Before we launch into this week’s menu, I have a question: What do you do with a microwave? I finally bought one the other week, mainly so my husband and daughter can heat up dinner when they get home late. But other than that, we are definitely not fully exploiting it. The kids are trying really hard, kind of like this:
They are, like, putting a piece of bread in until it is hot, and then they take it out and butter it. I bought some microwave popcorn because I wanted to be loved, and it worked. But what else? Main courses, side dishes, snacks, desserts, science projects?
Here’s what we ate this week:
French dip roast beef sandwiches, baked potatoes
Deli roast beef is 40 million dollars a pound, but big cuts of beef were on sale. My husband seasoned and cooked it up in some way and sliced it thin, while I fried up a bunch of mushrooms and onions. When the meat was done, I put the drippings in a pot and added a few cups of beef broth and a few glugs of Worcestershire sauce, then ground in some fresh pepper, and let it simmer for about half an hour.
We piled the meat and onions and mushrooms on onion rolls with some bottled horseradish sauce and slices of provolone, and put them under the broiler until the cheese melted, then served the sandwiches with dill pickles and the jus (which was also wonderful on the baked potatoes) on the side.
A very fine meal! And the baby now says “provolone.”
Filipino Pork Shish Kebab, grilled sweet peppers, fried plantains, papaya
The theme of this meal was “Down South America Way.”
The marinade for the shish kebab, I made the night before, using this Filipino recipe. I forget which ingredient did it, but at some point, a nice inert bowl of marinade (garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, ketchup, ginger ale, brown sugar, sea salt, and pepper) turns into a third grade science fair foaming volcano. Whoopee! So use a bigger bowl than you think you need.
We were too exhausted to drag the tarp of the grill, so I put the shish kebabs under the broiler indoors. The flavor was nice, but the meat was dry. Boo. Yes, I soaked the skewers in water beforehand.
I guess the friend plantain recipe I used is Puerto Rican style. Boy, that does not . . . sound right. I mean, I know you can say that, but what do I call it?
I had green plantains, so I sliced them into thick sections, fried them in a few inches of medium-hot oil, fished them out, squashed them flat, and then fried them some more until they were crisp. I was delighted to see that the hot oil transformed them from a dull greenish gray to a crazy bright, almost neon yellow.
I sprinkled them with sea salt, and the kids dipped them in ketchup. They were quite starchy, like a cross between potato and butternut squash, but they were tasty. Not sure if I will make them again, but at least now I know what they taste like.
I also had this giant papaya, which turned out to be not quite ripe. Gorgeous, though.
Geesh, look at that. Georgia O’Keefe, call your office! I call this one “Sappho and a Half-o.”
The whole meal was a little weird, but very bright and pretty.
French toast casserole, sausages
All the sammiches we’ve been having lately means there’s tons of old bread, so out comes the french toast casserole recipe again. Somehow I still made way too much egg mixture, which gave it a kind of baked custard taste. No complaints from me.
Hamburgers, chips, sautéed asparagus
This is the first time I’ve sautéed asparagus, rather than steaming it. I just used olive oil, nothing else. Excellent! Definitely using this method from now on.
Chicken Not-So Nachos, guacamole
Wednesday really hammered home how important it is to do at least a little bit of meal prep early in the day. Wednesday was here to tell me, “Do not start cooking dinner at 5:30, and do not take a long break in between to harangue the kids about what kind of person it makes you to just throw boxes in the corner, rather than breaking them down and putting them in the basket. This room is my work space, do you understand? I know you don’t think twice about it when I put a hot meal in front of you every day, but at least your own self-interest should dictate that you’d get your food faster if I didn’t have to be wading through garbage in my work space! and so on.”
You’re thinking, “She’s lost track of her quotation marks, there,” but I haven’t.
And finally, Wednesday gave me . . . Rasputin Chicken.
Let me back up. I had this idea of poaching chicken thighs, shredding them in the standing mixer, and making some nice nacho trays. Instead, I discovered that Wednesday was only 11 minutes along, and as soon as I finished putting on deodorant, it was time to make dinner. I somehow thought it would be faster to roll the chicken in seasoning and fry them. After a good 25 minutes of frying some not-very-large thighs, I realized that I had . . . Rasputin Chicken, which is chicken that will.not.cook. You fry it, you bake it, you broil it, you crank up the heat and bake it some more, you drown it, you shoot it, you douse it with water and stir it with a stick, and look at that! The joints are still all bloody.
Finally, after wading through garbage and pausing to harangue the kids, you drag the evil chicken out onto a tray, throw some cold, bagged cheese at your hangdog family, and everyone sits around gnawing at the bones and nervously making puns about not-so-nachos.
And I made some terrible, salty guacamole.
Hey, screw you, Wednesday.
I’m actually writing this on Thursday, and haven’t made the pizzas yet. Like Mr. Incredible, I’ve still got time! I just need to learn to be a little more . . . flexible.
It occurs to me that someone is surely going to say, “Why didn’t you just put the silly chicken that wouldn’t cook into the microwave?” There is a good reason for that. The reason is that it did not occur to me until this very moment. Dammit.