I wrote all my non-foodie stuff at the bottom this week. Spoiler, it’s about the women’s march. You can stop reading now if you don’t like women, or marches, or women marching. But first, a quick update on last week’s bad news:
We still don’t have the insurance worked out. Andy’s old company changed insurance plans and changed the company that manages their insurance plans. The new company said, “hey guys, is anyone on Cobra?” and Andy’s company said, “uh, we don’t think so?” So there we are. The law says we have coverage for 18 months, whether the company changes plans or not, so we should be covered, but these are not words that anyone has spoken to us yet.
The bad plumbers reared their ugly heads again, in the form of apparently not having soldered any of the couplings for the copper pipes they put in. They were all leaking. The guy came back out and said he forgot to do it. I called the office afterward, because they’re terrible, and they need to pay for the hole in the drywall they had to cut to fix their mistake, and no one called me back, so I called again and my voice was all shaky and I talked too fast and relayed the whole sordid tale to the patient receptionist who assured me that someone would call on Monday. We’ll see, patient receptionist, we’ll see.
We had to call another plumber because our washing machine was leaking and our dishwasher overflowed. I researched the guy on yelp and everyone raved about him. He came out and was professional and fast, and affordable, and super religious. He had a lot of different crosses on his person- around his neck, on his belt buckle and phone holster thing. Obviously, this doesn’t matter. Except: I was reading to the kids from this horrible library book about the Jedi, which is long and awful, and there’s a page that lists traits of the light side and the dark side. The plumber overheard, poked his head around the corner and said, “You know what that’s really about, right?” I mentally said “Here we go,” and shook my head, and he said “Republicans and Democrats.” I said, “Well, I’m not gonna ask you which one is which!” He didn’t say anything else on the subject. I assumed, because he was a white religious guy, that he was a Republican, but I suppose it’s possible that he wasn’t? I didn’t want to wade into those waters to find out.
The kids are better! Andy’s mostly better! I somehow never really got sick?
Here’s what we ate this week.
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder. Rub yer meat (I heard it) in equal parts white sugar and kosher salt and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Cook it at 300 degrees for 4-6 hours, until fork tender, basting as often as you please.
Farro with Green Olives, Butternut Wedges with Sage Pesto, Roasted Pork. I ate my pork with farro and butternut wedges, but decided to be benevolent and give Andy some tortillas and lime for his to spare him the olive-packed alternative.
Fried Brussels Sprouts, Thai-Style Citrus Salad. You top this salad with toasted coconut and salted peanuts. I had extra, and was eating five-finger pinches of the stuff while waiting for the chicken to finish cooking, and offered some to the kids. They agreed to try it, after wrinkling their noses up suspiciously, so I set the bowl down on the table between them. A few minutes later, Henry pulled the bowl closer to him, out of George’s reach, and George burst into tears and yelled that Henry couldn’t have ALL OF IT! Andy moved the bowl back to the middle, joined me in the kitchen, and whispered that Henry was only eating the peanuts and George was only eating the coconut and they still couldn’t share it.
The Stuff I Mentioned Above, Plus Roasted Orange Salty Caramel Chicken. This sauce is everything that is good in this world. Put it on anything.
Onigiri, Doraemon Donut-Like Thing, California Satsumas, Mochi Strawberry Treat, Grape Soda, all from Asahi Imports. My friend Christy’s daughter Ella is 14 and the coolest. She’s a hardworking, ballet-dancing, violin-playing badass. She’s in love with all things Japanese and is in the process of learning the language. For her birthday, I asked if we could go visit my favorite Japanese grocery store and buy stuff to make some traditional dishes, and she excitedly agreed. Everything in this store is adorable, amazing, and comes with complicated unwrapping instructions. Except the oranges, which we had to figure out how to open with our own brains. That cartoon cat pastry is a yeasted bread filled with something very much like chocolate pudding and topped with a sugary cap. They make tons of different onigiri, rice balls- Ella chose salty salmon flakes and I went with a pickled plum filling. We loved both. The soda bottle has a glass ball seal that you’re supposed to press down before you drink the thing. Ella and I took turns jamming down on it with our fingers to no avail. I found a pen in my purse and was able to ram it through with that, at which point the ball falls an inch or so and settles into half-pipe-shaped section in the top of the bottle and rolls around pleasantly while you sip. We then realized that the cap has a built-in mechanism to punch that ball down, so take note and learn from our fail.
In case you wanted to see the inside of that strawberry mochi treat. That’s anko (red bean paste) surrounding the strawberry. The mochi on the outside was thick and almost uncomfortably soft, like the flesh of a room-temperature corpse. The taste? Delicious! More strawberry-stuffed corpse-balls, please!
Homemade Onigiri, Stuffed with Chicken Teriyaki. After our snack, we combed through every shelf in the store. We bought two beautiful ceramic rice bowls, one with bunnies, one with a big fat cat, two sets of bunny chopsticks, some novelty candies, and the ingredients we’d need to make miso soup and our own onigiri, this time stuffed with chicken teriyaki. We used recipes from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art and loved the results, although we abandoned the very difficult triangular onigiri-shape in favor of the infinitely easier ball-shape. The teriyaki sauce was made with 7 tablespoons each of mirin, sake, and tamari plus one tablespoon of sugar, cooked down until syrupy. We coated some leftover cooked chicken breast we found in the fridge with it, chopped it up, and mixed it with more sauce. We couldn’t stop eating the sauce- it tastes like a complex salty caramel. The onigiri recipe says to affix a one-inch strip of toasted nori on top of your rice triangle as if it were the roof on a cottage, but we just wrapped whole sheets of the seaweed around ours and enjoyed the ratio that way, even if we did look like goats eating newspapers as we munched our way through them. We didn’t make it to the miso soup, but I hear they made and loved it the next day. It’s a great store, a great cookbook, and I got to experience both with an amazing young woman- thank you Ella! Let’s do it again right away. I’m dreaming of more platters of onigiri.
Ramen. I bought a few things for myself from Asahi, these perfect ramen noodles among them. I simmered the bones leftover from our roast pork in chicken stock along with some dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and scallions. I boiled the noodles in water. I crisped bits of leftover pork roast in a pan, made 6-minute eggs, and sliced some scallions. Then I strained all the solid bits from the stock and put all the elements together, along with a couple pieces of crispy seaweed. It was slurpy and salty and rich and I loved it. I wish I had broken the eggs open for the picture because they were the most magnificent orange. Our chickens stopped laying in August (so hot!) and then never started up again, I have no idea why, until a few weeks ago. Now we get one, two, or even three eggs a day and I’m reveling in having a full carton of backyard eggs in the fridge again. These eggs came from Goldie, the fastest chicken, who was also the one who lost half her backside to a possum attack this fall. She looks resplendent in her new feathers now and she is laying one small, perfectly smooth, cream-colored egg a day.
Pecan/Date/Coconut Balls. These are classified in my head as restricted diet food- something I can trot out when I need to provide a gluten and dairy free snack. I’ve been craving them all the same, despite the totally unsexy mental file folder I’ve put them in. They’re sweet and filling and that’s all I’m really looking for. It’s 1/2 cup of pecans (or any nut or even nut butter), 10 dates (pits removed), 1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut, and a tablespoon of honey, all whizzed up in the food processor, then scooped into balls and rolled in 1/2 cup more shredded coconut. That’s it. It’s adapted from Henry’s cookbook, The Forest Feast for Kids, which we have not cooked from in many months and should cook from again soon.
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Candied Ginger. I wrote about this last week, I think, but I hadn’t put in the candied ginger. I made it again so I could try it with the ginger, and it’s rad. This version is gluten and dairy free, made with Cup 4 Cup, coconut yogurt, and melted coconut oil instead of butter. Really, it was good. But it also ended up tasting like alcohol, weirdly. I’ve read that older bananas have some amount of alcohol from the fruit starting to ferment, but these bananas were no further along than normal banana bread-bananas, yellow with a heavy mottling of brown spots… It looks like I may have gone off the rails here, I’m rambling about bananas. I’ll stop now. It’s a good bread.
Skillet Tamale Pie, Roasted Vegetables, Winter Slaw. I brought the above treats as well as a GF/DF tamale pie and the winter slaw to my sister’s house on Friday night where some of my favorite women in the world gathered together to make our protest signs for the women’s march in Austin the next day. We ate, we laughed, we drew on our posters with giant markers (thanks, Joanna!), and we talked politics.
And the next day, we gathered with 50,000 other Austinites and marched. (Yes, Helen did cosplay as Evelyn Couch from Fried Green Tomatoes). The whole experience was thrilling. Every single person was kind. As we waited, a huge but orderly crowd, to make our way through the few open gates that led from the Capitol lawn to Congress Ave, Phinnie started to cry. It was hot, and she needed to nap. Strangers shaded and fanned her with their signs, sang her songs, and let us go ahead of them to get through the gates faster. She fell asleep and slept for the duration of the march. Meanwhile, we marveled at the beautifully diverse crowd around us and at the funny, clever, and poignant signs. We chanted, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!,” and “Love Trumps Hate.” A young girl led us in a chant of “I am woman! Hear me roar!” and it was so moving I could have cried. People hung out on roof tops and cheered us on. Others brought drums and beat out cadences of the chants. It felt, and was, historic- the largest march in Texas history. I’m so glad I was a part of it, and that I got to do it with my best friends.
I know some people, many, maybe, don’t understand why we did it. They think we should get over it, that everything is going to be okay. And hey, that’s your right to think that. I don’t think everything is okay now, and I am worried about the path we’re on. I marched for healthcare, because all evidence points to Congress repealing the ACA without a replacement, which will leave 18 million people suddenly without health insurance, and people will die as a result. I marched for the LGBT community, Muslims, Jews, black people, brown people, poor people, victims of our criminal justice system, immigrants, refugees, the disabled, and other oppressed groups who have seen an increase in hate crimes and who face an administration that doesn’t respect them. I march for women, who should get to make their own damn reproductive choices, should get equal pay for equal work, and should get to live in a society that values, respects, and supports them with great public schools and great affordable childcare. I marched for the earth, because, Jesus. Primates are endangered, the earth is warming, the ice is melting, the storms are intensifying, the oceans are rotting. I marched for myself, I marched for my sisters and brothers and all the causes that weigh heavily on their minds. Together we sent a powerful message that we are here and that we won’t be ignored.
So, y’all. In the words of my sign, which I stole from a tumblr:
Organize. Resist. Agitate. Protect.
That is some gorgeous food! And Ella is so lucky! Was your plumber Brad B? Have a great week! XO
Thank you, Barbara! And YES! I take it you hired him too?
Yes, he did some work for us when we first moved in.
Doraemon! Remember when we all went to the Richmond Night Market in Vancouver? Andy picked up a little Doraemon doll there for the kids and I explained who he was.
I do! That is where I learned about Doraemon! He was plastered on so many of the products in this store. In fact, the furikake jar (black sesame seed mixture) on our homemade onigiri had his face on it! They also had an anpanman pastry but it was a lot creepier.
The food sounds amazing. I bet Ella will remember that day all her life. The part about the March was inspiring. You, Helen and your friends make me proud.