posts tagged with 'food'

my favorite food (this month)

The best thing about August is tomatoes. We have about 20 tomato plants in our garden, between the regular ones and the cherries and the paste tomatoes, but the ones that really matter to me are the three Pruden's Purple plants. Because those big beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for the best food, the tomato sandwich.

a tomato sandwich

perfection

Sometimes people use a slice or two of tomato on a sandwich to add a little extra flavor or, you know, as decoration; occasionally tomato even makes it to co-headline status like in a BLT. But that's just because those folks haven't experienced the delight of a freshly picked Pruden's Purple (or Brandywine, or...) tomato, sliced thickly, on toast with plenty of mayonaise and a little salt. Yum. I confess this isn't my favorite time of year, what with the mold and rot and general decay that pervades the world. But the tomatoes make it worth living through.

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foraging in the garden

It's starting to look like garden season around here. The office—the warmest spot in the house—is filling up with seedlings, the raspberries and blueberries are leafing out, and the kids' breath is heavily scented by chives and spring onions. But besides those alliums there's not a whole lot to eat out of the garden yet. But it's not nothing! I didn't pull the kale stalks in the fall (which the rabbits really appreciated, feeding on the insect-riddled leaves we left all winter long) and now the hard-working plants are putting out new bunches of leaves. And the paths between the beds, where I didn't cultivate in the fall, are popping up with volunteer arugula plants in between the weeds. Between those two things there were enough greens to make a little salad last night. Only, it was maybe a bit too little: Zion ate it all up himself. No worries: Harvey doesn't care for vinegar (balsamic is the only dressing for a baby kale and arugula salad!), and Elijah had a leaf or two which was all he wanted. As for me, I'll just keep on doing what I have been the last few days and browse straight off the plants!

it's Passover!

On Saturday, the first thing Elijah said after he got out of bed was, "It's Passover!" He wasn't the only one to be excited: I jumped right into the spirit of the holiday with a breakfast of scrambled eggs and matzo with jam. Then Harvey told us both that, actually Passover didn't start til Saturday at sundown. Oh yeah. Well, that's alright: it's a longish holiday anyhow, so an extra day probably won't signify.

We're not Jewish (that might jeopardize our careers in the Christian writing and pastoring field). But we all think that Passover is an important holiday to observe. As Leah says, it's the only holiday commanded in the Bible! Plus there's all the good food. Last year we did a Zoom seder with Leah's parents—our first experience of Zoom holiday celebrations. But they weren't feeling it this year, so we were on our own. Which means there were no haggadahs or anything, and also that our meal on the first night of Passover took 20 minutes rather than an hour and a half (if you think that's short, it's at least twice as long as our usual dinner times). Leah made all the food: haroset, eggs, and matzo ball soup; plus chocolate caramel matzo for dessert. It was a delightful, relaxed way to observe the holiday.

the boys sitting down to the Passover table

festive meal

talking turkey

Meal planning this week continues to be complicated—or maybe simplified?—by all the Thanksgiving leftovers. There's way more than usual: we cooked a whole turkey for the five of us, and we also got lots more turkey from the food swap with Leah's family. Then the same with all the other stuff. Good thing we all love turkey! After the initial Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday we had turkey and everything sandwiches for lunch on Friday and another Thanksgiving dinner for supper, and pretty much the same on Saturday (though our sandwiches were much simpler, since we brought them on our picnic). Saturday I did have to make new mashed potatoes. On Sunday evening Leah made us a beautiful turkey pot pie, but even that didn't use up all the turkey (its leftovers provided Monday's lunch). Supper Monday I switched things up a bit with spaghetti and meatballs, but today the turkey was back again, seared in the skillet with cajun seasoning to go in burritos. But even that wasn't the last of it! Not that I'm complaining, mind you! As I say, we love it. I think tomorrow I'll try turkey salad sandwiches.

perilous dessert

I like cooking, but I tend to make the same things over and over again. I guess mostly I don't like reading recipes. It's not really a problem—I make at least ten different dinners, so it's not like we have the same thing every night. And the desserts I do regularly are entirely satisfactory. Still, sometimes I envy the folks who crack a new cookbooks every couple of weeks and turn out exotic treats like chocolate cheesecake or lemon bars (to name two that I've thought of trying for five or six years now...). Yesterday, I was trying to think of something delightful I could create with the ingredients I had on hand, to make it up to the kids for working all morning and being grumpy, and I settled on dream bars—a thing that I've enjoyed tremendously at parties but never made myself. It turns out they're not hard at all, even if the recipe I used (mostly; I added chocolate) wasn't entirely what I was looking for. They're still quite good, though, which leads to a problem: I don't have any trouble controlling my consumption of the desserts I make all the time, but when there's something brand new in the house... watch out! I ate a few more dream bars than I should have in the name of "tasting". Yesterday that was maybe excusable; today not so much. And yet here we are. I guess I'll have to make them again so I get used to having them around!

summer supper

Determined not to see the end of summer quite yet, we enjoyed the most summery of meals yesterday evening. Hamburgers (hot dogs for the little one who doesn't eat real food), corn, watermelon, and lots of tomatoes. The corn was not perfect—the first disappointing corn we've had from the farmers market—but the burgers, also locally sourced, more than made up for it. And of course the tomatoes only had to travel ten feet or so to get to our table on the deck. They were perfect! The grocery store watermelon was a watermelon.

Harvey chomping a big burger

chomp

For dessert we had smores, as I like to do when we have a fire going. The meat cooks so quickly and the fire is so lovely, it seems a shame not to do something with it! Especially when I haven't made anything else. This batch of smores was notable for Elijah's first unqualified success at making his own—and his second, too, because once he figured it out he went right in to making another one! His problem in the past has been with holding the marshmallow steady over the fire, where it needs to be; between heat, smoke, and boredom or distractedness he usually gives up before his marshmallow is much more than gently warmed. He doesn't actually mind raw marshmallows (ew) but they do tend to break the graham cracker when you try and squash them. There's been some shouting over that in the past, but no more! He's figured it out. It must be because he's a first grader now.

Elijah biting into his first perfect smore

bad picture, PERFECT smore

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to market, to market

We went to the Farmers Market today. It started up last week, but we forgot, so today was our exciting first trip. Of course, things are different than they were last time we were there: there's a fence around the whole thing, separate opening to enter and exit, and a one way path among the widely-spaced stalls. And you can't touch any of the produce before you buy it. Still, we were delighted to be there and to have the chance to buy real food. Most important for me was getting some ground beef: the meat from River Rock Farm is so much better than what we can get at Whole Foods or from the meat delivery box place. The vegetables were less exciting, because almost everything there we already have in great quantities from our own garden. But I still wanted to get some, to support the farmers and the market, so I spent $5 on a pint box of snap peas. I also picked up some plants, which I guess I'll find room for somewhere...

Of course, I've been shopping three or four times over the past couple months; the boys have been away from the temptations of commerce since the beginning of the lockdown and they had money for treats burning a hole in their pockets! (metaphorically speaking: they all asked me to carry their money). Their favorite bakery wasn't there, but they found someone selling homemade cookies and spent $12 between them. Totally worth it. They were good cookies, and part of a good scene. Hooray for farmers markets.

the zeal of a convert

Lijah doesn't eat very many different things. He's not picky in a traditional sense—he'll eat sweet potato, for example, or pickled garlic—but he knows what he likes and doesn't like foods that aren't on his list. Not that the list is static; that would be too easy. A couple years ago he liked his hot dogs without buns; the year after that he only wanted the bun. This week we saw a change in his diet happen.

Yesterday morning I made scrambled eggs for myself, Harvey, and Zion. When he saw them Lijah asked to try some, approved, and asked for more. Well, I wasn't going to cook more eggs so I told him he'd have to wait. Could he have some for lunch, he wanted to know? Remember, this is the child who needed separate breakfast food every time I cooked eggs for the past 18 months.

Well, you can guess what was on the breakfast menu this morning! I admit I felt some pressure as I scrambled today's eggs: what if he didn't like them this time? Would I be doomed to another year of short-order breakfast complexity? Happily, he once again approved. Of course, he also turned down the toast I made him, but I suppose you can't win em all.

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reevaluating Subway

One final brief note on last month's trip to Washington. The hardest thing for me there was finding food and water. The sink was bad in the hotel room, and the water fountains in the convention center were warm. We didn't have time to go out for lunch, and by supper time all the restaurants around the hotel were closed. It was pretty stressful. Thank goodness there was a grocery store practically connected to our hotel, but even that could only go so far; we had a fridge the size of a breadbox, and almost no surfaces on which to prepare food (to say nothing of washing up dishes!). In was in these dire straights that Subway came to our rescue.

I'll be the first to admit I've had plenty of bad things to say about Subway in the past. My feeling was that their offerings—especially their bread!—fall far short of what you could expect to find at any middling local sub shop. But we were so hungry that we thought we'd give the one on 7th St NW a try. And that was a good call! As soon as we walked in the three people behind the counter greeted us warmly, and then they waited patiently while we made our slow selection (two of my boys, amazingly, seem not to have ever ordered a sub before). And our turkey subs—one with pickles, one without—were the most delicious food I've ever tasted. Our late-night party on Saturday night, when we ate subs and Giant Food brand chocolate sandwich cookies and watched the Little League World Series, was unironically one of the highlights of the trip. And, AND, we found out later that that same Subway location also has unlimited free cold water on tap. Amazing.

So now my view of Subway has completely changed. Passing that green and yellow sign yesterday in Acton brought not revulsion but a feeling of comfort. Now I'll always have a place in my heart for the chain—and I hope I'll never have to ruin that good feeling by eating there ever again.

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new frontiers in cooking

Yesterday a friend brought over some veggies to contribute to lunch, including a big bunch of scallions—which inspired us to try making scallion pancakes! We used this recipe, roughly, and they came out great. The only issue was we started cooking at 11:30, so while we got the rest of the lunch ready by noon we did not have scallion pancakes til much later. Which was bad only because at that point everyone was stuffed with the other delicious food we had made, so for my part at least eating many pieces of scallion pancake on top of that made me feel rather unwell. They're pretty much just flour and water fried in lots of oil, so kind of heavy.

I tend to get in kind of a rut with my cooking, both because I don't want to put a lot of effort into new recipes when there's a good chance the kids won't like the results, and because I tend not to plan very far ahead (like with the pancakes, see). It's not the end of the world—we have more than seven recipes we know we like, so we're not getting the same thing more than once a week unless we do it on purpose—but on the other hand I don't want to miss all the other good things the world might have to offer in the culinary line.

Not quite at the same level, but this evening I made a potato-and-cheese omelet for supper. That was a new one too. Me and Harvey enjoyed it; Lijah liked the bread and the roasted cauliflower, and Zion liked the bread. In his defense, it was just about right out of the oven, so while in no way ground-breaking it was certainly good. Not everything has to be new and exciting.

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