Meal plan: 8/28-9/3



Some beef empanadas I made about a week and a half ago. I made a TON and they are delicious and there are some in the freezer. They may appear on the menu if I find myself in a pinch.

Wow, two weeks since my last post! Awesome blogging there. I promise that I have a post about table clearing in restaurants coming up, and I currently have a batch of scones in the oven that I plan to write about this week.

(It’s been a busy couple of weeks, what with school starting and Matt’s parents in town and freelance deadlines. Oh, and my newfound obsession with Breaking Bad.)

That said, let’s talk about dinner this week. I went to the Casserole Queens’ cookbook release party at BookPeople on Thursday night and in addition to picking up their book, I also finally got The Family Dinner by Laurie David (who I didn’t put together until I got to the “Dinner after Divorce” section was married to Larry David). I’ve been anxious to buy the book for awhile and since I had a coupon + permission from myself to splurge a bit, I went ahead and pulled the trigger. I’m glad I did! There are a LOT of really awesome recipes in there that I’m anxious to try! (I’m also eager to try the Corndog Casserole from the Queens, but that may have to wait for a night that Matt’s not home for dinner). This week sees two recipes from The Family Dinner.

Sunday: leftovers/sandwiches (We ate out A LOT this weekend, plus I made chili mac on Saturday froma recipe that yielded WAY more than the four servings it promised.)
Monday: rigatoni with pesto, salad, multigrain rolls
Tuesday: Crunchy Chicken Schnitzel, broccoli, smashed potatoes
Wednesday: leftovers, likely
Thursday: shrimp tacos (this one is inspired by The Family Dinner)
Friday: Pizza night
Saturday: Dinner in the pines!

What are you eating this week?

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Baked Sunday Mornings: Grasshopper Bars (and a Slow Food Quiz Bowl wrapup)


I don’t think I’ve ever had a grasshopper bar before, nor have I had the drink. I think I might have had a bite or a slice of grasshopper pie at one point in the distant past, but not in any recent memory I can access in my mind grapes. That’s probably because all things grasshopper are so very dated by this point that it’s just not a thing anymore. Besides, I like to get my chocolate-mint combo in Thin Mint form anymore.

That said, I really like these bars. They are quite tasty (and when they were freshly made last night, they even tasted a bit boozy, although that aspect of their flavor profile has mellowed a bit since then) and pretty darn easy to make. Of course, I’ve made some variant of the Baked brownie about a million times now, so that step is pretty much second nature by now. I was pretty nervous about the buttercream, certain that I would jack it up one way or another, but it turned out beautifully. Seriously, I have nothing but good things to say about these bars. I would totally make them again, and probably will, since I have 90% of a bottle of Creme de Menthe left over. (Which reminds me: I was a bit paralyzed by indecision at the liquor store when faced with the option of the white or green creme de menthe. I went for green, obviously, for verisimilitude.)

I took a few of the bars with me to the quiz bowl today to share with my teammates:

I think it took Kathryn, like, three hours to eat this thing.

The quiz bowl was pretty fun. It was great to hang out with my food bloggy friends, hang out and crack wise with my new friend Christian and his wife Julie, and meet and talk with local restaurateurs while eating yummy food. While our team did not fare so well (things I’m proud of: my pulling the answer for “raclette” out of thin air at the very last second, knowing what “farmstead cheese” means; Jodi and Kathryn pouncing on the ingredient list for the Moscow Mule; Megan knowing that “sushi” is called that because of the rice that’s used. Things I’m not proud of: costing our team 5 points for answering that authentic mozzarella is made from cow’s milk, not buffalo, EVEN THOUGH MY STUPID BRAIN KNEW IT WAS BUFFALO), it was nice to know that we were part of a much bigger project, which was helping raise money for Slow Food Austin and a local charity. The team that beat us, Barley Swine, went on to take the whole prize; they will donate the $1200 prize pool to Urban Roots, a worthy organization indeed.

After the event, the husband and I went home to relieve my folks of babysitting duties, and we cooked dinner. I made a huge salad, a big bowl of fruit, and Matt grilled some chicken, steak, and ribs. We turned off all of the various screens and just enjoyed each other’s company and conversation (topping off the meal, of course, with grasshopper bars!). Everything about today — from making the bars from scratch to sharing them with my friends, to enjoying the fruits of this community’s commitment to local foodways, to preparing and enjoying a leisurely meal with my family — was the very epitome of Slow Food. Everything is connected, no?

Shoofly, don’t bother me


One of the obsessions that has emerged from my dissertation research is women’s personal recipe collections. Now, there are already books written about women’s cookbooks as material artifacts, so I don’t think I’ll ever write one myself.

That said, I think they’re a fantastic way to piece together a profile of a woman. And sometimes I wonder what sort of footprint I’ll leave behind, in terms of how I represent myself through my cooking preferences. What will the archaeologists and anthropologists of my life find? What will my collection of internet bookmarks (mostly for muffins/cupcakes/brownies/cookies, if we’re being honest) say about me, or the recipes printed off the Internet and stashed away with my ever-growing collection of Everyday Food and Eating Well magazine back issues? That I have a sweet tooth that often works at cross purposes to my good intentions? That I am a very disorganized curator of my life in the kitchen? That I maybe, perhaps a little bit, have a bit of a hoarding problem when it comes to cookbooks and other recipe collections? Sure I’ve got a few annotations here and there, but not consistently. And the fact that half of my family has a very limited palate and bursts into tears at the mere scent of something new (I’m not kidding) means that I don’t really wander too far beyond the borders of the familiar, because that causes a lot of DRAMA and wasted food.

All of this circumspection was triggered by a blog I learned about on the ASFS listserve a couple of months ago: The Shoofly Project. The blogger there, Katie, is writing a book on Mennonite foodways and in the process is delving into her grandmother’s recipe box. (I love that she discovered seven different recipes for lemon pie! And that of the 90 or so recipes, 70 of them were for desserts! Keturah, c’est moi.) I love everything about this blog. I encourage everyone to go check it out.

Which brings me to a conundrum. You see, I bought this first edition (second printing) Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook off ebay a few years back and haven’t really known what to do with it. It is stuffed full of recipes clipped from newspapers, typed up from what appears to have been a local cooking show in Chicago in the early 1960s, and pulled off of baking pans.

The owner’s name, Eileen Marales, is written in a straightforward cursive (remember cursive?) hand inside the front cover. “Eileen Marales.” with a period at the end. The uppercase E is a bit ornate, but the rest of the script is tight and efficient. I imagine that Eileen was maybe a secretary or a schoolteacher. Some sort of profession requiring tidy organization, as reflected in the way she tucked her clipped recipes into the appropriate sections of the cookbook.

I don’t really know what to do with this cookbook. It is not in wonderful condition, so I can’t really sell it (nor do I want to). I don’t know if I should donate it to a library or try to find the Marales family in Chicago and send it to them. Or maybe I’ll just keep it and make a project of cataloging and analyzing what I find amid these yellowed pages. What would you do with this old treasure?

Meal plan: 8/8-14


Meal plan is back! Now that I’m back to my luxurious part-time schedule, I have time to curate a (somewhat) thoughtful meal plan and the corresponding shopping list. As it turns out, BK is done with summer day camp and is now set to enjoy two weeks of Camp Mommy. The first order of business is a two-hour kids’ cooking class at Central Market; I’ll do the week’s shopping while he cooks.

Monday: black bean tacos with fresh corn, avocado, Monterrey jack, some beautiful peppers from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, and topped with some Shanita’s Salsitas Hal’s Hot Love. (The black bean tacos have really become my go-to Meatless Monday dish, but they’re sooooo easy and delicious. And healthy!)
Tuesday: grilled ribeye (or maybe baby back ribs, depending on how cheap I’m feeling when I get to the meat counter), potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower (totally not seasonal, oops!)
Wednesday: leftover turkey bolognese excavated from the freezer, whole wheat fettuccine, salad
Thursday: tomato, mozzarella, and basil paninis
Friday: tortilla-crusted tilapia (purchased at Costco and not my favorite, but it’s been malingering in the freezer and I refuse to toss it), perhaps in taco form.
Saturday: probably dining out
Sunday: My folks are coming to babysit the kids while Matt and I go to the quiz bowl. I’ve promised to feed them dinner in exchange, so we’ll have chicken breasts from the grill and a big, huge, healthy taco salad with corn, black beans, tortilla chips, avocado, tomatoes, probably some peppers, and dressed with Shanita’s Salsitas Ki’s K.O.

I’ve decided to cut out or largely avoid white flour-based things, so breads and tortillas will be whole-wheat/multigrain (or corn, in the case of the tortillas). My cousin John cooked a fantastic dinner for us a couple of weeks ago that included grilled chicken, sauteed beet greens, steamed beets, cream peas, grilled corn on the cob, and the (delicious) crunchy noodle salad that I contributed. Since then, I have endeavored to make dinners featuring lots of fresh, healthy veges and a minimum of trashy carbs. Some nights I’m more successful than others. 😉