Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday #24 - Dinner from the Good ol' Days

The week leading up to Sunday # 24 I was very uninspired. I would have been happy making us all a big bowl of nothing.

Mark suggested I make Poor Man's Stew instead.

There are a lot of recipes for Poor Man's Stew of various incarnation. The kind I made is something my Grandpa Bob threw together 20 years ago.

Let's have some back story!

The grandpa I'm talking about is the ex-husband of my my aforementioned Grandma Freda. He had five kids with her.

Then they got divorced and he went and married a girl about 8 months older than my mom. She was pregnant with the first of their 6 kids.

So just on their own, there were a minimum of 8 mouths to feed.

They were rarely on their own.

People were visiting all the time. People (like my family) were living with them off and on. It wouldn't surprise me if they ever went an entire week with only 8 mouths to feed.

So! That meant a lot of one-dish meals that were cheap, cheap, cheap to put together.

I don't remember how Grandpa came up with this one. I'm pretty sure it was a combination of being sick of go-to recipes (hamburger gravy on bread, meatloaf, spaghetti, pork chop with cream of mushroom soup bake, etc) and not having a whole lot laying around.

Ingredients: (we cut this recipe down to only feed 4 plus 2 leftovers)
1 lb ground beef
1 can Campbell's vegetable soup
1 can creamed corn
1 can kidney beans
1 large pan cornbread

First I made cornbread. I didn't use a recipe. I really need to start doing that because this turned out pretty good.

I soaked the cornmeal in milk. Just enough to come to the top of the cornbread in the measuring cup I was using.

I let that set for ten minutes or so then dumped it in a bowl along with some flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, more milk... and probably something else important.

Then I decided it needed a can of creamed corn.
Less than .02% bug parts!

and Tabasco!
I also decided it needed more flour because it was a little thin.

Then I thought it needed more cornmeal.

I imagine I went back and forth like that for a while until I thought it was thick enough.
I took that pic as I was dragging the spoon through the batter. That's when I knew it was thick enough!
Who needs to measure?

OIL! Yeah, I also put some of that in there. Kind of important. You need oil or butter in cornbread. It does things. Important things.

When I was happy with the batter consistency I dumped it in a greased and floured cakepan.

And then I realized I still had caramelized onions from the day before! I swirled those around in half of the cornbread. Didn't wanna traumatize Max, don'tcha know.

So - Cornbread Batter?
Yeah, not as tasty as Cupcake Batter.
You're welcome.

I baked it until, when I stabbed it, nothing stuck to the weapon.
Given my complete disregard for chemistry, I was very excited that I actually got cornbread and not a great big corn brick.
Yay me!

Then I set that aside and got with the sloppin'.

Oh wait. We're forgetting something aren't we?

Maxwell wasn't going to eat ANYTHING with vegetable soup, let alone kidney beans.

So I made him a hamburger. Enablers ho!

I'm only showing you the picture of that patty so you can see how awesome my skillet is! Just look at it. It's a thing of beauty, I'm telling you.

Someday, I'd like to get one of my grandpa's. That's terribly unlikely though. He actually needs his cookware (he's still supporting himself, two daughters, a mostly-ex wife, and two grandchildren) so he won't be parting with it anytime soon. As for when he's done with it... there are a lot of people in line ahead of me for what little he has left. I'd just as soon not have to wrassle anyone for it.

That's okay though. Thanks to Grandpa (and Gramma Freda too) I knew how awesome cast iron was before it became an in thing again. So I have that, at least.

Moving on.

I used a biscuit cutter and two bread heals to make Max's bun. The patty got velveeta, and the bun got ketchup and mustard. By the time I was done making his dinner, I was so hungry and so far away from having ours done that I wanted to tell everyone to fend for themselves and run away with the thing.

But I'm a mother, and mothers aren't allowed to leave their family to make a new life with a burger. Society has rules.

I love you, Cheeseburger.

(Family Fact: Simon hates that song - because it's about love, and love is stupid. The rest of us know all the words.)

I sat Max down with his burger so that he could eat it before I lost all control. Then I got to the stew.

Into my shiny awesome skillet went a whole onion which was cooked until translucent, and then I added the beef.

I used 85/15 ground beef. If I'd wanted to be really traditional it would have been 77/23. I simply did not have the stomach to dedicate myself to that much tradition.

Once the beef was browned and as much grease as possible was pulled from the pan I added the other ingredients.

Tasty, right?

What do you mean it looks like slop?

I find that offensive! It's not like we ate out of a trough or something.
You're thinking of my cousins.

Okay, so it does look like slop. But - 8 kids! Besides, it's tasty slop.

Max went shirtless... as a sign of respect to our hillbilly kin.
Yeah, that sounds like reason enough.
Even though Max had eaten earlier I made him sit with us anyway. Because Sunday Dinner, that's why!

He had honey and cornbread.
Yeah. That'd get me
back to the table, too.

The rest of us had the stew over cornbread. You could probalby have it over something else, but dammit, this how Grampa served it and I can't fathom it any other way.

There's a dot of butter on top because that's how it's done, people.

The next blog will likely be about Sunday # 29, which is the weekend of July  17/18.

#25 was Father's day at Mark's parents.
#26 was spent travelling.
#27 was Chicken sandwiches with guac and lime - they were awesome, but I didn't think to document it because "I was gonna" do that for what we had today (4th of July.) I  took two pics and forgot the rest.
#28 will be next weekend. I might do something.

But then I might not because Toxic 253(including Poprocks 'N Choke - my super best friend)  will be bouting Port Scandalous that weekend!

There might be an afterparty. I might be too tired and full of beer to bother with Sunday Dinner.

Plus anyway - derby rules. You might think you have something better to do next weekend, but you're wrong. So cancel whatever lameness you have scheduled and come watch derby girls kick-ass!

Sunday # 25 - Father's Day

Okay - So Sunday #25 I had something in mind to make. I can't remember what though because my brains are old.

On Saturday Mark's mom called and invited us to dinner at her house. Sold!

She made a rib roast.

It was pretty good.

It also reminds me that I really need to cut my salt intake, because I never think anything she makes has enough. She's become pretty health conscious and crazy high blood pressure apparently runs in their family.

That doesn't mean she doesn't use ANY though. Just not the tons I'm used to having.

The fact that a large part of my diet for the past decade was made up by fast food at least a couple times a a week probably didn't help.

Anyway - I didn't take pictures because she thought that was funny last time I did it. She didn't get what I was doing and I didn't feel like elaborating because I still feel silly doing this.

Anyway that was Father's Day!

And so is this:

There was no cake. I thought about making one but I thought she might already have plans, and plus I was worried I'd have to hear about sugar sugar sugar (Mark was recently diagnosed with diabetes) so I didn't bother.

The End

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday # 26 - Didn't happen!

For Sunday # 26 we enjoyed a leisurely ride to Yakima where we made ourselves sick (not in the good way) on Dairy Queen, McDonald's and Arby's.

We did successfully dump our kids off on their grandparents for the whole of July, though. So that's awesome.

Because I've just been SO DILIGENT in documenting and blogging each and every  Sunday Dinner this year, I thought I'd take July off. catch up on all the blogs I'm behind on!

Sunday #23 - Vegetables for Everyone!

You know, it occurs to me that if I was taking this blog thing seriously, I'd be formatting them the same way each time.

And I'd also update within a week of the meal rather than a month later.


Okay, that's never going to happen.

So, remember how I signed up to get that box of roughage every other week from Full Circle?

That was going pretty well for the first couple months. Sadly, like with everything, the honeymoon ended.

Also, Spring came. Well, not to the Pacific Northwest or anything, but in other parts of the world and stuff.

So that meant fresher, leafier stuff. Which translates into stuff that goes slimy and/or moldy a lot faster than apples or root vegetables. That, added to us being a little less "box time, yay!" equalled a big box of half-wasted produce.

Sad, sad, sad.

So! As we sailed into Sunday #23 that first week of June I was extra devoted to cramming in any and all available produce to that evening's meal.

Max, as you can imagines, was delighted.

Yes... he feels just like this guy.

I started with some Italian sausage - an obvious place for any ALL The Vegetables dish to begin.

This was some Heritage Meats sausage. I've told you about them before. It's pretty fantastic stuff. Worth 7 bucks a lb? That's one of those personal choice things you'd have to make. Go ahead, try it!

I believe in voting with my dollars when I can. Heritage Meats is local, organic, and sustainable. These are all things I'd like to see more of. We had a good 6-8 individual meals out of this and the sausage is delicious. I certainly couldn't maintain your average American's  diet (Table 2-1, you're welcome) on their products and pay my mortgage too, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Seven bucks worth of meat for a meal that would have fed eight is a fair price to me. Sure, the sausage lumps were not in every single bite, but again that's okay. It made each bite more of a treat, and that's the way it should be with animal products. Even that fancy new USDA plate says so.

Behold America!
Now you won't be fat anymore!
Also, it suggests using a fork.
So that's helpful.

So yes. Sausage
Look at all that animal fat!

Let's put green beans in it!

And onions! Some of those as well.

I believe there is also garlic in there. Then I got real inspired and threw in a pinch of red pepper flakes.

The green beans were fresh and took a good long time to get less crunchy-stuck-in-your-teethy. Knowing that's how they'd be I got some water boiling for pasta. I decided to use corkscrew pasta (be fancy and figure out what those are actually called on your own time) because I thought it'd hold up pretty well. Long noodles would have been annoying and the little tube pasta would have smooshed everywhere.

When the noodles were done I threw in a cup of jarred sauce which was just enough to coat a pound of noodles. Then I threw in a handful of freshly grated parmesan. You could get away with the shakey stuff or the pre-shredded stuff. I just happened to have nearly a one pound block left over from the previous Sunday's festivities so I used that.


Once the pasta was ready I drained the beans so as not to add the 1/2 cup of sausage grease that was still in the pan to the rest of the dish.

And then I added some quartered roma tomatoes.


I sliced some cantaloupe to go with it...

and called the kids to the table.

That's how Max felt about a bowl with just noodles and a sausage hunk.
And that's Simon getting pretty damn bored with his wiener brother's unwillingness to be positive about any Sunday dinner ever. I'm with ya there, buddy.

So that was it! Another Sunday dinner checked off the list.

Okay, so I realize there were only four produce items of substance in that meal (I'm not counting garlic and the spaghetti sauce) and that doesn't quite qualify it as an ALL The Vegetables! sort of meal. I'm pretty sure there was something else I wanted to include at the time that ended up being moldy or something when I got to it. I just can't remember what it was.

This was really good. Like - REALLY GOOD. The simple things usually are. I ended up making it again just last week, and this time I added red bell pepper slices and zucchini. It was much improved and very filling. Prettier too. Hooray for veggies!

Of course Max had even less interest in that version.

Ya know, someday I'm going to fashion a surrogate mother out of broccoli and lock him in a room with it. We'll see how he feels about vegetables when nothing else will show him love.

I'm certain only good, wholesome normal things will come of it. Things like romantic attachments and interpersonal relationships. Everything will work out fine.

I'm very much looking forward to the grandchildren.