What’s for supper? Vol. 90: We put the “amp” in camping

Hoop de doo! Here we go.

SATURDAY
Meatball subs, fruit

On Saturday, armed with only a sledgehammer, a reciprocating saw, and a thirteen-year-old boy, my husband built a new floor for our gutted murderboat, tentatively named “The No Regerts.”

Still ahead: sealing the wood and dragging it down to the stream. I SAID NO REGERTS. So I thought we could all use a hearty meal.

***

SUNDAY
Beef cabbage stir fry, rice, roasted rustlebutts

Here’s a nice recipe from Budget Bytes I make every six weeks or so. It’s easy and tasty and pretty cheap, and you can easily adjust how sweet or spicy it turns out.

Brussels sprouts were very cheap, so I got a ton and cut them in half and spread them on one of my fabulous new giant pans with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and just roasted ’em up under the broiler.

Corrie recoiled in horror and angrily refused . . . RUSTLE-BUTTS. So let it be written.

By the way, the best purchase I’ve made in a long time those two 15″ x 21″ baking sheets (affiliate link). I measured my oven and bought the biggest pans that would fit, and they make life so much easier. You can just cook everything up all at once, rather than trying to Tetris various small pans in there. They also double as serving trays for parties, and are useful for moving board games intact when we need the table.

***

MONDAY: Camping, day 1
We packed ever so slowly, and then had to go to urgent care for an ear infection, and had to stop to tighten the canoe that wanted very much to become a wild, wild canoe that hops on the nearest jet stream and resettles in Canada, so we didn’t get to the campgrounds until late, and then it turned out the lake was closed because of bacteria.

HOWEVER, the yurts were still airy and cool, and dinner was pork spiedies, watermelon, and Pringles, with S’mores for dessert. The spiedies were insanely delicious.

 

even though I forgot to pack tongs, and Mr. Husband had to make ridiculous BBQ chopsticks with a hair rubber band

I had made the meat at home the night before and packed it in ziplock bags along with the marinade, which leaked all over the inside of the cooler. I also forgot soap.

Faced with these realities, I decided pretty early on that I was going to take a three-day break from believing in cooties, and so what if the baby wanted to paddle around in the puddle under the spigot where I washed not only the pork juice with no soap but also her poopy bathing suit? I don’t want to hop on a jet stream and resettle in Canada! Not at all. Hey look, a yurt! So airy and cool.

I actually spent most of my time putting my feet up and complaining, while my husband made fires, told ghost stories, read Treasure Island to the kids, and grabbed flying children out of mid-air before they burned or impaled themselves.

Oh, and we took turns being fruit ninjas.

and I did get some rare photographic evidence that Corrie’s brain is, indeed, on fire.

***

TUESDAY: Camping, day 2
The kids had their hearts set on roasted apples for breakfast, but they ate most of the apples on day 1, so with a heavy heart I threw a box of Honey Buns at them while Damien went to Dunkin’ Donuts and got us coffees. Just kidding about the heavy heart part. Whatever it was in me that once relished the idea of waking up early and building a fire before breakfast, it’s dead now.

Lunch was sandwiches and cookies on the beach (a different beach, without water cooties), where we swam in the rain. Then the sun came out, so we bought a ton of candy and went to see Wonder Woman. Look, I never said we were good at camping.

Dinner was walking tacos, which taste so much better than is reasonable. I cooked ground beef and seasoned it at home, and we heated it up over our lovely propane stove. Each person got a personal little bag of Doritos, into which went meat, shredded cheese, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.

We also had grilled corn on the cob. You cook it in the husk over the coals until the husks are blackened, and it comes out so sweet.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist these cute Little Debbie brownies with animal tracks in them.

WEDNESDAY: Camping, day 3
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bagels, hot chocolate with rainbow marshmallows!!!!
Next time, I’ll remember to pack a real pan. And butter. And a decent cooking utensil. I did, however, remember the salt!

Never, ever forget the salt.

Lunch: Candy.
I would say we had something else, but really we basically had candy. And then we went home. Some more more pleased about this than others.

 

Supper (at home): Bagel, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches. I had to run to the convenience store for more eggs, and since I was already conveniently paying top dollar, I ponied up a little bit more for local eggs. This is one “fresh, local, organic” food that truly lives up to the hype. The yolks are darker and more flavorful, the whites are fluffier and lighter, and it’s very charming to see how many different egg sizes find themselves together in one box.

But lorramercy

I feel like they could wash them.

We’re home again. Cooties are real.

***

THURSDAY
Pork ramen, broccoli

On Thursday, my true love took the sledgehammer we found in the murderboat and smashed up my kitchen, just liked I’ve been asking him to do.

So I made dinner on a dining room chair.

I browned up some sliced garlic in olive oil using the saute function of the Instant Pot, then browned up a bunch of pork ribs. I took them out and sliced them, sauteed them some more, then took them out again. In the same pot, I hard boiled a bunch of eggs, then took them out, peeled and halved them. Then I added water and scraped up all the yumminess that was in the bottom of the pot, and cooked ramen noodles in it with the flavor packets, then added the pork and some chopped spinach. I served the noodles and pork with the eggs, some scallions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and crunchy noodles on top.

Not an especially sophisticated or complex taste, but it was fine and filling. And I cooked it all on a chair! And that’s why people love the Instant Pot.

***

FRIDAY
French toast casserole, I guess? I think Damien and I are going out for pizza. A full week of family togetherness is about enough for now.

What’s for supper? Vol. 72: Pork spiedies, haunted chicken, and gluey stew

OKAY HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, salad

On Saturday, our vacation week house guests arrived! One nephew and two nieces, aged 6, 4, and 2, respectively. I knew I would need anywhere from five to seven pounds of hamburger meat, so I got eight. There were no survivors.

***

SUNDAY
Orange garlic chicken; mashed potatoes; salad; biscuits; strawberry shortcake

On Sunday, we went ahead and had my parents over for dinner, too. I had a couple of big chickens I was planning to roast, but at the last minute I stumbled across this recipe, where you slice oranges and poke them up under the chicken skin; then you stuff the cavity with garlic cloves and more oranges.

The effect was, as Benny would say, “TWEEPY.” The voodoo look was enhanced by the splintery skewers I used to truss up the chicken in lieu of twine. I had to go spend some time thinking happy thoughts about puppies and lollipops after that.

The recipe said to put them breast up in a 340-degree oven, which I complained about bitterly. 340 isn’t a real number! And what about the other side??! But I did it anyway, and the chickens turned out very moist indeed, and festive-looking:


The flavor didn’t knock my socks off, but it was good. If I do this recipe again, I’ll definitely flip them chickens over at some point and let the other side brown up. The flabby, pale underskin bursting with hot orange mush was an unwelcome addition to my mental book of Terrible Chickens I Have Known.

When it was time to whip the cream for the strawberry short cake (I just used store-bought pound cake for the cake, because my time on a Sunday afternoon is worth six dollars), we discovered that my beloved Kitchen Aid standing mixer wouldn’t mix. Nothing we tried made it work. I don’t have another electric mixer. I have one of those hand-cranked rotary beaters, but the model I own was designed for an earlier age when people’s hands were smaller and/or they didn’t mind grating their knuckles into a pulp in the service of whipped cream. Also, the handle is broken off, and the stump is really sharp.

So I resigned myself to forty minutes of whisk action, and started singing a sad song in my head about how Kitchen Aids come and Kitchen Aids go, and all flesh is like grass anyway, and to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn, only sometimes *sob* the Kitchen Aid  . . . won’t . . . turn . . .

Then I heard a loud whirring sound from the kitchen. My husband had hit the mixer really hard, and it started working again. Lesson learned!*

*The lesson being: Here, have some whipped cream.

Oh, and it was early enough in the week that I thought it would be great to have the kids help with the biscuits. I used this basic recipe, except with some butter and some shortening. Butter gives a better flavor, but shortening makes it lighter.

They used the leftover dough to play a three-hour game of Castlemania. It involves a lot of screaming and, apparently, dough. Within the first hour, Benny (5) had gotten Mickey (6) to marry her, and she was waddling proudly around the house with their first babydoll stuffed under her shirt. By noon, I heard her shrieking, “Mitty! Oh, Mitty! Oh, oh, I’m having the baby!” I asked if everything was okay, and she explained that it was just pretend, so that was okay.

By the next day, they had eleven children, and the twelfth was due at midnight. This was exciting enough, but to make tensions even higher, their pretend Castlemania washing machine was broken!!!!!! Would the repairman get there in time??????

***

MONDAY
French toast casserole; sausages

To break up all the rampant childbearing, we went sledding on Monday, so this was a nice cozy supper afterwards. I followed this basic recipe, but just mixed it up and baked it right away, rather than waiting overnight. Very nice with raspberry jam.

When we went sledding, I decided to be Fun Mom and went down the hill myself. First I went on the toboggan with the seven-year-old, and we both fell off, and that hurt, it hurt, but I got up again. Then I took a break for a while, and then I tried one of those snazzy foam sleds.  This time, I fell off much sooner, rolled over once, kept skidding, and did a complete somersault on my head, yat! It was so awful. My belly was flapping in the wind and everything, and there was this fringe of moms watching me with this very familiar mixture of concern, horror, and relief that they were they and not I.

***

TUESDAY
Beef stew; butter and bread

I was running hideously late on Tuesday, which would have made it the perfect time to make Instant Pot beef stew for that instant beef stew experience. But it would be something new, and as my therapist keeps telling me over and over again, new is bad. NEW IS BAD. When I’m already frazzled, I’d rather work ten times as hard and eat at midnight than look up a new recipe.

So I made my regular recipe, and just skipped the “let it stew” part. Perfectly adequate, if a tiny bit gluey.

(My regular recipe: Fry up some crushed garlic in oil. Cube the beef, shake it up with flour, salt, and pepper, and brown it up in the oil. Add wine and beef broth, and then add cubed potatoes, carrots, and string beans. Let it simmer until the carrots and potatoes are soft. I sometimes add sliced mushrooms, diced onions, and/or diced tomatoes.)

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken nuggets, corn chips, mashed butternut squash

Wanting to reassure the Instant Pot that I still cared, I used it to steam the butternut squash. It turned out so well last time. This time, I must have crowded the squash or something, because only 3/4 of it got cooked. On the other hand, last time I made two squashes and mashed them, and the kids only ate about a third of it. This way, I was able to save time by throwing it away before it even hit the table. That Instant Pot really is a time saver.

***

THURSDAY
Pork spiedies with peppers and onions; salad; chips; pineapple

By far the best meal of the week. I cut up a big pork loin into chunks and started marinating it the morning before, so it got at least 36 hours to soak. I used this NYT recipe for spiedie marinade.

It was warm on Thursday, but not so warm that the BBQ could be extracted from the ice in the back yard, so I put the meat cubes along with wedges of green pepper and red onion in some shallow pans, rather than threading them onto skewers

and slid them under the broiler. The meat turned out a tiny bit dry, but still wonderfully flavorful. We ate it on grinder rolls.

Can you imagine a world without sandwiches? I can’t.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza!

Oh, I forgot. Last week, I said I was thinking of trying to make pita bread to go with the shakshuka. Well, I did it, and it turned out swell! So pillowy soft and nice. I made about twelve 8-inch pockets with a double recipe (see below). They puffed up like magical bread balloons in the oven, and the gently collapsed when they came out.

I baked three at a time. They only bake for three or four minutes, which is enough time to roll out another three pitas. This is not a recipe for when you’re in a rush, but it wasn’t hard, and the recipe really spells out how to handle each step. Labor intensive, but miles better than any store-bought pita I’ve had.

Today it’s raining hard, so I’m working up my nerve to go to the children’s museum with kids ages 11, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2, and almost 2, and the two youngest are guaranteed to spend most of their time trying to murder each other. That seems like a good idea, right? Something I should pay money to make happen? Maybe we can pick up some new germs to go with our old germs while we’re there.

What’s for supper? Vol. 66: Food is magic

We certainly ate a lot this week! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, carrots and dip

Saturday we were winding up vacation, so we took the kids ice skating and to a Chinese buffet for lunch, where we proceeded to eat so much that most of us swore off food forever. That didn’t last, so we had grilled cheese for supper. For some reason, I took a picture of it.

image4

At the buffet, I thought briefly of viruses and plagues and a citizenry innocent of basic hygiene practices, and then I threw caution to the wind and loaded up on stuffed mushrooms, sushi, and tapioca, because if you’re going to die, you might as well have some stuffed mushroom, sushi, and tapioca first.

It was a pretty good spread, with crab legs, barbequed ribs, and probably more than a hundred other yummy items to choose from, all you can eat. The most popular choice with the kids? That ancient and venerable dish of the far orient: Banana halves with strawberry syrup on them. They also each ate their weight in Oreos.

We had a pretty good time ice skating, but nothing lodges in my mind like last time we went ice skating, about six weeks before Corrie was born:

benny-on-ice

An attendant came over and told us to get off the ice. I almost kissed him.

Here’s Corrie now, with her widdle nose pushed up against the glass.

corrie-watching-ice-skating

She then had hysterics and had to be driven around the byroads of rural Vermont until she fell asleep, and she and my husband hung out in the van while the rest of us did a year’s worth of damage to muscles that we normally don’t even acknowledge.

At home, we salved our pain with hot chocolate and popcorn. Gosh, we eat a lot. Sometimes, I think, “Shouldn’t we be encouraging the kids to learn how to mark happy occasions, respond to strong emotions, and pass the time, day and and day out, with something other than food?” And then I think, “There, there, you seem overwrought. Here, did you know there was leftover goat cheese?”

Look, food is magic. It just is.

SUNDAY
Calzones

Birthday! Damien took the kids sledding at the stupendous sledding hill over by the town dump:

sledding-hill

and then the birthday girl very brilliantly suggested pepperoni and olive calzones for supper.

Yes ma’am! I used three balls of pizza dough to make twelve calzones, and followed this recipe for the filling, only I never heard tell of putting breadcrumbs in calzone filling, so I skipped it.

This is an easy meal, but it takes forever. When you make twelve of them, anyway. The thing to remember about calzones is you can manhandle them pretty badly before they go into the oven (say, if you want to get the cheese distributed more evenly after you have crimped the edges) and they will still puff up beautifully anyway. The other thing to remember is don’t crowd them, because they need room to puff up!

image2

 

YUHM. Heat up a little sauce for dipping, and you have yourself a lovely birthday meal. We also happened to have some salami and muffaletta salad in the house, so those went out too. Would have been better with some bruschetta and maybe some cheese, but it was a good companion dish.

image3

The birthday girl requested cheesecake for dessert, but I thought that would be . . . I’m sorry for what I’m about to say . . . too much cheese for one meal. So we had banana splits instead. With cheese!

MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, salad

No memory of Monday.

TUESDAY
Pulled pork o’ my heart

We were a little low on beer, so I cooked the pork in the slow cooker with salt, pepper, and a can of Coke. GOOD CHOICE. I hear that Dr. Pepper is also a winner with pork.

I did buy rolls for sandwiches, but then I realized that I could make a sort of pyre of tater tots, pile some juicy pork on top of that, drizzle it with dreadful hot cheese from a jar, scatter some winsome red onions on top, and launch the whole thing off to a toward a delirious dream of the afterlife by blessing it with a final smattering of barbeque sauce. Of course those jerks had loosened the top, so most of the bottle fell out onto my plate, but I did not care. I didn’t even use a fork. Good heavens, it was good.

Food. Is. Magic.

WEDNESDAY
Pork posolish, corn bread

The plan was to make pork posole with this recipe, but it turns out that hominy is some kind of corn, I guess? And not really the same as polenta, which is what I had. Also, I forgot to buy chile peppers. So I made some soup this way:

I fried up a bunch of diced red onion and several diced garlic cloves in olive oil. Then I threw a bunch of leftover pulled pork, a can of drained black beans, a can of diced tomatoes with juice, a can of tomato paste, some cumin and chili powder, and several cups of beef broth, and a little water.

I let it cook for several hours, and then served it with chopped cilantro and sour cream, and some fresh lime juice squeezed over the top. The lime was a great addition. The soup tasted a lot like the chicken tortilla soup I made the other week (duh, lots of the same ingredients), but it was sturdier, almost like a pot roast, and very warming. I was the only one who ate it, of course. The jerks had toast.

There is a photo of this fine soup on my daughter’s phone, but I’m writing this at 11 PM and I don’t want to message her to send it to me, because that would make her phone buzz and would wake her up, and I’m a good mother. Not only do I make them soup, I let them sleep while I write about it. A+ And what do they do? They laugh at me when I get half a bottle of barbeque sauce slopped all over my pulled pork prye. F-.

The cornbread was terrible. I didn’t check the temp and baked it at too low of a heat, so it was dense and mushy. Bleh. I mean, I ate it, but it wasn’t magic.

THURSDAY
Beef and cabbage stir fry, rice, raw broccoli

I love this recipe from Budget Bytes. I made the sauce and shredded the veg ahead of time, and then it went together so fast when we got home stupid late. Very tasty.

image1

Very satisfying, and the ginger, garlic, and sriracha cleared up everyone’s stuffy noses at least for the dinner hour.

FRIDAY
Pastahhhhhhhh?

Corrie has actually taken to eating raw ziti when she can get her hands on it, so we’ll see what’s left.

What’s magic at your house?