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

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

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

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

SATURDAY

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

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

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

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches with swiss and chimichurri

Sunday after Mass I made some chimichurri

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

The chimichurri was also excellent.

Jump to Recipe

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

MONDAY
Scrambled duck eggs with sausage on homemade biscuits

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

Jump to Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Tacos

Totally Unremarkable Tacos.

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

WEDNESDAY
Italian sandwiches, chips, watermelon, birthday cake

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

and we had nice sandwiches

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY
Poke bowls, potstickers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Not actually sure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But like I said, it was hot and sunny!

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

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

Chimichurri

Dipping sauce, marinade, you name it

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

 

moron biscuits

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because it’s Junnnnnnne!

And I do what I wannnnnnnt! Overall. 

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

Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, watermelon

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

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

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

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

Here’s my pulled pork recipe.

Jump to Recipe

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

SUNDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips, broccoli slaw, watermelon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TUESDAY
Pizza with chive blossoms

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

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

WEDNESDAY
Pork tacos, watermelon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY
One-pan garlicky chicken thighs with potatoes and zucchini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

FRIDAY
Lemon garlic shrimp pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clovey pulled pork

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

  4. When pork is tender, shred.

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

  2. Preheat the oven to 400.

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 339: Inshallah, I’ll take pistachio

Happy Friday! I see lots of you poor suckers are going back to school already. We, on the other hand, are still enjoying the last lazy days of summer, by which I mean frantically running around Doing Vacation Things and feeling terrible and panicked about summer being almost over, and also mortality (maybe that’s just me. I am fun). 

I also made two wonderful culinary discoveries this week: Collard greens, and lamb breast plate. We had two days of rather elaborate meals and then a bunch of very much not so meals. Read on!

SATURDAY
Varia 

On Saturday, the Fishers were uncharacteristically sociable. Lena was carousing with a friend in Boston, Clara met up with Dora and they went off to see The Mountain Goats; Sophia, Lucy, and Irene had tickets to see Ricky Montgomery; and Damien, after bowing to his fate and driving them to said concert, brought Benny and Corrie to see the new turtle movie. That just left Elijah, who had to work, and me, who had ten minutes at home COMPLETELY ALONE, which I spent eating TWO cartons of yogurt without explaining myself to anybody, and going to the bathroom with the door open, before going shopping. Then I picked up Elijah and, since it was just the two of us, we had dinner at Chili’s. I had some kind of salad with shrimp. I almost always order some kind of shrimp when I eat at a restaurant. It’s just good! Elijah had a burger, presumably for the same reason. We talked about Godzilla.

SUNDAY
McDonald’s 

Sunday we got to the ocean! The sky was blue, the sun was hot, and the water was about twelve degrees. Seriously, that one year when we went a few miles further south with slightly warmer water has absolutely ruined me for frigid New Hampshire beaches. I did go in the water, out of sheer honesty, but I spent most of my time on the shore saying, “Whoa, that was a big one! Woo, look at you!” and wondering if it’s as much fun to be a seagull as it looks like. 

Bunch of pictures here:

We chose Hampton Beach because, if you’re only going to have one day at the ocean, it should be ocean that has fried dough and skee ball. We packed sandwiches and fruit and Twizzlers for lunch, and hit the drive-thru on the way back for dinner. 

MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, corn on the cob

A little yellow dinner. Sometimes that’s just what you want. (And if that’s a thing on Urban Dictionary, I don’t want to know about it.) 

TUESDAY
Nachos, pineapple

Damien mentioned that maybe the nachos I make could use a little more cheese, so I thought I would be fancy and buy a second KIND of cheese, and a Mexican one, at that.

Sadly, I am dumb, so I picked something called “queso fresco,” which is apparently known for its incredible ability to withstand heat. So we had tortilla chips with seasoned ground beef, cheddar that melted and queso fresco that did not, jalapeños, and some corn I shaved off the leftover corn from yesterday, and then sour cream and salsa. Pineapple on the side. 

It wasn’t bad, but next time I’ll just buy extra cheddar for that “more cheese” experience.

I was feeling pretty good on Tuesday, though, because I got home from my annual physical knowing my blood pressure is NORMAL. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have that back under control, after it was so bonkers for so long. I also haven’t lost the weight I gained when I tried Lexapro, but I haven’t gained any more, and I been eating nachos, so that seemed fair. And I’m not anemic and my lungs seem more or less back to normal. I guess I had Covid, I don’t know. My OBGYN was trying to convince me to go on an IUD for medical reasons, and I was trying to tell her that I don’t have any ethical problems with getting one for medical reasons, but right now I have all my other symptoms like 

and I don’t want to MESS with anything.

Anyway, we had nachos. 

WEDNESDAY
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, collard greens, watermelon

This meal came about because a few months ago, I was looking for strawberry plants and they were sold out, but they had some collard greens on clearance, so I got a few plants and stuck them in my garden. Now they look like this

and everything else in my garden is making flowers or vegetables or something, but the collard greens are just getting bigger and bigger, so it was time to figure out what they heck they are for. 

Chicken drumsticks and thighs were 99 cents a pound, so I figured chicken and collard greens sounded like a thing. First thing in the morning, I started soaking the chicken in milk and eggs (one cup of milk per two eggs) with salt and pepper.

Then I made some biscuits.  I actually have an excellent biscuit recipe

Jump to Recipe

but it only turns out really well if you bake them right after you make the dough; or maybe if you refrigerate the dough and then bake it. I never remember this, though, and always make the dough and cut out the biscuits in the morning, when I have time, and then bake them in the afternoon, because I want hot biscuits, and so the butter has softened and the biscuits turn out flat. I swear, it’s a good recipe! Just don’t leave the dough out like I do. 

Anyway, the chicken “recipe” I followed last time calls for putting a few inches of melted butter and canola oil (half and half) in a couple of roasting pans in a 425-degree oven and letting that heat up, but I had used up all the butter in the biscuits, and all I had in the house was olive oil, so OH WELL, I guess I had to use that. 

So I put plenty of flour in a bowl and heavily seasoned it salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and I think some chili powder. I put the chicken in the pans of oil, skin side down, and let it cook for about half an hour, then turned it and let it finish cooking for another 25 minutes or so, baking the biscuits at the same time. 

And yes, I felt might accomplished pulling these two huge pans of hot food out of the oven. 

But back to the collard greens! You can make them with bacon or ham hocks, but I didn’t have either one, so I poked around until, to my immense relief, I found the website that carried the information I was too shy to google directly: BlackPeoplesRecipes.com. This is the link for vegan collard greens, and it uses liquid smoke. I always feel like that’s cheating, but at what, I’m not exactly sure. 

Anyway, you fry up some onions and garlic, smoked paprika and hot pepper flakes, and then add in some cider vinegar to sweeten the bitter collard greens. 

I washed the greens very well (because I’ve been watering them with duck poo water) and then stripped the stems off

and cut them into strips, and put them into the hot onion mixture and cooked them down a bit, then added chicken broth (no longer a vegan recipe, but that’s what I had) and liquid smoke, and some salt and pepper. Then I moved it to the Instant Pot and set it on “slow cook” for the rest of the day.

They were magnificent. 

Just a beautifully intense, smoky, savory dish. The closest flavor I can think of is kale, but the texture was much more tender, between cabbage and spinach. Damien and I thought it was just wonderful, and we’ll definitely be having this again. 

Benny helped me make a giant pot of mashed potatoes (I saved out a little pat of butter for this purpose), and I made a pot of gravy with the chicken pan drippings and some flour and some leftover chicken broth from the collard greens. 

OH WHAT A MEAL. 

I didn’t even finish the chicken or the mashed potatoes, although they were very good, but I went back for seconds of the collard greens.

Okay, I had three biscuits, because I’m a monster.

But wow, everything was so tasty. The chicken was crisp on the outside and juice and tender inside, just perfect. It felt so good to cook a big meal from scratch, which I haven’t done in a while. 

And it was nice having leftover baked goods in the house, which certain other people enjoy with jelly the next morning.

Also on Wednesday, I started some ice cream going for the next day. Mid-August, and I’ve barely made any ice cream! I made one batch of strawberry, using the Ben and Jerry’s recipe

Jump to Recipe

and one of mango-peach-nectarine, which less fancy than it sounds. I just couldn’t find any pureed mango in cans, which I usually use, so I ended up mashing up all the fruit in the house that was about the same color and just blending it together.

Jump to Recipe

When the ice cream was done churning, I put the freezer bowls back in the freezer, hoping to make at least another batch the next day. 

THURSDAY
Lamb breast plate, stuffed grape leaves, yogurt sauce, taboon; strawberry, mango, and almond ice cream

Thursday was the day I was ready to find out what I had bought on Saturday. I can’t remember what the original plan was, but I got to Aldi and discovered several packs of something called “lamb breast plate” for $2.99 a pound.

Nothing lamb is ever $2.99 a pound, so I bought three three-to-four-pound packs of it, and then went back for a fourth pack later. I put two packs in the freezer and cooked two on Thursday. 

Moses and his girlfriend were coming over, and I wanted a middle eastern meal, and I briefly, longingly considered a recipe where you slit the meat open to make a pocket, and stuff it with rice, dried fruit, nuts, and more ground lamb, and then sew it shut; but prudence prevailed, and I went with this recipe from I’mHungryForThat, because all you do is marinade it, cook it slowly, and then pour a little sauce on at the end. 

The marinade is hot pepper flakes, cumin, sumac, pepper, brown sugar, minced garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt, all of which I had, and juniper berries, which I did not, but I substituted fresh rosemary. 

Then I just rubbed it all over the meat and let it be.

So, you can see that lamb breast plate has little ribs and is quite fatty, and the meat is mostly in between the bones, plus there are sort of flaps of meat on the other side. Everything I read said that this is a severely underrated cut of meat, and is very tasty and tender as long as you prepare it properly. 

While that was marinating, I went out to gather grape leaves. I usually only make stuffed grape leaves once a year, when they are flush and green and tender. This is mid-August, and they are somewhat past their prime, and many had succumbed to beetles, but were also twining all over the place, in places grapes have never been before (I have three Concord grape vines I planted, and several wild grape vines in other spots in the yard). I found one enormous leaf, the size of a dinner plate, sagging under the burden of two overgrown wild blackberries that had fallen under their own weight and half rotted already, too much for even the birds and bugs to keep up with, and I suddenly realized I was standing right next to the spot where my old garden used to be.

When we moved here, the whole yard was overgrown and formless, and I hacked and chopped and mowed and cleared, and dug and sifted and cultivated, and moved so many rocks around, and made a clear spot to grow my little patch of vegetables, and I kept it up for several years.

I have raised beds now, in a different spot, and the old garden spot has disappeared. It’s hip-high in green again, all overgrown and thorny, just wild grapes, wild blackberries, goldenrod, whatever. And it happened so fast.

I’ll tell you, people worry about not leaving a trace when they go out in nature, and they fret about disruptive hikers piling up rocks or disturbing the natural balance of things. They don’t want the world to know that they were ever here. They don’t want to be arrogant and intrusive. Let me tell you, “leave no trace” is going happen anyway, faster than you think. You pass through and it closes right up behind you, and that’s that. 

Anyway, I got a good pile of leaves and went back inside.  Washed ’em good to get rid of any leggy passengers, and dunked them in boiling water for two minutes to soften them up, and then left them in cold water. 

Last time, we tried making stuffed grape leaves with leftover cooked rice, and it was pretty sloppy. This time, I used raw rice with a bunch of herbs and spices (chopped wild mint, salt and pepper, I think sumac, nutmeg, cinnamon, I think coriander and cumin, and I don’t know what, and minced onions) and rolled them. Corrie helped this time. 

Not the absolute tidiest production, but we made plenty of them, and for once I ran out of grape leaves and filling at about the same time. 

Then I line the Instant Pot with parchment paper, carefully piled the rolled grape leaves in it, threw some lemon slices in, and filled it about halfway up with chicken broth. Then I somewhat recklessly pressed the “rice” button.

I think they may have come out okay with this cooking method, but then I just left them there for quite a bit longer, and the end result was some rather overcooked rice. They were okay! Just kinda, well, you know what overcooked rice is like. I also wish I had used more of every kind of seasoning I put in. It was a good flavor, but I wanted more of it. 

About two hours before dinner, I put the lamb into the oven, covered with tinfoil. I also made a batch of dough for taboon bread

Jump to Recipe

which I think I like even more than pita, and it’s easier, because you’re not trying to get a pocket to form. Sometimes, if I’m make a juicy meat dish, I’ll make a big slab of taboon bread and serve the meat right on top of it; but sometimes I made separate little pieces, and that’s what I did this time. This recipe is enough for twelve little loaves about 8-10 inches across. I love this recipe because it only has to rise once, and it bakes in about twelve minutes, so you can decide almost at the last minute that you feel like making bread after all. 

Oh, and I made a bowl of yogurt sauce with fresh garlic and fresh lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper. I misread the lamb recipe, and you’re supposed to take the tinfoil off and finish cooking it and then pour some sauce on; but I poured the sauce on and then finished cooking it. (The sauce is chopped mint, lemon juice, and brown sugar.)

IT WAS STILL VERY GOOD INDEED.

Super juicy.

I would recommend getting some shears to separate the ribs, though. We struggled a little with cutting it, not because the meat was tough, but because it was so fatty. The meat itself was so good, though. Tremendously savory and tender. If you like lamb, this is a wonderful way to prepare it. 

The bread and the lamb finished cooking at the same time, and I once again felt pretty pleased with myself for hauling out all these giant, laden pans of food onto the table. 

I had hoped to make some kind of ice cream with at least a middle eastern nod, but I just ran out of time. People needed to be driven here and there and Thursday was the day the cat, as Damien put it, took his vows, and I went to drop off a kid at work and take another kid for a haircut, and I was like, I think that’s it? That’s all the people I’m responsible for right this minute? So I started to drive home, and then I remembered OH THE CAT.

Pretty rough day for the little guy. First the cut his balls off, then they forget to pick him up. To add insult to injury, we found out that this cat which we got a month ago, and who was allegedly eight weeks old at the time, is NOW eight weeks old. So he was only four weeks old when we got him, poor baby!

We knew he was younger than they claimed, but didn’t realize how much younger. No wonder he sucks on blankets. Anyway, today he is feeling frisk and fine and we just have to keep the dog away from his stitches for a week, which should be easy as pie, hahah ahaha hahahhaaa. 

Anyway, I decided to make some almond ice cream, which is the same as the strawberry ice cream recipe, below, except you add a few teaspoons of almond extract, you skip strawberries of course, and you let the ice cream freeze for a few hours, and then stir in 2/3 of a cup or so of toasted almonds, and then let it finish freezing. 

The kitchen was pretty hot by the time I got around to making this third batch of ice cream, so it didn’t really freeze up right. I don’t actually mind when this happens, as it results in a kind of ice milk with a pleasant crystalized texture. The flavor was great (I actually used 1 tsp of almond extract and 1 tsp of vanilla) and it was quite popular. It would be great with some bittersweet chocolate chips, but it was good on its own. 

Here’s the three ice creams, looking dramatic:

I also discovered that, if I really wanted to make middle eastern ice cream, I would make something called booza, which has mastic in it and is stretchy. I am fascinated with this idea and would absolutely love to try some, but chances of me making it myself are pretty low, because anything that depends on being a certain texture is not my forte. Perhaps in paradise. The leaves will close over me, all traces will disappear, and Allah will appear in a blaze of glory and hand me a bowl of stretchy ice cream. That sounds pretty great. I’ll take pistachio. 

FRIDAY
I believe we’re going to have scrambled eggs, maybe beans and rice, and leftovers. There MUST be leftovers in this house.

I leave you with one final image. This is the white board which I mounted to the front door, the door through which everyone goes when they leave the house. As you can see, it has the days of the week on it, and I BEGGED and PLEADED and IMPLORED and ABASED MYSELF to the kids, in the hopes that they might deign to write their schedules on it, so I would know before the last minute who needed to be where and when. 

Here is that white board now: 

Little bastards. Good thing I love them. Maybe I’ll make them some more biscuits, or some ice cream. 

moron biscuits

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the ice cream base

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them with the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Make the ice cream base:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and continue whisking to blend.

Put it together:

  1. Mash the strawberries well, or puree them in a food processor. Stir into the ice cream base.

  2. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

 

Mango ice cream

Ingredients

  • 30 oz (about 3 cups) mango pulp
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 mango, chopped into bits

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, and salt until blended.

  2. Add in the mango pulp and cream and stir with a spoon until blended.

  3. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

  4. Stir and transfer to ice cream maker. Follow instructions to make ice cream. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes.)

  5. After ice cream is churned, stir in fresh mango bits, then transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for several hours.

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

What’s for supper? Vol. 336: Aubergine positivity

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: 

SATURDAY
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. 

SUNDAY
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. 

MONDAY
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
Regular tacos

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. 

WEDNESDAY
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. 

THURSDAY
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.

FRIDAY
Pizza

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. 

 

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

What’s for supper? Vol. 335: Cushioning where it matters

Happy Friday! Here is a picture of a happy Friday:

More on that in a bit!

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I took a picture just so I would remember what it was we had. Here is that picture:

Is there a name for when you always think photos of sandwiches are making rude noises at you? {Clutches wedding guest’s sleeve:} Is there a name for that??

SUNDAY
Pulled pork, spicy fries, corn on the cob

World’s okayest pulled pork. I seared it in hot oil with salt and pepper, then threw it in the Instant Pot with apple cider vinegar and water, lots of cumin, some jalapeños, and I forget what else, maybe some cinnamon sticks. Oh, a quartered onion. I wasn’t really paying attention, which is what the Instant Pot is for. I pressed “meat” and just like magic, a few hours later I opened the lid and there was meat inside! I pulled it out and shredded it and put some of the broth back in with the meat to keep it warm while the fries and corn were cooking. 

Not a very pretty meal, but a tasty one. 

MONDAY
Chicken caesar salad

Monday I was running around like a maniac, but supper came together quickly. I drizzled some chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoned them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and broiled them on both sides, then sliced them. 

I set out dishes of chicken, chopped romaine lettuce, freshly-shredded parmesan cheese, croutons, and a beautiful creamy yellow dressing

which I made in the food processor.

Jump to Recipe

I forgot to buy anchovies for the dressing, but it still came out incredibly tangy, and I didn’t really miss anything. Very pleasant little meal with lots of sharp, rich flavor.

Last time I made this dressing, I used duck egg yolks, which are heavenly, –or, not heavenly, but earthly in the best way. Our ducks haven’t started laying yet, but they have started . . . acting like they’re thinking about it? I don’t know. Who knows what a duck is thinking. Very little, I’m sure. 

Corrie made the croutons. We always have leftover hamburger and hot dog buns hanging arounds, so she cubed those, then melted a stick of butter and poured it over the bread and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. 

They’re supposed to toast slowly for a long time at a low temp, and we didn’t really have time for that, but nobody complained about salty, buttery croutons with soft middles. I’m a little salty and buttery and soft in the middle myself, and I’ll just go ahead and end this sentence right here. 

Hey look, a truck full of me. 

Speaking of which, has anyone ever made those croutons out of grilled cheese sandwiches? I read about them in the NYT one time and I could never decide if they sounded good or disgusting. Maybe if you cut them up small enough. 

TUESDAY
cold cereal or whatever

Tuesday was KITTEN DAY.

In this house, we are poor, deprived, neglected waifs who have no pets, no pets at all, just a dog and a bird and a lizard and four ducks and some sea monkeys, and we don’t even have any kittens! So on Tuesday, Damien took some of the kids out to get a little gray kitten. (I think I mentioned before that our poor other cat died, so it’s been a plan to replace him.)

May I present to you: FRIDAY.

He is a fine fellow. Actually he has fleas and an eye infection and possibly worms, but that’s not his fault, and of course we’re treating him for all those things,

and his personality is awesome so far. He’s just valiant and fearless and cuddly like a kitten should be, and he and the dog are getting along pretty well.

 

I’m happy Sonny will have someone to pal around with when the kids go back to school (and I’m happy we didn’t have to get a second dog for that purpose).

Friday is definitely not a purebred, but he looks like he has at least some Russian Blue in him, which is nice. They have good personalities, and he seems to be settling in really well. Good little kitty cat. 

You can see his eyes are still cruddy, but they’re improving day by day, and if the antibiotics don’t work, we have a vet appointment lined up. Also haven’t spotted a flea in over 24 hours, so WHEW. 

Oh, about dinner. Enough people were gone around dinner time that I just couldn’t get myself to cook something, so we just scrounged. I had a giant mug full of Honeycomb, which is the best cereal. 

WEDNESDAY
Koftas, Jerusalem salad,  pita, yogurt sauce

Wednesday I allegedly had nothing to do, and yet somehow still got home excruciatingly late, but luckily I had this easy meal planned. 

I do have a recipe for koftas

Jump to Recipe

but I make them a little different each time. This time it was about five-and-a-half pounds of ground beef, six eggs, two or three cups of bread crumbs, and then I just started dumping in spices. Lots of green za’atar, lots of garam masala, some cumin, some cinnamon, and a decent amount of Aleppo pepper, and some salt. I think that’s mostly it, mixed thoroughly with my hands. I have an unholy appetite for raw ground beef, so I didn’t mind tasting it while it was uncooked, and it tasted pretty lively. I meant to add mint, but I forgot.

I formed the meat into logs and then inserted a skewer into each one. These are, of course, supposed to be cooked over a fire, but they’re still pretty good cooked under a hot broiler, which is how I cooked them. 

I made a bunch of peppy yogurt sauce with Greek yogurt, fresh garlic, salt, and bottled lemon juice (keep forgetting to buy lemons), and a Jerusalem salad of cut-up Roma tomatoes and cucumbers with a little diced red onion, tossed with chopped fresh mint and parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. And I had store bought pita.

Served with a little more chopped fresh mint on the side. This is just a lovely summer meal. Savory but not too heavy, with the bright, cool flavors of mint and lemon throughout; and I guess it’s even pretty low carb if you’re into that.

Sometimes I make koftas in meatball or patty form, but you really can’t beat sizzling hot meat on a stick. 

THURSDAY
Tacos al pastor, black beans, plantain chips

I was actually kind of dragging by Thursday, but there was a hunk of pork and two rapidly-aging pineapples staring balefully at me, so we went ahead. I usually make this recipe for tacos al pastor which is a little bit complicated, but well worth it, with really explosively delicious flavors. 

However, I was in a hurry, so I made this simpler recipe, and skipped a few ingredients I had forgotten to buy:

tacos al pastor: Jump to Recipe

So it basically had two flavors (pineapple and chili powder), but that’s not such a bad thing! It marinated for 3-4 hours and then I broiled it in one pan and broiled chunks of the second pineapple (the first pineapple goes into the marinade) in a second pan.

Served on tortillas with sour cream and cilantro, with lime plantain chips on the side.

I also made some black beans in the Instant Pot, and they weren’t my very best, because I started them late, used too many beans and not enough seasoning, and didn’t drain enough of the liquid. Here’s my basic recipe, that I fiddle with and add all kinds of things as the spirit moves me (including egregiously white lady stuff like KALE) 

Jump to Recipe

and they were truly perfectly good beans.

And I got to eat it outside on the patio I built, with my jubilant yellow Mother’s Day hibiscus in bloom, and I was feeling pretty, pretty good about my life!

FRIDAY
Shrimp and summer squash lo mein

Shrimp is pretty cheap right now, for some reason, especially if you know only about half the family is going to eat it. I picked up some fetuccine for the noodles, and a summer squash and a zucchini squash. I don’t know what the difference is between zucchini squash and zucchini, to tell the truth. I’ll probably throw some fresh minced garlic and ginger in there, and possibly some radishes.

Jump to Recipe

We have had rain rain rain this week, and I wish I could send some of it to you guys in the parched states! My garden is not unhappy, though, and we have had bursts of hot sun in between. This year I have Brussels sprouts, ghost peppers, basil, collard greens, eggplants, watermelon, butternut squash, and pumpkin, and in my perennial beds, strawberries, asparagus, and rhubarb. It sounds like a huge garden, but it’s actually tiny, and I squashed everything all in together because that’s how I live, so who do they think they are? Sorry, can’t stop being crazy, won’t stop. Anyway, I saw a recipe for candied basil, which you use in a strawberry galette. MAYBE. MAYBE. 

caesar salad dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two large lemons' worth)
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 4 raw egg yolks, beaten
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Instructions

  1. Just mix it all together, you coward.

 

koftas

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 3 onions
  • 1 head (head, not clove) garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 5 slices bread
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp zataar

Instructions

  1. Put the wooden skewers in water to soak for about thirty minutes before you plan to form the kebabs.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and chop it.

  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and add the chopped onion mixture to it.

  4. Toast the bread, then put it in a bowl with warm water to soften it. Squeeze the water out and add that to the bowl with the meat.

  5. Add in the seasonings and squish it up with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined.

  6. Using your hands, form logs of meat around the skewers. They should be about an inch and a half in diameter.

  7. Grill over coals if you can. If they fall apart too much, you can cook them on a hot oiled griddle, or broil them. Turn to brown all sides.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

Tacos al pastor

Ingredients

  • 8-10 lbs pork butt or loin

For the marinade:

  • 2 pineapples, cut into spears (one is for the marinade, and set the other aside for cooking separately)
  • 3 onions quartered
  • 1.5 cups orange or pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ancho chili powder
  • 1 entire head garlic
  • 3 chipotles in adobo
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp oregano

For serving:

  • flour tortillas
  • sliced red onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the pork.

  2. In a food processor or blender, combine one of the pineapples and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Blend until smooth. (You will probably have to do it in batches.)

  3. Marinate the sliced meat in the marinade for at least four hours.

  4. Pan fry, grill, or broil the meat and the spears of the second pineapple. Roughly chop cooked meat and pineapple.

  5. Serve pork and pineapple on tortillas with sliced red onion, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.

 

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

What’s for supper? Vol. 334: Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

Happy summer! This is the week that always starts to feel like real summer to me, because the big family party is over and we get going on all the other stuff we haven’t quite had time for, mainly lounging around, eating ice pops, and watching Buffy

I didn’t get a WFS out last week, because of all the running around, so the quick version is: I don’t remember. Probably really easy, fast, boring stuff; except one day we had 

Kielbasa, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes sheet pan dinner with honey mustard sauce

I have stopped consulting a recipe for this meal.  (Here is one if you want, though! Jump to Recipe

I had three ropes of kielbasa cut into chunks, three pounds of Brussels sprouts halved, and probably three pounds of potato wedges with the skin on, tossed with salt and pepper and olive oil and spread on a sheet pan, and I cooked them at 425 for about 20 minutes. I mixed up a sauce from a bunch of dijon mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar or maybe wine vinegar, and pepper, kosher salt, and crushed garlic, then drizzled the sauce on the food

and stirred it up, and slid it back in the oven for another maybe 10-15 minutes until it was a little browned.

Sorry, not really a recipe, but you can just make it according to your taste and then cook it until it looks done. 

I used to make this meal with wedges of cabbage, but the kids vastly prefer Brussels sprouts. I also used to make it with the sauce to dip, but now I do the “cook, then add sauce and finish cooking” thing, and it comes out flavorful and keeps everything from drying out. Great summer meal, easy and hearty. 

And another day we had

Taijin chicken with scallions, mango, hot pretzels

This was supposed to be a NYT recipe, buuut I forgot to buy oranges, and you’re supposed to add orange zest and juice. So instead, I looked around furtively, opened a can of mandarin oranges, smushed up the contents, and dumped it into the sauce. 

The original recipe calls for 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sea salt, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest, 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce and 1/4 cup adobo sauce, 6 garlic cloves, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp Taijin, which is the ingredient that caught my attention in the first place, but which we turned out to have two almost-empty bottles of, along with only a small can of chipotle chiles and only a little honey.

I also broiled this in the oven, rather than grilling it; so it was basically a Ship of Theseus recipe at this point.

But honestly, it still tasted fine. Kinda citrusy, quite spicy. If you like the taste of Taijin, you will like this chicken. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it was easy and tasty.

(I threw in some scallions, as directed, but those didn’t fare very well under the broiler, and weren’t terribly appealing.) For sides, I cut up a bunch of mangoes and served the hot pretzels I was too tired to cook the other day.

A decent if slightly weird meal.

SUNDAY
Independence Day Party!

I spent most of last week scurrying around finishing the infamous patio, (which I am sitting on right now, and let me tell you, it is birdy and lovely)

and getting all the other stuff ready for the party, knowing all along that it was going to rain all day. I did have the option to change the party to Saturday, which was supposed to be sunny and hot, but not everyone could make it. Argh!

Eventually I decided it made more sense to have a family party with rain and all the family, then a family party with sun and lots of people missing. It was a good choice! It did rain quite a bit, but we had two canopies and a tarp, 

and my sister brought another giant tarp which two of my brothers-in-law set up like a giant tent. 

Easy for me to say it was the right choice, since I didn’t have to drive home long distance in soggy clothes, but it seemed like everyone had a nice time. I love my family and I’m so glad we get together like this every year. I didn’t put up my father’s monstrous (in size, I mean) American flag, because of the rain, and we forgot to read the Declaration of Independence, but it was still a very good party.

Glow sticks, snappers, sparklers, fireworks, shiny necklaces, and the dog got bossed around by so many little girls, which is his heart’s desire.

Our July 4th menu is not very exotic; we go for volume, rather than novelty. Damien cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, veggie burgers and tofu dogs, and three racks of pork ribs

Jump to Recipe

This year, in addition to the rub he usually puts on them before smoking, he sprayed them with cider vinegar as they cooked. They were done a long time after the rest of the food,

which actually worked out great, because it had gotten a little chilly by then, and we were all ready for a second course, and it was pretty great to sit by the fire gobbling up sizzling, tender ribs

I made potato salad and bought I think 18 bags of chips, and made several big platters of raw veggies. My brother’s BF also brought some delicious spicy peanut noodles, which everyone loved. We had watermelon, which we shared with the ducks, and for dessert, the traditional red and blue Jello cups with Kool Whip

as well as ice cream cups and brownies, which Benny made.

And then candy after the fireworks, to ease the pain of the party winding down. 

Bunch more photos here if you want to take a look.

MONDAY
Leftovers

Monday we were all smooshed into a paste of exhaustion, so I cooked the leftover hot dogs and set out some cold ribs and that was perfect. The town fireworks we were planning to go to got rained out and postponed until July 28, to my great relief. 

TUESDAY
Burgers

Tuesday we went with some friends to The Caterpillar Lab, which we’ve been meaning to do forever. If you’re anywhere in Southwest NH and looking for a way to spend an hour or two, this is an excellent little free visit, fascinating and educational for kids and adults.

We saw amazing things unfolding right before our eyes, on the counter at eye level, and also magnified on a big screen; and the staff was very chill and well-informed and ready to answer questions and chat about what we were seeing. There were lots of things for the kids to touch, and I liked how it was set up in a beautiful way, including a long wooden table set with decorative bottles, each holding a green branch with a different kind of caterpillar living on it, with an informational card on the table. Sort of reminiscent of a Victorian curiosity cabinet, but with things you could handle. A very pleasant and exciting way to spend a rainy morning. 

(I actually have a bit of a moth and butterfly phobia, which I have been working on, but there was nothing flapping around being horrible and out of control, so the experience was well within my tolerance zone. Very different from a butterfly garden, for instance, which is a nightmare for me.) 

Then we came home and played Forbidden Island, which I reviewed here.

Damien bought more meat and cooked more burgers.

We ate late and they were absolutely scrumptious. Definitely starting to get that vacation feel. 

WEDNESDAY
Aldi pizza

Wednesday Benny hosted a tea party, with animal crackers topped with Kool Whip, hot dog ends on toothpicks, and candy, and of course tea

and then we went to the library, and Damien brought home Aldi pizzas. Then I went on the library website and looked up their actual policies, and discovered that, newp, I’m not imagining it, the librarian is actually being a jerk to our family and possibly breaking the law. So we’ll see about that. Humph. (This is why, don’t talk to me about “ohhh, if only WXMYN could be in power, THEN we would see an end to all this terrible CORRUPTION! You give women a teensy tiny bit of power and they will find a way to abuse it. Which is not to say that women shouldn’t have power! Just don’t expect it to magically fix corruption.)

THURSDAY
Italian sandwiches

Thursday it was HOT HOT HOT (for New Hampshire), so I finally broke down and put in the air conditioner

Then I couldn’t put off shopping any longer, so I got some sandwich ingredients, and then when I got my other work done, I took four of the kids to the town pond, ahhh.

They swam for a while, and played Parco Molo, and then we had Italian sandwiches, cherries, and cheezy weezies. 

What a lovely spot it is. I opened my Merlin app and it picked up something like twenty different birds. I did some actual reading from an actual book (The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope, who is so unkind to some of his characters), and wow has my life gotten easier than it used to be. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Moe and his lovely GF and I think Dora are coming by for dinner, and we’re having fish tacos (just frozen batter fried fish fillets) on tortillas with shredded cabbage, sour cream, limes, salsa, and I guess guacamole.

Jump to Recipe

Am I forgetting something? Maybe I will make some lime crema. 

Jump to Recipe

I started some ice cream this morning, but it was so hot in the kitchen, the first batch (made with that Neopolitan trail mix from Aldi) didn’t freeze properly, so I turned on the AC and I’m currently making the second batch (strawberry with a little lime) in the cooler room. 

The ducks are frolicking in the sprinkler

the birds are singing, lots of things are blooming, I’m sitting in the shade in my own yard for the first time ever, and if this ain’t the life, I don’t know what is!

***

sugar smoked ribs

the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.

Ingredients

  • rack pork ribs
  • yellow mustard
  • Coke
  • extra brown sugar

For the sugar rub:

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp white pepper

Instructions

  1. Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture

  2. Smoke at 225 for 3 hours

  3. Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.

  4. Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.

  5. Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.

  6. Finish on grill to give it a char.

 

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. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

Ben and Jerry's Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the strawberries

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the ice cream base

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them with the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.

Make the ice cream base:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and continue whisking to blend.

Put it together:

  1. Mash the strawberries well, or puree them in a food processor. Stir into the ice cream base.

  2. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

What’s for supper? Vol. 306: In which I talk myself into, then out of, then into making ice cream again

By SIMCHA FISHER with additional reporting by CORNELIA FISHER 

Happy Friday! It’s summer for another, like, eleven minutes, and we’re squeezing the last few drops out. We told the kids we couldn’t afford to go to an amusement park this year, and we were right, but then, I don’t know, we went anyway. Do not take financial advice from me. All I know is eat fried dough & lie. 

Here’s what else we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Smoked ribs, cole slaw, chips and salsa

Saturday morning, I drove up to see some of my siblings and tend to our parents’ grave a bit. Look, ma! I remembered soapy water and a scrubbing brush!

Did some planting, sat on the grass telling some old stories in the hot hot sun, left the cemetery and got some lunch, and then drove back home, and one of my sisters was able to come too and join us for a bit, much to the dog’s delight. And of course everyone’s delight, but the dog was very especially delighted.

Damien smoked up a pile of ribs most wonderfully, and made a big bowl of coleslaw. 

He made his nice spicy sugar rub

Jump to Recipe

and smoked the ribs for about four hours, then brushed them with Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce and gave them a little char in the fire, and then moved them into the oven for a while, just to make absolutely sure they were cooked all the way.

They came out so juicy and tender. 

SUNDAY
Burgers, chips

I guess I must have gone shopping on Sunday, and Damien made supper. I have no memory of this day at all. 

From the looks of it, I had been suffering from some kind of pickle deficiency. Took care of that. 

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad with homemade croutons 

Roast chicken breast on mixed greens with fresh blueberries with diced red onions and homemade croutons. I forgot to buy nuts, and for some reason I decided to get a wedge of parmesan instead of a bunch of feta, which was a little sad. Then, to be perfectly honest, I ate so many hot buttered croutons right out of the oven that I didn’t really feel like eating a chicken salad, so I skipped supper, and then I think I had a bunch of crackers and fruit roll-ups at night, and I feel like I also ate some candy. Not been my most stellar week, nutritionally. I got really excited about having lost four pounds, and have been celebrating by oh you know.

Also it’s the end of summer and I’m sad. Which is the only appropriate way to feel, and if the reason you don’t feel that way is because you live in Arizona, then that’s just an inappropriate place to live. Have some croutons, it will help, temporarily. Have some ice cream. 

I also forgot to take a picture of the salad, but here is a similar salad from the past: 

Moe moved out and left behind some of his bougie sesame rolls, which I also made into croutons and also ate. 

TUESDAY
Chili verde 

The idea of chili verde has become more and more insistent over the last few weeks, and finally on Tuesday it manifested itself right on my stovetop.

Jump to Recipe

Actually it was much more fun than that, in that I got to unwrap a dozen sticky, crackly little tomatillos and chop the heads of a variety of peppers

rrrrroast them up

pull their skins off and then hurl them into the food processor with a bunch of onions, an entire peeled head of garlic, and a big bunch of cilantro. And I seared up some lovely seasoned pork in hot oil until it was crackling brown, and then into the big heavy pot goes the meat and all the peppers and whatnot, and I let it simmer for the whole rest of the day. The dog got so much pork fat that he became overwhelmed and started to growl at it (not at me; at the pork fat. He’s not smart), which I understand completely. I also am not smart, but I do know how to make chili verde. 

Sometimes I break up the meat into shreds after it cooks, but this time I left it as hunks. Sometimes I add some chicken broth to loosen up the pepper sauce, but this time I just let it be. Served it just plain, with cilantro and sour cream. Forgot to cut up limes. 

My friends, it was so good. AND THO THPYTHY. Spicy enough that it required me start talking funny. At no point did I remove any seeds or membranes from the peppers, and I stand by this! I do kind of regret not making a pot of rice or anything, and in fact went around spooning up extra pepper sauce from other people’s bowls. 

I went to bed happy, but the next day, things that were not entirely excellent occurred in and around my stomach. Totally worth it. But next time, I’ll make rice. 

I had also intended to grill some pineapple spears, and totally forgot. Grilled pineapple is ahhhhmazing. The juice turns to golden-sweet nectar and the little charred bits set off the creamy sweet flesh of the rest.

Especially nice with a little vanilla ice cream. IF you’re the kind of person who always has ice cream in the house, which I now am. 

WEDNESDAY
Canobie! Lake! Park! 

This was the day! We left a mere half an hour behind schedule, and I only took one wrong exit. I actually heard my GPS say “sorry,” which I don’t really understand, but we got right back on track, parked, ate our supermarket sandwiches, and it was off to the races. Well, Damien had to sit in the parking lot and listen to a hearing for a while and then write about it, but then he was off to the races, and we had a great day. Canobie is a wonderful place, clean, friendly, safe, well-run, and beautiful. 

 Here are more photos of the day on Facebook, if you want to take a peek. I ate a piece of fried dough the size of a 

and here is where I am reflecting that I’m not looking forward to school starting at all, but on the other hand, Corrie is watching me write and, whenever my fingers pause, she shouts words that she thinks should come next. I’m know I’m only writing about fried dough, but still.

Okay, so it was a very large piece of fried dough, and I ate it all, and then we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home anyway, and when we got home, I waited for the kids to get out of the car and then I ate some of the emergency diabetes candy that was in the glove box. This is why I generally steer clear of sugar. Once I have a little bit of it (or a lot of it, like a piece of fried dough the size of, okay Corrie, the size of a ROCK), then I turn into a panicky sugar-seeking machine. 

THURSDAY
Old Bay chicken drumsticks, carrots, and chips; homemade ice cream

The plan was to spend all day at the beach, according to a summer-long sword of Damocles promise, but various situations conspired against me, and instead a friend came over, we made ice cream, and we did some back-to-school shopping, which I’ve elected to make easier on myself by doing it in tiny increments, over and over again over the course of several weeks instead of getting it all over with at once. I am just chock full of good ideas these days. Then we went to a thrift store and to *ptui* Spirit. 

Anyway, one good idea I had was that, when we finally got home, I melted a couple of sticks of butter, poured them over the drumsticks, and sprinkled both sides liberally with Old Bay seasoning, and broiled them on both sides, with a little half-hearted basting halfway through. 

Well, I did this eventually. First I pre-heated the oven and set up the pan of chicken with butter and seasoning, and then I went into the living room with a can of seltzer and my phone, and put my feet up, and gradually began to wonder why the smell of chicken wasn’t filling the house. The answer turned out to be “because you have to put the chicken into the oven.” Live and learn. 

Delicious, because how could it not be, eventually? I served it with carrots and not hummus, because that turned out to be moldy, and chips. 

Worth noting: When I was labelling photo files, my phone changed this one to “bowl of old bat chicken.” So what?

Earlier that day, we made two batches of ice cream, both using Ben and Jerry’s basic sweet cream base (two eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 cups heavy cream). For one, I added 1.5 teaspoons of mint extract and most of a bag of frozen mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, and three drops of green food coloring and a good mixing before freezing it for five or six hours.

The other one got a few teaspoons of vanilla, a jar of halved maraschino cherries (drained), about half a bag of frozen white chocolate chips, and two big handfuls of cashews before it went into the freezer. 

Both great! Both hits. The cherry one honestly would have been better with peanuts, which certainly would have been cheaper, as well. I was going for a sort of sundae-in-a scoop taste, but without chocolate, and this achieved that. I adore frozen maraschino cherries. They make me feel like a little kid who feels like a grownup. 

I really love making ice cream. It’s like cooking, because once you understand the basics, you can more or less go with your gut about what will be yummy; but it’s like baking, because you do all the work in the front end and then just let it go, and end up with dessert. And I get the fun of doing something homemade with whole ingredients, but I know the kids will actually enjoy and appreciate it. Usually you have to pick either one or the other. But honest to goodness, if you see me eating anything with sugar it in today, please hit me with a rock, or a piece of fried dough, whichever’s bigger. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas 

Today one kid had new student orientation, and then we’re going to do more school shopping with the remaining two kids who somehow still haven’t gone, and it’s supposed to rain, so we can’t go to the beach. I wish I was back on the carousel. I wish I was back in the ocean. Truly, if I end up just making more ice cream, there are worse things. 

That reminds me, I have a really good fried dough recipe. Fried dough is easy to make, and if you do it at home, you can put a reasonable amount of sugar on it. Just a light dusting. 

And you can make it in a reasonable size, the size of a small boulder.

Do it. Fry some dough. Maybe scoop a li’l ice cream on top. For tomorrow we die. 

Fried dough

Makes about 15 slabs of fried dough the size of a small plate

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) cold butter
  • 1-1/2 cups lurkworm water
  • 2 cups oil for frying
  • confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
  • cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. Cut the cold butter into bits and work it gently into the dough.

  3. Add the water and stir until the dough is all combined.

  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes

  5. Separate the dough into pieces and flatten each piece into a thin disk with your fingers. If it's sticky, put a little confectioner's sugar on your work surface.

  6. Heat the oil in a pan. You can deep fry it or use less oil and fry it in a small amount of oil; your choice. The oil is ready when you put a wooden spoon in and little bubbles form around it.

  7. Carefully lay the disc of dough in the hot oil. Let it cook a few minutes, just barely getting brown, and then turn it and cook the other side.

  8. Remove the dough, let the excess oil drain off, and sprinkle it immediately with sugar and cinnamon if you like.

  9. You can keep these hot in the oven for a bit, but they're best when they're very hot.

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

 

Spicy Chili Verde

You can decrease the heat by seeding the peppers, using fewer habañeros, or substituting some milder pepper. It does get less spicy as it cooks, so don't be alarmed if you make the salsa and it's overwhelming!

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork shoulder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for cooking
  • 2 cups chicken broth or beer (optional)

For the salsa verde:

  • 4 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 habañero peppers
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 medium onions
  • 12 tomatillos
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 bunch cilantro

For serving:

  • lime wedges
  • sour cream
  • additional cilantro for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.

  2. Pull the husks and stems off the tomatillos and rinse them. Cut the ends off all the peppers. Grease a large pan and put the tomatillos and peppers on it. Broil five minutes, turn, and broil five minutes more, until they are slightly charred.

  3. Take the pan out and cover the peppers and tomatillos with plastic wrap or tin foil for ten minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off the peppers and tomatillos. At this point, you can remove the seeds from the peppers to decrease the spiciness if you want.

  4. Put the skinned tomatillos and peppers in a food processor or blender with the onions, garlic, and cilantro. Purée.

  5. In a heavy pot, heat some oil. Salt and pepper the pork chunks and brown them in the oil. You will need to do it in shifts so the pork has enough room and browns rather than simmering.

  6. When all the meat is browned, put it all in the pot and add the puréed ingredients.

  7. Simmer at a low heat for at least three hours until the meat is tender. If you want thinner chili verde, you can add chicken broth or beer. At some point, if you don't want the pork in large chunks, press the meat with the back of a spoon to make it collapse into shreds.

  8. Spoon the chili verde into bowls, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and top with sour cream and fresh cilantro.

What’s for supper? Vol. 305: We all scream “bastani!”

Hi! Hi! I meant to do a food-and-ocean pictures post last week, when we were in Cape Cod, but I became overwhelmed and it languishes unfinished in my drafts folder. It’s worth summarizing, though, because I realized I actually have a routine down for vacation week, though, which takes into account limited budget, limited packing space, and a desire to avoid that “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean” effect, but also a desire to not just eat boring everyday food, because we are near the ocean. (I should note that, at home and at the beach, Damien does all the laundry! And in fact he did most of the cooking while we were on vacation, too, so there.) Here is what we had (and what we did): 

First day: Sandwiches on baguettes (the most portable bread) and fake Pringles (the most compact chips). We have to bring a cooler anyway, for use at the beach, so I cram it with as much deli meat and cheese as possible, and we have this for our first meal, plus for lunch throughout the week. I also brought coffee, milk and cereal for the first breakfast, so we don’t have to leave the house until at least mid-morning of the second day.
Here are some pics on Facebook from our first day, discovering that the water on this part of Cape Cod is amazingly warm. 

Second day: 
Pics on Facebook from day 2. Our lovely house was literally a one-minute walk from the beach, but we wanted to see what else was in walking distance. Turns out, other beaches! But this one had a sign warning you not to swim there if you are bleeding, and not to wear dangly, shiny jewelry, or be too delicious. 

This picture is for all the haterz who ever wanted to BURY ME (I got out)

Before the beach, I went shopping, came home with rotisserie chickens and salad and chips, plus food for the rest of the week.

I had beach town supermarket sticker shock, so between that and the fact that Corrie came shopping with me, I came back with an awful lot of Jello, which came in handy later in the week when it was rainy and we needed something to fling around the kitchen.

Third day: 
We went to Paine’s Creek Beach and explored the tide pools. A dreamlike spot I’d love to go back to someday.

I think we actually went to a second beach that day? It’s all a blur. Damien grilled tasty burgers outside and made fries in the oven for dinner.

Fourth day: Seafood boil. We had some half-assed plans to dig our own clams, but there were complications with the permit and the equipment, so we decided to buy the seafood this year and plan to plan ahead next year. Still a huge treat. Recipe from the Narraganett beer can:

Damien made this meal as well. He got a bunch of littleneck clams, a few oysters, lots of mussels, and some kind of other big clams, and some kind of Spanish sausage, and we had cute little red potatoes and onions, bay leaves and peppercorns and parsley. Skipped the breakfast sausage. It’s all supposed to get boiled together, but we ran out of room, so he grilled the corn in its husks on the grill, and that turned out great. Man, that was a delicious meal. 

The tragedy was we didn’t think of getting some crusty bread to sop up the broth, which was tremendous. I liked the little neck clams best. Oh, what a feast. I had, uh, four helpings.

Most of the kids had chicken nuggets and corn, because what do they know. 

This was the day we rented kayaks and canoes! We paddled up Swan River, out into the ocean a bit, and then back down the river. A most excellent adventure, and now I am absolutely on the prowl for some used kayaks so we can do this more often. 

Fifth day: Restaurant

It rained and thundered, so we went to the movies, and then went out to eat and got ice cream. We always have one restaurant day when we go on vacation. We descended upon Kate’s Fried Seafood and Ice Cream in Brewster, which was very good. I kind of regret not ordering a big fried platter like the others did, because it turned out to be not greasy and just nice, but the salmon burger and sweet potato fries I picked was also very tasty and fresh.

That night we played poker for Swedish Fish and I believe it was also that night Damien and I both fell asleep on the couch for some reason. 

Sixth day: Frozen pizza
The weather cleared up enough for some more swimming, and there was a spectacular sunset for our final evening. 

Last day: Supermarket sandwiches on the way home. We had to be checked out by 10:00, so we had a quick breakfast, cleaned like maniacs, drove for a while, stopped for cheeseburgers, drove more, fulfilled my recently acquired lifelong dream to tour the U.S.S. Constitution, which is the world’s oldest ship still afloat!

and then to be honest the day started to go downhill, but Damien always listens to my stupid plans, so we walked a mile to the T station and rode the train to Chinatown. This would not have been a bad idea except that it was at the tail end of a very long and exhausting day and week, and nobody was at their best. So we got some reasonably tasty treats,

wandered around for a bit, and discovered they were having some kind of amazing food and dance festival at this very spot tomorrow, and decided to call it a day. Back on the T, another mile walk, couldn’t super duper remember where I parked the car, found the car, drove about an hour, stopped and got sandwiches at the supermarket, drove another two hours home, and BOY was the dog happy to see us. BOY WAS HE. 

And that was vacation. It was beautiful. 

Here’s what we had this past week: 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic bread

Damien shopped for and made dinner. Absolutely delicious. 

His recipe, and I’m running so ludicrously late today, I don’t have time to make a recipe card at the moment:

One chopped onion per can of tomatoes, (he used 4 cans) and a diced head of garlic. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes until you can smell the oil in the room, then add the onions only and cook till soft. Add a little salt. Add the garlic and cook some more, and then add tomato paste (one can per can of tomatoes, so four cans.) Cook that a bit then add sugar and some glugs of wine. Add the tomatoes and simmer, adding wine and a little olive oil as needed/wanted. When most of the tomatoes are broken down it’s pretty much ready.

It was good to be home. And the weather was suddenly autumnal, which was kind of unnerving. We expect to have some more summer heat soon, but we have definitely rounded a corner. 

MONDAY
Chicken sandwiches with marinara sauce, provolone and basil; lemon rosemary olive oil cake

There was lots of wonderful sauce left over, so I bought some chicken burgers and cut up some baguettes, and we had sandwiches with a slice of provolone, a few basil leaves, and generous scoop of hot sauce to melt the cheese over everything. 

Always tasty.  

And then Clara made an amazing cake for the Assumption: A lemon olive oil rosemary cake with rosewater. She said there was a lot of prep work, with all the chopping and zesting, but the baking itself was quite simple, and it came out light and luscious, and you could really taste all the elements. 

So pretty. So nice to have someone else spontaneously coming up with cakes!

TUESDAY
Tostadas

Tostada Tuesday! Like Taco Tuesday, but when all the stores are out of taco shells so you suddenly realize that you can buy that bag of tostada shells you’ve been walking past and not buying your whole life, and no one will stop you. 

I’m not going to say tostada Tuesday changed my life, but it was fun, like discovering a new shape of pasta or a new . . . uhh, I don’t know, I got nothing. I gave up alcohol over a week ago and I’ve been sleeping through the night every night for the first time in many years, but it’s just made me stupider, which doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, I wonder what else I’ve been walking past all these years, week after week, and never even considering buying, besides tostada shells. 

I also made a big bowl of guacamole.

Jump to Recipe

The avocados looked fine, but they tasted so pale and watery. No one else noticed, but I was really dismayed. Hope it’s a fluke. Not an actual fluke. That would be disgusting. 

WEDNESDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

I planned these solely because people were kind of cranky and I wanted them to like me again. A Vermonter sandwich is thick, crusty bread (preferably sourdough or ciabatta, but I got baguettes), thick slices of roast chicken or turkey, lots of bacon, thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese, slices of tart green apple, and lots of honey mustard dressing. 

It is a very hearty, cheering sandwich and it will make you friends. Corrie claimed that, once, I bought cheddar cheese that was so sharp, she cut her finger, and she absolutely insisted that this literally happened, and she will die clinging to this story. 

THURSDAY
Bo ssam, rice and lettuce, Asian cucumber salad, watermelon; saffron rosewater pistachio ice cream 

Thursday was supposed to be pork ribs, and they were supposed to be $1.49 a pound, but the supermarket flier lied to me, so I ended up pacing back and forth in front of the meat section, snarling quietly to myself, and then gloomily purchasing a giant fatty pork butt with no particular plans. 

Sometime during the week, the bottle of rosewater left over from the Assumption cake began to work on my brain, though, and I realized I had a jar of saffron threads I had never used, and Lucy had given me a mortar and pestle for mother’s day that I had likewise never used, and all that was lacking was a bag of pistachios, and then I could make . . . BASTANI. Bastani is persian ice cream made with, as you no doubt surmised, saffron, rosewater, and pistachios, and the idea of it has been haunting me. If you’ve never been haunted by the idea of persian ice cream, then baby, you are missing out. 

So from there, I says to myself, I says, what kind of pork goes with this kind of ice cream? And of course the answer was bo ssam. Usually I make bo ssam and then figure out what kind of soothing, mild thing I will serve along with it, but this time, I worked in the other direction. 

I have made bo ssam half a dozen times, and I keep simplifying the recipe, until I’m not even sure if it’s bo ssam anymore. All I do is, starting the night before, I mix a cup of salt with a cup of sugar and rub it all over a fatty piece of pork butt or shoulder, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it overnight. Then around noon I heavily line a pan with tinfoil, unwrap the meat, and put it in the pan, and cook it for six hours at 300. That’s it. We eat it with lettuce, rice, and whatever Asian sauce I can find, and something soothing to the palate.

I’m telling you, I could make this with recipe with my eyes closed. I could make this recipe with my feet. It’s so simple, and everybody acts like I’m some kind of conquering hero genius, and they gobble it up. It is so tender, it is just barely holding itself together under the caramelized salt and sugar crust. It’s ridiculous meat. There should be a law! 

I cut a watermelon into chunks, I made a pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and I made a bowl of Asian cucumber salad, which is always refreshing and pretty and takes literally five minutes to throw together. 

Jump to Recipe

And there it all was. I brought my plate outside and ate alone so no one would see me acting like a monster with it. This was just a spectacular meal, an absolute festival of flavors. 

Everybody ate a lot, and had to rest up for a while, and then I brought out the ice cream! PERSIAN ICE CREAM.

Not gonna lie, this was kind of a pain in the pants to make. I am going to write a whole separate post about various ice creams I have been making since I got my ice cream maker, so I will go into more detail there, but I made a triple recipe, and it just took a long time because you have to stand there whisking the custard until it thickens, and I have a special knack for making custards take a ludicrously long time to thicken (well, probably because I’m always making triple recipes). I thought it turned out great, though. About half the family liked it, which is not bad. You could smell but not taste the rosewater. It was a wonderful color, and I was very pleased with how the saffron tasted warm, because it was saffron, but cold, because it was ice cream. I used plenty of salted pistachios (the recipe calls for unsalted) because that’s what I could find, and that turned out perfect. I did not use vanilla, and didn’t miss it. All in all, a success. But I have promised them to go back to something like chocolate chip or rocky road for the next batch. They are pretty good sports, but they have their limits with my globalist nonsense. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

There are four balls of pizza dough defrosting on the counter, and that is as far as I have gotten. Next thing you know, people will want me to get dressed. 

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. 

 

5 from 3 votes
Print

spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 304: It’s souvlaki all the way down

Happy Friday! The name of the game this week was souvlaki! We didn’t really have that much Greek food; I just like saying “souvlaki,” and apparently so do Greek people, because every time I look up a recipe for something Greek, they let it slip somewhere in the recipe that this is souvlaki. No matter what it is. I have looked it up, and apparently the main ingredient necessary, in order for a dish to qualify as authentic Greek souvlaki, is “various meats.”

This is what makes me take a dim view of arguments that such-and-such dish isn’t really authentic. I mean, if it’s made of sawdust, then no, it’s not authentic cuisine. One time I told my kid I was eating imitation crab meat, and she said with great condescension, “Weww, Mama, I woudln’t eat wubba cwab if I was you.” But that is as far as I’m willing to go. Beyond that, it’s all authentic souvlaki as far as I’m concerned. (This is a complicated joke about fake meat, mock turtle soup, and turtles all the way down, if you like. If you don’t like, you can just keep reading, and eventually there is a nice picture of pork.) 

Weww, Mama, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, veggies and dip, chips, cherry pies with ice cream

My sister and five of her kids came over on Friday. On Saturday, we had a lovely guest for lunch, Fr. Michael Eades, a Toronto Oratorian who was passing through, so we had a little cookout in the middle of the day, and then we went to the beach, and then we came home and had another little cookout, because It Is Summer. 

I had a lot of fun making the pies. I do recommend sitting down in the afternoon and pitting several pounds of cherries while chatting with your beloved sister, and all your kids goof around playing cousin games and being silly. It’s just nice. Then I made the pies and Corrie brushed them with egg wash for me

and of course I managed to burn them, but they still got ate up. 

Here’s my reliable pie crust recipe:

Jump to Recipe

SUNDAY
Spaghetti al carbonara 

Other meats have gotten more expensive, but bacon, which was always expensive, has stayed about the same, so I convinced myself this counted as a cheap meal, because I hadn’t gone shopping yet and it was literally the only dinner I could think of. 

Just about everybody likes it, and I managed not to burn the bacon, anyway. I bet you haven’t made carbonara for a while! Why not make it this week?

Jump to Recipe

Just pasta, bacon, parmesan, eggs, butter, and lots of pepper. Sticks to your ribs, as my grandfather used to say. You can make it fancier if you want, but the basic version is so easy and good.

MONDAY
Chicken drumsticks, pasta salad

Drumsticks really are cheap, to my sorrow. I hate drumsticks. I mean, they’re fine. On the drumsticks, I put olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and paprika, and roasted them, turning them once. The pasta salad had olive oil, wine vinegar, black olives, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and I imagine salt and pepper. 

Not a sophisticated meal, but I went shopping in the afternoon, got home late, got the food put away because the grocery-put-away kid was at work, and then cooked supper, so everyone has hungry and appreciated food. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!

I used to think Taco Tuesday was so silly. The kids would get so excited if I served tacos on Tuesday, and I just could not see what the big deal was. It was just tacos, regular tacos, and it happened to be on a day that also started with T, big deal. 

But you know what? Taco Tuesday performs the valuable service of letting me not figure something out. What day is it? Tuesday. What are we having? Tacos. What are people? Happy. Take a little nap, brain. THIS IS WORTH FORTY MILLION DOLLARS.

To the drained ground beef, I added lots of cumin, lots of chili powder, salt, plenty of garlic powder and onion powder, and some water. I guess I am officially weaned off using those little packets of taco seasoning. The secret ingredient is, as I suspected, salt. 

I went to take a picture of my tacos, and the camera was open the other way and captured this somewhat portentous photo of myself, looking like I am considering devouring not only the tacos, but the entire world, because the world is asking for it.

 

And here is the picture of my tacos.

WEDNESDAY
Pork gyros (souvlaki), homemade vanilla ice cream

The star meal of the week. I had a pork loin that I cut into thin slices and marinated in the morning. I sorta kinda followed this recipe (souvlaki), except I used a lot more garlic than it says, skipped the thyme, and went with fresh rosemary and fresh oregano. The one important thing is that this marinade includes honey, which he claims (and which I have no reason to doubt) breaks down the pork fibers. I marinated the meat about five hours and then pan-fried it in batches, and it certainly came out amazingly, yieldingly tender. 

I also made a big batch of garlicky yogurt sauce

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and cut up a bunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, and we cooked some french fries and I sent the girls out for a bunch of wild mint leaves, we and wrapped it all up in pita with feta cheese and hot sauce. 

Hot damn, it was delicious. (Actually I skipped the fries because I ran out of room and I secretly think it’s kind of gross.) I forgot to take a picture of it actually wrapped up like a wrap, because I just gobbled it up. You really cannot beat fresh herbs in a wrap. I think I’m going to take another stab at growing herbs inside this winter, because it makes such a difference. 

THEN, my ice cream maker arrived! Actually it arrived on Tuesday. I’ve been haunting Facebook Marketplace, and found a great deal on a Cuisinart ice cream maker (this one, and I didn’t spend any $83.10 on it!). We dashed out (that’s an ice cream maker joke) for some heavy cream and decided to just start with vanilla. I had put the bowl in the freezer in the morning (this is the kind you don’t need ice or salt for, but you do need to freeze the bowl for at least six hours ahead of time), and we made one batch that came out great, but the bowl did not stay cold enough in our sweltering kitchen to make a second batch. So I went ahead and ordered a second bowl from eBay, plus the Ben and Jerry’s recipe book everyone is telling me is the best. 

Benny always strives to dress appropriately for the occasion. 

So, no thrilling ice cream tales so far, but our first foray was pleasant enough. The machine is very simple to use. The ice cream comes out of th machine like soft serve, but I spread it in a pie plate and put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it came out like high quality hard pack ice cream.

There are some peaches on our peach tree, and we intend to make them into ice cream when they’re ripe; and we’re planning some ginger ice cream for next time we have Asian food, and probably, oh yes, blackberry ice cream when we get back from vacation and haven’t been scrounging away at the blackberry bushes for a whole week. 

THURSDAY
Pork ribs, cheezy weezies

Just good old oven broiled ribs with salt and pepper with the fat crisped up, nothing better. I was planning mashed potatoes, but it was and is way way too hot, so cheezy weezies it was. It’s been so hot all week. Hot hot hot. I actually got a bunch of work done on Thursday morning and then did something I haven’t done in decades: I draped myself over a floatie and just drifted around in the pool thinking about nothing. Just drifted like a screensaver, drift, bonk, driffffft. 

Actually before that, I went to jump off the little deck, got caught on a nail, and left most of my swim suit bottoms behind. Straight out of Looney Tunes. The kids may never recover. 

I’ll show you various meats. 

One of my kids immediately climbed out of the pool and went to find me a towel to cover my modesty. And another of my kids immediately shouted, “Not that one! That’s my towel!” And I am taking notes. 

Anyway, after that is when I decided I would just drift for a while. For some reason, the kids got out of the pool after my comic mishap. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

And now, I can hardly believe my luck, but we are getting ready to go to the ocean for a week. I planned (and, in a stroke of good sense, pre-paid for) this vacation back in the middle of winter, and boy oh boy. Are we going to swim in the ocean. We usually go to Hampton Beach, but we’re venturing a little further down the coast this year. I bought Aldi’s entire stock of oversized towels on clearance, and we have our shark-spotting app all fired up, and we might not have our absolute favorite kind of insulin, but we do have insulin, and the check engine lights are on but are not flashing, so off we go! The house we rented has a small balcony and a SPIRAL STAIRCASE in it. And is near the ocean!!!!!!!!!! It allegedly has a little boardwalk leading to a private beach 300 yards away, but many of those words can mean all kinds of things, so we shall see. But still. The. Ocean. I’ll probably be posting photos on Facebook and possibly Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to.

Yes, there will be someone watching the house at home, so please do not feel free to rob us of all our cool and valuable possessions, such as our, um, our very valuable, you know what, go for it. I guess the printer is only a few years old if you want. I may have a Creedence tape in there somewhere.

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 303: We all scream for Joachim

All things shall be well, and all things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be, well, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels

I vaguely remember Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Thai food

The kids had chicken nuggets at home and Damien and I went to a party at the house of one of his editors. We had a really nice time! We took our time coming home and stopped for dinner at Siam Orchid Thai Bistro in Concord, which has a pleasant outdoor table area. Lovely meal. We had a plate of various appetizers, all very fresh and delicious, and then Damien had some kind of amazing crunchy duck arrangement on spicy noodles, and I had a spicy beef and vegetable situation, also scrumptious. My rice came in an adorable little basket. 

We felt like such hot shots, we even ordered dessert. Damien had mango fried ice cream and I had coconut ice cream with peanuts on sticky rice. 

This refreshed and enchanted me so much, I went home and starting mooching around for information about ice cream makers, and I ended up getting an excellent deal on a like-new Cuisinart ice cream maker on FB Marketplace. It should get here in a few days, so hold on to your butts. 

MONDAY
Blueberry almond chicken salad

Easy and pleasant. The blueberries are sweet and cheap this year. I roasted some chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder, sliced it, and set it out with mixed greens, blueberries, slivered almonds, thinly-sliced red onions, and some freshly-shredded parmesan cheese.

I had mine with red wine vinegar for a dressing, and stale crackers on the side. I didn’t toast the almonds, because it was already monstrously late, and sometimes you feel like you don’t even have two more minutes to spare. But here is my periodic reminder that you can easily toast nuts in the microwave, and it makes them crunchier and nuttier, and only takes two minutes.

TUESDAY
Chicken enchilada bowls

I keep making this meal and it keeps not being anything more than okay. Why do I keep trying? Nobody knows.

I made a big pot of rice in the Instant Pot, and roasted the chicken breasts with olive oil and lots of Tajin seasoning, and then shredded it. I mixed half the shredded chicken with red enchilada sauce and half with green enchilada sauce, from cans. And I served the rice and two saucy chicken varieties with some black beans, shredded cheddar cheese, corn chips, and sour cream.

It was fine. I guess I’m just going to have to break down and make actual enchiladas again, though. I guess the real problem with this dish is that it’s not actual enchiladas. 

Tuesday, or possibly Wednesday, was also the feast of Saints Anne and Joachim. The only reason I know that is because I was looking for something that rhymes with “ice cream” for the title, and I was like, hey; so I looked it up the date, and I was like, hey! Or should I say: “AIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” 

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole and tortilla chips, corn on the cob

Now this meal turned out great. I made a large dish of guacamole, including one of the more successful tomatoes from our largely unsuccessful garden

Every year, I plant six tomato plants, and five of them are spindly, wizened, and blighted, and one of them is cheery, robust, and prolific. I water and fertilize them all exactly the same, and they all get the same amount of light. I know why this happens, though. It’s to drive me crazy.

I didn’t take a picture of the guacamole, but one must imagine guacamole. One must imagine Simcha happy. Guacamole makes Simcha happy. 

Jump to Recipe

For the carnitas, I followed John Herreid’s simple, delicious recipe, which I have finally made up into a card, because I altered it slightly.

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It turned out so lovely. You cook the seasoned meat up in oil and Coke with cinnamon sticks, orange quarters, and bay leaves,

 fish out the flavoring elements, continue cooking, and then scronch that meat.

I forgot to drain the fat out of the meat at the end, but there were zero complaints. I took my plate outside with the carnitas, some guacamole chips, and an ear of corn, and listened to Benny talk about how beautiful the world is.

And this is the best possible way to eat carnitas. 

THURSDAY
Burgers and ever so many raw vegetables

I’m vegcoring

I ate outside again and saw THREE hummingbirds. Here are two of them.  I think they were mad at each other:

I installed the Merlin app on my phone, and it’s very entertaining, but I can’t say it’s taught me anything. I’ve always had a hard time remembering all but a few bird calls, and now that my phone tells me what they are, I still can’t remember them unless I’m looking at my phone. Nicely designed app, though. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Later today MY SISTER IS COMING OVER. I AM EXCITE!!!!! Get ready for lots of food, because that’s what I do when I am excite!!!!!!! She and several of her kids are staying the weekend, and we are also having lunch tomorrow with a priest who is passing through on his way home from seeing the pope. I hope the hummingbirds behave themselves. 

And don’t forget to tell me about your homemade ice cream! I want to make ridiculous delicious flavors. We still have a few weeks of vacation left, and we are most definitely open to all kinds of ideas. 

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. 

 

 

Carnitas (very slightly altered from John Herreid's recipe)

Ingredients

  • large hunk pork (butt or shoulder, but can get away with loin)
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • salt, pepper, oregano
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 can Coke

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork into chunks and season them heavily with salt, pepper, and oregano.

  2. Put them in a heavy pot with the cup of oil, the Coke, the quartered orange, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  3. Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours

  4. Remove the orange peels, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves

  5. Turn up the heat and continue cooking the meat until it darkens and becomes very tender and crisp on the outside

  6. Remove the meat and shred it. Serve on tortillas.