What’s for supper? Vol. 13: Women Who Love Soup Too Much

whats for supper

SATURDAY
CHILE RELLENO CHICKEN SOUP; CORN BREAD

Saturday is the only day I came close to cooking anything interesting. THIS WAS INTERESTING.

The recipe I used called for roasted poblano peppers, which I’ve never used before. The supermarket’s labels weren’t clear, and I wasn’t completely sure the peppers I chose would be hot enough. They sure looked pretty, though, especially after roasting, which I did under the oven broiler:

food blog roasted peppers

Then I took off the seeds and stems and as much of the skin as possible, and put them in the blender, still worrying that it was going to be too bland.

As soon as I opened the blender lid, everyone’s eyes started to water and everyone’s nose started to run, and everyone in the kitchen started to choke and gag. It was spicyin the same way that the Grand Canyon is deep: Technically, that’s an accurate adjective, but you don’t really grasp the full import of the word until you’re standing at the edge and you can’t actually breathe for a minute.

I started to feel a little nervous about my soup at this point. But at least I knew I had the right kind of pepper.

So I got the rest of the ingredients in and let it simmer for a while, and once it was heated through, the retching subsided, and the kitchen smelled less like, “I said, LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and more like, “Perhaps we can market this as a homeopathic remedy for sinus patients.”

By the time I mixed in the cheddar and the cream cheese, it smelled like the place that poblano peppers go when they have been very, very good.

Verdict: I ate about three gallons of it. I had to steel myself before every spoonful, but it was magnificently worth it. If I serve it again, I’ll have something cooling to eat in between, like slices of mango. We made do with bananas.

UPDATE: Thanks to some sleuthing from my  Facebook friends, I now know that these were most likely scotch bonnets, not poblanos. That explains a thing or two.

The corn bread, I made a double recipe of the one on the side of the corn meal canister, but I decreased the sugar a bit.

food blog corn bread recipe

Also, if you run a pat of butter all over the top of the corn bread as soon as you pull it out of the oven, it gives it a nice sheen.

I like this cornbread recipe because (a) you make it all in one bowl; and (b) everything is in half, quarter, or whole cups. So if you have one of those kitchens where you know you have six or seven sets of cup measures scattered around somewhere, but all you can find is a quarter cup measure, you can still manage fine. If all you can find is a third of a cup, though, you are oodscray.

 

SUNDAY
FAMILY BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Left the kids with three pizzas and Damien and Corrie and I went to my brother Jacob’s house for his birthday, where we had chicken and broccoli divan with rice. Must get my sister-in-law’s recipe — it was delicious. A happy day.

food blog jacob party 1

 

I hope when my kids grow up, they will have parties like this together, with tons of food and tons of kids, and a very pleasant doggie.

I brought four apple pies.

food blog apple pies 1

I’ve been having the worst time with pie crust lately, so I made a streusel topping, and it turned out fine.  I also made twice as much as I need, so I have the extra stored in the fridge for later.

Streusel topping:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Rub the dry ingredients into the butter and cut with a butter knife until it’s all crumbly. Sprinkle over pies and bake as usual. 

For Thanksgiving, I’m gonna try again to make a decorative crust, though. Here’s a short video with 20 ideas for decorative crimps on pie crust. A few are brilliant:

Also, I want that green bracelet.

 

MONDAY
BEEF BARLEY SOUP; BISCUITS (from a can)

I never get tired of this soup. Basic recipe here. This week, I used steak (which was cheaper than soup meat, in the quantities I wanted); canned tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, barley, beef broth, lots of garlic and red pepper flakes and freshly -ground black pepper. Don’t forget, barley isn’t like pasta, and takes a good forty minutes to cook all the way through.

There should be a name for that sensuous moment when the first ingredients start to sizzle and the sound, smell, and sight envelop you in a cloud of fragrant soup anticipation.

food blog soup meat

I Googled “sensuous vs. sensual” just to be on the safe side, but let’s be honest, it’s kinda both. I really like soup.

My only comment about the biscuits is that some people live in houses where otherpeople hear the oven timer beeping, and they just turn it off and walk away without telling anyone that the timer went off. This is not in the best interest of the biscuits.

food blog irene biscuits

 

TUESDAY
HOT DOGS; CHIPS; RAW VEGGIES; LEFTOVER APPLE PIE

Tuesday was a blur. Much of this week was a blur.  My  husband said, “When I think about your afternoon driving routine, I just get mad!”  I did chop up a giant platter of raw veggies, which we ate for three days for lunches and snacks as well as dinner. I’ll spare you the story of the French onion dip with the hole in the bottom, and of all the poor French onion dip-related decisions I made while leading up to the discovery that it was moldy anyway.

 

WEDNESDAY
NACHOS; HOT DOGS; AVOCADOS; GRITS

My 13-year-old son was in heaven. Nachos and hot dogs? Nachos AND hot dogs????

Also, grits are the best. Little butter and salt? Num num num.

 

THURSDAY
GRILLED CHICKEN AND SALAD; HARD BOILED EGGS

Chicken breasts were $1.77 a pound! Haven’t seen it that low for years. I made a quickie marinade out of veg oil, wine vinegar, garlic powder, salt, fresh pepper, and dried parsley, and was really surprised at how tasty it was. Just douse the chicken in the dressing and put it under the broiler for 20 minutes or so, turning it once.  Let it rest a minute, then slice it up and serve it over a green salad.
This is my Meal of Great Virtue, with the lean meat and the fresh greens. The kids compensate by smothering it in creamy dressings.

I don’t know why I made eggs. I think I just noticed we had six boxes of eggs in the fridge, and that seemed silly.  Anyway, we got all protetin’d up for the night.

 

FRIDAY
I GUESS SPAGHETTI

I’m pre-resting on my laurels for all the wonderful things we’re going to have for Thanksgiving. I’ll probably do a food post sometime before Thursday next week, in case people want to share recipes before the actual day. That makes more sense, right?

Question of the week: Do you like Thanksgiving? Why or why not?

What’s for supper? Vol. 12: O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra

whats for supper

 

We left for Syracuse on Friday around noon. The first thing I did that morning was say, “What kind of paint?”

What kind of paint, that is, did the dog spill, o son who is knocking on my bedroom door first thing in the morning? And was there any possible way I could wait until the sun was up before I got up and started cleaning up the dog paint tracks that covered four rooms as he dashed around in a guilty panic? Was it, perhaps, tempera paint? Or even watercolors?

It was wall paint. Expensive wall paint, which I had been storing in a cabinet, behind which our dog apparently heard a mouse. And there had been damn near a full gallon of this paint left, and the whole can was lying on its side in a giant puddle while the kids stood around in open-mouthed horror.

dog prints 3

dog prints 2

dog prints 1

The way you clean a giant puddle of paint up, by the way, is with a dustpan. You use it like a scoop, and then you sop up the rest with your worst bath towel, and then with a second towel that is wet and soapy. Then baby wipes. You crawl around the house with baby wipes, scrabbling at the floor like an insane woman and thinking, over and over and over again, “He didn’t even catch the mouse. He didn’t even catch the son of a mother-grabbing mouse.”

And I wasn’t even packed yet, for the five-hour-ride I was planning to take with an eight-month-old baby who hates being in her car seat.

We got going kind of late that morning.

But eventually we did get there. I didn’t get much in the way of pictures from the conference, which was wonderful; but here is one of Corrie in the hotel room, trying to figure out how much to tip the pizza guy:

food blog corrie hotel

My legs only look fat in this picture because I have fat legs.

 

SATURDAY

Kids had Chinese food cooked by my wonderful mother-in-law, Helen Mary. In Syracuse, Damien and Corrie and I had a fabulous meal on Friday, hosted by the conference organizers, of zucchini cakes in a spicy sauce, pea and crab risotto, and salmon with mango and asparagus. The lunch served at the conference itself was really nice, too. Grilled chicken on greens with apple and almonds, potato salad, and a scrumptious chocolate mousse with raspberries. The presentation was just gorgeous, and everything was very fresh.

I mention this because, if you’ve ever been to a women’s conference, you may or may not have found yourself muttering, “Well, I guess I came here to feed my soul, after all, but still . . . ”

 

SUNDAY

Got home just before dinner; picked up some Aldi pizzas.

They are good.

 

MONDAY

Hot dogs; chips; ice cream sandwiches we forgot to tell them they could eat on Sunday

Hero mother.

TUESDAY

I don’t even remember. I did finally get around to roasting all those pumpkin seeds. It’s tragic that we only get these once a year.

food blog pumpkin seeds

In Rome, many of the bars serve little bowls of pumpkin seeds for free. I had it in my head that there was a funny Italian phrase about pumpkin seeds, but instead I found this:

O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra: You eat this soup or you jump out the window.

This, friends, is what you call “foreshadowing.”

 

Then came the muffins.

 

WEDNESDAY

Turkey meatball soup; pumpkin muffins

I had signed up to bake 48 pumpkin muffins for a school fundraiser. I chose an easy recipe, made sure I had all the ingredients on hand, put several reminders into my online calendar, and preened myself on having a special baked goods carrying case for just such an occasion.  I used to bake all the time, and would bring in fruit kabobs cut into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day parties, and cupcakes topped with rose buds cunningly fashioned out of fruit roll ups. I recently made a Cinderella coach out of bread and stuffed with onion dip for a princess party, and when my kids want a cake with a three-dimensional volcano spurting candy fire in one corner and stegosaurus taking a cooling drink from a pool made of blue Jell-o in the other, I do not bat an eye, but I smile, and I make with the dinosaur cake.

So a bunch of muffins? No sweat, daddy-o. I could make them with my eyes closed.

Well, the muffins.

Proceeded.

To ruin.

My life.

It’s hard to even describe how this happened, but this is pretty much what it looked like:

I feel like I have described this pumpkin bread recipe as “idiot proof” or “impossible to screw up.” It turns out the exception to this rule is when you . . . well, again, I don’t exactly know what happened, other than that I definitely forgot the baking powder, and I definitely burned the hell out of them, and I am definitely an idiot. And also, there was no food in the house, because we had been gone all weekend. The place was trashed, because we had been gone all weekend. It was raining. There were mice. The baby screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemed whenever I put her down. We had doctor appointments, and drama club, and babysitting. I was trying to save money, so my plan was to “whip up a quick soup with the ingredients I have on hand, after I whip up some muffins.”

And I was just having one of those days where I had idiot hands. The only way you know how to do anything, suddenly, is the idiot way, and you lurch around your idiot kitchen with your idiot brain, like a poorly designed robot set to “IDIOT LEVEL:  HIGH.”

I thought I would salvage things by asking my three-year-old (who may possibly have gotten unjustly yelled at earlier in the day by . . .  somebody) if she wanted to help. She did want to. She wanted to help by anointing all her limbs with flour.

food blog benny flour

When questioned, she explained, “I am not doing anyfing.”

So, did you catch the part where I made a triple recipe (and a single recipe makes two loaves, so this was, like, a bathtub worth of batter) but forgot the baking soda? And then burned it all anyway? Yarr.

food blog burnt muffins

Here are my muffins, school! Now sell them, and make money!

And it took all day. ALL DAY to  make these misbegotten, inedible, gelatinous, pumpkin spice doorstops. (The dog thought they were great.)

But wait, I have to make supper, too, and it’s almost time to go pick up the kids! I shall throw together a soup! What kind of soup? Oh, I don’t know.

I don’t know.

It tasted like hot, angry carrot with a chaser of canola oil.

The good news is, I made TONS of it.

I also made a salad, which they ate. I tried to make the soup nicer by adding some fancy striped noodles we got on sale, but it just kind of made the whole thing sadder, like when the put a festive bow tie on a corpse. One kid complimented me on the soup, saying, “I really like the broth, Mama. It’s so oily, and salty. Nice broth.”

Let us draw a veil over Wednesday.

 

THURSDAY

I consult my meal plan, which I have designed to save myself time and anxiety, and what do I see? This is the day that Idiot Robot has ordained would be Try an Exciting New Recipe Day!  So I took a look at the recipe, which is too spicy for most of the family to eat, and which involves not only ingredients I do not have, but kitchen implements I do not own.  

Right. What’s in the freezer?

On the twelfth day of November, my freezer gave to me:

6 bean burritos,
5 limp taquitos,
4 chicken burgers,
3 mini pizzas,
2 crushed pierogies,
and a lonely miniature chicken pot pie.

I fit them all on two pans, too. Thanks, Tetris!

And yes, I made more pumpkin bread and muffins. With baking soda. I only yelled at everybody a little bit, and it only took about four times as long as it should have. And they turned out fine. See?

food blog good pumpkin bread

Look at that designated baked goods carrying case! Look at it, damn your eyes! *sob*

Oh, so here is my recipe for pumpkin bread. It’s really easy; practically idiot proof, really.

 

FRIDAY

Pepper jack quesadillas; rice.

If you saw me doing anything weird on Facebook on Friday evening, it was because I was drinking a lot. Okay?

O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra. Run around the house in that, you useless, hairy, muffin stealing son of a bitch.
***
Hey, I’m doing a real link-up again! Click the button to leave a link to your “what’s for supper?” post, and please don’t forget to mention my blog when you’re writing.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 11: Here comes the quiche, doot-n-doo-doot

whats for supper

SATURDAY
CANDY
HAM and CHEESE
CANDY
CANDYCANDY

Halloween was Saturday, you’ll recall! No sense in making dinner when there’s trick-or-treating to get done. They had some cheese sticks or something before they left, then got home and ate their way through a mountain of candy. After a few hours of this, I offered them ham and cheese. A few of them declined; a few didn’t even bother to respond; and a few behaved as if it was the food of the gods, because it was so refreshingly not-candy.

For your delectation, here is my three-year-old, who was extremely pleased with her costume(?) of Toadette(?) from Mario Kart:

cabbage cruz

 

SUNDAY
CUBAN PICADILLO; RICE

Everyone in the house was super, super, super excited about this dish. It smelledso savory and wonderful. How could it not? Beef and chorizo, fresh garlic, cinnamon, cloves, olives, and raisins!

The verdict? “It’s not like anyone was retching or anything,” one food critic was heard to muse.

food blog picadillo

Believe it or not, it only looked about this good in the original NYT recipe page, too, and I still went ahead and made it anyway.

Ah, well. At least I got to feel like a good sport, trying new things for these ungrateful savages. But seriously, it just wasn’t all that good.

For dessert we had those Play Doh cookies that come in a tube and you slice them up and there’s a picture in them.

 

MONDAY
QUICHE; ONION SOUP

My daughter goes, “I like how this onion soup is just a bunch of onions.” I know. It’s like, “Hey, have some onions!” Oh boy.

I use beef broth instead of water, but more or less follow the Fannie Farmer recipe. They are not kidding when they say leave plenty of time to let the onions cook. Count on at least 45 minutes, if not longer — but the rest comes together in a few minutes. This soup is great served over croutons, with cheese on top – and it’s pretty great just as is, too.

My quiche is really just serviceable (and I use milk instead of cream, which basically makes it scrambled egg pie), but it’s bright and cheery-looking, which is more and more important to me as it gets darker and colder. That moment when you open the oven and pull out four brilliant, glistening, golden, sunny, fragrant pies . . . it makes up for a lot.

cabbage cruz

Here comes the quiche, doot-n-doo-doot . . . here comes the quiche, and I say . . . it’s all ham. (Actually, two ham and cheddar, two sausage and mozzarella. I forgot I had feta in the house, or I would have done at least one feta and spinach.)

 

TUESDAY 
PASTA WITH MEAT SAUCE; SALAD

Nothing to report. Ground beef in jarred meat sauce. Again, it wasn’t candy, and it wasn’t those awful cookies that I couldn’t seem to stop eating.

At one point during the day, I hauled out the massive bag of pumpkin guts and sorted seeds for about an hour. I got about a fifth of the way through.  I do love roasted pumpkin seeds. Looks like the kids have a project for the weekend.

food blog pumpkin guts

WEDNESDAY
CHICKEN WRAPS

I’m probably the only person in the world who has attempted to make a copycat recipe of Burger King’s awful little chicken wraps. It’s just a hunk of white meat, a slab of iceberg lettuce, some shredded cheese, and some kind of orange salad dressing, wrapped indifferently in a cold flour tortilla and hurled out the window without even offering a receipt. You may or may not get a straw.

I took this photo thinking, "Maybe they don't know what chicken looks like!"

I took this photo thinking, “Maybe they don’t know what chicken looks like!”

I remembered about the feta this time, so we also had feta, plus some hummus. But no ketchup.

THURSDAY
WAFFLES; SAUSAGES; MASHED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

I like how squash tastes, but I really, really like how it looks like those enormous gaudy wall hangings they put in hospitals. Check it out:

food blog squash 3

 

food blog squash 1

 

food blog squash 2

Do I have a follow-up joke here? No, I do not. Squash is pretty, the end.

FRIDAY
TUNA SANDWICHES; CHIPS

And we are off to Syracuse! I believe Mr. Husband and I (and Corrie) will be attending some sort of banquet when we get there. The kids will no doubt dine upon strawberries, sugar, and cream. And roasted pumpkin seeds, maybe!

Question of the week: Still got candy? I ate the last piece of Starburst this morning.

What’s for supper? Vol. 10: ‘At’samatta for you?

whats for supper

 

SATURDAY
HOBBIT BIRTHDAY!

Roast chicken, asparagus, braided stuffed bread, and roast apples; hot cider; birthday cake and ice cream.

One of my four teenagers had a birthday. Fine, her birthday was last month. But when we finally got around to having a party, it was pretty good. It was a dinner party very loosely based on The Hobbit.

food blog hobbit cake

You thought the Peter Jackson version was bad? This is the version where the cake is basically just crumbs held together with damp coconut, and everything else is made out of store bought icing squeezed out of sandwich bags, and the director has severe PMS and is just trying not to get tears in the food.

Mommy blogging alert and disclaimer. I like making crafts, decorating cakes, and crap like that. It is fun for me. If you hate crafts and stuff, and reading about crafts and stuff makes you feel bad, just tell yourself, “Yeah, but her house smells like pee andlooks like the hynena cave in Lion King!” And it will be true. Or, if you’re much better at crafts and cake decorating and stuff than I am, just go suck an egg. See? Everyone’s happy.

We had a giant garbage bag spider with a captured Felicity dwarf in its web lurking in one corner

food blog spider

and I attempted to make Bilbo’s door out of streamers, but it didn’t look that great, mainly because the my Cheapskate Brain overpowered my Regular Brain and persuaded me that we could afford to buy green streamers, but not colored paper for the bricks.

food blog hobbit door

Benny was very impressed, though, when I used matches to distress the “no admittance” sign.

I used a match because it's from The Hobbit, back when everything was burnt on the edges.

I used a match because it’s from The Hobbit times, back when everything was burnt on the edges.

That was all decorating we had time for. We had a campfire, the kids played at the stream, and we made dragon eggs. Yes, the dragon in LOTR is a boy dragon, but you know what? This is a party activity which teenagers are not too cool to do (if you can put up with a lot of shrieking over how gross the egg-blowing is). Here’s theinstructions, and here are a few the kids made:

food blog dragon eggs

 

 

If you make a little circle of hot glue on one end, they will stand up on their own.

We have An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery (actually, we couldn’t find our copy; but not one but two friends were kind enough to get their hands on the ebook version and send me the recipe!), which is full of tasty things we need to make someday. Because we were rushed, we just chose the braided braid stuffed with onions, mushrooms and cheese. I’m not great with yeast breads, and in desperation picked up five pouches of pizza crust mix from Walmart, and it turned outspectacular. My daughter made four large loaves. There were shouts of, “MAKE THIS EVERY DAY FROM  NOW ON.”

I also roasted a couple of big chickens, steamed some asparagus, and made two big pans of roasted apples, and it was a very fine meal, if only vaguely Hobbity.

food blog hobbit meal

We had hot cider, non-mulled, because I’m the only one who likes it mulled. I like some wine in it, too, but it wasn’t that kind of party.

food blog irene campfire

Or was it?

Roasted apples, by the way! Yes. So easy and delicious. A quick, easy side dish that would go with lots of cold weather foods.

food blog roasted apples

 

 

SUNDAY
Yummy things without kids!

Sunday was our 18th anniversary. The kids had hot dogs or something, and we packed a bottle of wine and an assortment of tasty things and ate the by a little fire down by the stream, which is just out of sight of the house, and we had a lovely time.

food blog fire wine

So then I realized it was time to start the week, and I hadn’t gone shopping yet, and had also somehow unexpectedly run out of money. Like, all of it. So the rest of the week went like this:

You’ll note there was no actual falling down, but there was a lot of falling. I never actually made a meal plan or went grocery shopping in any organized way; I just flailed around in the store on the way home from school several times, and then flailed around in the kitchen until there was something hot on the table.

 

MONDAY
WILD TURKEY SURPRISE

There was so much grousing about lack of good lunch food, I thought I should make an effort for dinner, so I made sauce out of all the stuff we had in the house, which turned out to be peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, wine, and ground turkey. I like making homemade sauce, because how fancy is it to add sugar to something that is not supposed to be sweet, because you’re so smart, you know you have to cut the acidity of the tomatoes? I feel like such an insider.

An’ a little bit l’ wiiine . . . and that’s my secret.

Of course the end result is less Godfather and more Tasmanian Devil

But the end result was actually pretty good, mainly because we were starving by the time I got dinner on the table.

 

TUESDAY
???

Maybe frozen chicken burgers? I forget.

 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken drumsticks; macaroni salad; frozen peas

I was planning to make rice, but there was no rice, so I scraped together this macaroni salad recipe, which tasted fine.

 

THURSDAY
Braised pork with red wine over noodles

I was determined to make something interesting this week. This was not bad.

food blog braised pork

It is something new to do with pork, anyway, and pork keeps on being cheap.  I let it boil too fast for too long, so the meat was a little tough; but the gravy was fantastic. I could have eaten just the noodles with gravy and been happy. It’s definitely easy, and you can do it in a crock pot if you like.

Also, it turns out I didn’t know what “braised” means.

FRIDAY
???

I have no idea. Probably more noodles. I have to finish up Halloween costumes. I’m really counting on the kids being full of candy from their parties today, and thinking less about supper and more about (sigh) gutting and carving ten pumpkins.

This looks like a happy childhood, right?

This looks like a happy childhood, right?

My therapist says that people underestimate the profound effect of not getting enough sleep. Well, I don’t. Or, I do. I mean, I’m really tired. I feel bad even saying it, because my husband keeps getting up with the kids so I can sleep, but nevertheless.

Question of the week: ‘Attsa matta, you no like-a, HEY, ‘attsamatta for you?

What’s for supper? Vol. 9: Tortellini Entropy and Bread Machine Challah

whats for supper

My mother used to eat leftovers for lunch, and sometimes for breakfast. Her method was to take whatever she could find, put it in a pot, douse it with the salsa that she bought by the half-gallon, and stir until it was all hot and horrible. You may think that she did this just so she wouldn’t have to share it with her eight locust children, but she actually liked it that way!  Although there is that disconcerting thing that happens to you when you’ve been a mother for a while, when you honestly can’t remember if you like something, or if you’ve just put up with it until it feels familiar, and that’s close enough.

Question of the week: Do you have a crazy food combination that only you think is delicious?

SATURDAY
OMELETTES; HASH BROWNS

Omelettes (mushroom, leftover ham from last week, and cheese) and frozen hash browns, served with a shining lake of ketchup.

There are really only a few times when I feel like we have a really big family. When I stand over the counter cracking 36 eggs into a bowl is one of those times.

food blog eggs

I always catch myself thinking, “Why don’t they sell giant bulk egg?” I know they sell bags of frozen egg product, but can’t someone just make chickens bigger, so I can just be like, “I’ll take one egg, please, 48-oz. size, and a hammer. And this lamp, and that’s all I need.”

 

SUNDAY
HAMBURGERS; CHIPS; ICE CREAM SUNDAES

Hamburgers! Chips! Ice cream sundaes! I’m the best mother ever. Also I let them eat donuts

food blog donuts

 

and ice off the wading pool

 

food blog ice

 

MONDAY
SPINACH TOMATO TORTELLINI SOUP; QUICK GARLIC CHEESE BREAD

This meal had such promise. The soup (recipe from Damn Delicious) was very fast to throw together, but it would have tasted much better if we had eaten it right away. But I made it in the morning and let it simmer all day, out of soup habit, and by the time we ate it, tortellini entropy had set in, and the spinach was not a pleasant color. I’ll make this recipe again, but I won’t overcook it.

And next time I won’t BURN IT *sob*. So depressing. I kept telling myself I couldn’t really taste the burn, but people who can’t taste burn don’t have to say things like that to themselves.

Does this look burnt? WELL, IT IS.

Does this look burnt? WELL, IT IS.

 

The quick garlic cheese bread was quick, and it was bread. I know it was also garlic and cheese because I put those ingredients in with my own two paws, but you sure couldn’t taste either garlic or cheese. It’s good to know there is a quick bread that doesn’t taste like dessert, but I’ll keep looking for a different recipe.  And someday, oh someday, I will master the art of Mixing Batter All the Way Down, so I don’t get Surprise Flour.

 

food blog cheese bread

So these are my new silicone pans! They were $2.99 at Aldi. All my loaf pans are rusty and gross, so I thought this would be a good time to find out if silicone is really so great. So far so good! The loaves popped right out, no trouble. My hope is that some kind of horrible petrochemical leeches into our food and we all turn into monstrous hybrids, half human, half Aldi loaf pan.

TUESDAY 
AMAZING SQUASH PORK FOOD

Either I invented something amazing, or I was very, very hungry on Tuesday.

Acorn squash mashed with butter and brown sugar,
topped with raw red onions,
topped with pulled pork,
topped with barbeque sauce,
shoved into my face with unseemly groaning noises.

Yeah, I was probably just hungry.

 

WEDNESDAY
NACHOS; RICE

According to local son Moe Fisher, “They were so good! I ate until I almost puked!” No picture was available at publication.

 

THURSDAY
PIZZA

We tried Aldi pizza dough for the first time. It stretched pretty well, and it tasted okay.  Kind of tough, but I never know if that’s a bad thing, or just a style of pizza dough. Anyway, it was cheap! I know you can make your own pizza dough, but I don’t feel like it. We make four extra large pizzas.

Oh, that reminds me, I saw an unspeakable thing at Hannaford (which is where I usually buy pizza dough) in the pizza ingredients section:

Bacon Dust Vegetarian Pizza Dough.

Yes. That is what it said. With those words together in one line on the label, like they actually meant something edible.

I tried to find a picture of it, but the closest I could come was this:

bacon dust vegetarian pizza dough

Does it make me a jerk that I didn’t blank out the guy’s name? It’s only because I think he’s a hero, that’s all.

 

FRIDAY
SHAKSHUKA; CHALLAH; SWEET PEPPERS and HUMMUS

 

NYT:

Shakshuka may be at the apex of eggs-for-dinner recipes, though in Israel it is breakfast food, a bright, spicy start to the day with a pile of pita or challah served on the side. (It also makes excellent brunch or lunch food.) It’s a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked in a tomato-red pepper sauce spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne. First you make that sauce, which comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove, then you gently crack each of the eggs into the pan, nestling them into the sauce. The pan is moved into the oven to finish. Shakshuka originated in North Africa, and like many great dishes there are as many versions as there are cooks who have embraced it. This one strays from more traditional renditions by adding crumbled feta cheese, which softens into creamy nuggets in the oven’s heat.

I’ve never made shakshuka before, but I’ve been assured it’s delicious, especially if you are drunk. Does it count if I wish I were? Here is the recipe we’re going to use.

Since some of the kids have the day off school, we’re going to seize the opportunity of actually being home, and make some challas to go with it. Here is a recipe for making the dough in your bread machine. (I don’t think that your bread machine will braid it for you, though, so you should do that part yourself.)

In the bucket of the bread machine, in this order, put:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

6 cups flour (I used bread flour – not sure how important that is)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

Make a dent in the top and put in

1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

 

Set it to knead the dough.  Watch the dough ball — it should be smooth and elastic and not stick to the sides.  Add water or flour if necessary.

When the dough is done, divide it into four pieces.  Roll three pieces into snakes and braid them together, pinching it together at the ends.  Take the fourth piece, divide it into three, and braid it, too — then lay the smaller braid on top of the larger one.

Grease a baking pan and sprinkle it with corn meal.  Lay the loaf in the pan, cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place until it’s almost double in size.

Beat 2-3 egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the loaf.  Sprinkle it with poppy seeds.

Bake uncovered in 350 oven for 20 minutes until the loaf is a deep golden brown.

You can slice it or tear it into hunks.

***

Okay, I probably wouldn’t have chosen a new recipe and homemade bread for Friday if I had remembered that we’re having a Hobbit birthday party on Saturday, but there it is. We are using a few ideas from An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.

unexpected cookbook

You know I’ll let you know how it comes out, whether you care or not.

***

Last week, I skipped the InLinkz button, because it was giving me grief, and I didn’t think there was much demand for it anyway; but I’d be happy to put it back if people want. What do you guys think?  I’ll keep up the Friday food posts either way.

Don’t forget the question of the week!

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 8: The Fanciest Soup Picture I Have Ever Taken

whats for supper

Question of the week:
What childhood meal are you always trying to recreate?

For me, it’s beef stroganoff. I’ve used lots of different recipes, many fancier than the one my mother used, but I haven’t been able to get it to taste quite as good. Maybe the missing ingredient is walking home from school, trudging up the hill in the snow (we really did live on top of a big hill!), slogging up the porch steps, opening the front door, and stepping into a warm cloud of stroganoff aroma. Mmmmmmmmm.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, potato chips

Like I said, grilled ham and cheese, potato chips. We did some prep work for the Sunday meal: I made the risotto for the suppli, and Damien prepped the pork roast so it could sit overnight.

 

SUNDAY
Columbus Day Feast!

Porchetta Pork  I had my doubts about this recipe, because I don’t like that licorice smell of fennel; but by the time it came out of the oven, it had melded together with a symphony of other smells and flavors, and it was

food blog roast pork 2
it was

 

was

 

wa

oh, sorry, I fell into a short coma thinking about how this pork tasted.

Suppli. I made 28. They looked great, because I didn’t crowd them in the pan for once;

food blog suppli frying
but I was so determined to prevent them from falling apart in the pan that I chilled the risotto too long, and the cheese in the middle didn’t melt completely, even after I put them in the oven after frying. Kind of sad. Still delicious.

Caprese Salad (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper)

food blog caprese salad
(this photo is blurry because my eyes glazed over with desire)

and Bruschetta with two kinds of pesto (from jars) and marinated artichokes.
Not the most coherent combination of foods, and it was funny to have an Italian meal without any pasta, but it was all good stuff.

Dessert:

Lemon and strawberry ices.
We were supposed to have cannoli, but no one in town had cannoli shells. I did findthis list of 22 things to do with cannoli filling, but didn’t have time. I would gladly devour any of these.

 

MONDAY
French Toast Casserole, Cantaloupe, Leftovers

Last time I shared  a French toast casserole recipe, I shared the wrong one. I like this one better. I also recommend not using rye bread or tortillas. Bleh.

Cantaloupe: I have recently discovered that it’s faster to take the fruit off the peel than vice versa. So you cut the cantaloupe into quarters, scoop out the seeds, and then slice a grid into the fruit, making sure you go all the way down to the rind. Then you just slide the knife in the end and make the final cut to separate all the chunks from the rind.


Making sure, of course, to be careful where you point your knife.

Seppuku-2

“Seppuku-2″ by signed Kunikazu Utagawa (歌川 国員), pupil of Kunisada – scan of photograph of ukiyoe woodblock print now in my possession, original work by artist kunikazu utagawa. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – 

TUESDAY 
Ham and mashed potatoes

And the dog said, “O fair and mighty goddess of ham, I abase myself before thee! Ohhh, do I abase myself!”

food blog boomer ham
P.S. Can I start a Gofundme for a new kitchen floor? Echh.

 

WEDNESDAY
Frozen chicken burgers, cheez puffs or something, and salad

See that? Salad!

applause sign

Image by darkuncle (license)

THURSDAY
Chicken Tortilla Soup and Cornbread Muffins

Tortilla soup:

I wouldn’t say I followed this recipe from Pioneer Woman, so much as I skulked around in its general vicinity. I skipped a few ingredients, made a few substitutions, eyeballed measurements, and more or less just chucked everything in together at once. It was DELICIOUS. We put sour cream on top. Just fantastic.

I like how she says

Cut the tortillas into uniform 2- to 3-inch strips. Stir most of them into the soup just before serving. This is what makes tortilla soup tortilla soup!

This is why she’s the expert and you’re just an idiot.

But check out this picture I took! It is easily the fanciest soup picture I have ever taken:

food blog tortilla soup
Corn muffins:

Clara made the corn bread muffins from the recipe on the side of the Quaker container . What do you call a cylindrical cardboard container, anyway? I feel like there is a word.

I tried to take a photo of her holding the fruits of her labor, so of course Irene shoved in and gave the corn muffins bunny ears, because CAMERA.

food blog clara corn muffins(1)

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with jarred sauce, salad

Just resting on my homemade soup laurels.

***

There you have it. Don’t forget the question of the week! And if you link up, please do link back to this post. Happy weekend!

What’s for Supper? Vol. 8: Pan Roasted Woodchuck with Autumnal Vengeance

whats for supper

Question of the week:

What’s your “Yay, It’s Finally Fall Weather!” dish? Something that you only cook or bake or eat at this time of year. It’s okay if it’s some kind of pumpkin spice bullshit. This is a safe space. Here’s what our week in food looked like:

SATURDAY Cheeseburgers; homemade fries; salad; cookies

Today it’s raining, and we’ve had a few frosts already, and have turned on the heat for the year. Love that cozy smell of toasted dust. But last Saturday, it was still warm, and Mr. Husband cooked the burgers outside:food blog burgers grillAbout a month ago, Aldi had this American cheese on sale for ten cents a package, so I bought an armful. Check it out: it has pictures on it. Not only that, but it looks like this one one side:food blog cheese 2and this on the other side:food blog cheese 1THESE ARE THE SAME TWO PIECES OF CHEESE, FOLKS. God bless America. I made fries using this cold oil method I just heard about. It’s supposed to be easier, less smoky, and just less hassle all around.food blog fries cookingThe first batch definitely was less hassle; but then I had to make about five more batches, and the oil was already hot, so no more newfangled cold oil method for me. But they were good! And I never would have taken the plunge if I hadn’t thought the recipe would make things easier, so I’m glad.food blog friesSome of the kids sprinkled vinegar on their hot fries. Here I am, dealing with one of the slightly overdone ones:food blog burning fryIf you squint, it looks almost liturgical.

SUNDAY Beef stew; popovers; apple pie

Beef stew and apple pie are my “Yay, it’s Fall!” dishes. For stew, I use a pretty basic recipe: Cut beef into small chunks, and shake them up in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. In a heavy pot, fry up some crushed garlic in a little oil, then throw the floured meat in, plus the extra flour. Fry it up until it’s slightly browned. Add some combination of water, beef broth, and red wine*. Add in cubed potatoes, chopped onions and carrots, diced tomatoes with juice (canned is fine), and string beans (frozen is fine). Add a few bay leaves, and add more liquid if necessary; or, if it’s not thick enough, make a little roux (flour and butter paste) and stir that in. Cover and simmer for several hours. If you have mushrooms, add them in an hour or so before serving. Oh, here’s a tip for feeding hot foods to babies: mix in a few frozen vegetables. This cools the food without diluting it:food blog corrie stewTried this popover recipe for the first time. You make the batter in a blender. I ended up using the standing mixer with the whisk attachment, because a triple recipe of batter didn’t fit in the blender. Popovers are supposed to be light and airy, and they are supposed to puff up to great heights and then collapse when you pull them out of the oven. Mine were kind of dense and hearty, and just kind of sat there looking eggy. Everyone loved them anyway, and they sure were easy to throw together, so I will probably make them again, even if I don’t get the hang of it.food blog popoversI have now used that mini muffin pan exactly three times in six years: once to make mini quiches for a baby shower, once to make bacon roses for father’s day, and once for these popovers. I can’t use the spots in the middle, because I drilled holes in them to let out the grease for the bacon roses. I should have a TV cooking show called “The Stupid Kitchen.” So, pie! I had to make at least one pie before we ran out of apple orchard apples. I think Cortland apples are technically best for pie, since they are flavorful and keep their shape, but I love the taste of Mackintosh the best, so that’s what I use, even though they get mushy. I have plateaued in my pie crust-making skills, so I just bought some frozen ones and threw in a bunch of apple slices with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little flour, and some butter. Irene helped with the apple prep, but quickly discerned that there were too many damn applesfood blog irene applesand went to watch Spiderman. *Pinecroft. It’s crazy cheap – maybe $3 a bottle – and it tastes completely okay for all your okay-wine-drinking needs.

MONDAY One-pan roasted chicken thighs with fall vegetables

A new recipe for me from Damn Delicious. I had to buy Brussels sprouts, which are unreasonably expensive, because a woodchuck ate pretty much everything in my garden this year. I planted peas, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, radicchio, spinach, basil, pumpkins, cucumbers, and Brussels sprouts, and every time I went out to weed or water, something else would be gone. Just chewed into oblivion, everything except one pumpkin. It was infuriating.garden pumpkinNext year, I’m buying a gun, and I’ll share my recipe for pan roasted friggin woodchuck with the vegetables of vengeance. Anyway, this recipe was a big hit.  My family loves anything with a balsamic vinegar taste. I associate balsamic vinegar with light, summery, Italian dishes, but it went really well with this cozy, autumnal meal. It was a really good dish for putting together in the morning and then chucking in the oven in the evening. And it looked GORGEOUS. And it’s a smorgasbord of vitamins, too. I felt like sending a picture to my pediatrician with the heading, “SEE?”food blog fall vegOh, so butternut squash is much easier to peel if you cut the shaft off the round part, and peel them separately. I tried peeling the whole thing, and Benny thought it looked like a phone. I wanted to take a picture of her talking on the squash phone, but she wouldn’t let me, and insisted that she take a picture of me talking on the squash phone. So I let her, while thinking, “This is the kind of precious, overstaged nonsense that makes people hate mommy bloggers.”food blog squash phoneI’m posting it here because the dog intervened. Also, plus, real reason: look how skinny I look! This is a trick of perspective. I’m super fat right now. Hey, here’s some chicken:food blog chicken and veg

TUESDAY Taco Tuesday!

Just regular old tacos with ground beef and spice from a packet, nothing to write home about. I stopped taking pictures at this point in the week, because it was mainly me driving around for hours and hours, and then me lying down and playing Tokyo to Corrie’s Godzilla:food blog kids

And yes, that is a treadmill with clothes draped on it.

WEDNESDAY Penne with sausage, peppers, and cheese

Cooked up some sweet sausages, fried up some peppers and onions, added a few cans of diced tomatoes, and mixed it up with pasta, jarred sauce, shredded mozzarella, and grated parmesan, and heated the whole thing in a casserole dish. We ate this meal approximately 946 times after I had the baby, so I’ve shied away from it for a while, but I think it’s time to put it back in the rotation. Another good make-ahead dish.

THURSDAY Hot dogs and beans for the kids; bruschetta and calamari for the adults.

We went out on the spur of the moment. Three cheers for having four teenagers in the house!

FRIDAY Ricotta spinach pasta

This is what we’re having today. It’s a Budget Bytes recipe. Her recipes are really reliable — they turn out just as described, and are usually fairly easy to put together. The ricotta gets creamy and yummy, and it is cheap, and you can totally use frozen spinach. Phew. Made it through the week. What’s you eat this week? And don’t forget the question of the week, la di da: What’s your favorite fall dish?

What’s for Supper? Vol. 7: Meatloaf: A Tragicomedy

whats for supper

Just the facts!

SUNDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches

food blog pizza sandwiches

These are not only delicious, easy to make, and filling, but they are cheaper than making pizza, especially if you use pre-made dough when you make pizza. I find that I use about half the amount of cheese and sauce as I do to make pizza for the same number of people.

We made these with cheese, pepperoni, and some bottled pesto. Spread the outsides of the sandwich with butter mixed with garlic powder and oregano

food blog butter

a promising start to any recipe

and on the inside, spread sauce on each slice of bread, then add a handful of cheese, and whatever filling you like. Then put it together and grill as you would normal grilled cheese sandwich. I like to grill them until they’re golden on the outside, then put them in a warm oven for a bit, to make sure they’re cooked all the way through, because they are pretty thick.

This recipe works well with sturdier bread, like sourdough or something. Or, if you are using softer bread, just make sure the butter is nice and soft, using whatever kitchen tools you have on hand, like a potato masher or an elephant

food blog elephant butter

Hey, I didn’t kill anybody this week. Where’s my  medal?

MONDAY
Chicken pesto pasta

Poach chicken breast, then dice or shred it. Cook and drain a bunch of pasta (farfalle/bowtie/butterfly pasta is good for chunky recipes like this. We used penne, because it was what we had, and it was fine), mix it with the chicken, and add in a bunch of pesto*, a bunch of crushed fresh garlic, and a ton of grated parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot or cold.

food blog chicken pesto

*I didn’t even make pesto, I just chopped up a bunch of fresh basil and mixed it with olive oil. Pretty yummy. Better the second day.

This really needed a side dish, but I went to lie down instead.

TUESDAY 
Meatloaf, acorn squash

I’m the only one in my house who thinks this is funny.

food blog meatloaf tragedy

What they don’t realize is that it takes all my effort to resist making a nice perky set of Double D meatloaves.

Our meatloaf recipe: good old Fannie Farmer. As she says, this recipe is “susceptible to many variations.”

Acorn squash! So seasonal! My usual recipe is to buy it, put it on the counter, look at it guiltily a few times a day for a few weeks, notice someone has stabbed it with a screwdriver and there is now something squirmy living inside, and throw it in the swamp out back; but here’s the technique we used this time, and it was much more popular:

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and pulp, put them face down on a pan and bake at 350 for half an hour. Turn them over, but a blob of butter and brown sugar in each one, and put them back in the oven for another half hour.  Tasty.

I feel like we had something else, too, but I forget what.

 

WEDNESDAY
English muffins, scrambled eggs, hostages, some elderly cantaloupe, quinoa

Definitely a low point of the week, food-wise. English muffins undertoasted, eggs burned, sausages are fine because how the hell do you screw up frozen sausages, cantaloupe dessicated and improperly peeled, and the quinoa, well . . . I bought this pre-flavored, pre-vegetabled quinoa and it turned out looking like something that nobody wants because nobody needs. And it was expensive!

Quinwhat?

Quinwhat?

THURSDAY
Tacos de Carnitas

Boy, I had really high hopes for this recipe, which I got from the NYT; and it smelled fantastic as it was cooking. TO BE FAIR, I was missing a lot of the ingredients. I think it’s worth making again when I have more stuff on hand, because pork is still cheap; but I was expecting this dish to redeem the entire week, and it did not do that.

food blog carnitas

It didn’t help that I didn’t fry up the meat nearly long enough after it was shredded, and I think that’s not cilantro. I think that’s parsley. Also, I forgot that corn tortillas are bloody awful when you don’t fry them. Boo.

 

FRIDAY
Fish sticks, rice, raw broccoli and sweet peppers

The “raw broccoli and sweet pepper” part is the voice of optimism speaking. But I do feel like I can heat up some frozen fish sticks, and probably strong-arm some teenager into making a pot of rice.

In conclusion, this week can eat my poo.  Did I say that last week? Well, still.

I’m struggling a bit with InLinkz. I paid the little fee so that entry thumbnails would be displayed at the bottom of the page, but I think you still had to click through last time. Grr. Here’s hoping it works this week. Anyway, I hope you join in! Anything you want to say about food, here’s the place.

What’s for supper? Vol. 6: In which we enjoy the World Meeting of Families by eating

whats for supperWe took the baby and drove to Philadelphia on Thursday, so I could speak at the World Meeting of Families on Friday. Philadelphia, it turns out, is far away, and it takes a long time to drive there. The baby thought this was bullshit, even despite the crackers and rice rusks and wagon wheel puffs we kept throwing at the back seat. We have decided that next time we decide to drive to Philadelphia with a baby, we will change our minds, and not. Anyway, here is what we had this past week, before, during, and after our adventure:

SUNDAY FROZEN PIZZA AND ICE CREAM

Sunday we went apple pickingcorrie appleswith my parents, my sister Rosie and her family, and my brother Jacob and his family.apple orchard familyLovely day! Long ride home, frozen pizzas hit the spot.

MONDAY ZUPPA TOSCANA AND PUMPKIN BREAD

This was one of those days where I kept on finishing up some task and then saying, “Okay, NOW I can get started on supper,” and then the phone would ring and I would have to throw the kids in the car and drive around for another forty minutes. As a result, I rushed and scrambled and screwed both recipes up six different ways, but they both survived, and will both stay on the rotation. The Zuppa Toscana is one of those Olive Garden copycat recipes. I didn’t have any bacon for the soup, and used half and half instead of cream, but it was still mighty tasty. I bought sausage in casings and squeezed the meat out, blushing heavily the whole time.zuppa toscanaHere’s the pumpkin bread recipe. I foolishly tripled the recipe, which was way too much even for us. It made two loaves, a dozen muffins, and a giant casserole, plus a bunch of batter that I just lapped up like the hungry, batter-eating dog that I am. Here’s a picture of Benny helping me make this recipe a year ago, when I had my shit much more together:

benny-muffins

She was saying, “Look at me, Mama! I greatest.”

In the blog post where this photo appeared, I said:

Today we were short a few eggs, so we just mushed up a couple of bananas in their place. Sometimes I put demerara sugar on top, sometimes I add wheat germ, sometimes I add walnuts, almonds, or (to everyone’s chagrin) raisins, but mostly I just make the recipe as is — except I double it, which yields 24 muffins and two loaves. They are lovely and moist, and very good for adding to the kids’ lunches; and while, okay, they are essentially cake, pumpkin is a vegetable! It’s a vegetable.

Wheat germ? Settle down, lady. Isn’t it weird when you read something you wrote not long ago and think, “Who is that?”

TUESDAY SPAGHETTI CARBONARA, GARLIC BREAD, HOT FUDGE SUNDAES

Tuesday was my daughter Clara’s birthday. (She’s having a Hobbit-themed party in a few weeks.) Spaghetti al carbonara is a magnificent dish, so easy to make, so easy to accidentally eat several gallons of. We follow the Fannie Farmer recipe. I fried up the bacon ahead of time, then disguised it in about eleven layers of tin foil and hid it in the back of the fridge with a threatening note attached. Once that was done, the rest is really quick to throw together. Really good company dish. For the sundaes, I couldn’t find hot fudge sauce at Aldi, so I made this quick chocolate sauce recipe: Mix together in a heavy pot 12 oz. of chocolate chips and 12 oz. of evaporated milk. Heat slowly while stirring until it’s all melted and smooth, then add 2 tsp. of vanilla. It turned out a little grainy, probably because I kept wandering away from the pot; but it was still rich and yummy, and the birthday girl10556926_10152488408707029_7695607588346500453_opronounced it good.

WEDNESDAY CHICKEN NUGGETS, HOT PRETZELS, ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is the natural choice for a meal like this, because you suddenly remember there is asparagus in the house, and it’s not getting any younger. Whenever my mother would serve asparagus, my father would say, “Look, kids, see how much Ima loves you? She took the time to braid each individual asparagus tip!”

ima and abba

my parents

My only other comment is that few culinary events are sadder than overcooked asparagus. It should be really crunchy when it’s done, so it doesn’t lose that nice nutty flavor. I just put a half inch of water in a pan, boil it, throw in the asparagus with a loose cover, and cook it for a few minutes, and then sprinkle some lemon juice over it. I could eat a bushel of it. Then my husband went out and bought a bag of popcorn and a bag of sugar, and then my mother-in-law came over. Then we left town!

corrie driving

ciao

And then the dress I ordered came in the mail. Humph. We managed to get to New York just before the Pope did on Thursday, then we got to Philadelphia just as the World Meeting of Families was wrapping up (I think my talk was the last one) on Friday, then we left Philadelphia just before the Pope got there on Saturday. Because that’s how we do, stuff, okay? We stopped in New Jersey and bought a solar powered waving pope and some salt water taffy for the kids, because certain three-year-olds had extracted certain promises from me before we left. I wish I could tell you more about World Meeting of Families, but I really only went to my event! No time for anything else. We didn’t even get there in time to see the vendors, and we had to leave before everything shut down completely for the Pope. Everyone I met seemed to be having a splendid time, though. Back to the food!

THURSDAY HOT DOGS, CHIPS, RAW PEPPERS and HUMMUS if you’re a kid stuck at home

I think this is what they ate.  We had some kind of overpriced pizza with tons of things on it for dinner. First pizza with anchovies on it. Tasty.

corrie hotel

Corrie settles in to her hotel bed; wonders where her parents will be sleeping.

FRIDAY RAVIOLI if you’re a kid stuck at home

Buck-a-shuck raw oysters, and then cheesesteaks, if you’re in Philly

oystersWe’d never had raw oysters before, and we weren’t super hungry yet, so we got a bunch of buck-a-shucks at some place called The Olde Somethinge. Verdict: they taste fine. They are pretty good with horseradish. No regrets, but no particular reason to ever order raw oysters again, either. (The chicken and fries were for Corrie, after the waiter tipped us off that it would be cheaper to buy her a whole kid’s meal than just fries.) Then we walked around the city for a while

You people of Philadelphia, you live like gods.

You people of Philadelphia, you live like gods.

until we got hungry enough to look for cheese steaks, which turned out to be yummy, being as they were made out of cheese and steak. Good one, Philadelphia!

yummy little cheesesteak

yummy little cheesesteak

SATURDAY I dunno. Pretty sure people ate things.

meal plan (1)So, Philadelphia! We briefly met some wonderful people, caught glimpses of some gorgeous neighborhoods, and had the impression that it’s an awesome place. I heard someone speaking Spanish with an Australian accent, and watched some Franciscan friars in patched robes patiently, kindly engage a sweaty man with a giant “NEW ‘CHURCHES’ ARE CORRUPT” protest banner. After driving seven hours with a screaming baby who somehow didn’t need to sleep at all that night, and arguing with a front desk clerk who insisted that our room wasn’t paid for, and getting on the wrong train repeatedly, and going to the wrong door repeatedly, and then ending up in the wrong building, and calling people who said they could be called for help, and hearing that their voice mailbox was full, we found ourselves dashing around the Convention Center, which is the size of Rhode Island, trying to figure out where, if anywhere, my credentials were. Seeing our plight, a woman came up and said, “I’m from Philadelphia. Want some help?” She then walked us alllll over the place until she delivered us to the right spot, pointed out the best-stocked bathroom, and disappeared. If I get to Heaven and my guardian angel has her face, I won’t be surprised. Here’s a few pictures my husband took during my speech while he held the baby (him holding the baby was kind of a theme that weekend):wmof 3  That is Bishop Gainer of Harrisburg, much-beloved of his flock.wmof 2Here is where the audience’s attention started to wander, so I just started singing show tunes:wmof show tunes  And here I am on the street afterward, suddenly realizing that I’d rather get Pennsylvania Hookworm than spend another second in those heels:wmof shoes off  Oh, one more: Here is us finally meeting Tom McDonald, who was covering the event for the Register. Corrie could not take her eyes off his hair:wmof with tomWhew! What a week. Then we came home and went shopping so we could eat this week, too, and then watched one of the Pope’s speeches*, and picked the grapes before they withered on the vine, and even caught the lunar eclipse. All Hail my mother-in-law, Helen Mary, who kept everyone happy, healthy, and whole while we were gone; and all hail to my husband, for making the crazy drive and dealing with that crazy baby and crazy me, and carrying a million bags all over creation. He even took a picture of my eyeliner so I would believe him when he said it wasn’t smudged. I think I’ll skip the link-up this week. Let’s do this again on Friday! *** *Me: We’re going to listen to the Pope’s speech now.
Irene: What if I don’t understand all the words he uses?
Me: Just keep listening. Anyway, he’s not one to use really big, fancy, complicated words, like . . . like . .
Irene: Like “metamorphosis”?
Me: Yeah. Wait. Irene, you know what metamorphosis means.
Irene: Oh, yeah.

What’s for supper? Vol. 5: Shut up, bouillon cubes. You don’t know me.

whats for supper

First, I just wanted to check in with you guys, because I worry.

The last thing I wanted to do was make one more place on the internet where women go to feel bad. That’s not what these posts are, are they? It was just supposed to be a place to talk about food: the triumphs, the tragedies, the baloney sandwiches. Not a place to feel bad!

If you don’t feel like listing/aren’t capable of remembering/are too ashamed to admit what you ate this week, here’s a quick way to participate, without even going into your weekly menu:

 

FOOD QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What is the kitchen task you absolutely hate, whether there’s a good reason or not?

Me? I hate unwrapping bouillon cubes. Maybe it’s because if I’m making some kind of meal that requires broth, I feel like it should be quick and easy because I’m cheating by using bouillon cubes; but it’s impossible to unwrap ten bitsy little cubes quickly, and I resent every last second of it.

The solution is, of course, to buy powdered bouillon, but I don’t want to, okay?
The other solution is . . . BENNY!

food blog bouillon
Benny loves to unwrap bouillon cubes. I recommend getting a Benny of your own. In other news, this is the week I finally started going to therapy, because I’ve decided that forty years of getting overwhelmed by things like unwrapping bouillon cubes is about enough. (Probably doesn’t help that my mug says “Looks like it’s time to hang it up!” Shut up, mug. You don’t know me.)

And now, onto the weekly menu.

 

SATURDAY
CHICKEN SHAWARMA; FRIED EGGPLANT WITH YOGURT SAUCE; ROOT BEER FLOATS

When Iron Man says, “I don’t know what shawarma is, but I’ve always wanted to try it,” I thought, “Me, neither. And ME TOO!”

Most days, I’m the lady in black tights mopping up (except that I never mop), but this Saturday, we all got to be the Avengers.

Oh, the shawarma. You guys, it was easy to make, and it was one of those foods that makes you feel like your head is going to fall off because it just can’t handle this level of deliciousness, but you pull yourself together because you made ten pounds of it but it’s going fast.

food blog shawarma

I was so disappointed in how this picture turned out. It just looks like food lying on a plate. The reality was . . . so much more.

I used this recipe from the New York Times Cooking page: Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma. True shawarma is meat roasted on a spit, but it’s hard to imagine it tasting any better than this. I didn’t have any tumeric, but the internet tells me you can live without tumeric, and so we did.

The recipe for fried eggplant, it turns out, is basically this: Take some eggplant, and fry it. For a few more details, here’s the recipe I used, from “Almost Turkish Recipes.”
The sauce for the eggplant, which was also great on the shawarma, was plain yogurt with some mayonnaise mixed in, plus fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I had to restrain myself from buying anything that looked delicious and vaguely middle eastern, but I settled for several kinds of olives, chopped cucumbers, triangles of pita, and a hummus party tray from Aldi. It really could have used some feta cheese, and something with tomatoes to go with all the spicy, savory and creamy stuff. Either just tomatoes, or a tomato-based sauce.

We were a little baffled about dessert. Something authentic would probably have involved dates or sesame seeds, and no one was too enthusiastic about that. So we went with root beer floats. Perfect.

This is definitely going on the rotation. It’s fairly time-consuming (especially since I had ten pounds of chicken thighs to skin, bone, and trim), and you need to plan ahead to marinate everything, and the side dishes got pricey in large quantities; but everyone loved it, and in would be fantastic for a dinner party. We ate every last scrap.

 

SUNDAY
MEATBALL SUBS WITH FRIED ONIONS; SALAD; ICE CREAM

Saturday was one of those “I’m glued to the steering wheel” days, so I threw theFannie Farmer meatball recipe at my 14-year-old daughter and her friend, and they did a great job turning five pounds of meat into 80 meatballs, which we served on rolls with jarred sauce and fried onions. Fried green peppers would have been good, too, but we ran out of time.

food blog meatballs and onions

Rather than frying up the meatballs, I put them on broiler pans and cook them at 400. It’s much easier and faster if you’re making a lot, and the grease drains off, and you don’t fill the kitchen with smoke. They also keep their round shape, which is important to me for some reason.

food blog meatballs

If you are feeling ambitious, the greatest meatball recipe in all the world is from Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Damien makes these sometimes, and they are heavenly, assuming heaven involves meatballs, which it does.

 

MONDAY
HAM; MASHED POTATOES; STRING BEANS

Great make-ahead dinner. Already-cooked ham was 89 cents a pound, so I bought a big one and sliced it up ahead of time and put it in a casserole dish to be reheated. Made about eight pounds of mashed potatoes and put that in another casserole dish to be reheated. Two bags of frozen string beans, and you have a dinner that looks like dinner is supposed to look, even though I was on the radio at dinner hour.

A nice way to cook string beans is to steam them, then toss with pepper, lemon juice, and sliced almonds. Easy and delicious.

 

TUESDAY
CHICKEN BURGERS, CHIPS, SALAD

This is a “You guys go eat, Mama’s going to go lie down and let the baby hit me in the face for a while” meal. Does the trick.

mama and corrie are tired

 

WEDNESDAY
BEEF BARLEY SOUP; BEER BREAD

Because it’s fall, so we can have soup! 87 degrees, but still, fall!

I make soup all wrong, but I don’t care. Also, I used steak instead of stew meat, because it was cheaper. To satisfy my thrill-seeking gene, I play fast and loose with rules about cuts of meat.

Basic beef barley soup recipe:

2 lbs beef
two carrots
one large onion
six cloves of garlic
two small cans of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup wine
eight cups of beef broth
red wine
about a pound of mushrooms
2/3 cup uncooked barley

I diced the meat and threw it in a heavy pan with some olive oil, diced onions, diced carrots, and crushed garlic.
When the meat was almost done, I put it in a pot, and added a bunch of beef broth, some water, two cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and a few glugs of wine, plus sliced mushrooms, then let it simmer all day.
About 40 minutes before dinner, I added the barley, then seasoned it before serving.

Remember, barley isn’t like rice or pasta — it needs extra time to get tender. This soup is also great with farro, or you could add small pasta, like orzo, or even rice.
This does NOT need extra salt, because the broth is salty; but lots of pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes are nice. You could also add celery, string beans, or whatever vegetables you have lurking about.

food blog beer bread

Here’s the recipe for beer bread. This turns out great every single time. I mixed the dry ingredients ahead of time, and added the beer right before it was time to put in the oven, so it felt like it took no time at all to make.

Benny saw me pour a half cup of butter over the batter, and said, “Oh, dat is beautiful.” Dat’s my girl.

 

THURSDAY
TERIYAKI PORK STIR FRY OF GUILT; RICE

Another “Mama’s dying; here’s some meat” day. This time, one of my other teenage daughters saved the day.
Slice up a bunch of pork, saute it, drain the juice, steam a bunch of frozen veggies, mix them together with some bottled teriyaki sauce, and serve with white rice.

food blog stir fry

She took this picture. Is it just me, or do those fancy-cut carrots look like they’re looking down on me? Shut up, carrots. You don’t know me.

 

FRIDAY
TUNA BURGERS, CHIPS or FROZEN FRIED; ONE VERY TIRED SALAD

This is what’s on the menu today.

Tuna burger recipe:
One can of tuna, drained, plus half a cup of bread crumbs and one beaten egg.
Mix together, form into two patties, fry in a little oil.

Dense and serviceable; suitable as bachelor chow. I’m sure you can fancy this up in some way with chives or what have you, but I’ll let you figure that out.

***
I noticed that last week, the InLinz link-up didn’t include thumbnails, and you had to click through to see other links. That’s what I get for not reading the fine print. Should be fixed now! Thanks to everyone who forged ahead and left a link anyway. I am really enjoying these windows into other people’s kitchens. Because I like to look into other people’s windows. Shut up, you don’t know me!

Leave a comment or a link, and don’t forget to link back here! And don’t let the bouillon cubes get you down. They don’t know you.