Farmer's Lunch, Coleslaw

Things got very theme-y this week as I decided I was due for a Farmer's Lunch, having embarked on some Actual Gardening Out of Doors. I have to admit I wouldn't have thought to pair an omelet with a side of parsnips, but then I've never been a farmer before, have I?

Worth it just for the reminder that I can eat eggs midday anytime I feel like it

Anyway, I wasn't about to waste a +3 Farming buff on a day when I wasn't literally attempting to coax living things out of the ground, come on.

No reaction shot from the children, because they were enjoying non-farmer's lunches at school at the time, but let's see how my beautiful pea shoots feel about it:

No complaints

I also threw in some coleslaw this week, which as you may recall I kind of tried to make in July? Maybe? Anyway, I included all the listed ingredients this time, and also made some schnitzel, which I highly recommend!

Appraisals of the coleslaw were mixed, with Anna presenting a favorable rating with a face betraying a deep well of ambivalence, and Ivy giving it a so-so rating that she seems quite confident about. The schnitzel was enjoyed by all.

ASSESSMENT: I'm so excited to be a farmer now! Real salt of the earth type. I expect any day now someone will come to a diner and interview me about my political opinions.

PROJECT STATUS: Sowing, reaping, etc.


Ice Cream

Look, I think we allllll deserved a break after the snails, I'm not a monster. I'm just an anxious person with weird coping strategies. Clearly the people around me, many of whom are innocent elementary-aged children, were due for a Stardew recipe on the pleasant end of the spectrum. I, on the other hand, was in a mental space that required some culinary hair-shirting, and "ice cream" seemed like it provided the most baroque possible path to having a treat. It's also a fun way to celebrate the fact that summer will never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never end.


Since the only ingredients listed are milk and sugar, I had to decide what flavors would be represented by pink, green, and white ice cream all on one cone. I considered several combinations, some of which would have been amusingly unappealing, but finally landed on raspberry, lime, and vanilla. (I did goose the color of the lime ice cream with a couple drops of green food coloring.) 

And then. I made. The cones.

*Hold for applause*

ASSESSMENT: "It's hard to find someone who doesn't like this." My sample size was admittedly small, consisting of one husband, two children, and one mother-in-law, but as far as I can tell this is accurate. 

PROJECT STATUS: Going to go distribute these to the townspeople, finally make some friends



I would not characterize my children as especially picky eaters, but they do tend to be deeply skeptical eaters. Any dish that is set before them is met with concerned frowns and many, many questions: what is in this, what else is in this, what is that red thing, what are those green flecks, is that onion, is that sausage, is the black pepper spicy, etc. etc. It doesn't mean they won't then proceed to eat whatever concerning combination of ingredients I have given them, it just means that all meals have to run the gauntlet of inquiry first.


I say "I need you to try this Stardew recipe so I can take a picture of your reaction." In which case, they will just...do it? Without asking questions? Even if my follow-up sentence is "It's SNAILS" with absolutely no reassurances attached?


Although Ivy did hang back a little bit on this one to gauge her sister's experience first.

 ASSESSMENT: Snails are an inoffensive yet slightly expensive delivery system for a stick of butter and some garlic when you consider that those things could just be smeared on a baguette instead.

PROJECT STATUS: Probably going to start claiming that every meal is a Stardew recipe just to elide ingredient-suspicion going forward.



Please know that I made this pizza journey as difficult as I reasonably could, what with the handmade dough and two-hours-on-the-stove sauce and yet my child still does not consider it "from scratch" because I did not grow the tomatoes or...grind the flour and cure the cheese, I guess? So, there's my admission right up front, I bought the mozzarella the bag of flour at the grocery store like a lazy monster. If you can move beyond your sneering disgust for me and my modern decadence, please just look at the picture below and know that the pizza was delicious.

Even when it's bad it's good, so when it's not bad WOW just imagine

Even the Authenticity Disapprover thought so.

ASSESSMENT: Pizza is never bad, even if you did not personally harvest the salt used to season it from the sea with your bare hands. I know we're not even halfway through, but it's hard for me to believe that I will enjoy a Stardew description more than "It's popular for all the right reasons."

PROJECT STATUS: Slightly derailed, as the half-from-scratch pizza dough gave me the confidence to try making flour tortillas (pretty good) and embark on many, many days of trying to get a sourdough operation off the ground (nope). Mad respect for everyone successfully making sourdough out there, I believe you should be charging at least $100 a loaf. 


Blackberry Cobbler

It's so deeply August right now. Everything is brown and the air itself is actively hostile to human existence. It's the point in the year when I ask myself every day, why do I live here? Why has anyone ever lived here? Only armadillos should live here. The sun can't kill them through their little shell. I need a little shell. And then I curl into a ball on the couch and hiss at the sunlight streaming through the window, as is my tradition. A fruit cobbler really seemed like the only option this week.

And even that was pushing it, honestly. It's bad when you're straining to cobble something. Right, Merriam-Webster?

Anyway, Anna gave it a thumbs up.

Although, notice the barely-perceptible shift in her smile and thumb position as the tartness of the blackberries hits.

No reaction from Ivy because she did not have enough of her dinner to get dessert last night, but she did have enough astigmatism to get some sweet new glasses, so there's that.

ASSESSMENT: I believe "There's nothing quite like it" is the vaguest description in the Stardew arsenal, and it's...impossible to argue with? I guess there's nothing QUITE like it, but like...a lot of similar things. They're all good, though. Put sweet biscuit dough with fruit, what have you got to lose? Always going to be good.

PROJECT STATUS: *hisses until you close the blinds*



Spaghetti is one of the Stardew dishes so far to the positive side of both the Effort and How Much They Appeal to Me scales that I could not, in good blogging conscience, go forward without throwing several wrenches into the operation, and by wrenches I mean various pieces of a meat grinder/pasta plate attachment for my mixer that I have no idea how to use. That's right! Frrrrrrresh pasta, baby.

ATTEMPT #1: I made this Bon Appetit dough with the dough hook and the mixer and it was...I don't know. Too dry? Or hard? Or overworked? And/or/plus I had not figured out all the parts needed to make the pasta extruder actually extrude? Into the garbage it went.

ATTEMPT #2: I called in some backup and in the form of Ivy and decided to make a hand-mixed dough with a higher egg-to-flour ratio. That dough worked! It went through the extruder!

It also...had a bunch of gray flecks and spots on it. Apparently my cursory rinse of equipment that I had not used in maybe ten years was not sufficient to actually clean it. Who knew? GARBAGE TIME.

ATTEMPT #3: Called in even more backup.


What's that? What recipe did I use for the tomato sauce? Since I went to all the trouble of making three batches of fresh pasta and it's tomato season and obviously making a sauce is a lot easier? Mmm yes well I already had an open jar of pasta sauce in the fridge and in this battle the home economist side of my brain beat out the deranged blogging side. For once.

ASSESSMENT: Man, a package of dried spaghetti costs like 89 cents and is pretty good. I dunno.

PROJECT STATUS: Slowly extruding

BONUS INSTANCE OF HAVING SOME FEELINGS THIS MORNING: When the girls were really little and people would talk about how sad they were that their babies were getting older or that they missed having babies or worse tell me how lucky I was to spend every waking second with my baby/toddler as I looked back at them with dead eyes and contemplated walking into the soothing embrace of the sea, I was extremely confused by this sentiment! Why wouldn't you want babies to get older? Like, as quickly as possible? They're so miserably, despairingly, unceasingly difficult!

But now, my babies have gotten older, to the point that we embarked on our last year as an all-elementary-school household this morning, and they are not miserably, despairingly difficult anymore. Sometimes they help out with pasta, even! And I realized that I feel...an undercurrent of low-key sadness all the time because they won't always be seven and ten and helping me out with the pasta. So what I'm saying is, I will never fully understand you, but I see you, baby people (???) and toddler people (????????????????????????????????????????????), I get it now.

Parenting: an exciting adventure in shifting unhappinesses 


Eggplant Parmesan

I was recently out of town for a bit, and then I got home but the news was too oppressive to throw food pictures at, and then I spent one day deeply distracted by feral hogs as a concept, and then August really started August-ing it up around here, and that makes it hard to do anything that isn't strictly necessary. But finally I got some nice tomatoes and some eggplants in our weekly farm box, at which point not making Eggplant Parmesan just seemed irresponsible.

The children...tolerated it.

It's possible that Ivy, at least, used up all of her summer food enthusiasm on our trip and simply has no accolades left to bestow.

Failing to live up to the boil-in-bag pasta hurts a little

ASSSESSMENT: Tangy, cheesy, and wonderful, as advertised. I thought it was very good. Not MRE good apparently, but good.

PROJECT STATUS: *silently turns its face to the air-conditioning vent and ignores your question*


Fried Eel, Spicy Eel

When I told Alex I was thinking about making the Stardew Recipes but I was planning to skip some things like eel, what she probably said was something along the lines of "Why?" or "No, you can't skip anything," although in my memory it was much more commanding. (Extremely Tywin Lannister voice "Nonsense, you will marry the spicy eel and that will be the end of it.") At any rate, I didn't have much of an argument at the time, although if I knew then what I know now about...spines...I might have put up more of a fight.

I followed this recipe for the Fried Eel and after much deliberation created Spicy Eel by adding sriracha to the Fried Eel

Spicy Eel is one of the most valuable dishes in-game, as it gives you a luck buff and a speed buff, both of which are super useful in the mines. Still, I wasn't sure how "the fictional version of this is really helpful in a game you don't play" was going to go over with the children.

As it turns out, Anna's exact words were a deliriously relieved "Mom! It's just fish nuggets!" And Ivy, as we are learning, will eat absolutely anything that slithers out of the briny depths.

ASSESSMENT: The eel actually does taste good, as most fried things do, and especially good with sriracha and a squeeze of lemon. As for luck and speed, I had a better run this morning than I've had in weeks, although the temperature was also the lowest it's been in weeks (months?), impossible to say what the deciding factor was there. I can still feel eel spines underneath my fingernails.