What’s for supper? Vol. 300: We eat in the shade

For months, I’ve been watching the approach of What’s for Supper? Vol. 300 and wondering what spectacular thing I would do to mark the occasion. It turns out vol. 300 hit on a week where I was insanely busy and did almost no cooking, I wrote up a long post complaining about all the home renovations we did instead, and the whole thing was so whiny and boring, I couldn’t bear to publish it.

So here we are at actual vol. 300, and guess what? I’m VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS NEW COLD SICILIAN FRIED SWEET AND SOUR ZUCCHINI DISH. So it all worked out! I wish it were a Spartan zucchini dish, but it is still very good. 

There were be no further 300 jokes. That’s all I got, unless I think of another one. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken tenders maybe? 

We were, as I mentioned, coming off a long week of very intense home renovations, some planned, some thrust upon us. I think we also had cold broccoli.

SUNDAY
July 3 cookout!

Sunday was our lovely annual Independence Day/family reunion cookout, somewhat smaller than some years, but still a wonderful day with perfect weather and the very best of company. Here’s the whole album of photos on Facebook, if you care to take a look at all the cousins and hamburgers and sparklers and one very happy puppydog

We kept the menu pretty basic: Hamburgers and hot dogs, veggie burgers and tofu dogs, and smoked chicken thighs with a sugar rub

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I decided life would be better for everybody (me) if we didn’t need forks for anything, so I didn’t make any side dishes at all; I just bought about forty bags of chips. Didn’t even buy corn. My neighbor Millie brought over a banana bread. Clara made patriotic cream puffs

and I made a bunch of red and blue Jell-o cups with Kool Whip on top, and we had little ice cream cups and lots of candy, lots of soda and beer, and dark and stormies (ginger beer, dark rum, lime juice, and ice).

We had sparklers, snappers, glow sticks, googly-eyed glasses, patriotic tattoos, the pool and trampoline, and Damien flew the drone around and the dog just about lost his so-called mind.

Then we read the Declaration of Independence, ate candy, swatted bugs, and set off fireworks. A very good day.

Sharing this one photo out of sheer vanity, because my arms look okay for once.

MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips, cherry hand pies

This seems strange in retrospect, but I guess I felt like making eleven little pies the next day, so that’s what I did. I wasn’t really sure what shape to do, so I made them ridiculous.

I used my very reliable pie crust recipe, with the frozen grated butter and ice water

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and I made a filling with just cherries (Benny used the “narrow-neck bottle and chopstick” system of pitting her half of the cherries, but I prefer the “just rip their little hearts out” method, with is messier but faster), a handful of sugar, a few spoonfuls of cornstarch, and a little salt. I brushed a little egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar over the top and baked them up, and I thought they were just swell.

Tart and juicy with a tender shell.

I actually just had pie for dinner.

No regrets. 

TUESDAY
Nachos, fruit salad

Nothing fancy. Just seasoned beef and cheese on chips, with salsa and sour cream and cilantro on the side, and a fruit salad of watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.

I bought four watermelons for the cookout and forgot to serve them. I managed to smuggle two of them into my sisters’ cars as they drove away, but I still have two to get through, so that’s been a feature this week. 

Not exactly a hardship. The fruit is all so sweet right now, you can’t imagine. Well, I hope you’re having some fruit yourself, right now, so you don’t have to imagine. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, garden lettuce, and sweet and sour zucchini and summer squash

Bone-in pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I knew what I had to do. I got this pork, about a 9-pounder, going the night before, with a cup of sugar and a cup of salt rubbed all over it and wrapped up tight with plastic wrap. Then at about noon the next day, I unwrapped it again, put it in a 300 (oh! 300! There you go) oven in a pan heavily lined with tin foil, and that, my friends, is just about the whole entire deal. It’s so easy.

Goes in like this

and comes out six hours later like this

You don’t even need a knife.

There is supposed to be a part at the end where you put brown sugar, cider vinegar, and a little more salt on it and let it finish cooking into a crunchy little savory sugary crust, but half the time I forget to do this part, and nobody notices. The pork I got had a nice fat rind on it, so it already had a wonderful caramelized crust on top. Oh, this roast is just superb. You squint hard at it, and it falls to pieces, that’s how tender it is. 

Now, how about sides? Damien and I admitted to each other that we just don’t like kimchee. We’re not all that crazy about spicy coleslaw, either, which is kimchee for babies. But I wanted something piquant and tart to go along with the dark, salty flavor of the pork. Seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe I’ve been eying: cold fried sweet and sour zucchini, or zucchini agrodolce (literally “soursweet”) from Sip and Feast.

I followed the recipe slavishly (I used three zucchini and two summer squashes), and it turned out so well. I was so skeptical! You fry and salt it,

then make a little sour onion sauce for the vegetables and let it chill,

and serve it cold? Or room temperature? But I cannot stop eating this stuff. It’s sparkling tart, and the vegetables retain a nice crunch.

But it doesn’t have that “every cubic centimeter of this tastes exactly the same” that you get with pickled vegetables, and they didn’t get rubbery at all. I don’t know! I just love it. The recipe was written very clearly and agreeably, too. Looking forward to exploring the site for more recipes. 

So in the morning, I threw the pork in the oven and made the zucchini and put that in the fridge, and then spent the rest of the day going out of my mind because everything smelled so good, but it wasn’t time to eat yet. I guess that’s how the dog feels all day, every day. 

In the evening, I made a big pot of rice and sent Benny out for some lettuce from the garden, and we had a wonderful meal. It all went together so well.

An exceptional summer meal, mostly made ahead of time.

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, leftover zucchini, watermelon, leftover broccoli

I’m a little tired of Korean beef bowl, but this time it turned out really tasty with a tiny tweak. I usually fry up the fresh ginger and garlic in sesame oil, then add the beef, then drain off the fat, feeling sad about draining away all the flavor from the ginger and garlic. So this time, I cooked the meat 3/4 of the way, then drained it most of the way, then added the ginger and garlic, then finished cooking the meat.

The flavor was much brighter this way. You can see I also left the ginger and garlic in fairly big pieces. I also upped the amount of red pepper flakes. I’ve updated the recipe card

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and I’m definitely doing it this way from now on! Of course you can still use powdered ginger and/or garlic, rather than fresh.

I served it with rice, sesame seeds and chopped scallions, and of course more watermelon, and leftover zucchini, and some leftover raw broccoli from who knows when. Great little meal that went from a hunk of frozen beef to hot dinner in about 25 minutes.  

It didn’t hurt that, after I got my writing done for the day, I had spent a hour stapling welded wire to the garbage enclosure, and then an hour playing cow-catcher choo choo train with the girls in the pool. If you ever need to work up an appetite, this is a recommended method. 

And I helped myself to some more cold zucchini and squash, and it was even more delicious

It was a little bit of a hassle to fry all that zucchini and squash, but it was totally worth it. I hope you can tell I’m going to keep harassing you about this dish. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

I even remembered to take the dough out of the freezer. I am a golden god. 

 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

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.

 

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. 296: Never mind 5G, we have 6S

Friday! I just wrote one of these food posts, and I don’t know about you, but I’m totally ready for another one, cementing my notion that it would be best if I just settled into writing about food and nothing but food all the time.

There are, of course, plenty of people who do exactly this. In fact, they do far less food writing than I do. They write maybe one recipe a week, and it’s usually something like “Best Ever Summer Vacation Spice-’em-Up Celebration Wowzer Cake” and it’s, like, Betty Crocker red velvet cake mix plus a teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning (Amazon Associates link included), with eleven photos taken directly up the cake’s nostrils.  But they also send out bi-weekly newsletters with optimized RPM plugins and native lazy loading, plus of course their static homepage has Gutenberg blocks that’s always running various tag managers in parallel to implementing UTM parameters; and because of this, they’re earning $600 a day with the wowzer cake alone.

I don’t begrudge them at all. Every six months or so, I think, how hard could it be? I’ll just look into it and do some very simple, basic SEO things just to streamline the site a bit and attract more viewers. Just simple stuff. So I open a tab, and oop! I’m fifteen years old and I’m back in Mr. Stockwell’s physics class and the board is full of strange markings that mean nothing to me. I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about, but I started getting confused back in October, and now it’s June and it’s far, far too late to do anything about it. 

Inertia. I do remember learning about inertia. I guess that’s what we’re dealing with here. Plus also crying. Anyway, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
I truly do not remember. I don’t have any photos, and I know we went shopping on Saturday, so it probably wasn’t anything good. 

SUNDAY
Burgers, chips

Sunday we did a massive amount of yard work. Damien did all the glamorous parts, like scrubbing and vacuuming out the pool, fixing the back steps, and weed whacking the dog area so he could shovel poop so he could mow. Then he washed up and made supper. Such a prima donna, that man. Meanwhile I really carried the family by transplanting daisies and watering my strawberries and whatnot. Everybody works! 

MONDAY
Smoked chicken thighs, brats, chips, mac and cheese, watermelon, lemon meringue pie

Monday we finished up some projects and then I took the kids to the beach for the first time this year. Lovely little town pond. Less than lovely crowd, but maybe next time those particular folks will all have been sent into outer space by means of a richly-deserved fist. Memorial Day is often a little dicey.

For supper, Damien made his most excellent smoked chicken thighs with the spicy sugar rub. This rub is good on all kinds of meats, and you can adapt it however you want.

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The sugar caramelizes and gives the skin a terrific texture, and the sweet and spicy combo of the seasoning is so good with a cold beer.

He also made brats boiled in beer with onions and then grilled, served with chopped onions, and my friend Laina came over and brought some swanky, melty mac and cheese with gorgonzola, which I’ve been eating all week. 

We also had chips and watermelon, and Benny and I made a couple of lemon meringue pies.

This is a very simple recipe, with only a few ingredients. It’s not sophisticated, but it hits all the marks. 

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We decided to be fancy and pipe the meringue on, but we aren’t fancy enough to own a piping bag just now (sometimes we have one and sometimes we don’t. Nobody knows what causes this), so we used a plastic bag with a hole in it. Here was our inspiration:

And here were our results. They were a little. . . . cephalopodian. 

Also, I left both pies out in a warm kitchen and they got very weepy before dinner (a common problem around here). But they still tasted fine, and we had fun. Gonna eat outside as much as possible this summer! Gonna eat as much as possible this summer, in general. 

TUESDAY
Southwest chicken salad

Someone really needs to wrench the word “salad” away from me. There was a base of greens, but it was laboring under a very heavy load of many other things.

Delicious things! I drizzled olive oil on some chicken breasts and seasoned them heavily with something called “elote powder,” which I believe has powdered cheese, chili powder, cumin, salt, and some kind of very sharp citrus in it, and who knows what else. It’s very orange. Then roasted the chicken and cut it into chunks.

I also splurged on some of those little multicolored tomatoes, plus avocados cut into chunks, chopped bacon, corn, and corn chips, and some kind of creamy chipotle lime dressing, I forget what I got. There’s a salad dressing for every possible desire you could have.

I absolutely loved this meal. The bacon wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it certainly won me some friends. 

WEDNESDAY
Spiedies, french fries, sugar snap peas

Another great summer recipe I’m happy to be returning to. A little bit of effort in the morning, and you can tumble home half an hour before dinner and cook up a very tasty meal. 

The wild mint has come back, and Corrie was home from school with a momentary sniffle, so I sent her out to forage a giant handful, and we made the marinade together.

A wonderful marinade. Very sharp and summery and fresh. Olive oil, lemon juice, wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, a little sugar, a lot of fresh garlic, and a lot of fresh mint. 

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I had a nice fatty cut of pork and cut it into fairly big chunks, and let it marinate most of the day.

In the evening, pulled the meat out of the marinade, spread it on a pan, and added some large chunks of onion and bell pepper, and roasted it all.

I toasted some buns, spread them with mayo, and it was magnificent. The meat was incredibly tender, and had taken on tons of flavor.

You could add in cherry tomatoes and big chunks of mushroom, if you wanted. Spiedies are really supposed to be cooked on a skewer (the Italian word “spiedo” means “spit”), and that would be delicious, but this method turns out very well and saves a lot of time if you’re cooking for a crowd. 

We had french fries, which I heroically avoided in favor of sugar snap peas. And that definitely made up for the way I’ve been digging out handfuls of cold gorgonzola mac and cheese all week. That is how it works! 

THURSDAY
Omelettes

I do know how to cook omelettes. I just choose to make them like this, instead. 

Everybody had their choice of sausage, cheese, and mushroom, but nobody had the choice of whether or not I massacred their omelette. There were no survivors.

We also had orange juice from a can, and biscuits from a can. I took them out of the can and everything. 

FRIDAY

There’s fish in the freezer and a cabbage on the counter, and we do have limes and sour cream and salsa and tortillas, so I deduce I’m supposed to be making fish tacos. I guess I need to buy more avocados, though. That seems like a meal, right? Probably we have leftover corn chips.

Oh, I have one more picture in this week’s batch: A school lunch from earlier in the week, that really screams “June.” 

and here’s a picture of a recent school day breakfast 

Both total wins, because the breakfast has a protein (custard and meringue), fruit (lemon), milk (condensed), and grain (graham cracker crust), and is superior to last week’s breakfast, which was just popcorn, which is a whole grain, but also includes microwaving, which strips the nutrients of their healthful riboflavins, as I understand it from Mr. Stockwell’s physics class.

The lunch is even better, because it not only has a protein and is nut-free, it contains both salami (culturally enriching) and a secret message (“6S” spelled out in mustard, for “six salami”).

Well, goodbye. 

 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

 

Cheater's lemon meringue pie

I like a pie shell made from several cups of animal cracker crumbs whirred into a sandy texture, mixed with a stick of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt. Mix well and press into the pan.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie shell

For the lemon layer:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Mix together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

  3. Bake 10-15 minutes until the mixture has a little skin.

  4. While it's baking, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar until it has stiff peaks.

  5. When the lemon layer comes out of the oven, spread the meringue over the top and make a little peaks all over it with a fork or spatula.

  6. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another ten minutes or so until the meringue is slightly browned.

 

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice.