Revenge of the Fifth

There are so many good recipes in The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook that we couldn’t limit our Star Wars celebration to just one day, so I bring you The Revenge of the Fifth!

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t quite involved as last night’s, but it did fit well with Cinco de Mayo as well as Star Wars Day: Part Two. I made ronto wrappers (herbed flatbread) as the foundation for ronto wraps, plus a really delicious beverage, the blurggfire, which included a homemade habanero-lime syrup:

For dessert, I made a zoochberry surprise:

I can’t wait to try more recipes from the cookbook!

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day!

I promised the Fab Five that we would do something special to celebrate this year, especially since we were so excited about the premiere of The Bad Batch, so I planned a special Star Wars themed dinner featuring recipes from The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook. I chose stuffed “puffer pig”, roasted chando peppers, fried zuchii, and for the evening’s beverage, the cliff dweller:

For dessert, I made Bespin cloud drops (and we’ll just ignore the fact the I had to ask what Bespin is):

May the Fourth be with you!

Tasty Tuesday–Breakfast for Dinner

We have always enjoyed having breakfast-for-dinner, and for the last year, I’ve tried to make it a regular item on the menu (once or twice a month), instead of just an occasional treat. But I definitely didn’t want to make the same meal over and over, so I’ve tried to expand our breakfast-for-dinner options to include things like omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, breakfast casserole, breakfast burritos, shakshuka, and French toast, in addition to the traditional bacon and eggs. I also often make smoothies to go with dinner, and that has been a huge hit…we’ve really enjoyed trying different fruit, juice, and yogurt combinations. One thing we haven’t had, though, is pancakes, which seems like a weird omission…I should probably work on that!

Tasty Tuesday–Carrot Fritters

I adapted this recipe from Mount Vernon’s website…their recipe is for a more sweet carrot fritter, and I wanted something a bit more savory…no matter how you look at it, though, they’re basically carrot donuts!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed carrots
  • vegetable oil for frying

Mix together flour, baking powder, egg, salt, lemon juice, and carrots. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Carefully drop mixture by spoonful into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, turning once. Drain, sprinkle with additional salt, and serve.

Easter in the Time of COVID-19

Time for another look at a Markel Family holiday in the time of COVID-19!

Last year, I was all about keeping as many things as normal as possible for everyone. This year, I decided to embrace the new and different as much as I could. For starters, even though I’m now back to grocery shopping once a week instead of every two weeks, and could have bought hot cross buns from the bakery, I decided to make a batch again this year:

We went to our new church for the evening Maundy Thursday service to begin the Holy Triduum, and it was short, but very nice:

On Good Friday we were back at our new church for an equally moving (and equally short) Tenebrae service:

On Holy Saturday, we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter and made our Paschal candle for the year, as is our tradition. This one didn’t turn out so well, but it still gets the job done!

We attended the Great Vigil of Easter at our new church…I’m so glad they offer that service. More of it was spent outside than we are used to, and that was really nice!

After church, instead of getting sundaes from McDonald’s like we usually do, we got Frosty’s and fries at Wendy’s, and I introduced the Fab Five to the culinary experience that is dipping the fries in the Frosty:

We didn’t have a sunrise service this year, but I was still up early enough to see the sunrise:

And even though we didn’t need to leave the house super-early, I still bought our traditional Pop-Tarts:

It was a beautiful morning!

I took pictures of the Fab Five in the garden outside of church:

Since I couldn’t really take pictures of them inside the church (and especially by the baptismal font) like I usually do, I did that the day of Chickadee’s confirmation:

Our new church is beautiful!

After church, we came home and made Easter breakfast…eggs and sausage, English muffins, pomegranate juice, and every flavor of mini donut I could find…seven varieties. Maybe we’ll be able to go to Easter breakfast at church again in the future, but for now, it’s nice to have the meal at home!

I may have completed all of the Bunny Day goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons last year, but I still checked in with Zipper T. Bunny:

We had fun watching some of our favorite Easter movies today, including My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Easter Parade, and It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. While we did that, I made sure the table looked pretty for dinner:

And made our Easter feast for dinner. I tried a new leg of lamb recipe in the crock-pot, which was both amazingly delicious and easy. We also had Greek potatoes, carrot fritters, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, breaded artichokes, cherry Jell-O, and popovers:

For dessert, I made carrot cake Oreo truffles:

No matter what stays the same or what is different from year to year, our reason for celebrating remains constant. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Twelfth Month

One final monthly wrap-up to round out a full year of pandemic cooking. Well, a year-plus. I stretched this one a little long, because I wanted to come full circle with the two birthday celebrations that were part of the beginning of the pandemic last year, and celebrated within the last week this year. I can only hope that by the time March 2022 rolls around, we’ll have a more “normal” set of birthdays!

We tried a few more new recipes in the last weeks (I made picadillo and gnocchi for the first time, as well as carrot fritters!) , and had several celebrations, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, a dinner for Washington’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, and Turkey’s and Chickadee’s birthdays. We also indulged in both Beast Craft BBQ and Wing Runner.

I made lots of desserts and baked goods this month, too, including Oreo truffles, my first attempt at homemade pączki, a cherry pie, popovers, Frango mint brownies, a cannoli cake, pies for Pi Day, a Guinness cake, more cookies than I can count, and birthday desserts in the forms of a trifle and an elephant cake. We also had a Green River Soda cheesecake shipped from Eli’s, and it was amazing!

So there it is…a full year of cooking through a pandemic. I’ve pushed myself hard over the last year to make more special meals for my family, because it was one of the few things I could actually do for them. I also worked hard to try new things, because it was something exciting in the midst of a very dull time. When I look back on this period in our history, I hope I’ll remember the special meals and weekly cookie-baking sessions with Bunny as one of the bright spots in an otherwise dark time!

St. Patrick’s Day in the Time of COVID-19

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Can you believe this is the second time we’ve celebrated this holiday in the time of COVID-19?!? Of course, last year, we really didn’t know what we were in for yet, and this year, we’re all hoping that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but either way, our family celebration remained largely unchanged, although this year, we did start celebrating pretty early in the month with Shamrock Shakes (almost impossible to find in our area this year, so when we did pinpoint a location that was offering them, we jumped on it!) and a Green River Soda cheesecake from Eli’s:

We started the day with Lucky Charms and the leprechaun trap…spoilers, we didn’t catch him (again!)!

We read all of our favorite St. Patrick’s Day books, watched all of the Ireland episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe we have on disc, and also watched Aerial Ireland. I really enjoyed “Shamrock Day” in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While it wasn’t a huge event like some, there were some special items, including what look suspiciously like Shamrock Shakes!

I also enjoyed giving a few of my favorite neighbors a Shamrock Suit to match mine:

The highlight of the day (for me at least) was dinner. I love corned beef and cabbage and all the trimmings!

And of course we had Guinness cake for dessert, which is a family favorite!

We had a nice St. Patrick’s Day, as we always do, but I really hope that next time the holiday rolls around, things in the world are a little more normal!

Celebrating the Pride of Mount Vernon

“Ladies and gentlemen!…The moment you’ve been waiting for!…The pride of Mount Vernon!…George Washington!” (From Hamilton)

I decided that, since we’ve enjoyed Christopher Jackson’s portrayal of George Washington in Hamilton so much, and since I knew we’d be watching Hamilton again for Washington’s Birthday today, I should also make the whole day a celebration. Actually, this was just the kind of festivity we needed at the end of February in the time of COVID-19! We started with coffee cake for breakfast…cherry, of course!

I got into the spirit of the Day in Animal Crossing:

The highlight of our celebration (other than watching Hamilton, of course), was dinner. I found four new recipes on the Mount Vernon website, all based on recipes from Martha Washington’s collection…chicken chasseur, popovers, carrot fritters, and stewed parsnips. Everything was delicious, but even I was surprised by how popular the fritters were!

Not too bad for a Monday night!

For dessert, I made pie. Cherry pie (of course!):

I threw in some ice cream for fun:

George Washington was a flawed man, as we all are, but he was a great leader for our young country, and I think these words from his farewell address to the nation sum up his character well:

“Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.”

Mardi Gras in the Time of COVID-19

Of all of the things I would have thought would have been relatively unchanged for us during the pandemic, I would have guessed Mardi Gras would be it. Ironically, it was a much different holiday for us this year!

The church we’ve been attending since we were able to resume in-person worship last summer is located in the part of St. Louis known for its Mardi Gras celebration. While the festivities had to be cancelled this year, we did enjoy seeing all of the houses decorated for the holiday over the last few Sundays:

We always have pączki for breakfast on “Fat Tuesday,” but since I’m still limiting my grocery outings (plus we had a snow storm yesterday), I decided that this would finally be the year I actually made them from scratch. It was a lot of fun, and they were really delicious!

For dinner I made gumbo with chicken, sausage and shrimp, plus roast okra. Okra isn’t something we normally eat, and we were a little concerned about it, but it was delicious and not at all slimy. It turns out we were lucky to have it at all, because last week, the produce man at Schnucks said I was getting the first package from the first shipment they had had in over a month.

So, that was our Mardi Gras celebration in the time of COVID-19. Lent begins tomorrow, and I’m not going to lie…I still kind of feel like last Lent never really ended, so I’m not really planning on doing anything differently this year…I’m just hoping that this Easter might actually feel a bit like Easter should!

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Eleventh Month

This is the penultimate month of a year of pandemic cooking. I certainly didn’t intend to do this for an entire year, but I also had no idea what a pandemic would look like or how long it would last when I began.

I guess after the last wrap-up, which was full of holiday meals, this one is pretty tame. We did celebrate a birthday and Burns Night in the last month-plus, and had a few family favorite dinners along the way, too.

Of course there wasn’t as much baking as last time, but we still made quite a few treats, including our traditional Epiphany baklava, a birthday truffle tower, and an amazing white chocolate lemon cheesecake:

Next month, I’ll finish up this year of pandemic cooking…I’ll probably cheat a bit, and wait until closer to the end of month to wrap things up, to make sure both of our family’s March birthdays get included in the summary!