Friday, July 31, 2020

Summer Vegetable Gratin

Our garden has been giving us lots of zucchini. We decided to make Summer Vegetable Gratin from The Side Dish Bible (America's Test Kitchen). 
Since we had so much zucchini, we didn't buy any yellow squash. We just used more zucchini. We have found that large tomatoes do not work in our garden because bugs and critters get to them before they're ripe enough for us so we bought tomatoes.
This is delicious! Zucchini (and squash) shingled in a baking dish, topped with sauteed onions, topped with shingled tomatoes, topped with a bread crumb-parmesan-shallot mixture. There's fresh thyme throughout the entire gratin and servings are topped with fresh basil (which we keep forgetting to do!).
We will definitely make this again - but not on a 90+ degree day. It was not a good day to have something in the oven at 400 degrees! Especially not after we had also baked cookies, bread, and cooked a turkey breast. We both thought the gratin tasted better after the first day. It's really good, especially the crispy bread crumb topping, and gave us 8 servings. It was our only side with grilled chicken thighs.

Note: We omitted the garlic, used only one onion, and used half a shallot. That was plenty for me. I didn't want to risk another stomach episode since I just had one.

Recipe: Summer Vegetable Gratin

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Recently we made some exciting purchases! Something to look forward to: packages in the mail! Yes, life is pretty boring these days, no dinner dates, no movies, no museums, no travel, no gatherings with friends/family. What did we buy? A ravioli mold for the next time we make ravioli. I've been doing OK doing it by hand/freeform, but the ravioli are inconsistent sizes! We also bought a bread lame to see if SP's bread slashes are better with the real gadget instead of the knife he's been using. And we have some tea coming.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:.

  • The Alienist (TNT) is already half over since TNT has been airing 2 new episodes every Sunday night. I like this season better than last season.
  • The Invisible Man (movie). I liked this more than I expected although I am not good at watching suspenseful movies!
  • Bombshell (movie). As expected, we yelled at the FOX News jerks and Roger Ailes. I don't understand why any woman would want to work there.
  • Radioactive (movie, Amazon Prime). Rosamund Pike portrays Marie Curie. It was good, not great, but as always we enjoy this kind of film. SP is still sad that he wasn't able to see Marie Curie's tomb in The Panthéon (it was closed off that day).
  • Marvels Agents of SHIELD has just 2 episodes left. I've been enjoying this final season even though the time jumping/timeline stuff bugs me (as it always does).
  • Black Mirror (Netflix). SP has been suggesting this for a long time and I finally relented. We watched Season 1, Episode 1. Um. Huh. It was about the British Prime Minister being blackmailed into having sex with a pig. It was disturbing. I am not sure I will watch more episodes.

What I'm Reading:

  • Fair Warning by Michael Connelly. This is not a Harry Bosch novel but a Jack McEvoy novel. He's the investigative journalist from The Poet. I couldn't put the book down and I am very glad I never acted on any remote interest to submit the DNA for an ancestry profile.
  • Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay. A light and fluffy (sugary?!) mystery novel. This is the first book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery Series. Until now I've stuck with just the Tea Shop Mysteries from Laura Childs, but I think I might try some others. They're not as deep/convoluted/well written as some of the other thriller/mystery books I read, but they keep me entertained for a few hours/let me escape the pandemic and political crap. There seem to be a lot of this kind of series.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sourdough Crumpets

It's taken me a while to post about these Sourdough Crumpets. I was hoping we'd make them again before I posted, but that hasn't yet happened. These were a spur of the moment ~ SP wanted to use his sourdough starter discard kitchen adventure. We ate them for dinner, not afternoon tea, or breakfast.
These don't take very long to make and they cook on a griddle like a pancake but to make sure they stay round, pour the batter into a shallow metal ring. We used a 4" biscuit cutter ring. This is similar to the set we have: Round Cookie Biscuit Cutter Set, 12 Graduated Circle Pastry Cutters
I had never tried a crumpet. I remember there being a crumpet place at Pike Place Market in Seattle when we were there about 4 years ago but we didn't have a chance to try the crumpets. It's a cross between a pancake and an English Muffin. 
I loved the crisp exterior and the soft, chewy, English Muffin-like interior. We both really liked these and hopefully will make them again! There's a crumpet recipe that was in an issue of Cook's Illustrated sometime in the past year, so we'll have to try those.

Recipe: Sourdough Crumpets

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

It took a full week but my stomach finally recovered from whatever was bothering it. It's nice to eat flavorful food again!

I tried to visit with my dad earlier this week. He came over to pick up some things and we sat out on opposite sides of the deck. After half an hour, it started raining. So that visit ended. I was annoyed because I'd checked the forecast and it did not look like rain in the morning. I hadn't seen him since March 9 and then all I got was half an hour. Stupid summer weather. Stupid virus.

Meanwhile I still haven't seen my mom. She is experiencing a terrible allergic reaction to something. She has awful hives. Dad took her to urgent care and then 3 days later to the ER. Mom said that the ER nurses told her they'd never seen a case of hives as bad as hers. It sounds awful. Last I heard, she was doing a bit better but she's taking a lot of medicine. The ER doctor quadrupled the dosage of the medicine urgent care gave her!

What We're Eating:
  • Grilled Pizza with fresh mozzarella, parmesan, provolone, tomatoes, prosciutto, fresh basil
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Bread topped with  Pimiento Cheese Spread, bacon, tomato, avocado
  • Special lunch treat:  Zucchini Fritters
  • Dessert: Milano cookies, M&M's
What We're Watching:
  • We finished Warrior Nun (Netflix). It ended on a cliffhanger but SP tells me he saw it was renewed for seasons 2 & 3, so that makes me happy.
  • We watched season 2 of Homecoming (Amazon Prime). It was just 7 episodes. It was a little lighter than season 1, which was nice, and I thought concluded the story nicely.
  • The Gentlemen (movie). This was a fun movie with a great cast.
  • The Hunt (movie). This movie is controversial. It's "a satirical thriller wherein wealthy Americans hunt “deplorables” for sport." I'm not going to say much more. It's over the top. It's a movie. Lighten up people. We enjoyed the fight scenes. We had a few laughs. We were entertained. If you want to know more about the movie/the controversy, just do a search.
What I'm Reading:
  • The latest Daniel Silva book, The Order. As always I enjoyed Gabriel Allon's latest adventure, especially one that wasn't an elaborately planned intelligence operation but rather more of a murder mystery.
  • The latest Sharon Bolton book, The Split. It held my attention but at the same time I felt like I'd read it before - ? 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Zucchini Fritters

It's zucchini season. We weren't planning on eating zucchini this week but then SP discovered four nicely sized ones in the garden. We're trying to pick them before they grow humongous! One went to my mom. One is still in the refrigerator. And two got turned into Zucchini Fritters for lunch today.
The recipe is from The Side Dish Bible but it also is in The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook and was on the Test Kitchen Instagram Feed last week. The mixture itself doesn't look too appetizing in the bowl, a mush of grated zucchini, feta, dill, chives, eggs, and flour.
They smell delicious as they fry and crisp up on the exterior.
 A quick blot on paper towels and then the tasting.
Yum! Crispy brown exterior, soft zucchini-herb-feta interior. I thought they could have used a little more feta than 4 ounces. Next time, we'd plan ahead and have the scallions; this time we used chives. Definitely squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the fritter. Next time we might grate in a little lemon zest.
We'd make these again.

Recipe: Zucchini Fritters
*We used chives, not scallions, since that is what we had.
*We omitted the garlic simply because of my stomach.
*The Instagram Feed recipe said 8 ounces feta, The Side Dish Bible said 4 ounces. We used about 6 ounces.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

It's been a difficult week. Sunday night I started having one of my "extreme digestive distress" episodes and I'm still experiencing it. Really painful cramps/spasms and feeling like I might throw up or have diarrhea or both, at the same time. Usually garlic/shallot/spicy foods trigger these episodes, but we cannot figure out what caused this one. Monday I ate a piece of toast. Yes, one piece of toast all day. I've been getting a bit better. I can eat yogurt and grilled cheese and grilled cheese with turkey. But even those bland foods set off the cramping pains. I've been sleeping a lot and trying to drink a lot of water.

So SP has a lot of food for his lunch & dinner this week!

What We're Eating:



  • Toast
  • Grilled Cheese. Sometimes Grilled Cheese & Turkey
  • Dessert/Snacks: Club Crackers. Graham Crackers.

What We're Watching:

  • Warrior Nun (Netflix). I'm enjoying this a lot more than I expected! There are 10 episodes, each about 40-45 minutes. We have three left.
  • We finished Money Heist (Netflix). It's a lot to watch, 4 seasons/38 episodes, but it's really good. 
  • Season 2 of The Alienist (TNT) starts this Sunday with a 2 hour premiere. I liked but didn't love season 1, but I liked it enough to give season 2 a try.

What I'm Reading:
Magazines. I have 2 books from the library. We just picked them up yesterday.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

It's really hot here, so we've not been able to enjoy the deck. Good thing we replaced the a/c a few years ago because it would be awful to be without it right now. The poor unit pretty much runs non-stop from the afternoon until after dinner.

Virus numbers are still going up here. The house is my protective bubble and I imagine everything outside the house bubble as infested with spike covered balls hovering the air, waiting to murder me. Today I brought in a package that UPS delivered. It was a padded envelop (a really large one) and after I put it in SP's office, I started stressing out about virus blobs so I washed my hands and then I clorox wiped everything I'd touched and I still felt vulnerable. That's what this pandemic is doing to me. Constant irrational fear and obsessive washing of hands and cleaning. Random body aches & pains. 

I ordered some new bath towels from Kohl's. Turns out, our Kohl's has curb-side pickup. So after he went for his bloodwork, SP picked them up. Right now, since so much of what we usually do is closed and/or indoors and therefore not appealing, new towels are pretty darn exciting!
What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • Money Heist. We are on the fourth season and have 5 more episodes. 

What I'm Reading:

  • Masked Prey from John Sandford, the latest Lucas Davenport novel. Kept me hooked, as always.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

I think of Brussels sprouts as a fall/winter vegetable. Apparently SP does not since he came home from Costco with a 2 lb bag of them. I've enjoyed the sprouts I've eaten in restaurants but never much liked the ones we make at home. To make me more enthusiastic about eating all the Brussels, he suggested we try the Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon from The Food Lab Cookbook.
I agreed (bacon!) but then lost my enthusiasm after I prepped the little monsters. Maybe it was just this bag, but gosh they were huge and it was tough to chop off the bottoms and slice through the middle. That was my job while he cleaned the bathroom. I guess I got the better end of the deal, but prepping these did not make me like them. On the plus side, this recipe is quick & easy. These were good but ultimately, they're still Brussels and just not one of my favorite vegetables. Proof that bacon does not make everything better. SP loves them.

Recipe here: Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

*It's possible we should have par-cooked them since they were large. Next time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Creamy Potato Salad with Herbs

Usually we made a vinegar dressing for potato salad but we both had a craving for creamy potato salad last weekend. My grandma and mom always made creamy potato salad with just mayonnaise for the dressing, but I don't really like that anymore. Fortunately, the latest Food Network Magazine had a creamy potato salad recipe, and the dressing was a mix of mayo, sour cream, and vinegar. That sounded good (plus we had a container of sour cream we needed to use up).
Yum! I like the tang from the sour cream and the hint of vinegar. A bit of vinegar is also drizzled over the potatoes when they're hot. I like both versions, vinegar and creamy, but I think the creamy dressing is especially yummy with the fresh dill. Our dill is growing like crazy and we wanted to use a bunch of it before the heat kills it (as has happened in past years).

Recipe here: Creamy Potato Salad with Herbs

*we did not measure our herbs, we just chopped a bunch and sprinkled some in, stirred, then added more, stirred, and repeated until it looked herby enough for us
**we used a 3 lb bag of potatoes, so we scaled up a bit on some the other ingredients/the dressing

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Thursday Thoughts

Today is the first day of a four day holiday weekend for us. We're smoking a pork butt which we will enjoy with homemade macaroni & cheese and some tomatoes with basil.

We have no 4th of July plans. It's going to be way too hot to be comfortable outside and we're not wanting to be inside with other people, not even our family at our/their house. Allegheny County is up to 233 new cases in one day, most ever since this all started, and while it might be mostly younger people going to bars and people going on vacation (which, why? what the heck are you thinking?) all those people could infect people who could infect people and you get the idea. No way are we going to a restaurant, especially after seeing this and this plus social media photos of jam-packed places with people not wearing masks, or wearing them but not over the nose, or worse, wearing them on their chin.

Seriously, people, do better. Do you want this to end? Just wear a mask.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled Teriyaki Chicken with grilled asparagus & rice
  • Dessert: S'mores Bars

What We're Watching:

  • Money Heist. Really enjoying it. 
  • Our usual cooking shows plus Agents of SHIELD and Perry Mason.

What I'm Reading:

  • Old Scores, a Barker & Llewlyn novel by Will Thomas. It was good. Now I have one left to read. Hopefully we'll be able to request library books soon, but if new coronavirus cases keep rising, probably not anytime soon.
  • Masked Prey by John Sandford. I just started the latest Lucas Davenport.