What’s for supper? Vol. 175: The rain it raineth every day

So, last time I did an AMA, and every time, a few people ask about how to get kids to eat better food and how to cook decent food when you have little kids. It is clearly a constant source of worry and frustration for so many parents; and oh how clearly I remember that worry and frustration. I remember reading about other moms who were always trying new and exciting recipes and serving side dishes that don’t come out of a greasy bag with a comical pig on the outside, and wondering what was wrong with me. 

So I just wanted to remind everyone:

I have two adult children and four teenagers living at home right now. They all help me cook, or help me with other stuff while I cook. My husband works from home, and he often helps me cook, or helps me with other stuff while I cook, or he cooks dinner outright. He even looks up recipes and shops for ingredients. 

I don’t have any babies, and am not massively sleep deprived; and I’m not nursing anyone, so I can regularly sit down and do a task from start to finish without a thousand interruptions. 

And even despite all these advantages, if I took a few weeks off writing about food, my routine would slide really quickly back into chicken nuggets and frozen peas, and I certainly wouldn’t be arranging it on the plate so it looks as pretty as possible. Part of the purpose of Friday food posts is to force me to try harder with food. It propels me to find new and interesting things to cook, so I don’t die of boredom or shame.

Just a little disclaimer, in case you needed it. Here is my explainer for why I refuse to worry about what my kids eat for dinner. In general, I firmly believe that if you’re keeping your family alive and no one has rickets or scurvy, it is perfectly okay to have other priorities besides making pretty plates and mixing up adventurous marinades. Sometimes, there are other things that are more important than interesting food, and you can’t make everything a priority. You just can’t. 

Okay, now on to the food! Which was decent this week, but not especially adventurous, except for Sunday. 

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I get home pretty late on Saturdays from shopping (which takes 3+ hours and often includes confession, haircuts, shoe shopping, etc.), so it has to be something fast, but I’m awfully tired of serving grilled ham and cheese or hamburgers on Saturdays. Fish tacos is fast, as long as you use frozen fish and don’t get too fancy with salsas and slaws and whatnot. 

Looks like I forgot a picture, but mine had sour cream, salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage, and fresh lime juice on a tortilla with batter fried fish of some kind. Please don’t ask if I got scrod. That information is private, and open only to subscribers.

I heard this thing on the radio about mango salsa, and I forgot all about mango salsa. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it! I think next week will be mango week. Just not on Saturday.

SUNDAY
Fadder’s Day cookout!

My own fadder was out of town visiting other family members, so we had a nice quiet day at home. By which I mean Benny had a fever, so Damien got up and went to the early Mass so he could stay home with the little guys while I took the others to a later Mass, because Elijah was serving. Hey, it was better than the father’s day he spent scrubbing poop out of the mesh sides of a port-a-crib. We did have a nice little brunch.

For dinner, one of the kids bought two enormous steaks for Damien and me — one a sirloin, and one a flank steak, which we’ve never had before.  Damien made a rub for the sirloin out of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and a little chili powder.

So, flank steak is lean and somewhat tough, so it needs marinating, but it has an extraordinary flavor. After it marinated several hours in olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar, he seasoned it with kosher salt and pepper, then he seared both steaks on the grill in the rain. I don’t know if rain was a necessary ingredient, but it always seems to be present on grilling days. 

The sirloin was great. The flank steak was out of this world. The texture was startling to me — very lean and fibrous, but you cut it across the grain thinly and it has a very intense flavor I can only describe as . . . meaty. I know that’s not helpful, but it’s like ever-so-much-more-so beef.  This is not a great photo, but you can see the texture:

We also had little rolls, guacamole and chips, and strawberries and cream on angel food cake. 

The guac turned out okay (recipe card at end), although the store had put up a sign that said “avocados ripe today!” but really, agreed the lady in the store and I as we sorted and squeezed, they meant “avocados ripe yesterday;” so it was a little mushier than I like it.

The strawberries and cream were just as one would hope. Lightly mashed strawberries with a little sugar, freshly whipped cream with a little sugar, and store bought angel food cake.

Moe gave Damien some good chocolate and a gift card for a cigar shop, but he wrapped it in a “live animal” box from Petco. Because if you can’t almost give your father a heart attack, is it even really father’s day?

Also on this day, Corrie helped herself to no one knows how many chocolate-covered espresso beans, so it was ever-so-much-more-so Corrie until pretty late at night. 

Oh, to make the day even more special, we rearranged the living room so we could settle the piano in.

Did I tell you I bought a piano? I know you’re supposed to never pay for a piano, but what if it’s a nice lady raising money for Kiwanis and she delivers, eh? We still had to rent ramps and Damien still hurt his back (this was last week), but it’s a lovely little instrument in good condition, and it fits into our miniature living room, which is close to miraculous. I bought the Bastien book for Older Beginners, and I finished the first unit last night. I’m excited! There’s life in the old dame yet.

MONDAY
Bagel sandwiches

There was also tons of leftover steak, so, for duty and humanity, I had cold flank steak over baby spinach for lunch. 

For supper, we had bagel sandwiches with sausage, egg, and cheese. 

A cozy little meal for, you guessed it, a rainy day.

TUESDAY
Berry chicken salad

Just a great summer dish, and good for those days when everyone comes home to eat at different times.

Chicken breast roasted in the oven with olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning, and then cooled and sliced; mixed greens, strawberries and blueberries, feta cheese, and toasted almonds. 

I bought some kind of fancy pants berry vinaigrette, which disappeared long before Tuesday. No one ate it; it just disappeared. So I had balsamic vinegar, which was fine. I hope balsamic vinegar is good for you, because I have it on everything. 

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Last day of school! It was a half day and then the school has an unofficial final field trip to the local beach. I spent most of the time standing on the shore, thinking about how much easier life is now that the kids are older, and I don’t have to freak out and panic the entire time they’re in the water.

Then we got home and, my voice hoarse after shouting, “Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, I said COME BACK NOW!!!!” forty-six thousand times, I collapsed. Actually, come to think of it, it’s fricking exhausting to be at the beach with kids, even if they are older. It would have been easier if I had gone in the water with them, but my body positivity project hasn’t gotten up to the chapter where you’re okay with taking off your clothes in front of all the other parents. 

Then we came home and had hot dogs and chips. Actually Damien made them. I was too busy still collapsing hoarsely. 

THURSDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, curly fries, coleslaw

We haven’t had pulled pork for a while. I meant to start it in the slow cooker early in the morning, since the cut I had was not the most tender. I forget what I had, but it’s the kind you get from Aldi all cryogenically wrapped so it looks like a Sandworm.

But suddenly it was afternoon. So I hacked in half and chunked it in the Instant Pot, had Corrie dump in a can of Coke, and, after a fruitless search for some kind of pepper or whatnot, I just sealed up the lid and pressed the “meat” button. When it beeped, I shouted at someone to press the “meat” button again. Close to dinner, I got a “burn” message, because I didn’t put it enough liquid. I opened it up and it looked awful. The liquid was all gone, and there was this dark sludge on the bottom. I nervously pulled the meat out with tongs and sniffed it. Okay, not actually burnt, but surely it will be tough as leather.

Dude, it was perfect. It fell apart with the mere thought of a fork. I scraped up all the sludge from the bottom, and dumped in a bottle of Carolina BBQ sauce, and it was moist, tender, and delicious. 

So remember: Dump, meat, meat, burn, sludge, scrape, glug. That’s my recipe, and I’m sticking to it.

I also made some quick coleslaw with cabbage, carrot, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and pepper, and we had seasoned curly fries, and I ate outside in the rain, which was just a little rain.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese, string beans

I’ve been avoiding these string beans all week, but I think the time has come. Dora brought me home a treasure trove of cheese ends from the deli. Some of that cheese has speckles in it. Speckles! And it’s barely even raining today. 

***

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

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

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

What was for supper last week? Vol. 137: Ah’m a-splurgin’!

It was vacation week! We ate like kings!

SATURDAY
Steak and lobster

We had a lot of kid activities planned, so Damien wanted to make sure we had one fine grown-up meal. (The kids had hot dogs and chips at home.) He packed up a cooler and we went here:

We swam for a while, with nobody else in the entire pond except for some loons and a bunch of amorous dragonflies. Then he made a fire and we had bread and cheese, strawberries and blackberries while the flames died down.

He put some steaks and lobsters over the coals:

The lobster only needed a few minutes on each side, and we ate it with herbed butter and lemons while the steaks finished cooking. I’ve never had grilled lobster before. The sweet flesh with a smoky edge is completely wonderful. The steak had a simple rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and came out insanely tender with lots of juice.

 

Also, having visible cooking marks on the lobster really helps me get over that last psychological “you are cracking apart and devouring an entire creature here, you psychopath” obstacle. It just looks more like food. Score another point for charring your food! I’ll take my charred lobster cancer like a man.

We also brought some peaches to grill (most desserts are out for me because they are migraine triggers), but we were both stuffed to the gills and couldn’t eat any more.

And that is how you kick off vacation week!

SUNDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, fries, cherries

One of my kids has a job in a deli, and she’d been hungrily eyeing their buffalo chicken salad. I couldn’t find an exact recipe, but since she had never actually tasted it, I didn’t think I could really get it wrong.

I cooked a few pounds of pasta (I believe it was radiatori. Here is a nice guide to pasta shapes), then I took 3 large chicken breasts and put them in the Instant Pot with a cup of water, high pressure for 7 minutes. I cut the cooked chicken into chunks and mixed it together with the pasta and:

4 stalks celery diced
3/4 cup sour cream
10 oz blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
2 Tbs paprika
It was pretty good. Not knock-your-socks-off, but if you like buffalo sauce, it’s something a little different, and it sure was easy to make. It’s supposed to have carrots, but I don’t think that would have added much (but you definitely want the celery in there, for texture and to cool your tongue from the hot sauce). I also made plain pasta, which is what most of the kids ate, which is why there was enough left over for me to eat lunch all week.
I hadn’t really planned out any sides. I have a hard time coming up with sides to pasta salads. It’s like when my grandmother went to the pet store asking for food for her daughter’s Sea Monkeys, and the man said, “Lady, Sea Monkeys are food.” So I ended up with a kind of self-inflicted one-family potluck meal of buffalo chicken salad, french fries, and cherries. Well, they ate it!
MONDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

Now this was a good idea. I had more chicken breasts (I guess they must have been on sale), so I roasted them under the broiler with salt and pepper, then sliced them. Then we laid out chicken, sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and let people build their own sandwiches.

I also put out some mayonnaise and pesto sauce, but I didn’t end up using it. This was an extremely tasty summer sandwich, very fresh and pleasant and filling. I should have used Italian bread instead of Kaiser rolls, was the only thing. Next time!

TUESDAY
Ocean!

Tuesday was ocean day. New Hampshire really only has one beach, about two hours from us, and it’s terribly trashy at night, but gorgeous during the day. We brought along subs, nectarines, chips, and cookies from the supermarket for lunch, and managed to eat most of it before the very bold seagulls had their way with it. I love the ocean.

It was a completely wonderful day. We didn’t bring any shovels or buckets or kites or floaties or anything. Just played in the cold waves and the fresh breeze and the glittering sun for hours and hours. Irene got lost and we, um, forgot to bring Lucy’s insulin. But the lifeguards found Irene again and Damien squeezed some insulin out of a local pharmacy and it was still fun. I love the ocean.

For dinner, I had my heart set on eating somewhere that served food in plastic baskets and had sand in the bathroom, so that’s what we did. It was called Swampy’s Sea Shack or Chunko’s Squid Hut or something along those lines. There were a bunch of drunken louts singing “Sweet Caroline” over their beers. I had the calamari platter. The coleslaw was terrible. I love the ocean.

WEDNESDAY
Deconstructed shish kabob; pineapple cucumber salad; Tweezlaires

I took a big hunk of pork and cut it into big cubes and mixed it up with wedges of red onion and green pepper. I had mushrooms, too, but they had gotten all slimy, alas. I stirred it up with a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and let it sit for a few hours.

We briefly considered putting the food on skewers and grilling it outside, but we were still exhaustipated from the beach, so I just spread the meat and veggies in a shallow pan and put it under the broiler until it was a little blackened. Good stuff.

Again I needed a side dish, but hadn’t made solid plans. My friend Jennifer suggested this pineapple cucumber salad, which calls for pineapple and cucumber, which I had, and lime zest and fresh cilantro, which I didn’t. So I used bottled lime juice and chili lime seasoning. It was nice! Just something different. May try again when I have cilantro.

We also had Tweezlaires, because that’s what I told the kids we were having before I found the pineapple recipe.

THURSDAY
Bibimbap

Oh son. If you haven’t made bibimbap, then this is your time. It is absolutely the party that your mouth deserves to have.

I sliced up some pork as thin as I could and set it to marinate in gochujang sauce, which I made with gochujang, honey, sugar, garlic, and soy sauce (proportions here).

I also sliced up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers very thin with the wide end of a cheese grater, because someone has absconded with the spindle part of my food processor. I set them to pickle in water with some white vinegar and sugar mixed in.

I made a ton of rice in the Instant Pot. It comes out good and sticky when you use the 1:1 method. When the rice was almost done, I fried up the meat in a skillet, and sliced and sauteed some mushrooms.

Then, when the rice was done, everyone put some in a bowl, and piled on their choice of pork, pickled vegetables, pea sprouts, and mushrooms, with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and wasabi sauce. And then a fricken fried egg on top. It’s so good. The various juices trickle down through the rice and you just have to focus on not passing out with joy before you get to the bottom.

FRIDAY
Canobie Lake Park!

Friday was our long-awaited trip to the excellent amusement park that’s a couple of hours away. We went with the Girl Scouts, who picked up a big part of the tab, so we splurged on actual park food for lunch, and then we had monstrous ice cream sundaes around dinner time.

We stayed eleven hours. Would have been longer, but there came a crashing, thundering downpour and they had to close the park and evacuate everyone. We made our way to Papa Ginos. I don’t care what you say, it’s really quite good pizza. Also, we only ever seem to eat there when we are wet, exhausted, and completely starving. But I still think it’s good pizza!

And that’s what we did on our summer vacation.

What’s for supper? Vol. 134: Damn that little bird

We really hit some high highs and some low lows this week, speaking in terms of foodwise. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Sugar rub chicken, brats, mahogany clams

Damien made dinner, with some help from Corrie:

He put some brats and some clams on the grill:

and when the clams opened, he served them in a sauce of white wine, onions, and melted butter. Still the greatest way to end a Saturday afternoon; still too slimy and weird for the kids to want any.

He made a rub for the chicken thighs:

Brown sugar 1.5 cups
White Sugar .5 cups
Chili powder 2 table spoons
Garlic powder 2 table spoons
Salt/Pepper
2 tsp chili pepper flakes

When the flames died down, he shoved the coals to one side and laid the chicken on the other side and put the lid down, and let it cook slowly. This makes the meat sweet and moist and gives the chicken skin a remarkable caramelized crust that you need to have in your life.

The brats were the vegetable.

SUNDAY
Steak salad

Steak was on sale, so I was powerless not to buy several pounds of it. Damien made another rub and grilled it lovely and rare:

I sliced the meat and set out bowls of mixed greens, blue cheese, and sliced Granny Smith apples. This dish is actually supposed to have pears, and I will admit that pears are really superior here; but the apples were good.

Very good!

Very good indeed. I put wine vinegar on mine. Any slightly sweet, non-creamy dressing would go well.

MONDAY
Chicken quesadillas

I don’t really remember Monday, but I’m pretty sure the kids made supper. I think I put oil and chili lime powder on some chicken breasts and put them under the broiler to cook, but I think they did the rest. We like quesadillas with cheddar cheese, chicken, and sliced jalapenos, with salsa and sour cream.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, cheezy weezies

I remember even less about Tuesday. There was a lot of driving, a lot of running, a lot of rain, and a lot of writing.

WEDNESDAY
Pesto chicken burgers with sweet roast peppers; crispy circles

I had high hopes for these sandwiches. They were good, but a little bland for our tastes. First I put a bunch of peppers on a pan and put them in a 500 oven for about 30 minutes, until they were soft and a little charred.

Then I let them cool, then pulled off the skins and scooped out the seeds and cores. This is very satisfying and entertaining.

Then I sliced them up

and added a little olive oil and freshly-ground pepper. I served the peppers on the sandwiches, which were on Kaiser buns with sliced, roasted chicken and pesto sauce.

I made the pesto sauce with, um, a jar of pesto from Aldi. I know, I know.

1-1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup mayo
6.7 oz jar of Aldi pesto

fresh ground pepper

It was probably too much yogurt and I don’t know why I skipped the salt; and why no garlic? I don’t know. And we were out of lemon juice (but had three bottles of lime juice). It would have been good to chop the chicken and mix it with the sauce and let it sit for a while, but I was afraid the kids wouldn’t eat it.

A pretty sandwich, but it needed more texture and sharpness. Maybe some capers and red onions? Cheese?

 

The peppers are pretty, but also disappointingly bland. Help me out! Help this sandwich out. I want to like it. I want to like all sandwiches.

THURSDAY
The blight man was born for, with apricot

This pork I bought had been hanging over my head like a, like a hanging pork. That’s ominous enough, isn’t it?

Pork was on sale, so when I was planning the weekly menu, I looked around for a new recipe, and found one that tantalizingly already had the carbs toted up. Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad. Okay, sure, it looks a little peculiar, but maybe people will eat it, YOLO and whatnot. I even bought the right kind of cabbage, $1.99 a pound.

But the pork that was on sale didn’t look great, so I got more expensive pork. And the cabbage was more expensive than I expected, so I figured we could have noodles or something? Noodles and cabbage and almonds, with apricot? YOLO?

You can see where this meal is headed already, right? It was doomed. I sliced the pork up thin, but then decided that I didn’t like the sound of cucumbers and cabbage together; so I veered again, and after heating up the pan I started making a completely different recipe, distinctly non-Asian. Not even faux diabetic Asian, but faux. . . German? I don’t know. I did know I had apricot jam, so I made this Budget Bytes recipe for sauce. 

It gives you the choice of topping chops with sauce, or cooking the chops right in it. Only it called for chops, and I had already cut the meat in slices, and anyway, someone had left the Dijon mustard open in the cabinet for three months, so I threw that out and used regular mustard. Then I started some rice cooking, because I had a hunch we might need it, and we were out of noodles anyway.

Then I cooked up the meat in a skillet, then added the sauce. It didn’t look too terrible, really, and there was a chance a few good sports might eat it, especially over rice. I completely forgot about the cucumbers. Where were the almonds? I couldn’t find them, and a little bird told me to stop looking, because this probably wasn’t going to be a dish that deserved almonds.

Then, just when it seemed possible that all was not lost, another little bird, a real bastard of a little bird, was like, “Hey, this could just be a stir fry! Throw the chopped cabbage into the pan, and stir it up, you witless dinner monkey! Stir fries have mustard all the time! More cabbage, more! And now put a lid on it.”

You may or may not be aware, but when you heat up a chopped Napa cabbage, it sweats about six gallons of water.

So here’s what I put on the table:

Not with a bang, but with soaking wet cabbage and little bits of apricot. I wearily nodded toward the pizzas in the freezer, and they ate them. With rice.

FRIDAY
Tuna Noodle

Despite my unbroken record of making flawless dinners, the kids liked the idea of taking turns planning and making dinner each week. Sophia came up first, and what she wanted was tuna noodle, so that’s what we’re having.

Oh, Damien said I had to tell you about the squid jerky! Well, there’s not that much to tell. In the morning, I found and opened up Kyra’s package of smoked, dried squid, and, although the taste was not great, the smell was really dreadful, so I ate the rest of the package so it wouldn’t stink up the kitchen, and then I spent the rest of the day pooping. What top eleven things are the matter with me, would you say?

In my defense, eating the squid jerky was an entirely new experience for me. My brain couldn’t decide if it was candy, or fish, or waxy string, or what, and kept demanding additional data, so I kept eating it. Then I went for a 2.5 mile run in 93% humidity, with optional hill at the end.

And now my story is all told.

What’s for supper? Vol. 133: To serve your parents

This week, I decided to take a stand. No more shirking. I just care about my kids so much that I want them to be as prepared as possible for adulthood. So I let them make supper most of the week.

SATURDAY
Bratwurst (?)

Saturday I took the oldest two kids and a friend to an I Don’t Know How But They Found Me concert, and the people back home had some kind of cookout. I think there were leftover things from some previous cookout, and then Damien went shopping with one of the little girls, whose eyes lit up at the sight of bratwurst. And very good it is, bratwurst!

SUNDAY
Steak, asparagus, pull-apart Italian bread, strawberry shortcake

Father’s Day, of course! My father came over

and we all went to the beach and then, you’ll never guess: We had a cookout. I bought all the steaks that called out to me, and Damien coated them with a dry rub using this recipe.

Then he grilled them steaks up nice.

I sautéed some asparagus in olive oil, and we had store-bought bread to sop up the wonderful meat juices.

Dessert was angel food cake (from a mix) with strawberries and whipped cream. I didn’t get any decent pics.

I had five pounds of strawberries, and I assigned two kids to hull them, and another to mash them and add a little sugar and vanilla. Another kid baked the cakes, and another whipped the cream. I outsmarted myself here, and assigned too many people to the strawberries. By the time dessert made it to the table, that warn’t no five pounds of strawberries still in the bowl. I think there was a lot of “Well, if she’s going to taste that many, I can, too” and “You can’t tell Mama because you were doing the same thing” and “Is that all you can fit in your ear, you big baby? Watch this!”

Anyway, it was all beyond delicious.

MONDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, chips

With avocado, lettuce and tomato, cheddar, and ranch dressing. Some of the kids used pita bread, some used spinach wraps.

Made by the kids while I . . . I did something or other. Oh, I was chaperoning a field trip to the seacoast to explore tide pools. For the record, four+ hours in a car with no AC but with four fourth-graders talking about boys with the aid of a Magic 8 Ball? Is enough hours. I did have a lovely time scrambling around the rocks with my goober girls.

I was trying to think back if there has ever been a time when I was unhappy at the ocean. I just don’t think it can be managed.

Anyway, this sandwich is great combination of flavors, very satisfying. I got the idea when I asked for your best sandwich ideas, with an eye to doing a Sandwich of the Week thing in the warm months. Now I’m of the mind that Not Everything Has to Be a Thing, and you can Just Have Sandwiches. Still, I’d love suggestions for your favorite sandwich (or wrap, or pocket) ideas. Bonus if they include enough vegetable matter that, when the pediatrician asks the toddler what her favorite food is, she’s at least heard of things that don’t come in boxes.

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, cheezy weezies, carrots and hummus

I don’t remember making or eating this meal. Oh, I was at 8th grade graduation! Yes, Mr. Godzilla graduated.

Usually, we spring for a burger after 8th grade graduation, but this kid is so good, he got pizza.

WEDNESDAY
Scrambled eggs, oven-roasted potatoes, hostages

Another blur day. It was the last day of school, and then we went to the beach with the school families.

I do remember cracking some eggs into a bowl while telling someone to cut up potatoes, and I remember eating a cold sausage the next day. Blur, I tell you.

THURSDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

I don’t know, I was driving, and then I got home and there was spaghetti and meatballs. Next thing I knew, I was hearing the music for the closing credits of Kimmy Schmidt and my husband was plucking my half-finished drink out of my hands and telling me to go to bed. Blurrrrrr.

FRIDAY
Fish tacos, tortilla chips

Oh wait, we had a campfire yesterday! That was nice. First full day of summer vacation, so you have to do something fun.

Today, we’re going to the library, where I am bracing myself to write a very large check and request a clean slate.

And that’s what we ate this week. Don’t forget to tell me your sandwich ideas!

What’s for supper? Vol. 97: Beautiful schlopp

Hold the cherry.

SATURDAY
Steak and pear salad, rolls, fruit cobbler and ice cream

Well, steak was still on sale, and I’m not made of stone. My husband heavily seasoned and perfectly grilled the meat over the coals

and then sliced it up, and I put together mixed greens, scallions, blue cheese, and sliced red pears.

It’s so good, you can’t imagine. A little fresh pepper and a vinaigrette on top. Damn.

I got some snowflake rolls from the supermarket, and the shopping turn kid wanted rhubarb pie, but I guess rhubarb is over for the year. Instead, we got strawberries, blueberries, and peaches

and made a basic cobbler, to be topped with vanilla ice cream. Cobbler, if you recall, is very easy to make.

Well, we ended up having ice cream with hot, delicious fruit schlopp ladled over it. Oh well. It tasted good, even if it was completely formless. It’s a swell combination of fruits, perfect for late summer. I SAID “LATE SUMMER.” Not fall. Back off, man.

We did run 5k on Sunday for the first time!

It felt fantastic. Since then, with school and no babysitters, we’ve been fitting in shorter runs in the evening, which is far, far less exhilarating; especially, as most people wouldn’t have to learn the hard way, if you accidentally eat a drippy pork carnita with sour cream forty minutes before you head out. See: Wednesday.

***

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs, chips, brownies

This was supposed to be our traditional end-of-summer “head out with a giant bag of candy and swim at the pond all day long and never, ever, ever have to go home until we want to” day, but kids were throwing up. So we just cooked stuff on the grill. We had brownies even though people were puking because puking kids are not the boss of us.

On Sunday, which was also the day the Mormons came, I also took a big step in Operation Very Slowly Renovate Kitchen: I yanked down rotten, miserable, useless wall cabinet. I don’t even know what this thing was for: It had shelves all way across, but a door on only one side, with the hinge in the middle. So you had to pull everything out if you wanted to reach the stuff on the left side. Also, it was falling off the wall, so the door swung out and bonked everyone in the head all the time. Some things hurt more, but few things make you hurt angrier than getting conked in the top of the skull unexpectedly by a rogue cabinet door.

Anyway, here is a crummy before-and-after shot:

You can’t really tell, but it’s SO much more light and open in there. I also took the doors off most of the remaining cabinets, and I’m going to paint them yellow. I bought some rather corny rustic, cast iron shelf brackets off eBay, and I’m going to put in open shelving where the miserable, rotten cabinet was.

Now we just need to do something about the ceiling, which is stained, sagging acoustic tile full of dead mice, and the floor, which is torn linoleum designed by Satan and installed by also Satan.

***

MONDAY
Chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, raw string beans

This was supposed to be our very, very last chance to have summer fun that is fun, even if all we do is go to a playground or something, because there were still a few kids left who hadn’t started school yet. I don’t even remember what happened, but we just ended up having chicken nuggets and no fun. I think there was some kind of lizard emergency.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

First day of school. And the first day since 1998 where it was routine to be home alone with one child. I was nervous, since the child in question had spent a good part of the the last three weeks rolling around on the floor, gnashing her teeth, and spurting hot tears over, for instance, “NO, YOU NOT [whatever you just did because she told you to do it]!!!!!!”

But it went fine. We had a very peaceful day, and was remarkably undemanding when she has no competition. She is an adorably earnest help in the kitchen. She also packed some Altoids in a sandwich bag, zipped them into a spare backpack, and announced she is going to high school.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork carnitas, Doritos

Pretty good. I put a half pork loin (I actually did this Tuesday, that’s how easy Tuesday was) in the slow cooker with some Coke, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, pepper, cloves of garlic, and chopped onion. I let it cook all day, then shredded it and spread it out in a pan and browned it up under the broiler.

Served on tortillas with sour cream, salsa, and cheese.

Did I mention that it was too dark to run in our usual spot, so we drove downtown and trotted back and forth for two miles on sidewalk, much to the fascination of the people taking their ease with fancy nitrogen ice cream? At least I didn’t throw up.

***

THURSDAY
Mac and cheese with kielbasa; peas

Corrie helped again. We made this nice, simple Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe from CopyKat, and added chunks of browned up kielbasa. Then I put it in a buttered pan and added buttered bread crumbs on top. Everyone who likes mac and cheese and kielbasa liked this dish of mac and cheese and kielbasa.

Damien and I actually snuck out to Chili’s. I had the baby back ribs I’ve been hearing about all my life. Meh.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, risotto

Who has neat ideas for tuna burgers? I usually make them by adding one beaten egg and half a cup of bread crumbs and some seasoning to each can of drained tuna, then forming patties, and frying them up in a little oil. What would make them more interesting? I feel like I’ve asked this before, but I can’t find the answers. I do have horseradish sauce.

Okay, now I need some other inspiration. For Labor Day, we’re going to fulfill a request for Hot Dogs of Many Nations. Sort of a hot dog buffet with everything you could possibly want on a hot dog. This is not my wheelhouse. What do I set out? My ideas so far: Chili, onions, sauerkraut, cheese . . . . maybe bacon . . . I don’t know.

What’s for supper? Vol. 96: Tearwater tea

This week was what we call a “dramatic airport.”

(Sorry about the weird framing. I guess it’s to get around copyright?) Anyway, this week, two kids packed and left for college for the first time. High school started, the the other school starts next week; Benny starts kindergarten; and I’ll be home with one child for the first time in eighteen years. In addition to pretty much the whole world leaving, there’s a bunch of serious trouble and turmoil with folks I love. And this is the short version! It has been a hard week, and we would appreciate prayers! Thank you.

Happily, you can always count on food. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Lasagna, challah, salad, cake

And I didn’t cook any of it! It was a family reunion and goodbye party for my niece Mary, who is entering a cloistered convent.
My parents have forty-two grandchildren, most of whom are pictured here:

along with two great-grandchild, one not born yet. Here is my father with all of his children:

My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is no longer able to go to events like this. She would have loved it.

***

SUNDAY
Grilled hamburgers and bratwurst

The eight girls and I had a “spa day” at home.

Me: “. . So it will be a special afternoon just for girls! Maybe we can watch a girly movie for once.”
Benny: “LIKE THE TEMPLE OF DOOM????”

Well, sure. We also dragged in nail polish, make up, facial masks, and fancy snacks and drinks, plus some intergenerational compromise music, which turned out to be Graceland.

It turns out that cold cucumbers are super hard to keep on your eyes

unless you just camp out on the floor

and that weird sensation of pulling off a dried facial mask is an acquired taste

Corrie’s piggies look good in any color

and Dora had a roomful of jewelry looking for a new home

Corrie may or may not have a future as an aesthetician

and girly stuff is actually completely exhausting.

I also discovered that, while I’ve loosened up enough to let my little girls try on makeup at home, I am not loose enough to share pictures of them on the internet.

My husband and the boys went to the laundromat, went bowling, and picked up supper, which involved meat, charcoal, and magic. I had a dream someone was trying to tell me how handsome he is, and I was like YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TELL ME.

***

MONDAY
Steak, baked potatoes, veggies and dip

Last day with my second-oldest daughter home. My husband, who is the only one qualified to handle steak, had tons of delays at work, so I was reduced to cooking them under the broiler and topping them with fried onions. We had baked potatoes with the requisite sour cream and bits of bacon flavored whathaveyou, and ice cream.

It was good, but it did not make up for my second-oldest daughter leaving. It really didn’t.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, strawberries, watermelon

Last beach day of the year. (Okay, maybe not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “closed” sign on nature and on happiness in general.)

***

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl, white rice, watermelon and grapes

Last day with my oldest daughter home. It’s a good recipe, but not good enough to make up for my oldest daughter leaving. It really isn’t.

***

THURSDAY
Penne with sausage and creamy tomato sauce, garlic bread, salad

A new recipe for the Instant Pot (affiliate link) from a very thorough Instant Pot recipe site called Paint the Kitchen Red. Turned out quite tasty.

 

I only doubled the recipe, and it was enough for our suddenly tiny family of ten. You guys.

***

FRIDAY
Waffles with whipped cream, scrambled eggs

I bought too much cream for the previous recipe, so we’ll whip it up for waffles. And maybe have some tea.

What’s for supper? Vol. 79: Asparagus me, Domine

Can’t remember the last time I’ve been so glad to see a week be done. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Sausage, fried eggs, and muenster cheese on bagels

I will never complain when there are sandwiches for supper.

***

SUNDAY
Lamb lo mein with spaetzle; rice; pot stickers; rice

Probably the weirdest meal of the week. We had a nice meaty bone left over from last week’s lamb feast, so I cut the meat into bits and added it to this simple lo mein recipe from Damn Delicious.  I made it even simpler by just chucking in a couple of bags of frozen stir fry vegetables, rather than using fresh. Then I made it weirder by using a few bags of spaetzle for the noodles. The result was a multi-ethnicish meal that soared to the level of Not Bad At All.

No one in my family has actually tasted lo mein before, so they were the right audience, I guess.

The potstickers were frozen from Hannaford. Kind of a pain for frozen food – you have to brown them in oil and then steam them – but they were tasty. One kid ate just the wrapper, and left behind little bundles of steamed cabbage and chicken, which I of course ate also.

You are thinking, “Why did she also make rice, with all that other stuff?” The answer is that at least three of my kids are currently following a strict Rice and Tears diet.

***

MONDAY
Tacos

On Monday, I looked at my driving schedule for the week and let out a weak whimper. Seriously considering buying each kid a moped and just letting them get where they need to be on their own. I’ll take out a credit card in the choir director’s name. Add an entire extra concert with rehearsals every night for two weeks right when all the other teachers are realizing we need to squeeze in all those field trips and special projects and fundraisers, will you? EAT MOPED DEBT AND DIE.

Oh, so we had tacos. It turns out cumin can be fairly overwhelming if you angrily shake in half the jar, but you can disguise it with extra salt.

***

TUESDAY
Pizza

Nothing to report. Luckily, I have two pepperoni distribution specialists living in my very house.

***

WEDNESDAY
Steak tips with mushrooms on noodles; rolls; roast asparagus

This is a slow cooker meal from Damn Delicious, and chuck roast is still on sale! The sauce never thickened up as much as it was supposed to, even with extra cornstarch, but the flavor was, in fact, damn delicious.

I mixed up the asparagus with a little olive oil, spread it on a pan, and slid it right under a hot broiler, then sprinkled it with lemon juice when it was done. Did you know you are supposed to eat asparagus with your fingers? Do you know it’s hard, but not impossible, to drive while licking your plate?

***

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, roast sesame broccoli 

Still a great meal, still easy. In the morning, I cooked up the meat and then transferred it to the slow cooker; I set up the rice in the Instant Pot (affiliate link!) (the 1:1 formula works fine); and prepped the broccoli. So when I tore into the kitchen that afternoon knowing half of us had to be out the door again in 25 minutes, we still had a swell meal.

Have I mentioned how I love roasting vegetables? I drizzled the broccoli with sesame oil, spread it in a single layer, sprinkled it with sesame seeds, and slid it right under the broiler until the edges got a little blackened. So many veggies taste good this way.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

And tears, no doubt.