The kids have been sickly. Not sick, really. No fever, or messy stomach issues, or anything like that. But they’ve been mildly congested and not-mildly unpleasant. Our bedtime routine has the children falling asleep on either side of me, George chew-nursing and pulling on my withered boob, Henry’s sweaty body pressed against my back. Sometimes it’s sweet, but not this weekend. This weekend I’m touched out and just want them to fall asleep for the love of God so I can get out of bed and watch Breaking Bad without a kid on my person. Last night we’d watch for 10 minutes and then George would wake up screaming and I’d go back in and nurse him, and then sneak back out and repeat the process over and over so it took two hours to get through an episode. I persevered though, because, television.
Highlights of the week: a day trip to McKinney Falls, where the kids spent literal hours throwing rocks into the big pool at the bottom of the now-trickly waterfall, lots of watergun fights in the front yard with our new, bought-on-clearance-at-Target super soakers, and three (three!) different outings where I got to spend time with other adults and no children. It really sounds like I hate my children! I don’t though. They’re great. Here’s what we ate this week.
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Cucumber Relish, Rice. I can assure you I ate four times that amount of chicken skewers. I only put those three in the picture because I didn’t oil the grill well enough and all the chicken stuck to it and tore off the skewers when I tried to flip them and I had to pry the charred pieces off the grill. But they still tasted awesome. That peanut sauce, y’all. I tasted it and then brought spoons around to Henry and George and Andy and I went back for more. I could drink the stuff like a milkshake, it was so creamy from coconut milk and ribboned with thai curry paste. Composing bites of chicken with that sauce and fresh and crisp cucumber relish was such a pleasure.
Southern Fried Chicken, Pot Roasted Mustard Greens with Bacon, Cheddar Scallion Buttermilk Biscuits. I bought one whole chicken from the farmers market, sliced off the breast meat and used it for the satay, cut up the wings and legs for this fried chicken, and used the rest of the carcass to make a small pot of stock for the tortilla soup below. Are mustard greens always disgusting? Does someone have a good recipe for them? They looked so pretty at the market but they taste like someone accidentally sprayed bug repellent in your mouth. I thought I could cook them like collards, in this pot roasted greens recipe (which is the tits when you make it with collards) but the results were horrifyingly bitter. Poor Henry actually recoiled when he tasted them and I might have done the same. Andy cleaned his plate because he is a darling fellow. George ate one small part of one biscuit. The biscuits are a new recipe, and technique for me. I think I like my old standby, the barefoot contessa biscuits, better because they’re more tender. But these are really fun because they have tons of flaky layers, built in with a special folding maneuver you do to the dough. It made a ton too- I’ve got some saved in the freezer to make sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches with this week.
Tortilla Soup with Shredded Chard, Chorizo and Chihuahua Cheese Quesadillas. Somehow my head has classified this soup as an easy recipe. It is so not. You have to chop, broil, blend, fry, soak, and simmer, and the whole thing takes way longer than I think it will every time. So late in fact that by the time I finished the kids were starving, and no amount of VSCO-camming can make the inside of that soup pot light enough for you to see what it looks like. But one taste is enough to make you swear to make it again soon. The broth is perfect and sophisticated- a chicken stock infused with blended and strained fried-then-rehydrated pasilla chiles, broiled tomato and garlic, along with browned onions. It’s just gorgeous. And the chard at the end is welcome- a novelty for me, as I’d usually prefer things to be chard-less but put it in there anyway for health reasons and nothing more. You fry your own tortilla strips (the kids polished off half my pile waiting for dinner to be ready), and then flash fry the dry chopped chiles and use them as a garnish in the soup- the taste is like nothing else.
Carrot Muffins. Eager fingers ready for a muffin. We took these to our first official Unschooler meet up- a water gun fight in someone’s backyard in North Austin. It was so much fun. This backyard was a kid paradise- a geodesic dome to climb, a playscape, a trampoline, a sand pile, an outdoor kitchen, two kiddie pools, and kids playing happily with nerf guns and water balloons while the adults chatted and watched. It made me feel like our backyard is a total wasteland- we’ve got a water table (thanks, mom!) and nothing else. It’s so dire that Henry’s fun backyard activity is literally pulling weeds. I’ve been looking at this page of outdoor play spaces and daydreaming about what we could do back there to liven things up. While spending zero dollars. Oh, and the muffins! I love them. They’re essentially carrot cake with no frosting.
Charred Fresh Corn Cakes. This is the most Emeril-looking plate I’ve ever assembled. Doesn’t it look super ’90s? I am so bad at plating. The corn cakes are lovely though, and delicious with avocado and heaps upon heaps of sour cream.
The Best Korean Barbecue You’ve Ever Tasted, Ssamjang Sauce. This recipe is supposed to be made with flanken-style short ribs. I asked my meat guy if he ever carried them and he said the butcher he uses doesn’t like to slice stuff thin because he wants to keep his fingers. Fair enough! I tried it with skirt steak instead and it was still delicious. You could put a sandal in that marinade and grill it up and it would taste pretty good though, because it has all the most delicious things on earth in it (soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, you get the drill). I planned to eat it as ssam- Korean tacos with short grain rice, wrapped in lettuce leaves, but then we thought you couldn’t taste the meat very well that way, and just ate it plain.
Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Corn Salad with Maple Lime Dressing. This sucked. I loved the look of it on this website, and the sound of all those flavors together, but when it came time to read through the recipe, I thought it was so lame. I’m not going to waste six cups of stock to partially cook one sweet potato! And you’re supposed to cook the already-cooked beans in the stock with the sweet potato at the same time? Why? And then you’re supposed to fry it all up and everything gets crispy and somehow everything doesn’t turn gray from the black bean/stock water? It doesn’t work. But the dressing is good, and simple, and a nice compliment to the salad ingredients. Next time, I’m roasting a sweet potato, charring some corn, and tossing them together with some rinsed cooked black beans and a healthy pour of the dressing.
Black Bean and Corn Salsa. It’s happened, you guys. I’ve linked to a Rachael Ray recipe. But I don’t feel too bad about it because this definitely isn’t an original recipe of hers- my mom’s been making the stuff since I was a kid. She used a can of black beans and a can of Mexi-corn (that charming little can that has flecks of green and red pepper among the kernals) and maybe jicama? And lime and cilantro and red onion, I think. Anyway, you don’t need a recipe for this. You just put all these things together with a lot of lime juice and a splash of oil (otherwise it seems too dry and chalky to me). I added a big tomato because I got a very pretty one at Wheatsville and I liked it that way.
Black Bean and Cheese Taquitos. Pour a 1/2 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet and heat it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop a corn tortilla in, quickly flip it over with tongs, and take it out of the oil and put it on a plate. Repeat with as many tortillas as you want, stacking the softened fried ones on top of each other. Now that the tortillas are softened you can put a thin line of whatever you want in the center (I did a spoonful of black beans and a sprinkle of grated chihuahua cheese) and roll them up. Place them seam-side down back into the oil, and fry them, flipping once, until they’re completely brown and crispy.
Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I shared these with you a few weeks ago, during the time when all I did was make cookies. I had to make them again because the first time I used chocolate chips instead of the chopped chocolate the recipe called for, and I really wanted to experience the cookie the way it was meant to be, with puddles of melted chocolate. Oh, you guys. They are the cure for your deepest woes, the antidote to your sharpest poisons. They are Gods among cookies. Andy didn’t eat any because they’re too chocolate-y, which is another feather in the cap of this recipe because it means I can eat that many more of them. Sorry, Andy