What’s for supper? Vol. 146: Tutto il Formaggio

What did we eat this week? Oh, wait till I tell you.

Recipe cards at the end.

SATURDAY

On Friday and Saturday, l’uomo and I went away! We did! It’s our anniversary this month. Twenty-one years, my friends, and it gets better and better. We had three days and two nights at the beach — longer than we’ve ever been kidless together since the day we got married — and enjoyed ourselves immensely. But I’m only gonna tell you about the food.

First night, he had the surf and turf

and I had about a bathtub’s worth of lobster formaggio.

Sharp, creamy, and wonderful. We also had lobster-stuffed mushrooms and lobster rangoon. We, um, we like lobster. I only ate half and then of course accidentally left my leftover package in the restaurant, rather than bringing it to the hotel and then accidentally leaving it in the mini fridge.

We staggered back to our room, with its sweet little ocean view balcony and there were champagne and strawberries waiting for us, plus a lovely little plate of cheeses and fruits

I’m finding it hard to believe that we ate this that same night, to be honest, after all that lobster. Maybe we ate it the next day? I do recall having a hearty breakfast the next day, and then we spent a lot of time clambering around on rocks gawking at tide pools and snickering over the people waiting in line to get into the Social Distortion concert. Someone had written BRIANNA I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU on one of the shuttered souvenir shops. And then there was this:

This has been my approach, as well, and it’s worked well for me. Hey, it’s the off season. And then more tide pools! Tide pools are the best. Look at all those little baby mussels!

We weren’t ready for dinner, as such, but a little light snack sounded all right, so we had some cocktails with a dozen oysters with plenty of horseradish, and a charcuterie board. I didn’t know what that was, but food that comes on boards has never yet disappointed me. This one was exceptionally good, with various dried meats, roast beef, pickled vegetables, sharp and tender cheeses, hot crusty bread, honey, fig paste, and the most amazing mustard.

It seems silly, but I can’t say enough about this mustard. It just transformed everything. Tell me about fancy mustards that you know about! I don’t even know what to search for, but I have a food processor and I want to be a part of this.

I think maybe it was now that we brought the strawberries out? And the other cheeses? What I’m trying to say is, salt air really gives you an appetite. We didn’t drink the champagne, because we never drink the champagne. We now have three bottles of champagne in the refrigerator, left over from last Valentine’s Day and also our 20th anniversary. I honestly don’t know why we keep buying it. If you want it, you can come over and get it. The mustard is all gone, though, so don’t get your hopes up.

Anyway, we had a nice time. Such a nice time. I love that man.

SUNDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

Back to life! Back to sandwiches without even a little bit of lobster in them. These particular sandwiches are a favorite around here. Slices of roast chicken or turkey, slices of tart green apples, bacon, thick cheddar cheese, and honey mustard on ciabatta rolls.

You can toast the whole thing for a few minutes if you like. Yum yum.

MONDAY
Various antipasti; suppli; linguine with ragu; lemon ices; pizzelle cannoli

So, on some random Monday in early October, we have a day off school for no reason and eat Italian food. Fine, it was for Columbus Day. Fight me.

We start with suppli, also sometimes called arancini. These are breaded, deep-fried balls of risotto with a core of melted mozzarella. YEAH, SORRY ABOUT COLUMBUS DAY. I’m so glad you don’t celebrate Columbus Day, because then you don’t have to eat suppli. They’re really not very good. They aren’t the food of the gods or anything. You wouldn’t wet yourself because of how meltingly fabulous they are. Don’t be silly.

When they’re frying, you don’t have to physically restrain yourself from reaching into the hot oil to grab a wonderful golden ball of glory

They don’t rest on the plate, fragrant and smiling, inviting you to break through the tender, crisp shell into the creamy risotto within

and when you break it open you won’t whimper with delight as the mozzarella meltingly swoons across your plate

It’s just food. It can’t possibly be that good, my stars. Get ahold of yourself.

We also had an assortment of antipasti, into which I put very little effort, because making suppli is exhausting, man. I cut several Bosc pears into wedges and wrapped them with paper-thin prosciutto, and that was nice. We also had various olives and marinated vegetables, cheeses, salamis, breadsticks, artichoke hearts, pesto, sun dried tomato bruschetta, and whatnot. Very pretty.

I knew I shouldn’t eat another suppli, but I did it anyway.

The night before, Damien had made his magnificent ragu, which is a tomato-less meat sauce with ground pork and beef, celery and carrots, garlic, lots of red pepper flakes, and tons of anchovies that just sort of melt. We briefly considered grinding up some pancetta, but life suddenly seemed short, so we went with a mere two meats. I haven’t written up a recipe card yet, so I’ll just link to the Deadspin recipe for now. You must try this. It’s so simple and so amazingly good.

Does it look like much? No, it does not.

But it smells and tastes like if pasta went to heaven, and this is who it gets to spend eternity with: ragu. I don’t know where me eating it fits into this cosmology, but there you are.

I had made a desultory supermarket search for cannoli shells, but quickly gave up and bought those snowflake-shaped pizzelle cookies

(photo from Wikimedia Commons)

and topped them with a scoop of simple cheese filling (ricotta with confectioner’s sugar and a little almond extract), shaved dark chocolate, and a few maraschino cherries. Nobody complained! But I forgot to take a picture.

And! I just found out this minute that you can actually make cannoli shells using pizzelle cookies. You put them in the microwave on high for 30-40 seconds and quickly roll them around something round, like a broom handle. They harden right up, and then you can fill them. What do you know! Next year in Jerusalem or what have you.

TUESDAY
More ragu on spaghetti and garlic bread

We had so much leftover food, I didn’t even need to cook more pasta. I just boiled some water and dunked the cooked leftover linguine in for a minute, swished it around, and then drained it. Good enough for the likes of us. We even had leftover garlic bread, which is unheard of in these parts.

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen and roasted Brussels sprouts

I’ve never had “real” ramen, but it’s on my list, and in the meantime, this is a happy little meal. In the morning, I sliced up a bunch of carrots on the wide blade of the cheese grater and put them in a bowl covered with vinegar and sugar. Then I soft boiled a dozen eggs, and then cooked up some boneless pork chops in olive oil until they were almost done, then sliced them thin and finished cooking them with soy sauce.

When it was dinner time, I re-heated the pork in the microwave and cooked up a big pot of ramen, and served it with the pork, the carrots, the eggs, plus some hot sauce (where did my sriracha sauce go? I don’t know) and sesame seeds and crunchy noodles. Good stuff. So many nice variations for Fancy Ramen Nite.

The Brussels sprouts were actually supposed to be part of the Italian meal, but the very idea of green vegetables had been forced vehemently out of my head by vengeful and jealous risotto god. I trimmed them and cut them in half, then mixed them up with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a shallow pan. Oh gosh, the crisp little charred leaves on the outside. Magnificent.

Roasting is by far my favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts. You could add bacon or balsamic vinegar or honey, but it doesn’t really need it.

THURSDAY
Beef barley soup and pumpkin date muffins

It suddenly got chilly and rainy after a weirdly hot and humid week, so I was glad I had put off making soup until Thursday. I do a nice, basic recipe: garlic, red onion, carrot, and beef, then beef broth, red wine, and diced tomatoes with the juice, then mushrooms and barley toward the end. You can make the whole thing in the Instant Pot pretty quickly, if you can’t leave it simmering on the stovetop.

 

I also made pumpkin muffins, the first of the season. These are so fast and reliable, with a cozy, spicy flavor, and you can add all kinds of friendly toppings — oats, almonds, wheat germ, or turbinado sugar. This time, I stirred some chopped dates that were lurking about in the cabinet for some reason.

These muffins always turn out wonderfully tender and moist. I got the original recipe from Allrecipes, but I use half the sugar it calls for, and they’re still quite sweet. We usually have these as a quick bread along with soups, or to put in lunches so I feel like a good mother, but you could increase the sugar (or not) and add cream cheese frosting for a pleasant dessert.

Of course you can use this recipe to make loaves, as well. We do muffins because it’s easier to keep track of carbs that way. Speaking of which: T1D kid has over six months under her belt and we haven’t killed her yet! High fives all around! She’s even running cross country now, the maniac.

FRIDAY
Pizza

We have a birthday! I have made some vague promises of a cake. We shall see.

5 from 1 vote
Print

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Vermonter sandwiches

Ingredients

  • ciabatta rolls
  • grilled chicken or turkey, sliced
  • crisp bacon
  • Granny smith apples, cored and sliced
  • cheddar cheese, sliced thickly
  • honey mustard sauce

Instructions

  1. Layer all sandwich elements on roll. If you like, toast the sandwich before adding the apple slices and honey mustard. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Cannoli filling

Use to fill cannoli shells, or put a scoop on top of pizzelle cookies. Top with shaved chocolate, rainbow sprinkles, maraschino cherries, etc. 

Ingredients

  • 32 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

5 from 1 vote
Print

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. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 15 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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 140: Is it too late to be Colombian?

Food! Still important. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Birthday party!

Birthday girl requested a cookout. We had a luau-themed party (and yes, I realize that a luau is a party, but the decorations were the only thing anywhere close to a luau, and that only in a passing and culturally insensitive way, so I’m calling it luau-themed. I know, nobody cares. I care.), and the kids got up early and made themselves a tiki bar for serving ice cream sodas.

I took the birthday girl and her friends to the beach, where we had it mostly to ourselves, possibly because of the driving rain. This happened last year, too. It’s okay with me.

She wanted the guests to decorate their own cupcakes. This, too, was okay with me!

SUNDAY
Cookout for home folks, Columbian feast for me

On Sunday, we went to Mass and, after Damien assured me they would eat food, I just scarpered. I drove down to Revere, which is right outside of Boston on the waterfront, and had a sleepover with my friends. Check it out: Melanie Bettinelli, Elisa Low, and Kyra Matsui.

Oh my gosh, we had so much fun. We found ourselves a tiny little Columbian restaurant called La Esquina del Sabor, where we were welcomed like honored guests. While we waited for our food, they treated us to empanadas and some kind of fried cheese with pineapple sauce

I don’t know what kind of cheese it was — it was sort of sweet and firm, but a little bit runny. Heavenly.  I will admit that I didn’t really know what I was ordering, but the whole place smelled so great, I didn’t think I could miss. It turned out to be a kind of Everything Soup

I could identify savory beans and possibly peas or lentils, sausage, big chunks of pork, I think fried plantains, possibly mango, avocado, and shoestring potatoes? on the top, with white rice and a fried egg on the side, and some kind of toasted flat bread. It was wonderful. Wonderful. It made me want to embrace the whole world and then fall asleep in its lap.

So then we stayed up until after 2 am drinking and laughing, slept late, woke up with the salt breeze coming in the windows, and sat on the bed eating baguettes and cheeses and grapes and salami with our coffee, and talking and laughing some more. That grey area in the window on the left is the ocean!

I had to drag myself away eventually, but Elisa and Kyra went on to many more adventures with more friends (and have visited at least two world class museums, so I fully expect another explosion of creativity). And what is the moral of this story? Internet friends are real friends. Oh, yes.

MONDAY
Bagel and egg sandwiches

I got home theoretically in time to make dinner, but all that scarpering wore me out, so the kids made supper. I mentioned ham, but had no takers.

TUESDAY
Chicken salad with walnuts and feta

This is how you actually eat that big box of mixed organic greens you keep buying and then not eating and then throwing away, by the way. Don’t plan to have salad on the side; made salad the main course.

I put the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with salt, pepper, and lime juice and set it to high pressure for about eight minutes, then did a quick release, let the chicken cool, and cut it up.

So we had mixed greens, chicken, diced red onions, toasted walnuts, and feta cheese. I had balsamic vinegar on mine, and it was very good.

Oh, and thanks to whoever suggested toasting nuts in the microwave! So much easier and less perilous than doing in in the oven. I just spread the nuts out on a plate (not even a single layer like you’re supposed to) and set it for two minutes, and they came out perfect. Toasted nuts make salads so much more exciting.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, fake Pringles, frozen peas

Wednesday, Lucy had her 3-month visit to the endocrinologist. We love our doctors, but man that is a long trip. Happily, she is doing just great. Here she is enjoying a post-visit treat, because diabetes care comes in many flavors.

THURSDAY
Chicken fajitas with salsa verde, yellow rice

I used to make chicken fajitas allll the time, a long time ago, and it was my signature Delicious Meal of Great Effort. So I was kind of excited about resurrecting this dish, even though I was just planning to use fajita seasoning packets. And what do you know, I’ve turned into a fancypants. It tasted fine; it just wan’t much to write home about.

I sliced up green peppers, red onions, and chicken breast, and marinated it in the spice mix for a few hours, then fried it up in some oil on the stovetop.

I made soooo much, thinking the kids would go gaga over it. I also thought I’d give them a treat by buying several boxes of that violently yellow “Spanish rice” stuff. Well, they didn’t care! Oh well.

I did make another batch of salsa verde, with tomatillos, onions, jalapenos, and lots of garlic

plus chicken broth, lime juice, a little sugar, and a ton of cilantro. Full recipe at the end.

I let it cook too long and it was very thick, but somehow I muscled through and ate . . . kind of a lot of it on the fajitas, with sour cream.

Fine, I like yellow rice from a box. I like it. I had taken the kids to the long-promised outdoor pool for almost three hours, and I was hongry. Then, after supper, I opened up a speech I’m giving next week, thinking it needed a little tweaking. It needed . . . a lot of tweaking. Thank goodness I ate all that salsa verde, to fortify me.

FRIDAY
Pasta and sauce

With a little bit of end-of-summer-panic on the side!

I guess I just have one recipe card to share today: The salsa verde. If anybody knows what kind of Columbian soup that was, hit me up with the recipe! I don’t think my family would eat it, but I just want to know.

Salsa verde

Ingredients

  • 10-12 tomatillos
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 10 cloves garlic with wrappers on
  • 1-2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • olive oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler. 

  2. Put unwrapped tomatillos, whole jalapenos, garlic cloves with wrappers on, and peeled, quartered onions in a shallow pan, and broil until slightly blackened - about 5 minutes. 

  3. Let the vegetables cool. Pull the wrappers off the garlic, cut the tops off the jalapenos (but leave the seeds and insides), and trim the ends off the onions.   

  4. Put all vegetables inside a food processor, and add a big handful of cilantro and 3/4 tsp sugar. Blend until it's pulpy. It will be runny.

  5. Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and add the vegetable mixture. Heat, stirring, until it thickens up a bit. 

  6. Add 3/4 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup lime juice and continue heating, stirring from time to time, until it thickens up again. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 128: My love language is pork.

We may be sabbages, but we’re sabbages who eat like kings. Here’s what we had (carb counts at the end): 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, tater tots, salad

I have no memory of Saturday. Oh wait, yes I do! I went to pick up the final kid from college. Hooray!

SUNDAY
Oysters, banh mi, grilled peaches with ice cream

Mother’s day! What a wonderful day I had. When we got back from Mass, we did some food prep, and then went for a hike in a nearby gorge. How I love gorges.

Did I mention all the kids are home?

I was showered with thoughtful gifts and attentions all day long. And gin!

For banh mi, we use this Serious Eats recipe, using onions instead of shallots – and, obviously, pork instead of steak this time. If you’ve never made banh mi before, there’s no way I can prepare you for the horrendous smell of the meat marinating in fish sauce. I sealed it up in a ziplock bag as fast as I could, but not before much gagging and groaning. It also stinks when you’re cooking it, so moving this show outdoors was a good plan.

We have always heretofore made banh mi inside in the oven, and I was a little concerned that thin slices of meat would fall through the grate, so I took the pork loin and hasselbacked it, cutting it into thin slices 3/4 of the way through, before marinating it for several hours.

It cooked up so nicely. Damien wrapped it loosely in foil and let it cook for a long time off to the side, not right over the coals, with the cover on and the vent open, until it was cooked all the way through

and then unwrapped it and put it right over the coals, and let it develop that gorgeous glazey finish.

Then it was easy to separate the meat the rest of the way into individual slices for the sandwiches. It was so moist and tender!

While it was cooking, I sliced some baguettes into thirds and toasted it. I had also made some pickled carrots in the morning (slice carrots thin, set to pickle in vinegar with a little sugar mixed it) and sliced up a bunch of cucumbers (I didn’t pickle them, because I wanted something cool in the sandwich) and chopped up a bunch of cilantro, and set out mayonnaise and sriracha sauce. I forgot the jalapenos, but the flavor was sufficiently intense and exciting. Just a wonderful sandwich, a real mouth party.

While we were waiting for the meat to cook, we had ourselves some oysters.

My husband bought enough for the kids to try one and reject it

and then we got to scarf down the rest in peace with tabasco sauce, horseradish, lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and beer. Look at that blue, blue sky.

And check out the fancy nubbly ice! I picked up a hand-cranked ice crusher at a yard sale last year. I’m basically a Proverbs 31 woman, what with the yard sales and the pickling. Damien also pronounced his new oyster gloves and knife (affiliate link) the best $15 he spent all week.

For dessert, I had my heart set on grilled peaches. It’s truly not peach season, and the selection of peaches reflected this fact, but my husband dutifully hunted some down. I split them in half and dug out the pits, and then set them to macerate in a mixture of melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon. I thought this might help them ripen up or something, I dunno. Then, after dinner, my husband grilled them over the coals

until they were lovely

and we served them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with chopped pecans. Someday, I’ll serve this again, but I’ll make a bourbon caramel sauce, and I’ll candy them pecans. For lady reasons I can’t explain, I had mine with Greek yogurt instead of ice cream.

It was good! The whole day was so good.

MONDAY
Pizza

Two pepperoni, two black olive, 16 inches each. I’m ready to face the fact that, with the college kids home, we’ve graduated into a five-pizza family.

This has nothing to do with food, but here was our morning at the pediatrician’s office.

They are contemplating all the poor sick people that are likely there today.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

On Tuesday, I gave a speech in the morning, and then we had a concert in the evening. Here’s the grouse I’m still cherishing: I dislike wistful pop songs about the glories of childhood and the misery of being a weary, cynical adult. I despise such songs all to billions of pieces when actual, current children are made to sing several of them in spring concerts. I’m still cranky enough about this to mention that the choir director position in our school is sort of like the drummer position in Spinal Tap, so maybe next year they children can sing songs written for children, rather than for people who spend their lives smoking weed and then wondering why adulthood is so disappointing. Bah!

There was cake after the concert, and I prepared by buying a lovely bakery cupcake for Lucy, so we’d know how many carbs there would be, and she could dose accordingly. Well, the label that looked like 31 carbs in the supermarket turned out to be 81 carbs right before she dosed up. Sheesh. I think that, before a kid gets diabetes, they should have the mom take a test that says, “Can you read? All the time, or just sometimes?” and if the answer is “sometimes,” then the kid should not be allowed to get diabetes.

WEDNESDAY
Southwest chicken salad

I wanted to recreate this excellent salad I got from McDonald’s. I did hear myself say that, and I stand by it.

Mixed greens, grilled chicken, avocado, shredded, spicy cheese, corn, black beans, red and green peppers, cilantro, fresh lime, and toasted tortilla strips, with a spicy ranch dresssing. Hooray, another pretty and delicious salad meal!

I always have a ludicrous backlog of tortillas in the house, so I was happy to take a ton of them and hack them into pieces. I mixed the strips up with a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I put them in a single layer in shallow pans and toasted them at 350 for about 25 minutes or more. I think the time has come for me to start buying chili lime powder.

For the corn, I intended to buy a few cans of ¡Mexicorn!, because it makes me giggle, but I came across a bag of frozen “Chipotle corn,” which comes with the beans and peppers and some kind of honey sauce. Easy peasy. I just let it defrost and set it out in a bowl. This meal is definitely going in the rotation. You can make everything ahead of time.

Oh, and I accidentally bought “taco cheese,” which I thought was cheese destined for tacos, but it’s actually seasoned with taco spices. You know what? It tasted good, so I’m going to buy it again, so there.

THURSDAY
Miso soup, brown rice with egg and pork floss, asparagus

So, I had these foods. Kyra sends me foods. I had this miso paste, which I definitely wanted, and then also this pork floss, which . . . I was reserving judgment about.

Pork floss, also known as “meat wool,” is pork that has been transformed into a sort of savory, gritty lint. So I says to myself, I says, you’re never too old to stop learning! Why don’t you look up some authentic recipes and find out how deliciously this gritty meat lint should be prepared in a way that, with a slight tweak of cultural expectations, will open broad new vistas of culinary delight?

Well, most of the recipes were like, “My grandfather used to put a scoop of it in some Wonder Bread and then ball it up, and then he would shout at me if I didn’t eat it in one bite” or “I guess maybe with porridge?”

So I settled for cooking some brown rice, sprinkling it with pork floss, and topping it with a fried egg.

Boy, it did not taste good. It tasted like pork in the same way as I look like my wedding picture: Clearly the same subject, and yet the alterations are undeniable, troubling, and profound.

I did feel a little well of schadenfreude bubble up in my arid soul. Ooh, ooh, Asian cuisine! Ooh, it’s so delicate and exquisite, so what do you know, you great cloddish westerner, with your big chomping face and your gurgling cheeseburger stomach?

Yeah, well, pork floss is Asian, and it’s garbage. It was like in Bonfire of the Vanities (RIP Tom Wolfe, by the way) where they’re so thrilled to discover their intimidatingly flawless nanny is a flaming racist. Phew!

We also had miso soup, which I love, and which you can tart up in all kinds of ways, but it’s really supposed to be simple. Exquisite, if you will. So I boiled some water, added some dulse (I don’t know what dulse is, either), mixed the miso paste with hot water and added that, then threw in some cubed tofu. If it hadn’t been a hot, muggy day, it would have been a great soup. As it was, it was a little bit challenging.

I also had some asparagus, which I steamed and served with lemon wedges. Guess what the kids ate? That’s right, bagels.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Probably gonna use this recipe doubled or tripled and top it with buttered bread crumbs.

And there it is.

***

Here come the carbs:

Banh mi, oysters, and peaches:

pork:0
2/3 cup fish sauce: 74

g 2 tbs minced garlic: 6
8 Tbs sugar: 100
1/2 cup onion: 8
_____
total pork and all sauce: 188, but of course you’re not eating all the sauce.
If she eats 1 tbs, that’s 11.75
bread: 1/3 baguette: 56
pickled carrots: 7
cukes: 1
———-
64
peaches: 7 per half peach
2 Tbs sugar: 25.2
1 Tbs cinnamon: 6
1 stick butter: 0
dash of salt: 0
olive oil: 0
31.2 divided by 12 = 2.6 per sauce on each half peach
pecans: 1/8 cup, 2 carbs
ice cream 1/2 cup, 15 carbs
_____
half sauced peach with 1/2 cup ice cream and 1/8 cup nuts: 26.6
102.35 total meal including dessert
***

pizza:

portland pie pizza dough beer 20 oz: 208
1/2 cup Reggano sauce: 13
3 cups shredded Happy Farmer mozzarella cheese: 12
olives: 0
Pepperoni: 0
—–
Total pizza: 233
1/4 pizza: 58.25

ice cream cone: 39

total meal: 97.25
***

Southwest chicken salad:

1/4 an avocado: 2.15 g
Season’s Choice Chipotle corn blend (corn, black beans, red peppers, poblano peppers in honey butter sauce): 3/4 cup 24 g

tortilla strips with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, 1 sm tortilla: 19
chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper: 0
spicy ranch dressing Tuscan Garden: 2 Tbs, 1 g
2 cups green leaf lettuce and baby spinach: 2g
Happy Farms taco style shredded cheese: 1/4 cup, 1g
1/4 lime: 1.75
cilantro: negligible

***

Miso soup meal (amounts are not scaled to serving size, because Lucy didn’t want any of it, so I stopped calculating)

Tbs miso: 5.3g

Maine Coast Sea Vegetables dulse: 1/3 cup, 3 g; whole bag: 24g
scallions:
Nasoya sesame ginger tofu: 8g per 8 oz package
Simply Nature quick cook brown rice: 3 cups uncooked: 408g
fried egg: 0
T&T dried pork floss: 6 Tbs, 11g
asparagus: .6g per spear
lemon: 5g per lemon
***
Mac and cheese:

3 lbs macaroni : 1008
Burman’s hot sauce: 0

6 Tbs butter: 0
3 Tbs mustard: 0
3 c milk: 39
1 lb Happy Farms pre-shredded mild cheddar: 16
24 oz Happy Farms aged New York sharp cheddar: 0
Total without breadcrumbs: 1063

Optional:

Hannaford Italian style bread crumbs: 1 cup, 80 g
butter: 0

Total with breadcrumbs: 1143

What’s for supper? Vol. 124: We put the bap in bibimbap

Another week under our belts, literally! Here’s what we had. At the end of the post, I’ll list the carb count for each meal, more or less.

SATURDAY
Bagel sandwiches with egg, cheese, and sausage

An easy, agreeable meal for yet another miserable, rainy, snowy, unreasonable day, which the menfolk spent climbing around on the roof to satisfy the insurance company.

SUNDAY
Bibimbap

Such a stupendous meal. The night before, I took a pork loin and cut it as thinly as I could, then set it to marinate with some prepared gochujang sauce. Sadly, I had no plain gochujang (which I have since rectified. Affiliate link!), so the flavor wasn’t as intense as I wanted. Then I browned up the meat in some olive oil while the rice was cooking.

I also set out the following dishes:

Sliced mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with soy sauce
Spinach sauteed in olive oil
Bean sprouts
Plain and sriracha-flavored sesame seeds
Wasabi sauce
Gochujan sauce
Soy sauce
Quick-pickled sliced carrots and mini cucumbers

I meant to add sesame oil to the sauteed foods, but I forgot.
Everyone put rice in their bowls and then added as many ingredients as they wanted, then reported to me for a fried egg on top.

To make the pickled vegetables, I sliced the mini cucumbers thin and used the wide slot of the vegetable grater to make carrot strips. (I need a food processor!) I covered them with white vinegar and stirred in about half a cup of sugar, covered it, and let it sit all day. I did this in the morning, and they were nice and zippy by dinnertime. The kids love these.

Bibimbap is just a giant bowl of savory wonderful happiness with little treats all through it.

Once you get down to the rice, you just keep adding more ingredients in different combinations. Or at least I do!

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, hot pretzels

This is one of the most frustrating parts about relearning how to cook while keeping track of carbs: I can’t eyeball stuff like soup anymore; and if I happen to have weird ingredients on hand, I’ll have to recalculate the carbs all over again next time. Oh well. In the old days, if someone had T1 diabetes, the only treatment available was to restrict calories, and sometimes people would die of starvation instead of diabetes. So boo hoo, I have to adjust my soup recipe.

Here’s the recipe I came up with:

Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil and saute one diced red onion, 1 Tbs minced garlic, and two diced carrots.
When they begin to soften, add beef trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (I think I had about 2.5 pounds).
When beef is browned, add 2 small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and 1 cup Shiraz, 5 cups of beef broth, and about twelve ounces of sliced mushrooms. 
If you’re cooking on the stovetop, add 1/2 a cup of uncooked barley and simmer for about 40 minutes. I was using my Instant Pot, so I added the barley, sealed it, opened the vent, and set it for “soup,” then let it just cook itself the rest of the day. Add salt and pepper before serving.
I added some water, too, but this turned out to make it thinner than I wanted. It made a little less than a gallon of soup.

We also had hot pretzels, which everyone likes. Benny and Corrie were in charge of the salt, and their general approach is WOOHOOOO!

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, beans, cheezy weezies

Nothing to report.

WEDNESDAY
Terrible tahini chicken, rice, pineapple

I was sorrrrrt of following a recipe from the NYT? I was so thrilled because it said it was everyone’s favorite chicken thighs, and it only had five ingredients, and you just put the sauce on the chicken and cook it! So easy! No gathering purselane by moonlight or using special hand-braided cooking twine to whip the meat into tenderness before slowly poaching it over a steaming sea sponge while a bowl of fertilized quail eggs looks on. Of course, they did describe it as having a “salty, fungal deliciousness,” but that did not deter me.

Well, I couldn’t find miso for sale. I did a quick inquiry in the supermarket and discovered that there’s no real substitute for miso, which is fermented soybean paste, but sometimes people use tahini, so that’s what I got. And it said to use plain rice vinegar, not seasoned rice vinegar, but I used seasoned rice vinegar anyway, because Sim Sifton’s not the boss of me. And salted butter instead of unsalted.

WELL, that chicken wasn’t very good. It sure wasn’t. It came out of the oven looking intriguingly like a tray of toasted marshmallow thighs

and they tasted like . . . hot mealy peanut butter? And mud. Not great. Luckily, the chicken itself has no carbs, so Lucy just scraped the crap off the top, ate the chicken, and made up the carbs with some waffles or something.

We had white rice and fresh pineapple on the side.

And now there’s a giant platter of rejected chicken hulking in the fridge making me feel bad.

THURSDAY
Cheese pizza

Did I mention that this week was spirit week? That’s when the school drums up energy and excitement by making parents make fourteen quick stops to Walmart, and the kids can go to school disappointed and angry and slightly loopy on pink hairspray fumes. There’s color day, dress-up or twin day (when you dress up as twins with someone else. One of the kids decided to dress up as Dipper from Gravity Falls, because he is a twin. We let it ride), crazy hair or hat day, favorite character day, and of course pajama day.

So Thursday was character day, and dear sweet Benny wanted to be Amelia Bedelia. Here she is:

So I’m making the pizzas, and we calculated that Lucy could have three pieces, which is a quarter of a large pizza. I thought it would be funny to let her have it in a big slab, rather than cutting it up; so I let everyone have a big slab. Same amount of pizza, of course, just not cut into individual slices. Lucy (here dressed as Tonks, sort of) thought this was moderately amusing:

Guess which kid was upset because she only got one piece of pizza instead of three? That’s right, the one dressed up as Amelia Bedelia. File under “things any halfwit could have anticipated.” We gave her extra pizza, and yes, I promised her a lemon meringue pie at some point, so she’ll keep me around.

FRIDAY
Sourdough grilled cheese, salad

Haven’t worked out the carbs yet. I’m stalling. We had a bit of a scare yesterday. A combination of too many sugary carbs without enough fiber and fat, a slightly weird meal schedule, and extra running around, and Lucy’s blood sugar kept dropping and dropping, even after she ate dinner. So, BOO DIABETES. Boo. Argh. We did finally get her stabilized, but it was scary. But we’ll figure it out.

And now for the carb counts!

Last week I posted before I had worked out the carbs for mac and cheese, but I have them now, so I’ll include them here.

If you’re using these recipes to work out your own carb-counting diet, please note that carb counts can vary by brand, especially in things like sauces, so caveat comendenti, or something. Most of the ingredients I use are from Aldi, FYI. Right now, Lucy’s dinner carb target is 95 grams. If she falls short, we make it up with odds and ends. If she goes over, we give her extra insulin. I try to make low carb dinners on weekends so she can have dessert without going too far over the target.

THE CARBS

Bagel, egg, cheese, sausage sandwiches:

L’Oven Fresh everything bagel: 52
fried egg: 0.6
butter: 0
Breakfast Best maple flavor sausage patty: 3
Happy Farms white American cheese singles, 1 slice: 2
total: 57.6 carbs

***

Bibimbap:

I didn’t work out the carbs for this whole meal, because Lucy only wanted rice, pickled veg, and an egg. Here are those numbers:

rice 1 cup cooked: 45 g
one carrot and one mini cuke, pickled in vinegar and sugar: 10 g (this was hard, because it was pickled with sugar, but how much actually got into the vegetables? I just had to take a guess)
egg: 0

***

Beef barley soup and hot pretzel:

olive oil: 0

medium red onion:11
1 Tbs minced garlic: 3
salt: 0
ground pepper, 1 tsp: 1.5
beef: 0
mushrooms 12 oz (about 20 small to medium mushrooms): 11
2 carrots, about 7 inches each: 12
beef broth: 5
1 cup Shiraz: 8
5 cups beef bouillon from Chef’s Cupboard cubes: 5
(3 cups water)
Happy Harvest diced tomatoes with juice, 29 oz (2 cans): 34
1/2 cup barley (uncooked): 74
Total: 159 carbs for about 14 cups of soup (almost one gallon)
11.36 carbs per cup of soup

Hot pretzels – Hannaford baked soft pretzels: 34 g each

***

Hot dogs, cheese puffs (she didn’t want beans)

2 hot dogs Classic Parkview brand: 8
2 Aldi buns: 46
2 Tbs ketchup: 10
Clancy’s cheese puffs: 1.5 cups: 17

Total: 81

***

Terrible tahini chicken:
tahini 1 cup: 64 carbs
chicken: 0
butter: 0
4 Tbs honey: 68 carbs
rice vinegar: 2 Tbs 10 grams
____
Total recipe: 142 for 16 chicken thighs
each thigh: 8.88
Rice: 37 carbs per cup
Doesn’t like pineapple
***
Homemade cheese pizza with garlic crust:1 20-oz. ball of garlic pizza dough, Portland Pie Company : 520
1/2 cup Reggano traditional pasta sauce: 13
Happy Farms shredded mozzarella, 3 cups: 12

Total 16 inch pizza: 545
12 pieces, each: 45.42
136.26 for three pieces (1/4 of a pizza)
Note: This is high for pizza, considering how small the slices are. Either the garlic-flavored crust is especially carby, or the sauce is, or maybe I made a mistake. I dunno. Normally, you can figure that a slice of pizza is about 35 carbs.

***

Instant Pot mac and cheese:

I used this recipe, scaled up (which made a ludicrous amount of food. I won’t do that again! Double at most), and added buttered bread crumbs.

3 lbs macaroni : 1008
Burman’s hot sauce: 0

6 Tbs butter: 0
3 Tbs mustard: 0
3 c milk: 39
1 lb Happy Farms pre-shredded mild cheddar: 16
24 oz Happy Farms aged New York sharp cheddar: 0
Total without breadcrumbs: 1063

Optional:

Hannaford Italian style bread crumbs: 1 cup, 80 g
butter: 0

Total with breadcrumbs: 1143

 

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

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

SATURDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips, strawberries

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

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


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

***

SUNDAY
Salmon burgers, asparagus, fries

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

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

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

Veddy good.

MONDAY
Hot dogs, cheezy weezies, broccoli

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

TUESDAY
Meatball subs, salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t it lovely, hmmmm?

The insides were a little dense,

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

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

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

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

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

It did look better in individual bowls.

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

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

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

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, Brussels sprouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EDIT: Oh, what a good boy.

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

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

Done-zo.

What’s for supper? Vol. 119: It is almost March.

Well, it’s February and everything is terrible. That’s my excuse for letting things languish around here. Someone spilled something on my computer again, and the quick and easy warranty process only took eleven steps and nine years to complete. Everyone is throwing up. Corrie is hallucinating sad gazebos in the heating vent, and won’t drink Pedialyte or breast milk, only tonic water (Schweppes). If I were in charge of the liturgical calendar, I would put Lent in a month where it wasn’t already so bloody obvious that everything will return dust, but what do I know. Anyway, soon it will be March. Right? Soon?

And, now that I have a computer again, we’ll have our podcasts up and running again asap. Thanks for your patience with that. We’ll also be transferring archives to iTunes and opening them up for non-subscribers, so stay tuned, you stay-tuners!

And now for the food.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers and chips

Husband makes good cheeseburgers.

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi, rice, spicy grilled pineapple

I’ve been thinking about banh mi forever, and the time was right. The recipe I used calls for beef, but pork is cheaper, and pork takes on more of the flavor. For this meal, I go around warning everyone that it smells like the Grim Reaper’s jock strap while it’s cooking, but the taste is really very good! This will demonstrate my marketing skills.

I took about four pounds of boneless pork loin, trimmed the fat, and sliced it as thin as I could. Then (this was actually Saturday night that I did this prep work) I put it in a ziplock bag with the marinade, which was:

2/3 cup fish sauce (this is where the “death crotch” smell comes in)
8 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs minced garlic
one onion, minced
a bunch of freshly-ground pepper

So this marinated about twenty hours in the fridge. I also pickled some vegetables ahead of time. I sliced about half a pound of carrots and two long, seedless cukes thin, and set them in jars with a mixture of water, white vinegar, and sugar. I wish I had added more sugar, and I kind of wish I had left the cukes unpickled. There were so many savory, spicy flavors, the sandwiches could have used more cooling.

Before dinner, I spread the meat and most of the marinade in a single layer and slid it right up under a very hot broiler. I turned the meat once so it got a little charred on the edges.

I toasted a bunch of sub rolls, and coarsely chopped a bunch of cilantro; and I mixed about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce into a cup of mayonnaise. I also set out plain mayo, and some jarred jalapeno slices.

Sublime sandwiches. Just the best. You line the bread with mayo, pack it with pork, then stuff the pickled vegetables in the sides, and sprinkle cilantro over the top. If you do the prep work the night before, this meal comes together in a very short time.

I also made a bunch of white rice in my Instant Pot (affiliate link. I’ll make a small commission if you click through and buy one!), using the 1:1 method. (I took five cups of rice and rinsed it clean in a colander, then put them in the IP with five cups of water. Close the top, close the vent, and press the “rice” button. It automatically sets the time, and this rice comes out springy and a little sticky, which is how I prefer it for asian meals.)

The pineapple was pretty good, not excellent. I’ll try again in the summer, when we can use a real outdoor grill. I sliced two pineapples (does everyone know the easy way to process fresh pineapple?) into long spears, then tossed them with a sweet, spicy sauce made of 3/4 of a stick of melted butter, about half a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, and a little salt. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of butter, and maybe less honey.

I put them on a greased pan with drainage and put them up under the broiler while we were putting the sandwiches together. It took much longer than I expected for the pineapple to get singed — maybe twelve minutes, after I turned them once.

I liked the flavor a lot, and the slightly firey honey taste was a great accompaniment to the banh mi; but they got a little too soft during that cooking time. As I say, next time we’ll cook them over the coals. They were not bad cold the next day — almost candy-like. Weird, juicy candy.

The meal also made nice leftovers for lunch, with a bowl of rice topped with meat and veggies warmed up. Yum.

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pesto beer bread

I diced an onion and about five carrots, then put them in the IP with about a tablespoon of minced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used the saute setting until they were a little soft, then added about a pound-and-a-half of cubed beef. When the beef was brown, I pressed “cancel,” then added two small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a cup-and-a-half of red wine, and seven cups of beef broth. Then I added one of those little packets of mixed grains from Aldi, closed the lid, sealed the vent, and set it on high pressure for eleven minutes.

There is a “soup” button, but I’m too old to learn how to use it. Anyway, this turned out swell, and only got the one pot dirty. I left it on “stay warm” for the rest of the day.

I have had this little jar of pesto in the cabinet forever, so I decided to add it to this good old reliable beer bread recipe. I made two loaves. It was . . . okay. I guess I like pesto and I like beer bread, but they don’t do much for each other.

I mean, I ate it. I ate a lot of it.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos with guacamole, tortilla chips

Pretty guac, how I love thee. I could have eaten just guacamole for supper.  Four avocados coarsely chopped, about a cup of grape tomatoes, the juice of two limes, lots of salt, some chili powder and freshly-ground pepper, a few teaspoons of minced garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro. I only had jarred jalapenos, so I minced about 1/8 cup of them, and it worked out fine. I forgot onions, but didn’t really miss them. Zippy and good.

GUAC PIC

We also had shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges with frozen fish and flour tortillas.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, tater tots

This was when the throwing really gathered speed.

THURSDAY
Chicken and salad, fresh croutons

Not everyone was sick, so we still needed food. I just doused the chicken in Italian salad dressing and shoved it under the broiler, sliced it, and served it with some bagged salad mix.

CHICKEN SALAD PIC

We had tons of bread left over from this and that, so I cut up a bunch of it into cubes, mixed it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder, and put it in a pan in a 300 oven for about forty minutes. Everybody likes croutons.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. We’ll see whose tummy is ready for that.

Oh, there was no food post last week, but I do have a few photos to share. The birthday girl went sledding with her friends, and then Elijah genially manned the hot chocolate bar when they got home.

Our hot chocolate recipe: For each mug of hot chocolate, you put into a heavy pot: one heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and two heaping tablespoons of sugar, and stir it up with a little water. You heat this paste until the sugar melts a bit, and then slowly add the milk, plus a little vanilla if you like. I made two crock pots’ worth of hot chocolate, and the guests could choose whipped cream, marshmallows, and rainbow sprinkles.

Decorations were just paper snowflakes on threads, but I liked how the cake turned out. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, then laid a paper snowflake on it and used one of those squeeze sifters (affiliate link) to sift powdered sugar over it. Then I carefully pulled the paper off. Ta dah!

It would have been lovely as is, but the birthday girl requested little candy balls, so we added those on the edge. This stencil technique is great if you want a complicated design but have shaky hands. Whatever design you want, google that + silhouette, then print it out and cut it out carefully. Then go ahead with the frosting and sugar as above. Very dramatic, and almost no skill required.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you, but now I forget. It is almost March, right?

What’s for supper? Vol. 111: Make America grate again

I have a doctor’s note that says I don’t have to write a pointless introduction today. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Aldi was out of those wonderful sourdough loaves, so we had our sandwiches on ordinary bread. It was sadder than I expected. Thank goodness there were pickles.

***

SUNDAY
Pork gyros

New recipe!  Pork gryos from the New York Times. And it’s a doozy. I found myself standing in the kitchen on a Sunday morning, still in my pajamas, and grating a tomato. Worth it. (I had purposely bought large, firm tomatoes for this recipe.) The marinade (olive oil, lemon juice, grated onion and grated tomato, minced garlic, paprika, salt and pepper, and fresh oregano leaves) on its own is extremely delicious, and would not be out of place as bruschetta topping.

So you slice the pork shoulder thin, marinate it, add a quartered onion, and roast the meat and onion in a shallow, oiled pan at 450 for 40 minutes or so. When it was close to being done, I took a rocking knife and broke it up a bit, then put it back in the oven, and then used the broiler toward the end to crisp it up a bit. I wish I had sliced it even thinner so it roasted up a little more crisply, but we were too hungry to keep messing with it. It was fantastic.

I gave the kids plain pita bread, because I’m lazy, but Damien browned up a few pitas in olive oil for the two of us. Lordy. I served it with triangles of cucumber, grape tomatoes, crisp french fries, hot sauce, and a basic yogurt sauce (Greek yogurt with lots of minced garlic, lemon juice, and a little salt). If you’re somehow not familiar with gyros, you wrap everything, even the french fries, up in the warm pita bread

and just cram in into your face.  You look at your husband, who is doing the same, and you just nod wordlessly at each other as you chew. Gyros.

I think the NYT recipe is locked, but really all you need to know is the marinade ingredients for 2.5 pounds of pork shoulder:

  •  Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium-size tomato
  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, approximately 5 sprigs

One onion is for the marinade, and the other gets quartered and added to the meat when you cook it. Next time, I’ll get more fresh oregano to sprinkle on top, or maybe some mint leaves. I made a double recipe, which was juuuuuust enough for everyone.

***

 

MONDAY
Roasted kielbasa, cabbage, red potato, cauliflower

Everyone except my husband likes this dish. I was extremely hungry while shopping, and this head of cauliflower looked amazing to me (?), so I cut that up and added it to the mix. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t out of place, either. I love the texture of roasted cauliflower, as long as I’m not required to pretend it’s rice or pizza dough or some friggin thing.

Here’s the recipe from Budget Bytes. Cheap, tasty, and very easy to prep right before dinner time, and it’s a true one-pan meal. I like the sauce, but reduce the amount of oil by quite a bit.

This is an old picture, sans cauliflower, plus parsley. I remember being very proud of that parsley.

***

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup

In this topsy turvey world in which we live in, steak is cheaper than stewing beef, so I got a few pounds of steak. Cubed it and sautéed it gently in the Instant Pot with a little olive oil, a diced onion, a tablespoon or more of minced garlic, a few diced carrots, and oregano and fresh pepper. When the meat was brown, I added three small (15 oz?) cans of tomatoes with the juice, about eight cups of beef broth, and about 15 oz of sliced mushrooms. When the vegetable were all soft, I added some more water, about a cup of red wine, and about a cup of barley, and gave that a little boil until the barley was soft (probably half an hour or more).

I like adding wine toward the end of soup-making, so you can really taste it. That may be uncouth, but I like it. Also, I kept eating this soup for lunch for the rest of the week, and the barley and the broth just kept improving.

It was the first night of Hanukkah, so I planned to make potato latkes, but it turned out that doing the Advent wreath, the Jesse tree, and the menorah was enough to keep me busy on a Tuesday night, so we had bread and butter.

***

WEDNESDAY
English muffin pizzas, salad

I have no memory of Wednesday. Something about cheese.

***

THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, tater tots

I actually took a nap before supper, and then decided someone who was that tired could legitimately be excused from making another salad.

***

FRIDAY
I think mac and cheese?

There’s no end of cheese in the house from various dinners, so I’ll use this yummy and reliable recipe from Copy Kat for Instant Pot mac and cheese. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll put it in a casserole dish and add some buttered bread crumbs on top.

And it’s my birthday! I’m 43. I’m sitting here on the couch sharing a blanket with my curly-headed toddler, watching Masha and the Bear, still feeling nicely full from the special breakfast my husband made me before he left for work, and looking forward to presents and cheesecake tonight. Muy contento. We’re super busy this weekend, so I’m gonna request a birthday outing in January to see the Winslow Homer oil exhibit in Worcester. Eeee!

What’s for supper? Vol. 107: I’m chicken my privilege

This week, I managed to use leftovers from a previous meal in every single new meal. Some of this was planned, some was felicitous. Some was just scallions.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Fancy hot dogs, chips, salad

It’s amazing how a few toppings can transform a hot dog meal from shameful to splendid. I got cheapo hot dogs for the kids and Nathan’s for them as appreciate Nathan’s, and I set out ketchup and mustard, of course, and also diced cucumbers, thin-sliced pickles, diced tomatoes, pickled peppers, diced onions, and celery salt for Chicago-style hot dogs, and crumbled blue cheese, hot sauce, and chopped scallions (left over from last week) for Buffalo dogs. Yum yum.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas, beans and rice

#1 son has been asking for this dish for a while, and not just so we can quote Dr. Marvin Rubdown.

I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I cooked six giant, recklessly seasoned chicken breasts in olive oil

and, after shredding them, set aside the meat from two of them for later. I had thirty-two large tortillas, and, because the gods are cruel, enough fillings for thirty-one enchiladas.

In my neverending but alwaysfutile quest to have more than enough onions for the enchiladas, I diced and sautéed seven onions. I rushed them a bit, so they didn’t really caramelize, but they were still luscious. You cook them up in the chickeny oil, using the same pan.

I shredded up about two pounds of cheddar cheese, which wasn’t quite enough. The enchiladas were a little skinny, to be honest; but also to be honest, I actually like eating up the slightly soggy folded ends of tortillas.

We went through two large cans of green enchilada sauce and two large cans of red. Some tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro on the top. Or maybe it was scallions, I forget.

Lackluster photo, completely delicious food. I had other plans for Sunday, but the all-devouring enchiladas ended up taking all day to make. Next time, I may try stacked enchiladas, where you use the same ingredients, but just layer them in a pan, rather than rolling them. I want enchiladas, but I want my life back, too.

We had leftover rice from last week, so I mixed it up with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles and some of the juice, a can of drained black beans, some jarred, sliced jalapeños, and bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt. I feel like there must have been other ingredients, but I sure can’t remember them now. It was tasty, and I was proud of not just throwing down a bag of chips.

***

MONDAY
Ham, baked potatoes, peas

Monday is our crazy-go-nuts day, and so we had a meal than involved taking things out of the bag and making them hot. No complaints.

Oh, and we had some yogurt sauce left over from last week’s turmerific chickepea chicken. It smelled okay, so I daringly slathered it on my baked potato with some scallions, and holy cow, it was so good. It was Greek yogurt with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, leftover enchiladas

Feeling like a genius, I took the leftover chicken out of the fridge and vaulted straight through to the quick and easy part of this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I didn’t have any masa or cornmeal, so I just decreased how much water I added, and it was plenty thick. Only one child refused to eat it because it turned out the tortilla strips weren’t noodles. Avocado on soup is a revelation.

There were, as I expected, still some enchiladas left, so we had those instead of the rice or corn bread I’d usually make as a side dish. It was a lot of the same flavors as the soup. Not a problem.

***

WEDNESDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches with olives and pepperoni

Sometimes these turn out delicious, and sometimes they’re kind of bleh. This time the gods ordained that we should have bleh. I used sourdough bread, but I think a softer bread, like potato, would have worked better.

You brush the outside of the sandwich with butter mixed with garlic powder and oregano or basil, and then the inside of the sandwich is sauce on both slices of bread, with cheese and toppings (well, fillings) in the middle. I think I was just yelling so much on Wednesday that nothing was going to taste good. Anyway, I made supper.

For very thick grilled sandwiches, I like to grill them until they look right on the outside, then slide them into the oven for a while so the cheese melts all the way and everything’s hot enough.

***

THURSDAY
Fancy ramen

Yep, I planned a weekly menu that included both “fancy hot dogs” and “fancy ramen.” We’re just that fancy!

I’m always amazed at how popular this dinner is, how cheap, and how fast. It took less than half an hour from stepping into the kitchen to saying grace.

I had a few pounds of boneless pork ribs, and I just browned them in olive oil, then sliced them in thin squares. Then I soft-boiled a dozen eggs and heated up some frozen stir fry vegetables. Then I cooked up a bunch of chicken ramen, just using the little flavor packets, and set the ramen out with all the other stuff in separate bowls, plus some leftover chopped scallions. Tasty and satisfying.

This is a photo from previous ramen. I forgot to get the pics of current ramen off my son’s phone.

Sometimes we add soy sauce, hot sauce, sriracha sauce, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or crunchy chow mein noodles, or stir in some spinach. You can make all kinds of fancy sauces and add extra seasonings for the pork, but simple is also great.

This kind of choose-your-own-adventure meal is a great way of compromising with kids. You prepare all kinds of wonderful foods, but set them out separately, and let the kids choose what they like. That way, you don’t have to cook a separate meal for picky people, but you don’t have any horrible battles over “just try one bite.” I generally offer what I consider food every single time, and the picky kids gradually, casually decide on their own to start trying it, even if only because they don’t like feeling left out.

***

FRIDAY
French toast?

I’m sort of pre-resting on the laurels I’ll win next week for Thanksgiving, so I don’t care what’s for supper today.

I will probably skip What’s For Supper? next Friday, because everyone is eating more or less the same thing, right? Here’s the planned menu so far:

Turkey with stuffing and gravy
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes stuffed with dates, blue cheese, and walnuts
Cranberry walnut bread
Parker house rolls
Cranberry sauce in the shape of a can
Olives and pickles
Apple pie, pumpkin pie, maybe salted bourbon pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie with ice cream and fresh whipped cream
Wine and apple cider
And don’t forget! Pie crust is a million times easier and better when you freeze the butter and shred it before incorporating it into the flour.

What’s for supper? Vol. 106: Thaint Thylvethter, pray for uth

Imagine an introduction here, won’t you? Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Us old folks WENT AWAY TO THE OCEAN. It was, as I’ve mentioned, our 20th anniversary, and we had a quick getaway. It was wonderful.

 

As we pulled out of our driveway on Friday night, my husband apologized profusely and then asked me to read him a letter from the ACLU to the Board of Alderman protesting the unconstitutionality of a proposed ordinance to require candidates to disclose the names of donors who help pay legal fees for an individual suing the city. Then he dictated a news brief about it, and I typed it out and we edited together in the dark as we drove south. This will give you an idea of how hard it is to switch gears into leisure mode. But we did it!

And oh, did we eat a lot. For dinner, the bacon-wrapped scallops arrived at the table still sizzling heroically in the pan, and then I ordered a lovely crab roll with gruyere. Luckily, the band was loud enough to cover the sound of Siri telling me how to pronounce “gruyere” to the waiter. Damien had some kind of good steaky thing, and we had cocktails until our brains caught up with the idea that we were on vacation. The fireplace and jacuzzi didn’t hurt, either.

Next morning, we had brunch out on the terrace with the bay sparkling below on two sides, the seagulls coasting past, and the trees fluttering in a breeze that was just stiff enough to scare away all the other guests, who kept getting their sorority hair in their mouths. I had a bagel with smoked salmon, chive cream cheese, copious capers, and vegetables, and Damien had eggs benedict with lobster, and a bloody mary.

We spent a contented day just wandering around this sweet little town, looking at stuff they don’t have any of back home. A very happy day. We had a late lunch of some beer with a dozen raw oysters. I ordered a cajun seafood bisque and a “tower of garlic bread,”

and Damien had some kind of good steaky thing, and candied bacon, which arrived on some kind of ridiculous bacon gallows.

We even had dessert! I had some kind of pumpkin praline cheesecake affair, and Damien had some kind of cavalcade of chocolate thing.

 

We came home late bearing pizzas, and the kids had cleaned the house like we told them to, and no one was dead. Good deal.  They got salt water taffy.

***

SUNDAY
Cheese burgers and chips 

We had to scramble and get caught up from our leisurely Saturday. We still had pumpkins to carve and costumes to finish, and I had cleverly scheduled two dentist appointments on HALLOWEEN MORNING, and two more the next day! I feel like there was a sleepover in there, somewhere, too. We just pretty much swore off sleeping for the week, and I steadfastly ignored no fewer than six volunteer sign-up sheets for parties. Also one kid suddenly had to be Louis XVI for something completely unrelated to . . . anything, as far as I could tell.

***

MONDAY
Zuppa Toscana and beer bread

Blustery wind and rain all day, and we were one of the few areas that didn’t lose power, so I felt very smart for choosing this cozy meal.

For the soup: I squeezed the meat out of about two pounds of sweet Italian sausages and browned it up with lots of minced garlic and diced onions. Then I added eight cups of chicken broth, some red pepper flakes, and four large potatoes sliced in thin wedges with the skin, and simmered it for a while. Then I filled up the pot with chopped kale, covered it, and waited for it to magically shrink down where it belongs. Then I added a whole quart of half-and-half, and let it cook for the rest of the day.

You can add bacon, and you can thicken this soup up with a little flour if you like, but it’s splendid as is, and so simple.

I made this easy, excellent beer bread again, and it turned out great. I made two loaves, with a bottle of Corona and a can of some kind of summer ale, and it turned out sharp and sour, which I love. This is the breadiest quick bread I have ever found.

***

TUESDAY
Halloween!
Hot dogs and Doritos

Gobbled down quickly as we raced to get costumes on. Here’s the gang this year:

Moe was a hungry vampire:

who nevertheless needs to keep in touch with folks:

Clara was a cheerful vampire:

and Benny was a vampire queen:

with somewhat loose teeth.

Elijah was Dr. Eggman:

Sophia was a fall fairy:

Lucy was Squirrel Girl:

and Irene was Rey:

Corrie was Wonder Woman earlier in the day

but by the time it was evening, she had become a puppy:

This year, I splurged on those fancy individual fangs that stick to your actual canines, but boy, were they a lot of trouble. Benny had lost her second front tooth in the morning, and her mouth was too raw for adhesive, so I got fanged up myself.

They weren’t really uncomfortable, but I sounded unspookily like Sylvester the Cat.

***

WEDNESDAY
Deconstructed pork shish kebab

This is usually one of those “why is this so unreasonably delicious?” meals, but not this time. Either I skipped too many good ingredients in the marinade, or I didn’t let it marinate long enough, but there just wasn’t that much flavor. Or maybe I just have a cold and can’t taste anything. Oh well. In the past, I’ve used this spiedie marinade from the NYT, which is fabulous.

I cut up a bunch of boneless pork ribs into chunks, and mixed them up with chunks of green pepper, red onion, and mushrooms, and spread it all, with the marinade, in shallow pans in a 450 oven until they were cooked, then I charred the edges under the broiler for a second.

***

THURSDAY
All Soul’s Day: Eggs in purgatory and soul cakes

My little joke. Usually, liturgically-appropriate cooking is far, far beyond me. Everyone else is making Divine Mercy Sundaes and stocking up on smoked paprika so they can be sure their homage to St. Engratia is Portuguese enough, and we’re all, “Christ is risen! Pass the gefilte fish.” But this year, I was on top of it.

Eggs in purgatory is just eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce, similar to shakshuka, which I’ve made a few times. It’s supposed to be a good hangover brunch, I dunno. I looked over a few Eggs in Purgatory recipes and made a very simple version. I ended up making about twice as much as we needed, so I’ll give you a normal-sized version:

Brown up a pound of loose, spicy sausage meat in a wide, shallow pan (to make room for cooking the eggs later). Add about 30 oz. of diced tomatoes, several cloves of minced garlic, and about half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and let it simmer for a long time. (You can add all sorts of things: peppers, onions, chili oil, etc. and you can stir in some tomato paste if you want it firmer.) Make about eight shallow indentations and carefully drop an egg into each one. Cover the pan loosely and let it poach for six or seven minutes, until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are as solid as you want them to be. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese toward the end.

Then scoop out individual portions to serve.

You could add hot sauce or parsley or scallions toward the end, too.

The soul cakes turned out nice, if a slightly odd side dish for this meal. They are not much to look at, but they have a pleasantly old-fashioned, cidery taste.

I used this very easy recipe so I wouldn’t have to fiddle with yeast, which always turns on me. I again used the trick of grating the chilled butter, which makes it very easy to incorporate into the flour. My family doesn’t like raisins, but raisins would go well with these.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza!

Thufferin’ thuccotash, I’m exhausted.

What’s for supper? Vol. 104: I put the fannie in Fannie Farmer

The theme for the week is YOUR FRIEND BUTTER. Butter is your friend. Don’t listen to your doctor. Your doctor is DOO-DOO. You need more butter!

And you also need my pal Fannie Farmer. This week, what with the cold and the colored leaves and the swirling mists and the ennui, I found myself turning again and again to this cookbook I’ve been using for over twenty years now. Good old Fannie taught me how to roast pork ribs, how to make pie crust and pie filling, how to wait for the onions in onion soup, and so much more.

Fun fact: The author, Marion Cunningham, was briefly married to a then-unknown Thurgood Marshall when they were both teenagers. The couple broke up within days of the wedding, apparently after a bitter all-night dispute over rigatoni.

That’s . . . that’s not true. I’m sorry.

Short version of what we had this week: Butter.
Long version:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus

I have no memory of Saturday.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken pecan salad; apple pie

They keep asking for this dish, so I keep making it.

Coat chicken breasts in oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven, then cube the meat. Serve over greens with dried cranberries, toasted pecans (or almonds or walnuts), crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese, diced red onions, and some kind of sweet vinaigrette. This time we had pomegranate. I burned the nuts, but they were still good.

I finally got around to making a pie, long after we ate up all the apples we picked at the orchard. I used the Fannie Farmer pie crust, but used butter instead of shortening. I also did the trick of freezing the sticks of butter for half an hour and then shredding them with a cheese grater. This does 90% of the work of incorporating the fat into the flour without overworking it, and this crust turned out light and supple without sacrificing taste. It won’t work on Thanksgiving, though. It only works if I make a pie for no particular reason. On Thanksgiving, my pie crust will be doo-doo.

I rolled out the dough for the top crust and turned it over to the kids, who used Halloween cookie cutters to make a pie of great spooooookiness.

They used kind of a lot of them, so it has sort of an indeterminate “well of souls” look, I guess.  I wet the crust a bit and sprinkled sugar on the top, also spooky. You could also brush on a little beaten egg white to give it some gloss, if you’re into that.

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, rice, mashed butternut squash, apple pie

A very fine autumn meal

and still the best way to prepare pork ribs indoors. Just plenty of salt and pepper and a very hot oven and turn the ribs once, until they are browned. So juicy and easy. Be a meat hero!

For the squash, I cut them in half, scooped out the pulp and seeds, and just cooked them as-is in a medium oven until they were soft, maybe 30 minutes or so. Peeled off the skin and mashed the squash up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cozy.

The kids were by far most excited by the rice, which I cooked in beef broth instead of water. This is their idea of Ultimate Fanciness.

We had an entire leftover pie from Sunday! I don’t understand what is happening to our family. “Leftover pie.” Clarification?

***

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday! and corn chips

I learned from previous weeks that too much cumin can make your taco meat taste like angry dirt, so I eased up on the cumin and added plenty of salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.

The iceberg lettuce I was saving turned out to be cabbage. So I shredded that, and it was fine. Our fridge has a trick of freezing everything in back, and it turns out sour cream does not recover from being frozen. It gets separated and mealy, bleh. But we did have tomatoes and plenty of cheese, plus jarred jalapeno rings. Good enough for the likes of us.

***

WEDNESDAY
Onion soup, Italian sausages, beer bread

Just sausages! I really wanted onion soup, but a significant faction in the family needs to have meat. A few pounds of sweet Italian sausages in the pan, and there it was: Supper.

I absolutely love this simple onion soup recipe. I used about 6-7 pounds of yellow onions and just acres and acres of butter. I used beef broth instead of water (skip the salt if you use broth), and tons of pepper and Parmesan cheese at the end. Nothing to it, and it doesn’t look like much, but it’s so good.

Beer bread is another recipe I won’t shut up about. It’s so easy, a . . . a . . . I don’t know, a naked toddler could make it.

You don’t need quite as much butter as the recipe says (and it’s not strictly necessary to bathe in the flour, either), but as long as you don’t be a big lazy baby and you take the time to sift, this bread comes up fluffy and golden and moist every time, with a gorgeous cobbled crust.

It’s much less crumbly and cake-like and more chewy and bread-like than most quick breads. And you can make it all in one bowl. Mix up the dry, add the beer, stir it up and chunk it in the pan. It says to bake an hour, but start checking at 40 minutes or so. It has an earthy, slightly honeyed taste. (This varies with the beer, of course. I used Narragansett.)

***

THURSDAY
Grilled cheese with ham and apple

Extremely popular here. They didn’t even ask if there were chips coming. (There were not.)

I put a layer of cheddar cheese top and bottom, with the ham and apples in the middle, and then put the sandwiches in the oven for a bit after grilling, to make sure it’s all melted. I have been using this wonderful sourdough bread from Aldi lately. It’s perfect for grilled sandwiches.

We make our grilled sandwiches with a thin layer of mayo on the outside. It doesn’t give it a mayonnaise taste, but it adds a sort of thin, crunchy crust to the entire sandwich. (Yes, you still use butter on the pan after spreading mayo on the bread. Yes, this is why we’re fat. WORTH IT.)

I really wanted some leftover onion soup, but the sandwich was completely filling, and I had to admit, I was truly stuffed. So I just ate the sandwiches the kids didn’t eat. Whatever, I went running this morning. Whatever!

***

FRIDAY
Giant pancake with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs

I felt guilty about something last week, I forget what, so I bought a bag of chocolate chips.

Giant pancake, if you don’t know, is this: You take an entire box of pancake mix and add enough water to make thick batter. Butter a pan, spread the batter in, and bake at 350 for ten minutes or so. Serve in wedges and go lie down. Bring a stick of butter with you, just in case.