Happy Friday! All this week, a certain child has spent most of her day at farm camp, and I’m not going to say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount done and slept extremely well all week because of that, but I will say I’m marking next year’s calendar to make sure we get a slot. Some people need farm camp, and that’s a fact.
Here’s what we ate this week:
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, rice, raw string beans
Usually Saturday meals are pretty feeble because I’m shopping and not cooking, but we had chicken thighs in the freezer, so I started marinating them in the morning and Damien started smoking them around noon.
The marinade was, more or less:
About 1 cup gochujang
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
about a head of garlic, minced
marinated several hours, and he smoked ’em good. I made a big pot of white rice (I made extra, anticipating a meal later in the week), and just served fresh string beans raw, which is my favorite way to eat string beans.
Very good indeed.
I looked into making my own gochujang, because it’s a little expensive to buy around here. I am growing ghost peppers in my garden, because, I don’t know why, and I thought maybe I could make gochujang with them. But it’s not the right kind of pepper (you want something sweet as well as hot), and you also need other ingredients which would also be expensive to buy around here, and maybe I’ll just . . . not. I like the little red tubs gochujang comes in, anyway.
BLTs, root beer floats, strawberry galette with candied basil
Sunday was Lucy’s birthday (party and cake later), and she requested BLTs and root beer floats. Can do.
The strawberry basil galette was just something I wanted to make. I spotted the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen, and if it interests you at all, save the recipe on your first view, because they will want you to register for a free trial and you know how that ends up. For dumb reasons, I ended up going to a second site to find a recipe for the dough, and it’s a fine recipe, but I was extremely hot, which make my IQ and reading comprehension plummet; result being that I chilled the dough way too long, and when I tried to roll it out, it got VERY RUSTIC INDEED. I think the recipe was fine; I just should have let it warm up more before I tried to manipulate it.
The galette really is an easy recipe, though, albeit with several steps. You hack up the strawberries and then microwave them with strawberry jam and few other things, and the dough is also just a few ingredients, mostly butter. You heap the filling on the rolled-out dough and then bundle up the sides. A trained bear could do this.
The thing that makes this recipe special are candied basil leaves, which you also make in the microwave
and a sweet balsamic reduction drizzle
None of this is hard, per se, but I am telling you that I was extremely hot and getting dumber by the minute, and I still had to fry six pounds of bacon. So by the time it was time to put dessert together, I made a few poor choices, including but not limited to leaving the balsamic reduction in a little glass on the counter, without telling anyone what it was. And of course it looks like motor oil, so the kid on dish duty just went “ew” and washed it out before dessert time.
SO, tragically we had Rustic Overheated Trained Bear Strawberry Galette Without Any Balsamic Reduction Drizzle
Actually I made two, and the other one looked even more like it had been dropped out of a high window. But the pastry was flaky and buttery, the strawberries were tender and sweet, and the candied basil was so good with the fruit, it made me mad that I’ve spent my whole life not eating basil with strawberries. Will definitely make again, although probably when it’s cool enough that I can retain my human form.
Blueberry chicken salad
Monday I ended up running around all day doing I don’t even know what, so Damien roasted the chicken breast and cut it up, and we had mixed greens with chicken, blueberries, toasted almond slivers, crumbled feta, and diced red onions.
I had mine with balsamic vinegar. This is a great salad, with A#1 Hearty Salad Debris left at the bottom after you’ve dutifully eaten all your greens.
Tuesday was another crazy-go-nuts day, and we have some minimalist tacos for supper, without even chips, because I forgot to buy any
but then we got the kids going on a Doctor Who and Damien and I finally took our new-to-us kayaks out, which we haven’t had a chance to do all summer.
The sky was hazy with humidity and some wildfire smoke from Canada, but the air over the water felt clear and cool, and we zooped right out to the middle of the pond.
Fish were leaping, loons were lamenting, and water bugs bopped and skated everywhere.
We could nose right up in among the waterlilies and weeds to see what was going on on the other side (just pond things, plus more frogs).
And we had about an hour out on the water, just doing nothing at all, besides being in boats.
Kayaks are so good. I know you can learn a lot about kayaking and get really good at it, but you can get competent at kayaking on still or calm water in about ninety seconds.
So that was pretty sweet! Must do that again soon.
Hot dogs, chips
Wednesday I set up a meat race, and whoever defrosted first got to be supper.
I know there are ways to defrost meat quickly, but my actual goal was to put off having to think about dinner for a while, so this was the way to go.
Hot dogs won. What a surprise! Oh well, I guess I just have to make hot dogs for supper.
Roasted pork ribs, stuffed grape leaves, fried eggplant
Thursday I finally hauled out the extra rice I had cooked earlier in the week, and Benny and I harvested a few dozen of the biggest, juiciest grape leaves we could find, and a big bunch of wild mint.
There are many theories on how to make stuffed grape leaves, and generally you will not start with already-cooked rice, but I wanted to see if I could go from untouched kitchen to finished grape leaves in as short a time as possible, so that’s what we were trying this time. So we just started throwing stuff in a bowl of cold rice. We added a ton of chopped mint, quite a lot of salt, and oregano, freshly-ground pepper, a generous amount of sumac, a diced onion, and several glugs of olive oil.
Then I tried what would happen if we rolled up the rice in uncooked grape leaves. What happens is the leaves crack when you roll them, and sproing open when you put them down. So I boiled some water, dunked the leaves in for a few minutes, and then put them in ice water, and then we rolled them. Or I rolled a few and then dashed out to pick up Corrie, and Benny rolled most of them.
First we consulted this video we made a few years ago, when we made dolmas for the first time. (If you have an ad blocker on, you will not be able to see the video, because it does make you watch a short ad first, sorry!)
Anyway the method is: You place the leaf on the table face down (veins up), with the point toward you. Put a scoop of rice in the middle, fold in the sides, and then fold up the bottom over the rice, and continue rolling it up to the top, and put it on a pan, seam down, to be cooked later. Easy peasy.
It was definitely trickier working with cold, cooked rice than with a warm, sticky rice with cooked onions and such, but it was possible to do it this way. I lined a pot with parchment paper (you can also use a few layers of grape leaves), stacked the grape leaves in it, and added a few cups of chicken broth and threw some slices of lemon in there, and simmered it for about half an hour.
While that was cooking, I broiled the boneless pork ribs with salt and pepper. I had been planning something a little more mediterranean, some kind of kebabs or something, but I was straight up out of time, and sizzling hot pork ribs with salt and pepper are never a bad choice as long as you don’t overcook them.
Earlier in the day, Benny and I had prepped the eggplant. I had two eggplants, one from the supermarket
and one ichiban eggplant from my garden
Now look, ichiban eggplants are supposed to look like that. They are sweet, the skin is thin and tender, and they grow quickly and you get several on a plant. But the two together did kinda look like I was setting up some kind of MLM photoshoot.
Hey bestie! These days are gettin hot hot hot, sun wearing sunglasses emoji! that’s why I’m so grateful I have GloVolve CLEEN/ION LYFEpowdr on my side, heart eyes emoji! Just shake up a little tasty breakfast dust for myself, dynamite emoji, and this trim mama is ready to go, running woman emoji! DM me for details if you want to get in on this disgusting bullshit.
RESULTS DON’T LIE GIRLFRIEND
Anywurrrrr, we cut them both up, skins on, salted both sides, and let them sweat it out between layers of paper towels. (This is to get the excess moisture out, and you can do it the night before or in the morning or just half an hour or so before you plan to fry the eggplant.)
Right before supper, I made some batter, dragged I tweaked the recipe a bit, and I’m very happy with it. The texture is fantastic, very light with a crisp, shiny or knobby shell on the outside, depending on how hot the oil is
and it tastes mild at first, but has a nice spicy kick.
The only difference I could discern between the two kinds of eggplant was that the big one was big and the little one was little. Both had their charms!
I was very proud of myself for steaming grape leaves and frying eggplant while the meat was broiling, and I unironically consider it one of the major accomplishments of my life, to produce three hot foods cooked three ways at exactly 6:00.
It was just such a good meal. I set out more lemon slices to squeeze over everything, and it was fab.
Okay, YES, some kind of spicy tomato-based dipping sauce would have put it over the top and tied everything together, but it was still an excellent meal.
Oh, so the cheater’s grape leaves were good! I’ll probably go back to consulting a recipe and doing it in some approved way next time, but just crashing everything together worked well enough and I feel like I have officially made stuffed grape leaves for the year. And it was pretty nice to have a meal with three ingredients from our own yard.
Just reglar ol pizza. No complaints from me!
Oh, our local little market is now selling goat meat! It’s pricy but I can swing a few pounds, anyway. I love goat meat. Who has ideas for what to make? Something juicy and Indian. My mortal and pestle want to know.
You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.
- 3 medium eggplants
- salt for drying out the eggplant
veg oil for frying
3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp veg oil
- optional: kosher salt for sprinkling
Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture.
Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming.
Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.
Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, scraping off excess if necessary, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.
Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.
Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.