What’s for supper? Vol. 223: But what does democracy smell like?

This is our second week of school and I decided that was enough excitement and/or agony, and I didn’t need to try any new or tricky recipes. Here is what we had:

SATURDAY
Burgers, I think? I don’t seem to have photographic or written evidence.

SUNDAY
Ham, peas, mashed potatoes; stone fruit cobbler

Corrie’s platonic ideal of dinner. 

I made twelve pounds of mashed potatoes, and it was too much mashed potatoes! Didn’t know there was such a thing. 

The ham was pre-cooked, which is great, but do you know what’s even better? Slice it up when it’s cold, then put it in a dish with some water or Coke, cover with tinfoil, and then heat it up when it’s dinner time. So much faster than heating and then slicing.

We had tons of peaches, plums, and nectarines that were getting a little gooshy, so I got it into my head to make a cobbler.

I can’t find the recipe for the life of me. I’ll keep looking if people want it, though! As you can see, I diverged from it pretty severely anyway. 

The recipe called for corn starch for cooking the fruit before putting the cobbler topping on. Isn’t it lovely? The fruity jewels of late summer. 

I knew we had corn starch, but I couldn’t find it. So I crankily swooped over to the convenience store and bought a small canister for $423.99, and then promptly lost that, too. I had already put water, brown sugar, and butter in the pan, so I added a can of sweetened condensed milk, on the theory that I would like the fruit to be more . . . condensed. I don’t know. I just didn’t want to go back to the store. 

I simmered it for a while until the fruit was soft, and the sauce/syrup/whatever got kind of clotty, but not too clotty.

Then I drained most of the liquid off and put it in the pan, and covered it with the cobbler batter. The top turned out lovely, with a good crisp, slighty crumby crust and a tender, cakey inside. Not especially cobbled, but it tasted nice.

The fruit inside tasted fine. You could discern that faint vanilla custard taste from the condensed milk, but it wasn’t too sweet. It didn’t exactly hold together, but nothing I make holds together. It wasn’t soupy, anyway. And I didn’t have to go back to the store! 

Would have been nice with some vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream. But I sure wasn’t going to the store to get some. 

MONDAY
Hot dogs of a limited number of nations, onion rings

We haven’t had Hot Dogs of Many Nations for a while. Hot Dogs of Many Nations is when we set out a dizzying array of toppings, so people can have a Chicago dog. or a buffalo dog, or a chili dog, or a dog of any nation!!!! 

This was a pretty lackluster display. It was about as international as when the Girl Scouts have a cultural fair but nobody’s keeping track of who’s dibsing which country, so Kayla and Kylie and Cayley and Kaeleigh all just end up doing Canada. 

I had one of those nice natural casing hot dogs with chili, cheddar cheese, and scallions. It was okay. And we had onion rings.  

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers and chips; pizza for election reporters

Damien sometimes makes some extra cash gathering election results for various news outlets, which means he has to drive around like a crazy person going from school gym to community church to other school gym, trying to persuade Pierre, the town manager who is up too late, that this is all public record and he can SO take a picture of it. Anyway he had one town too many, so I covered one. There certainly was a lot of sitting around. People think democracy looks like either marching with torches and shooting, or else dancing to Bruce Springsteen with balloons falling out of the ceiling; but actually it looks like sitting around.

Anyway the kids made supper and Damien and I got home late and got Domino’s. Democracy also looks like Domino’s.

WEDNESDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

Nothing to report. Ground beef was $1.99 a pound, so that was fairly exciting. 

My basic meatball recipe is here.

Jump to Recipe

I added diced onions and crushed garlic and a lot more oregano than I usually add, and they came out perfectly fine, like they always do. 

THURSDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, raw veg with hummus

An unexpectedly popular meal. I got some sliced buffalo turkey and Swiss cheese, and Damien fried up a few pounds of bacon. We had spinach and sun dried tomato wraps and an assortment of sauces and toppings. I had mine with chicken, bacon, spinach, salami, and spicy sweet mustard, and it was pretty swell.

Look, here’s another picture.

I love wraps. We also had sweet pepper and snap peas with hummus. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

As I was making the cheese sauce, I remembered a twinge of guilt I had felt the other day when a teacher remarked to another mom what healthy snacks she always packed. My own child, while clearly very healthy and robust in general, toddles off to school with a lunch box full of pre-packaged Sparkleberry Melon Tango Yogurt Tubes, X-Treme Salt Kracker Snackers, and to drink, a foil pouch of Purple Madness Corn Syrup Punch Sploosher. And an apple. So I tweeted out:

It got some pretty good response, and I smiled to myself as I stirred the cheese sauce. “I am helping,” I thought. “I am making the world better.”

Then I thought, “Hey, what is that?” For there was a dark patch in my cheese sauce. I poked around with the wooden spoon and then fished out not one, but two entire pieces of American cheese, still in their wrappers. 

I am helping. I am making the world better. Sometimes democracy looks like American cheese?

Even after this, someone asked for my mac and cheese recipe! I’ll go ahead and write it out here, even though it’s very vague and never turns out the same way twice. The only thing special about it is you put in tons of pepper and hot sauce. This doesn’t make the cheese sauce spicy, but it gives it some depth of flavor, and makes the whole thing more interesting. I also top the casserole with shamefully buttery panko bread crumbs.

Oh! I also have a video of Corrie explaining how to make garlic toast. It’s adorable (she watches a lot of food videos, and she has the patter down), but way too long, and I’m too dumb to figure out how to edit it. I’ll keep trying, though. 

Well, goodbye! 

***

Baked macaroni and cheese

This is a vague recipe. You can change the proportions of the ingredients to make it thicker or thinner, more or less cheesy. I don't care!

Servings 12

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 203: Custody of the pies

Every Lent, I try to work out how to write an entire post about food on Fridays without being a complete monster. I futzed around with some html code for a while, trying to get the food pictures to be blurred out with a button that says “remove custody of the eyes” that you can click to see the food, but it stopped being funny long before I figured it out. So here’s some food, you suffering bastards. 

SATURDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers

This was popular last week, so I made it again, even though I know this is a tactical error. It could be the most fabulous dish in the world, but if you make it too often, it becomes loathed. Still in the grace period, though. 

I had mine on a multigrain wrap with smoked turkey, bacon, spinach, tomatoes, lacy Swiss, and horseradish sauce. Lots of good sharp flavors. But I have not yet figured out how to arrange the fillings for a wrap in such a way that they are both photogenic and in the right order for wrapping and eating. 

I also bought some miscellaneous frozen snacky things and heated them up. I have to say, Aldi’s bacon has improved immensely in flavor, but their version of jalapeño poppers is nothing to write home about. The texture is bad and it just tastes harsh and slimy. No bueno. 

SUNDAY
Linguine with clam sauce, homemade bread, salad that nobody touched

I made Pioneer Woman’s recipe. It sure is easy, and it’s pretty cheap for a fancy-tasting meal, even if you use fresh lemons and parsley and heavy cream (which you should). Specially yummy with freshly-grated parmesan cheese, which Fishers can have for a treat. 

With some trepidation, I made French bread, hoping against hope that my initial success with this recipe wasn’t just a fluke. It wasn’t! The bread turned out lovely. I made up a recipe card for four loaves, with a few adaptations and reassurances. 

Jump to Recipe

I didn’t score one loaf deeply enough, though, and the poor thing sploded. 

My father came over, bearing a used glockenspiel. Yes, he asked first, and yes, I said he should bring it over, and that we wanted it. We do! We’re just … taking a little glockenpause for a few days now.

Oh, I had my heart set on making mango royale for dessert, but my little plebes requested ice cream pie, instead.

We made it with graham cracker crusts, two kinds of ice cream, chocolate and strawberry and butterscotch sauce, Frozen II marshmallows, and of course blobs of store brand kool whip. It was, of course, delicious. 

MONDAY
Beef vegetable soup; hot pretzels

I thought the kids were still bananas about beef barley soup, but I got a wilting, “oh, okay” response when I told them I was making it, so I switched plans mid-shopping and decided to make minestrone, but with beef. So it had onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, wine, pasta shells, beef, and mushrooms. The result was hearty, but a little incoherent, and the broth was thinner than I would like. 

Next time I’ll add some tomato paste and probably skip the mushrooms, and add peas. I wrote up a recipe card incorporating the changes I’ll make next time. 

Jump to Recipe

I sold it by calling it “Little Bear Birthday Soup.” 

This is the exact look I had on my face while I was serving it, too.

It went over okay. There was leftover bread and also hot pretzels. 

TUESDAY
Mardi Gras, and Corrie’s birthday!

We killed two birds with one stone and went to Chili’s. The original plan was to go to one of those Japanese restaurants where they put on a little show and cook things right on the table in front of you, but when I asked one of the kids if she wanted to go there, she said she wasn’t sure, because she doesn’t really like Italian food. So we went to Chili’s. 

The birthday girl ordered nothing but side dishes: Fries, steamed broccoli, mandarin oranges, and corn. 

We had a nice time! My kids may be goons, but they care about each other. 

And then sometimes spontaneously tell the entire plot of Gawain and the Green Knight while waiting for the food.

Then we came home and had some cake. Corrie had requested an Otis (from Milo and Otis) cake with a pink bow. 

I made the bow and tongue by putting Starbursts in the microwave for a few seconds, mooshing them into shape, adding details with a knife, and freezing them. I’ve been meaning and meaning to try my hand at fondant, but honestly, this seems just as good (as long as you can find the right colors), and it has to taste better. 

She was pleased with my efforts.

She was pleased, pleased, pleased all day long. 

She finally unwrapped the giant dinosaur we bought when it was on sale in December and have been hiding in our bedroom since then. We have a pretty small bedroom, and it also has a treadmill, a sewing machine, a folding desk, a heater, and miscellaneous heaps of garbage in it, so the oversized dinosaur was something of a trial for us all. I had to keep covering and re-covering it with a blanket, and it kept poking out. It got the point where Corrie would come in, see a piece of tail or snout sticking out, and go, “oops!” and cover it with a blanket herself, so it wouldn’t ruin the surprise. However, five-year-olds are magical and unpredictable creatures, and she was delighted with her surprise dinosaur, and promptly named it “Tall-y Tall.” 

The rule is that very intelligent, imaginative kids come up with profoundly dull names for their toys and pets. This is the way. (She also has a smaller dino named “Dino-dino.”)

Her other big present was a Super Corrie outfit she’s been longing for. I was up until 2 a.m., and there was a lot of this kind of thing

but I finished it, by gum! And she loves it. Her powers are Rainbow Powers and Flying (and, if you hit her in the right mood, really fast cleaning). 

(I hemmed it later in the day. I just needed to measure it first! The cape has a panel of sparkly blue down the back.)

Oh, here’s what I had at Chili’s. One of those miscellaneous American Buckets Of Shiny Food. It was good.

Ayyyy, Fat Tuesday. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup

Ash Wednesday, of course. Grilled cheese and tomato soup from a can never tasted so good.

THURSDAY
Hamburgers with mushrooms, chips, veggies and hummus

Nothing much to report. I had a carton of mushrooms left over from the soup, so I sliced them up and sautéed them in olive oil for the burgers.

I, virtuous, skipped the chips. 

FRIDAY
Pahster, I guess.

We have been on vacation this week, but my car has been in the shop, lying back and having money poured into it, so we didn’t go anywhere or do anything, and anyway, the first week of Lent is always a tricky time to go vacationing. It was okay, though! The kids just lurked about harassing each other and throwing popcorn and orange peels on the floor, and it was kind of nice. I like those kids. I wish they would eat my soup, though. 

 

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
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp 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 and give each one several diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding.

  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. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give it 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.

 

Instant Pot Everything Soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 2.5 lbs chuck roast
  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 med potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the onions, carrots, and olive oil in the pot and press "sauté" and then the "+" button until it reads 10 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly soft Add pepper to taste.

  2. Add beef and press "sauté" again, stirring occasionally until beef is slightly browned.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, including 3 cups of water. Stir to combine the tomato paste. Close the top, seal the vent, and press "soup."

  4. Quick release, but be ready for a bit of spraying!

What’s for supper? Vol. 133: To serve your parents

This week, I decided to take a stand. No more shirking. I just care about my kids so much that I want them to be as prepared as possible for adulthood. So I let them make supper most of the week.

SATURDAY
Bratwurst (?)

Saturday I took the oldest two kids and a friend to an I Don’t Know How But They Found Me concert, and the people back home had some kind of cookout. I think there were leftover things from some previous cookout, and then Damien went shopping with one of the little girls, whose eyes lit up at the sight of bratwurst. And very good it is, bratwurst!

SUNDAY
Steak, asparagus, pull-apart Italian bread, strawberry shortcake

Father’s Day, of course! My father came over

and we all went to the beach and then, you’ll never guess: We had a cookout. I bought all the steaks that called out to me, and Damien coated them with a dry rub using this recipe.

Then he grilled them steaks up nice.

I sautéed some asparagus in olive oil, and we had store-bought bread to sop up the wonderful meat juices.

Dessert was angel food cake (from a mix) with strawberries and whipped cream. I didn’t get any decent pics.

I had five pounds of strawberries, and I assigned two kids to hull them, and another to mash them and add a little sugar and vanilla. Another kid baked the cakes, and another whipped the cream. I outsmarted myself here, and assigned too many people to the strawberries. By the time dessert made it to the table, that warn’t no five pounds of strawberries still in the bowl. I think there was a lot of “Well, if she’s going to taste that many, I can, too” and “You can’t tell Mama because you were doing the same thing” and “Is that all you can fit in your ear, you big baby? Watch this!”

Anyway, it was all beyond delicious.

MONDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, chips

With avocado, lettuce and tomato, cheddar, and ranch dressing. Some of the kids used pita bread, some used spinach wraps.

Made by the kids while I . . . I did something or other. Oh, I was chaperoning a field trip to the seacoast to explore tide pools. For the record, four+ hours in a car with no AC but with four fourth-graders talking about boys with the aid of a Magic 8 Ball? Is enough hours. I did have a lovely time scrambling around the rocks with my goober girls.

I was trying to think back if there has ever been a time when I was unhappy at the ocean. I just don’t think it can be managed.

Anyway, this sandwich is great combination of flavors, very satisfying. I got the idea when I asked for your best sandwich ideas, with an eye to doing a Sandwich of the Week thing in the warm months. Now I’m of the mind that Not Everything Has to Be a Thing, and you can Just Have Sandwiches. Still, I’d love suggestions for your favorite sandwich (or wrap, or pocket) ideas. Bonus if they include enough vegetable matter that, when the pediatrician asks the toddler what her favorite food is, she’s at least heard of things that don’t come in boxes.

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, cheezy weezies, carrots and hummus

I don’t remember making or eating this meal. Oh, I was at 8th grade graduation! Yes, Mr. Godzilla graduated.

Usually, we spring for a burger after 8th grade graduation, but this kid is so good, he got pizza.

WEDNESDAY
Scrambled eggs, oven-roasted potatoes, hostages

Another blur day. It was the last day of school, and then we went to the beach with the school families.

I do remember cracking some eggs into a bowl while telling someone to cut up potatoes, and I remember eating a cold sausage the next day. Blur, I tell you.

THURSDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

I don’t know, I was driving, and then I got home and there was spaghetti and meatballs. Next thing I knew, I was hearing the music for the closing credits of Kimmy Schmidt and my husband was plucking my half-finished drink out of my hands and telling me to go to bed. Blurrrrrr.

FRIDAY
Fish tacos, tortilla chips

Oh wait, we had a campfire yesterday! That was nice. First full day of summer vacation, so you have to do something fun.

Today, we’re going to the library, where I am bracing myself to write a very large check and request a clean slate.

And that’s what we ate this week. Don’t forget to tell me your sandwich ideas!