What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 68: A peaceful transfer of power, yum yum

At least we still have food.

I cooked my little heart out this week. No particular reason. Next week, it’ll be all hot dogs and heavy drinking, and then we’ll see who transfers what.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches, frozen hash browns

 

bagel-sandwiches

Great meal for a busy day. I love it.

SUNDAY
Broccoli, cheese, chicken pockets, French onion soup

broccoli-cheese-pockets

There was a recipe, but I made a ton of substitutions, so I’ll just tell you how I made it.

Put oil, salt, and pepper on some chicken breasts and roast them, then slice them.
Cut broccoli into small florets and steam them.
Mix together a tub of French onion dip, a few cups of shredded cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup of pepper jack, and about 1/4 cup of mayo.
Mix the broccoli and chicken in with the cheese mix, then stuff pita pockets with the mixture. (If you open the pita pockets by cutting them open in a straight line, they are more likely to tear, so cut them in a curved line.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat up some oil in a skillet and fry the pockets on both sides just until the pita bread is golden brown. Then move the pockets onto a pan in the oven and heat them up until the cheese is melty and nice.

This recipe would make a lot more sense if you already had leftover chicken, which I did not. Kind of a pain in the neck to do all those steps, but it sure tasted good. The kids didn’t like them, probably because I worked hard on them.

We also had sorta French onion soup. I should have done more than glance at the recipe, and I used chicken broth instead of beef, which was a mistake. I forgot to add sugar, and I couldn’t find any cheese, and I was too lazy to make croutons. Still, I spent over an hour hanging out in the afternoon sun, babysitting a heap of onions as they cozied up with melted butter. I regret nothing.

MONDAY
Zuppa Toscana, pumpkin bread

zuppa-toscana

See how it shines? That’s how soup is supposed to look. A shining soupy on a hill.

I fried up some sweet sausage (after squeezing it out of the casings, blushing faintly and calling upon Paul VI for aid and comfort) and fried it up with diced onions and minced garlic. Then I added in some diced up bacon (I still have five boxes of Christmas bacon that I now refuse to give to the poor. Let them start a tax-free savings account and withdraw their bacon from that, the lazies) and some thinly-sliced potatoes with the skin on. Red potatoes would have been good, but regular Idaho whatever was fine.

Then I added in several cups of chicken broth and let it simmer until the potatoes were soft.
Then a ton of half-and-half, and a bunch of chopped-up kale, and more simmering until the kale was soft. I had some mushrooms, but they didn’t seem quite right for this soup, so I skipped them.
A little salt and pepper at the end, and it was really swell. The bacon was fine, but it didn’t actually add much.

Here’s the recipe for pumpkin bread. The crumbs ran off with my can opener, so I was reduced to chopping the can open with a knife that I tapped with the other can of pumpkin, since the crumbs also ran off with my hammer. (Here are directions for how to open a can with a knife.)

pumpkin-bread-fox-plate
Since I needed one can to open the other can, I could only make one can’s worth of bread. This was actually good luck, because, as I always forget, a single recipe makes three loaves of bread. I sprinkled steel cut oats on the top, which was pleasantly crunchy.

This is a sweet, moist, fluffy bread, really almost cake. I usually reduce the sugar somewhat and put nuts or oats on top, so as to pretend it’s not cake.

TUESDAY
Shakshuka, pita 

Shakshuka has been on my radar forever, so I finally tried it. I guess it is Israeli, or maybe North African.

My husband came home unusually early, just in time to see me stirring feta cheese into the tomato sauce. The skepticism in the air was so thick, you could cut it with a knife and then fry it up with garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes, onions, peppers and tomatoes and stir feta cheese into it, then crack some eggs on top and slide it into the oven, then overcook the eggs by just a minute or two, sprinkle parsley and a little hot sauce on top, and serve with pita.

shakshuka

Even my skeptical husband thought it was tasty, and several kids said it was better than they expected it to be, which is sky high praise. It didn’t rock my world, but it was good, very filling, and cheap. Next time I have the time, I’ll make challah. That would be a splendid meal.

Hey, now we have another meatless meal for the rotation, so that’s a win.

WEDNESDAY
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

I honestly can’t tell if this meatloaf picture looks amazing or horrifying. Look how it glistens!

 . . . look how it glistensssss . . . 

two-meatloaves

Pictures of food are weird.

I more or less followed the Fannie Farmer recipe (using five pounds of ground beef and two pounds of turkey). Feeling impulsive and jazzlike, I embellished the whole thing with ketchup before I put it in the oven. Baked ketchup tastes good on meat. (This is why you read my food posts: Because I have the guts to say stuff like that.) It’s like meat ketchup taffy. (Too far?)

We also had ten pounds of mashed potatoes, which, to my relief, turned out to be too much. Sometimes I feel like there can be no such thing as enough food, but there can.

Here is Corrie coaching Benny on proper mashing technique:

girls-mashing-potatoes

“It HAHHHT!” she counsels. So young, such wisdom.

THURSDAY
Roast chicken drumsticks, rice made with chicken broth, salad, mangoes

chicken-rice-salad-mango
Nothing thrilling, but I felt very good about going from zero to hot meal with vegetable in about 35 minutes. Mangoes keep being on sale.

FRIDAY

Corrie got into this week’s raw pasta, too, so we’ll see.

 

Uncategorized

In Soviet Russia, ceiling killz you

 

When I was little, my mother would send us upstairs to clean our room. After several hours had gone by, she would call up, “Girrrls? Is your room done yet?” And we would shout, “It’s about halfway clean!”

And it would be . . . THE TOP HALF. Ho ho! We certainly pulled one over on her. The floor and beds and dressers were as cluttered and sloppy as ever, but the ceiling was nice and clean, bare and tidy, as neat as a pin.

I miss those days, when the ceiling was clean.

Now that I have my own house, nobody shouts up the stairs at me.  Nobody sends me off to tidy up regularly. Instead, they encourage me in my filthy eastern ways, by saying things like, “Ha ha, you are keeping it real!” or “Wow, you make me feel so much better about my own house!” or “Mrs. Fisher, you have ten days to remediate this issue before a legal process is automatically triggered.”

Wanna see? Of course you do. It’ll make you feel better. Unless you’re my mother.

ABANDON ALL MICE, YE WHO ENTER HERE

We live close enough to the woods that there will always, always, always be mice in our house; but we live close enough to the highway that any cats we own will always get hit by cars. So we poison the little bastards. They make mouse poison that desiccates the corpse, so there is no stink. Our walls are now cozily insulated with a thick layers of mouse mummies, and that’s how we like it.

The trick is to find a spot to slip the poison where the mice will find it, but the kids and dog won’t. So what you do, see, is — well, first you lose many, many nights of sleep to a maddening scrabbling, gnawing noise, and then, in that mental state, you decide it’s a good idea to just bash a hole in the ceiling, stuff some poison in, and then cover the hole with a piece of paper and tape

mouse-door

because things being what they are, you know you’re gonna need to get in there again.

Every once in a while I consider using something fancier to cover up the hole, like a cub scout kerchief, or maybe a piece of colored paper, but I don’t want to appear pretentious.

SOMETIMES A POOH IS JUST A POOH

Here’s something I like to ponder every once in a while: a stain on the ceiling that has the habit / of sometimes looking like a . . . pooping wildebeest.

pooping-tapir

Literary, ain’t it? Or maybe it’s Winnie the Pooh, or possibly a toxodon. I wanted to say “tapir,” but I couldn’t think of the word, and then I got bogged down in “aardvark vs. anteater” like I always do, so I just said “wildebeest.”

The real question is, what the heck kind of stain is that, and why is it over the couch? The real answer is, “There is no answer that will make you glad you asked.”

I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE MOLD

Here’s one I may have shared before. Our exquisite bathroom is spacious, bright, prettily tiled, and as well-stocked with water guns, tea sets, broken humidifiers, peri bottles, ratty towels, and twenty-three bottles of almost-empty shampoo as you could hope, so that’s nice. But it does have a bit of a ventilation problem

doom-on-you

Naturally, someone who was not made of stone just had to etch “DOOM ON YOU” into the mildew. Just in case you were having your morning shower and thinking that the day might go well.

THE GHOST OF PASTA PAST

Not only do they throw spaghetti at the ceiling, but

spaghetti

no one even thinks to pull it off the ceiling until it’s become one with the ceiling, and takes a little bit of the ceiling with it when it goes. Brought to you by the same kids who will tell you with a straight face that they did sweep, and they didn’t realize you meant also sweep up all those chicken bones, gosh.

THE JOKE GETS OLD

Now you’re starting to get really disgusted with us. These people live like animals! you are thinking. How hard is it to buy a gallon or two of Killz and brighten those ceilings right up again? An hour or so of work ,and your outlook is so much brighter.

You’re right! It’s easy! All you have to do is lay down plastic, clear your schedule, throw on some old clothes, get one of those long-handled rollers, and away you go. Put on the first coat of white paint, and then

killz

wait six years for it to dry. Is it time to put the second coat on? NO, NOT YET. It just isn’t, okay?

WHERE HOOPY FROODS FEAR TO TREAD

If you’re feeling bold, you can even venture into the boys’ room, where you will find  . . .

dont-panic

Yeah, no, actually, I would actually like to panic now, please, thanks. Is . . is that a tick trapped under some packing tape?  Is that blood spatter?  Is it terrible that I find myself hoping it’s blood, and not anything else? Never mind, I’ll just flee.

PREMISES ARE ALARMED, AND FOR GOOD REASON

Back to the adult world, where people are responsible and sensible and do things the right way. For instance, it’s extremely important to have working smoke alarms throughout the house.
It’s important to regularly change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
It’s important to put the smoke alarms back in after you change the batteries.
It’s important to remember where you put the smoke alarms while you were searching for the batteries you bought yesterday.
It’s . . .

smoke-alarms

It’s important to have a working smoke alarm. Do what you gotta do.

HOW?

And here, the little jerks were just deliberately marking up the ceiling with the syrup that secrete in their horrible little pores

handprints

I could take prints and find out who it was, but does it really matter? Let’s just call it a precious memento and draw a curtain. Yes, over the ceiling. It’s either that or burn the whole thing down.

 

 

Uncategorized

Podcast #4! S.C. Naoum of Eye of the Tiber refuses to swear in Aramaic

 

… but only because he’s self-conscious about his accent. We’ll get him next time.

I just sent out a Soundcloud link to all my lovely patrons, so you can hear my fourth podcast, a half-hour conversation with the comic genius S. C. Naoum, who created Eye of the Tiber and who still writes 95% of it.  You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and I appreciate every single pledge.

I’m still experimenting with the best model to make this blog work. I would really love to keep posting five times a week, and to keep it free of ads. As you know, I also write for The Catholic Weekly, I freelance at various places, I do speaking engagements, and I’m about to re-launch my “Catholic Artist of the Month” feature at Aleteia; and I have another recurring project in the works for later this year.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-2-35-48-pm

Is that bringing in enough income? Nnnnnot yet!

This is the part where most bloggers will start calling you by affectionate nicknames, using lots of exclamation points, reminding you of how much super fun we’ve had over the years, and nodding and winking maniacally about how much super fun we will definitely continue to have, as long as you pledge at any point, such as now. FUN!

Maybe they will even laboriously put together “Top Ten Dank and Woke Reasons You Can’t and Won’t Even Bother to Consider Not Becoming a Patron of This Blog, As If!”

Instead, I’ll just share what really goes through my self-employed head:

11:40 on a Tuesday:

This is actually going really well. I am wise and prudent and enterprising, I know how to hustle, I have done my homework, and I really believe in this model of speaking to and working with my readers directly, eliminating irrelevant middlemen and fostering a true sense of community.

And as an added bonus which benefits everyone, never again will I have a perfectly good naughty pun neutered like a newt. Never again will I sit before my keyboard, locked into literary paralysis by the very real fear that, even though I said something good, true, and beautiful, it’s going to be misconstrued by someone who barely knows how to read but who is a giant donor to someone who is a medium-sized donor to someone who has influence over the person who signs my checks. Never again!

Yes, yes, I am seeing slow but steady growth, and I am striking a very good balance between gentle self-promotion and a liberating focus on my true vocation. Yes. This is my best year ever.

Five minutes later:

Fuckity fuckty fuck fuck fuck. This isn’t working, this isn’t working. Can I use my van to drive for Uber? [hurriedly Googles “sell kidney southern NH how much”] THIS ISN’T WORKING. The only thing I can do is ask for more money, and the more I do that, the more everyone hates me. I hate me. It’s only a matter of time before they kick me off the internet, and the only thing people will remember of me is that some lady named Cynthia got in a fight with Tito Edwards over a potato, and then everyone stopped believing in blogs. It’s over. It’s over. I’m done.

Three minutes later:

OH, somebody pledged a dollar! This is really, really working! I’M A GOLDEN GOD!

And so on.

So here’s my appeal to you:

I’m a pretty okay writer, right? I feel like I am. So, can you send me some money, please? I promise I’m using it mainly to pay very boring bills, and the occasional bottle of kangaroo wine. Did I mention that the van needs brakes, the washing machine is making a whole new squawking noise, and we have two kids starting college in the Fall?  And the rest of them keep eating and eating and eating?

If you pledge, not only will you stave off my nervous breakdown, but you will also get access to weekly podcasts, and I’m also offering various other perks as thank-yous: Pants Pass decals, Dignaroos, autographed books, and others. Please check it out and pass it on!

That’s all I got. Thank you.
P.S. You’re a golden god. You are.

The Catholic Weekly

Not lost forever: Miscarriage, grief, and hope

felt-baby

We have reason to hope that even those little, innocent ones who never had eyes to see the light of day or the waters of baptism will be welcomed into heaven as well, not smuggled in the pockets of a low-ranking god, but recognised and called by name back home by their Father who made them.

Still, we are human. It is not wrong to look for physical reminders of abstract truths.

Read the rest of my latest for the Catholic Weekly.

Uncategorized

To enthusiastic fans of Donald Trump

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-12-34-05-pm

Two people were facing the congregation at Mass last Sunday: The priest, of course, and an interpreter, who was signing for the deaf people in the pews.

Scratch that, there were three people facing the congregation. The third was a profoundly disabled man, his body twisted permanently into a pretzel, his skull misshapen, his features preternaturally mobile. He didn’t seem able to face the altar, but spend most of the hour bobbing and grinning and leering at the rest of us, while his caregiver patiently redirected him over and over again, calming him when he got agitated, soothing him when he got loud.

Why is it so hard to meet the gaze of folks like this? If ever there was a low-risk social interaction, it’s making eye contact with someone who can’t talk at all, much less expect something witty or suitable in response. “Just smile at him,” I tell myself. “Just be friendly and sincere, and then move along.” Still, I avoid eye contact. It’s obviously not about him. It’s about me.

That hour nagged at me.  Two faces, the translator and the disabled man demanded our attention, their eyes shining, their hands busy with gestures that meant nothing to me. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. If today you see a face and it keeps grinning and winking and nodding at you, at least you could ask the Holy Spirit what’s up. Here’s what I think it is.

The sign language translator was there because there are some folks in the congregation with a disability. They cannot hear, so they need extra help to have God’s word conveyed to them.

I am disabled, too, spiritually. I need a translator. There is something in my heart that fears and rejects mentally and even physically disabled people, and I’d rather they just turn around and leave me alone with my smart, attractive children and friends. I’m a pro-lifer, so I am ashamed to respond this way to any of God’s children. It is a common but severe defect. I want to be open, but I am not, and I can only fake it about half the time. Most of the time, I just avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid. I’m not alone or unusual in this, but that doesn’t make it all right.

I don’t mean to reduce another human being to a symbol. This man was attending Mass, and certainly wasn’t there just for my benefit or edification. He has a name, and he obviously has at least one person who loves and cares for him. But he was also, for me, a translator, someone turning to face me to convey a message that I wasn’t able to hear on my own without his help. Sometimes you don’t realize you are deaf until a translator turns up.

So there is more. It made me ask myself: Who am I having the hardest time facing right now? Who do I not want to look in the face? Who am I reluctant to treat as fully human?

Easy to answer in January of 2017: Enthusiastic Trump supporters. Over and over again, despite my resolve, I lose my temper with them, I get nasty, I get personal. I am just so angry at what they have chosen for me and my family and my beloved country. There they stand, shamelessly twisted in their worldview, not even hiding their faces, just leering and gesticulating. Turn around! Shut up! Get away from me! I want to yell (and sometimes do).

I’m not proud of behaving this way. I call myself a pro-lifer. This is a severe defect, that I allow myself to respond to other human beings with open, personal contempt and derision. It’s especially egregious because I often write about our obligation to show love to each other.

I don’t know what to tell you. I’m working on it. Yes, this post is the best I can do right now. Those of you who happily voted for Trump and continue to champion him, I think you are wrong, wrong, wrong, and I will not apologize for calling it twisted and awry to admire and champion a wicked man. Whatever your motivation, you have done something objectively terrible to our country.

But the way I respond to you is my problem, not your problem. I have a defect, and I know it. Thank you for looking me in the face and helping me be more aware of my defect. Thank you for being the translator who alerts me to just how deaf I am. Please pray for me, and I will pray for you. And then maybe we can all just turn around and face the altar, like we’re supposed to.

***
Image: Detail of Self-Portrait as a Deaf Man by Sir Joshua Reynolds (Creative Commons)

 

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 67: Tiramiswho?

It’s a race against time as my battery dies, so never mind the intro, here’s the weekly menu:

SATURDAY
Nachos, root beer floats

Very basic. Tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef, cheese on top, served with sour cream and salsa. No complaints. Oh, I happened to have some cilantro, which I used copiously.

nachos-with-cilantro

I even took some off before taking the picture, because I’m not kidding about the copious, but then I put it on again before eating it. I try hard to taste cilantro as soapy, but it just tastes like freshness, hope, and summertime to me. You are all crazy and I refuse to affirm your stupid life experience.

SUNDAY
Antipasto, fettucine with ragu, garlic bread, tiramisu

Sunday was my husband’s birthday, and he wanted nothing more than to spend the day cooking, so I let him. I also let him take the kids sledding. My generosity is boundless.

The antipasto dish was nothing inspired, just some fresh mozzarella, dry salami, and olives and marinated artichoke hearts, served with pita chips.

The ragu, however, was completely amazing. He used two pounds of ground pork and one of beef, and by the time it was done cooking, the meat was velvety. You will read this recipe and think, “Well, this is just a meat sauce,” but it’s not. Try it, trust me. It’s heavenly.

ragu

 

You could almost feast on the smell alone, but then you also get to eat it! This picture is so sadly inadequate. The worst thing about winter is that by the time it’s dinner time, it’s too dark to take a decent picture with my rotten camera. YES, it’s the WORST THING.

Here is the tiramisu recipe he used. He made it the day before, so it soaked all night. Benny helped him by putting on a tutu and licking the beaters.

benny-licking-mixer

He also grated a chocolate bar over the top before serving.

tiramisu

The tiramisu was perfect. Never had better anywhere. I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible stab of guilt because I forgot to put birthday candles on it, but I suspect I am the only one losing sleep over that.

MONDAY
Beef vegetable soup, beer bread

This was supposed to be beef barley soup, but I forgot to put barley in. It had a great flavor, but it was weird to have an obvious missing ingredient. It was like listening to someone with a not-unpleasant speech impediment. It doesn’t bother you, but it’s hard not to keep noticing it.

I fried up minced garlic with diced onions and carrots in a little olive oil, then added strips of a chuck roast or something, and fried that until it was almost done.
Then I added a can of diced tomatoes, a few cups of beef broth, a bunch of red wine, and a bunch of sliced mushrooms and some pepper, and let be cozy in the slow cooker all day.

We also had two loaves of beer bread, which I got my teenage daughter to make. For reasons I trust I don’t need to explain, we had some leftover chocolate bock (ptui, ptui) in the house. I mean that I trust I don’t need to explain the “leftover,” as in “undrunk,” as in “not ever,” as in “chocolate? Why would you do that to beer?” part. I can explain why it was in the house in the first place, but my battery is dying fast and I don’t have a charger today. So I’ll just give you the recipe and let you know that beer bread tastes fine with chocolate bock, and getting baked for an hour is a fitting sentence for the crime of being chocolate bock.

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, peas

All undercooked! I like to have a theme.

WEDNESDAY
Slow cooker sweet and sour chicken mango wraps, rice

This was my new recipe for the week, from A Year of Slow Cooking. I liked it! I’m predisposed to like this website because she’s got several recipes tagged as “flops,” to warn you away from trying them. I appreciate that approach to cooking and to blogging.

I made one crock with just the jam and soy sauce, for very mild chicken for timid children, and one with all the stuff, jalapenos and ginger and everything. The flavor was great. I took a terrible picture which will probably dissuade you from trying it, but I recommend this dish.

chicken-mango-wrap

It would, as the website says, make a nice light summer meal. I also bought some spinach-imbued wraps for those who can’t see their way to clear to wrapping up meat in lettuce, and those were good, too.

THURSDAY
Quesadillas, chips, carrots

I had “grilled ham and cheese” on the menu, but I bought shredded cheese, apparently thinking of quesadillas, so that’s what we had, because there are always millions of tortillas in the house. Benny insisted on grilled ham. No cheese, just hot bread with ham in it.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake, scrambled eggs

 

BYE, WEEK. I HATED YOU.

And now I have a yen for some new kind of meat soup. Who’s got something exciting for me to try?

Uncategorized

My interview with S. C. Naoum of EYE OF THE TIBER

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-12-57-40-pm

. . . will be my next podcast, which comes out next week! Eeee, I’m so excited! No website more consistently cracks me up than Eye of the Tiber (“Breaking Catholic news so you don’t have to”), and it’s been getting funnier over the years.

Example from the latest edition:

What The Hell Kinda Name Is ‘Marcial Maciel,’ Anyway, New Study Asks

“We ask a few questions in the survey,”  the congregation’s de facto superior Cardinal Velasio de Paolis told the press. “We first ask, what the hell kinda name is ‘Marcial?’ Second, we ask what the hell kinda last name is ‘Maciel?’ Third, we ask how the apostolate can redefine their charism. And finally, we ask how in the living hell you have the last name of ‘Maciel,’ and choose to name your son ‘Marcial?’” Experts say that these are all imperative questions to reflect upon for the new leadership.

Oh, my gosh. Don’t you feel better about eleven different things now?  And I’m not gonna lie, I was already a fan of EOTT before they came out with “Newspaper Fires Staff Writers Amid Allegations They Had Opinions, ” but now I’m a superfan.

So HOW, you ask, can you hear this fabulous podcast with the fabulous S.C. Naoum, who’s recently released his first book? C’est so easy. You simply become a patron of this blog through Patreon. You can pledge any amount a month, even a dollar, and I’ll send you a private link to my weekly podcast. There are also other, ridiculous perks you can earn in return for pledges at various amounts. I’ve been doing the podcast with my very patient husband, but I’ll be adding in more guests as I find my feet in this new medium.

This blog is entirely independent, which means that nobody tells me what to say or what not to say . . . and nobody writes me a check, either. I’d love to keep this site uncluttered and ad-free with the help of readers. Please do consider pledging. A dollar a month is wonderful. Two or three dollars is wonderful. Five is excellent. Ten is stupendous. And so on!

Yesterday’s podcast, creatively titled “Podcast #3,” included absolutely zero mentions of YELLOW JOURNALISM (except for the part where we pledged not to talk about it), but we did discuss parthenogenesis and whether or not the alternative would make Jesus His own grandpaw; whether or not a new model of the causes of addiction (“it’s the cage, not the rat”) seems true, based on Damien’s decade of experience as a crime reporter; which is better, the Roman Catholic Banjo Mass or eating as much lamb as possible at the Greek Orthodox festival; and the opposite of Ernest Borgnine. I also attempt to class up the joint by reading “Marginalia” by Richard Wilbur, with some help from Corrie, even though I TOLD them to keep her out.

Any questions for S.C. Naoum? Post ’em here, and I’ll see if I can work them into the interview. Remember, you can pledge as little as a dollar a month to get access to the weekly podcast.