Parsley is native to the Mediterranean

Pete had a three-day weekend, and while he was the only family member that did it is still making today feel like Monday for me. And it was a pretty busy weekend, complete with the annual chili cook-off at church (I placed third), a fly-fishing trip for Rockford (he dropped his phone and himself in the river), and auditions for a performance of “A Christmas Carol” for the children (no word on whether or not they got parts).

This week is going to be busy but not any more so than our normal weeks. Here’s what we’ll be eating, sort of.

Tuesday: German lentils and sausages
I’m not sure what makes this recipe from Five Heart Home a German dish — the sausages, I guess? Is parsley German? — but I’ve been on a lentil kick lately and this will be 95 percent done when we get home from soccer practice so its nationality nomenclature is really a secondary concern. I started this in the CrockPot this morning, and the house currently smells like a garlic factory.

Wednesday: DIY
It’s one of those Everyone Is Everywhere At Every Hour of the Day days. There’s food in the kitchen, happily, and all members of the family know how to access it.

Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs
Pete’s going to be assisting on this one.

Friday: Something Poppy doesn’t like
Poppy will be dining with her friends at a homeschool dance (yes! they exist! and not in the family basement, “Good Luck Charlie”!), so we’ll be having something she especially doesn’t like but the rest of us do. Possibly Chipotle.

According to Britannica.com, our pal parsley is native to the Mediterranean. Our Herb Garden has a lot of information about parsley in folk lore, including that the Ancient Greeks associated it with death! I’m so glad to have learned that just after adding a tablespoon of it to tonight’s meal!

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.

On your marks, get set. Bake!

A long, long time ago — all the way back in 2008 — I joined an online group called The Daring Bakers. Someone would post a baking challenge every month, and then members would attempt them and share their results. I think the first one I made was a caramel cake, and it was delicious. Others didn’t work out so well. (I’m looking at you, pao de queijo and savarin.) But some of them, like the buche de noel and the Momofuku crack pie, were delightful. And then there was the princessatorte and the Battenburg cake. We all have a hot mess or two in our history, and mine seem to involve various royal desserts.

The point is that I was baking weird, challenging things, and it was fun. Most of the time. Sometimes it just felt like a chore, and those chore-times started outnumbering the fun-times so I stopped doing it for awhile. When I wanted to start again, the Daring Bakers had disbanded.

I didn’t stop baking altogether, but I also didn’t push myself to embark upon new baking adventures. I missed the camaraderie — celebrating one another’s beautifully puffed puff pastry; commiserating over burnt caramel.

Then a few months ago something new popped up in my Facebook feed: Someone was starting a group dedicated to making food from “The Great British Baking Show.” I love that program as much as I love a good cake, even with the new hosts.

And so I signed up without hesitation.

Our first challenge was to make a “fruity cake.” Not a fruitcake in the holiday-brick-of-cake sense, but a sponge cake with fruit baked into it. I missed that note the first time around, and I made a chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries and nary a fruit inside the cake.

It did not go particularly well.

A sponge cake gets all of its lift from air that’s beaten into the eggs, so you’re supposed to sift the flour over the well-beaten eggs and fold, fold, fold just a wee bit at a time. Instead, I decided just to dump it all in and then fold, which resulted in clumps of cocoa in the mix. After that misstep was followed by too much time in the oven, I had myself a very flat sponge.

It was not a good bake.

I cut the burnt edges off as best as I could and sallied forth, because we are not one to waste cake. Rockford and Pete claim it was good despite all.

Not wanting to be defeated by a sponge cake, I regrouped and tried again. This time I used As Easy As Apple Pie’s Italian Sponge Cake, which turned out indeed to be even easier than apple pie, provided you follow the directions. I added blueberries, brushed it thoroughly with lemon syrup and topped it with coconut whipped cream and candied lemon peel, and I was very, very happy with it.

(Even though the coconut whipped cream didn’t whip quite as I wanted it to and the blueberries all sunk to the bottom, which ended up being the top.)

I’m looking forward to seeing what concoction the organizers order up next, and I’m very much hoping it’s not a Tudor Week challenge.

Of slow cookers and sandwiches

Good morning, pals!

This weekend found the children very busy and Rockford and I sort of just trailing around after them. Poppy spent most of Saturday volunteering at a fundraiser for a friend’s non-profit group, and Pete had a friend over most of the day yesterday. We also went to a food truck festival on Saturday, where I’d planned to gorge on lobster rolls. But the lobster roll truck wasn’t there, so I had a pretty delicious panini instead.

On our menu this week you’ll find neither lobster nor panini, but you will find me putting things in the slow cooker.

Monday: Taco salad

We had tacos yesterday for dinner and I far overestimated how many tacos Pete and his visiting friend would consume. So it’s Taco Redux: The Reckoning this evening.

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner

Wednesday: Sandwiches
Or maybe something else. We’ll see.

Thursday: Sloppy Joes
I’ve made Rachael Ray’s Super Sloppy Joes a million times, but I’ve never tried to put them in the Crockpot. That all changes this week, my friends.

Friday: Popcorn?
Maybe we’ll stay home. Maybe we’ll go to the movies. We’re leaves on the wind.

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.

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