I’m a witch every year for Halloween. That’s not because I have an amazing witch’s costume- I don’t. I throw something together hastily, usually the day of. Though I do daydream about one day sewing myself a victorian sort of witch costume with a high collar and severe pointed shoulders and long tight sleeves and a rigid black skirt with a bustle. I want to be a witch because I really want to be a witch. I love the idea of growing crazy herbs in the garden and drying them in the sun and having jars of them lined up on a rickety shelf in the kitchen that I can use to make potions to cure headaches or indigestion or to bring luck or mend heartaches. It is, shall we say, a life goal of mine. I mention this now because I’m writing this the night of a blood moon/supermoon/lunar eclipse and it feels like it’d be a great time to be a witch. I’m still just a regular non-witch though, so I’m blogging about muffins instead of doing some sort of dark sage-scented ritual to welcome fall. Maybe next year! Here’s what we ate this week.
Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl. Looks good, huh? Crispy broccoli, tender sweet potato, a creamy sauce made with ginger and tahini and miso and all things delicious, starchy stuff at the bottom. Well I hated every bite because there were worms in the sweet potato, and even though I cut off the offending portion with an extra inch or two just to be sure, I couldn’t stop picturing them wiggling around, spilling onto the cutting board as I ate. This is not a very witchy attitude. It’s decidedly bratty and I don’t like that I’m so afraid of eating bugs but this is where we are. Sorry if I put you off trying this dish. If you are bold and brave and don’t care about tiny worms, it is truly a delicious weeknight dinner.
Kale Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing and Black Bean Flautas. On Tuesdays we go to a place called My Gym in the afternoon for Henry’s parkour class. And oh does he love it! The guy leading the class is called Coach Kurt and Henry idolizes him- last week Henry wore his new Jake and the Neverland Pirates shirt and on the way to class he said “I wonder if the Coach with like my new shirt?” and I thought (didn’t say), um, there’s no way he’s going to notice that. But then we got there and Coach Kurt said how much he liked Henry’s shirt as soon as he saw him! He’s really good with kids. Anyway, while Henry takes the class, George and I go on the other side of the building to the active play room, which has all the same equipment (bars and mats and trampolines, and things to climb) as the class room, but also has a dozen aggressive children fighting over it, while the parents recline against the walls and dick around on their cell phones. I love kids. At least, I like to think I love kids. But every week at this place there’s one or two that I can’t stand. This week it was a skinny blonde girl, with a Ramona Quimby haircut. She was 5 or 6. She ended up on the bars at the same time as George and claimed them for herself, so George moved over to a rainbow ladder thing. She followed him over there and climbed up at the same time as him. He tried to wave her away and the little punk dug her nails into his hand! I asked her to please keep her hands off of him and we moved over to the ball pit, where George played while I idly fixed a yellow ball that had been crushed. That girl must have been watching me because she came over as soon as I had tossed the yellow ball back into the pit, grabbed it, and held it up to my face and re-crushed it while laughing maniacally. To sum up, I think I have a new nemesis, and she’s six.
We stayed till the place closed and then I rushed home to start dinner. This one came together really quickly and was delicious! I think I’ve heard bad things about the blogger who posted this salad dressing (appropriating recipes that aren’t hers without credit? I made that up, I really don’t remember what, if anything she’s been accused of and it’s probably really shitty of me to type that out without knowing for sure) but it was damn delicious! So kudos to you lady, or to whomever you stole this recipe from! Oh, I’m wicked.
Apple Muffins. Did you click on the link for that terrible blogger last week? The one who wrote the blog post about crafting with felt and made her character count by typing things like, you guuuyyyyyssss, these are sooooo cuuuuuttttteeeee! Well, these muffins are so good that I had the urge to start this paragraph in the same way. I’ll resist and instead say, you guys, these muffins are really good. I ran out of cupcake liners, even though I just bought a box of 100 three weeks ago (the first step is acknowledging you have a problem), but it didn’t matter! The muffins with the liners were softer on the edges, but the ones without them acquired an almost cookie-like exterior! To paraphrase the SNL taco town skit: “cookies?! now that’s what I call a muffin!” These are simple, moist, sweet, easy, and crowd pleasing. I brought them to a pool party and they were universally adored. The batter is super thick, but don’t let that worry you. It will all turn out alright in the end. Here’s the recipe, with huge thanks to my puzzle friend Jenn for sharing it with me!
Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin tins. Combine 3 c. finely chopped apples with 1 c. white sugar, and 1 c. brown sugar. Then add 1 T cinnamon, 1 t salt, and 2 t baking soda. Mix well. Add 1 c. oil, 3 eggs, and 2 t vanilla. Then mix in 3 1/2 c. flour. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 25-30 minutes.
Butternut Squash and Cider Soup, Corn Cakes with Basil Honey Butter, Pot Roasted Collards. I wanted to make a special dinner to celebrate the autumnal equinox and this is what I settled on. The squash soup because it’s the color of autumn sunshine (can I say that without sounding ridiculous?) and I just adore it. It’s as smooth as velvet and has a lovely clean flavor. You start the soup by cooking onions and garlic in water. Which I found to be personally offensive, because what’s wrong with butter? But it really does make a beautiful soup! The corn cakes because corn is harvest-y. I had no actual (fresh) corn on hand, nor bacon, nor scallions, nor unclaimed cheddar, so I just followed the bare bones ingredients of the recipe and tossed in finely chopped red and green bell pepper. They were still delicious. All the more so with a basil honey butter on top, which was Henry’s idea, and which he pounded himself with my mortar and pestle. The collards because I wanted something green. I have blogged about them before because I tried them with mustard greens, which it turns out are disgusting. Here’s the recipe again with collards, which was aces. We celebrated the equinox by making a fire in the backyard. Henry and George loved throwing dried grass into it, which burned magnificently, though every now and then they’d throw in clump that still had some green to it, and then the fire would churn out a thick yellow smoke that smelled reminiscent of pot. Then we made up a song about acorns on your fingers and we all thought it was pretty good, and each recorded our own version in the voice memo app on my phone. If you’ll forgive me for the additional sappiness (I think comparing the soup to autumn sunshine was my first strike) there is a lovely blessing that I learned about in a book called The Creative Family that I read before dinner and wanted to share with you, because I think it’s so nice, and perfect to read at the changing of seasons:
Blessings on the blossom,
Blessings on the root,
Blessings on the leaf and stem,
Blessings on the fruit.
For the golden corn and the apples on the trees,
For the butter and the honey for our tea,
For fruits and nuts and berries that grow beside the way,
For birds and bees and flowers, we give our thanks today.
Blessings on our meal and our family.
Cheez-Its. My mom got me that cookbook I wanted for my birthday! Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. It is such a fun read. The whole thing is enjoyable, funny, and poignant. And inspiring! I want to make all the things. Henry and George helped me make these cheez its. They were easy, truly easy, and did not taste like cheez-its but were still delicious in their own way. The dough got too hot and stuck to the counter when we rolled it out, and Henry insisted on placing each one on the sheet pan so they were stretched and squished a bit, and then the boys themselves poked the holes in the center of each cracker. They didn’t end up liking the taste of them, so I mostly ate this batch myself, but I was happy to do it. Her book is set up to explore what is worth making from scratch- to save money or because it tastes a lot better, and what is not, a project that was inspired by her learning that Uncrustables were a thing. She writes about the money pit that is owning chickens, a theory I wholeheartedly endorse unless you are my mountain man brother-in-law Javi. She writes about how her food-snobbery stopped her from enjoying her mom’s semi-homemade recipes, and then how she learns to embrace the role of mass-produced stuff in connecting her to the recipes of her mom and grandma. It’s all so relatable for me and I just loved it.
Flour Tortillas. Also from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. We were out of flour tortillas, Andy’s favorite, and I was stranded without a car because mine was in the shop for a million recalls that have stacked up on it while I did nothing, but I had my new book so we made our own and it was fun and easy and I hope to not buy them anymore!
Picadillo Oaxaqueno. I bought a package of ground pork from the farmers market for no reason. I spent all week searching my favorite food sites for ground pork recipes and didn’t see anything I wanted to make, so I said to hell with it and made another ground pork taco dinner. This one is from Rick Bayless’ Authentic Mexican cookbook, and was good but too vinegar-y. For my money the coconut lime pork from last week was way better.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. I went off-book with another muffin recipe, not from my crowd-sourced list of muffins to try, but from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter again. I made these gluten free for a potluck, and they’re naturally dairy free and they’re the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever had. I am thrilled to have a recipe for them, and it’s one of those recipes that you want to make again as soon as you’ve finished off the first batch. In fact, I’m bringing them to another potluck tomorrow. I am somehow involved in a lot of pot-lucked activities. I hate to link to the recipe as typed up here- the blogger replaces all the oil with applesauce, the eggs with flaxseed, and the sugar with brown rice syrup, but it’s the only place I could find the recipe online and she at least has the decency to share what the original ingredient list contained.
Yesterday my sister Helen threw me a birthday lunch! No boys or babies allowed. It was glorious. Helen had beautiful heaps of my favorite foods, and we sat around and ate them and worked on our own craft projects and laughed. It’s such a fun feeling to have all your best friends in one place and see them enjoy each other. I’d say I was blessed if I wasn’t already dangerously into the red zone of too much sappy shit in this post. I loved every second of it.
(NB: if you find yourself in need of some chalkboard art, Helen sells it. Original and custom stuff. She does beautiful work).
I walked straight in and popped 4 of those lindt truffles in my mouth. Fun fact: my sister owns 1000 novelty cookie jars.
You will never in your life meet someone who does better things with bacon than my sister. This is her latest improvisation: bacon, cheddar, potato chip, strawberry-jalapeno jam. They were all gone within seconds. A second batch met the same fate.
She went to the Barton Creek farmers’ market to buy my very favorite breads! An olive batard and regular and poppy seed baguettes from Baguette et Chocolat. With a crock of butter, I spent a lot of time next to this bowl of bread.
Another farmers’ market find. This one, a truly artisan loaf of butternut and walnut bread. It was beautiful.
Pile o’ cheese! The goat cheese on the bread with more of that strawberry jalapeno jam was mighty fine. I also ate the shit out of that ramekin full of alouette.
Oh how I loved this! From an Indian food vendor at the farmers’ market- this is fried spinach in a chickpea flour batter, served with an Indian-style tomato sauce.
Helen slow roasted a pork shoulder overnight in a riff on our friend Abbie’s cochinita pibil recipe, and served it with pickled onions, beans, and all the fixings. It was my favorite thing at the party and that is saying something. Thank you for your love and generosity, sister of my life! I sure do love you.
French Toast. This morning I woke up to find that I had accidentally left a loaf of bread out on the counter overnight instead of freezing it, so I decided to make french toast. I opened the windows while the bread soaked up the custard because it’s starting to feel really nice and almost cool in the mornings. I set the plates, maple syrup, and butter on the table next to the gorgeous flowers Amanda and Christy brought to my birthday lunch, and moved aside the bright watercolor pictures the boys had painted the day before. Everything was feeling so lovely and serene. Then Andy walked in to find George sitting on the table, stick of butter in hand, and Henry licking the outside of the maple syrup bottle to “eat the maple candy” that had crusted around the cap. And for some reason it suddenly smelled like cat pee. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry though, huh? See you next week!