Around 3:30 a.m., I thought of a really good joke to begin today’s post. I considered writing it down, but then I realized that it was so good, there was no way I would forget it.
Welp. Here’s what we ate this week:
BLTs, Boba Fett cake
Saturday was Lucy’s birthday. She frolicked at the beach and came home to have BLTs. If you are wondering what it looks like when you slowly and methodically burn five entire pounds of bacon, wonder no more.
Happily, the cake turned out better. When I asked what kind of cake she wanted, she just said “Boba Fett.” When I asked for more details, she said, “His slappable bald head,” which is a little strange, and I may or may not take these lines out before I publish. What I came up with is Boba Fett in his luxurious bacta tank/Polynesian spa. You guys, I spend way too much time online.
But check out this cake:
It is made of one flat, rectangular cake for the base, one cake baked in a loaf pan for the tanks, and for the rounded end pieces, a small circular cake baked in a glass dish in the microwave (which I only recently found out you can do) and cut in half. A microwaved cake turns out rather dry, but if you need a cake in a particular shape and you don’t have an oven-safe pan in that shape, this could be your solution.
I used gum paste for Mr. F
and for a few of the trimmings on his tank, with some chocolate details dabbed on, and the rest is frosting from a can and melted candy wafers piped with a sandwich bag with a hole bitten in one corner, I mean hygienically cut with scissors that I can easily find.
Lots of toothpicks in there. Gum paste dries fairly quickly, and you can fix mistakes somewhat by getting it wet and rubbing them out, but … only somewhat. Not my favorite medium. I only got it because it was a dollar cheaper than fondant.
But this is one of the few times a cake turned out exactly like the picture in my head. (In my head, I also only have butter knives, baggies, and toothpicks to work with.)
I briefly considered making some kind of transparent lid, or even a shaped dome of “water” to shield Mr. Fett’s modesty, and even went so far as to buy a package of unflavored gelatin, but I came to my senses in time.
Grilled ham and cheese, chips
Sunday I went shopping, and Elijah grilled the sandwiches for me.
“Souvlaki,” dolmas, pita crackers and feta, cherries
Pork was very cheap this week, so I bought to large, boneless pork loins. What to do? I had written “Greek pork” on the menu, but I don’t really know what that is. I ended up cutting the pork into long, thin strips and marinating in for several hours in olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic powder and oregano, and a big handful of lemon pepper seasoning. Then I threaded it on skewers and broiled it.
It was, as expected, okay, not amazing. I wish I had made some garlicky yogurt sauce. That would have made it delicious. It also would have been great grilled outside, which we can try some other day.
I did have fun making stuffed grape leaves with Benny. The grape vine has ramped all over the side of the yard and the leaves are nice and juicy, so she went out and picked 40 or so.
I boiled some water and poured it over the leaves and let them sit for two minutes, then drained the water and added ice water. Then we drained that, trimmed off the stems, and died the leaves off for stuffing. Fresh grape leaves are slightly rubbery, but have a mild but distinct tart taste, like wood sorrel.
I know some people roll their dolmas with raw or perhaps sauteed rice, and let it cook entirely by steaming, but the house was already incredibly hot and steamy, and I didn’t want to have a pot on the stove for hours and hours. So I halfway cooked the rice, then added some chopped scallions, plenty of fresh mint leaves (also from the yard) chopped up, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you want a recipe for no-meat dolmas, here is one we kinda sorta followed, but not really.
We lined the bottom of a heavy pot with about a dozen grape leaves to keep it all from sticking, and then we rolled the rest. You put the leaf on your work surface, bottom side up, points facing you, and put a heaping tablespoon or so of rice mixture in the middle. Fold in the sides, fold up the bottom, and roll it up as tightly as you can, from the points up.
This startlingly patriotic picture is brought to you by the fact that I wanted to put away the giant flag we hung up for the 4th of July, but it kept raining in between the searing heat waves, and I had to dry it somehow.
It was, as I mentioned, very hot, and we were rushing a bit, so these are pretty sloppy, but they did hold together.
I added about a cup-and-a-half of water, a big slosh of olive oil, and a big squeeze of lemon juice on top, loosely covered it, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.
You’re supposed to eat them chilled or room temperature, but we ate them right out of the pot. I put out a plate of lemon wedges and squeezed that all over everything on my plate, including the cherries.
Again, it would have been really nice to have some yogurt sauce, but with the crackers and cheese and cherries, it made a very pleasant summer meal. Corrie said, “Mama’s really outdone herself this time!”
I had to go out of town on Tuesday, and Elijah volunteered to make something he’s apparently been craving: Shepherd’s pie. His version uses mixed frozen vegetables, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and Worcestershire sauce, and he sprinkled cheddar cheese on top of the potatoes, and added chopped bacon in with the ground beef.
If you take your left hand and stretch it out as far as it will go, and then hold it there and take your right hand, and stretch it out as far as it will go in the other direction, that’s how much shepherd’s pie I ate.
Chicken thighs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and onions tray bake
Wednesday continued extremely hot, and I just gave up trying to get anything done, and took the little girls to the pond. Wonderful, wonderful, cool, cool pond.
My original plan had been this recipe from Sip and Feast, but there was no fennel to be found at the store, and I certainly didn’t feel like de-boning anything, so I just put the chicken thighs on a pan, sprinkled cherry tomatoes in between them, threw some chopped Bell peppers and red onions in there, drizzled it all with olive oil, sprinkled it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and cooked it in a hot oven until the chicken was done.
Not sophisticated or dazzling, but it was fine. I do love blistering hot cherry tomatoes.
Oh look, another sand worm, I mean boneless pork loin! I cut it into chunks and marinated it for several hours in a marinade of oil, lemon juice, wine vinegar, fresh mint, lots of crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little sugar.
This is an actual recipe that you can follow, if you so desire.Jump to Recipe
At dinner time, I spread it on a pan and broiled it
then served it on toasted rolls with mayonnaise, with chips and salsa and a big bowl of just plain blueberries, because it is July, and like my therapist is always saying, “Blueberries is a complete sentence.”
(Nobody is actually saying that.)
A slightly weird but not bad meal. People went to Burger King anyway, but I take comfort in the fact that this is not actually a reflection on my cooking; it was done solely to hurt my feelings. And it worked!
Bag o’ tentacles lo mein
This “mixed seafood” lo mein turned out really well last time, so I got the pouch of frozen ocean misc. from Aldi again.
Here’s my lo mein recipe:
Jump to Recipe
Pretty sure there is some tuna in the cabinets for people who don’t like it when their dinner waves at them. They have no idea how easy they’re getting. Off. Gosh, I cannot get that sentence to work out right. Well, goodbye.
pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)
- 1 cup veg or olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
- 4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
- 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
- peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks
Mix together all marinade ingredients.
Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight.
Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.
Serve in sandwiches or with rice.
basic lo mein
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)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.