Healthy, balanced meals to help you recover from a vacation

Oh, hey there friends. Did we go like 2 or 3 weeks without a post? Listen, I’d love to come to you all and blame the economy and the border wall, but Mary Ellen and I made a commitment to our readers, so you’re going to get the truth. When you run a small internet blog company, you don’t always invest in the essentials right off the bat, so 1.5 years in and Mary Ellen and I have been sending our vacation requests to HRbot@mailerdaemon.eggplantandpie.com. Somehow we both thought the other was monitoring the inbox, and, well, in addition to booking the same time off, we ended up on a 2-week vacation at the same international swingers’ resort! Imagine our surprise when my boyfriend and Mary Ellen’s new husband realized they knew each other 10 hours into the Wednesday Men’s Tantric Seminar. Anyway, Mary Ellen and I are spinning from our whirlwind vacations, but between heavy doses of antibiotics and some prescription strength ointment, we’re back and ready to continue bringing all of you the high-quality posts you’ve come to expect.

Whether you’re recovering from mild nipple burns and gimp suit related chafing or working on getting your gag reflex back, it’s important to be kind to your body. You need to eat wholesome, real food and drink either acidic or alkaline water (I can’t remember which one was better, but I read an article about how the neutral pH of water is toxic and should be avoided at all costs).

I’ll walk you through my process of meeting the specialized nutritional needs of the post-vacation body.

  1. Find an ethnic food that is either different, or the same as the area you just came from
  2. Ask Siri or Google what restaurants are near you.
  3. Log into Uber Eats or another food delivery app because you were out of your house for so long it would be impossible to leave again today.
  4. Order all the food, focusing on the food pyramid which was switched to a plate. I wanted to include the food plate pyramid thing, but I didn’t feel like googling it. So instead I recreated it with my award winning illustration skills. It’s probably more scientifically accurate and artistically nuanced than the one published by the USDA.
  5. Eat food, in your pajamas while watching Netflix

I may have swapped naan and tacos, so just to be safe, I recommend ordering tacos made with naan if those are available in your area

Just five easy steps to the perfect post-vacation meal!

Serafina

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Sourdough Bread

Friends, I know you were all a little disappointed after Mary Ellen’s last post. I mean, she didn’t even tell you how to make the bread you were toasting before you had to combine different sprinkle colors. This kind of inattention to recipe details is frankly embarrassing, and I don’t mind publicly blasting her for it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was making sourdough and, not only was I the kind of absolute monster that didn’t share the bread with my adorable new puppy, but I also didn’t share the recipe with any of you. I’m going to rectify that today (sort of) and let you know how you absolutely need to stop what you are doing and spend like 9 hours making sourdough.

I’ve tried my hand at bread making a few times over the years and was always so disappointed with the lightning-fast process. 2 hours from start to finish. I’m making my own bread here, not taking a dump. I’d like to savor the experience, dabble with the dough for a few minutes every three or four hours, really fill up what could otherwise be a productive day. But, I’m a busy woman who spends an entire day making one or two loaves of bread, I don’t have time to wax on about this. I also don’t have time to give you any coherent information about how to get into the fast and loose sourdough lifestyle so, that’s probably disappointing for you.

This is my sourdough starter. I consider it a pet. It’s better behaved than the cats.

A “comprehensive” guide to making sourdough

Step 1: Obtain a sourdough starter or make your own.

Step 2: feed your sourdough starter regularly. I named my sourdough and make sure I interact with it regularly. I’m actually not going to tell your starter how to take care of this microbial pet. Google it or check out an actual resource.

Step 3: make sourdough bread!!!

Ingredients for two loaves, halve the recipe for just one loaf

  • 800 grams flour (I like to use 1/3 or so whole wheat flour)
  • 260 ml water
  • 320 grams sourdough starter
  • 20 grams (about 4 tsp) salt
I only have one proving basket, so my second loaf wasn’t as fancy

Instructions:

  1. Mix ingredients
  2. Knead for, like, ever. Or 10 minutes. Or until the dough is soft and just right. TBH, every time I knead dough I am 100% certain I either over or under kneaded it and I have no idea which one.
  3. Prove for 4 hours
  4. Re-knead and divide in half.
  5. Prove for another 4 hours
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes. Either in a dutch oven or on a baking sheet and throw some water in the oven with it. Seriously, I’m not typing out the details. You’re going to need to look at a much better source to do this correctly
Always serve with butter. Always.

Bread is life

Serafina

Barbecue Jackfruit Bao

Friends, I’ve been a vegetarian for such a long time at this point that I’ve stopped sharing the exact amount of time because I realized it ages me. So, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about 10, and I’d rather not say how long that is exactly and force you all to do the math. Suffice it to say, it’s been awhile. It’s been so long that I’ve started to realize there are entire groups of foods that I’ve never really encountered. Since today is the Lunar New Year, I’m going to share a vegetarian version of Chinese Bao buns. I hadn’t even heard of Bao until I saw it on another food blog a few weeks ago, and this gets me to my side-rant.

Hey, Google and Facebook, I’m not fucking pregnant. Just because one of the food bloggers I occasionally follow got knocked up doesn’t mean I’m pregernant. So, feel free to stop showing me ads for maternity clothes, ovulation kits, and baby supplies. I get it, you did the math on how old I am and have unilaterally determined that it’s time for me to get on the baby train. But you’re not a part of that decision, creepy-ass targeted-ad people. My IUD and I are perfectly happy together. Her name is Maude. I love you, Maude.

Anyway, I realize vegan barbecue steamed buns might be sending a mixed message about odd cravings after that little rant, but they sounded genuinely intriguing. And it’s the Lunar New Year, so here we are. If you’re worried that something about bao will get you pregante, I recommend oral ingestion only, and maybe go get an IUD just in case?


If you go with premade jackfruit, make sure it looks like it was made by a douchebag.

Vegan Barbecue Bao (with Jackfruit)

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp oil

For the jackfruit filling

  • Either get premade BBQ jackfruit like I did OR
  • Drain one can of jackfruit and cook with barbecue sauce. Use the jackfruit in brine, not the sweet kind.

Instructions:

  1. Mix all of the dough ingredients together and knead for about 5 minutes until it’s relatively smooth
  2. Let rise for 30 minutes, or longer if, for example, your yeast has been sitting in the fridge for like two years. The dough should double in size
  3. Once your dough has risen, knead it again briefly and then cut it into about 8 pieces. Roll into 3-4 inch rounds. Place a few teaspoons of pulled apart BBQ jackfruit in each of the dough section things. Then crimp them together in an attractive manner (maybe, like, watch a youtube or something to make yours actually attractive)
  4. Steam for 15 minutes. I used a steam basket because I’m not going out to buy a bamboo steamer. My bao stuck to the bottom a little, but it was fine.

Turns out I wasn’t a huge fan of bao. But I still ate it, I mean, it’s not like it was cheesecake.

Serafina

Quick Garden Dinner

Friends, I’ve read enough of your fan letters to know that Mary Ellen and I are not the only ones who struggle to get a healthful meal on the table every night after a hard day of work. Quick meals are lifesavers whether you’re Mary Ellen, chasing around her toddler while ensuring her make up is on point, or me, laying around the house in my fanciest business pajama suit pretending to finish my last semester of graduate school. At the end of a long, trying day, cooking a meal that is quick and easy becomes as important as cooking one that is healthful and nourishing.

In light of this, I’m bringing you my super-fast garden meal. You’ll need approximately 3-5 months to prepare this meal, depending on your local climate. Gardening is hard work, and between the costs of your own labor, soil, water, plants, and seeds, you’ll probably spend more on your garden veggies than you ever would on the actual produce from a grocery store. But, as they say, you have to spend money to make money.

garden dinner.jpg

Since garden based meals will depend on what you plant and what is ready to harvest on a given day, I’m going to provide some general guidelines instead of a strict recipe.

  1. Plant zucchini. You’ll need to do this in late spring/early summer, so plan ahead! No one really likes eating zucchini, but as I have previously mentioned, you’ll certainly harvest a lot of it. Corn, green beans, tomatoes, and lettuce will round out your meal, and will also take several months of intermittent effort before you’ll be able to acquire food from the plant.
  2. If you want to eat something other than the vegetables you harvested, you’ll need to go to a grocery store. I know, you’re thinking, why did I bother planting all that zucchini 4 months ago? Shhh, don’t worry, you planted it for lots of reasons. And you should be asking why you didn’t plan ahead better and plant something that grows veggie burgers. There’s always next year.
  3. Find a partner, friend, or neighbor with a grill. Grills are scary, and you don’t want to try to deal with one on your own. They’re also hot AF, but not in the good way.
  4. Chop up vegetables and wrap them in foil. Then have your boyfriend (or whoever you found to use the grill) put your veggies on the grill. They also make giant grill skillets but foil prevents your vegetables from being contaminated with meat if you have a boyfriend who refuses to cook himself a veggie burger.

    IMG_0035
    You should also probably season your zucchini. Olive oil, salt, and pepper will be fine. Throw in some garlic powder if you’re feeling super fancy
  5. Put food on plate and then consume.

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This was my boyfriend’s plate. He always eats with his xbox controller nearby. It’s like a safety blanket.

Quick, easy dinner in only 4 months.

Serafina

A Tale of Two Chickens

I forgot to post last week. I have no excuse, because I did the recipes and had all the pictures and most of it written and I just forgot. I’m not sorry. I’ve mostly been busy playing Skyrim so I have a very good excuse.

I went insane at Costco recently and bought a ton of chicken. All sorts of chicken. And then I also decided to get some whole chickens and be like, super amazing with my cooking. But then I just made porridge.

If you’re unaware, you can buy a PACK of two whole organic chickens at Costco. For the people who are on a budget, and love eating chicken all the time, buying it Whole is way more cost effective. Worried it’ll take more time to prepare? Worried that it’s scary? Worried you’ll fuck it all up and you should have just gone with your usual dry-ass chicken breast recipe that you’ve convinced yourself is good enough? Well, unfortunately, your first two worries are probably correct but the last one is not.

Follow me while I take you on a chicken journey.

It all started when I decided I wanted to make dakjuk. I was about to just do a recipe that used all my regular techniques of cutting corners and using store bought, pre-prepped stuff, but then I found this lady. She mentions, subtly, two ways she makes her porridge and I was so intrigued by the prospect of boiling a whole chicken because it sounded so gross I needed to try it.

Oh Costco. I love you so much.

So, a different lady’s blog that I browsed while trying to figure out what boiling chickens was like was a bit of a mental case about it. She acted like it was the most disgusting thing in the world and that she really only does it to save money, etc etc and prayed to Jesus the whole time because it was so hard for her. And I really wanted to hold her close and whisper, “honey, Jesus doesn’t want you to suffer so in His name. Just use gloves, bitch.”

It looks really horrendous because I’m very bad at carefully removing things from pots.

See it’s not so bad.

Anyway, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I was expecting a lot of bad after reading her post, but it was pleasantly easy and not bad at all. Also, you don’t need a recipe. Throw the chicken in a big pot and boil it with some veggies for an hour. Remove the chicken, debone it, add bones and more water to the pot, and boil for another hour. Strain and you have your stock. It’s easy as shit.

It makes a lot of stock.

So, boiled chicken (when you do it with veggies on the bone with skin) is actually really good. I used this recipe for dakjuk and holy crap it was amazing. Seriously, it will forever replace chicken noodle soup as my sickly comfort food, and it is a nice dish to have to rest my body after a weekend of donut binging. Make like three times more than what the recipe calls for because it won’t be enough.

So what did I do with the other chicken? I roasted it. I’ve never roasted a whole chicken before either, and everyone has a really fancy recipe that makes it intimidating. Through the Korean Bapsang blog I found this recipe.

However, I like to be thorough, so I trussed the chicken like this. It actually did produce a better roast, though I don’t have much to compare it to, except turkey at Thanksgiving, which always cooks unevenly I feel like. Anyway, we ate some of this for dinner one night and then the rest got chopped up and mixed with the leftover boiled chicken and I made the most amazing chicken salad sandwich that I’ve ever had in my entire life. Mmmm chicken chicken chicken.

So there you go. That’s what I’ve been doing lately. Sacrificing chickens left and right while also leveling up as a khajiit in Skyrim is how I’m fulfilling my New Years’ resolutions. I’m sure Serafina is crying and totally traumatized at this point, trying to comfort her chickens because she reads this blog out loud to them and I must admit it was a bit of a hostile post. Don’t worry I’ll post about something less chickeny next time.

No lollygaggin’,

Mary Ellen

Hello, New-Ass Year

I was reflecting on my life as I welcomed 2018, and I realized that there’s something missing. Despite all of my grad-schooling, working in a meaningful career, and raising a family of chickens, I have some serious life goals that I am not pursing. I’m of course talking about my dream of being a babushka. You see, I have some Russian ancestry, and now that I’m pushing 67 (or 32, or however old I am*), I need to really focus on becoming my true self.

After this epiphany, I decided to take a hard look at my life and start making some serious changes. I mean, #newyearnewyou, right? With that, I am embarking on my babushka adventure. My amazon cart is full of various styles of head scarves, but this is going to take more than a wardrobe change. It’s time to make some fucking perogies.

I scoured the internets for perogy recipes and ultimately created this masterful hodgepodge recipe.

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Perogy making efficiency requires gummy fish. And already having dirty dishes in the sink when you start cooking

Spinach Potato Perogies

Ingredients

For the Dough

3 cups flour

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 egg

For the Filling

1 pound of potatoes, cubed (I used red potatoes and didn’t bother peeling them)

Several large handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped

About ½ tsp garlic powder (or one clove of garlic, minced)

About ½ tsp onion powder (or part of an onion finely chopped)

¼ c shredded parmesan

¾ cup or so grated cheddar cheese

Some butter

Salt and pepper

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#2018babushkagoals take work

Instructions

Combine flour, water, salt, and egg and knead until smooth. Most recipes recommend refrigerating the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, while you mix the other ingredients together which seems sensible enough.

Boil your potatoes until they are tender. Save some potato water, you might need it if your filling is too dry. Then mash with a little butter and salt (we’ll salt some more at the end too). Set aside.

If you can handle using real garlic and onion, you’d want to sauté them in some oil to start out. If you’re using good ol’ powdered shit like I do, you can just dump it in when you’re sautéing the spinach. Add in the cheeses and mashed potatoes and stir that shit up.

Now take out your dough and roll it out pretty thin (about 1/8th inch thick was the general internet consensus, but it’s not like anyone uses a fucking ruler in the kitchen, especially not babushkas). Cut the dough into circles with about 3” diameter (my biscuit cutter was about 3.5 inches, which created very large perogies). Plop a scant tablespoon of dough in the center. Wet the edges with some water, then fold over and smush the dough edges together. Place the finished perogies on parchment paper until you are ready to cook or freeze them.

Continue assembling perogies for what will feel like a fucking year, and then when they’re all ready, you can boil them in water. Once they start to float, let them coast for a minute to make sure the filling is done and then they are ready. You can also bake or fry them. There’s a lot of variability in perogy preparation. I haven’t been a babushka long enough to have a really strong opinion here. But serve your perogies with butter and sour cream.

If you want to freeze some of your perogies because you don’t feel like eating several dozen perogies in one sitting, you can freeze them raw and then just boil them frozen when you’re ready. It will take longer to cook if you’re cooking them from a frozen state, obvi.

 

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These perogies are fucking huge. I’m tempted to use a smaller biscuit cutter next time, but then I’d have to spend more time making perogies

May 2018 be the year we all become babushkas

-Serafina

 

*Time for a mini true story: My beloved boyfriend, whom I have mentioned on this blog at least once or twice, recently learned that he didn’t know when his birthday was. I made an appointment for him at the eye doctor and came home to tell him that they had the wrong birthday on file for him. He brushed it off, saying that they always had his birthday wrong, it was a clerical error. Then, they ran his insurance and his insurance also had his birthday one year off his supposed real birthday. His insurance, which is through his employer, should most definitely know when his birthday is. And that, my friends, is when a grown-ass man in his 30’s looked at his driver’s license and said “Whaaaaat?” And then he pulled out his birth certificate. And his passport. And then he called his father to double check all of the legal documents. And then, he took a bath. Because finding out you’re a year younger than you thought you were for your entire life is probably overwhelming.

Goodbye, Old-Ass Year

I figured I would make my final recipe post for 2016 – wait – 2017, my most complex one yet.

Okay, I hope you’re all done laughing now. I would never ever ruin a good year of coming up with half-assed recipes with a decent one. I would never ruin things, like Serafina always does. Like when she puts wine into recipes instead of drinking it. I will never understand such monsters.

So if you’re done with the old year and have given up in hopes that somehow changing a ‘7’ to an ‘8’ will somehow make your life better, well, my recipe this week won’t get in the way of that. It’s very self-loathing positive. Also, if you are snowed in or something, it uses very few ingredients, and you may have some lying around, or you can just make something else.

Whatever, I’m already drunk for NYE so I don’t care.

Mary Ellen’s fancy rice recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup veggie of choice (I used shelled edamame)
  • Salt to taste
  • Hummus as needed (optional)

Directions:

Cook up rice in a rice cooker because who the hell actually makes it on a stove. Steam vegetables, then mix all together with oil and sprinkling of salt. I enjoy mine with hummus, but I bet ranch dressing would also work.

Now go make some drunken mistakes with camera phones this NYE.

Mary Ellen

Baby it’s Cold Outside. Or Warm, Depending on Where You Live I Guess

I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t prepared for this week. Chalk it up to me coming down with the man flu or something. Also, it’s cold as hell where I live, but no snow (figure out where I live, you weather snoopers!). Also, I hate the expression “cold as hell” because I thought hell was hot, so am I being ironic and it’s not actually cold here? Even I don’t know, so I guess I can go ahead and wear shorts today.

I have been beyond unmotivated these last 20 years, and I doubt that will change in the next 20, loveliest readers. However, I’m dusting off my nice camera and picking up some more projects after the holidays, which means I’ll be putting those off and writing on here instead. Count yourselves lucky because you’ll be getting some quality content from me.

That day isn’t today though.

However, to keep things festive, I used sweet potatoes. I eat these a lot because I tell myself they are healthier than regular potatoes, which I also eat, but I’ll never tell you about it.

This recipe is easy, kind of healthy, vaguely filling, and vegan, so you can have all the bragging rights of every other asshole health nut out there that is bothering you to eat healthy.

Mary Ellen’s Sweet Potato Fiesta!

(This feeds two people)

Ingredients:

  • 2 baked sweet potatoes
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup preferred salsa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander

Directions:

Cut sweet potatoes in half long ways and slice up the insides to break it open. Heat the rinsed beans until hot in the microwave and add the other ingredients. Spoon on potatoes. Enjoy the rest of your night or go to bed early.

It looks gross.

It looks gross.

The internets is my bae,

Mary Ellen

Turkey Leftovers and Being Efficient with Your Time

You guys are lucky that Serafina isn’t writing the post-food Christmas blog post. What would she even post about? How to repurpose carrots? How to convince people salads are a meal? No, you all want to know what I did with my butchered animal after we got tired of turkey sandwiches.

I’m not going to lie, I spent a good hour or two online looking for recipes on what to do with the dark meat of turkey. It all involved basically using every cheese and noodle you can find in the store. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese. I have an unhealthy, lustful, and inappropriate relationship with cheese. But I’m already feeling fat as it is from the copious amounts of butter so I don’t want a cheese casserole sprinkled with turkey.

Psych! I’m using cheese, no need to close out your browser. But I didn’t make a casserole, because I didn’t want to, and I needed something easy and fast so I could go play Skyrim even faster. It’s all about being efficient with your time, so you can go on adventures with your demon horse.

Leftover turkey quesadillas!

Ingredients:

Leftover turkey (or chicken or goose or whatever)

White corn tortillas

Shredded cheese

Cranberry sauce (not the jelly kind, mine was homemade)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat a skillet and layer your quesadilla as follows: tortilla, cheese, cranberry sauce, turkey, cheese, and tortilla. I salt and pepper the outside.

I forgot to take a picture of it done. I’m sorry. I was really focused on Skyrim.

Here’s a picture of my squirrel tea light holders instead:

No lollygaggin’,

Mary Ellen

I Don’t Know How to Make BibimBap 

But I tried anyway. 

And I’ll do it again! 

I think this dish is trendy around where I used to live, because it was advertised everywhere. I never looked into it until quite recently, when I decided my lazy stir frys were boring and stupid and I just couldn’t handle any more soy sauce rice at that moment. You can tell by how eloquently I speak about food that I’m incredibly cultured, and have tasted the finer things in life. 

I was also inspired by the egg rice battle that I temporarily had with Serafina on the blog, and technically this counts because it has rice and eggs. 

[Warning: I’m talking out of my ass]  Traditionally, this dish can be made to order in a hot stone bowl, which helps cook the raw egg, possibly the raw meat, and it crisps up the rice. I don’t have these materials or skills, so this is the lazy white girl version. If you listen to kpop or watch kdramas while making it, it enhances the flavors and spices and helps compensate around 30% for the fact you’re not a Korean grandmother. 

BibimBap (adapted clunkily from My Korean Kitchen)



Ingredients:

  • Vegetables (I used a combination of fresh and frozen, including a julienned carrot)
  • 4oz ground beef 
  • Meat sauce (from the My Korean Kitchen blog) 
  • Gochujang sauce (from the other blog, seriously, you need to get the recipe there I’m lazy) 
  • Rice (I used brown rice) 
  • A fried egg per person
  • Sesame seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame oil
  • Vinegar (I used rice vinegar) 
  • Rice bran oil
  • Sugar, both brown and regular 
  • Minced garlic (I just used some from a jar) 

Directions: 



I couldn’t find toasted sesame seeds so I toasted some myself, like a homesteader.



Make up the meat sauce and marinate the beef with it while you work. This took my three hours because I got distracted and had to change poopy diapers and do other things equally exciting. Also make up the BibimBap sauce. 

In case you needed to see what gochujang is, because I didn’t know, and my choices are limited in my town.

Legit the first time I’ve used this since I bought it a few years ago.

Prep the vegetables, whatever that might entail. I didn’t do much. I sautéed some frozen stir fry with oil and salt, and julienned a carrot. I did not cook the carrot because I wanted a fresh crunch to the dish. I also sliced up the seaweed. 

Here are vegetables.

The product I used is a Korean product according to the package, making it authentic as hell.

Cook the beef, assemble the bowls with the rice and lay out the vegetables in a pretty way. Top with a fried egg and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, and drizzle with the sauce. I did not use raw meat or egg because I’m a coward and I would probably kill myself with food poisoning. 

I do not have bowls appropriate for this dish. I made a huge mess.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m a badass, but I didn’t think the sauce was that spicy, and loved it so much. It was only enough for two people in my opinion. Same with the beef. And I used a ton of vegetables. This is why I’m fat. 

I hope this inspires you to try and create your own BibimBap masterpiece. 

Always read the comment section,
Mary Ellen