Monday Meal: Let’s Hear It For the Boyz

Monday was a meal of Monte Cristos and Apples & Onions.  Monte Cristos are one of David’s favorite meals, and he had asked Chef Sunday if he could help make them because he wanted to learn how.  Of course, Chef agreed.

But when Monday came, David had homework he wanted to finish.  Plus, Malachi, our nephew and one of David’s good friends, showed up.  David and Malachi don’t get a lot of time to hang out, so David was hesitant to pass up time with his friend in order to help Chef.  But then Malachi agreed to work in the kitchen, too, so they got the best of both worlds!

They started with the Monte Cristos.  Chef lined up the bread, and David was responsible for slathering on the mayonnaise while Malachi took charge of the mustard.

While those were cooking, they moved on to Apples and Onions.  Malachi used the Apple Corer-Peeler-Slicer.

David worked on sauteeing the apples and onions with the bacon.

The meal, of course, was wonderful.  And I bet the boys enjoyed eating even more because they knew they’d helped.

Well, that’s what I like to think anyway.  And if I convince them, then maybe they’ll take over the cooking altogether!

Monday Meal: Miners’ Camp Pie

Okay, I teased you a little last week.  I told you that Chef was going to make something really yummy with lamb again, but I wouldn’t tell you what it was.

Hey, a girl’s gotta try to increase her blog readership however she can.

This week was a dish called Miners’ Camp Pie.  Except for some reason, Chef and I always call it Camp Miners’ Pie.  I’m not sure why we get it turned around like that.

Essentially, it’s a lamb pot pie.  He found the recipe years ago in a cookbook called something like Heritage of America or American Heritage. It’s an old cookbook, and I tried to find the book on Amazon or someplace so I could link to it, but I couldn’t tell if I was finding the right one because Chef has used his so much that he loved the cover right off of it.

Anyway, the recipe, as I mentioned, is basically lamb pot pie, but it has cream cheese in the filling, which makes it very rich and tasty.  The crust is very flaky, as well.  It is so delicious, and it’s comfort food for sure.

Chef says that he’s glad it tastes so good, because he doesn’t think it looks great.

You can be the judge, though.

To go along with it, he made brioche, which are kind of funny looking rolls with a knob on top.  They are always made this way, though I don’t know why.

The rolls were kind of heavy, and therefore not my favorite.  But this was the first time Chef had ever tried making them, so maybe they’ll be better next time.

In addition to the delicious meal, we had some unexpected guests this week.  The Bankers, friends of Chef’s family from forty years ago.  The Bankers were a fun addition to our regular guests.

Rita and Donna talked about old times.

Dennis and Aaron had some in-depth discussions.

And Mike apparently didn’t want his picture taken.

Then we had dessert: an original creation featuring the brioche dough, glazed pears, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

After he finished making dinner, Chef regaled us with his story, told in a Wisconsin accent, about the five-point doe.  We all laughed and laughed.  It was a good time.

And what was even better was that there was leftover Miners’ Camp Pie.

Indiana Dunes

A couple of weeks ago, I got to escape the grind of the same old, same old, to go on vacation with Chef, his parents and niece, and some friends.  The Indiana Dunes were calling, and we answered!

We camped at the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground from Tuesday night through Friday afternoon.  It’s a really nice campground, especially if you’re going with a large group.  When it’s just Chef and me, I like the campsites to be more secluded, but since we had three sites, it was nice that it was easy to get from one to the other, and it felt like a nice little camping community.  A water spigot was right next to us, and the trash facility and the bathrooms & showers were a very short walk away.

The beach, of course, was our main attraction.  Normally it’s an easy walk, according to friends who have camped there regularly over the years, but the beach trail was under construction so we had to go around… and going around was long and arduous.

Okay, maybe not arduous, but it was sandy and hot and hilly — and have you ever tried to climb up hills on hot sand?  It’s not very easy.  So usually, since we had lots of people going with all their stuff (towels, beach bags, chairs, umbrellas, etc) we drove.

The sun was shining, the weather warm, and the water perfect.

We all took turns preparing meals, and this was a brilliant idea.  The adults were assigned two meals each, and it was so wonderful to know that we were responsible for these specific meals and no others.  It made it a more relaxing time for everyone, I think.

The one problem we had was lack of appropriate signage.  It was hard to know how to get to the beach, and once you were there (especially if you had walked the long and arduous, hot and hilly trail) how to get back to the campground.  Once when we went to the beach, we found that we were in a no-swimming zone, but we didn’t know that because there were no signs.  (“If we put signs way out here,” one staff member told us, “they’ll just get stolen.”  That seemed like a stupid excuse to me.)  We also learned that swimming is permitted only in chest-deep water or less (one friend was swimming out to a buoy and got sent back), but I don’t recall seeing any signs to that effect, either.  It’s very easy to get around if you already know where you are going, but if you’re not familiar with the park, it’s not terribly evident.


Still, it was a really good camping experience.  The sharing of meal responsibilities, the fun games, the beach, and the showers which were really nice for camp showers all made it a very fun time from which I was not quite ready to return.

I’d definitely recommend it.

Chasing the Wind

Just a quick post to show you the finished sculpture created by Chef and his partner Aaron for the Single-Block Classic.  I don’t know yet how they placed.  The title of the sculpture is “Chasing the Wind.”

I kind of feel like I’m chasing the wind right now, too.  Work has been busy and stressful, and I’ve had almost no time to blog.  Having my husband gone hasn’t been all that relaxing, either!  Wonderful friends and family are so kind in visiting and/or inviting me over to visit, but that means I don’t have a lot of time on my own and therefore not a lot of time to myself.  (It’s a mixed blessing.  The busyness keeps my mind occupied, but it’s wearing me out as well!)

Still, I have been able to do some reading and knitting and with my mom’s help, I got the whole kitchen reorganized.

As of tonight, I’ll be half-way through Chef’s time away.

Deeeeeeeep breath.

I will make it.  And in spite of the seemingly never-ending snow, spring is coming.

***

Also, I want to extend my sincere condolences to the Dick Seib family.  Dick’s son, John, a childhood friend of mine, died Wednesday night.  John will be missed.

Monday Meal: Tacos

Tacos may be my favorite meal ever.  So last week, knowing that Chef was going to be out of town for the first of four straight Mondays (*sob*), I thought tacos would be just the thing to cheer me up.  I mentioned to Chef that I’d make three pounds of meat.

“That’s an awful lot of taco meat,” he said.

So, in spite of the fact that I figured I could eat a half a pound plus all the fixings myself, I figured that he (being a CHEF after all) knew better, and as a result I made only two pounds of meat.  (Venison, for your information, simply because we still have venison in the freezer and no beef.  With all the taco seasoning, you can hardly tell a difference, except that it’s leaner.)

Anyway, I’m really glad I listened to Chef, because of all our Monday Meal regulars, only TWO showed up.

And I think Rita came only because she promised to bring cheese and lettuce.  And Lisa came only because she’d seen me on Friday and promised to come.

See, it’s been snowing here in central Indiana.  And snowing, and snowing.  And it snowed all day on Monday, and an all-day snow makes people want to sit in their own houses under their own blankets and not drive or walk to even such a fabulous event as Monday Dinner.

At least, I’m hoping it was the snow and not the fact that everyone knew Chef wasn’t going to be there.

As a result, we had a LOT of tacos to eat.  Even I couldn’t eat them all.  So I had a lot of leftovers, which Chef and I polished off for lunches and dinners after he returned from Wyoming and before he left for Alaska.

And this week, I’m thinking that I might not make the two huge pots of soup I was planning.  I think maybe just one.

Oh, and after Rita and Lisa left, I indulged my new grapefruit addiction.  And I ate TWO of them.

So there.

Monday Meal: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Chef and I knew ahead of time that his parents wouldn’t make it to the Monday Meal last week because they had a meeting to attend.  Later, we got a call from Gina (another regular), saying her son had a school project to finish, so they weren’t going to make it either.  Still, I put the leaves in the table and Chef worked on the soup.  At 6:30, we’d pretty much decided we were going to be the only participants, but ten minutes later, Beka showed up.  She offered to leave so we could have the evening to ourselves, but we insisted she stay.  Instead of the three of us sitting at the now-huge dining room table, we chose to take our food by the wood stove and enjoy dinner by the fire.

Chef made a veloute sauce and added carrots and onions and noodles for a creamy chicken soup.

He made bread and chai, as always.  And Beka commented that the Apple Pie Jam my mother makes, which we were serving with the bread, would be really good on top of ice cream, so we whipped out the Breyer’s for dessert.

The three of us talked about writing, and jobs, and knitting and crocheting, and the new coffee shop downtown.  It was a nice, cozy time.

Now, for the next four weeks, I’m on my own for the Monday Meal!  Although Chef will be here a little bit next week, he won’t be home for the next three Mondays.  And he’ll arrive home on the fourth Monday, but he’ll be far too exhausted to prepare a meal.  (Gina suggested we cancel the meal for that week so I could just hang out with my hubby, but I told her he’d be sleeping for the next 12 days after his return, so it was perfectly okay to go ahead with dinner.)

I sat down yesterday and got all the meals planned out, along with shopping lists for the things I’ll need.

The Monday Meal segment should be an adventure for the next month, and I won’t promise photos because good grief, I’ll be doing enough just cooking.

P.S. Haiku winners will be posted shortly!

Monday Meal: Project “We Have Nothing to Eat”

This time of year is exhausting for Chef and me.  He’s just gotten through the busyness that is the Christmas season, and entered the busyness that is competition season.  He was out of town over last weekend, judging a collegiate ice carving competition in Michigan, and he knew he had a crazy couple weeks ahead of carving like a madman to prepare for his three-week trip to Alaska coming up later this month.

For my part, I pick up the slack around the house as much as I can while he’s away and busy.  Plus I started a very part-time freelance writing job, so that has taken up some extra time.

And besides that, it’s just exhausting missing my husband so much.

As a result, neither of us had thought much about what we were going to prepare for Monday dinner.  I got home first that day and started rummaging through cabinets.  Onions!  We had onions.  Not a ton, but probably enough.  We also had squash, left from months ago when Chef catered a fall dinner and dance at our church.  (Thank goodness squashes last forever without going bad.)  We had bags of pinto beans, but those weren’t going to work because I hadn’t soaked them, plus I have no idea what to make with pinto beans anyway.

When Chef came home, I suggested that we make French Onion Soup and bake the squashes.  Plus, I had a Greek salad left over from a catered lunch at work.  We hoped it would be enough.

I sliced the onions while Chef started making the bread and getting everything else ready for the soup.  Problem was we didn’t have any beef broth or beef base — only chicken base, and I wasn’t sure how that would taste in a French Onion Soup.  Chef assured me no one would know the difference, and since he found some cooked beef in the fridge, leftover from fajitas he’d made just a few days before, he was able to supplement with chicken broth with some beef flavor.  We didn’t have much cheese, but our guests made do.  And there was a lot of squash, and lots of delicious bread.

Even though we thought we had no food in the house, we managed to feed all our guests and even send food home with all of them.

It’s amazing what you can make with a little bit of nothing.

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