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We are somehow nearly halfway through January and I feel simultaneously as though the month has FLOWN by and also that it has lasted six million years. Much of it – at least the past week – has been extremely dreary and fretful, both for external reasons (what is HAPPENING with our democracy) and internal ones. But even though I am feeling down and worried and unsettled, I feel like my complaints are so small and insignificant that they aren’t worth sharing. There is SO MUCH going on in the world right now, my dumb complaints sound even more out-of-touch than normal. 

Like for instance how my return key does not work unless I press down on it with all my weight. Or how I am FINALLY getting to clean my oven (with the self-clean function) and so my house is filled with the acrid scent of imminent doom and also a soupçon of pizza essence. Or how I had to wait for more than an hour in the gynecologist’s crowded waiting room yesterday which a) I am SURE was the reason my blood pressure reading was much higher than normal and b) is making me Very Anxious about the likely unrelated fact that I have a scratchy throat today. Or how I have been working extra hard on revising my book and the whole thing is stupid and I am wasting my life. I really need to suck it up and stop wallowing.

I hope YOU and your loved ones are doing okay. And, honestly, if you had a small, insignificant gripe to share with me, it would make me feel better. Or not, that’s fine too. If you just want to scroll listlessly through my dinner options, trying valiantly to get up the motivation to think about making Yet Another Meal, that is a-okay with me.

Dinners for the Week of January 12-18

Over the weekend, I tried these Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken and Black Bean Rice Bowls (which Ernie mentioned recently), and they were delicious and a 100% keeper. They got me in a mango mood, so I have a bowl of mangoes ripening on the counter which is one good thing to look forward to, I suppose.

  • Sweet and Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa: Speaking of mangoes, this is what we’re eating tonight. I have made it several times in the past and have always found the pork to be a little… weak in flavor. Today, I threw all the ingredients in the crockpot, added a bit of soy sauce and some minced ginger and garlic, and we’ll see if that does anything. 
  •  Fish Taco Bowls 
  • Fire Fry 
  • Chicken Shawarma with Steamed Broccoli
  • Tacos: The regular ground beef kind, per Carla’s request. I am going to have her make them, since she has been voicing some disappointment about the meals on offer lately. She seemed pretty pleased at the thought.

I also have some zucchini and asparagus in the crisper, for spur-of-the-moment stir fries or protein-and-a-veggie-side options.

What are you most looking forward to eating this week?

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For future Hanukkahs, this is my experience with making sufganiyot.

First let me say that I have never had sufganiyot before, so I had nothing against which to measure my results. I read somewhere that they are somewhere between a beignet and a donut, but I have never had a beignet, so in my head I translated “beignet” to “fritter,” which is denser than a donut. (They are also, according to Smitten Kitchen, like Polish pączki or Russian ponchiki or Italian bombolini, none of which I have had either. Clearly I need to expand my donut eating habits.)

Because I don’t like oil spattering all over my kitchen, I sought out an air fryer version. (There is still oil involved in the air fryer recipe, so it seems like it still adheres to Hanukkah tradition.)

The Spruce Eats had a recipe for air fryer sufganiyot, but the recipe didn’t work for me. Not only did it require me to scald milk (an instruction that had no additional details; I had to look up what scalding meant and then look up what temperature the milk would need to be to not kill my yeast), it also had a couple of confusing directions (do you roll the dough out to 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch thick, because the recipe stated both). Unsurprisingly, the dough refused to rise. I still air fried a few, for practice, and they LOOKED adorable but were unpleasantly dense and kind of bitter. They reminded me more of biscuits or scones (neither of which I like) than donuts. This is all to say I DO NOT recommend the Spruce recipe.

I tried a second recipe, from Tori Avey, that worked MUCH better. First of all, NO SCALDED MILK which made me feel scammed by the whole scalding milk nonsense earlier. Secondly, it has vodka in it, which I found appealing simply for its novelty. (WHY is it there? I am sure there is some reason; in fact, I’ve heard of adding vodka to pie crust to make it flakier? Like it evaporates more quickly than water and lightens the dough? I am quite possibly making this up.) Third, the dough rose very nicely; it’s possible that it could have risen more if I had left it to proof longer, but by that point I was up against the clock — I still had to make the fish and green beans and latkes. (Remember, by “make the latkes” I mean removing them from the Trader Joe’s box and baking them.)

I used a glass to cut the rounds. I might experiment, in future years, with making them slightly larger. They are very small — between two and three inches in diameter.

I used the air frying instructions from the Spruce article (except that I pre-heated the air fryer for three minutes and sprayed the inside generously with cooking spray): I put four of the dough circles into the basket, brushed them with oil, fried them for 2.5 minutes at 350 degrees, then flipped them, oiled them, and fried them for 2.5 additional minutes.

I used seedless raspberry jam for the filling. I have a little plastic squeeze bottle that was ideal for filling the donuts. I used a shish kebab skewer to puncture each little sufganiyah and then filled each one with jelly until I could feel the jelly pushing back against me; a couple of times, the jam erupted through a weakness in the meridian of the donuts, but this happened rarely. After they were filled, I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar.

The Tory Avey batch was much lighter than the Spruce version. I really liked the texture — still a little more dense than a traditional yeasted donut, but lighter and fluffier than a scone or a fritter. The dough was slightly sweeter than the first recipe I tried, too.

I do wonder if they would have been lighter and airier if I had allowed the dough to proof a little longer? The one “issue” I had was that the jelly didn’t really FILL the inside — it made more of a little well in the center. And if the air pockets in the dough were bigger, I think that would allow for more jelly filling.

AFTER I’d made both batches, I saw recipes for sufganiyot on Smitten Kitchen and The Kitchn that are WILDLY different from what I tried, so it might be fun to give those a go in future years.

These are the perfect size for eating like three or four in a sitting.

Perhaps the BEST part of the sufganiyot experiment is that we had too many for the three of us to eat (they are better eaten when warm), so we made up a plate and took them across the street to a neighbor. Please do not mistake this easy breezy sentence for an easy breezy decision: I fretted EXTENSIVELY about it. What if the sufganiyot weren’t very good? I mean, they were good compared to the first batch, but I had never tried the real thing and maybe they were a very poor attempt. And what if my neighbor didn’t want to eat something prepared in a home kitchen during a pandemic? And what if she wasn’t Jewish? Something she said to me in the past — the exact nature of which has since exited my memory — left me with the impression that she was Jewish, but I could have misapprehended what she’d said or misremembered the conversation. Or what if she is Jewish but can’t eat gluten or sugar or is allergic to raspberries? What if she was eating dinner and we interrupted her? Ugh. So many reasons NOT to do it. But a generous impulse should be embraced and followed through!

Our neighbor is this absolutely lovely woman who has a dog Carla loves and who is sweet and patient with Carla and very friendly to me. She’s had a really hard go of it during the pandemic and yet she is supervising remote learning for her grandkids AND working full time and I just wish I could help her more. (She has nearby family, so she has not once taken me up on my offers to help.) We took over a plate and at first it went HORRIBLY. We could see lights on in the house and could hear talking, but no one answered the doorbell. I even knocked, just in case the doorbell wasn’t audible, but — despite Carla’s dismay — we decided to leave. I felt super uncomfortable: maybe they were all eating dinner together! maybe they didn’t want to answer the door during a pandemic! maybe they were purposely ignoring us! So we went back across the street.

But then, just as we were about to go into our house, we heard people leave the neighbor’s house. Carla, who was carrying the plate of donuts, rushed back over with me training awkwardly behind, my glasses suddenly COMPLETELY fogged over at that exact moment even though I had been wearing them and my mask the entire time. I felt So Awkward.

But Carla asked for our neighbor, and her family called into the house and asked her to come out. Carla handed her the plate and told her we had sufganiyot to share and asked if she celebrates Hanukkah and when our neighbor said yes, Carla said that she did, too, and our neighbor just seemed so surprised and delighted. The neighbor’s daughter told us a charming anecdote about visiting Israel during Hanukkah and seeing sufganiyot in storefronts everywhere. The grownups seemed thoroughly unbothered by our presence and our little offering, which helped me feel less awkward. (Although it would have definitely helped if I could SEE.) Carla got to pet the neighbor’s dog AND the neighbor’s daughter’s dog, which made HER day. And then we said goodby and left.

Later, our neighbor called and left me a VERY sweet voicemail, saying thank you, and assuring me the donuts were good, and expressing shock and pleasure that she wasn’t the only Jewish inhabitant of our neighborhood. The whole experience made me feel very glad I’d fought through my frets and gone ahead with the generous impulse.

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We are almost out of paprika, which is one of my Household Staples, and it makes me feel VERY NERVOUS to be so low. (“So low” means I bought a medium sized bottle of paprika at the grocery store last week.) (That’s TOO LOW.) So I hopped over to the Penzey’s website to order more; we have a Penzey’s locally, and they are doing contact-free pickup of spices.

Anyway, since I already there on the website, I poked around. Clicking on menu links is a poor replacement for in-store browsing, but it’s what we have. And I discovered that they are selling little “trial size” bags of some of their spices and spice mixes for around the $2.50-$4.00 mark. And a) that is a price point that seems very appropriate for stocking stuffers and b) who doesn’t love trying new spices?!?! I often get my parents a little box of herbs and spices when we go visit them, and it’s a great hostess/housewarming gift, so why not a stocking stuffer?

This works wonderfully if you have a Penzey’s in your area (FREE PICKUP). Although then, of course, you are limited by what the store has in stock. BUT if you are also out of paprika or cumin or whatever herbs/spices YOU cannot live without, you can order online and have everything shipped to you! (I mean, you could ship the little trial bags by themselves, but I think you get free shipping with a $39.95 purchase. And honestly, if you simply buy one single bottle of vanilla extract you will be almost there.)

I think my dad would like the BBQ 3000, since he and my mom grill steaks every Sunday.

Photo from Penzeys.com

And this Mural of Flavor mix sounds really fun to try — we make a lot of chicken and pork, so I could see many uses for it.

Photo from Penzeys.com

One of my parents’ favorites is this Northwoods Seasoning.

Photo from Penzeys.com

They also love the Chicago Steak Seasoning.

Photo from Penzeys.com

And I personally love this Sandwich Sprinkle, which does, indeed, add a nice herby punch to a salami hoagie.

Photo from Penzeys.com

Each little bag is less than an ounce, but that’s enough to get a sense of whether it’s worth buying a bigger bottle. Plus, they are CUTE and therefore FUN.

I wish I had spotted this in time to add it to my list of stocking stuffer ideas, but better late than never!

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If you are up for feeling ranty about something completely inconsequential in The Grand Scheme, please join me for a VERY long and ranty rant. I am Super Peeved right now, so I am putting it all down here and releasing the peevedness into the universe so that it will leave me alone.

Our final payment for our car was due on Tuesday. We exchanged that car for a new car the previous Saturday, meaning that we did not need to make the final payment. But we forgot that our automatic online bill pay system was on top of things, and was ready to make the payment for us.

The instant we realized this – middle of the nightish Monday – we figured out how to stop the payment. I called the bank on Tuesday, first thing, and they stopped the payment. We could see in our account that the money briefly left… and was then returned.

Great. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, we received an email from the car company saying thank you for your payment. Sigh.

I called the bank and explained what happened. Nope, they said. We can see that you stopped the payment. See? Right there? In your account? It was stopped.

Okay, great.

Yesterday: An email from a Third Party Online Bill Pay Service, which pays bills for our bank. They had submitted the payment to the car company, but our bank would not release the money to pay them. Because we had, you know, STOPPED THE PAYMENT. So our online bill pay service is now suspended and we are on the hook for the money that they paid, even though we supposedly stopped the payment. (The bigger of the two issues is the suspended bill pay service. We have four automated bills coming up before the end of the month, and, okay, I guess if the solution is “just write four checks” it’s not THAT big of a deal. But it is ANNOYING.)

(I have not yet called the car company, to see if they can simply RETURN THE MONEY for the car we no longer own.)

I called the Third Party Service. I sat on hold for 17 minutes (yes I am counting because I am PEEVED) before someone answered. She was polite but not friendly. I explained my issue to her. She needed my social security number and email address and birth date and verified that she could not see any issues.

But… I got this email, I told her. An email that says our service has been suspended.

Nope. She can’t see that there is any issue with my bill pay service.

But… this email.

We went round and round for a bit. Finally, I asked her if the fact that the email went to my husband’s email address was significant. Aha. Yes. Apparently, even though the money with which we pay our bills comes from a joint account, my husband is the one who set up the bill paying system under his name and social security number. Therefore, I cannot make any sort of decisions for the online bill paying system. My husband needs to be the one who calls.

Sigh.

Me: Okay, what are your hours?

Third Party: 8:00 to 5:00. In fact, we are closed right now. [What? Why did they answer then?] [Also, it was past six, so they must have been operating out of a different time zone, which is kind of a relevant detail.]

Me: Well… My husband is not available during those hours. So what kind of information can I get you that would allow me to talk to someone about this issue?

Third Party: Sorry. Only your husband.

Me: But he isn’t available.

Third Party: He doesn’t have to “be available.” All he has to do is get on the phone at the same time, WITH YOU, and confirm that you can handle this without him. [I am paraphrasing.]

Me: I’m so sorry, I must not be being clear. My husband is at work during the hours you mentioned. He cannot make a phone call during that time.

Third Party: He doesn’t have to MAKE A PHONE CALL. He simply needs to be ON THE PHONE while you are on the phone so he can authorize you to take over.

At this point, my frustration boiled over. My voice got high pitched and shaky. I was near tears. I told her how I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I was really frustrated, we had stopped the payment in advance, this shouldn’t be an issue, and we have a JOINT ACCOUNT FOR PETE’S SAKE, I have as much say over the disbursal of the money in that account as he does, so WHY can’t I talk to someone about fixing this problem?

She repeated a) that they are now closed and b) that he doesn’t have to be AVAILABLE, he just has to be on the phone with me long enough to give them permission to talk to me.

So I thanked her, hung up, wrote a bunch of all-caps texts to my husband (who, at 6:37 pm was STILL AT WORK because that is how things are for some people, in fact, for LOTS OF PEOPLE, this can’t be the first time a human has needed to conduct routine business during non-business hours?!?!?!?!), and called the bank.

My thinking is: I called the bank on Tuesday and stopped the payment. Whatever happened next is THE BANK’S FAULT and they should fix it.

My call with the bank started well. The customer service rep was very friendly and nice.

I confirmed with him that we had stopped the payment. Yes, we had. Then I told him my whole sob story, including that Third Party wouldn’t let me untangle the mess and I hoped that he, Bank Guy, would be able to fix it, considering that it was something that happened AFTER I called the bank to stop this payment.

He was totally going to help me. He first did some sort of poking around in the background and then explained to me that only my husband had enrolled in the online bill pay service, which was therefore tied to his social security number. I was not enrolled in online bill pay at all, he informed me. So for obvious security purposes, Third Party couldn’t deal with someone who wasn’t my husband. He said it had nothing to do with our having a joint account. I found this information useful and thanked him.

Then he started… talking around the situation. Saying things like, “And they were saying that they needed to talk to your husband because it’s his information, and then he could easily tell them that it’s okay for you to handle the rest of the conversation.” And, “It’s totally frustrating that things like this happen, ma’am.” And, “You did everything right on your end and it seems like things got a little mixed up.” You know, being really empathetic and showing that he understood the situation. 

Finally, I figured out that he was no longer just trying to be nice. What he was saying was, HE couldn’t help me. (I literally had to ask him, “Are you saying that you cannot help me reinstate my suspended account?”) I still had to deal with Third Party. Which meant that I still had to somehow get my husband on the phone between 8:00 and 5:00. 

I lost it a little. Not angry – just, you know, high pitched voice, shaky, sweating, near tears. Delightful. And I told Bank Guy that my husband CANNOT MAKE THAT WORK. He is NOT AVAILABLE. And I also said, “I did the right thing, right? What happened after I stopped the payment? Why did it not actually STOP?” And he gave me some B.S. answer about how the Third Party system must have gotten confused. I tried to say, Well, since I STOPPED THE PAYMENT, then I think it is up to the bank and the Third Party Bill Paying Service to work it out.

That is when his tone shifted. Nice, patient, empathetic Bank Guy was done with me. He started speaking very slowly and loudly.

“Just to clarify, your husband doesn’t actually have to be on the phone,” he said over and over. (Which, what? YES HE DOES, that is exactly what you are saying.) “He can be on a three-way call with you, and tell Third Party, ‘you can talk to my wife.’” 

“He isn’t available during the hours they are open,” I said.

“I’m QUITE SURE HE GETS A LUNCH BREAK, MA’AM,” the guy said, very slowly and loudly.

At that point, I took a very deep breath, thanked him, and said goodbye. 

Listen. I am not saying that my husband deserves special treatment. He does not! But I AM SAYING that there are probably LOTS OF PEOPLE who are not available between those very specific hours, and that it is ridiculous that they cannot talk to me and YES I KNOW SECURITY CONCERNS BLAH BLAH BLAH I AM JUST MAD, OKAY? 

And I am not exaggerating about his availability! My husband has seventeen patients tomorrow. If he gets to eat lunch on any given day, and that is never certain because he is almost always running late, he scarfs it down between phone calls to patients, or while he is reviewing pathology reports, or while he is writing his patient notes and recommendations. Sometimes in a day he does not get to use the bathroom. He typically leaves the house at sixish and comes home around eightish. This is just how it is.

But, just to realllllly address the skepticism, let’s say he HAS a free five minutes. Is there a guarantee that we will get through to a customer service person in that small timeframe? NO. And do you REALLY think that they are going to let him bark, “Talk to my wife” into the phone and leave? NO. He will have to do all sorts of identification verification stuff before they let him go. So even if he could find a few minutes during his LUNCH BREAK – OMG I am apoplectic about that phrase for some reason – it’s not necessarily going to be enough time. 

PLUS – PLUS!!!! – there should be a SOLUTION other than “just make a three-way call.” What if he were out of the country? What if he were sequestered in jury duty? What if he were dead? (God forbid.) (I am being hyperbolic because I am PEEVED.)

I guess the moral of the story is that I need to be automatically ON EVERYTHING. But man is that frustrating! 

And also! Can we all agree that this is, in fact, THE FAULT OF THE BANK? That THE BANK should be working with the Third Party Bill Paying Service to figure out how to get them their money back? Because I STOPPED THE PAYMENT. I even called back the next day and confirmed it! And they verified it by looking at my account! 

I want THE BANK to call Third Party between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00 and DEAL WITH THIS. 

Man. This is why middle-aged white women get a bad rap, right? I am so worked up about this that I want to go nuclear. I want to call the bank and talk to A Manager. I want to immediately and forevermore remove all our money – checking and savings and money market account – from this bank to another bank. Maybe I am being entitled and unreasonable. But right now, my vision is so clouded by how INFURIATING this all is, that I can’t see that. 

My next call, as soon as they open, will be the car company which apparently got our STOPPED payment. Perhaps they can return it to the Third Party and everything will go away. 

Now I need to go take some calming breaths so I can talk to the car company without shrieking.

Edit: Now I have called the car company. The customer service person asked if my husband had authorized me to handle this — eternal screaming — and I said yes, and he said fine. Then he submitted my “request” to, you know, not accept money that we do not in fact owe them, to a “team” for “review” and told me that it should take 3-5 business days for us to get our check. He was by FAR the nicest customer service person I dealt with this entire time, but I could tell he was a little suspicious of my motives, even after I explained why I was so anxious to get the payment back.

Now I am going to go clean the bathrooms. There’s nothing like a little righteous anger for making it Very Satisfying to scrub toilets and shower pans.

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I mentioned yesterday that I went to Costco over the weekend. AFTER I went to the grocery store. Let’s be clear: this is not my idea of fun. Even in The Before Times. But my husband is only home to stay with Carla on the weekends, AND he was on call the previous weekend, AND school doesn’t start for another week, AND this weekend is Labor Day and you can bet your sweet patoot I am not setting foot in a Costco on Labor Day Weekend, AND I was really in need of some things only Costco can provide.

I felt very panicky almost from the moment I pulled into the parking lot. My grocery store had been less crowded than normal on Saturday. Plus, my grocery store still claims to have a 100 person limit on customers (although I noticed that there was no staff member counting people as they entered), so even on crowded days it doesn’t feel crowded. But Costco seemed as busy as it ever was in The Before Times. They have stopped limiting the number of people who come in at a time. They have stopped wiping down the carts. Basically, it is January 2020 up in there and I am Not A Fan. I mean, they do require masks, so that’s SOMETHING.

The meat section was particularly hyperventilation-inducing. SO MANY PEOPLE, crowded around the meat. Seriously. I am very bad at estimating numbers of people in a group, but I BET it was at least 50 people, all right there, milling around between the street tacos case and the baked goods. I think they were waiting for the next batch of rotisserie chickens to be ready? I grabbed some ribs (three-rack-pack, baby) and got the hell out of there.

Still no sanitizing wipes, but I did buy paper towels and toilet paper for only the second time since the pandemic began, so at least we know their stuff LASTS.

I also stocked up on Mochi (for Carla) and chicken melts (for my husband) because I am totally incapable of visualizing the capacity of our overburdened freezers.

I tried to get out of Costco as quickly as possible. I mean, that’s always my goal, but now I feel like I’m in a video game where I’m darting in and around aisles while trying to stay at least six feet away from people who are a) stopped in the middle of the aisles or b) completely oblivious to the whole distancing part of social distancing. Next to the meat section, the worst part was the checkout. The staff was really churning people through, but there were huge lines of people, none of whom seemed aware of the tape on the floor marking out how far apart we should stand.

I was standing in line when a staff member approached and addressed the couple behind me.

“I just want to say again,” he said pleasantly but firmly, “that we need you to wear your masks over your noses.” The couple complied, the staff member left, I went about hauling my butter and seltzer water onto the conveyor belt, thinking, “Again?”

While the checkout person was scanning my items, I glanced at the couple behind me. BOTH PEOPLE were once again wearing their masks over their mouths only. Both were also wearing what I might describe as a smug, self-satisfied look on their faces. WTF?

I did not confront them, although I considered it. However, I have seen enough viral videos to know I do not want to appear on one. And that most viral videos seem to originate in Costco or Wal-Mart. And I know myself well enough to know that “cheerily noting that their masks have fallen off their noses” would come out not “breezy and helpful” but “shrill and judgmental.” So I simply stared at them. The male half of the couple made eye contact a couple of times, and eventually moved his mask up to cover his nose. Never underestimate the power of a steely stare, I guess.

Behind my steely stare, I was SO FURIOUS.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?????????? This is the motto of 2020, right? Like, I can, in some distant part of my brain, understand disagreeing with the mask mandate. But I cannot for the life of me understand how people cannot put themselves out for a few minutes out of respect for other people. I just don’t get it! If my daughter’s grandparents can wear stocking feet for a week while they visit us – even though they Do Not Understand Our No Shoes In The House Rule At All – then you can wear a mask during your Costco run.

Also, forgetting entirely the concept of respect, which so many many many people seem to have done, what about the fact that it is a LAW, currently, in our state, to WEAR A MASK? Maybe I can, again in some deep dark place in my brain, sympathize with the prospect of not caring about other people as much as you care about yourself. But the LAW? Purely for the sake of self-preservation, wouldn’t you want to COMPLY with the LAW?

Okay, okay, maybe a statewide mask order is not the same thing as an actual law. I don’t know what repercussions there are for violating the order. But I do know that in MY MIND there is No Difference. Just follow the mask mandate! It is NOT HARD! You look like an asshole when you purposefully, extravagantly, and smugly mis-wear your mask! After being asked repeatedly to wear it correctly!

Do people really care SO LITTLE about giving off I Am An Asshole vibes? (Yes.)

Deep, cleansing, steadying breath.

I cannot control other people. I can only control how I act. And I will be wearing my mask and my steely stare where applicable.

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My brain is doing that thing where it won’t settle on one thing for more than about 6 seconds before it leaps, hiccuping-jack-rabbit style to the next topic. So let’s have some randomosity, shall we?

  • I was supposed to post a Dinners This Week post yesterday and I DIDN’T because arbitrary blog-scheduling needs don’t rule my life. And also because I have nothing new on my meal plan for the week. Not that a) anyone cares or b) anyone but me would even notice that I am once again scheduling us for tacos and chicken fajitas.
  • We are, however, having ribs this weekend. I bought a three-pack of racks – a three-rack-pack, a rack three-pack – at Costco, and, if I could only organize my freezer, I plan to freeze two racks and make/serve one as a Labor Day treat this coming weekend. Do I have a recipe for this weekend’s ribs? Not yet.
  • Speaking of ribs, have I sung the praises of Pig of the Month yet? If not, I am severely in the wrong. I ordered a rack a billion years ago (May?) and they were heavenly. I got the sriracha BBQ flavor (they have a bunch of options) and the ribs were SO GOOD. They came in a package with dry ice and included re-heating instructions and they were everything I want ribs to be. Tender, not fatty. Substantial and meaty. Great sauce. Easy to re-heat. Free shipping. Plus, they cost about the same for what you’d pay at a restaurant. I promptly ordered some for my father for Father’s Day, and have another rack coming our way for a September surprise and ordered ANOTHER three-pack for my mother-in-law’s birthday present. They are so good. I don’t know why I didn’t order some to eat on Labor Day, instead of making my own like CHUMP, but here we are.
  • Labor Day usually marks our neighborhood block party. We got the typical block party flyer over the weekend with a big CANCELLED on it. But also, the fine print read, maybe some enterprising neighbors will be serving treats and booze beverages, to be enjoyed SAFELY, just in case you want to check it out. My main question is: Does anyone really think this can be managed safely? Because I sure as hell don’t. AND my neighbors are all, as far as I can tell after more than a decade of living here, super nice and consicientious and respectful of other people. But anytime you mix alcohol beverages and a bunch of people who either a) have been cooped up with their college-age children for five months or b) are college-age children once again living at home with their parents, probably involuntarily, I think safety is going to go right out the window in favor of getting lit having fun.
  • Because our house is down at the boring end of the block, I have been toying with the idea of making cupcakes and putting them, bake-sale-style, in individual containers, just so we can take part in the block party. I could put them on a card table at the end of our driveway and wave at people from my front porch. We’ll see. Carla, of course, would be the rate-limiting factor because I don’t think she’d be able to keep herself from visiting the neighbors’ dogs. So we will probably watch a movie inside our house, in the dark, so it doesn’t look like we are avoiding our neighbors.
  • School starts soon and I am having ALL the feelings. Any feeling you can imagine, I am having it in relation to school starting. Terror? Check. Guilt? Yes. Delight? Absolutely. Relief? In spades. Fatigue? All the time. Sad that I won’t be with Carla as often? Shocked by how sad I am. Excitement about all the alone time I will suddenly have? Yeppers. Certainty about how I will fill all those hours? Sure thing. Anxiety about whether Carla will be sad/stressed/anxious/able to wear a mask all day/able to interact normally with other humans? Of course. Nerves about potentially seeing other parents? Totes. Irritation that I will have to wear a Real Bra and Hard Pants in the car twice a day? You bet. Concern about whether I’m making the right choice in sending her to school? UH HUH. Pre-cranky at the parents who don’t think this is A Big Deal? Yessir. Deep, soul-shaking gratitude for the teachers and administrative staff at Carla’s school? Oh, yeah. Resignation about the eventual and possibly quick return to remote learning? Yup. Hunger for foods that will fill the aching hole all these warring emotions have eaten in my heart? Obviously.
  • Is hunger an emotion? Hmmm. These are the real, important questions we should be asking.
  • I had a pre-school meeting with Carla’s teacher on Monday. She is pretty much the loveliest person in the universe. She was so kind and attentive and reassuring. I feel deep, all-encompassing gratitude for her — and for the school that Carla attends. The kids don’t need to bring anything to school besides masks and a water bottle this year. Not even a backpack. (My backpack angst was completely unfounded.) I am glad they have a plan and they have everything Carla needs at school, but I am also sad that they won’t have even these completely frivolous trappings of normalcy. The teacher wanted to be clear that the first few weeks of school would really be focused on safety and community, and that academics might take a backseat for awhile. The kids have been out of school for so long, and their sense of normalcy is by now so warped, and their ability to interact with their peers has been so stunted/different, and the school itself has been so drastically reconfigured and adapted to our current circumstances, they will all need a – probably lengthy – period of adjustment. I didn’t cry during our conversation, but that is only because I was holding back my tears by gripping my chair arms so hard it left indentations in my wrists.
  • Let’s immediately move on to less emotionally roller-coastering topics. You know my go-to topic is food. Or shopping for food.
  • There should be a long-German-noun type word to describe the bone-deep exhaustion one feels after doing the grocery shopping during a pandemic. Saturday, I went to both the grocery store AND Costco, which was a mistake on all levels. But it had been two weeks, and we had eaten the very last morsel of vegetable matter for dinner Friday night (zucchini). We had two grape tomatoes to our name, procured earlier this week from the other store that does curbside pickup. We had half a plum leftover from Carla’s lunch. Surprisingly, we also had two heads of iceberg lettuce, because apparently I overbought at some point. (Yes, I recognize that iceberg lettuce technically counts as “vegetable matter” so we had not technically consumed ALL of it. But I put iceberg lettuce and zucchini in two very different food categories.)
  • When I was at the grocery store, I tried valiantly to buy only enough food for one week. Despite having done every-other-week shopping since March, I have never gotten very good at buying the correct amount of produce. Last week was the worst. I had to throw away an entire head of perfectly good broccoli, two zucchinis, and half a bag of sugar snap peas. I mean, they were no longer perfectly good; the broccoli was moldy and the zucchini had developed deep, soft pockmarks, and the ends of most of the snap peas were brown and liquified. Gross. It made me really sad and frustrated. Money and food, right in the garbage. I think what has happened is that I plan the meals two weeks in advance, and then, by the time I get to the day on which I need to eat the planned meal, I (or my husband, or Carla) no longer want to eat it. I am feeling more comfortable with going to the grocery store during a pandemic, and I feel, overall, pretty good about our grocery store’s safety practices. And the people who also shop at my grocery store seem to be pretty good about wearing masks and keeping their distance. (Well, they are not GREAT at the latter, but what can you do.) So I think I am ready to resume once-per-week shopping. And I can always go back to every-other-week if I feel less comfortable, or if our county’s infection rate begins to rise again.
  • This is all to say that I TRIED to shop for just a week’s worth of food. It was hard; I have now developed a pretty serious feast-or-famine perspective on shopping, so it was really hard to not buy zucchini for the first time all summer, even though I have planned nothing with zucchini as an ingredient for this week’s meals. I lingered over the grapes for awhile, even though I already had peaches AND plums AND apples AND blueberries in my cart. And I… well, I did buy another head of iceberg, just in case the two (2) icebergs we have at home go bad before I can use them. And THEN pork was on sale, in many forms. My husband has recently decided he is no longer a fan of chicken. I know Very Well what that’s like, so I am cutting back on meals that feature chicken. But since we are meat eaters in this household, I need to buy SOME sort of meat to fill in for all the chicken we used to eat. Instead of buying enough for what we are going to eat this week, I bought… more. Well. Pork freezes very well and we will eat it. It was a relief to see the final bill, which was much less than what I have been spending of a typical shopping trip. It was a bit more than half, though, but we shall blame that on the pork sale.
  • A friend and I are doing a Burpee Challenge together. That makes it sound like my friend had a choice; what really happened is that I told her, “I’m doing this, please please please do it with me” and then just expected her to agree. We completed an Ab Challenge together earlier this summer (which took me two tries, because I suffered from excruciating back pain after Week 1 of the first try and had to take a three-week hiatus), and when I came across a PopSugar article about someone who did 50 burpees for 30 days, I knew that was the next thing to try. Sometimes I like to torture myself with physical challenges I am in no way fit enough to complete, just to see how much pain I can inflict on myself. Or endure. I don’t know. Let’s not delve too deeply into the psychology of the thing. I don’t know if my friend is, in fact, doing 50 burpees a day or if she is just going about her normal life, enjoying walking around without searing shoulder and wrist pain, but even the prospect that she might be doing 50 burpees a day is enough to keep me accountable. Well, except that I have already skipped a day. Whatever. I will make it up on the other end.
  • It is safe to say that my forties are LOOMING in front of me and I am dealing with it by being Very Concerned about my physical fitness level. (Not good.) I am achey ALL the time. Just sitting here typing, I have a headache (from neck/shoulder tension), my hand hurts (too much Toy Blast on my phone), my wrists ache (burpees), and my left knee aches (walking). I know that aches and pains are associated with age, but… this can’t just be How It Is from now on, can it? CAN IT? (If the answer is yes, then… can it. I don’t need the truth, I need HOPE.)
  • Speaking of forties: My husband is turning 40 in a few weeks and I want to do something special for him. Any ideas????? Based on knowing nothing about my husband aside from the fact he is a doctor and can apparently put up with my shenanigans for at least 19 years???? He wants a new desk for his home office, so we will get that for him – but it’s more than I can afford myself, so it doesn’t really feel like it’s coming from me. But he is notoriously difficult to buy presents for and I am also a TERRIBLE gift giver, so I am FLOUNDERING. He doesn’t want any sort of party and we aren’t going to restaurants and as much as I’d love to have an actual date with him, we have no family in the area and are not ready to try having a babysitter come into our home. I feel like I can’t just buy him another puzzle for his FORTIETH BIRTHDAY. Right? HELP?
  • STILL speaking of forties, I think I am finally nearing the point at which I want to try coloring my hair at home. My hair is now the color Streaked With Grey and I am not loving it. Instagram keeps serving me ads for Madison Reed, and a friend of mine just used that very company to color her own hair and it looks GREAT, so I am edging closer and closer to the DIY dye cliff.
  • Here is a satisfying follow-up to my satisfying shoe project: I had called my local DSW last week, to see if they did, in fact, accept donations. The very lovely woman I spoke to said that I could donate one pair of shoes per week for 50 (I think???) points (for what????) and was very confused when I asked if I could donate multiple shoes, and then, as a follow up, if I didn’t actually care about the points, could I then donate multiple pairs of shoes? She had warmed to me considerably by then, and told me that sure, I could donate a big bag of shoes! And yes, the donation center was right inside the door. So on Saturday, I drove to DSW, hauled my bag of shoes out of my car, pulled on my mask, and marched inside. The donation box WAS right inside the door. I was a little leery because the other donations were single shoe boxes with nearly-perfect-condition shoes in them. My shoes are in good condition, but they have been WORN. Well. I did not let it deter me. I put my giant bag of eight pairs of shoes into the donation bin and LEFT.

Should we end on that very random but surprisingly positive note? Yes, I think we shall.

What’s going on with you, Internet?

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We still must eat, which means we still must make dinner.

I somehow overbought at the grocery store last time (although we are, of course, still out of cheese), and we are swimming in week-old produce that I am hopeful we can use up before it goes bad.

The bright spot in the endless drudgery of meal planning is Carla’s cooking. She did an excellent job with last week’s chicken tenders, doing everything herself (with coaching). And the meal was delicious. (My only complaint is that the chicken tenders don’t get very brown. The panic makes them crispy, but they are very pale. That’s not a Carla issue though; I’ve made these tenders before and I think they have always been pale.)

This week, she chose, much to my surprise and delight, to make salmon and mashed yams and a fruit salad. Surprise: that she picked salmon, which I have to cajole her to eat these days. Delight: that she had such a thorough vision for a meal in her head. I found some recipes to match her request – she was quite insistent that the salmon have thyme involved, because we have abundant thyme in the backyard. I am excited to eat this meal. And I am hopeful that a new interest in cooking will lead to a new interest in trying new foods.

Dinners for the Week of August 24 – 30

 

 

 

 

  • Tacos

 

 

  • Takeout

 

Cocktail of the Week:

Classic Gin Gimlet

 

What’s on your meal plan for the week, Internet? And have you tried any good cocktails lately?

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As I told you earlier this week, my husband read an article on The Kitchn about a super easy five-day meal plan, and it sounded intriguing, so we decided to try it out.

I had misgivings from the get-go. The first of which is that if you are going to call something “brainless” or refer to a week of meals as “super-simple family-friendly dinners that require next to no thought,” you should include the actual recipes in the article. Requiring your reader to go to five separate blog posts (plus a bonus post by another chef), read them, and figure out the recipes negates the “super-simple” moniker pretty quickly.

My second misgiving was that this Lazy Genius blogger was so loosey-goosey with things like instructions and measurements. Sure, it SOUNDS lazy to not have to measure things and to be able to throw in any number of proteins or vegetables, but it is NOT. It is a recipe (unplanned pun) for disaster. I want a real recipe at least for the first time I make something, if for nothing more than to understand the proportions of things. Well, I suppose the Lazy Genius did give me some proportions; perhaps I am being overly rigid which would not be out of character.

My third misgiving was that the last two meals call for ground pork, which I do not like.

Okay. Now that I’ve set the stage, here’s how it all turned out.

First, I would like to talk about my husband’s role in all this. I am the primary cook in our household. I plan probably 98 percent of our meals and prepare probably 80 percent of them (15 percent of the meals I do not prepare are takeout). This is just how it is, and most days I prefer it this way; I am the pickier eater, I like things a certain way, I am a control freak, etc. Of course, I am always whining about how hard it is to plan and cook for all the meals, and I often ask for my husband’s input. I would say that he typically offers one to two suggestions per two-week period.

So when he read this article and suggested it to me, I definitely wanted to follow through. I want to ENCOURAGE him to continue recommending things.

But I quickly found out that he did not actually read any of the recipes. And this made me Very Irritated. First, because he had NO IDEA what went into the making of any of these dinners – like needing to peel two heads of garlic or slice a thousand mushrooms. Second, and worst, because he did not fully understand my frustration when the recipes said things like “stir in a sauce” or “add a glug of something creamy.” He kept saying, “What does the recipe say?” and I kept replying, “It’s not really a recipe! It’s a suggestion!”

He did, however, help me with things like interpreting the loose guidelines and deciding what pan to use and chopping up pork and chicken. So that was good.

Day 1: Shawarma with Grilled Zucchini 

Report: There was an actual recipe for this one, thank goodness. I mean, the blogger says you can really do whatever you want. But she has some specifics, if you want them. (I WANT THEM.) It’s basically just spices and some oil, and you drop the chicken in and let it marinate for many hours. Easy peasy.

I grilled some zucchini alongside this chicken because I had zucchini and wasn’t really sure what else to do. I made four chicken breasts, so that we could each have one for this meal, and so that my husband could have one breast for each of the next two nights.

It was very tasty – good flavor on the chicken. I would probably make it again. Next time, I might do something with a sauce. Like make tzatziki or do broccoli with a lemon sauce or something, because it was kind of dry. Not that the chicken was dry, it was just… a meal without a sauce. My husband disagreed with me, by the way. He thought it was fine the way it was. 

Day 2: Chickpea Bowl

Report: This was the recipe where I started to panic a little bit. Sure, there were some actual measurements involved in this recipe, like “two 15-oz cans of chickpeas.” And “1-2 tbsp tomato paste” (although there is kind of a large difference between one of something and DOUBLING it). But when it came to the spice mixture, you got more guidance than actual instruction. (And the guidance was not consistent? In one place, the blogger suggests doing equal parts cumin and garam masala, but then when she gives more specific suggested amounts, there is a lower proportion of garam masala… I found that perplexing.) I ended up doing ½ Tbsp each of cumin, coriander, and garam masala; 1 tsp of cardamom; ½ tsp of paprika; and ¼ tsp each of cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, and fenugreek (the last is something I threw in on a whim because I can be easy and breezy sometimes too) (I was NOT easy and breezy about this meal and groused to my husband about the lack of specifics the entire time).

And then one of the instructions is literally “a glug of something creamy”???? What the hell is a glug? A tablespoon? A quarter cup? We ended up using some leftover heavy cream and I let my husband decide what a glug is so lord help me if I ever make this meal again.

Then – and I have already complained about this extensively but it turns out I am not done – you have to go to another website to get the recipe for this special garlic ginger sauce that the Lazy Genius recommends. In the actual recipe, she references it briefly. But in the meal planning article, she places far greater importance on it; in fact, she says to use it for THREE of the five meals. So I grouchily went to seek out the recipe, which is basically equal parts garlic and ginger blended with some vegetable oil. I happened to have a half cup of garlic and a half cup of ginger on hand, so made the full amount called for in the recipe. (I normally use exclusively jarred garlic, but I had two heads of garlic on hand for the purpose of dropping it into a groundhog hole near our back deck; but I poured some cayenne mixed with water into the hole one day after I had finished painting my baby tomatoes with the same mixture, and the next day the hole was filled in. The groundhog was DONE with us.) I was very irritated by having to peel all the garlic cloves and peel all the ginger, but I was Invested, so I powered through.

The garlic ginger sauce was POTENT. I mean, I don’t know why I was surprised. It’s nearly half garlic. But I do think it worked some sort of magic when added to meals.

Now on to the actual meal. Which required a LOT of prep work for something touted as “lazy.” What I did was: Chop up a shallot. Combine the spices. Make the ginger garlic sauce. Chop up a red pepper and a yellow pepper. Chop up some cilantro. Chop up some scallions. Open my cans (I used two cans of chickpeas, one 28-oz can of tomato puree, and two tablespoons of tomato paste). Make some rice. My husband chopped up his leftover chicken.

I added about two tablespoons of canola oil to a large pot and turned the heat to medium high. When it started to shimmer, I added a big dollop – probably two tablespoons, maybe three – of the ginger garlic sauce and stirred it for a count of ten. Then I dumped in the shallot and spices and stirred for another ten count. Then I added the tomato paste and stirred that around for about twenty seconds. Then I added the tomato puree and the (drained) chickpeas, stirred everything together, and let the whole thing boil. I had my husband “measure” out the “several healthy pinches of salt” called for in the recipe. Then we left it alone for ten minutes. At the end of the ten minutes, I put rice into bowls and added sliced bell peppers on top of the rice, plus some chopped cilantro. While I was doing this, my husband added the requisite “glug” of heavy cream. He stirred it into the sauce, let it simmer for another minute, tasted it, added a bit more salt, and it was ready. We spooned the sauce/chickpeas onto our peppers and rice and topped them with a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt, some chopped scallions, and some more cilantro. My husband added his chicken to his bowl at some point as well.

This was absolutely delicious. A++, incredible, flavorful, satisfying, yummy. This meal alone confers a lot of credibility upon the blogger calling herself a Genius, even if we have already disposed of the Lazy part of her title. I want to eat it every day. My husband said he likes the flavors much better than my adapted chicken tikka masala recipe. That hurts a little, I have to admit. But he’s not wrong. I don’t know if it was the garlic ginger sauce or the combination of the spices or some magic that happens when you put it all together, but it was SO GOOD.

I am DEFINITELY going to make this again.  Maybe once a week. 

Day 3: Sheet Pan Nachos

Report: Listen, I am no stranger to a plate of nachos. This was a nice break from stressing out about ingredients and ratios and vague instructions.

I chopped up some leftover bell peppers from the night before, set out leftover cilantro and scallions, and my husband and I decorated some chips with cheese, black beans, leftover chicken (for him), and frozen corn. We put the cheesy chips into a 400 degree oven for ten minutes. While they were in the oven, I chopped some avocado and put out some sour cream and hot sauce. When they came out, we put veggies and hot sauce and sour cream and VOILA. Dinner was served.

You can’t go wrong with nachos. And I think if you are building your own, you don’t really have to worry about ratios; how much hot sauce to cheese to sour cream you want is a deeply personal preference.

It was really fun to have nachos for dinner. It felt very decadent, like we were snacking rather than dining.

Day 4: Asian Pork Rice Bowl

Report: This was the day I was dreading. I do not like ground pork so I did not buy ground pork. (Which, of course, means that I VOLUNTARILY made this meal less simple than it could have been; it’s truly so easy to brown grown meat, and I gave up that ease on purpose.) I dithered all day long about what I should do. Should I use my grinder to make my own ground pork? My husband pointed out that doing it myself would not change the texture of the ground pork, which I dislike.

So what I did instead was turn the oven on to broil. Coat a pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and vegetable oil, and put the tenderloin under the broiler. I turned it over a couple of times, at ten minute increments, until it was browned and crisp in places and the temperature was 145 degrees.

While it was cooking, I washed and sliced mushrooms. I did one package of plain button mushrooms and one package of baby bella mushrooms, even though I cannot taste the difference between them. My daughter came over and pilfered two raw mushrooms from my while I was chopping them. I also reheated rice I’d made earlier in the week and chopped some fresh scallions and cilantro. Scallions and cilantro all day, every day, around here.

Now, the meal plan article calls for rice bowls. But the recipe it links to is for lettuce wraps. Be warned.

Next I had to figure out the sauce. The recipe says “stir in a sauce.” Okay, okay, it does have more specifics for those of us who can’t conjure a sauce out of thin air: “2  tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp water, a dash of sugar or mirin, and a tsp or so of cornstarch.” I also added a tablespoon of sriracha.

Once the sauce was mixed, I turned to browning the mushrooms. At first, I did what the recipe recommends, which is to give them plenty of space so they can brown. But after the first batch, I just threw them all in the pan and hoped for the best. Some of them browned nicely, others less so. But it was okay.

While I was browning mushrooms, my husband was chopping the roasted pork into teeny bits. He wanted to approximate the ground pork without the texture. (He is very tolerant of my food peculiarities.) When he was done, he dumped the pork into the mushrooms and then we mixed in some (probably two to three tablespoons, I would guess) of the ginger garlic sauce from the chickpea bowl night and then added the soy/mirin sauce. It took very little time for the pork/mushroom mixture to suck up all the sauce. So we spooned it onto rice, topped with – you guessed it – scallions and cilantro – and ate it up. (I added some sriracha to the top of mine, and my husband mixed in a little sambal, which is a chili paste.)

This was DELICIOUS. If it weren’t such a Massive Pain to slice mushrooms and roast pork, I would make this every week or so. We gobbled it UP. We were supposed to have leftover pork and mushroom mix for the next day’s noodle bowls, but we did NOT. All that was left was enough for my husband to take for lunch.

Day 5: Noodle Bowls 

Report: I have never cooked ramen before. Well, in college, I would occasionally buy those Maruchen Instant Lunch cups that you just add boiling water to? But I have never purchased ramen and made it as a meal. So my main concern was how to cook the ramen. I really wasn’t sure which vessel to cook it IN, and my husband and I went back and forth. (“What does the recipe say?” “It says variously ‘pan’ and ‘skillet.’”) I ended up using my big chili pot. I cooked the protein in it first, then the veggies, then put all of those aside while I filled the bottom of the pot with “an inch” of water. (I think it ended up being about three cups.) The water boiled and I nestled three squares of ramen noodles into it, waited a minute, turned them upside down, waited a minute, and then separated all the noodles. The water did NOT get fully absorbed, so I drained the pot.

We did not have any leftover pork/mushroom mix from the previous night’s rice bowls, so I sautéed some shrimp for our protein, and thinly sliced some red peppers and sugar snap peas for the veggies. I added some ginger garlic paste to the sauce (which again was ¼ cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, 1/8 cup mirin, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp sriracha) and poured it over the noodles, added the shrimp and veggies, stirred it around, and then topped everything with some chopped scallions and cilantro.

My husband’s main takeaway from this was that a) it had a good flavor and b) it was “potent” because I’d used too much ginger garlic sauce. When he said that, I wanted to cry because THERE WAS NO MEASUREMENT. The instruction was literally “stand at your counter, mix a little here and there until you reach delicious Asian alchemy.” I thought it was tasty, if a bit salty. But I had MAJOR heartburn for the rest of the night.

Making this meal was pretty easy, though. Minimal chopping. Shrimp are easy to cook. The noodles — now that I know how to do them — are very easy, and the sauce is super simple.

Overall Verdict:

Okay. I think the Lazy Genius is indeed a genius. (Also, I have since read a few of her blog posts and she seems kind of awesome???) The flavors of all of these meals are SO GOOD. And it was really fun to try things that we’d never had before. Well, okay, sometimes it was less FUN than NOVEL. But novelty can go a long way toward livening up a life that’s been rendered very small and stressful by a global pandemic.

But calling this week of meals “super simple” and “brainless” was wholly inaccurate. The whole thing required a lot more chopping and prep work than I would have expected, and the stress of having to figure out how to turn her vague instructions into actual meals ALONE made it the opposite of brainless. But maybe, again, I am being too rigid. And maybe next time I will be looser and more breezy about ratios of ingredients. And maybe I will find that everything STILL tastes good.

Would I do this again? I would not do all five meals in a row again. But I will DEFINITELY make… yes, ALL of these meals again at some point. If I had the ingredients for the garlic ginger sauce I would make the chickpea bowl again RIGHT NOW. And I have already bookmarked the Lazy Genius’s recipe for chicken tikka masala, because I now trust that she knows what she’s doing. (Even if she has too much faith in my ability to throw things together rather than follow a very specific set of instructions.)

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My husband read this article on The Kitchn about a super easy five-day meal plan… so we are trying it this week. (Personally, while the article makes the whole thing sound very easy and breezy, it does not actually seem like it will be easy and breezy in practice. First of all, I had to click on all the links for each separate recipe. And secondly, it sounds like these recipes are easiest and breeziest if they are things you make all the time and are comfortable just throwing ingredients in with eyeball measurements and stuff. While I feel like I am fairly confident in the kitchen, I am not THAT confident. So I am suspicious whether any of this will be worthwhile.

HOWEVER it is fun to try new things AND my husband suggested that we do it, and he is not usually particularly helpful when it comes to meal planning, AND I have a Meal Plan Sanctioned reason to make nachos for dinner so I am HERE FOR IT.

I also got some beautiful cod from the grocery store (nothing notable about this trip, for which I am grateful) so we are having fish tacos tonight.

Dinners for the Week of August 10-August 16

Note: I haven’t been eating a lot of fish since the pandemic began, and I am kind of… craving it? Can you crave fish?

Note: I am going to make four chicken breasts instead of two, and then my husband can have the extras for the next two nights’ meals.

Note: This sounds suspiciously similar to the crockpot Indian-spiced chicken I make… But without the ease of the crockpot. I am wary. I don’t need chicken with mine, but my husband will have a leftover breast from Shawarma night. I am also a little irritated that I am supposed to go ANOTHER website to make a ginger-garlic sauce that is apparently essential not just for this dish but for the rice bowl AND noodle bowl later in the week.

Note: The Meal Plan decrees that we shall eat nachos; I must but comply.

Note: Okay, here’s where I hit a roadblock. I do not like ground pork. And the ground pork is supposed to be for this meal AND tomorrow’s meal, which makes it kind of essential. So… I guess I will crockpot some pork tenderloin instead?

Note: The recipe for the noodle bowls calls for ramen – like the kind you used to buy at the corner store in college? And heat up with one of those “Insta Hot” fountains outside the bathroom? Well, turns out that ramen is A Thing these days and my grocery store had about a million options. None of which was the corner store individual packet of ramen.

  • Takeout

 

Cocktail of the Week

Note: This sounds like a strawberry margarita with some black pepper in it. But I am intrigued.

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