liquid and fry it up a bit.

  6. Serve on warm tortillas with whatever you like.

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

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

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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