Wiener Wraps, Butterscotch Blondies, and Bloodied Pancakes

Before kids, I used to go to yoga once a week with my friend Molly. Our favorite instructor was Dean, a chiseled older fellow who had a lot of pithy sayings, my favorite of which was “If it’s not one thing it’s your mother.” After Henry was born, Molly and I would still find time to go every couple of weeks, but I haven’t been back since George was born. I’m not a person who values physical fitness. I couldn’t run around the block without becoming red-faced, hot, and wheezy. And that doesn’t really bother me. But lately, I’ve had the weirdest urges, cravings almost, to be able to go from lying on the floor into a handstand in one swift motion. I want to be able to move like a break dancer. Isn’t that weird? Where did this come from? I don’t know how you get strong enough to do the things my body wants to do, but I figured I’d try to start by doing yoga at home everyday. When you search youtube for ‘yoga’ you get Yoga with Adriene, who seems to have the market cornered. And she’s good! She’s like Jennifer Garner meets Rachael Ray, without the husky smoker’s voice. She’s silly with a big toothy smile and she makes lame RR-style jokes (she says Hey-O in an obnoxious way). Anyway, she gets the job done. She has a 30 day yoga challenge, and I don’t want to brag, but I’ve done three days, almost in a row, and watched the intro video too. So this obviously isn’t just another one of my fleeting fancies, if that’s what you were thinking! You don’t know me! Here’s what we ate this week.

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Okonomiyaki. Do I look like a Top Chef wanna be with that sour cream swipe? You can tell me. I’m throwing in the towel on trying to pipe the sauce over the top of the things like the pros do, because it makes me look like a goddamned loser. This was last Monday, the day I got hit in the face with a corn dog. The day actually improved after that. I was furious, but once we got home, the kids just wanted me to read to them. We ended up reading over 1000 pages in the few hours before dinner- we added it up- including a little kid chapter book I remembered loving when I was a kid called The Chocolate Touch. It’s a play on the King Midas story, but instead of turning everything to gold, this kid turns everything he touches into chocolate. That’s probably obvious, huh? I loved reading about him eating a whole tube of toothpaste that tasted like rich chocolate mousse and drinking thin watery chocolate from the water fountain. I love food.

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Challah with Bevi‘s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. Bevi is a talented food52er who will be in Austin this week! We’re going to get together and eat a lot of peaches while she’s here. In the meantime, she sent the Austin food52 crew jars of her homemade jam. I hit the jackpot with this strawberry rhubarb number. It is deliciously tart and shines like rubies. I’m eating it on toast and in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the daily.

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Potato, Kale, and Sausage Casserole. That link doesn’t take you to a recipe, just to a prettier picture of the casserole. The recipe is in Taproot magazine, which is everything I aspire to be, minus a break dancer, in one lovely package. I know this is super wintery, and doesn’t make any sense for dinner on a 90 degree day, but we had all the stuff for it on hand and I wanted it. I ended up way undercooking the potatoes and we had to put the casserole back in the oven for a long time, and then the whole thing got overcooked and lost all of its appeal. Boo.

We got to spend the morning swimming at our friend Abbie’s house. Abbie has a heated pool surrounded by a lush, colorful, well kept garden. And if you need to go to the bathroom, as the kids did approximately 35 times during our visit, it won’t be filled with baby potties and dust and hair. It’s clean AF. It throws the way I live into stark relief. We are so gross. I came home and cleaned the bathrooms.

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Spicy Thai-Style Flank Steak Salad, Grilled Corn. Now here’s a bonafide summer supper. George can’t resist a raw ear of corn. Can you tell which one is his? This recipe calls for 2 pounds of flank steak, but I always get sticker shock at the meat counter. The stuff is $12 a pound! Can I really spend $24 on meat for one dinner? I bought 3/4 pound of flank steak instead and it was such a desperately sad amount of meat. Henry and George ate their allotment greedily and then searched the limp lettuce pile for stray pieces. Next time I’m just gonna do the thing the right way.

This was delicious, by the way. It’s from The Food Lab cookbook- I have a copy of my very own now after a beautifully generous friend read that I wanted it here and bought it for me. I am the luckiest. Also, I’m going to randomly mention all the other things I want here more often. Anyway, this recipe is not exactly like the one in the book- J. Kenji ditched the chives and added one small cucumber in the book version. It’s otherwise the same. I added more greens and spiralized the cucumber because it radically increases the chances of the kids eating it.

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Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream. It’s a crime to heat up your grill in the summertime and not grill peaches.

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Light and Fluffy Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Lemon Sauce. This looks like the crime scene photo of a stack of pancakes that died of head trauma. I have complete control over the menu plan and no one questions this. Sometimes I cast around for ideas though, and this week, Andy said pancakes, so I made ’em. The kids were thrilled. I also, learning from the flank steak fiasco, bought two full boxes of sausages, so we had a thrilling number of them. Henry ate 9 of the 20. The pancake recipe is also from The Food Lab. They’re the best ever. Super rich from tons of buttermilk, sour cream, and melted butter, and a little more labor intensive than other recipes because you whip egg whites and fold them into the batter, but it makes a ton and they were cooked all the way through and rich and light and fluffy, as advertised.

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Friday Night Fish and Chips at Full English. We went out to eat! With the kids, at night, like real people do. It felt novel. I love Full English. It is 5 minutes from our house and has a cozy, roughed-up vibe that puts me at ease because it doesn’t feel like the kids could destroy too many things in it. There are lots of shabby couches for lounging and a few tables for eating too. Henry walked in and said testily, “I thought we were going to eat in a restaurant, not somebody’s living room.” Sick burn, Henry. The fish and chips are on point. They also sell a battered and fried banger if you philosophically object to fish and it is as weird as it sounds. We had a really fun night!

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Pool Party Fare: Hot Dog with Sauerkraut, Melon and Basil Salad, Barbecue Chips, Hippie Tortilla Chips with Guacamole, Pasta Salad, Cornbread Salad with Grilled Corn, Goat Cheese, and Peaches. We went back to Abbie’s on Saturday for a Memorial weekend cookout. We swam for hours and hours and I ate all these things! That cornbread salad was easily my favorite thing on the plate- Abbie please write down this recipe! And the kids were honestly pretty great. Henry befriended some chesty ladies, Andy got to drink a couple glasses of a peachy wine, and I pulled George and Phinnie around in a pool float for probably 45 minutes while they laughed and smiled, so I think everyone had a good time.

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Butterscotch Blondies. These blondies, you guys. They’re one of the very best things I’ve made this year, I’m sure of it. They’re outrageously buttery, crackly and sweet, with pockets of melty chocolate. They’re topped with caramel shards, which you make yourself. This might turn you off for two reasons: 1) the word shards is too much like the word sharts 2) that sounds like a hard extra step. I’m with you on the first point, but the second one doesn’t hold water. This step takes a couple minutes and is so much fun. You get to make a thin easy caramel that you then shatter into small pieces- it looks like broken beer bottles, and then you scatter about half of it onto the unbaked blondies, where they melt perfectly and add a deep dark flavor. If you’re going to try them, and I hope you do, use the linked recipe for the blondies (it has U.S. measurements) but this one for the caramel shards, which follows the instructions in the cookbook where you make a caramel with water and sugar. Lebovitz changed this step for some reason and it sounds like his caramel stayed crunchy on top of the blondies, which you don’t want. Melty, soft, and oozy is the way to go, I think.

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Cheesy Beer Muffins. Andy’s new boss hosted an ice cream social on Sunday, and I wanted to bring a snack to share but had no idea what to pair with ice cream. That morning, I finally settled on an intriguing recipe called “wiener wraps” from Make the Bread, Buy the Butterwent out and bought the ingredients, came home and found that I had no where near the four hours I needed to actually make the damn things before the party. So I cast around desperately for another idea. I randomly opened The Everyday Baker to this muffin recipe, realized I had all the ingredients on hand, and went for it. They were great. I only had Christmas beers on hand and they were super hoppy, which I hate, but it didn’t come across too much in the finished muffins.

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Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn. I also brought popcorn. I put tons of chopped rosemary in the oil when I added the popcorn kernels but you couldn’t taste it at all. Anyone have a hot tip for making popcorn actually taste like rosemary?

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Curly Kale and Curly Pasta Salad, Apricot Bites. This is a Henry dinner! He picked out the recipes from his cookbook and Andy helped him make them. They did a great job except that they had added the four kale leaves to the cooked pasta whole. I found this mystifying and pointed out that they should be chopped. This gave me a little insight into how Andy must feel every time I express interest in one of his (many) areas of expertise. What’s an IRA? Please can you explain a googolplex to me again? Do I use the word laid or layed or lied here? He’s a lot nicer than I am. Anyway, while they were cooking, I got to hang out with Phinnie while Helen and Jordan celebrated their one year anniversary. Happiness abounds! Phinnie is an undeniable delight. She’s just so. nice. She laughed joyfully as I pushed her on the swing, ate a pretzel, sat in a little box with George, went on a walk, and blew bubbles, happy and pleasant the whole time. I’m not going to write a comparison between her disposition and the boys’, but you get the picture. They’ve got their own strengths!

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Bonita Myer’s Wiener Wraps, Cheddar Scallion Rolls. I’m not going to sit idly by when I’ve got all the ingredients for wiener wraps in my possession. These are pigs in blankets! Why, oh why, would you call them wiener wraps? It doesn’t even make sense- they’re made with little sausages, not hot dogs. You make the dough by dumping flour and butter and yeast and stuff into a bowl and mixing it, then kneading it for a minute, then letting it sit for two hours. Super easy. Then you roll it out and wrap it around sausages and let it rise for another hour or two. I had lots of extra dough so I decided to top it with scallions and grated sharp cheddar and roll it up like a cinnamon roll. I brushed them with the fat leftover from cooking the sausages and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. These are both winners. The recipe’s not online but I’ll take a picture and send it to you if you needs must have wiener wraps in your life.

I had written a paragraph here lamenting how there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I’d like to do, but deleted it after I realized that I sounded like a privileged asshole. And I am one, I know, but I don’t want you to think of me as such. Poor Arielle! Doesn’t have enough time to do yoga and read a book and write her blog post on time! These are all princess problems. I’m lucky to get to spend a couple hours every night doing whatever I want to now. There was a time not so long ago, when George wanted milk every fifteen minutes and I was lucky to get to leave the bedroom at all. Or before that, when I spent my evenings editing educational guides for the STAAR test. Goo. It’s so much easier to complain about what I don’t have than be grateful for what I do. I shall endeavor to do better! See you next week, friends.

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