An Omani Feast, Sour Cherry Pie, and Too Much Meat

Happy Fourth of July! I made a cherry pie and ruined some baked beans and wrote a lot about chasing a chicken. Probably too much. We got to spend the holiday with family. The kids played with water balloons and ran through sprinklers and ate hot dogs dripping with ketchup and then we did fireworks and had our annual ‘party in the dark’ where the kids dance with glow sticks with the lights turned off and chant ‘party in the dark’ over and over creepily. It was the best. Here’s what we ate  this week.

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Red Chile Pork Tamales and Pupusas with Cortido. The kids and I spent the morning at Jumpoline (oh God, I accidentally typed Humpoline at first. This could be a million dollar business idea), which is a giant building filled with different kinds of trampolines. In the back, they have long runway-style trampolines with sloped hills at either end, and we ran up and down them until I was sweaty and red-faced. It’s really hard to run across a big long trampoline runway without a shit-eating grin on your face. After two hours of jumping, we walked down to the nearby Mexican grocery store and generally annoyed everyone with our loud and demanding children and failure to understand the menu. The kids seemed to really enjoy the tamales and I know they loved the melon agua fresca. The pupusas were disappointing though, especially the chicharron, which we all agreed seemed more like canned tuna than pork skin. That’s weird.

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Enchiladas Suizas with Black Beans and Mexican Rice. I’m aware that these enchiladas look terrible, all dried-out and crumbly, but they were honestly great. I didn’t have chicken, so filled them instead with monterrey jack and shredded white onion. I want my enchiladas to turn out like the ones in the linked picture, but it seems like the only way to do this is to not bake them at all. And then how do you get the cheese to melt? I’m gonna try again soon.

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Blueberry Pancakes with Two Breakfast Meats. I don’t know how it happened, but I went on a meat spending spree this week. I bought all the meat. We had it for almost every dinner. The day I bought these two breakfast meats, George had been talking about bacon off and on for the whole day. Henry hates bacon (?!) but loves sausage so I bought both. After I loaded my shopping cart with meat and came home, I read this article, about how meat is destroying us all. I knew this, the thing about how not eating a cheeseburger is the carbon footprint-equivalent of taking 2000 cars off the road (this is a statistic I made up, I think. But it’s something about cars and beef and water and science, you get the gist.). But it’s so easy to pretend to forget. I’ll try to do better next time.

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Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce, Beef Bulgogi. The boys and I were sitting at the table working on geography jigsaw puzzles, like the very picture of a homeschooling family (this happens exactly never), but then George wandered off to go pee on the little potty in the living room and then waddled back to me, his (pajama) pants and underwear around his ankles at the same moment that our neighbor rang the doorbell. She watched me pull up George’s pants through the window on our front door, and then explained that she was there because one of our chickens had escaped and was in her front yard. It was Goldie, the only chicken who has never been caught, and is always flying over the six foot fence in our backyard and heading back to Otto’s house, the neighbor who gave her to us. Goldie’s at the bottom of the pecking order in our flock. That’s a literal term. The other chickens jump on her back and peck the shit out of the back of her head for the sport of it. Anyway, lately she’d been flapping over to Otto’s house, and she’ll spend a contentedly solitary afternoon over there before roosting in his chiminea or in the lowest branches of a tree, at which point he grabs her and brings her back to my coop. And then she does the same thing all over again the next day. We had already known she was out, and at Otto’s, but when the neighbor lady told me she was in her front yard, I figured we’d give trying to catch her a go. Henry wisely decided to stay home to finish the US and Canada puzzle he was working on. George and I chased Goldie back and forth, back and forth across four yards. We’d walk slowly, real casual-like, approaching her from opposite sides, but then she’d cotton on to us and sprint to hide under the middle of a nearby pickup truck. We gave up on the slow-and-casual method and just chased her full out, going as fast as we could, while she ran even faster, and in unpredictable swirling zig zags. We did this for half an hour. Finally, we backed her into a corner with no bushes for her to hide behind. She tried, unsuccessfully, to fly over the fence and I was able to grab her as she landed. I felt like a god among men. We started heading back home, and the neighbor who had alerted me about the chicken popped back out and thought I’d like to have a chat about all the kittens she has rescued in her lifetime, while I’m all sweaty and bedraggled and holding a furious chicken. I stood there for a while, George at my side, struggling under the weight of the compost bucket that I thought, mistakenly, could be used to lure Goldie back to our place, and this lady would just not stop talking to me about cats. After several minutes, Goldie got extra flappy and squirmy and the neighbor said she would let me get back home. Thank the good lord! This lady is real nice, and leaves bags of watermelon rind hanging on our front doorknob as a treat for the chickens whenever she has some, but come on! Take a hint!

Some words about food! We ate the spring rolls to use up the peanut sauce I made last week, and the meat was a delicious beefy impulse purchase.

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Bolillo, Salami, Fruit. I woke up in the morning and wanted to make bread. So I made the loaf below and had enough leftover to make 4 bolillo rolls. That’s what that round thing is supposed to be.

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Pullman Loaf (without a Pullman Pan). George pushed Henry while I was baking this thing. I asked Henry if it hurt, and he said yes. So I said, “What should you do, George?” and he promptly said “I’m so sorry, Henry.” Henry narrowed his eyes at George and said, “Somehow I feel that that apology was not sincere”.

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Caramelized Beef, Zanzibari Coconut Creamed Spinach, Date Chapati. These recipes are all from the Food of Oman cookbook and they were, all together, the best thing I’ve eaten in a while. That meat is so wonderful. I know we’re not supposed to eat it anymore, but if we collectively decide that tender, exotic stews are a good trade off for destroying the earth before 2050, this recipe is a keeper. All you do is cut meat into big hunks and drop it into water with lots of spices and boil it for a while, and then simmer it for a while, and then boil it again. It was meltingly tender and so richly flavored. The spinach is fun too, and easy. It uses dried coconut milk (the lady in the linked recipe just used canned coconut milk) to make a creamy sauce that is malty and wonderful. George ate the coconut milk powder out of the bag with a spoon. It kind of tastes like astronaut ice cream. And the bread! It’s a lot like that m’smen I made a few months ago but even better (lots and lots of butter in this one). We had lots of leftovers and for breakfast and lunch for the next two days, I would shred some of the meat into a tortilla with a few spoonfuls of spinach, fold it in half, and griddle in until it was crisp. Shockingly good.

Should I tell you about how Andy took the last three date chapatis to work for his lunch the next day, instead of the two I felt was a fair portion and leaving one for me, and how I’m hormonal and cranky and got mad at him for it, because, in my estimation, he didn’t savor the date chapati. He just ate it while sitting at his desk. would have savored it. So, as punishment, I told him, step by step, how that date chapati was made. It was lots of steps. And that if he doesn’t care about what he’s eating, I’ll make him a sandwich and keep the bread for myself. I probably shouldn’t have told you that, because it makes me look like a schmuck, but I went ahead and did it anyway.

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Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Mango Salsa. I made this quick blender soup (it’s delicious!) to take to my friend Molly’s house on Saturday. I got to go by myself and Andy took the kids swimming. When I got home, Andy told me about this conversation he had with Henry on the way to the pool:

Henry: Do you think Mama’s having a good time?
Andy: Yeah, I bet she is.
Henry: Yeah, she is.
Andy: How do you know?
Henry: I just pictured her eating soup.

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Chana Masala with Yogurt and Naan. Yes, I ate a lot of naan. I had a whole second piece after this one.

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Sopita. These are noodles cooked in a chicken and tomato bouillon-cube broth and it’s delicious and costs 40 cents. I thought I’d make it “healthier” by eating half an avocado on top, but this was mostly a weird addition. You’ve just gotta go for it and eat a plain bowl of cheap noodles sometimes.

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Wiener Wraps. I needed to think of a snack to bring to a quilting bee in the afternoon and these wiener wraps were the song in my heart. It’s the weirdest, least appropriate snack to bring to a bunch of ladies who are going to spend the afternoon quilting and sipping tea, but I just had to make them. They were a hit, naturally.

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Miniature Cinnamon Rolls. And! And! Both times I’ve made these wiener wraps I’ve had just a little bit of that buttery yeast dough left over. Last time I used it to make some savory cheese and green onion buns, but this time, I made a teeny tiny tray of cinnamon rolls and almost died from the cuteness. I just rolled out the dough, brushed it with melted butter, sprinkled it heavily with a brown sugar/cinnamon/salt mixture, and rolled it up. The icing is just confectioners sugar mixed with a little heavy cream and a very little bit of vanilla. It was remarkable how much they tasted like the canned ones. Or at least my memory of what the canned ones tasted like as a kid. I feel like I’ve had them recently and they taste like sweetened chemical pucks.

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Quilts for Orlando. Joanie and I had both heard about this project to make rainbow heart quilts to send to the victims, families, and rescue workers of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, and Christy very generously offered to host. I’ve made quilts by myself, but they have been shoddy, slapdash affairs. Christy is the real deal. She’s got all the tools, and a real-life, grown-up sewing machine, and she’s great at it. I liked the idea of being a part of this project, but I mostly wanted my part to be suggesting it to Christy and then milling about on the periphery while she put it together. And my wish came true! We ate a lot of snacks and sort of helped Christy make a bunch of heart squares.

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Chicken Teriyaki. I forgot to marinate the chicken for the grilled bulgogi chicken I was going to make for dinner after the quilting bee (why did I want to cook two forms of bulgogi this week?). So instead I made this teriyaki from a Nigella Lawson cookbook I picked up at the library (thanks, Ben!) and it took 15 minutes and was very tasty. This cookbook also has a recipe for spaghetti with marmite and a lemon meringue fool that I needs must have. Also weird British interpretations of American food that I won’t be making. I’m looking at you, barbecued ground beef.

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Sour Cherry Pie, Gluten Free. This is my first ever sour cherry pie! Sour cherries never make it to my neck of the woods, but this year I noticed that you can buy pitted bags of frozen sour cherries at Central Market. Two bags were enough to fill a pie. The finished filling looks remarkably like what you get out of a can, but is brighter, more tart, and clean tasting. I overcooked the pie a bit, because I was waiting for the cherry filling to bubble up through the lattice, but it never did. Still, the thing was pretty damn good.

We are headed out of town for a week in Salt Lake City, then back for a day and out again on a three day camping trip, so I’ll probably skip the blog next week, but I’ll come back and share photos from our trip soon. Happy Fourth, everybody!

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One thought on “An Omani Feast, Sour Cherry Pie, and Too Much Meat

  1. Gangie July 5, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    Your bread is so beautiful! Have a very safe and fun trip!

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