The big story around here this week is that I went camping, overnight, with Henry and George and lived to tell the tale. I’d had the urge to go camping for months- neither kid had ever been and I was aching to be off grid under a sky full of stars. When we got out there the boys sat on a picnic table and ate Doritos while I very slowly put up the tent. The first step was hammering in the pins to hold the tent down and I realized I had forgotten a hammer, and couldn’t jam them into the packed earth with just my hands. I figured I’d skip that step, maybe it wasn’t even necessary, but then when all the other steps were finally done the tent was undeniably wonky. That’s when I remembered that rocks exist and could be used like a hammer. I am a god among men. Once the tent was up we hiked to the top of Enchanted Rock, which is only 0.6 miles but steep at times. Henry thrilled in climbing over the boulders that dotted the trail and running far ahead of me. George managed all but the steepest parts of the climb and seemed to really enjoy himself too. We sat at the top and watched a little bird run around a puddle on its long stick legs and saw the sun get low in the sky. On the way down we passed some grandparent-types who fawned over Henry for being a good hiker and clucked their tongues at me for going camping without my husband. We saw an almost-full moon behind purple and pink clouds and the alignment of Venus and Jupiter. It was perfect. Here’s what we ate this week.
Sungold and Purple Basil Bruschetta, Sauteed Zucchini with Mint and Basil, Crispy Smashed Red Potatoes, Potstickers. The blue ribbon in this dinner goes to the crispy red potatoes. You boil them whole until they’re just tender, then gently smash them with something big and flat and then pan fry them in hot oil until they’re deeply brown and crispy. Before this recipe I had no love in my heart for red potatoes, thinking yukon golds surpassed them in every way, but now I can’t get enough. These guys are outrageously crunchy on the outside and so soft on the inside, almost like mashed potatoes. If you’ve got some leftover, reheat them in a pan with some breakfast sausage and fold the lot into a flour tortilla with some cheese and salsa for a glorious breakfast taco.
Chicken Tinga Tacos. This is my friend Nancy’s recipe and it rocks. The chicken is so tender. The sauce is complex and flavorful even after omitting all the spicy chiles so the kids could eat it too. And all you have to do is throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and be on your way.
Chicken Tinga Quesadillas a la Taco Bell. Andy dinner comin’ atcha. When we stopped off at Buc-ee’s last week we had debated stopping at Taco Bell instead, which was a hot spot for me and Andy back in the day, but which I haven’t eaten at in several years. Andy’s standard order there is the chicken quesadilla, which he lovingly describes as greasy, creamy, and cheesy. Not stopping there left a plastic sleeve-wrapped quesadilla-sized hole in his heart. The leftover shredded chicken tinga, monterrey jack cheese, and a spicy cream sauce (sour cream mixed with Yellowbird hot sauce) in a griddled tortilla was no Taco Bell, but was close enough to scratch Andy where he itched. My words, not his. I’m sure he’d think those words are gross.
Pad See Ew and Tom Kha. More of that tom kha I’m obsessed with- it takes 8 minutes to make, you guys. I made a mockery of the noodle recipe, which calls for both light soy sauce and dark soy sauce (who needs that, I thought? Light + dark equals the bottle of regular ole tamari that’s already in my fridge). Chinese broccoli? Nope. Chicken/pork/beef/tofu? Nope. Turns out you can’t make all these substitutions without the end result tasting like a watered down version of the real thing. Recipe following 101, y’all. I’m one of those millions of internet assholes who substitutes the life out of a recipe and then isn’t satisfied with the results. Imma try again when I can get my hands on eight types of soy sauce.
Baba Ganoush, Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad, Pita Chips. I cut Phoenicia pita bread into wedges, peel the two layers apart, and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and crisp them on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 8 minutes. We dipped the chips into baba ganoush, a weirdo mushy eggplant dip that I like very much. Apparently there’s some debate about whether or not to include tahini, but it’s an obvious yes to me. I like it to taste like a sort of eggplant hummus, with tahini, lemon, and olive oil. The salad is just the diced veg with parsley and mint, lemon juice, olive oil, crumbled feta and salt and pepper. I don’t have anything interesting to say about it, but it is tangentially related to the terrifying mutant cucumber we grew in the garden (instagram pic of monster cucumber). Overlooked for weeks, when we finally uncovered the beast Henry ran screaming from it. We weren’t brave enough to cut into it- I threw it in the compost. Do people eat these things?
Peach, Strawberry, and Blueberry Pies. For the fourth of July, we spent nearly 4 hours in a swimming pool and then ate bacon cheddar burgers on glazed donut “buns” like the American heros we are. It was spectacular. These pies were a hit- they were basically this pie, with substitutions for the fruit.
Next week we’re heading to Vancouver, BC for our annual National Puzzlers’ League convention, which is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. We’ll be there for a week. When I come back I’ll share a belated post about the stuff we ate while we were there. I’m crazy excited. A talented food52er, Cooking in Victoria, shared tons of brilliant ideas with me. It’s berry season and I’m hoping to sample berries I’ve never had before: tay berries and marion berries. There’s a fabulous market and food hall with tons of artisan vendors- Terra Breads where I’ve gotta try the fig and anise bread, chocolates, cheeses. And above all fabulous Chinese and Japanese food. We’re going to hit up this amazing night market– check out the picture on the home page! I’m all a twitter at the thought of all the wacky Asian snacks we get to eat. Until next week!