I got hit in the face with a corn dog yesterday. Not in an accidental, “Oops! Sorry about waving my corn dog near your face!” way. In an exhausted angry five year old using a corn dog as a weapon and bashing it repeatedly into my chin way. I had to struggle with him to wrest it from his grasp. The whole incident was just so depressing. I later ate this corn dog. I sat down to write this blog post, after getting the kids off to bed early, and just stared pitifully at the screen. It was such a lousy, exhausting day. Henry had several meltdowns that I didn’t handle well and I felt guilty and sad. I had nothing clever or interesting to say about a slice of frittata and a pile of unadorned kale sitting on a plate. So I gave up and Andy and I lay on the floor for a long time and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack and I felt a lot better. And today was a lot better too. George was in the shit, instead of Henry, but his meltdowns are a hell of a lot easier to deal with. Time marches on! Here’s what we ate this week.
Pesto Frittata with Kale Salad. Hamilton and Andy-time may have lifted my spirits, but they failed to inspire me to have anything interesting to say about this boring frittata and some salad. I stirred a bunch of pesto into eggs mixed with leftover broccoli and sundried tomatoes. Who cares!
We went to Little Unschoolers in the morning, at our friend Karen’s beautiful home in south Austin. I covet her chicken run. It’s made out of thick cedar branches and has a beautiful arched entry way. Andy and I threw our fence together with recycled chicken wire and semi-rotten bamboo poles and it looks even more ramshackle than you would imagine something built with those materials would. Anyway, her house is less than five minutes from Gattitown, so Helen and I said fuck it and went there for a late lunch. I ate a pile of pizza and a lot of salad bar chocolate pudding. And Henry achieved a milestone he has been waiting more than two years for- he is 44 inches and officially tall enough to ride the bumper cars. He was so serious about the whole thing- he didn’t smile once the whole time he was learning to manuever his car and bumping into mine. I honestly think he viewed it as a “with great privilege comes great responsibility” situation.
I got to leave the kids with my mother in law and Andy and go make pies with my friends! Eep! Barbara, Abbie, Molly, Helen (and Phinnie!) and I all gathered in Barbara’s home to make pie and talk about lady parts. It was so much fun. The gathering was ostensibly called so I could show Barbara how I make a big fat flaky pie crust, but I rushed through it and I don’t think I successfully showed anyone anything. And I was talking too much and let the dough get way too soft, so it stuck to my fingers when I was crimping it, which led to a pretty ragged finished product. Molly did capture these pictures of the top of the pie being latticed, though. Thanks, Molly! We all peeled the peaches, and then cut them up and tossed them with a little white sugar and a little brown sugar and ginger and penzey’s pie spice and cornstarch and outrageous amounts of lemon zest and juice. It was extraordinarily delicious, even if we did end up including a peach pit in the finished product. Molly has luck for the next year, we supposed, like you do when you get the plastic baby in your slice of king cake.
Peach Pie. Fresh out of the oven the juices bubble madly, but they thicken up as the pie cools. We ate huge hot slices though, so it was deliciously messy. We used this crust recipe, minus the vinegar and plus two tablespoons of sugar, and mostly made up the filling recipe, using one tablespoon of cornstarch for each pound of cut fruit and a modest amount of sugar as outlined in this recipe, and topped it with egg wash and a lot of turbinado sugar.
Quiche with Red Onion Cheddar, Mushrooms, Leeks, and Tons of Herbs. We wanted to make a savory pie too, so we all brought stuff to throw into an impromptu quiche. Turns out we all love cheese- we had 5 kinds to choose from- and only Molly brought vegetable matter- leeks and herbs from her garden. Barbara found some mushrooms in her fridge, so we cooked those with the leeks and a lot of sage, and then piled that into a prebaked crust that had been filled, to my complete horror, halfway up with grated cheese. We had decided to use the two novelty cheeses Abbie brought- a mustard seed cheese and a red onion cheddar, both of which tasted incredible on their own. Helen grated a big bowl of the stuff and I dutifully spread it over the crust, questioning myself with each mounting handful. We poured the egg mixture (6 eggs beaten with tons of parsley and 10 ounces of whole milk) on top and baked the thing for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. This thing was incredible! Light years better than my standard quiche. The huge amount of grated cheese had mixed completely with the egg and together they made something light and rich and souffle-like. I’m dying to make it again. I’ve gotta track down that red onion cheese. I’m going to have a hard time not filling every quiche shell halfway up with cheese from now on.
Bolillos. Fun fact: bolillo is Spanish for puffy vagina.
Molletes with Black Refried Beans and Soyrizo. I didn’t have avocado or the Valentina’s hot sauce Amanda uses, but these were so delicious anyway. I want to eat molletes every day. If you want to buy soyrizo and live near an HEB, skip the fancy stuff in the produce section (Frida’s- it’s weird and dry and pasty) and head to the real chorizo section instead, where you’ll see a tube of Cacique-brand soy chorizo nestled among the porky ones. It’s good and greasy and crumbles like the real stuff.
Sweet Potato Noodles with Pesto. I saw a mesmerizing video of a sweet potato being spiralized and wanted to try it, so Henry and I made this for lunch. We overcooked the spoodles, as I assume they’re called because people are horrible, and nobody liked them. I ended up boiling some regular noodles instead.
Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos with Black Beans and Avocado. Henry and I got to go on a date to the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society meeting. A neighbor of ours has been a member since 1975 and has been encouraging us to go. I thought it was worth a shot, because Henry was really into cacti and succulents a while ago (he had a cactus-themed third birthday party and used his birthday money to buy a cholla and a bunny ears cactus), and because we were told there would be free snacks. And oh, were there! Henry and I had eaten a bunch of these coconut-lime pork tacos before we left, so I didn’t eat the snacks, but Henry loaded up. He picked out tortilla chips, popcorn, crackers, a small piece of pink nougat, and raspberry-coated almonds. There were three huge platters of sliced bundt cakes- a chocolate one with a strawberry slice on each piece, an orange one with a mandarin orange wedge on each piece, and a strawberry one with more strawberries on top. I thought that was adorable, but Henry wanted no part in it. Some old guy looked at Henry carefully serving himself the food from the buffet and laughed awkwardly and said to me “He just gets to pick whatever he wants?” In my head I thought, doesn’t everyone? But I just laughed a little and smiled in reply. I don’t know what that guy was thinking about. Maybe he thought it was cute that Henry was serving himself food, as if this was a novel skill for a five year old, like a puppy standing on its hind legs? Or maybe he thought it was inappropriate that I let Henry pick out what he wanted and serve himself? I have no idea. We sat down and he happily ate his snacks, swinging his legs in the big chair while we waited for the meeting to start. And then it did. A botanist from Tucson had come to deliver a 200+ slide presentation on the agaves of Northern Mexico. Henry made it through the agaves of Sonora, but by the time we got to the next state, Chihuahua, he was getting real fidgety. He said he had to go pee and I asked him if he’d like to just leave after he went to the bathroom, and he said yes. On the walk back to the car:
Me: “So I guess you weren’t that interested in this meeting?”
Henry: “I just got tired of looking at all those pictures of cactus.”
Me: “Those were agaves!”
We laughed and drove home.
Challah and Hamburger Buns. The boys and I spent the morning driving out to Pflugerville to go to an estate sale which included over 2300 bolts (bolts!) of fabric- the lady who died owned a quilt shop. It took forever to get there, and I accidentally got on a toll road, like a sucker, and when we finally made it, the line to get into the house went down the driveway and past the next house. We stood in line for about 10 minutes and it didn’t move. Henry kept sidling up awkwardly close to the lady standing in front of us, and I had to keep asking him to back up. So we left, boo. All those precious bolts of fabric! We drove to IKEA, where I had planned to go anyway to buy a birthday present for my sister Joanna. We headed straight for the cafeteria and Henry and I both ordered the meatball plate. Yes, I know it’s horse meat. They’re so tender! And I love that lingonberry jam. Henry’s kid’s plate came with five meatballs. I looked up after eating my first one and saw that he had just finished his last one. I sadly tipped five of mine onto his plate, and he swallowed those immediately too, so I gave him the rest of mine and just ate his and my mashed potatoes for lunch. And then we spent 14 hours in the curtain section, where I debated buying the safe choice- grey linen curtains, already sewn and ready to go, or the amazing choice- a splashy hot pink and white fabric festooned with huge bright green broccoli florets which I could sew into curtains. After much soul-searching, while the children took turns pushing each other in the cart, I picked the grey ones. George fell in love with the picture of the $1 IKEA cinnamon rolls when we checked out, so I bought him one. This was a huge mistake. Instead of sleeping on the way home as I’d hoped he would, he licked all the frosting off of the cinnamon roll, got all hopped up on sugar, and screamed because we were stuck in traffic for an hour. And then I didn’t even get to eat the remains of his slobbery cinnamon roll because Henry got to it first. Saddest.
I had a million things to cook when we got home. I did a bad job on this challah. I didn’t let it rise long enough and it was dense and small. My fault. I’ll try again.
Coconut Macaroons. The challah called for three egg yolks, so I made macaroons with the leftover whites. These are great, but I think we’re all sick of them. I brought some to my enneagram class that night and left a few at home for the boys, where they sat in their tupperware, mostly untouched, until I fed them to the chickens today.
Fennel with Olives and Capers. My friend Carla had made this recipe from Plenty More and raved about it. She had to track down a big bottle of verjus for the recipe, which tastes like tart grape juice, so she gave me a jar full so I could make the recipe too. When I saw that it called for both olives and capers, two of Andy’s very least favorite foods, I knew I would be the only one who would eat it at my house. I took it to enneagram instead, along with some leftover focaccia, and everyone liked it very much.
Pineapple, Greens, and Tofu with Roasted Chile-Coconut Dressing. I am filled with pride when I get to show you a big green salad that we ate for dinner. But usually eating them leaves me feeling bored and hungry. That is mostly not true with this salad, which is filled with all sorts of exciting things that can keep you interested for much longer than your regular run-of-the-mill salad. Basil, cilantro, mint, scallions, and shredded cabbage are tossed in with the greens. Tofu, pineapple, and salty cashews or peanuts are piled on top, and the dressing finishes the thing off spectacularly- it’s like a salty, spicy, garlicky, lime-y coconut caramel. These are all good things.
The very best thing that happened last weekend, though, was Andy’s and my first trip to the bingo hall down the street from us, where we got to celebrate Joanna’s birthday. Oh I loved it! It smells like smoke- people are still allowed to smoke indoors there! But we got to sit in a non-smoking room, which still smelled, but in a stale sort of way that made me nostalgic for the San Marcos skating rink we used to go to in high school. And it’s so complicated! The games move quickly and are all different with weird rules and fun gimmicks. And you get to use a paint dabber to mark your spots! And they have a snack bar with a mile-long menu filled with mostly fried and meat-stuffed or -topped items that is truly the stuff of dreams. I very much like the idea of having a weekly bingo night.
I know I’ll miss having little kids when Henry and George are older and able to function more or less like normal people, but things like the prospect of a weekly bingo night with Andy and not getting a corn dog to the face will surely ease that ache. See you next week, friends.