What if I were the kind of blogger who wrote her blog posts in advance and scheduled them to automatically publish each Monday morning? I had half-convinced myself I could do it- write the whole thing up and then share it breezily on my facebook page from a lounge chair under a beach umbrella. Turns out I couldn’t do it. Also I didn’t sit on a lounge chair under a beach umbrella. I made another 56 cookies instead, and then a bonus batch of road trip muffins too. So now I’ve got 16 food items to share with you, and next week I’ll have round-abouts five.
So this week! We ate a lot of stuff, mostly unhealthy. Top prize in that category went to an impromptu dinner at Gattitown, which came after blowing off a planned dinner (a high-class spinach and date salad with sumac-dusted pita croutons and roasted sweet potato cakes) after a too-long day. Gattitown is like Chuck-E-Cheese, with no rats (animatronic or (hopefully?) otherwise) and marginally better pizza. Oh, and it’s all-you-can-eat 😐 They’ve got a pizza there that’s pepperoni and pickled jalapenos and I confess to liking it very much. They’ve also got chocolate pudding in the salad bar, which is a clear winner. We don’t go for the food though, we go for the games, because Henry’s face lights up like something that lights up and looks happy when we walk, nay, run, into the arcade section. His favorite is a bowling game, with shot put-sized balls that you roll down real-ish lanes to knock down pins on strings. His second favorite is a frog-themed carnival ride thing that lifts you up in the air and bounces you up and down gently for a minute before lowering you back down. George loves the racing games where he can sit and move a steering wheel and not reach the pedals and cheating at the bowling game. It’s honestly a complete joy to go there with them.
And! And! We spent Labor Day weekend at the beach in Rockport with two of our dearest friends, Molly and Dustin, and had so much fun. We stayed at Laguna Reef, which was a happy little spot that had two-bedroom suites with a living room and dining room and a full kitchen, which meant we could cook our own meals in lieu of eating fried seafood the whole weekend, not that that would’ve been a bad way to do it. This place had a pool, so our kids got to enjoy their very favorite night-time swimming, and had a private dock which George enjoyed running down at terrifying speeds, and which we later fished off of. Henry and Andy caught two little perch with a $10 walmart fishing pole and a sack of icy shrimp bodies. Henry thought the whole thing was delightful and loved watching the fish flop back into the water. George hated, hated it, and the fish. So we hung out on the beach instead and he collected seashells. Molly and Dustin entertained the kids nearly one-hundred percent of the time, and let them do shit that Andy and I have long since lost the energy for- mud fights in the ocean with Dustin, hour-long games of hide and seek way after bedtime with Molly. The kids were sad to leave and I was too- it was so great. I hope it can become an annual thing! Anyway, here’s what it all looked like. Minus my five slices of jalapeno-pepperoni pizza and bonus plate of chocolate pudding, which I chose not to document.
Ginger-Marinated Bulgogi-Style Chicken, Grilled Summer Squash with Ssamjang Sauce. Back before everything became pizza and sugar-treats, we ate a lean chicken breast and grilled squash for dinner! And, you guys, they were both awesome. This was the best chicken breast marinade of all time. Make it do it now. Also, buy some ssamjang if you can get your hands on it. It’s like gochujang, that korean pepper paste that you squeeze on bibimbap, with the addition of fermented beans. Fermented beans! It tastes delicious. I mixed some with a splash of oil and vinegar and brushed it on the grilled squash and I loved it. I wish I knew more Korean words to mix into my writing because they seem to really liven things up.
Ultra-Smashed Cheeseburgers, Regular and Ron Swanson-Style. Andy graciously let me carry away his plate to photograph alongside mine because I loved the juxtaposition. Andy and I are opposites in almost every way. I think our brains are also the opposite of our preferred burgers. Andy’s got neurons firing every which way, solving complex math problems and logic-ing out computer programs and mine is whistling softly, thinking about jalapeno pepperoni pizzas.
Sausage and Egg Breakfast Tacos. You know, it’s some sausage and egg on a tortilla.
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches on Cheddar Scallion Buttermilk Biscuits. Did you like that last one? I said, I’ll just write “it’s sausage and egg on a tortilla” and everyone will laugh and laugh! Oh me! I used the rest of the sausage from the package to make patties for these sandwiches, which were made with biscuits frozen from a previous week’s leftovers. They were good, really good, but also really rich. You could’ve guessed that though, right? Still, I have to write something here, so I wrote that.
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. I will never stop sharing pictures of beatty’s chocolate cake because it is my cake soulmate and I love it with my full heart. Listen to this you guys. One batch of this is enough to make 24 cupcakes AND a full eight-inch round cake. That means you get to take a ton of cupcakes to a playdate and still have your very own cake to come home to! Also, this icing is a thing you should try. It was decidedly not as fluffy as the picture, but the taste is just what you want from a vanilla frosting. I only had enough for a thin smear on this round cake after letting kids decorate the 24 cupcakes, but it was actually pretty great that way.
Spanikopita-ish Pie, Butternut Squash Wedges. I did weird things to this recipe, replacements all over the place- aging chard and kale blanched and drained instead of the spinach, feta instead of gouda, and I only had one piece of puff pastry so I just put it on top. Everything came out a weird greyish color- from the cast iron? I have no idea. It tasted pretty good though. The butternut wedges were tossed in coconut oil and minced garlic and kosher salt and were so great. Penis. I’ve been wondering if people skip over the paragraphs when I straight talk about how I cooked something, so this is a little test. Except it’s maybe a bad one because maybe you do skip over those paragraphs but your eyes are magnetically drawn to the word penis, so you read this paragraph when you normally wouldn’t have. I should add another line here that doesn’t say the p word so those two p-words are buried in the meat of this paragraph and are therefore more likely to be scanned-over by the casual reader. This is real. This is science.
Peach and Plum Crisp, Whipped Cream. This recipe will be helpful to exactly no one, but what the hell, let’s discuss it anyway! Andy got a wild hair to make mai tais on our beach vacation, and researched recipes for them. They’ve got one screwball ingredient- orgeat, pronounced OR-jah- which is almondy and orange-blossomy and is supposed to be only barely detectable in the finished drink. You can buy a full liter of the stuff for eight bucks, but we didn’t want a jug of that sitting around, so Andy made his own. He chopped, toasted and pulverized almonds and soaked them overnight in simple syrup. Then strained that through cheesecloth and mixed it with a couple other things, including orange blossom water. Side note: that stuff smells like industrial solvent. In a bad way. Anyway, more on the mai tais below, but I’m mentioning all this here because a byproduct of the orgeat was a heap of finely chopped, syrupy almond bits that I didn’t want to throw away. So I mixed them with oats and butter and flour and a little more sugar and put that on top of a slew of aging peaches and plums. The resulting crisp was super crunchy, with a nubby texture like un-milked grapenuts and tasted real good. Are you better for knowing this? Or are you reading this, four years from this date, after making your very own homemade orgeat and idly googling “uses for orgeat byproducts”? If so, please, let’s be friends.
Pita Bread Pizzas. I’m a woman obsessed. We made these to satisfy George’s lunchtime pizza craving, and I can’t stop thinking about them. I preheated the oven to 350 and put two thin Phoenicia pita rounds on a baking sheet. The kids spooned crushed tomatoes on them, sprinkled them with low-moisture mozzarella, and I drizzled them with olive oil and salt. We gave ’em about five minutes in the oven to stiffen up, and then I broiled the tops to get the cheese nice and bubbly. They are a little floppy but taste like the greasy takeout pizza of your dreams. Do you roll your eyes whenever my kids fingers are in the shot? I can’t help including it- I think their big pancake hands are adorable.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. How many weeks in a row will my post include a massive pile of cookies? There’s a possibility that this might be week four of my late-summer cookie bender. I really have to reign things in. I made these for the beach and we snacked on them on the way down there and still had some left for the way back. There are even a few stale, large-ish crumbs in a greasy chocolate-smeared ziploc bag on the counter next to me right now (five days later) because I’m not ready to say that I wouldn’t eat them. In an effort to not eat more cookies, or what’s left of them, after dinner tonight I put a dollop of peanut butter and a sprinkle of sea salt on top of a square of dark chocolate. Then I ate three more. I felt pretty good about my healthy choices.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins. I felt like I was in a muffin rut. I’ve been alternating banana muffins and carrot muffins and I’m a little sick of both. But I wanted to bring muffins to the beach, so I looked to my facebook friends for recommendations and was richly rewarded for my diligent muffin crowd-sourcing! Here’s the list of muffin recipes that folks recommended. I’m going to cook my way through the list, in order, and see what my favorites are.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins – so easy! rich and tender, lovely flavor, best the day you make ’em.
These Lemon Muffins – next up!
Ginger Muffins – no link, cuz this recipe was typed up, and I’ll share it when the times comes
Apple Muffins – another hand-typed recipe without a link, to be shared later!
King Arthur Basic Muffins – mmm basic muffins
Scrambled Egg Muffins – come for the delicious muffins, stay for the bat-shit crazy commenters!
Blueberry-Lemon Bread Pudding Muffins with Crumb Topping and Lemon Glaze – bread pudding muffins, you guys! ending the great muffin experiment with a bang.
Barbecue from City Market in Luling. Our drive down to the beach took us through barbecue country. We stopped in Luling, which is charming except for the stench of crude oil which hangs over the city like an oppressive, filthy blanket, and stood in line for 40 minutes for this pile of meats. I think I like the barbecue in Lockhart better- the sausage here was rad, but the brisket was uneven- the fatty parts were great, the leaner parts were dry and chewy. We loved the sides though, and I loved that you could buy a block of sweaty, room-temperature mild cheddar to eat with your ‘cue.
Boiled Stuff on a Table from The Boiling Pot in Rockport. Piss-poor documentation for a really fun and delicious dinner. We ate super late after swimming in the hotel pool and splashing in the ocean outside our hotel on our first night, so I lost the light. This pile o’ stuff has spicy crawfish, crab, shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes. We all got our own cups of melted butter and there’s no way to not enjoy a meal with a cup of melted butter by your side. It turns out Henry loves shrimp, which I never cook because I feel like it’s weirdly squeaky in my teeth, but mayhaps I’ll try to now that I know he loves it.
Chilaquiles with a Fried Egg. Our first breakfast at the beach! The recipe is for vegan chilaquiles but I cooked these in bacon grease because I am a rebel; dangerous and black-hearted.
Low-Maintenance Fish Tacos, Mexican Rice, Beans, Mai Tais with Homemade Orgeat. We planned to eat fish tacos with fish the kids had caught, but then it got to be after five and we didn’t have any fishing rods. So we went to a little fish shop around the corner and bought some red snapper. It tasted real fine with the pico de gallo, but I think Andy’s mai tais were the clear stars of the meal. Citrusy, spicy from the rum, with just a smack of toasted almond. It’s a cool drink.
All the Breakfast Meats, Bacon-Grease Scrambled Eggs, Toast and Jam. A farewell to the beach with $30 worth of eggs, bacon, and sausage. It was such a great trip. I’m bummed it’s over but I don’t have the same ennui I had after our Vancouver expedition because there’s so much good stuff coming up, principally: George is turning two on Friday! He’s an undeniable delight and I can’t wait to celebrate him. Happy week to you! Penis.