Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday #Something or Other: Simon Makes Dinner

Okay. Way back in August, I think, Simon (and that other kid) had returned from visiting his grandparents in Magical Happy Land and was struggling with his return to reality.

What better time to get a Simon Dinner out of the way?

I'd "been gonna" make dinner with Simon for months by then. But, as you may have noticed, my drive for doing the Sunday Dinner thing had greatly diminished.

Not that we still weren't still having dinner together most Sundays, but I didn't have it in me to document it and I certainly didn't have it in me to make dinner with a kid. Having kids help is work, ya know.

Nope, it was easier to just slap some dinner together and go back to waiting for the world to end.

As Simon recently pointed out, it's tough growing up.

And, sorry to say it Simon, it never gets any better. I don't care what John Cheese says.
'Cause people like me and Simon, we can see miserable shit for miles and miles ahead. We can't help it! We've already learned that the world is a shitty place and don't intend to go looking for proof that it's not. You know why? Because when we do, we just get more proof that it's awful and shitty!

See, this is why I haven't been writing. I knew it was going to turn into this. I guess what I'm getting at is that I've been in a pretty shitty place emotionally and that, coupled with hardly any personal breathing time, has left me with neither the will nor the resources to churn out a blog.

Not that I think I'm cranking out literary marvels here, but I'd at least like them to be a little fun and... lighthearted. Is that a thing? A state of being? I think I've heard of it somewheres.

So anyway, about the same time I was attempting to drag myself out of my emotional shithole The Best Thing on ALL the Internets popped up after a long absence. It helped. Reconnecting with people I'd convinced myself were doing just fine - probably better! - without the likes of me helped.

So, yes. Depression is hard. I have a feeling Simon's going to become real familiar with that fact in his lifetime too. I'm there with ya, buddy. Sometimes you just have to let it happen and wallow in it for a while. But at some point you decide* to either wallow yourself deeper into the pit of dispair, or can get up and strangle the shit out of it.
As a wise man once suggested, when life gives you lemons you make life take the lemons back. You "Demand to see life's manager."

Though, if you don't have an elite force of engineers at the ready to make your insane self some fabled combustible lemons, might I suggest using them in the following recipe?

Caesar Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Soft Wrap Bread
by King Arthur Flour
Hey, I made it back to the point of this blog. Yay me!

We began our adventure by making the dressing.

Caesar dressing

  • 1 to 4 large cloves garlic, to taste, peeled and minced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or aged Asiago cheese
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Anchovies wrapped around capers.
I'm not gagging right now at all

I had Simon measure out most of the ingredients and get them mixed up.
Be careful, Simon! Are you hurt?

Then, because I suck at letting kids do anything themselves, I scraped everything into the blender to get the olive oil all emulsified in. It was part of the directions and I wasn't sure about letting him use the blender. What if it exploded and blended and  electrocuted him somehow!
Clearly a job for GROWN UPS!

Following the recipe exactly gives you a dressing that turns out very thick. Simon and I (with Dad weighing in) decided it was too mighty for our palate and mixed in some mayonnaise and... a tiny bit of vinegar? I can't remember. Probably though.

The original plan was to make this meal over two days, getting the dressing and flatbread done on day one, and the chicken and veggies the next. Once we got started on the bread though, we knew dinner had to happen that night.

Wrap bread

We only had Safeway flour (and we used potato flakes) but I think we did okay.

Following the directions we mixed the 2 cups of flour and the boiling water together. We did this in the bread machine. After it was well mixed I gave the machine a pause so it could sit still for 30 minutes like the directions said.
Just like the directions said!
We followed directions! Yay us!

After that we dumped in the rest of the ingredients and let the machine have at it.

There were actually more specific directions - something about whisking the oil into the remaining flour mixture so that it's evenly distributed and then adding it to the dough-wad. That sounds like manual labor though, and I have a bread machine specifically to avoid that.

I didn't realize until the thing had been whapping the dough around for 20 minutes that it really only needed to go long enough to get everything kneaded together well - about 5 minutes according the recipe.

It didn't seem like it hurt anything, though. 

You're supposed to divide the dough into 8 equal portions.We had nine because one lump was really big, so we split it into two.

The dough wads sit for a while and then you stretch them out and roll them thin.

I was gonna have Simon roll them out, I really was! But, you know, we had to get moving along and I'm completely impatient and he wasn't doing it right!

Sigh. Poor Simon. His mother's insane.

We compromised by having Simon get the dough flattened and stretched into a disc shape, and then I rolled it out thin from there.
Waka Waka Waka Waka

And then in the beautiful and glorious cast-iron skillet. I put maybe a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and wipe it out with a paper towel. That's how much oil you need to do this if you're using well-seasoned cast-iron. I can hear you talking about nonstick here - ya know what? Cast-iron never peels off the pan and get's into my eggs. Well, technically it does, but iron is good for you. When was the last time your doctor said you needed more  polytetrafluoroethylene in your diet? So there.

Skillet time!
and flip 

Since we didn't have to use any bubbling, popping, scarifying oil I was brave and let Simon do a few of these.

Everything turned out okay! No one died, cried or bled! Phew. I was worried there for a bit.

There are seven pieces in this picture. There were nine balls of dough. One got burnt a little on one side so we had to eat it slathered in butter and cinnamon sugar. We HAD to.

The other one we ate to make sure it was tasty enough for dinner. This is where Simon was educated on the sacrifices cooks have to make. Sure, this time it was tasty enough, but things don't always turn out so great and who's the first to discover that? The cook.

Of course, if you're me, you force it on everyone anyway.

So anyway, with testing done -and us smelling the bread be all toasted and awesome- it was decided dinner was happening that night.

Grilled chicken-vegetable filling

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced in 1/2" slices
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick slices
  • romaine lettuce

I let Simon wield a knife and cut chicken!
However, I do not have documentation of this. But I swear I did. I didn't make him use safety scissors or anything!

That's not much chicken in that big bowl. That's okay though. Really America, it's not necessary to have delicious MEAT make up half the weight of your meal. Vegetables are delicious!

Especially when meat flavored.


Okay then! The onion and garlic (obviously they forgot to add garlic to this part of the recipe by accident) went into the skillet until caramelized and then piled on top of the chicken.
Huh... looking closely it seems we
added mushrooms as well.

Okay, so this next part said to cut the peppers and zucchini into large pieces and then brown/blacken in the skillet or on the grill. Once you do this though, it just has you cut them up into smaller pieces.

So here's my suggestion, if you're going to use the skillet cut things into eating size to begin with. Cook them in the skillet after the onions (because the onions will just get weepy and cause the peppers to fail at browning) and be sure not add so many that you can't see the bottom of the skillet, or they'll just lose more liquid than they burn off and never brown.

If you want to do the big pieces that brown and don't have a grill, you could put them under the broiler. I do not have the ability to not burn the shit out of anything I put under the broiler. I just don't. It's something about things going from almost-browned to blackened-beyond-recognition in the space of 45 seconds that throws me.

Anyway, we pulled the peppers and added them to the bowl too:

Once they're in the bowl and you cut them up with kitchen scissors. Well, you do that if you just washed the cutting board and don't want to haul it out again.

On to the zucchini and you're almost done!

That went into the bowl with everything else, as well as 3 or so Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters or sixths. That gets all stirred up together so that flavors combine and the tomatoes warm without getting mushy and grainy.

And finally, after all our hard work (truth be told Simon found something better to do than watch his mom cook vegetables - not that I blame him) it was time for dinner.

We'd wrapped the flatbread in foil and had them warming in the oven while the vegetables cooked.

You can see them here - artfully displayed. 

We were all very happy with the way these turned out.

We decided to forgo the lettuce. Or maybe we just forgot to get it out of the fridge while wrapping things up. Aside from a little crunch, maybe, I don't think we were missing anything. We didn't cook the peppers and zukes to mushification or anything, so we still had tasty texture there.

Of course Max took that "not lettuce" thing a step further.
Big surprise.

At some point we're going to have to really try and make this kid try some new veggies. For the longest time the only veggie he could choke down were canned green beans. And he'd only get 5 or so down - tops. This year he's added corn and mashed potatoes to his list. That's not quite a success as far as eating your veggies goes.

We've had him give vegetable type stuff a chew here and there, but he literally will puke if something is too gross. I think he's trained himself. I think it's years of silent ninja regurgitation skills that make him barf and not the awfulness of a fresh green bean sauteed with bacon and garlic. Come on!

Yes, that's got to be it. He's doing it on purpose!
But what if he's not? What if forcing vegetables on him is awful and tortuous!?

I just don't know! *frets*

and that's all part of his plan.

Simon and me  also made hummus as part of this dinner. Well, mostly I made it - blenderized you know.
I'm not going to tell you about it because we don't talk about hummus in this house.
(actually there just isn't much to say - it's hummus.)

The End


Oh yeah.
Clearly with months worth of Sunday's missing from the timeline I'm not going to meet the stated purpose of this blog. I sincerely do not have the time. I hate saying that. Only lamers "don't have the time." But I really don't. Not time enough to commit to every single week anyway.

So, while Sunday Dinners will definitely continue I think a full bloggy blog will be happening only now and again.

But perhaps a tl;dr version with a couple pics and some little quip would be doable.

Maybe. We'll have to see about that.

Until next time (it could happen)...

and to anyone who took the time to read this ramble-thon, thanks.

* This statement was more about going deeper into depression and either making a choice to do so passively, to go down down down and let it envelope you whole, or to try and claw your way out of it. I know the clawing doesn't always work.
The statement was about me, and people like me, riding the same Depression Funtime Wagon - not for those getting trampled by it. And it wasn't about getting undepressed -just about trying to survive it.
The super severely depressed - the ones who literally cannot get up and move - should not take it to mean that I think you chose to be depressed and can choose not to be. I know it's more than that.

Everybody be okay.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hey innernets!

I bet you thought I wasn't going to post anymore.

Bet you thought I got lazy.

Well I'll show you! I totally intend to pick this up again any time now.

I just needed a few Sundays off.

Like twelve.

No. No I need fourteen Sundays off.

Tomorrow is Sunday #36.

Damn I suck at weekly commitments.

Anyway, I need to make dinner with Boy 1 soon.

We're gonna do this!

It's gonna be a multi-step sort of deal. He also wants to make hummus. I need to find the lid to my blender or we're going to me smooshing with the tato smoosher for a long time.

So yes! Doesn't that look tasty?

The plan is... Monday!

Yes Monday.

We're gonna make us the flatbread. Then my awesome box of awesome comes form Full Cirlce Farm and we'll make the rest of it Tuesday night.

We'll probably make the hummus Monday night too. That way Simon can enjoy it with the flatbread and I don't have to deal with it the next day.

Cause seriously, hummus is swell and all, but it's just not worth the hassle of making it yourself cause it tastes like GROUND BEANS and who needs that?

Though a friend of mine heartily recommends a spinache artichoke dip made with white beans instead of fat fat and more fat. It looked pretty good.

I haven't got brave enough to try it yet.

I need a food processor.


I don't care about starving children or broken Kitchenade mixers - what I need in my life is a goddamn food processor. A good one.

Cause seriously, if I lose anymore spatula bits trying to get the foods out of the blender... Well, I'll have lots of ugly rubber spatulas. Nobody wants that.

So yes!

I'll surely keep this blog thing going. For reals and everything.

Just... just not this week. Next week for sure.

Or the one after. I have to go to Yakima next weekend because we told travelling on Labor Day to fuck itself.


This semi-random update brought to you by Tequila.