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It’s Food in Review!

Sunday: Chili

Any slavering devotee of my riveting weekly descriptions of food i have eaten knows that chili on a Sunday is a Good Idea.

i have been using this Instant Pot Wendy’s make-alike recipe for a while now, which is unusual among chili recipes for the amount of celery it contains, which is to say a whopping assload. When have you ever sliced up six whole stalks of celery for a single recipe, other than (of course) for Celery Fandango, a popular and delicious dish that i just totally invented.

Because we shop on Sunday evening, when the store has been picked over like a supermarket in a zombie movie, we don’t always get what we need. This past week, the place was out of celery, which is apparently the key ingredient in this recipe.

Fine. Time to make some changes, i thought.

Another drawback to this recipe, apart from depleting the world’s celery reserves, is that it calls for a pack of chili seasoning. This leads to an unsatisfactory result. So this week, i combined two different chili recipes: i used the Wendy’s make-alike, and took the seasoning recommendations from another favourite recipe to avoid using the seasoning packet. It was like CHILI VOLTRON.

i also threw in two Anaheim chili peppers. Never used them before, but they provided a really nice, subtle heat, and they don’t sting your hands when you cut them.

Monday: Butter Chicken

As you know by now, i am beset by an old pirate curse that prevents me from making decent Indian food for the rest of my life. That said, this dish in the Instant Pot turned out pretty darn good. i find that, for whatever reason, adding lots of salt to butter chicken salvages it, which was the case here.

This one has coconut milk instead of heavy cream. Not sure if that makes any difference in the fat content? i know coconut milk is pretty fatty. Anyway, good dish. Make it today.

(oh, and skip the cilantro, because it is Nature’s Filth)

Tuesday: Tuesday: Ribs a la Jan

Cheryl and i spent all day Tuesday at the hospital (don’t worry – everyone’s okay), so Cheryl’s mom cooked dinner for us. That meal continued the Spare Ribs Losing Streak i have endured for weeks.

All i want is honey garlic ribs, you guys. The first week got screwed up, so Cheryl ended up making the ribs. Instead of using the honey garlic sauce i’d purchased, she used some ancient bbq sauce from the back of the fridge.

The next week, i tried to set things right. i made the ribs using the so-called honey garlic Bullseye sauce, which (to crib a phrase from Douglas Adams), tasted almost, but not quite, entirely unlike honey garlic.That week, i bought a thin-looking “heavy garlic” VH sauce to put on the ribs. “This time,” i thought, “it’s gonna happen.

On our way home from the hospital, a sort of dread crept over me as i realized that i hadn’t asked Jan to use the honey garlic sauce on the ribs. When i got home, i stopped myself from screaming “NOOOOOO” in slow motion as i rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw a now-empty bottle of DIANA SAUCE on the stove.

DIANA SAUCE. The blandest, least interesting sauce on the market. The “vanilla” of barbecue sauces. The “honestly, it’s not much else besides tomatoes” sauce. Ugh. i do not like Diana Sauce.

It’s always nice to have someone else cook for you. i don’t mean to sound ungrateful. But honestly, three weeks in, i have the biggest blue balls for proper honey garlic ribs you guys.

Wednesday: Mac and Cheese

Knowing that Wednesday would be a post-hospital recovery day, i slated something easy and delicious from my “Keepers” list. My 8-year-old helped me put some mac and cheese together in the Instant Pot, which took us all of 20 minutes top to bottom. A sincerely hideous amount of cheese goes into this recipe, but it’s so fast and easy and filling and comforting that i really can’t fault it.

i accidentally used up all of the bacon in the Chili a few days earlier, so i put some Ready Crisp bacon in there. Using pre-cooked Ready Crisp out of a goddamned box always makes me feel like a lazy waste of a human life, to be honest. My Protestant work ethic has me feeling guilty about it every single time. i’ll get over it somehow.

Thursday: Chicken and Stuffing

This was the night i mentioned earlier in the week. Cheryl was supposed to cook, but she wasn’t feeling up to it. We drove the car to a restaurant. i was advocating for pizza, while everyone else wanted noodles. It felt like we were arguing about how many babies to kill. i thought about the 15 minute wait for either meal, and then i suddenly came to my senses: i have an Instant Pot. i have ingredients in the fridge. There is absolutely no excuse to not make dinner.

So i heroically turned the car around, and slammed this meal together.

i’m not gonna lie: it was horrible. i accidentally opened a can of cream of celery soup, when this one called for cream of chicken. The two cans of cream of chicken i had bought were fat-free. i don’t buy fat-free anything, because i know what fat is, but i don’t know what the heck they use in place of fat. The devil you know.

The cook times are all funky on this recipe. i used frozen green beans when i should have used fresh. i used two boxes of stuffing when the recipe called for only one, for the mere fact that i really like stuffing. There wasn’t enough liquid in the pot. The recipe calls for cornbread stuffing, but i should have used the other stuff because it tastes better and has a different consistency.

In the end, i got a gluey, chickeny mess … perhaps because of the non-fat soups, or perhaps because of the cornbread. i dunno. But it was bad. The green beans were mostly cooked, which meant that every so often, you’d crunch down on a bean with a cool centre.

But it makes no difference. i had defeated the allure of takeout for another evening.

Doesn’t matter: made dinner.

Friday: Chicken Bad Thai

i was so worried about this recipe that i panic-posted in the middle of making it. The noodles, when cooked in my decidedly non-nonstick pan, left hay-like track marks in it. Then i made eggs in the same pan, and suffered a 50% food loss because most of them ended up as a yellow patina in my cookware. By the time i started frying the shallots, i couldn’t tell if they were turning brown or not, because the now-browned egg remnants were beginning to scrape up under the spatula. There were noodles everywhere. It was a horror show. i cursed my prideful folly, thinking i could make a meal outside the Instant Pot.

The horror. THE. HORROR.

In the end, after i’d put out the fires and buried the dead and apologized to the families of the victims, this dish turned out to be pretty scrumptious. i was pleasantly surprised, as were the children, who could not unsee the damage i had just wrought on the kitchen they’d so diligently cleaned. i recommend this one. Give it a shot.

Saturday: Beef Stew

By the time Saturday rolled around, Cheryl was feeling right as rain, and well enough to make the Instant Pot beef stew that’s become her favourite dish in the device – good enough to feed to company. The meat was velvety and tender. The broth was rich and tomatoey. It went down well. Our dinner guests brought over bread, which may as well have been crack cocaine, but i limited myself to two pieces. Then we cut up the pecan pie from Summerhill Market, which i’m convinced WAS actually crack cocaine, and this morning i’m a pound up on the scale. But i’ll recover, and it was worth the transgression.