tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Little victories

Hi J - Happy New Year!

After the leisure holidays and short work weeks, I endured a very long work week. I must have woken up and though it was Friday at least three times. I was very much looking forward to the weekend. For our first take of the year, I decided on a simple repeat - meatballs, anchovy pasta, and kale. And a 'cake', for the small victories like running water and the mobile you.


Simple and hopefully tasty. High carbohydrate meals so this is a real treat. I am hoping to clean out my pantry so I used angel hair pasta instead of the usual spaghetti. I forget, but I thought someone prefers spaghetti? (or I imagined it.) Oh hey, I found this handy chart on When Pasta Meets Sauce. I should try all the pasta shape, how fun.

The meatballs were an equal mix of pork, beef and Italian sausage. Seasoned with Parmesan cheese, anchovy paste, generous amount of red pepper flakes (oops)  and black pepper. I opted to bake them in the oven instead of browning them on the stove top (lazy). Pasta was tossed with olive oil infused with garlic and almost a tube of anchovy paste, lemon zest and chopped parsley.

After dinner and a little lolly gagging, we started Ticket to Ride.

 a wreck of a hand of train cards 

What? I forgot we have to match the train card colors to the track track colors. After I got the hang of it and juggled my cards, someone blocked me. sigh


I remember the last time running of of train pieces, so I carefully counted before I kept another route card. And the long way around to Phoenix actually forced me to realize the longer way around may not always be detrimental.

Untitledcake, not real cake.. cake with a k? 

For the 'cake' - boxed yellow cake with lemon jell o. The unnatural shade of yellow cracked me up. It matches the yellow GIR spatula you gave me 🙂  I think I prefer the version that adds jell o after the cake is bake vs this version with jell o baked with lemon icing. N is so right that it is as sweet as a donut. Yikes.

Stay warm and see you soon,


Giving Thanks for Teamwork

Good afternoon, E!

This year, I think we were all sort of too drained to make one of our usual complicated Thanksgiving meals. I was housebound and supposed to keep my surgically altered foot elevated as much as possible. We split the effort and store-bought a few things and had a nice, relaxing (?!) Thanksgiving.


You and G brought some tasty meats and herring from International Deli in Bellevue. There was a beef product that reminded me of Lebanon bologna, a deli favorite of mine. The headcheese was delicious and reminded me of Russian holodets -- I wanted to add fresh horseradish to it. Yum.

You and G also brought the main event: a ham from Honeybaked Ham and a kale salad.

On one foot and a knee scooter, I made a few simple side dishes.

Mashed potatoes, which I like chunky and with skins on. I use a combination of potato water and milk to thin them out.

Roasted Brussels sprouts, which I just halved and tossed with oil and salt.

E's plate
E's plate

Cranberry sauce, which I like spiced up. Similar to Tyler Florence's recipe.

pumpkin pie
pumpkin pie

I also made one pumpkin pie on a graham cracker crust. The recipe I used is the one on the Trader Joe's can of organic pumpkin, but it is very similar to Suzanne's Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie.

You saved us with whipped cream for the pie. Yum.

Thanks for putting up with us for another holiday!

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Somewhere in the Middle

Dear E,

Stories of N's lasagna have crossed the country. Pounds of sausage and ricotta, freezers full of noodle. Oh, the garlic! "I ate three pieces and didn't have to eat again for a month!"


N made lasagna in November, shortly after I had ankle surgery and was in no shape to even help cook anything. It was different -- less extreme. Less cheesy. Less meaty. Less garlic.

a different lasagna

Still tasty. G was disappointed as he wanted the many pounds of cheese and meat version.

N used fresh store-bought lasagna noodles, which we liked. He only used ground sausage in the sauce. A layer of fresh spinach (not pre-cooked) releases some liquid into the lasagna, but as long as the sauce isn't too watery to begin with, it works out without soaking the lasagna. Not bad. Simple and quick, which is what we needed.

He also made a Greek salad ... upside-down.

upside-down salad

That's a lot of croutons!

After dinner, we played five person Uno, as my mom was in town helping out after my surgery. The strategy (what strategy?) was a little different with five people and me sitting between N and G instead of my usual spot between you and N!


I put a big asterisk on this game though. Hey, I blame the painkillers.


Lucky us, you made a half plain-half pumpkin cheesecake. Mmm. It was delicious.

Until next time!

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Approximately Dinner

Dear E,

Yet another last-minute menu plan.

Earlier in the week, I asked a mutual friend if he had tried peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese. He had not. I thought I'd make some quickly -- I dusted them with some savory sage salt.

goat cheese stuffed peppadew
goat cheese peppadew

The previous week, I had planned a meal that the power company decided to interrupt. Thankfully you and G were flexible and instead we had a nice meal out.

From the interrupted menu, I decided I would make roasted delicata squash but I switched up the rest of the menu.

For some reason I wanted to make roast beef. Why? I have no idea. Loosely following this recipe, which had me cook the roast on a rack in the center of the oven, so that it could cook from all sides at once. It starts at a high heat to crust the outside, then the temperature is dropped and it finishes cooking.


N's mom makes a chopped salad that I love. I have tried to copy it many times to no avail. This weekend, N called her to ask for her recipe. The secret? She blends blue cheese with ranch dressing and avocados for the dressing. Aha! It looked like a lot of dressing but it was mostly avocados!

e's plate
e's plate

I had pulled out Agricola, but N wasn't feeling up for it so he dealt our new Uno deck. It was labelled Uno Mod, which I thought was just a reference to the new deck design. Oh no. There is actually a new CARD. This new card allows the player to play it and hand out cards of the color selected to all of the other players. I don't think we liked it much! Why mess with success?


After G beat us in Uno, we played a bit of Carcassonne.


It was a close game. I've been playing a lot of Carcassonne on my phone. Maybe it's helping -- the rest of you usually destroy me in Carcassonne.

See you next time!


Fowl and Fish

Good day, E!

A few weeks ago our next door neighbor went fishing and caught a bunch of salmon. He brought us a few to smoke. N smoked them with a lot of seasoning and a few of them are a bit over-seasoned. "No problem," I thought. "I'll just make a spread."

salmon spread

I flaked half of a filet of salmon and then added 6 ounces of cream cheese and 4 ounces of crème fraîche to it until it was a spreadable but light consistency. N suggested adding green onion to the spread directly. I decided against it in case the green onion would lose their crunch and I just served them on the side with some quick pickled red onion. It was pretty good on store-bought fresh-baked pumpernickel bread.

While we ate all of the salmon spread, N grilled chickens.

N brined two chickens overnight. He coated them in some hatch chile barbeque sauce I made* and then smoked them with a bit of mesquite. They took a bit longer to cook than usual for some reason.

j's plate

I threw together a quick, super-tart cole slaw (oops). I shredded the carrots and added them and they turned the entire batch a pale orange color. Not appealing! I did want it to be a bit tart to counter the slightly-sweet bbq sauce, but not THAT tart.

After an afternoon excursion to Cabela's resulted in the truck being hit and our trip taking a bit longer than expected, I supplemented with some store-bought scalloped potatoes. Since the cole slaw was horrible and G doesn't like chicken, I'm glad I added the potatoes!

After dinner, G suggested we play Settlers of Catan again. I fear he will suggest it every week until he wins a game!

not more settlers of catan!

We played two rounds -- you won the first one, N won the second. I guess that means more Settlers of Catan next week? Oh no. I might have to banish our copy with the Uno deck.

* Hatch Chile BBQ Sauce
6 fresh Hatch chile peppers
2 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup Guinness
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce

Roast chile peppers over flame to blister and char all sides. Once charred, place peppers in paper bag to sweat for 10 minutes. Remove the charred skin along with the stem and seeds then rinse the peppers under cold running water.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until tender. Add the chiles along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let set for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

Place sauce in food processor or blender and puree.


New math

Hi J - Wow. TIme flies when we are busy with canine appointments. It has been two weeks since this dinner and weather has definitely turned to early fall.

At a little after 4pm on that Saturday, after noticing G had set up the charcoal already...


me: what time are you starting the grill?
G: 5pm
me: I thought you said the cooking time is 2 hours+
G: yes.
me: doesn't the charcoal take half an hour, and then resting time.
G: there is that.

And there you have it. Never mind that was an exact repeat of an earlier conversation in the morning.

Untitledradish and cheese

I present to you food backup plan A - radish with cheese. I found some radish in the drawer that needed a little love. I stw and selected the first recipe. I made a quick cheese, drizzled with olive oil infused with lemon zest and garlic, and ground peppers.

Untitledcharred bits of tongue

Plan B - beef tongue. Marinated thin sliced beef tongue with the usual suspect of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and gochujang. The special ingredient was yuzu wikipedia. I added some to the marinate and sprinkled more just before serving. I like the sweet tangy taste of the citrus.

I did neglect to take a picture of my plate. I only have a photo of the [store bought] marinated tri-top roast. Served with [store bought] au gratin potatoes and simple romaine salad. Oh wait, I think it was scallop potatoes. Someone with more potato knowledge should explain the difference between au gratin and scallop, or read this chowhound discussion threat.


After dinner, who had the bright idea of Settlers of Catan, again? G, who also switched up the colors, which caused all kinds of issues.


I think N won this one. I've blocked out this six bijillionth Catan game.  Hope you enjoyed the evening. See you next time.

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See Food Diet

Dear E,

It feels like laziness when I plan a redux menu. A couple of weeks ago we were laughing at the memory of you eating thousands of mussels at dinner a few years ago. I decided we'd see if my favorite eastside fishmonger had mussels for this week.

They did! Nice, fresh Penn Cove mussels. They also had a few different sizes of oysters and N picked out a few of them as well before supplementing with some very large oysters from Whole Foods.

n shuck

For appetizer, N did Oysters Nick, his version of Oysters Rockefeller. He tops the oysters with hot sauce (Pain is Good Batch 37 Garlic Style) and garlic butter, then tops with a bit of shredded romano and grills it. The cheese is mostly there to hold everything else together.


These oysters were enormous!

Saturday morning I knit and flipped through a couple of cookbooks looking for a salad that would go along with mussels. In Jasper White's The Summer Shack Cookbook I found a green bean, red onion, and blue cheese salad.


I blanched trimmed green beans, tossed them with shredded romaine and quick-pickled red onion and a simple dijon vinaigrette I added a bit of blue cheese to. I topped the salad with more crumbled blue cheese and chopped Kalamata olives. I think it worked out with the main event...

Just as he did a few years ago, N made two types of mussels: garlic butter wine mussels and Thai green curry mussels.


Lots of cilantro, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime zest (we had trouble finding kaffir lime leaves-- I should just buy some the next time I see them and stash them in the freezer), shallot, garlic, coconut milk, and green curry paste for the Thai green curry mussels. This recipe looks fairly close to what N made.

After dinner, you treated us to mooncakes from Regent Bakery & Cafe. You mentioned an NPR piece about refrigeration of mooncakes -- it is both interesting and funny. Refrigerate moon cakes now, after hundreds of years of storing without refrigeration? Never.


I think my favorite mooncakes were the egg custard ones, followed by the winter melon.

The autumn harvest coincides with football -- the first weekend of real college football season led to the boys watching the end of the UW game while we made coffee and shared mooncakes.


Once the football game was over, we didn't have much time left in the evening so we just played a round of Uno. I tried to convince us to play something else with no luck.

Funny how your "lack of strategy" led to you winning Uno, isn't it? Until next time...

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More pork with that

Pork, that's what's for dinner.

Untitledsavory snack

We started with a  quick snack of some salumi, with some peppers and fresh mozzarella, drizzled with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Quick, simple, and tasty.

For dinner, we had thick cut pork chops from Fischers. But what to do when face with don't-want-another-usual-brine for pork chops? add beer. I modified the brine recipe by mixing beer with chicken broth, instead of water, and added some rosemary.  Let me pause and say it was very nice to get the pork chops, via Amazon Fresh on Friday night. I did not have to hassle G to go to the store on Friday evening, or get up early on Saturday.

Untitledpile high

I had intentions of getting some greens, but couldn't find any, so default to a boxed herb salad, dressed with mustard vinaigrette.  And we should have more pork. I sauteed some bacon, with apples and a celery root with some red onions. I couldn't taste the difference between the apples and the celery root. But eating the leftover at room temperature a couple of days later, the celery taste was more visible. I will probably not use the celery root again, it added no value.

What is not pictured are the potatoes G made. When I gave him the menu, he decided we needed another item. I vetoed corn (which we had last time together), then he suggested potatoes. "N likes potato". I do, a little too. My less-carb plan was foiled. I mentally blocked out the item until the very last minute, when I remember we do not have fixings. The horror. Thank you for bringing sour cream and chives.

After dinner, we tried a new to us games - Family Business BGG. Because of  the family and death theme, it reminds me both of Gloom BGG and Guillotine BGG. The object is to be the last one standing. Lots of [killing] contracts, double cross,  family influence, etc.  Mob members are lined up when a player puts a contract, they may be counter or rescue. Once there are six mob members lined up, mob war starts, and does not end until they are all dead, or peace (card). When there are six mob members left, Mob War is trigger, and the last one standing wins.

There was a bit of stare-off-in-space where someone plays a counter card, and it becomes that player's turn. It is like Uno, where Reverse and Skip can be a snoozer,  for the other players.

UntitledSt Valentine's day in my hand

Family Business - new to us #gamenight J's hand

For a filler game, I generally like it. I am formulating a .. ahem.. strategy ... if it can be called that ...  to be the last one standing. After all the killing, we default to Settlers of Catan, where I had yet another bad placement and lost, spectacularly. Good thing there were Loacker Quadratini Lemon Wafers, the cookies made losing yet another game of Settlers of Catan bearable.


I won Catan tonight! #gamenightJ wins

 That's a wrap. I hope you enjoyed the evening. See you next time.


How about fajitas?

Good evening, E!

When N told me he IMed G about what to make for dinner, I laughed. G suggested we try grilled pizza again or cioppino. So N decided on fajitas and margaritas. Makes total sense!

N marinated flank steak for a few hours and then quickly grilled it with a bit of mesquite wood smoke. I like mesquite in small doses.

j's plate

N used to make this fresh pepper salsa -- all sorts of fresh peppers, a few tomatoes, onions, diced, lime juice. I really wanted a fresh corn salsa, so I prepped corn and asked N to make a less-hot version of his pepper salsa and add the corn to it. It turned out well!

e's plate
e's plate

We also had guacamole... that I forgot to add garlic to. That's how you know I was truly exhausted.

While pulling one of the steaks out of the freezer, N discovered a frozen pecan pie. It defrosted in time for a dessert snack. Chester was really happy he got crust treats!

chester pie crust
spoiled cat

Uno was all I could manage after a day of yardwork. I couldn't even make it upstairs to get my real camera. Uno!

braindead game

After Uno we discussed the age of various games. Here's what we learned:

Chess: 6th century AD (India)
Backgammon: 3000 BC (Persia)
Go: 400 BC (China)
Playing cards: 9th century (China)

That was a bit of a surprise! Backgammon is a favorite of mine and a game I was taught how to play at a very young age (I never liked chess, so I guess I got backgammon instead - my brother got chess).

Maybe we can try Agricola (BGG) or Dominion (BGG) next time? I fear the boys will find Agricola too Farmville for their tastes but I want to try it out. I've been looking for a couple of deck combinations for Dominion that are more contentious and interactive for us to try out. I love Dominion but I think everyone else wants a game that involves more infighting!

See you next week!

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Copy and paste

Dear J - Nevermind the forecast says cool over the weekend and we got our first sprinkle of rain in over a month. "We will have sangria!"

I wanted a peach sangria, to use up some (home) canned peaches that needs to be use. And this one look particular good with blackberries. I used a Rioja, the only one available at the corner Safeway. Crossed my finger that it will be good. I was puzzling at the green fruit in the recipe picture, then funny thing, in the recipe video, there was lime, but not in the recipe.  The flavor was ok, I don't think it will make it into the rotation. Me thinks dinner people prefer cocktail style beverage.

Untitledflavors melding together - adding fresh picked berries

And through out the week, I couldn't stop thinking about the pork bun at Facing East. I even convinced a coworker to go to lunch there. Knowing pork belly won't do for us, so when G suggested ribs, I encouraged him to try country ribs. Safer choice to avoid burnt food. I also hope it would make a good substitute for belly. Then I consulted some Taiwanese coworkers for tips and tricks on the condiments.

mosaic52a844747959322bc1d8e570c6015848906f7bc1Facing East and my version

I marinated half of the country ribs using this braised pork belly recipe, and reduced another batch for the drizzle sauce. The other half of the country ribs were brined simply. G indirected grill and smoke the country ribs. I think the pork turned out good.

The bun was overwhelming for burger was overwhelming, I didn't find the smaller ones I need, but more pork and fixings later, they turned out ok. The flavor was close.

And thank you for reminding me the kale salad was in the fridge when we sat down to eat. I copycated this salad from the Safeway deli. They call their version SuperFood - kale, dried cranberries, blueberries, carrots, and some little seed or nuts. My version skipped the dried cranberries and I added some goat cheese that was randomly in the fridge. I dressed it with a basic balsamic mustard vinaigrette.

After dinner, and rubber finger dropping a large beer on the floor, G suggested The Train Game - Ticket to Ride. I made the same mistake and kept a route card without enough trains to make the route. Then the second game, G blocked both of us. Gurr. However, my lucky draw of routes put me over the top.

Untitledsomeone blocked our route


Hope you enjoyed the evening. I am going to sip some leftover sangria. See you.

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