Just kidding, we’re not actually sick. Damien and I are used to working from home. We’re used to having ten kids crawling all over each other in a small space. I’m even kinda sorta used to teaching kids how to do basic math (a three digit number is like a big meal, like a Passover seder. You can’t eat it all at once; you have to have it in separate courses, in order. The first course is chicken soup with matzoh balls. But you can only fit nine matzoh balls in a bowl, so you have to carry . . . ). We’re fine. This is fine. How are you?
Here’s what we had to eat this week, with a menu somewhat based on what was left on the shelves after the locusts passed through:
Buffalo chicken on salad
I know I often say on Friday that Saturday seems far away, but this time it feels like about forty-three years. Good heavens. I was actually thinking about what was going to be the defining “Look how innocent we were back then, just before the big bad thing happened” moment. I think it has to be this, from March 11, 2020:
So anyway, if you were wondering what America did to deserve COVID-19, wonder no more.
SO ANYWAY, on Saturday we had mixed greens with sliced buffalo chicken (from frozen) with blue cheese, crunchy fried onions from a can, and blue cheese dressing.
It’s as close as you can get to fast food while still being a salad. I know that sentence didn’t work out and I don’t care.
English muffin pizzas
Benny asked for this dinner. Benny was happy.
The Fishers begin to feel the privations of the pandemic. They didn’t have regular ground beef, only “chubs” packed up in opaque three-pound tubes with a photo of meat printed on the wrapper. We planned hamburgers, so I thought it would be easiest to slice the meat into burgers while it was still in chub form.
It worked, but I deemed it unnecessarily squalid. Next time I’ll take the wrapper off first.
Boiled Dinner, cookies
Speaking of squalid, it’s our annual boiled dinner for St. Patrick’s whatever. I’ve tried various, more authentic Irish food over the years, and, you know, there’s a reason the phrase “Irish cuisine” sounds so off. So we just had our same oil Irish American boiled dinner: Corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, and carrots, with plenty of mustard.
We also made cookies, I forget why. I guess because we were nervous. I couldn’t find the chocolate chips, mostly because somebody ate them, but we did inexplicably have butterscotch and white chocolate chips in the house. We also ran out of brown sugar, so I used mostly white. The combination of these three things made for some blindingly sweet cookies. I could have mitigated the screamingness of the sugar by adding some walnuts, but I thought to myself, “If they wanted walnuts, they should have left the chocolate chips alone!” This is virus thinking and I know it; but nevertheless, I didn’t put any nuts in.
Also, I forgot to combine the dry ingredients before I added the flour, so I put the rest in the mixer and mixed the hell out of it so it would be well blended. Of course this meant the dough was quite warm when it went into the oven, resulting in these unfortunate puddleform cookies:
But I just bulked up the rest of the dough with more flour and put it in the fridge for a bit before baking, and the rest of the cookies improved considerably
People have also advised me that using half shortening and half butter, rather than all butter, will result in puffier cookies. Noted!
I just used a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe you can find anywhere, so I won’t bother making up a card.
We had tons of corned beef left over, so I sliced it as thin as I could.
I forgot you are supposed to grill Reubens, though. I toasted my bread and then laid the meat and cheese on and slid it in the oven, then added sauerkraut and dressing. They were fine, not amazing. There’s still quite a pile of meat, much to the kids’ chagrin, so I may throw it in the freezer and take it out again next week if they make me angry. WHO’S EATING WALNUTS NOW, EH, KIDS????
I mean, I made tacos in the sense that there was meat in the house, and Damien went to the convirus store, I mean convenience store, for tortillas and cheese. Listen. I taught four kids math, and it was STRANGE DIFFERENT math, too. I don’t know what a module is. I don’t know what a place value disk is. All I know is matzoh balls.
We also had fried dough
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because it was St. Joseph’s day, but I zero percent felt like making puff pastries. Which aren’t even really that hard; I just didn’t want to. I had been promising the kids I’d recreate the fried dough we had at the ocean last August, though, so it was finally the day for that. Super easy recipe, just flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and water, let it rest, flatten and fry, then dust with powdered sugar.
Some of them got exciting bubbles in them when they fried.
My mother used to make fried dough, long before I ever ate it at a fair or on a boardwalk. She called it “rubber bread” and we loved it. Today I found out she called it that because if you don’t roll it out thin enough, and you don’t let the oil heat up enough before cooking, it sure does taste like rubber. I love my mother very much, but she only had about two dishes that weren’t completely terrible. This was because she didn’t care what she ate. She liked good food, but she also liked terrible food. For lunch, she would take literally any leftover dinner food, heat it up in a double boiler, and douse with with salsa from one of those comically huge salsa jugs. I mean, at least it’s an ethos. And she never had to share her lunch.
Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s sauce
There wasn’t much sauce left in the stores last time I shopped, but there were plenty of canned tomatoes. I bought . . .many canned tomatoes. This sauce is stupid easy, and it tastes miraculously savory.
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Just three ingredients! Tomatoes, onions, butter! Maybe a little salt! I know everyone is always calling recipes “amazing,” but this will truly fully ignite all your buttons of amazement!
And that’s about it. I guess we have to watch Bill Nye now or something.
Oh, don’t forget about the withDraw2020 daily art challenge! We’re getting more and more people joining in every day. Very simple rules here, with the daily prompts. Today’s prompt is “patient.” Be sure to tag your work #withDraw2020 when you share it.
Some people are using the prompts to write poetry or take photos, too, and some people are doing whatever they want each day. I love it. It’s just something to keep us creative and in touch with each other.
Makes about 15 slabs of fried dough the size of a small plate
Tbsp (half a stick)
oil for frying
confectioner's sugar for sprinkling
cinnamon for sprinkling (optional)
Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cut the cold butter into bits and work it gently into the dough.
Add the water and stir until the dough is all combined.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes
Separate the dough into pieces and flatten each piece into a thin disk with your fingers. If it's sticky, put a little confectioner's sugar on your work surface.
Heat the oil in a pan. You can deep fry it or use less oil and fry it in a small amount of oil; your choice. The oil is ready when you put a wooden spoon in and little bubbles form around it.
Carefully lay the disc of dough in the hot oil. Let it cook a few minutes, just barely getting brown, and then turn it and cook the other side.
Remove the dough, let the excess oil drain off, and sprinkle it immediately with sugar and cinnamon if you like.
You can keep these hot in the oven for a bit, but they're best when they're very hot.
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce
We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people.
crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
peeled and cut in half
salt to taste
Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.
Simmer at least 90 minutes.
I'm freaking serious, that's it!