Just Another Day in Casa de Sushi

The following conversation took place between me and Darling Daughter recently while I stood at the bottom of the stairs:

“It’s awfully quiet up there – what are y’all up to??”

“Performing human sacrifices!”

“Untie your brother NOW!”

“Mom, I’m performing HUMAN sacrifices – I use the voodoo doll on him!

“Oh. Well, all right then.”

And for the record, yes – we have a voodoo doll. We brought it back as a souvenir from our last trip to New Orleans and gave it to The Young One. We believe it may be partly responsible for his really good grades this year.


(Disclaimer: They’re not really performing human sacrifices or using the voodoo doll. It’s actually much worse – they’re really up there watching one of those asinine “exposé” TV shows that run 24 hours a day on cable. You know the ones: “Former Child Stars Who Now Rob Convenience Stores for Crack Money” and crap like that.)


Edited to add: I’ve used the phrases “human sacrifice,” “voodoo doll” and “crack money” all in one post. The resulting traffic should be interesting.

Google, do your magic.

Memorable Memorial Day

Not.

Beloved is gone and it’s been no fun without him. I’ve worked all day. I’ve cursed Internet Explorer to no avail – it still sucks like a bucket of ticks and now I have a headache.

The Young One has been tormenting Darling Daughter endlessly the way only a younger sibling can. She’d walk by him and he’d say very softly, “You’re gay.” The computer desk is right next to her room, so if she wanted to leave, she had to walk by him and he’d say, very softly, every time, “You’re gay.”

She tried to avoid him, either staying in her room or coming downstairs to watch TV, so after awhile, he’d either knock on her door or bound down the stairs, bellowing, “Hey Sis! Guess what?” Then, softly, “You’re gay.”

Darling Daughter – who, by the way, does an amazing impression of Eric Cartman – began responding to this harrassment by screeching “Maaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhmmmm! Make him stop!”

Why my mother did not have me sterilized before I reached the age of consent, I’ll never know.

I baked two loaves of bread and they both sank on the top. *sigh*

It’s been threatening to rain all day, so I cooked our burgers indoors. Come to think of it, I’d have done that anyway; I do not know how to operate our grill and am intimidated by outdoor appliances hooked up to large tanks of explosives.

The Young One pestered me for an hour by whining, “I’m hungry – when is dinner going to be ready?” When I finally gave him his burger and fries, he ate half the burger and three french fries and declared, “I’m full.”

I made three kinds of burgers tonight – I know it seems like overkill for three people, but we’re talking lunch that I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week, and that is always a GOOD thing. Bacon cheeseburgers, requested by The Young One and then a couple of experiments – Luau Burgers and Thai Burgers with Cucumber-Mint Relish. The Luau Burgers need work, but oh, my – those Thai Burgers were to die for.

So here’s the recipe. It would make a great meatloaf, too, with the relish on the side, if you’re so inclined.

Thai Burgers with Cucumber-Mint Relish

Relish

1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, chopped at about 1/2″ dice

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Burgers

1 pound lean ground beef

2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped*

1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fish sauce**

the zest of one small lime

1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (such as srirachi) or more, to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Dice the cucumber; place it in a bowl, wrapped in a paper towel, for about 30 minutes, to drain. Remove it from the paper towel and combine all of the ingredients in the bowl; refrigerate for at least half an hour, preferably longer.

Combine all of the burger ingredients together, taking care not to over-handle it or the burgers will be tough. Shape it in to 4 generous or 6 smaller patties, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about half an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Grill over medium heat until done, about 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once. Serve with cucumber-mint relish.

*If the lemon grass is very dry, soak it for about 20 minutes in a little water before chopping. If no lemon grass is available, substitute 1 – 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel.

**If you don’t care for the taste of fish sauce, soy sauce can be substituted (but it won’t be quite the same)

Hawaiian Bread

Sunday BrunchDarling Daughter has been asking me to make muffins for some time – she loves muffins in just about any flavor. I haven’t been feeling 100% the last few days (the “fatigue” part of menopause has been kicking my ass and then I went and overdid it yesterday), so I decided to make a loaf of banana bread rather than individual muffins – it just seemed easier. When I got to cooking, I realized I didn’t have enough over-ripe bananas for the bread, but I did have crushed pineapple, coconut and macadamia nuts. The result was something that was every bit as good as traditional banana bread, if not better – provided you like pineapple, coconut and macadamias. Which we do, a LOT. It was nice with the rest of breakfast – a crustless quiche (I just wasn’t up for the whole crust making process), pan fried sausage and strawberries and blueberries with a little half and half poured over them. Good stuff, Maynard.

Hawaiian Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 very ripe medium banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)

About 1/2 cup crushed pineapple with a little juice

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F; butter a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch (6 cup) loaf pan very well.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together well.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until lightened in color and texture, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture in three additions, mixing well after addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the banana and pineapple (together these should make one cup) until evenly distributed. Fold in the coconut and macadamia nuts.

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out of the pan onto the rack to cool completely.

A Saturday Saga and Almost Instant “Lo Mein”

It’s Saturday evening and I’d by lying if I told you that I am not freakin’ exhausted.

Beloved had to go out of town for business today, which is irritating and a bit depressing for both of us, but it’s summer and we both knew business travel season was here. He’s a sweetheart, though, and took me out to breakfast this morning. And, since we didn’t have to leave for the airport until noon, he came outside with me afterwards and helped me weed the vegetable gardens, because it is Memorial Day weekend and officially safe to plant.

At noon I drove him to Cleveland, which is nearly an hour away, so he can fly to Cincinnati, then Minneapolis, then Fargo and then drive 3 hours to some tiny town in North Dakota (I imagine he’s pretty damn tired too). When I got back, Darling Daughter and I went to the local nursery and got starter plants for the vegetable garden and two lovely hanging baskets for the front porch.

Then we began planting – tomatoes, red cabbage, green cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, strawberries, banana peppers, jalapeños, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, pineapple sage, sweet basil, Thai basil, rosemary, French tarragon, oregano and cilantro. We got it ALL planted, fertilized, watered and fenced off from what Darling Daughter calls the “Evil Fluffy Bunnies.”

After scrubbing my hands and bemoaning the ruination of my manicure, I stumbled into the kitchen to cook dinner only to realize that there was nothing defrosted and there were not enough eggs to do “breakfast for dinner” so I got in the car and went to the grocery store to pick something up to cook. Once I was there, I decided I may as well do the damn grocery shopping for the week, which I did.

I came home, put up the groceries and realized that I got so caught up in grocery shopping I forgot to pick something up specifically for dinner tonight. Tired beyond belief and completely pissed at myself, I threw two chicken breasts in the oven to cook (they had a sale on those individually frozen chicken breasts at the store) and began hunting in the fridge and pantry for something to do with it. What I came up with was quick, easy, cheap and so tasty even The Young One ate it.

Almost Instant “Lo Mein”

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed

1 – 16 oz. package frozen stir-fry vegetables (mine was broccoli, carrots and water chestnuts)

6 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Quickly stir-fry the chicken and frozen vegetables until the vegetables are almost completely heated through, 6 or 7 minutes. Add the cooked and drained spaghetti, chili sauce and red pepper flakes, if desired. Continue stir-frying until everything is completely heated through, another 2 – 3 minutes.

Serve immediately.