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. 380: How does Scooby Doo end his prayers?

Happy Friday! And goodbye, May. You were a good May. 

Yesterday I cleaned out the laundry room, because I got a free dryer on Facebook Marketplace and we’re gonna have to take the back door off to get it in, but we can’t reach the door because there is so much misc in there. Getting something for free made me feel like the universe was out of balance, so I recklessly posted a bunch of stuff to give away myself, so today I get to drive around dropping off pots of butternut squash starts and bags of kid clothes that I suddenly worry are absolute garbage, but I can’t tell because I have nostalgia. 

Meanwhile, the other door to the laundry room decided to take itself off, and now randomly sort of LOOMS at people, when all they tried to do was open it. It’s okay, because the kids avoid using that room anyway (it’s our second bathroom, if you’ll recall), because the dryer makes a horrendous squealing noise, and the overhead light flickers kind of menacingly. It does have a little whiff of Gitmo about it, but how long does it take to pee? Big babies. Anyway, we got a new dryer. Well, an old dryer. It’s fine. All manner of things shall be fine. 

So here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken nuggets, raw peppers, chips

Shopping day! The plan was chicken burgers, but they didn’t have any, so I got nuggets. I haven’t had a chicken nugget for years. They were really pretty good.

I had a sweet chili sauce with mine and actually really enjoyed this meal. 

SUNDAY
Oven fried chicken, corn on the cob, spinach

Sunday I bullied my family into putting the big bridge pieces into place!

You may recall that one big wooden piece tried very hard to kill me and Lena last time I worked on this project. Well, it took seven people to lift each of the two long pieces, which is why progress has been so slow. We each grabbed a support plank and shuffled forward like pall bearers, and at one point, when I pulled my foot out of the muck, part of my sandal refused to come along. But it was just an Aldi sandal, and already smelled of ducks. A small price to pay. 

Here is what the marsh looked like before, with just the cinderblocks in place:

and here is how it looks now:

Progress! Still needs some work, obviously. I need to stain some parts (the undersides are all done, though), and fill in a few gaps, and get some more cinderblocks to level it off more, and I need to figure out what kind of transitional piece to add in the front, so you don’t have to step up onto it. You can’t tell from this picture, but the ground slopes pretty sharply down from the arch to the first bridge piece. I have a little set of stairs I might half-bury in the dirt, to get to the first piece. 

But it’s SOLID. The cross pieces distribute the weight, and they’re resting on dry ground and/or on cinderblocks, and when you walk on it, there’s no wobble, and it’s all up out of the wet. I’m very pleased. 

I also moved the big arch back a bit, to open up the entrance, and added a second arch (it’s hard to see, but it’s there). I have a couple of baby grape vines I’m gonna plant, and the plan is to eventually make a canopy of vines from one arch to the other. In 5-10 years, it’s gonna be just gorgeous. It’s already gorgeous. My plan is always to enhance what’s good about what’s already there, because it’s a lovely, lovely spot. 

So! It’s usable and I can do the rest without dragging anyone else into it. The other big thing I want to do before summer vacation starts is to build a very simple little deck using the rest of the wooden pieces I got along with the bridge pieces.

I know they sell hardware specifically for attaching legs onto platforms, so I figure if I just think hard about weight distribution and kind of overbuild everything, I should be able to make something functional, and less awkward than the lifeguard station we currently have

Sunday I also cleared out my other raised bed, topped it up with lovely compost, made a little support tipi out of last year’s sunflower stalks, and planted my sugar snap peas. 

I think it might be too lightweight, but I can always reinforce it with actual sticks at some point. I’m going to put collard greens in the rest of that space, I think. There are some leftover Brussels sprouts that survived the winter, but they already bolted and I think I’ll just rip them out.

I think it must have been Sunday that I finally got the rest of my vegetable starts in the ground. I’m a little unsure about what’s what, because I didn’t weatherproof the labels (next time I’ll use popsicle sticks and pencil!), but I am pretty sure I have pumpkins, butternut squash, I think two kinds of eggplant, and possibly cucumbers, one of those birdhouse gourds, and also garlic and basil in another spot. 

It’s all a little too close together, because I meant to expand the bed more than I ended up doing. Oh well. They can fight it out. 

No strawberries yet (soon!), and I can’t pick asparagus until next year, and I accidentally let the rhubarb bolt, so I didn’t get much this year. But overall, I am pleased. Gotta finish that wattle fence! 

Oops, I forgot to talk about food. Good thing my yard is INCREDIBLY INTERESTING, so you don’t mind. Well, we had oven fried chicken. I started soaking the drumsticks in milk, eggs, and salt in the morning, and then I dredged it in seasoned flour and started cooking it about an hour before dinner. Melt butter and oil in a pan, lay the chicken down, turn it after a while and let it continue cooking, and voila. 

I love this recipe. The meat is juicy and tender, the skin is crackly and tasty. I think I honestly prefer it to deep fried chicken, and whoever did clean-up that night definitely preferred it. Here’s that recipe:

Jump to Recipe

We also had corn on the cob and just plain raw spinach. 

Fab warm weather meal. I didn’t even add butter to my corn or dressing to my spinach, because everything was so fresh and nice. 

MONDAY
Cookout!

Monday was Memorial Day and we met not one but two boyfriends of daughters. What a to-do! We expected quite a few more people to show up for the cookout than could actually make it, and it did rain like crazy, but we had a nice day anyway, if somewhat lower-key than expected. 

I made an incredibly bland potato salad

and then I went a little crackerdog with the fruit salad and made a watermelon swan boat

and Damien grilled up a ton of burgers, and we just had chips and soda and ice cream.

Damien reconfigured his Interchangeable Cinderblock Meat Altar Situation, and now it has more air circulation and more even heat.

He is talking about making an Interchangeable Cinderblock Smoker Situation, too. You may think we’re complete rednecks, but we actually buy our cinderblocks NEW, so you tell me. 

TUESDAY
Cookout part 2!

Tuesday I cooked the hot dogs we decided not to bother with on Monday, and we basically just had that meal again, with different meat. No complaints. 

Also on Tuesday, I drove the kids to school and every single person who stepped into that car made the same “urk” noise, so I decided it was Time To Find Out What That Smell Was. Got some trash bags, got a pack of baby wipes, set up some music, and prepared myself to launch into a long, arduous search into every nook and cranny to root out the mysterious source of the odor. 

I open the door, and right there on the floor is this.

Maybe we are rednecks after all. 

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

Wednesday I went on a bit of a cleaning rampage and cleared out the mountain of scraps and flowerpots and bits of fencing and old rugs and broken tools that I’d been flinging onto the back stairs. I didn’t take a before picture, but this is the after:

Okay, yes, we are definitely rednecks. I see it now. But we’re rednecks who try! Gonna try to get a dryer up those stairs, that’s what we’re gonna try.(Yes I know I need to do something about all that unfinished wood. It’s on my list. It’s on my list!)

Wednesday I put about three hundred sunflower seedlings into the ground, from seeds I gathered from last year’s most successful flowers. I want PHALANXES of sunflowers this year. I have a long row of them in front of the marsh,

a little sprinkle by the pool where some day lilies appeared, a few next to each light post around the patio, and a line of them in front of the trash enclosure. I also moved the last of the cosmos and zinnia seedlings into pots and found spots for them. I think everything I planted over the winter has a home now!

For supper, I had a hunk of boneless pork whatnot, so I sharpened up my knife and cut it really thin, then pan fried it a little bit, then added a bunch of Chinese five spice and a little soy sauce and finished cooking it. Made a giant pot of ramen, soft boiled some eggs, and served it all up with chopped scallions, sugar snap peas, and spinach, and crunchy noodles. 

Delightful. I am steadfastly refusing to find out what good ramen tastes like, because the kind that comes in a case and shrink wrapped in orange plastic is cheap and we like it, and I don’t want to ruin that. 

THURSDAY
Pork gyros

Thursday, I cannot even begin to explain how the universe tried to thwart me. Really unprecedented levels of attempted thwarting! I knew it was gonna be a busy day, even pre-thwarting, but I had already cooked all the easy meals for the week, so I started in and prepped pork gyros first thing in the morning.

Here’s the marinade recipe, which is pretty basic but tasty, and it does make the meat super tender

Jump to Recipe

and I made a big bowl of yogurt sauce

Jump to Recipe

Oh! And I finally got to use my mother’s day present from Clara, which is a handmade juicer. 

Works GREAT. The ceramic pointy thingy takes way more pressure than plastic, and the spout poured very smoothly, which is harder to design than it looks. She’s getting really good.

Then thing started to go a little bit south. But the upshot is that, against all odds, I got Millie’s replacement fall detection sensor set up and tech support APOLOGIZED TO ME AND SAID I WAS RIGHT. So there! And I was only a few minutes late to the school concert, which they were actually calling a “song showcase,” for reasons which are not entirely clear to me, except that I would not have called that a concert, either. I did get there in time to hear one of the kids say into the microphone, “And [kidname], [kidname], and [kidname] will be our socialists” and the music teacher leaped like an antelope over to that microphone and said, “SOLOISTS.”

This happened mere minutes after our golden haired god hero was unjustly and outrageously convicted on 34 bogus felonies in a banana republic-style kangaroo court with an upside down flag!!!! So IT’S ALREADY HAPPENING TO OUR CHILDREN, just like he warned us. But we did not listen.

The good news is, the gyros were great. A complete mess, but still very delicious. 

I made the mistake of trying to open the pita and fill it with meat, rather than rolling the meat up in an intact pita; and I completely forgot to gather fresh mint; and the fries were underdone. But it was extremely late and we were so hungry, and it tasted heavenly. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli

The ravioli I promised but did not deliver last week! But accidentally bought sauce for twice, so now we have so much effing sauce! Maybe I can put it on a buy nothing group. Maybe I’ll put myself on a buy nothing group. 

I do have these chive blossoms

that are clearly at their peak. I’m not a big fan of infused oils – the bacteria threat worries me – but I think I may try frying them. 

Oh! But last night I found a WHOLE OTHER JAR OF MARIGOLD SEEDS.

I may actually offer those on buy nothing, because I don’t know if I have it in me to till anymore ground this year, and every spot that’s open is already sprouting to the max. 

Like I said, a good May. Really good May. 

 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

Marinade for pork gyros

Marinate thinly-sliced meat for several hours, then grill over the coals or broil in the oven. Serve wrapped up in pita with cucumbers, tomatoes, french fries, hot sauce, and yogurt sauce. This marinade is enough for about five pounds of meat. 

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes diced and smashed a bit
  • 2 onions grated
  • 2 Tbsp oregano (or a large handful of fresh oregano, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • kosher salt and pepper

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. 378: In which nobody goes to the emergency room

In haste! In haste! For today is a half day, and I have to go get my punkass kids. It is the final day of teacher appreciation week, and I love that they’re topping it off by making all the kids go away. Truly the gift from the heart. 

Speaking of gifts from the heart, this week having been mother’s day week, I decided to make all foods that I like this week. It was a very tasty week! But also very stupid, as you will see. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Well, I do like hot dogs, but this was more about convenience on a shopping day. But I do like hot dogs. And convenience!

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries, lemon meringue pie with strawberry compote

Damien shopped for and put together these excellent sandwiches (toasted baguettes with red pesto, olive oil, and vinegar, with provolone, prosciutto, capicola, sandwich pepperoni, tomatoes, and fresh basil), and made fries

and Clara made some wonderful pies, using my pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

and the filling and meringue from Sally’s Baking Addiction,

plus, as you can see, a layer of homemade strawberry compote between the lemon and meringue

Absolutely splendid. Perfect. I wish I had gotten pictures from the morning, when she made it, because by dessert time it had gone the way meringues tend to go, but it was still airy and wonderful. 

All the kids came over, and showered me with thoughtful and delightful presents. I spent most of the day following my heart, which meant working on my bog bridge. I worked on it off and on throughout the week, when I had 45 minutes to spare and it wasn’t raining, and it’s almost ready to put in place! I AM VERY EXCITED. In fact, at one point I got a little over-excited. As you will see. 

MONDAY
Fajita beef bowl, pineapple

London broil was on sale, so I got a bunch and sliced it up thin and marinated it most of the day in this yummy marinade

Jump to Recipe

I did all the prep work in the morning: Sauteed some sweet peppers, roasted some corn, chopped cilantro, cut up some limes, and found the shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips, and I prepped the rice in the Instant Pot. Sometimes we also have black beans with this dish, but we just had them last week and I just wasn’t bean ready yet. We also usually have chopped scallions, but I forgot. 

Before dinner, I cranked up the broiler and (to be honest, slightly over)cooked the meat

and I piled up my bowl with rice and meat and toppings and ate outside with the birdies. 

Oh, I also cut up the pineapple I meant to serve last week. Lovely meal, very popular. 

TUESDAY
Two pizzas, not three

On Tuesday, I was super busy all day with I don’t even remember what, so I as soon as I got home in the afternoon, I made three pizzas very fast. One olive, one half plain and half Hawaiian using the leftover pineapple from Monday, and one pepperoni using leftover pepperoni from the Italian sandwiches. We had a lot of pepperoni left, so I was pretty lavish with the toppings on this.

Feeling very brisk and accomplished, I preheated the oven, set the pizzas on the counter, and asked Elijah to put them in at 5:10. Then I went outside to work on my bridge. 

I was slapping wood stain on as fast as I could, and even though I was increasingly covered with wood stain and blackfly bites, feeling pretty great about life in general, when Elijah comes out and says, “You don’t have to come inside or anything, but how many pizzas are there?”

I say there are three. I’m the tiniest bit annoyed, because it’s not like it’s a big kitchen or something. Three extra large pizzas, pretty much front and center, can’t really miss them. Definitely three pizzas. 

He says, “Okay, I can only find two. And there is an empty pan.” 

So of course I go inside, and he is correct. Two pizzas which are now in the oven, and one pizza pan, still on the counter, with smears of grease and flour on it.

WHAT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY HAPPENED TO IT? 

What indeed.

Now, you know I’m sharing this story because the dog did not die. I will also confess that we did not take him to the vet. If we took that dog to the vet every time he ate something stupid, we’d be investigated by GoFundMe for an implausible number of emergencies. 

And to be honest, we weren’t 100% convinced it was the dog who made the pizza disappear. First we searched all over the house in case it somehow . . . left. Which sounds dumb, but it was very strange! The pan was there, the pizza was gone. We thought of the cat, who does steal whatever food he can carry and has no conscience at all. And we thought of, uh, other possibilities

And the dog seemed fine! He wasn’t bloated or uncomfortable or acting like his butt was any more haunted than usual.

But we couldn’t think of any other place the pizza might have gone, besides down his gullet. He does have very poor impulse control, even for a dog. 

The danger is that the dough would expand in his tummy and do terrible twisty things to his innards, or that it would produce alcohol and poison him from the inside out. Soooo Damien stayed up until 2 a.m. observing him. That makes nine full hours after the dog apparently ate the raw pizza. He did burp. And that was all. 

Friends, this is the almighty power of a boxer’s digestive system. You can judge us if you want for not taking him to the ER, but Sonny himself would give you some side eye for that. 

Well, maybe not a side eye, because his eye placement doesn’t really allow for that, but he would do his best. Sonny always does his best. As do we all. 

WEDNESDAY
Sweet spicy Korean meatballs, sweet pepper lo mein

New recipe! I came across this recipe for gochujang meatballs with apricot glaze and couldn’t look away. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used fresh ginger instead of powdered. Super easy, and it was fab. Tasted like party food. You just mix up the meatball ingredients and bake them, and then roll them around in the heated glaze which is just three ingredients, and serve.

I had already served rice that week and I was planning to do it agin, so rather than making rice as a side, I made a vegetable lo mein, as you can see. I usually make lo mein with linguine or fettuccine, but this time I had some very thin Chinese noodles I had grabbed at the International Market. They boiled up in no time, like two minutes, which was fun. I did my easy lo mein sauce

Jump to Recipe

I sauteed up some minced ginger and garlic, then added the leftover sweet peppers, then a little mirin, then the noodles and sauce and heated it all up. Delicious. The whole meal came together, start to finish, in like 45 minutes (moving fast). 

Definitely making these meatballs again. They tasted like party food. They would also be good, maybe even better, with ground turkey.

THURSDAY
Chicken biryani, giant taboon

I’ve had biryani on my mind for a few weeks, so today was the day. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, and that really is the superior kind of chicken for it, but what was on sale was chicken ribs, so that’s what I used. 

I also used actual basmati rice, which I sometimes am too cheap for. I had forgotten this, but it cooks up much faster than short grain white rice; so if you struggle with getting the rice cooked all the way through with biryani, it definitely helps to have the right rice! Anyway I anticipated undercooked rice, so I made the biryani in the morning and put it in the slow cooker for the rest of the day, which generally takes care of any chompy rice by dinner time. 

Turned out great. This being Mother’s Choice week, I did not omit the golden raisins, which the kids don’t like. But they’re easy to pick out, so that’s what they did.

And maybe I went around after dinner and ate up all the little plump, savory, leftover golden raisins on their plates, who can say. Maybe I’m the one who ate the pizza!

(I did not.) So, the chicken breast was a little bit dry, as I expected. Still a wonderful dish. I keep thinking I might try a different biryani recipe, but everyone likes this one, so why. 

At the last minute, I decided to make a Giant Taboon. My naan is kind of hit or miss, mostly miss, and it was too late to start it anyway, but taboon is fast and easy and delightful. Five minutes to put the ingredients together, an hour to rise, ten minutes to rest the dough, and 10-15 minutes to bake. I called everyone down for supper, and then I pulled this lovely pneumatic lady out of the oven:

I made it with a big rolled lip out of force of habit, because I usually make tabboon to go along with mussakhan (Palestian chicken with sumac and red onions) and you serve the chicken right on top of the bread

and I like to make a little lip to keep the juices in. Aghh, I gotta make mussakhan again. It’s so good. 

Oh, I’m almost at the end of the week and I didn’t tell you about my leetle misadventure with wood. The short version is that I had already cut away the rotten wood, replaced it with sound wood, and attached cross pieces on, and stained the underside; and also retrieved the pieces I already laid into the swamp before I realized I really needed to stain them. So then I wanted to flip the two long pieces over so I could stain the other side; but I couldn’t do it the horizontal way, which is easier, because I didn’t want to snap the cross pieces off

So I did what any mother would do: I dragged the kids into it. Four of us hoisted up one short end and carefully walked our hands down until it was basically standing on its end. Then I was like, “Okay, now just me and Lena, and everyone else get out of the way, and Lena, you stand to the side, because it might leap out!” 

You know this is a dumb story. Dumber than the dog eating the whole raw pizza, because his excuse is that he is a dog, whereas I am a college graduate and this was a very dumb idea. 

So we gave it a big shove, and of course it did leap out, but not like I expected, and it thwacked both me and Lena so hard that we both fell down and its fwiggen lucky we didn’t both have multiple broken bones. Do you want to see my leg?? 

Well, I just spent kind of a long time trying to figure out how to insert some code for one of those “click to see image” things, but I’m too full of raw dough, I mean I can’t figure it out, but for some misbegotten reason I really want to show you my leg, which isn’t even that bad. Lena’s is much worse. I’ll put the image at the end of the recipes, and if you are really motivated, you can scroll all the way down and see my leg. I find bruises fascinating, and this one kind of looks like a leaping rabbit. Madeline would be proud.

Oh, so then the long piece was somehow suspended in the air like this

I slapped a bunch of stain on it and dragged a tarp over it just as it began to rain, because I may be an idiot, but I’m not really sure how this sentence is supposed to end.

Damien promised that, when I was ready to flip the second long piece over, I should call him and he he would come over and say, “No, not like that! You’ll get hurt!” (He also said he would help flip it over.) This is what you call traditional marriage roles, and I didn’t even have to become a football player to figure it out. 

P.S. The dog did go to the vet today for his shots, and they confirmed that he is fine, and just likes pizza. Who among us. 

FRIDAY
I don’t know. 
I was planning tuna boats, but Moe and Eliora are coming over, so maybe I will take it up a notch. Or maybe not! Maybe I will throw some wood at them and pretend I thought they ate the pizza. This is MY WEEK, and I can do what I want! Which always turns out well. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

WATCH OUT, HERE COMES A PICTURE OF MY LEG 

Probably not as bad as you were expecting, with all that build-up. But doesn’t it look like a rabbit? 

What’s for supper? Vol. 377: In which we make it through the week in one piece

Happy Friday! I truly don’t know what I did this week. It felt dramatic and exhausting, and yet I don’t have very much to show for it. Unlike the natural world, which is putting on a completely spectacular show this spring. Every last little thing is absolutely laden with blossoms. We’re still not quite safe to plant most things outside, here, but I’ve been starting all the seeds I can get my hands on indoors. When I finally move everything into the garden, the house is going to feel huge and empty! 

Someone was asking me WHERE I put all these open pots of soil, and the answer is: On windowsills, on countertops, on chairs,

and on shelves that I’ve cleared off and stuffed all the former occupants in bags. Of. But the real answer is, I don’t have babies or toddlers. That turns out to be the solution to a lot of things! Simply have ten children, rest up for nine years, and then you can start some seeds.

The other answer is that I’ve been using the cold sowing technique indoors, as well as outdoors, meaning I use juice bottles and milk jugs and salad and  strawberry cartons, add drainage holes if necessary, cut the top 2/3 off but leaving a hinge, fill the bottom with soil and plant some seeds, water it, and then tape it shut. This not only makes it harder to spill if someone knocks it over (we do have an extremely naughty cat, who doesn’t mind walking on toothpicks), but if you’re bad at remembering to water seedlings, this is the method for you.

It’s basically a little terrarium, and you do need to water it occasionally when you notice no droplets condensing on the top, but none of this “keep soil evenly moist” nonsense. 

Anyway, this year I have started: Marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, creeping veronica, cosmos, and morning glories; basil, garlic, pumpkins, butternut squash, and eggplants; and I just put some gladioli and clematis in the ground, plus a Sarah Bernhardt peony root.  I have sugar snap peas and glass gem corn that will probably do better if I sow it directly outside. May 30 is the magic day! But this weekend, I will take the straw covering off my strawberries and asparagus. And the rhubarb is visibly growing day to day. The Brussels sprouts survived the winter, but I think I’ll pull them out, because I’m a little tired of them. Definitely doing more collard greens this year. I am also going to direct sow more sunflowers, marigolds, and cosmos with the rest of the seeds I saved from last year. I know some people do ten times this much every year, but this is by far my most elaborate planting effort, and I’m pretty excited!

Anyway, five paragraphs in, let’s talk about food. Here is what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken salad with blueberries and almonds

Saturday, shopping day. Nothing spectacular, but a pleasant salad of roast chicken breast on greens with almonds and blueberries. This salad is better with feta cheese or goat cheese, diced red onion, and some buttery croutons, but I made up for that by eating it outside, which is the butteriest crouton of them all

in a certain sense. 

I need to figure out what’s going into the St. Joseph garden once the tulips and daffodils pass by. It’s shaded about half the day by the peach tree, and I’d love some suggestions for a bright perennial or two I can plant on top of/alongside bulbs!

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma, pita

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, but I hadn’t planned anything spectacular, and Clara is home for the summer and Moe was over to learn how to change oil, so I changed it to Shawarma de Mayo.

Same old yummy shawarma recipe

Jump to Recipe

except maybe I bumped up the hot pepper flakes a little, because it did taste a little peppier than usual. No complaints! Boneless, skinless chicken thighs is the best kind of chicken for this dish.

I also decided to make pita, and I’m not really happy with the recipes I’ve tried in the past, so I tried a new one, because I was enthralled by the sheer puffiness of the photo in this recipe. This one had you fry the pita for thirty seconds on one side, then thirty seconds on the other, then brush it with oil and fry another five minutes, flipping it frequently. I thought six minutes sounded excessive, but I’m trying to swear off going straight from “why does my food never turn out like the picture” to “she’s crazy, I’m not doing that” to “why does my food never turn out etc etc,” so I did it by the timer. 
GUESS WHAT? The pita burned. 

This doesn’t look too burned, because I wised up about halfway through and decreased the time and temperature, but I’m telling you. I have some kind of middle eastern curse on me, and my pita just never turns out, no matter what I do. I mean everybody ate it and said nice things about it, but I was a little sad. 

Can’t be too sad when you’re eating shawarma with tomatoes and cucumbers and olives and feta cheese and parsley and garlicky yogurt sauce, though. 

Simply can’t! 

MONDAY
Shepherd’s pie

Speaking of Cinco de Mayo, the local supermarkets seem to have noticed that there’s some trickiness around an overwhelmingly white population suddenly making a lot of tacos and margaritas on May 5 because it’s the Fourth of July or something; so they hedge their bets by putting ground beef on sale and suggesting some chili recipes, but not saying why. 

It’s possible I’m overthinking this, but I do spend a lot of time looking at supermarket flyers, and I know I’m right. The upshot is that I bought quite a bit of ground beef, and for Cuatro de Mayo I made shepherd’s pie. 

I remembered that I had written a wonderful recipe for this

Jump to Recipe

so I checked it out, and discovered that you guys are very polite, and never mention how terrible my recipes are. I didn’t, for instance, feel the need to write down ANY MEASUREMENTS. The recipe is basically, “Hey, remember how good shepherd’s pie is? You should make that! With corn.”

Sorry about that. Anyway, I did make that.

But for some reason I can’t remember, I put tin foil on the top and then left the house. I texted one of the kids to remove the tinfoil toward the end, and when I got home, I turned on the broiler to brown it up. This gave the potato top a nice crisp top, but unfortunately the inside had kind of steamed inside the foil, so it was just so gloppy when I served it up. 

Or maybe I made the white sauce for the meat too thin because I hadn’t written down any proportions, who can say. It tasted great. Just kinda gloppy. 

Also on Monday, I suddenly faced a truth I had been avoiding: The wooden ramps I was planning to make into the bog bridge has some very rotten spots on it.

So I dragged out the reciprocating saw, which is a truly terrible tool. It seems designed, in a way that other power saws aren’t, to turn on you and carve you up. So I was talking out loud to myself, as you will not be surprised to learn that I do, and I said, “Oh, I hate this machine. I’m always afraid I’m going to hurt myself” and then immediately whacked myself in the eyeball with the end of the power cord. 

This minor injury apparently propitiated the power tool gods, and I didn’t lose any limbs or even digits. I did cut off a bunch of rotten wood, which was satisfying

and then got out the drill, which doesn’t scare me as much, and screwed on a long beam to replace the part I had removed. Got that on nice and tight.

Then I noticed that the new beam also had a rotten part.

Then I said some other things out loud to myself, and went inside. 

TUESDAY
Burgers, party mix, corn, birthday cake

Tuesday was Moe’s birthday, and he requested burgers. That’s a can do. 

He asked for a chocolate cake and to be surprised with the decoration, even knowing what . . . mixed . . . results this can sometimes yield. But I had a brain wave and remembered that he used to be absolutely crazy about One Piece. I remember some rides home from school where it was nothing but him shouting “AND THEN THE MONKEY WHO HAS BILLIARD BALLS FOR HANDS ATE THE MAGIC TOOTSI FRUITSI BEAN AND HE GOT THE POWER TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK HE WAS A POTTED PLANT EVEN THOUGH HE WASN’T ACTUALLY AND THAT’S HOW HE DEFEATED THE SEWING MACHINE CLAN THAT LIVES ON THE ISLAND OF PICKLE JUICE” while I just focused on not driving off a bridge. Apparently it’s actually a fairly tragic story, but that part eluded me, because of all the shouting. 

The thing I do know about One Piece is that is has a logo that is mostly made of circles. So I says to myself, I says, this is a job for fondant. I haven’t really used fondant before, and it turns out they are not kidding when they say you should wash your hands a lot. Which I did, but it was still one of my smudgier cakes. But he liked it!

I liked working with fondant. Gum paste is good for molding 3D figures, but the fondant was super easy to roll and cut flat shapes. I was rushing, so I didn’t make it as smooth or even as I might have, but I know how to if I have time next time!

And I, perhaps alone in the world, like the taste of fondant. So there. 

Oh, it was just a box cake, but for the chocolate frosting, I used this King Arthur recipe, which turned out well. 

WEDESDAY
Tacos and beans

For Seis de Mayo, we had tacos. (For those keeping track, this is ground beef incident #3 for the week.) I seasoned the meat with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. I also made a pot of black beans in the Instant Pot

Jump to Recipe

and they looked so good to me, I just had beans on tortilla chips. 

Thinking about those beans. 

Also on Wednesday, I faced the fact that I really truly need to put some kind of waterproof stain on the bog bridge, if I don’t want it to go right back to being rotten, or more rotten, or rotten fixed with things that also turn out to be rotten. Truth be told, I’m feeling a little bit down about stuff in general! Ah well. 

So I bought some stain and got the kids to move them into an upright position for me, and that is as far as that’s gotten. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Nothing to report, except that I wanted to use up some sandwich pepperoni, so I cut that into fourths and put it on the pizza, and then filled in the gaps with normal small, round pepperoni. The result was something that struck me as slightly rad, somehow. 

Doesn’t this look like an early 90’s pizza? Like a Rugrats pizza or something? I don’t know. I’m disabled, I got attacked by a reciprocating saw and I’ve never been the same. 

FRIDAY

Mac and cheese, I suppose. We have to go see the endocrinologist so the doctor can say the kid’s numbers are good, and I can pretend that’s somehow due to my attentive maintenance, rather than sheer luck. And then there is a family dance party this evening that Corrie desperately wants to go to, and she is planning to wear her dress with the mushroom print and her green cloak. I love that she goes to a school where this is FINE. People will say “cool cloak!” and that is all. 

I think the last time I danced was . . . yes, at my own wedding. Maybe I’ll wear a cloak, too. 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

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. 

 

Leftover lamb shepherd's pie

This recipe uses lots of shortcuts and it is delicious.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes and set aside.

  3. Heat and drain the corn. (I heated mine up in beef broth for extra flavor.)

  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in pepper.

  5. Add the flour gradually, stirring with a fork, until it becomes a thick paste. Add in the cream and continue stirring until it is blended. Add in the cooked meat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

  6. Add enough broth until the meat mixture is the consistency you want.

  7. Grease a casserole dish and spread the meat mixture on the bottom. Spread the corn over the meat. Top with the mashed potatoes and spread it out to cover the corn. Use a fork to add texture to mashed potatoes, so they brown nicely.

  8. Cook for about forty minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the meat mixture is bubbly. (Finish browning under broiler if necessary.)

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."

What’s for supper? Vol. 374: In which we all forge ahead

Happy Friday! Pretty straightforward meals this week, because everything else was complicated enough. Spring is undeniably here, finally, even though there are still a few sodden, grimy hills of snow lurking about here and there. Every tree has a little halo of high green or red, right on the verge of exploding into true green. I see my peonies wriggling their peculiar dark red stalks up out of the soil, and the first of the daffodils have bloomed, and most of the crocuses. The tulips are biding their time, and so are the day lilies, irises, and lilies of the valley. The lupines are back, and maybe they’ll even flower this year. Sedum is raring to go, cat mint is forging ahead, and I’m forcing myself to wait before I uncover the strawberries and asparagus, but I have high hopes. Lots of buds on the apple trees and the mock orange and the lilacs, and yes, on the peach tree! 

I made a little progress on my wattle fence, this time trying a bunch of aspen saplings. The first row was a variety of things, grapevine and misc., and those turned out to be too thin. I probably should have pulled that part out and started over, but I just compressed the first row and started weaving branches on top of it. The result would definitely get me kicked out of even the least discerning medieval guild, but it is SO MUCH FUN, and it is sturdy, so I think it will keep soil in, which is my goal.

My compost heap looks rich and lovely, and I have squash, pumpkin, eggplant, and pea seedlings ready to move once the danger of frost has passed (in about a month!), and I think I bought some gem glass corn seeds, and probably a bunch of other stuff I bought on whims. I have to go out and cut down a ton more wood for the fence, which is also extremely enjoyable. Tromping around on the old, dry sticks of last year and seeking out what’s new and useful for the spring, wow. Sonny comes along and frolics, which he believes to be helpful, which it kind of is. I bought some more grape vines and some blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart (what a world), too. Go go go!

I also got some poppy roots, and I feel like this year is the year I will finally be able to grow poppies, unlike the other six times I attempted it. I’ve been using my most excellent hori hori garden knife to plant things

which was a birthday or Christmas present, I forget which. I love this thing so much. It bites right into the ground and you give it a little twist and excavate a precise little hole, exactly where you want it. As you can see, it’s marked with measurements so you can get to the right depth. Wonderful tool.

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Saturday I just went shopping and we had Aldi pizza for supper. Damien spent his weekend writing and working on various cars. We don’t have babies anymore; instead, we have ducks and cars. 

SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas

I was toying with the idea of putting enchilada filling in empanadas, but the kids told me that when I take a meal that everyone likes and then MESS with it, it’s upsetting. So I just made enchiladas. My enchiladas are what they are. Every time I mention them, someone who grew up near the southern border expresses polite amazement that I am calling these “enchiladas,” so instead I will call then “my kids eat theses.” Which is what I was going for!

Anyway, I basically follow Pioneer Woman’s recipe, except I use flour tortillas and I don’t brown them. So it’s just seasoned chicken (I actually used thighs, not breasts) browned up

and then shredded (don’t forget you can use your mixer to shred meat)

and then a ton of onions,

which I cooked slowly in the chickeny pan (and yes, PW is one of those people who directs you to caramelize onions in 4-5 minutes. I will never do this to you. It took at least half an hour, and I hurried it).

Then I shredded a bunch of cheese, dipped the tortillas in enchilada sauce, and rolled up the chicken, onions, and cheese in the tortillas, and laid it in a saucy pan, and then poured more sauce on top, and then sprinkled more cheese and cumin and chili powder on top. 

I think you’re supposed to just roll up enchiladas, but I always forget this and tuck the ends in as I roll, like for a burrito. Whatever. I made a whole bunch of them, some red, some green, and served them with cilantro and sour cream, and they were yummy. 

It was a chilly, rainy day, and these Authentic Mexican Kid-eat-ums hit the spot.

MONDAY
Kielbasa, potato, and Brussels sprouts one-pan meal; adults went out

Monday I heard the cry of my people for kielbasa, and made this easy and popular one-pan meal 

Jump to Recipe

In the morning, just to signal to myself that I was serious, I put out the bag of red potatoes, the packages of Brussels sprouts, and the kielbasa, and the savage and carnivorous cat immediately pounced on . . . 

the Brussels sprouts. Beware, o thou cruciferous ones! There will be no peace for you with this mighty hunter prowling abroad. 

I made up the honey mustard garlic sauce, which you can add halfway through cooking, or reserve for dipping at the end. Or you can put half of it on halfway through cooking and use the rest for dipping. Be like the cat and follow your heart. 

I made two big pans. This is both pans combined; you will want them to have more space to cook when you’re making it. 

You can also make this dish with wedges of cabbage, which I prefer; but the kids like Brussels sprouts better. I didn’t get a vote because Damien and I went out to eat, which we haven’t done in a WHILE. We wanted to try this newish taco place in town, but it closed at 8, which, what do I know. Maybe that’s a reasonable time for a taco place to close. So we went to Mi Jalisco, which has decent Mexican food but sometimes incredibly slow service. I mean like a few times when we went, we honestly thought they forgot about us. Anyway this time it was slowish, but not terrible. Gosh, this is a boring story. 

Anyway, Damien got carne asada and I got some kind of shrimp and mushroom dish, which was tasty. 

I wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce the name of this dish, which I confessed to the waiter, and he said he didn’t either. Let us all take a moment and salute the intrepid white guy working at a Mexican restaurant, just sweating and doing his best and forging ahead. 

TUESDAY
Chicken on salad

Tuesday I felt the need to reintroduce the family to green vegetables, so we had roast chicken on salad, with feta cheese, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries. 

A decent meal that was elevated by IT BEING WARM ENOUGH OUTSIDE TO EAT OUTSIDE. 

There are lilies popping up in those planters, and I have a bunch of marigold and morning glory and zinnia seedlings waiting to be transplanted. ALMOST. ALMOST time. 

On Wednesday night, I prepped some pork for tomorrow’s meal, so it could brine itself overnight. I mixed together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt and rubbed that all over a hunk of fatty pork shoulder, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge.

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pineapple

Around noon, I unwrapped the pork and put it, uncovered, in a pan in a 300 oven. I was so pleased with myself for planning this out, because I had an interview in the morning, and then the afternoon was …. well, it took many revisions, but the final form was:

Damien takes the kids to school, Elijah takes my car to class and on the way home, picks up Lucy who had early release because of PSATs; Lena takes Damien’s car to work; Damien takes my car and drops off me and Elijah at U-Haul; I drive the rented truck back and Elijah drops my car off for Damien; Lucy and Elijah and I go and get the free wood, and stop and get ice cream because I felt bad about ruining their day, because that wood was frickin heavy; Sophia walks to work; Corrie goes into aftercare and Benny goes to the library, and Lena drives herself home from work and then picks them both up; I stop home and dragoon Irene, who got home on the bus, into helping to unload the wood; then I return the truck and Elijah picks me up at U-Haul with my car, I text Lena to press the “rice” button on the Instant Pot, and we pick up Sophia from work and then we GO HOME. 

My car now has FOUR warning lights lit up, and one of them is flashing, but WE WILL GET TO IT. By which I mean Damien. My job is to wring my hands and fret, and then Damien fixes the car while I think about fun projects I can do.

Anyway, by the time we all got home, the rice was just about cooked, and the meat was ready for its final step, which is just a little extra sauce and then high heat for ten minutes. 

I lost my phone, so I don’t have a pic, but here’s a previous finished bo ssam:

Here’s the whole recipe, such as it is, in one spot: 

Mix together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt, and rub this all over a fatty pork shoulder.
Wrap it up in plastic and put it in the fridge overnight. 

Six hours before you want to eat, turn the oven to 300, line a pan with at least two layers of tin foil and put the pork in, fatty side up. (Don’t bother to transfer all the salt and sugar, except what’s clinging to the meat.)
Cook the meat, uncovered for six hours.
Ten minutes before you want to eat, mix together seven tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of sea salt, and rub this paste all over the top of the meat and crank the oven up to 500.
Serve whole, and people can pull off bits and shreds of meat and wrap it in lettuce, with rice. 

If you want a more detailed recipe and you want to make a truly delicious sauce and sides to go with it, check out My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. This dish is VERY salty and sweet, so it’s good to have rice and something cooling to go with it, like mango. I had pineapple, which was decent (although I’m one of those “wow, I love pineapple, but it’s crazy how it’s such a popular fruit even though makes everyone’s mouth itchy and their lips swell up” people. Don’t care, love pineapple, forging ahead).

So, the WOOD I got used to be a small deck and a wheelchair ramp. So I now have three long, thin sections which will go a long way toward the bog bridge I keep talking about, to bridge this area, which is much wetter than it looks

and the rest of the wood is three or four square sections which I think will make a lovely pool deck. Right now, there are two ways to get into the pool: On a rickety ladder that is embarrassingly slightly narrower than my hips, or via a cannibalized wooden swing set I put together a few years ago. The swing set thing has worked well enough — mainly I wanted something I could sit on and act as lifeguard, without having to be in the pool myself — but it does have some structurally necessary pieces of wood that make it extremely awkward to enter and exit. SO, I’m going to add some legs to the square pieces and bolt them onto the lifeguard thing, and IN THEORY, we will have an actual deck. Or not. Probably yes, though! 

Anyway, it turns out I am old, and driving a gigantic scary truck for two hours and lugging extremely heavy wood around is my limit for the day, and I was chatting with Benny after dinner and apparently dozed off mid-sentence, and she turned off the light and tiptoed away, and I spent the next hour drooling all over my own face until the evening screaming and quacking brought me back to the land of the living. 

You know what, those ducklings are jusssssst about old enough to move outside. I really like them, but dang, they are loud, and smelly. 

Look how big they got! Annie is the one with the mostly white chest, and Bebe is the one with more spots.

Annie started to quack a few days ago, but Bebe is still meep-meep-meeping. The cat is okay with them (I encouraged them from day one to spend time together, because it seemed like less work than constantly being on alert to keep them from killing each other; and yes, they were all equally at risk), but I think he will be relieved when they move out. 

THURSDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Nothing to report. Actually I have to report that the Dollar Store version of Pringles are really, really terrible. 

And they’re not even a dollar! Everything is $1.25 now, except there is also an aisle where things are $3 or even $5. What a world (derogatory).

The burgers were fine, though. We ate really early because we had one final family faith formation parent meeting for the year. I was kind of scratching my head over why we didn’t manage to make it to more meetings, and then I realized we spent the year getting Corrie prepped for first confession and first communion and confirmation, which is not all supposed to be in one year! So we ended up missing a lot of the classes which were directed at families who were not prepping kids for sacraments.

This is our first year doing whole family faith formation, and I must grudgingly admit that it’s kind of brilliant. Gonna write that up in a bit. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips and salsa

Or maybe we will all just go outside and graze on free wood. I sure have a lot of free wood. This is the view from my bedroom window:

No ragrets! But I might treat myself to a cordless impact driver, which Ryan says I will want, and Ryan is usually right. 

I am HOPING to have one or both of these projects (bog bridge and pool deck) done by July 4th, but if I had to pick one, I would pick the bog bridge; but I think MAYBE I can do both. I did manage to get my brick patio done by July 4th last year, if you’ll recall. (Yes, I was laying bricks in the dark while weeping on the evening of July 3rd, but I did get it done!) I got this wood from a fellow who said he had been planning to make a koi pond in his back yard, but never got around to it, so I’m gonna forge ahead on his behalf. 

Okay, I think that’s it. I shall pray for all you cheesebags at adoration (right after I swing by the school and drop off the overnight bag I forgot to pack for the kid who’s going on a sleepover, oops). 

UPDATE: Corrie remembered on her own to pack bags! Three of them! Meep meep meep! All the ducklings growing up. Everybody forging ahead. 

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. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 373: Little lamb, who ate thee?

Happy Friday! This week at our house was A DOOZY. Possibly multiple doozies. Luckily, most of it was scheduled dooze, except for both cars having issues (my sliding door stopped closing, and one of Damien’s tires blew out spectacularly, and also his alternator lost its will to alternate) and also Damien has been working on Dora’s car, so, you remember how Damien once added “and cheese” to every item on my shopping list? It was like that, except every day had “and everybody needs a ride” added to it. 

BUT IT IS SPRING. And that counts for so much! We had a big snowstorm last week, but it slowly warmed up over the weekend, and it’s been raining for a few days, so the snow is now mostly gone. 

I tried THREE new recipes this week and a new decorating technique, and Corrie had TWO sacraments, and NO ducks died, although some of them tried to kill each other. I think there is a dead mouse somewhere in the WALLS. And we are having SPAGHETTI for supper. We are all pretty TIRED. But it is spring, for real! 

SATURDAY
Pizza? 

Saturday I did a monstrous shopping because I skipped shopping last week. I feel like there was something else big going on, but I don’t remember what. We had just regular pizza. 

SUNDAY
Banh mi, german chocolate cake 

Sunday we celebrated Lena’s birthday! They had pork belly on sale at Aldi, so I poked around for recipes and decided to try the Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi from Recipe Tin Eats, because Nagi has never failed to delight, and also because, despite our best efforts, we still had chopped liver in the house.

Before I forget, here is my chopped liver recipe. Chicken livers are cheap and this is an easy recipe. Why not make up a bunch, separate it into servings, and keep some in the freezer in case of banh mi? I think you should. 

So, pork belly is the cut of meat that’s made into bacon. If fat upsets you, you will not like this recipe! But if you are someone who has fond and lavish imaginings of what could possibly be meant by “crispy pork belly,” then I urge you to give this a shot. It was magnificent. And easy! But it did take some planning. 

You have to let the meat dry out in the fridge overnight, or at least several hours. Then you rub the flesh side with oil, kosher salt, white pepper, and Chinese five spice, and make a sort of foil packet to enclose the sides and bottom, so none of the juice will escape while it’s cooking. Then you cook it in a low oven for two hours.

You’re supposed to check it halfway through and tighten up the foil, because it shrinks as it cooks, but I forgot. The pork will have changed shape at this stage, so you level it off by putting balls of tinfoil under the lower side. 

Then you turn the oven way up to 465 and let it brown up for about half an hour, rotating it halfway through and using foil to protect any spots that are browning too fast. You salt it at some point, but I forget when. 

Sooo, here is how it came out:

ooooh. 

Probably could have let it get a little browner, but I really have no regrets.

This particular dish is meant to be cut into chunks, rather than shredded, so I cut it up

and served it on toasted baguettes with mayo, cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, chopped liver (paté) and the wonderful, velvety sauce suggested in the recipe (hoisin sauce, coconut milk, and a little soy sauce), and also some crunchy fried onions from a can. 

Amazing. Pretty different from the banh mi I usually make, which has fish sauce and is a different texture. 

Jump to Recipe

This was sweeter and less bitey but also richer and more complex. An excellent, excellent sandwich, and the sauce was so good. I did make the pickled carrots using her recipe, and I think I prefer mine, which are less sweet,

Jump to Recipe

but it was a negligible difference. 

The pork belly chunks were sublime. The fat layer on top was salty and crackly, and the flesh inside was so juicy and succulent, and it had layers of fat inside that were meltingly tender. No chewiness in any part, and each individual piece of meat was, I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but almost like a layered sandwich in itself. So it was like a sandwich full of little baby sandwiches. Not, uhhhhh, an everyday food, for a variety of reasons. But I enjoyed it so much. 

And I made a cake! I decided to use the Tastes Better From Scratch recipe for German Chocolate Cake. I actually made the two frostings on Saturday, to save time, but then left them sitting on the stove all night by mistake. One has egg in it, and I wasn’t crazy about the texture anyway, so I decided to remake it. Because I was being smart. 

I then proceeded to be very dumb and decided that, when I got to the part of the cake recipe where you add a cup of boiling water to the batter, I would use a metal measuring cup without a handle.

Do you know, boiling water is hot? I didn’t realize this. So I basically tipped a little water in and then shrieked and flung the measuring cup into the moving mixer, with predictable results

So I wiped down every single surface of every single thing that was in the kitchen and then I remade the coconut pecan frosting. I made a double recipe of the cake, and it came out, like so many of us these days, a little too fragile. Also the chocolate frosting was so thick, you couldn’t really spread it, but you could squish it, so that is what I did. So the resulting cake looks a little like someone held it at shoulder level and then dropped it

but everyone assured me it was delicious! You have to agree, this is definitely a lot of cake. I have finally started on Emgality, so who knows, maybe some day I will have chocolate again, and find out for myself. 

MONDAY
Eclipse! 

Monday, if you recall, was the eclipse! We were in the 95% range, and we’ve seen a partial eclipse before; so I decided to excuse the kids from school and hop in the car to see totality. Our goal was St. Johnbury, VT, which is normally about two hours away. It took about 3.5 hours, so I deployed the car DVD player, which is reserved for the longest trips, and we watched Ice Age, which holds up, at least if you’re only listening to it. 

We were thrilled to see clear skies, and it was one of the warmest days of the year so far, so we felt very lucky. Staked out a spot, ate our sandwiches, checked out the craft tables and information booths, and then the moon started to steal across the sun, and then . . . 

I don’t know if you guys realize this, but the sun is what is making us alive, and when it gets covered up, things change DRAMATICALLY and IMMEDIATELY. We went from sweating in the sun to shivering, and the light was . . . not twilight, like when the sun is going down. It also wasn’t “there’s a storm brewin'” light. It was light I have never seen before in my life, and there above me were immense heavenly bodies silently moving themselves in a completely new way. Everybody stood up. People shouted and cried out. I wept. It was quiet and cold. I don’t know what to say.

I did take a few pictures

but of course they aren’t anything like what it was like. Neither, I may say, are the dramatic, high resolution pictures that people have been sharing. If you haven’t seen a total eclipse, it is simply not like anything else

We did bring a colander and use it as a pinhole projector to make the little crescent shapes before totality.

Strange, strange stuff. The whole thing was just so strange. And it was just the sun, and the moon! The sun and the moon, that we already know about and have lived with all these years. If this is how strange the physical world can get, it makes you wonder what other surprises may be in store. Phew. Phew. Quite a day. 

Lots of people turned right around and zipped off to their cars the very second totality was over, but we hung out and kind of caught our breaths, and then headed over to the Fairbanks Museum, which is a strange little natural history museum full of taxidermy and cultural oddities from all over the world. I enjoyed every bit of it, including the document hand written by Robert Louis Stevenson deeding his birthday over to a little local girl who had the misfortune of having been born on Christmas. Sweet man. 

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that just before totality, we saw strange ruby-red gems of light on the bottom edge of the sun. These turned out to be something called Bailey’s Beads, and it is the sunlight leaking out between the crags of the moon just before the moon moves totally over the sun. 

So after the museum, we plunged back into traffic and spent another 3.5 hours getting home. We watched Help on the way back, and Corrie lost a tooth, and we sampled Wendy’s Orange Dreamsicle Frosties (exactly what you’d expect), and then we came home and collapsed. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Tuesday I was like, wow, I’m not even that tired. I got the kids to school, took one kid to a rather fraught doctor appointment, cleaned out the car for the first time in months because Corrie lost her tooth and then lost it again, and was pretty distraught about it; and then I decided that it was time to do something about the duck house, which was in a truly shocking state. And then I thought I would sit down for a minute, and of course I fell asleep. SO asleep. So ASLEEP. It was such a deep nap, I feel like I’m still waking up several days later. Man. 

So yes, chicken burgers and chips for supper. It was finally warm enough to eat outside, so that is what I did!

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, fries

Wednesday was the rehearsal for Corrie’s First Communion and confirmation right around supper time, so I got Elijah to manage supper and we got it done! Wednesday was supposed to be nachos for supper, but I had so many other things to do, we didn’t even have time for that, so hot dogs. 

After dinner, I made a cake for the next day – just a box mix, which are really quite good these days. I made some kind of white cake that uses just egg whites.

THURSDAY
Qeema and rice with minty sour cream and coriander chutney; white cake 

Thursday I just . . . didn’t want to make nachos. I don’t know why. So I went back to Recipe Tin Eats begging for a ground beef recipe, and dear Nagi said I could make qeema. 

I’m telling you, that lady does not miss. I minced up a bunch of garlic and ginger, cooked that a bit, added finely diced onion, cooked it some more, and then added the ground beef along with kosher salt, cayenne pepper, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and browned up the meat. Then you just add some water and simmer it until most of the water evaporates.

And that’s it! I set up some rice in the Instant Pot for Damien to start while I got the kids, and I wanted to make some yogurt sauce, but since I had been planning nachos, I had bought sour cream, and we didnt’t have yogurt. So I defrosted a couple of the mint cubes I had put away last fall

and stirred that in with the sour cream (I froze them with a little olive oil. I also found a bottle of coriander chutney in the cabinet and chopped up some cilantro, and IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS.

Definitely making this meal again. I told the kids it was like Korean Beef Bowl

Jump to Recipe

except Indian, which is sort of true, but also kind of a silly thing to say. It was not spicy, but was absolutely bristling with garlic and ginger, which I love. Just a wonderful, warm, homey taste, and the sauce from the meat soaked right into the rice and made the whole thing savory and good, and so nice with the cool chutney and minty sour cream. Great meal, and really quick (or a great make-ahead meal). 

I also realized that I’m very tired of not really knowing how much meat I actually have (the ground beef was in a ziplock bag from last week, after I divided a giant package and used the first part on areyes. So I got a cheap kitchen scale, and I’m looking forward to seeing if this improves my baking, too, if I can measure dry ingredients by weight rather than volume. Probably not! I think I’m just a mediocre baker, and I’m mostly okay with that. But who knows, maybe this will change everything. Anyway, I’ll know how much meat I have. 

We ate really early and then headed off for Corrie’s confirmation and First Holy Communion! 

Bunch of pictures here. 

It was lovely. Just lovely. Clara was her sponsor, and she chose the name Casilda, who is a saint she learned about from Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s excellent book Saints Around the World. It didn’t ring a bell at the time, but Saint Casilda of Toledo is the subject of this famous painting by Francisco de Zurbaran

which was the reference for a painting by Roméo Mivekannin which we saw in person a few months ago at the Currier Museum in Manchester.

 We do get around. 

For the cake, I often make a stained glass cake for sacrament parties. You cover the cake in royal icing to make a stable surface, let it dry, pipe lines in black, and the carefully fill them in with various jellies whipped up with a little water. This isn’t the greatest example, but it gives the general idea:

I wanted to try something different, so I frosted the cake and then melted some white candy melts and just kind of dabbed them onto parchment paper

When they were dry, I peeled them off and arranged them into a flower. 

I thought it was pretty, if a little rough; but it didn’t really say “Catholic” to me. First I attempted to make crosses out of candy melt. They looked pretty terrible when I cut them out with a knife; and when I tried to use a cookie cutter, they kept breaking when I tried to release them. So I found some gum paste and

behold, it’s THE LITTLE LAMBY OF GOD. 

This is the cutest religious cake I have ever made. Corrie loved it, and I’m happy to have a new way to decorate cakes. I see many possibilities. 

I’ve been on a poem-printing kick lately. I follow several poets and poetry lovers on social media, and the printer has been amazingly obliging lately (= it prints things???), so any time something strikes my fancy, I print it out and stick it to the wall. Here’s The Lamb by William Blake, if you’d like to do the same. When we were at the Fairbanks and I pointed out the Robert Louis Stevenson document to the kids, I reminded them that he was the one who wrote At the Sea-Side (“When I was down beside the sea/A wooden spade they gave to me…”) which is the poem that’s been hanging in the bathroom for several years, and my favorite poem of all time; and one of my kids said, “Oh, I have it memorized. I stare at it every time I take a dump!” So I guess you could say [looks smugly at fingernails] I really know my stuff, parent-wise. 

And now, my friends, all ten of my children have been baptized and confirmed and they’ve all been to confession and received Communion. And they’ve memorized at least one poem. I’m not saying my work is done, but it sure feels like a milestone. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti? 

I believe we’re having spaghetti. I gotta clean up the kitchen from yesterday (it was Benny’s turn, but we got home so late), and the ducklings are meep-meep-meeping and the dog is whining and I’m still in my pajamas and there are things overdue and there simply isn’t time for it all, but I am so glad for my life. What a life! 

And look at my flowers, which did NOT DIE.

The greens are daffodils and possibly red tulips, I don’t remember. Some of my winter sowing jugs are finally poking out of the dirt. And the buds on my peach tree look fine! We had a freeze and I was rushing around in the dark, draping sheets over things and weeping, as one does, but it looks like everything survived. 

Happy Friday! I’ll pray for yez all at adoration this afternoon. 

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 371: St. Joseph’s Pizza!

Happy Friday! I’m going through my food photos and noticing that we are not doing great with the part of Lent where you don’t eat a lot. But really, there are two whole other important pillars of Lent. To wit: Praying, and giving alms. And those are going very, you know what, mind your own business.

Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Saturday I went shopping, of course, so we just had chicken burgers and chips for supper. I did make a second batch of maple syrup, even smaller than the last one, though.

Annnd I may have overcooked it a skosh. 

I was planning an Irish breakfast for Sunday, which was St. Patrick’s day. But I couldn’t find sourdough bread at either supermarket, so I decided to try making my own. In my usual thorough researchly fashion, I Googled “sourdough bread without a starter” and clicked on the first recipe that popped up. Started the dough and set it to rise in a warm spot (in the box of socks in the laundry room, which is over a heating vent) overnight. 

I also, feeling very pleased with myself for all the things I was getting done, put both ice cream bowls in the freezer for the next day.

I also rented a pickup truck for the next day, so I could pick up an amazing offer from Facebook marketplace: Two docks, one 8×8 feet, one 16×4 feet, and the long skinny one had a handrail!!! Free!!!! And only about half an hour away. 

The reason I wanted these was because I’m planning to build a bog bridge over the swampy area of the yard so we can get to the stream more easily. I had thrilling plans of using the long dock as a sturdy entrance point to the bridge, and the square one as a sort of floating deck halfway there, and I was thinking of adding birdhouses and solar-powered lights and geraniums in terra cotta pots, and a couple of tasteful deck chairs, and it would be such a lovely little project that would really transform that part of the property, and I was feeling incredibly lucky to have been the first one to jump on the offer, and they were really well-made, solid docks with no rotten wood, and it was all coming together!

You can probably tell, based on how excited I am about this, that it all went to hell. It really, really did. Read on! 

SUNDAY
Irish breakfast, maple walnut ice cream

Sunday we went to Mass, I started some maple walnut ice cream going, using the syrup I had made yesterday, which I warmed up in a pot of water until it was soft enough to stir. (Here’s a similar ice cream recipe, and just ignore the part about coconut cream, and instead add 1/4 cup maple syrup, and then stir in some chopped walnuts after you churn it)

Jump to Recipe

I also made a batch of chocolate chip ice cream (same base, but add chocolate chips). Jammed those in the freezer and headed out to get my wonderful docks. 

Okay. So. I really can’t stand to revisit every last horrible detail, but it included a woman screaming “STOP!” and a man shouting, “What are you DOING??” and then when we got past that part and found the right field instead of the Very Wrong Field, there was a long spell where Damien and I were standing in the rain in that field, coming up with every last possible scenario we could that might possibly end up with us loading up these docks and bringing them home.

When we got to the part where I suggested going back home, getting our mini chainsaw and as many teenagers as we could find, and then using all our might to load the hacked-up pieces of dock into the truck and making maybe five or six trips to get it home, and then returning the pickup truck to U-Haul on time, we just kind of looked at each other and said, ” . . . Yeah, no.”

It was sad. It was tragic. But the fact is, we really needed a winch and a flatbed for this job. I did call a flatbed company and had a short argument with the dispatcher, but when they finally called back, I missed the call, and that was the final chapter in a long and stupid story called “It Was Just Not Meant To Be.”

So I went home and cried a little bit, to be honest with you, because I really wanted those docks, and also I felt like I was the dumbest person in the world because nothing every works out, boo hoo hoo, and the maple syrup was all my fault, and I had forgotten to buy potatoes for the Irish breakfast, and then I fetched the dough for the alleged soda bread that had been rising for 20 hours, and it was . . . in keeping with the rest of my efforts that day.

 

HOWEVER, I baked what I had, and they turned out somewhat reminiscent of bread.

Damien made the bacon, and we actually had a really tasty meal. I roasted some mushrooms with — I don’t remember, probably garlic, salt, pepper, butter, oil, and then some lemon juice at the end, and I roasted some tomato halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

 I cut the bread into thick little wedges

and I heated up some baked beans, and then I fried a bunch of duck eggs in bacon grease, and yes, all together it was delicious. 

Even without potatoes. 

But! The ice cream didn’t freeze! I don’t know why! Maybe my freezer is overstuffed and the bowls are not getting sufficiently chilled. What can one say. Begorrah. We definitely ate it anyway, but it was more like a thin milkshake than ice cream. 

MONDAY
Mussel lo mein

Monday I was pretty ready to have everything go better, and it did. Aldi was selling pouches of cooked mussel meat for $3 a pound a while back, so I pulled those out of the freezer and let them defrost while I did yoga. My sprained (or whatever) ankle was finally feeling well enough to do a full class again, so that was nice; and the cat stole one of the bags of mussels but did not manage to open it, so that was also nice!

At dinner time, I boiled three pounds of linguine, and started the lo mein with minced garlic and ginger, then added diced red onion and sugar snap peas, and then the mussels,

and then I put in 2/3 of the pasta and the sauce, and it was a lovely lo mein.

I served the rest of the pasta plain, for people who prefer that. 

The lo mein was so good. I adore this recipe. It’s so fast and easy, and just delicious, and you can put whatever you want in it. 

TUESDAY
Pizza, cannoli 

Tuesday I had to face the fact that, even though I love St. Joseph very much, I had just plain forgotten that it was his feast day. Most years, we do a big Italian feast, but we were pretty zonked this week, so I just made pizza. 

I did make a pretty deluxe pizza for the wild card one (I generally make one pepperoni, one plane, and one wild card pizza): Fresh garlic, roast tomatoes (left over from the Irish meal), spinach, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and black olives. 

Ahem: 
 
I can see a new horizonUnderneath the blazin’ sky.I’ll be where the sauce is flyin’(Not Srebenica!)

Gonna be your mom in motionAll I need’s this bag of cheese.Take me where my future’s lyin’St. Joseph’s pizza! 

Look, the original song doesn’t make any sense, either. 

We also happened to have cannoli shells in the house, which Damien grabbed months ago because they aren’t always in stores, so you get them while you can. I made a basic filling (ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and powdered sugar) and piped it into the shells, then decorated them with rainbow sprinkles. 

Not actually very swanky (I didn’t have time to let the filling drain, so it was kinda wet), but heyyy. St. Joseph. Not Srebenica. 

WEDNESDAY
Butter chicken, rice, dal

Wednesday was duckling day! We ordered them a while back, thinking they would arrive after Easter when things had “”””””calmed down a little,”””””” but in fact they came on Wednesday. Here they are, noisily waiting in the post office to be picked up

The last batch of ducks we got were named after some of Damien’s great uncles, E.J., Coin, Fay, and Ray; so these ones are named after my paternal grandmother, Annie, and her sisters Mickey and Bebe.

They’re a little confused

but quite winsome

Here’s a couple of videos from the first and second day, meeting the rest of the animals. 

They are Black Swedish ducks, and their personalities are somewhat different from the last little flock we got, which are pekin ducks. They are less sleepy and more jumpy, and they already look more duck-shaped than the pekins did at this age. (The pekins were just fuzzy blobs for about a week, but these guys have discernible necks already.) 

Last time, we got a straight run, meaning nobody had figured out yet what sex they are. We ended up with two boys and two girls, which is not ideal (there are some power struggles). So this time we paid extra to get them sexed, and these are all girls. They’re supposed to be friendly and cold-hearty and good foragers, and the shells of their eggs will be a darker, bluish shade. This is what they will look like as adults

One of my upcoming projects is to make a better fence, because our current flock finds it very easy to escape, and they’ve been roaming all over the property and also off the property, and we’re not really sure if everyone else finds them as charming as we do. They do get plenty of exercise this way, and nobody has eaten them yet. 

Anyway! Still had to make supper, and the menu said butter chicken and dal. I’ve never had or even seen, much less made dal before. I followed the recipe in Julie Sahni’s cookbook, except I think I had the wrong kind of lentils. It said yellow or pink, and I had ones that were kind of orangey and are called “football lentils.” 

Anyway it was a super easy recipe. You just simmer the lentils in water with turmeric until they’re tender,

whisk them until they’re blended (that was fun), and then at the end, add some oil that you’ve browned a bunch of sliced garlic in.

I think it came out much thicker than it’s supposed to be — more of a paste than anything you could conceivably sip — but it was DELICIOUS. 

The butter chicken is also so easy. You just have to start early (or the night before) so it can marinate, but then I followed this recipe from RecipeTinEats, except I accidentally bought vanilla yogurt instead of plain, so I used sour cream instead. Worked great. You just cook up the chicken, then put in your tomato, cream, salt, and sugar, and let it simmer a bit longer.

I ended up with a lot more sauce than we needed for the chicken (possibly it was thinner because it was sour cream instead of yogurt? I don’t know), but better too much than too little. 

I sure wish I had some naan or some other kind of bread, but I was — well, to be honest, I was tired because I was so excited about the ducks. So I just made a big pot of rice to go with it. Set out some more cilantro and there it was. 

Such a nice, lovely meal. I ate so much.  Just about everybody likes butter chicken. The dal was not a huge hit, but I myself loved it, so I’m probably going to try again on a day when I can also make naan, and maybe I can talk them into it that way. 

THURSDAY
Banh mi, Doritos

Thusday we had banh mi, which we haven’t had for quite some time, because the smell is a bit of a trial for some people who live in this house. 

I made a very slight tweak in the marinade

Jump to Recipe

(running the cilantro through the food processor, rather than just chopping it up coarsely) and I liked it, so I’ll do it that way from now on.

I quick-pickled some carrots 

Jump to Recipe

and did the ol’ glass-skull-full-of-pickled-carrots maneuver 

I just cut up the cucumbers and left them unpickled, because there are so many sharp, attention-getting flavors in this sandwich already. 

The meat turned out extremely tender.

I had my sandwich with pickled carrots and fresh cilantro and some sriracha mayo, but I forgot to add cucumbers and jalapeños. I did toast the rolls, though, which I don’t always bother to do. 

Magnificent. This is truly one of the great lights in the universe of sandwiches. My only regret was the pickled carrots were too sweet, but (so) the kids liked them a lot. We also had Doritos, which were a surprisingly good accompaniment to this sandwich. Or maybe I just like Doritos. 

Late Thursday night, we lost one of the ducklings. I mean it died, we didn’t lose track of it. They were only a few days old and I don’t really know what happened. It just happens sometimes. The other two seem pretty hale and hearty, and now . . . I have to figure out which name I should assign to the one who didn’t make it, which is an unforeseen pitfall of naming brand-new ducklings after real people!

Ah well. 

FRIDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese sandwiches

Friday was Benny’s school conference (Corrie’s was Thursday afternoon), and we made a stop afterwards at a favorite thrift store, where Benny found an absolutely lovely, brand new dress that fits her like a dream, and I found eighteen matching tiny wine glasses for $4. Perfect for Passover, which we will be celebrating on Holy Saturday as usual. Which is . . . .coming right up, isn’t it. There isn’t much in the way of Passover food to be found in the supermarkets, because actual Passover isn’t for more than another month, but I’ll figure it out. 

Deep down, I’m glad I’m not frantically trying to figure out what to do about the two docks that are in my driveway right now. It just took a couple of days to realize I felt that way. 

It is snowing.

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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 coconut cream (discarding the waxy disk thing) and continue whisking to blend.

  4. 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.)

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.

5 from 1 vote
Print

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 369: In which I trust the process

Friday again! What do you know about that. I had no way of knowing this was coming, but here we are. 

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I guess I went shopping, and I guess we had chicken burgers when I got home. Plausible, but I have no memory of it. 

SUNDAY
Cumin chicken with chickpeas, elite pita

I sort of remember Sunday. Some of the older kids were over, and chicken thighs were on sale, so I made this simple but tasty sheet pan meal: Lemony, cuminous chicken thighs marinated in yogurt with onions and chickpeas. 

Jump to Recipe

I got the chicken marinating in the yogurt sauce in the morning, and I made the red onion, parsley, and lemon juice side dish, but discovered to my sorrow that I hadn’t bought enough yogurt to also make yogurt sauce. 

I did, however, make homemade pita. I followed the recipe from TheKitchn, which has directions for both oven-baked and pan-cooked pita. I started a double recipe of dough and set it to rise, and then I finally got around to tapping some maple trees.

We have 1.25 acres of land, and I went around with my Picture This app, identifying leafless trees, and we have more trees than I can count . . . except maple. We turned out to have a grand total of two maple trees, and one of them is just a little guy.

I tapped it anyway, as you can see, but it hasn’t produced much. (Normally I’d be excited to see the stream running and not frozen, but it barely froze this year!)

The other tree is a pretty good producer, although the nights have been warming up, so it’s stop-and-start.  

I had been storing the sap outside in bags inside a bin, but I misjudged the temperature, and I’m afraid the sap I already collected may have spoiled. I made a new dumb mistake every year I do this, very exciting! Anyway there’s still some late winter left, so I haven’t given up. Too dumb to give up.

I also scoped out the wattle materials situation, and I gathered up a variety of straight, supple branches that I will probably practice on before I invest in a large amount of stakes. Trying out all different kinds of wood and vines. 

And I planted the last of my winter sowing jugs. I didn’t end up with as many as I wanted, but there’s a lot of variety, vegetables and flowers.

The group I’m in keeps saying “trust the method,” which is what groups always say when things are clearly going horribly wrong, but I also have not given up on this. It was WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL to be outside in the fresh air. And I have a variety of flowers and vegetables sprouting indoors, as well. 

So then, feeling frisk and fine, I went inside and slid the chicken and chickpeas in the oven and started on the pita.

Now, I own a wooden rolling pin and a marble rolling pin and even a pink plastic toy rolling pin that can be useful in a pinch, but they had all vanished into . . . I don’t know where. I imagine there is some shadowy, cthonic kitchen cabinet somewhere with all my useful kitchen stuff in it, waiting fearfully in the dark for what comes next. There abide the whisk with the nice handle, floating around eerily, wreathed in mist and flour; biscuit dough cutters flickering in and out of visibility and wailing, unheard, longing to be touched by human hands once more. That one butter knife with the pretty pattern on the handle, just clattering fruitlessly around in the gloom.

However, I did find the embossed rolling pin we got one of the kids for Christmas one time, and that is how I made my very first . . . . 

ELITE PITA

Isn’t that lovely?

I wasn’t sure if the pattern would stay when I baked it, but it did! 

Only on one side, of course, because rolling the dough out presses it flat on the other side. So the other side got the characteristic “pressed bubble” pita pattern when I flipped it over in the pan. 

I used an iron frying pan, and kept a little olive oil and a brush nearby, as well as a wad of napkins for wiping out the oil and flour in between pitas. This keeps the pita from getting blackened residue on it when you cook it.

I was delighted with this pita. It tasted good, too. 

I also discovered, about 7/8 of the way through the 16 pieces of pita, that they do puff up if I leave them in the pan about ninety seconds longer than I think I should. This is something I discover every single time I make pita, about 7/8 of the way through. I would trust the process, but I’m too dumb. 

The chicken turned out great. The onions are crackly-crisp, the chickpeas are nutty and crunchy with a hot, mealy core, and the chicken has a ridiculously delicious skin, and it’s all set off beautifully by the piquant lemon onions. 

I forgot to take a picture, but here is an old one:

It was about 50% tragic that we didn’t have garlicky yogurt sauce to dip everything in, but it was still a pretty good meal. The pita got all eaten up, which made me happy. It’s so embarrassing to make something you think of as a treat, and then have tons and tons of leftovers!

MONDAY
Hammy mac and cheese, raw veg and hummus

On Monday I faced last week’s leftover ham that was still lurking in the fridge. I made two batches of mac and cheese, one plain and once with diced ham. (I don’t really have a recipe; I just made a bunch of white sauce, then shred up any cheese I can find and mix it all up, then stir that up with cooked macaroni, and top it with buttered breadcrumbs and bake it until it’s bubbly. I usually add mustard or hot sauce or both to the cheese sauce, but since I was adding ham, I didn’t think it needed it.)

It was pretty good. 

About half of the ham one and half of the cheese one got eaten, so I call that a success.

I also made a tremendous platter of raw vegetables and put that out, along with hummus. My goal is to make a tremendous platter of raw vegetables early in the week every week, and then keep putting it out until it’s gone. This is basically me lately, on the right: 

Ol’ Melon Pelvis, they call me. Olllll’ Corn Ulna. Lady Kale Pecs. 

TUESDAY 
Pork fried rice, egg rolls, raw veg

Tuesday I got the small hunk of pork out of the freezer that I stashed away a few weeks ago, when I made most of it into chili verde. I’m getting better at this “buy what’s on sale and use it all” thing. I cut it into little bits and made some fried rice, using the vegetables I had on hand, which turned out to be peas, carrots, scallions, onions, cabbage, and mushrooms, and of course garlic and ginger.

The ducks are laying reliably again, so I scrambled up three eggs and tossed that in as well. 

I guess I’ve made this often enough that I should do a recipe card, so here’s that:

Jump to Recipe

It’s less of a recipe and more of a “recipe,” but I do consult it every time I make this, so it seemed worth making a card!

We also had some frozen egg rolls for Aldi (not bad) and some raw vegetables. 

On Tuesday night, I baked a cake and started some gum paste decorations, because I wanted them to be dry by Wednesday.

I even remembered to anchor some toothpicks in them while they were still wet, so they would stay put on the cake. I am a golden god. 

WEDNESDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, fries, birthday cake

Wednesday I had a bunch of errands and cuckoo running around to do in the afternoon, so I got hopping on the cake right away. Mr. Birthday had requested a Shadow the Hedgehog cake, and sent me these reference images:

and I was willing to make a gum paste hedgehog head, hands, and feet, but for some reason I just didn’t want to make a gum paste hedgehog torso. Just didn’t want to do it.

So I looked at the reference images again, and thought I could probably get away with having him busting out of the cake in a sort of explosive . . . exploding cake situation. Couldn’t be simpler!!!

Then I thought, oh, he sent the logo as a separate image, so that must be important. I printed one out and did one of those icing transfer things. You print an image backwards, tape it to the counter, tape parchment paper or wax paper over it, and use a piping bag to trace the image. Then you freeze it, flip it onto your cake, and carefully pull the paper away. Trust the process, right? 

Well, this only works if you . . . you know what, never mind. Never mind. All you need to know is that, within half an hour, I was feeling the need to remind myself that I used to be a National Merit Scholar, and lots of people struggle with candy melts, and my hand tremor is not my fault, and if he got a terrible cake it would probably be good for his character in some way. I ended up starting over twice and significantly downgrading my vision, and at the last minute I decided that the logo thingy needed to stand up, rather than lie flat. So I used candy melt to cement a couple of lollipop sticks to the back of the logo.

Then I used more candy melt to color in the feet and head, and then ran out to the store to get some hard candies. 

I bashed them up in a bag with a rolling pin and spread them out on parchment paper in a medium oven for a few minutes — one butterscotch with pieces of ruined candy melt logo mixed in, for embers

and one just butterscotch, and I sort of feathered the edges while it was still hot, for flames

Then I let it cool and broke the candy sheets into pieces. Then I had another mental breakdown or two but eventually THIS IS HOW IT TURNED OUT

Shadow the Hedgehog APOCALYPSE. But I didn’t think through the angle of the feet when I was making them, so I had to pipe some little legs on, and it ended up looking like he is sort of angrily lounging in some kind of extremely hot hot tub. I was laughing so hard while I was putting it together. It was at this point that I called Irene over to see my cake, and she said, “Well . . . it has heart!”

Here’s how it looks with 20 candles:

It turns out twenty candles will absolutely melt a candy logo in the time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday.” Now I know!

Anyway, the birthday boy liked it and, whew. 

Damien made the requested bacon cheeseburgers

and some of the adult kids came over and we had a nice time. Whew. 

And there was . . . leftover bacon. It’s still in the fridge right now. I really don’t understand. 

THURSDAY
Spaghetti with sausage sauce

The plan was just loose sausage and jarred sauce, but I seemed to have a lot of canned tomatoes, so I cooked some diced onion along with the sausage, then broke up the tomatoes and added those in along with some tomato paste and some bay leaves and salt and sugar, and oops, some belated oregano, and some hot pepper flakes. Good enough for the likes of us. 

Actually, it was just plain good. This is one of those meals, like whole chicken, that I used to make constantly when we were broke, so I’m kind of sour on it, but every once it a while, on a foggy, rainy day, it’s perfect. 

FRIDAY
Pepper and egg sandwiches

We have quite a backlog of duck eggs, so this meal seemed like a good Friday choice.

Beat a bunch of eggs and set them aside. Then chop or slice green peppers and onions and sauté them in olive oil in a large pan for a few minutes, then add a little water, cover the pan, and let them cook gently for several minutes until they are soft. Uncover the pan and cook a few more minutes to let the remaining water evaporate, and then season the peppers and onions with ground pepper and salt. Add in a little more olive oil, then add the beaten eggs and scramble it all up together. Serve on nice rolls. (I think I got potato rolls, but kaiser buns would have been better.) I like mine with a little hot sauce. 

Previous egg and pepper sandwiches:

I wish we had fruit salad, but we may have to settle for string beans.

Okay! And that is what we ate!

Couple of food chat odds and ends: One is that I found a perfectly good TAGINE for sale at the thrift store.

A tagine is the name of a variety of North African stews, and also the name of the vessel you cook it in. I, myself, would enjoy something with lamb and pistachios and apricots and nonsense like that, like this restaurant meal we had a few years ago for an anniversary or something:

but I don’t think anyone else would want that. So what would you cook in a tagine? 

Second thing is that I recklessly signed up to cook dinner for the youth group, assuming the world would come to and end before the date came up, but it turns out it didn’t. Or at least, it hasn’t yet (fingers crossed for Sunday). It’s only about 20 people. Our current youth says that, if you make anything besides pasta, they laugh at you. I say I don’t mind being laughed at by teenagers, but I actually do. I did just find out that the vegan kids are not going to be there this week, so that’s easier (my plan had been to serve them a hot steaming bowl of Tough Luck anyway). 

In the past, for youth group, I have made shawarma, rice pilaf, pita and hummus, and baklava, and then last time we made Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient sauce on spaghetti, with garlic bread and fruit and salad. I think I’ll just have one large oven to cook or heat food in, otherwise I’d just made a bunch of pizzas. It’s supposed to be a main dish, a side, dessert, and drinks. I may just do stuffed shells, but I’m not happy about it, so if you can think of something relatively cheap that 20 kids would eat without too much scorn, I would love to hear it. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Basic stir fried rice

This is a very loose recipe, because you can change the ingredients and proportions however you like

Ingredients

  • cooked rice
  • sesame oil (or plain cooking oil)
  • fresh garlic and ginger, minced
  • vegetables, diced or shredded (onion, scallion, peas, bok choy, carrots, sugar snap peas, cabbage, etc.)
  • brown sugar
  • raw or cooked shrimp, or raw or cooked meat (pork, ham, chicken), diced
  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • eggs

Instructions

  1. In a very large pan, heat up a little oil and sauté the ginger and garlic for a few minutes. If you are using raw meat, season it with garlic powder and ginger powder and a little soy sauce, add it to the pan, and cook it through. If you are using shrimp, just throw it in the pan and cook it.

  2. Add in the chopped vegetables and continue cooking until they are cooked through. If you are using cooked meat, add it now.

  3. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the brown sugar is bubbly and darkened.

  4. Add in the cooked rice and stir until everything is combined.

  5. Add in a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce, and stir to combine completely.

  6. In a separate pan, scramble the eggs and stir them in. (Some people scramble the eggs directly into the rest of the rice, but I find it difficult to cook the eggs completely this way.)

  7. If you are using cooked shrimp, add it at the end and just heat it through.

What’s for supper? Vol. 367: I knead you so badly

Happy Friday! We’ve been eating a little too well for Lent. Don’t tell my bishop. Or, actually go ahead and tell him. I went and got fired from the diocesan magazine already last week, so do your worst. (I don’t really know why it happened, other than that I am annoying. It’s fine. Something else always turns up, and I can go be annoying to a slightly different subset of readers, inshallah.)

Anyway, here’s what we had this week, which was February vacation for most of the kids:  

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Usually, for grilled cheese, I buy a few loaves of sourdough bread that comes in very large pieces, but they were out of them at Aldi, so I got some pleasant-looking Italian loaves that seemed likely. Dinner time comes along, I open the bag, and here is what the individual slices look like:

and I’m like, huh. Possibly I’m a pervert, but this feels slightly awkward. Maybe they will look more normal if I put mayonnaise on them

Ah well, we’ll just call it theology of the body and fry ’em up. 

Yes, they all looked like this. 

So everyone got one and we also had pickles and let us never speak of this again. Definitely not to the bishop. 

SUNDAY
40 garlic whole chickens, orzo al limone

I have mentioned in the past how allergic I am to cooking whole chickens, because we had them SO often when we were super poor and they used to be like 49 cents a pound, and I just feel so gloomy and oppressed by whole chickens now. But I’m trying really hard to shop the sales, so I made a tremendous penitential Lenten effort and bought two whole chickens for cheap, which I prepared using this recipe for 40 garlic clove chickens

You melt butter and oil in a dutch oven and brown the chickens on all sides, take out the chicken and drain off some of the fat, and stir in the garlic cloves. Yes, we peeled 80 cloves of garlic.

In fact, it was after we peeled about 65 cloves of garlic that I more carefully read the recipe I was going to use, and discovered that it calls for unpeeled garlic. So I quickly switched to the recipe I linked above, which doesn’t specify. No, I will not read to the end of a recipe before starting it! You can’t make me!!

So then you put the chicken back in along with a little water, and lemon juice, salt, thyme (it calls for dried but I had fresh), and pepper, cover the dutch oven, and bake it in the oven for 90 minutes.  I don’t actually have a dutch oven, so I browned the chicken in a pot and then transferred it to a giant oven pan, covered it with tinfoil, and then put a second pan on top. 

Good enough! When I opened it up, the chickens were [Danny Kaye doing his drooling Clever Gretel voice] nicely cooked

I cooked them breast-side-down in “humble frog” position, because I knew the skin wasn’t going to be the star of this chicken anyway, and I really wanted the meat to be juicy. It was not the most visually stunning chicken I have ever met, but it was extremely juicy and full of flavor. I actually used quite a bit more lemon juice than it called for, and I have no regrets.

Before I made the chicken, I started on the orzo. I was using this recipe from delish, and if it sounds tasty to you (and it will), I recommend taking a screenshot, because they limit how many free page views you get. I assemble the ingredients and knew this would be a winner. Just look:

It’s basically the same as risotto. Sauté some garlic, then lemon zest, and oops, I threw my chives in there too soon 

then add your orzo with salt and pepper and toast it a bit. Then you add chicken broth, a bit at a time, so the orzo slowly absorbs it.

Yeah man. 

When it’s cooked, stir in the cheese (it called for Pecorino Romano, but I had parmesan) and the parsley, lemon juice, and chives. 

I actually cooked the orzo first and then put it in the slow cooker, and then got to work on the chicken.

They were SO nice together. 

Some asparagus or spinach would have put this meal over the top, but it was pretty great as it was. The cloves of garlic were as soft as boiled potatoes, so what I did was just fork-mash them onto my chicken 

and we were all in garlic heaven. “We” being the chicken and the orzo and me. 

The orzo is amazing. I loved it so much. It was rich and creamy and cozy, but also piquant and sharp with the garlic and lemon and herbs. Some of the kids did not like the texture, probably because they are used to risotto and it’s not the same. But Damien and I thought it was great. 

On Sunday, I also did some winter sowing, which is something I only recently discovered. The idea is that you can start seeds outdoors in late winter even if it’s cold and snowy out, because you’re planting in milk jugs that act as little greenhouses; and then when the frost is past and your seedlings are big enough to transplant into the ground, you don’t have to harden them off, because they’re already acclimated. I have never successfully hardened seedlings off, because I take it too personally and all I can think is that nobody ever carried me in and out and in and out because my little leafies might get cold. 

You cut the milk jugs about four inches up from the bottom, leaving the last bit intact for a hinge. Fill the bottom with seed starter material, plant your seeds, water, and put the top back and tape it shut. That’s it. 

I was delighted to find a sack of seed starter I had bought on clearance last year, so I got out my saved seed stash and did three jugs of eggplants, three of pumpkin, and two butternut squash; and I did two jugs of morning glories for my friend Millie, who is in the nursing home again. And I got some more spiles and tubing for maple sugaring! But I used up all the milk jugs, so we have to build up some more supply before I can get going on that.

MONDAY
Spicy chicken sandwiches, fruit salad

Monday I went to see Millie in the morning. If you could keep her in your prayers, please, I’d appreciate it! She’s going to be 90 the first week in March and she’s hoping to be able to get back to her house and garden soon. 

I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs I had stashed in the freezer when they were on sale a few weeks ago, and I made these wonderful sandwiches that everybody likes. They come together really fast. You just season the chicken thighs with Cajun seasoning — actually I used Tony Chachere’s, which is creole, but close enough — and then pan fry them on both sides. While they are cooking, you cut up some shishito peppers (just cut the tops off) and slice some red onions. When the chicken is done, you blister up the peppers in another pan, and lay some American cheese on top of the chicken and put a lid on it so it melts. 

(I didn’t actually cook the chicken this close together; I used two pans, and then transferred the chicken to one pan for the cheese treatment.)

Layer the chicken, peppers, and onions on brioche buns, with BBQ sauce top and bottom. Boom, amazing sandwich.

I just love this sandwich because it’s so SIMPLE. One bottle of spice, one step with the peppers, easy sliced cheese, bottled sauce. You really couldn’t improve it if you made it complicated and fiddly (although I’m sure Sam Sifton would like to try). 

You can see that I made a fruit salad, which we haven’t had for a while. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwis. Nice to have some color. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, french bread

Beef was on sale, so I got a likely-looking hunk and made some soup. Garlic, onion, and carrots, chunks of beef, tomatoes, beef broth, mushrooms, and barley, and plenty of pepper. So good. 

Jump to Recipe

This is the soup I sometimes make in my head when I can’t sleep. 

While that was simmering, I thought it was high time to test out my lovely new marble countertop, which I purposely installed lower than the rest of the counter, to make it easier to knead dough. (I’m kind of short; I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this.)

IT WAS PERFECT. Made such a difference. I never realized I was struggling with dough on the higher countertop, but now that I have a lower one, it was so much easier. 

Here is the simple french bread recipe I use:

Jump to Recipe

It makes four long loaves — or, in this case, three long ones and three shorties, because I was sending some food over to one of the kids. 

I do love rolling the loaves out. Zoop!

Then I set them for a second rise and managed to drop BOTH pans as I was moving them, so they got kind of wadded up, but they baked up well enough. 

They had a really nice thin little shattering crust on the outside, and they were soft and tender on the inside. Good stuff. 

So we had the soup and the bread

and at this point I’m just dragging the narrative out because I have more pictures. 

And now I’m done!

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, raw veg, crunchy rice rolls

Wednesday we had a bunch of errands – haircuts and what have you – and I started supper late, but it was a quickie: Good old Korean Beef Bowl. I had bought extra ground beef when it was on sale for the Super Bowl, and this is a fast, easy recipe, even if you do go for fresh garlic and fresh ginger, which I did. 

Jump to Recipe

So I put the cooked beef in the slow cooker, and made some rice in the instant pot, cut up some cucumbers and took out the packages of crunchy rice rolls I had been saving. 

Tasty little meal. The beef has sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnishes. I don’t know why I feel the need to point that out, but there you are. 

On Wednesday I cut up the leftover chicken and made a simple chicken salad (just mayo, I think maybe lemon juice or cider vinegar, salt and pepper, celery, and green apple), and then I made soup with the rest of the carcasses, just so as not to waste it. I had a brainwave and realized I could freeze it all and get a jump start on Passover cooking this year! I really hate making the chicken soup some years, so I’m delighted to have this already done. I will need to add parsley and dill, but it already has the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion in it

THURSDAY
Pizza

The kids had mainly been playing board games all week (including Dixit, which was a Christmas present, and turned out to be a hit) for vacation week, but I did promise/threaten a trip to an art museum; so five of the kids and I went to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. Great stuff. Admission is reasonable (one adult, two students, two youth, and a kid got in for $35) and their descriptive cards are good, providing enough context and explanation to help you see, but without leading you too much. They have a really solid, varied collection for a small museum.

Interesting things happening in the contemporary art world! There is still a certain amount of “hoo HOO, I bet THIS transgressive bit of plastic really pushes your conventional little buttons, DOESN’T IT??” getting churned out, but also some far more interesting stuff. (Yes, I realize I opened this post with some penis sandwiches, so maybe I should shut my yap about who’s childishly transgressive. On the other hand, they were just sandwiches.) I was especially taken with two large works by Kara Walker, who will have an entire exhibit there soon, but there were other thoughtful, skilled, intriguing, moving contemporary pieces as well. I shared a few images on Facebook:

It is a small museum, so we did a thorough tour in two hours. Then we hit a few thrift stores just for fun, and then we got pizza and talked about art. Lovely day with my lovely kids. On the way there, they played an ice breaker game (“If you were an animal, what kind would you be? What is your favorite movie” etc.), but they played as different characters, so everyone had to guess who they were. Let me tell you, if we had run out of gas, we could have made it home under the sheer white hot heat of the quantity of in-jokes flying around. I had no idea what was going on, but they had fun. 

FRIDAY
Tilapia tacos and guacamole

I don’t really have a solid plan for this fish, but I’m tired of having it in my freezer. It was on clearance at Walmart quite some time ago, and I don’t want to look at it anymore. Hoping the avocados I got aren’t totally overripe by now. 

And I need to make a cake! A Squirtle cake! For tomorrow is Corrie’s birthday party. It’s going to be Pokémon-themed, and Sophia is making a treasure hunt and Irene is making a piñata. This has honestly been one of our nicest February vacations, despite some trials which, nay, I shan’t mention. Love seeing my kids enjoy being with each other. 

My other thing is that I’m a little frustrated with yoga lately, partially because I managed to injure both knees (one by falling on the ice, one by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING; the little fucker just started hurting for no reason, and now I go up and down stairs looking like I imagine Strega Nona would, on stairs), so I have started pilates. I kind of hate it, but it keeps my attention because you have to be SO SPECIFIC about what muscles you’re using, so at least it’s not boring. I did one random class on YouTube and then I found this lady, Banks (that’s how she refers to herself, as “Banks”), and I have done three of her thirty-minute core classes for beginners. Tough stuff, but I’m hanging on. She is very specific about what you’re supposed to be doing and how it’s supposed to feel, which I appreciate, and she’s not especially annoying. So, now you know everything I know. 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.