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

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

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

SATURDAY
Nachos

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

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

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

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

But I got my flars!

SUNDAY
Grab whatever

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

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

MONDAY
Steak and peach salad

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

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

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

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

But I carefully unscrewed the backs

and saw this:

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

So. 

I have relics. Most likely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very nice. 

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

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

TUESDAY
Corn dogs and chips

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Caprese pasta

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

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

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

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

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

Tiny little bit of prep work

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

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

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

THURSDAY
Pizza

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

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

Before:

and after:

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 382: All hands on deck

IS it Friday? Apparently it is Friday! Happy Friday. Today, the last kid has her last day of school (the other schools let out last month, last week, and earlier this week, respectively).

We’ve had hot, sunny weather all week, and countless numbers of ceremonies and little parties and I don’t even know what else, and I’ve been spending every spare minute working on the pool deck, and it just this minute started raining. Which is good, because I have been neglecting my garden in favor of working on the deck. 

We had some quick but delicious meals this week, with a real summery feel to them. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY

Saturday was Sophia’s graduation! Little Baby New Year, all done with high school. 

Our first kid to graduate from Catholic high school. And that’s six out of ten kids done with high school!

After graduation she went to a friend’s party, and then we went out to eat, to the restaurant of her choice. Which was CHILI’S, because we have raised her right. Then we got ice cream, and I picked ginger ice cream, which is now on my list of things to make this summer. So refreshing. I want to make ginger ice cream with coconut, and mango ice cream with pecans, or some combination like that. 

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches with swiss and chimichurri

Sunday after Mass I made some chimichurri

Jump to Recipe

and got started on the deck, and Damien cooked the roast beef. I attached three legs with carriage bolts on one side and screwed a big X, to reinforce it.

I didn’t bother trying to make the legs even because the ground is so uneven. Just literally leaning into that whole situation.

I’m using all salvaged wood, so a lot of the work is removing old nails and screws and extra bits of wood, and also I’m determined to do as much by myself as possible, so everything took a million billion years, and I truly don’t know what I’m doing, andI disturbed an awful lot of angry ants, so by the time it was dinner, boy oh boy, did that sandwich taste good.

Damien cooked the meat by seasoning it very heavily, like absolutely crusty, with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then he sears it in hot oil with a bunch of whole garlic cloves. Then he roasts it at 350 for about 45 minutes, and begins checking it for doneness. We like it quite rare, and it turned out juicy and tender and perfect. 

The chimichurri was also excellent.

Jump to Recipe

It’s like the flavor equivalent of if a toddler who just took a bath and escapes from his mother and goes and rolls around in the newly-mowed grass, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to him. 

MONDAY
Scrambled duck eggs with sausage on homemade biscuits

I prepped the biscuit dough in the morning, mixing the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the eggs and milk in another, and I shredded the butter on a box grater and then froze it. (If I’m going to make the dough right away, I freeze the butter first, and then grate it directly into the dry ingredients.) 

Jump to Recipe

Spent some more time on the deck, drilling out the holes for the leg bolts. I couldn’t put the legs on yet, because the deck still needed to be flipped, and I didn’t want it to be too heavy. I also worked on leveling out the ground to seat the post bases, close enough so you can jump off the deck into the pool, but not so close that it damages the pool. 

As I dug and measured and dug again and measured again and cussed and dug, I started having some massive flashbacks of the neverending pool prep we did a few years ago, when we kept digging and digging, trying to find some magical, mystical strata of ground that was not rocky (so it wouldn’t ruin the pool floor) but level (so the pool wouldn’t tip over), and every time we removed a rock, it turned out to be a GIANT ENORMOUS BOULDER, and when we got it out, ope, look at that, the ground wasn’t level anymore. And we DID truck in sand to level it off, but somehow it wasn’t that simple, and I remember it taking something like seventeen years to finish. So that’s why I want to do the deck myself! Because if I’m gonna suffer, at least I’ll only have one person mad at me (myself). 

So about half an hour before dinner I rushed in started sausages cooking, and threw the biscuit dough together, and baked twelve enormous biscuits. They turned out with a wonderful texture, just pillowy soft inside with a thin, crackly, buttery shell on the outside

but they tasted like straight baking soda. I have no idea what happened. Same recipe I always use. Is it because I broke up the assembly process? Is it because the butter was frozen? No idea. But I scrambled up a bunch of eggs and had the kids make orange juice, and it was a good enough meal.

After dinner I did get the kids to help me flip the deck over into the bases, and then while they held it, I attached the other three legs. 

Not! Quite! Straight! But pretty close. And, unlike me, more stable than it looks. 

TUESDAY
Tacos

Totally Unremarkable Tacos.

I took this picture of my taco resting on the arm of the living room chair, and you can see the piles of projects the kids brought home and boxes of miscellaneous stuff cleared out of the laundry room so Damien could work on the dryer and the living room not having been cleaned because I have been working on my deck and not yelling at people to clean more, and just THINGS AND STUFF EVERYWHERE. It’s fine. All manner of things shall be fine. But as you can see, it seemed like too much work to put salsa on. Startin to get a little tired. 

WEDNESDAY
Italian sandwiches, chips, watermelon, birthday cake

Tuesday, Dora and her friend came over to belatedly celebrate her birthday. I scurried around getting the sharpest wood scraps out of the yard, and made a bunch of meat and cheese platters

and we had nice sandwiches

and Clara made a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. Sadly, she ran out of time and wasn’t able to complete her plan, which was to recreate the Carvel cake that Kelsey Grammar and Jenna order to pull the misspelled cake refund con. So the cake just said FRAJER and we all had to just sort of sit with our choices in life. 

I heard it was delicious, though, unsurprisingly. Clara’s very good. 
And if I may toot my own horn for a mo, I’m sometimes pretty good at buying birthday presents

It was a book from her childhood, which we have been trying to remember the name of for years and years and years.

It’s about an alligator, and whenever I described it, everyone always thought I was talking about Lyle Lyle Crocodile. No! Not Lyle! I know I sound like the guy who is convinced there is a little mouse with a big hat, and he goes very fast, but no, NOT Speedy Gonzales. He’s a mouse! Anyway, she liked her present. Phew. 

I also did some laughably bad work on the deck, reinforcing the legs on the other long end

It was just one of those “all it has to do is not fall down” moments, and I think I arrived. The X I made on the first side has one plank on the inside of the legs crossing over the plank on the outside , but this second side of the deck is too close to the pool wall, so it had to — you know what, never mind. I’m the one who has to live with this; why should you get involved? It’s fine. 

THURSDAY
Poke bowls, potstickers

Thursday I attached a ladder to the short end of the deck

and reinforced the legs a bit more, replaced a few planks on top, annnnd started removing the side of the existing lifeguard station thingy on the other short end, with the intent of making it all into one big deck. Which wasn’t the original plan, but what is, these days? 

This may or may not work out. But it may! I added a fairly chimpy joist to join the two platforms, and now I need to buy some hardware to reinforce that, and then I can start adding to the floor, and putting up a railing. 

I haven’t yet decided what to do with the one long end that you see when you look straight at the pool. I have some pallets I could just attach to it, to make it more finished, kinda like this, but two of them

Or I could just attach some kind of other wood. I’m really trying to use just salvaged wood and only buy hardware, so I dunno. I may just save it for another year. My plan is to build steps to replace the ladder next year, and I’m going to stain it when I’m done building this year. 

Dinner was blessedly simple. I had remembered to take the ahi tuna out of the freezer in the morning, and although the cat did find it and start nefariously dragging it across the house like an absolute cartoon character, it was double bagged, so it survived. I started some good rice in the instant pot, got Clara to cut up a bunch of mangos, chopped up some sugar snap peas, and diced up some ahi tuna. So we had rice, tuna, mango, pea sprouts, sugar snap peas, and those spicy chili lime cashews from Aldi, and also the hot sweet Polynesian sauce from Aldi. 

It was SO spicy, but incredibly tasty. What an entertaining treat this meal is. 100% mouth party time.

I wasn’t sure there would be enough food, so I grabbed a couple of bags of frozen potstickers from Alid and just boiled ’em. Everyone was pleased. 

FRIDAY
Not actually sure

Last Friday (after I shared last week’s food post), I made lemon garlic shrimp on pasta, and it turned out spectacular.

I used this Sip and Feast recipe and I’m probably gonna make this exact thing again this Friday, because this time the other store had a sale on shrimp and I’m not made of stone. The recipe has a couple more steps than I would do if I were just throwing it together on intuition, but it’s totally worth it. Every flavor just popped right out, and the texture of the shrimp was absolutely perfect. 

Sophia is talking about celebrating the honest-to-goodness start of summer by taking the other kids out for pizza, and if that doesn’t pan out, there is tuna in the house, so there will be something for every palate. 

Oh, last Friday was also the feast of the Sacred Heart, so I also made something I’ve had my eye on for a while: Coeur à la Crème, following this recipe from Mon Petit Four. It was really quite easy, and I think I will make it every year for the solemnity. I need to work on the presentation, but I did achieve that Catholic What-The-Hell-Am-I-Actually-Eating feel.

and everybody thought it tasted good. I thought it would be like cheesecake, dense and heavy, with a light garnish of fruit, but it was actually kind of reversed: A thick, intense fruit compote on top of an airy, not-too-sweet creamy heart. Very pleasant. 

I didn’t have blackberries the recipe called for, so instead I made a compote with about a pound of strawberries and a pint of blueberries, to which I added two or three tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of water.

I simmered it for a bit and mashed it from time to time, and then mixed in a good slug of lilac jelly; and then I spooned out some of the liquid and mixed it with a few tablespoons of cornstarch, and added that back into the sauce, cooked it for a bit longer, and then took it off the heat and let it cool until dessert time. 

I don’t think I mentioned what the lilac syrup tastes like! It’s lovely. It does taste floral, but different from rosewater (which I don’t really like). It is sweet, of course, and a little bit citrusy, but not cloyingly sweet, and it just has a bright, lively but not too intense flavor, faintly like blueberry but brighter. I really like it, although it never completely gelled and is more like a very thick syrup than jelly. I think next year, I will put some of the lilac petals into the food processor and put them into the jelly, to give it a little more body. 

Oh, so I made a double recipe of the cream part, and one was in a large silicone heart mold, lined with cheesecloth as the recipe suggested. The rest, I made in small heart molds sprayed with cooking spray, and they did not come out at all. We had to spoon them out. Lesson learned! 

I also learned you can help your cream cheese achieve room temperature by not going shopping until the very last minute, and panicking a bit on the ride home

But like I said, it was hot and sunny!

And now, like I said, it is raining, so I can’t work on the deck, but can only sit here and think happily about not having to water my poor, neglected garden. I think I put 500 miles on the car this week, just to-and-fro-and-to-and-fro, and I’m so happy about today finally being the last day of school, you cannot imagine. I bought Corrie a wooden crow call for some reason, so we have that going for us. 

While I have been doing my completely voluntary deck and bridge projects, Damien has been incredibly busy with far less glamorous projects: The dryer, of course, and his car, and my car, and Moe’s car, and Lena’s car, and now today the dishwasher, and I’m almost certainly forgetting some stuff. The things that man has taught himself how to do just blows my mind. Somebody should make him some shrimp, at the very least. 

Chimichurri

Dipping sauce, marinade, you name it

Ingredients

  • 2 cups curly parsley
  • 1 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Whir until it's blended but a little chunky. 

  2. Slowly pour olive oil in while continuing to blend. 

 

moron biscuits

Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

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

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

Because it’s Junnnnnnne!

And I do what I wannnnnnnt! Overall. 

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

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, watermelon

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

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

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

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

Here’s my pulled pork recipe.

Jump to Recipe

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

SUNDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, broccoli slaw, watermelon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Pizza with chive blossoms

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Pork tacos, watermelon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY
One-pan garlicky chicken thighs with potatoes and zucchini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Lemon garlic shrimp pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

  2. Preheat the oven to 400.

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

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

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

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

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

SATURDAY
Hot dogs and chips

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

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

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONDAY
Meatball subs, raw vegetables

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

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

TUESDAY
Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, pumpkin muffins

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make the sauce! It’s so good.

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blorp.

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

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

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

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

Here’s the spot I want to span:

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, tater tots

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

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

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

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 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. 

Jump to Recipe

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. 367: I knead you so badly

Happy Friday! We’ve been eating a little too well for Lent. Don’t tell my bishop. Or, actually go ahead and tell him. I went and got fired from the diocesan magazine already last week, so do your worst. (I don’t really know why it happened, other than that I am annoying. It’s fine. Something else always turns up, and I can go be annoying to a slightly different subset of readers, inshallah.)

Anyway, here’s what we had this week, which was February vacation for most of the kids:  

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Usually, for grilled cheese, I buy a few loaves of sourdough bread that comes in very large pieces, but they were out of them at Aldi, so I got some pleasant-looking Italian loaves that seemed likely. Dinner time comes along, I open the bag, and here is what the individual slices look like:

and I’m like, huh. Possibly I’m a pervert, but this feels slightly awkward. Maybe they will look more normal if I put mayonnaise on them

Ah well, we’ll just call it theology of the body and fry ’em up. 

Yes, they all looked like this. 

So everyone got one and we also had pickles and let us never speak of this again. Definitely not to the bishop. 

SUNDAY
40 garlic whole chickens, orzo al limone

I have mentioned in the past how allergic I am to cooking whole chickens, because we had them SO often when we were super poor and they used to be like 49 cents a pound, and I just feel so gloomy and oppressed by whole chickens now. But I’m trying really hard to shop the sales, so I made a tremendous penitential Lenten effort and bought two whole chickens for cheap, which I prepared using this recipe for 40 garlic clove chickens

You melt butter and oil in a dutch oven and brown the chickens on all sides, take out the chicken and drain off some of the fat, and stir in the garlic cloves. Yes, we peeled 80 cloves of garlic.

In fact, it was after we peeled about 65 cloves of garlic that I more carefully read the recipe I was going to use, and discovered that it calls for unpeeled garlic. So I quickly switched to the recipe I linked above, which doesn’t specify. No, I will not read to the end of a recipe before starting it! You can’t make me!!

So then you put the chicken back in along with a little water, and lemon juice, salt, thyme (it calls for dried but I had fresh), and pepper, cover the dutch oven, and bake it in the oven for 90 minutes.  I don’t actually have a dutch oven, so I browned the chicken in a pot and then transferred it to a giant oven pan, covered it with tinfoil, and then put a second pan on top. 

Good enough! When I opened it up, the chickens were [Danny Kaye doing his drooling Clever Gretel voice] nicely cooked

I cooked them breast-side-down in “humble frog” position, because I knew the skin wasn’t going to be the star of this chicken anyway, and I really wanted the meat to be juicy. It was not the most visually stunning chicken I have ever met, but it was extremely juicy and full of flavor. I actually used quite a bit more lemon juice than it called for, and I have no regrets.

Before I made the chicken, I started on the orzo. I was using this recipe from delish, and if it sounds tasty to you (and it will), I recommend taking a screenshot, because they limit how many free page views you get. I assemble the ingredients and knew this would be a winner. Just look:

It’s basically the same as risotto. Sauté some garlic, then lemon zest, and oops, I threw my chives in there too soon 

then add your orzo with salt and pepper and toast it a bit. Then you add chicken broth, a bit at a time, so the orzo slowly absorbs it.

Yeah man. 

When it’s cooked, stir in the cheese (it called for Pecorino Romano, but I had parmesan) and the parsley, lemon juice, and chives. 

I actually cooked the orzo first and then put it in the slow cooker, and then got to work on the chicken.

They were SO nice together. 

Some asparagus or spinach would have put this meal over the top, but it was pretty great as it was. The cloves of garlic were as soft as boiled potatoes, so what I did was just fork-mash them onto my chicken 

and we were all in garlic heaven. “We” being the chicken and the orzo and me. 

The orzo is amazing. I loved it so much. It was rich and creamy and cozy, but also piquant and sharp with the garlic and lemon and herbs. Some of the kids did not like the texture, probably because they are used to risotto and it’s not the same. But Damien and I thought it was great. 

On Sunday, I also did some winter sowing, which is something I only recently discovered. The idea is that you can start seeds outdoors in late winter even if it’s cold and snowy out, because you’re planting in milk jugs that act as little greenhouses; and then when the frost is past and your seedlings are big enough to transplant into the ground, you don’t have to harden them off, because they’re already acclimated. I have never successfully hardened seedlings off, because I take it too personally and all I can think is that nobody ever carried me in and out and in and out because my little leafies might get cold. 

You cut the milk jugs about four inches up from the bottom, leaving the last bit intact for a hinge. Fill the bottom with seed starter material, plant your seeds, water, and put the top back and tape it shut. That’s it. 

I was delighted to find a sack of seed starter I had bought on clearance last year, so I got out my saved seed stash and did three jugs of eggplants, three of pumpkin, and two butternut squash; and I did two jugs of morning glories for my friend Millie, who is in the nursing home again. And I got some more spiles and tubing for maple sugaring! But I used up all the milk jugs, so we have to build up some more supply before I can get going on that.

MONDAY
Spicy chicken sandwiches, fruit salad

Monday I went to see Millie in the morning. If you could keep her in your prayers, please, I’d appreciate it! She’s going to be 90 the first week in March and she’s hoping to be able to get back to her house and garden soon. 

I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs I had stashed in the freezer when they were on sale a few weeks ago, and I made these wonderful sandwiches that everybody likes. They come together really fast. You just season the chicken thighs with Cajun seasoning — actually I used Tony Chachere’s, which is creole, but close enough — and then pan fry them on both sides. While they are cooking, you cut up some shishito peppers (just cut the tops off) and slice some red onions. When the chicken is done, you blister up the peppers in another pan, and lay some American cheese on top of the chicken and put a lid on it so it melts. 

(I didn’t actually cook the chicken this close together; I used two pans, and then transferred the chicken to one pan for the cheese treatment.)

Layer the chicken, peppers, and onions on brioche buns, with BBQ sauce top and bottom. Boom, amazing sandwich.

I just love this sandwich because it’s so SIMPLE. One bottle of spice, one step with the peppers, easy sliced cheese, bottled sauce. You really couldn’t improve it if you made it complicated and fiddly (although I’m sure Sam Sifton would like to try). 

You can see that I made a fruit salad, which we haven’t had for a while. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwis. Nice to have some color. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, french bread

Beef was on sale, so I got a likely-looking hunk and made some soup. Garlic, onion, and carrots, chunks of beef, tomatoes, beef broth, mushrooms, and barley, and plenty of pepper. So good. 

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This is the soup I sometimes make in my head when I can’t sleep. 

While that was simmering, I thought it was high time to test out my lovely new marble countertop, which I purposely installed lower than the rest of the counter, to make it easier to knead dough. (I’m kind of short; I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this.)

IT WAS PERFECT. Made such a difference. I never realized I was struggling with dough on the higher countertop, but now that I have a lower one, it was so much easier. 

Here is the simple french bread recipe I use:

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It makes four long loaves — or, in this case, three long ones and three shorties, because I was sending some food over to one of the kids. 

I do love rolling the loaves out. Zoop!

Then I set them for a second rise and managed to drop BOTH pans as I was moving them, so they got kind of wadded up, but they baked up well enough. 

They had a really nice thin little shattering crust on the outside, and they were soft and tender on the inside. Good stuff. 

So we had the soup and the bread

and at this point I’m just dragging the narrative out because I have more pictures. 

And now I’m done!

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, raw veg, crunchy rice rolls

Wednesday we had a bunch of errands – haircuts and what have you – and I started supper late, but it was a quickie: Good old Korean Beef Bowl. I had bought extra ground beef when it was on sale for the Super Bowl, and this is a fast, easy recipe, even if you do go for fresh garlic and fresh ginger, which I did. 

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So I put the cooked beef in the slow cooker, and made some rice in the instant pot, cut up some cucumbers and took out the packages of crunchy rice rolls I had been saving. 

Tasty little meal. The beef has sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnishes. I don’t know why I feel the need to point that out, but there you are. 

On Wednesday I cut up the leftover chicken and made a simple chicken salad (just mayo, I think maybe lemon juice or cider vinegar, salt and pepper, celery, and green apple), and then I made soup with the rest of the carcasses, just so as not to waste it. I had a brainwave and realized I could freeze it all and get a jump start on Passover cooking this year! I really hate making the chicken soup some years, so I’m delighted to have this already done. I will need to add parsley and dill, but it already has the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion in it

THURSDAY
Pizza

The kids had mainly been playing board games all week (including Dixit, which was a Christmas present, and turned out to be a hit) for vacation week, but I did promise/threaten a trip to an art museum; so five of the kids and I went to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. Great stuff. Admission is reasonable (one adult, two students, two youth, and a kid got in for $35) and their descriptive cards are good, providing enough context and explanation to help you see, but without leading you too much. They have a really solid, varied collection for a small museum.

Interesting things happening in the contemporary art world! There is still a certain amount of “hoo HOO, I bet THIS transgressive bit of plastic really pushes your conventional little buttons, DOESN’T IT??” getting churned out, but also some far more interesting stuff. (Yes, I realize I opened this post with some penis sandwiches, so maybe I should shut my yap about who’s childishly transgressive. On the other hand, they were just sandwiches.) I was especially taken with two large works by Kara Walker, who will have an entire exhibit there soon, but there were other thoughtful, skilled, intriguing, moving contemporary pieces as well. I shared a few images on Facebook:

It is a small museum, so we did a thorough tour in two hours. Then we hit a few thrift stores just for fun, and then we got pizza and talked about art. Lovely day with my lovely kids. On the way there, they played an ice breaker game (“If you were an animal, what kind would you be? What is your favorite movie” etc.), but they played as different characters, so everyone had to guess who they were. Let me tell you, if we had run out of gas, we could have made it home under the sheer white hot heat of the quantity of in-jokes flying around. I had no idea what was going on, but they had fun. 

FRIDAY
Tilapia tacos and guacamole

I don’t really have a solid plan for this fish, but I’m tired of having it in my freezer. It was on clearance at Walmart quite some time ago, and I don’t want to look at it anymore. Hoping the avocados I got aren’t totally overripe by now. 

And I need to make a cake! A Squirtle cake! For tomorrow is Corrie’s birthday party. It’s going to be Pokémon-themed, and Sophia is making a treasure hunt and Irene is making a piñata. This has honestly been one of our nicest February vacations, despite some trials which, nay, I shan’t mention. Love seeing my kids enjoy being with each other. 

My other thing is that I’m a little frustrated with yoga lately, partially because I managed to injure both knees (one by falling on the ice, one by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING; the little fucker just started hurting for no reason, and now I go up and down stairs looking like I imagine Strega Nona would, on stairs), so I have started pilates. I kind of hate it, but it keeps my attention because you have to be SO SPECIFIC about what muscles you’re using, so at least it’s not boring. I did one random class on YouTube and then I found this lady, Banks (that’s how she refers to herself, as “Banks”), and I have done three of her thirty-minute core classes for beginners. Tough stuff, but I’m hanging on. She is very specific about what you’re supposed to be doing and how it’s supposed to feel, which I appreciate, and she’s not especially annoying. So, now you know everything I know. 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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


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

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

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

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

 

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

 

Korean Beef Bowl

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

and Benny is going to be Classic Green Goblin. 

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

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

SATURDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jump to Recipe

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

SUNDAY
Chicken burgers, nacho chips

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

MONDAY
English muffin pizzas

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

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

TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, quesadillas

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

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Mexican beef bowls, pineapple

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

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

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

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

So yummy. Tons of flavors. 

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

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

THURSDAY
Blackened shishito chicken sandwiches; veggies and hummus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Regular spaghetti

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

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

 

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

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

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

This is a little over a gallon of soup.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

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

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 348: kthxpie

Happy Friday!

Look, I know food posts are fun posts, but today, in response to the request of +Pierbattista Card. Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, I’m going to make some attempt at a fast, and it happens that today is my adoration hour, so I guess I’ll actually be saying a rosary instead of just sitting there like a dumbass like I usually do. Please, if you’re the praying kind, pray with me for the Middle East, for deliverance from these horrors. I don’t know what else to say. 

All right, so the other thing we can do is keep on living the beautiful, safe, full lives that God has granted us here in our peaceful country. 

We did have some excellent food this week, including multiple pies! I’m leaning into cold weather cooking, and I guess if I can’t just crawl into bed between warm covers, the next best thing is wrap up my dinner in a nice warm pie crust. I feel like if I worked on that sentence, it might make more sense, but I’m just going to move along. Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Always popular. I got Genoa salami, sandwich pepperoni, hot capicola, and prosciutto, and we had mozzarella, tomatoes, and red pesto. I meant to pick some basil, but I forgot. And then I sloshed a silly amount of balsamic vinegar all over my sandwich, which I secretly like, even though it’s not pretty. 

And that’s-a my sandwich. 

SUNDAY
Chicken burgers, cheezy weezies

Sunday we went apple picking. Our usual orchard did not have apple picking for the public, because that late spring frost killed off so many buds; so we ended up driving to Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard in Greenville, which is very nice, if a tiny bit on the La Grunta end of the spectrum. We met up with another family and picked our apples and fed some goats and then Damien waited in line for literally an hour to get some freshly-made cider donuts. They had a machine that was actually called “DONUT ROBOT” just like in Homer Price, but it wasn’t nearly as fast, and there were no diamond bracelets inside. Good donuts, though. And I insisted on getting my most-of-the-family photo, and the kids retaliated by . . . I guess holding their hands like Angel in Buffy? I don’t know what goes on.

Then we got home and had an easy meal of chicken burgers and cheezy weezies. 

In my ongoing pursuit of health and wellness, I decided to have stone ground mustard instead of mayo, and you know what? It wasn’t very good. I did have a donut, though. 

MONDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips, pineapple; apple pie

Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day, and the kids had the day off, and observed it after their traditional fashion, to wit: Implying that their parents are kinda racist, but also not wanting to eat any of the interesting food we suggested for Indigenous Peoples Day. So we had tacos. 

Behold my no sour cream, no cheese, and no chips! I turn sideways, people question where I went. 

Just kidding, I was just saving up my calories for pie. Benny and Corrie were in charge of cranking the apple peeler-corer-slicer machine:

while I made a quintuple recipe of this reliable pie crust:

Jump to Recipe

We made three apple pies: One with a jack-o’-lantern face crust

and one with a lattice spider web crust:

The spider’s legs collapsed in the oven, but I thought he was still pretty winsome

and then I found a little pan and made a cute little pie for my neighbor Millie

Isn’t that adorable? I brought it over while it was still hot. She’s recovering very well from her broken pelvis, and is planning her spring garden. 

I don’t really have a recipe for the apple pie filling — you just mix the sliced apples with sugar, a little salt, cinnamon, and little nutmeg, and mix it up, and then dot it with butter before you put the top on. I guess you can add flour if you want a thicker filling. Then you brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle it with sugar. Bake at 425 for ten minutes and then lower it to 350 and keep on baking it for like half an hour until it’s golden brown and the filling is bubbly. 

I like all kinds of pies, but apple is king. 

TUESDAY
Chicken bacon pie, roasted carrots

When I made the apple pies on Monday, I lined a big casserole dish with pie crust and rolled out a top and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge, so on Tuesday, I just had to make the filling for this recipe and throw it in the oven. 

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You guys, it was SO GOOD. Damien said he’s never enjoyed chicken pie before, but he absolutely loved this, which is my friend Rebecca Salazar’s recipe. It’s supposed to have leeks, but they didn’t have any at the store, so I substituted celery. Amazing. Incredibly savory and just packed with happy flavors. It was also really fast to make (well, because the crust was already done). Most definitely making this again. 

So first you cook up some diced bacon, then add diced onion and leeks (or, in my case, celery) and keep cooking. Then some thyme, pepper, and a ton of butter.

Then you whisk in a little flour, thicken it up, add in some concentrated chicken broth and thicken it some more, and add in cubed chicken and cubed potatoes. And that’s it. You pour this into the bottom crust

add the top crust, and then obviously you have to make it into a Mrs. Tweedy’s Chicken Pie, and brush it with egg yolk

and bake at 425 for about an hour. LOOK AT HER.

So beautiful. The filling was nice and thick, and the pieces held up well when I scooped them out, but not so well that it was gluey or gunky.

About half an hour before dinner, I decided we needed a side dish, so I found this roasted carrot recipe from a site I’ve used before, Recipe Tin Eats

Another success! I’ve made glazed carrots before, but they have come out kind of mushy and swimming in syrup, which isn’t great. This recipe is quick and easy and the carrots get fully cooked and they’re sweet and flavorful, but not sticky or blurry. 

I actually skipped the garlic and added cinnamon and a little chili powder. You just mix up the sugar and a few other ingredients and toss the carrots in it and roast them on a pan, turning them once. Easy and effective. 

So yeah, it was a lovely meal. 

I was quite pleased with myself.

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, garlic knots

Wednesday I got up and decided to get going making meatballs for soup right first thing in the morning. So I’m standing there in my pajamas, throwing stuff in a bowl: ground turkey, fresh parmesan, some duck eggs, salt, pepper, fresh basil, breadcrumbs, milk, olive oil

and I’m making the little meatballs, thinking about Millie, making meatballs, thinking maybe Millie would like some soup, thinking about meatballs, and then suddenly I realize: HOLY CRAP, I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DRIVING MILLIE TO THE DOCTOR. I guess my guardian angel was speaking meatball that day, because that’s the only way he could get my attention. So I washed my hands and threw on a bra and got Millie to her appointment, and it was a good report! She’s healing well and has graduated from a walker to a cane. 

Then I had a bunch of other nonsense to take care of, and finally got home and made the dang meatballs. I more or less followed this recipe from Sip and Feast, which has never steered me wrong

I ended up adding quite a bit more broth than it called for, and I used kale rather than escarole and spinach, and ditalini rather than acini de pepe, and I didn’t have parsley for the meatballs. 

Still a damn fine soup. Very nourishing and delicious. I did bring a jar over to Millie, which she appreciated. 

I had a couple of balls of pizza dough, so I made about 18 garlic knots. I just baked them plain, then tossed the hot knots in melted butter, garlic powder, and flaked kosher salt

They were pretty excellent.

I love soup and hot bread for supper. I grated up a little more parmesan to top off the soup, and it was so good. 

Next time I really need to use acini de pepe. Any bigger kind of pasta just inevitably gets overcooked and expands too much, which is a less than ideal. It didn’t ruin the soup or anything, but that’s why you’re supposed to use acini de pepe.

THURSDAY
Broiled tilapia, spinach and cucumber salad, coleslaw, Prongles, pears

Thursday I kind of ran out of steam for cooking. I think I was originally intending to make batter fried fish sandwiches, but it was about 12:30 and I discovered I had not bought sandwich rolls, and also I had zero desire to fry anything.

Pictured: Zero desire, in filet form. 

Then it turned out Benny had a soccer game anyway, and I didn’t even get home until 5:00, and I had only gotten as far as taking the fish out of the freezer and complaining about it on Facebook.

So I took my friend Kat’s advice and lined a pan with parchment paper, drizzled a little oil on the tilapia filets, sprinkled them with salt, and broiled them for like seven minutes

and served them with melted butter and lemon wedges.

I put out some spinach and some cucumbers from the garden, and I made some coleslaw real quick (pre-shredded cabbage with a dressing of mayo, cider vinegar, and little sugar and pepper), and put out some nice juicy pears. Not bad for zero plan!

I really like fish. It keeps on being on sale at Walmart, so I guess I’ll keep cooking it until I don’t like it anymore. 

Oh, here’s a picture of one of the sillier cucumbers from my garden:

I think this is the result of uneven watering, or something. Anyway, I ate it. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

With a little hot sauce and a little mustard mixed into the sauce. 

 

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.

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Rebecca's chicken bacon pie

Ingredients

  • double recipe of pie crust
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups concentrated chicken broth (I use almost double the amount of bouillon to make this)
  • 2 Tbsp pepper
  • egg yolk for brushing on top crust

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. In a large pan, cook the bacon pieces until they are browned. Pour off most of the grease.

  3. Add in the onion and celery and cook until soft.

  4. Add the thyme, pepper, and butter and cook until butter is melted. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for another few minutes.

  5. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue cooking for a few more minutes until it thickens up. Stir in the chicken and potato and keep warm, stirring occasionally, until you're ready to use it.

  6. Pour filling into bottom crust, cover with top crust, brush with beaten egg. Bake for about an hour.

What’s for supper? Vol. 346: Babe, you ok? You barely touched your Earl Gray Preminger Tea Cake

Happy Monday! Don’t worry, it’s Monday, not Friday! I just didn’t get to finish this last week, so I’m doing it now. 

Here’s what we had last week:

SATURDAY
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah, Earl Grey Tea Cake 

Saturday we had a little meal for Clara’s birthday: chicken soup with matzoh balls, and challah for dinner. Here’s my challah recipe:

Jump to Recipe

I once again attempted to do a four-strand braid. Last time I followed a video, and that didn’t go well (I cried), so this time I used a pictorial step-by-step guide, and I still cried. I fervently believe that if you took a CAT scan of my brain, there would just be a little missing chunk for the part for what to do when something crosses over something else. That is where everything goes haywire, whether I’m braiding or dancing or installing a light fixture or anything. As soon as one thing crosses over another thing, I just start to cry and I don’t know what to do.

But I’m an adult, and I quickly remembered it’s just bread, so I can just smoosh it together and it doesn’t matter. And I was right! 

The chicken soup was good, if not terribly photogenic.

and the matzoh balls turned out fluffy! I’m going to cling to that little victory, because of what happened with the cake. 

Clara asked for an Earl Gray tea cake, which I have made before using this recipe from this recipe from Liv For Cake, and it was a tremendous pain in the pants. So I looked around for a different recipe, and found one that seemed a little simpler, although it was intended for actual tea cakes — not only made with tea, but cut up into little cakes, glazed, and served with tea. The recipe is from Taste Made, and I made the glaze that goes with it, and also the vanilla bean buttercream frosting from the previous recipe.

So, now, in my defense, at this point, I was making soup, bread, cake, glaze, and frosting all at the same time, and I was about a week into a new migraine medication that quite magically made my headaches much worse and also gave me constant nausea. So when I got to the point where the frosting recipe said to whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, I was like

NOT 

ONE

MORE 

POT

so, I whisked the eggs and sugar over the soup. 

and you know what, this did not work great. 

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell else I did wrong, but that cake turned out so dense. It was absolutely GUMMY. It was CLAGGY. It was STODGY. It was all the worst things Prue could say about a cake. 

But, not content with a cake that tasted weird, I thought I would go ahead and decorate it in a horrendous way as well. So I thought, Hey, Clara really used to like that Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper movie with Martin Short as the villain Preminger. So I will make a Preminger cake! AS ONE DOES. 

If you’re not familiar, many of these animated Barbie movies are actually worth watching, and some of them have really good voice actors. Here’s the “How Can I Refuse” number:

annnd here’s the cake:

I . . . an attempt was made. She laughed. Hey, did I tell you how fluffy my matzoh balls were? 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, pickles, chips

Sunday I still hadn’t done my shopping, but was undeniably felled with not-Covid-but-some-fwiggin-thing, and decided to do Instacart. We had grilled ham and cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread with cute little pickles on the side, and chips. 

Except I had an apple instead of chips, because I looked up the serving size and it was something like seven chips, and that’s just offensive. Might as well have a fwiggin apple. 

MONDAY
Domino’s pizza

Monday I forget what happened, but Damien assessed my general situation and decided that sometimes being the spiritual head of the family means insisting that we order pizza. Bless. 

TUESDAY
Spicy chicken sandwiches with peppers; grapes, cucumbers

Tuesday I pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer and we had these lovely sandwiches from Sip and Feast that I adore. They’re even better with boneless chicken thighs, but still pretty darn good with breast sliced in half lengthwise. 

Look, if nobody else in your life is willing to say that sometimes American cheese is the best cheese for the job, I’ll say it. I’ll be that person for you. 

I cooked the peppers in the same pan that the chicken had been in

and once the cheese was melted, we piled up them sandwiches.

So it’s a nice soft, sweet brioche buns, BBQ sauce, chicken coated in cajun seasoning and sauteed slowly with American cheese melted on top, some slightly charred shishito peppers, red onion rings, and more BBQ sauce. 

For sides I just served grapes and cucumbers, which is a little weird but whatcha gonna do. 

This sandwich is just excellent. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it as much the second time (you know how sometimes you’re just dazzled by a new recipe, and then you make it again and it turns out you were just having a nice day in general, and that food itself wasn’t that great?), but I DID. It’s yummy and everyone liked it. 

WEDNESDAY
Spicy penne with butternut squash, mozzarella, and spinach; garlic bread

Wednesday I was still feeling extremely punk, but at this point I was mad about being sick, so I decided to . . . show them [shakes fist migrainously at destiny] and try a New York Times recipe.

This is not uhhhh best practice. It was a bad idea. It was an okay recipe, and I’m already familiar with how much work it is to process butternut squash, so I wasn’t taken aback by that as so many of the commenters were; but it was still kind of a lot of work and just didn’t amount to much. I don’t know. I even got the nice fresh mozzarella, and I had fresh spinach and fresh jalapeños and a butternut squash from my garden, and it just tasted kind of meh. 

Oh, here is the recipe, because of course the NYT one is paywalled. And here is a picture of me with my butternut squash. It’s the very first one I picked from my garden, and this is the first year I have grown squash, so I wanted to document it. Turns out it’s kind of hard for a decent Christian lady to take a picture of herself holding a butternut squash in a way that won’t get you in trouble with Tito Edwards.

Anyway the recipe started off well enough, cooking the squash in olive oil with cumin and red pepper flakes.

I prepped the heck out of all the other ingredients, so I could just throw it together when I got home.

I even had enough time to take the leftover challah, slice it up, and make garlic bread

and you know, there’s a reason people don’t do that. It was okay, just not really a texture you necessarily want with garlic bread. 

The whole meal was okay. I kept thinking maybe if the pasta had crumbled sausage in it. I don’t know. I doubt I’ll make it again. It’s now in my head as a bad, sad dish, so I probably won’t go back to it. You may have other results.

On Thursday evening we were talking about apple picking, and how that late spring frost killed off so many apple blossoms, lots of local orchards aren’t even offering PYU apples this year. Our terrible little tree did manage to put out some terrible apples, though, and I realized I was planning to cook pork the next day, so we decided to go ahead and pick the apples that evening.

 

I suppose if I ever did even one single thing to take care of this tree, it might make better apples, but as it is, the dog and the ducks love the miserable little fruits it produces, and we have our annual little ritual of picking apples and searching for the foley mill, so it serves its purpose. I promised the kids I wouldn’t make the applesauce until they got home from school the next day. 

THURSDAY
Roast pork ribs, crabapple sauce, garlic mashed potatoes

The pork ribs were just heavily seasoned with salt and pepper and roasted under a hot broiler, and the mashed potatoes were just mashed potatoes with several cloves of garlic thrown into the water and then mashed along with it, with butter and milk. 

The apples were really especially terrible this year. 

A lot of them were just rotten and had to be thrown out, but I ended up with a few dozen that were misshapen but basically sound

so I just cut them in half and put them in a stock pot with a little water at the bottom, covered it loosely, and set it to simmer. You’re supposed to let it go for a few hours so the apples can really collapse into mush, but I didn’t have enough time, so we ended up kind of violently forcing the mostly-cooked apples through the foley mill

and then I threw in some butter and cinnamon, and tasted it, and decided that hmm, this was a year to add some sugar. 

Some years, our homemade applesauce is a lovely, dusky rose color, and it’s fragrant and cozy and wonderful, with a faint, pleasantly smoky taste that seems to come from this particular tree. Some years it doesn’t need any sweetening, and still has a beautiful nectary flavor. 

This year’s applesauce was yellowish brown and it tasted like paste.

But the kids were delighted anyway, probably because of the little red hen factor, so I didn’t clue them in that it was very bad applesauce indeed. And that’s how you do that! 

FRIDAY
Shrimp and fish lo mein

Friday I was very pleased with myself, because not only did supper turn out really good, but I used lots of leftovers successfully. I made my normal lo mein recipe

Jump to Recipe

starting with fresh ginger and garlic, and then I added some red onions I found in the fridge, then I threw in some shrimp and cut-up pieces of tilapia (I had two filets in the freezer that I didn’t cook a couple of weeks ago); then I chopped up some leftover shishito peppers (I put them in late because they were already cooked, and just needed heating), and then after I added the noodles and sauce, I threw some leftover Italian parsley on top.

Hot damn, it was delicious. 

The shrimp and fish weren’t overcooked and neither were the noodles, the veg were crunchy, the sauce wasn’t too sweet, and the ginger and the garlic were nice and sharp, and the fresh parsley really put it over the top. I was happy to end on a high note, because it’s been kind of a sucky week, and good lo mein is happy food. 

Okay, that’s it! Don’t forget what I told you, about the thing!

(I’m just kidding, I didn’t tell you anything. I don’t know anything. Who wants some applesauce? We have leftover.) 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

 

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.

 

I’ve been bowing, I’ve been scraping
I’ve been lying like a rug
And for ten long years I’ve had to pay my dues
But today I am escaping
For the last gold has been dug
It was waiting there, so how could I refuse?

I’m returning home a hero
Who’s discovered mighty wealth
And what better husband could a princess choose?
I’m the suitor who will suit her
Bring the kingdom back to health
And I’ll wear the crown, for how could I refuse?

Raise every glass and rouse every cheer
Praise that the reign of Preminger is here
Master in charge of all that I see
All hail me

And by marrying the princess
I get all that I desire
Like a moat, an ermine coat and palace views
Even though she treats me coldly
It’s a sign of inner fire
For inside she’s thinking “How can I refuse?”

[NACK, spoken]
Right, except for this one little problem, boss

[PREMINGER, spoken]
Prince Boss to you!

[NACK, spoken]
Right, the queen decided to marry her off to the King of Dulcinea next week

[PREMINGER, spoken]
What? Making a decision without me? Who does she think she is?

[NICK, spoken]
Uh, the Queen?

[PREMINGER, spoken]
You simpering simpleton!

[NICK, spoken]
Well, she is the Queen. She’s got a crown and a scepter and sits in her big fancy chair and always—

[PREMINGER]
Silencio!
No! I won’t let go!
This peasant son won’t turn and run because some reckless royal chose another beau
Ah!

It’s a temporary setback
It’s a momentary lapse
But conveniently my ego doesn’t bruise
And the moment that I get back
I will show them who’s the boss
You can bet your bullion there’ll be no “I do’s”

Yes, suppose the girl goes missing
So the king says “Au revoir
Then I find her, bring her back and make the news
Then the queen will be so grateful
That she’ll pledge the heir to moi
And I’ll humbly tell her “How can I refuse?”

When our ceremony’s over
I’ll arise and take the throne
And that nitwit Anneliese can kiss my shoes
For the kingdom and the castle
Will be mine and mine alone
If the crown should fit, then how can I refuse?

[PREMINGER, NACK & NICK]
So get ready with the roses (So get ready with the roses)
And stand by with the champagne (And stand by with the champagne)
When you’ve got a brilliant plan you never lose (When you’ve got a brilliant plan you never lose)
Yes, before this chapter closes (Yes, before this chapter closes)
I’ll be big as Charlemagne (He’ll be big as Charlemagne)
It’s a thankless job but how can I refuse? (It’s a thankless job but how can he refuse?)
How can I refuse? (How can he refuse?)