Well, it certainly is fall now. Oh,what’s that? You live in Arizona and you had to rush over to spend some time in the pool with the kiddies this morning before all the water evaporated? Well, I’m sorry you chose to live in Hell. If you had asked me first, I’d have advised against it.
In the real world, it’s fall, and that means it’s suddenly cooler and the vegetables are suddenly stranger. Here’s what we had:
I don’t remember Saturday at all. Everyone was mad about something, I forget what.
Down the road from us (this is not what we were mad about. I’m just telling) there is a store that is run by Free Staters. They take Bitcoin and everything, and they drive around in retired police cars with bumper stickers telling you how to avoid jury duty. First their building was a thrift store, then they put everything in a giant heap out on the side of the road for free and decided it was a local goods gift shop, and now it is a gift shop with a Vietnamese food truck parked next to it. A mild-mannered collie lolls on the gravel next to a faded bunting of wet towels flapping on the fence. Signs posted everywhere read, “Only one cook, be patient.” Naturally, I thought, “I need to get me some of that” so we ordered the steak bánh mì.
As we waited, patiently, smelling the smells and thinking of steak, I drooled on the menu. For real. I forgot to eat breakfast, okay? The menu was laminated, no big deal.
It turns out “bánh mì ” is just the Vietnamese word for “bread,” and usually means a kind of baguette, since the French and the Vietnamese have been uncomfortably intertwined for hundreds of years. I didn’t know any of this. For my ignorance, I was rewarded with a foil-wrapped sandwich straight. from. paradise.
This was “careful, don’t accidentally bite your fingers in your haste to devour this” food. I did my best to recreate it for the rest of the family, and started marinating some meat for the next day, which was . . .
Steak Bánh mì ; and of course chocolate-covered bananas
Here’s the recipe I used from Serious Eats. I used onions instead of shallots in the marinade. For the sandwich itself, I used the marinated meat in thick slices, with matchstick carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, jarred jalapeno slices, and sriracha mayo. In the recipe, there is a link for how to make sriracha mayo, but I says to myself, I says, “If I put sriracha in mayo, it will be good, but if I click, I’ll just feel inadequate because I’m not using tamarind zest or something.” So I didn’t click, and it was good.
The sandwiches were out of this world.
My husband grilled the meat under the oven broiler, and I toasted the bread before assembling the sandwiches. So good. So, so good. If steak is ever this cheap again, this is top of the list! (There was actually leftover steak, and it tasted even better the second day and even better the third day. Whoever invented marination, santo subito.)
The chocolate-covered bananas, I had promised Benny last week, but I forgot to make them. These are better than you’d expect. Frozen bananas take on a pleasant custard taste.
Cut the bananas in half, put some kind of stick in them (carefully; they tend to split), and put them in the freezer for a few hours.
When you’re ready to dip them, melt chocolate chips with a little shortening and mix well. The shortening makes the chocolate smoother, and it dries harder.
Dip the bananas in the chocolate, and then sprinkle on toppings. We had rainbow sprinkles because Benny, but nuts would be yummy, too.
Hot dogs, tater tots
Don’t remember Monday. I remember the car didn’t break down like I thought it would, so that was good.
Roast pork, baked potatoes, acorn squash with extra sehnsucht
For whatever reason, all kinds of meat was super cheap at Hannaford this week (hence the steak, above). I bought the biggest hunk of pork I’ve ever seen in a commercial establishment. It threatened to take over control of my daughter’s central nervous system
but I wrested it into submission, cut it into thirds, glugged on a bottle of Mojo sauce, and let it sit all day. Then I put it under the broiler for a few hours, fat side up, threw a few mushrooms in with the drippings, and then sliced it up.
We also had baked potatoes and mashed acorn squash.
Acorn squash is a funny thing. I always get excited when it reappears in the produce section at this time of year. For years, I would buy three of them, and then let them sit on the counter until they were rotten, and then throw them away. Then I discovered that they taste even better when you cook and eat them.
Slice them in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and put them face-down in a pan at 350 for about half an hour. Flip them over, put some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in each one, and bake them for another half hour.
Then you scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash it all up.
With this technique, the house fills with a glorious, nostalgic aroma of everything wonderful associated with autumn. It fills you with gladness like a Pilgrim on Thanksgiving morn, your heart brimming with a sense of well-being as you dwell in a land of burgeoning plenty, what with the seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness and butter and brown sugar.
You lift a fragrant, ochre forkful to your lips, and . . . boy, you know, it tastes like squash. It’s definitely the best kind of squash, but still undeniably squash. I always have seconds, because I don’t want to admit that I was really hoping it would be sweet potatoes this time. I would really rather have sweet potatoes.
Tuna burgers, rice, roast sesame broccoli
Boy, this is a long post. Okay, here’s how to make tuna burgers:
For each can of tuna, add one egg and half a cup of breadcrumbs, plus pepper and plenty of salt. You can multiply this as much as you want, and add herbs or whatever seasonings you like. Form the tuna into patties and fry them in a little oil. These are surprisingly tasty if you don’t make them too often. They crack fairly easily, though, so don’t make them too thick, and flip them carefully.
The broccoli, I broke into small spears and mixed it up with a little sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Couldn’t find my sesame seeds, but I usually sprinkle some on. Then put them in a single layer on a shallow pan and put them under a hot broiler for a few minutes, until the broccoli is slightly charred.
Buldak (fire chicken) with cheese
Great caesar’s ghost, I wrecked this meal. Here’s the recipe I butchered. I made so many substitutions and ignored so many proportion conversions and fudged so many techniques, there really wasn’t much hope. But still, it might have turned out good, had I not pounded in one final nail in the coffin. And that nail was pre-shredded Aldi cheese.
Aldi is wonderful for fancy cheeses, and the block cheeses are fine. The sliced cheeses are passable, if somewhat interchangeable. But the shredded cheese are really, truly just plastic. You know those melty beads the kids loved last year? Aldi cheese is like that: it will lose its shape when you expose it to heat, but the second you take it out of the oven, it becomes a rigid, oily, almost impenetrable crust.
Looks delicious. Wasn’t.
I really do know better; but I spent all week leaking money like the woman with the hemorrhage, except leaking money, and except no one was passing by in clouds of glory looking to ease my suffering if I but touch anyone’s hem; and my faith is kind of at a low ebb anyway, so I went for the cheese that is $2.99 a pound. Even though I know better.
Also, it says to slice the rice cakes and saute them. I sure tried, but I’m guessing the things they call “rice cakes” in Southern New Hampshire are not what the Korean world calls “rice cakes.” Not at all.
I had so much chicken, I made a separate recipe for the kids, and just mixed the chicken with tomato sauce and topped it with plastic. They liked it okay.
Pasta and salad IF I FEEL LIKE IT
Ain’t it a cryin’ shame? Let’s face it, I’m exhausted.
Oh! I forgot to tell what turned Corrie yellowish orange last week. It was Goya Sazon seasoning con Azafran. Good old Red #4.
What’s happening at your house? Eating some squash? Tell me all about it, because I have a horrible sinking feeling I have to come up with seven more meals next week.