what we ate

Here’s a glimpse, once again, at what we’ve been eating over the last week or two…

After watching this You Suck At Cooking video, I developed a major hankering for ramen. I made my husband stop by the store to pick some up, plus some green onions and broccoli. I like the hot sauce and peanut butter version, and I added a spoonful of thai curry to the latest batch. (I have no idea what version’s in the photo, but it’s packed full of veggies: collards, peas, and the like. So, so yummy.)

In a similar vein: what are your thoughts on MSG? I’ve always avoided MSG (and thus the reason that I rarely bought ramen), but I recently read that MSG is not bad for us like we were led to believe and that it’s perfectly fine to use it on occasion and now I’m considering buying some. Should I?

One day for lunch — perhaps this was a post-church, empty-out-the-fridge affair? — this is what I served up for a couple of the kids: potato salad, leftover peas, hotdogs. It looks more planned than it was. 

Leftover apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. We eat soooooo many leftovers. I’ve read about people who don’t eat leftovers — like ever — and I simply don’t get it. Often leftovers taste as good, or better, than they do the first time around, and it’s lovely to not have to cook and clean out the fridge at the same time. Two bird, one stone, bam.

Speaking of leftovers, this was the plate I fixed for my older son when he arrived home after a day of classes: leftover butter chicken (that was mostly sauce) with some leftover cooked ground beef thrown in to bulk it up, with leftover brown rice.

I learned how to make real burritos! Turns out, it’s all about the tortilla, and I’ve been buying the wrong kind all along. You want the large, thin ones that are full of fat, not the Mission kind — I found some at a local Latin grocery. (Also, the cheese tip — sprinkle cheese over the entire tortilla and let it melt before stuffing and wrapping — is brilliant.)

Friday night, our friends came out and cooked us supper: chicken and beef empanadillas, rice and beans, and mayo-ketchup sauce — the stuff is dangerously addictive — and, my contribution, a Costco salad. (We’d dropped off the raw meat at their house a couple days before so they could cook the meat and assemble the empanadillas, and then, since I avoid frying food in the house at all costs, I made them fry them outside in the cold. Poor things thought they were dying.)

I picked up this book at the library and have been dreaming, scheming, and eating all things breakfast ever since. Case in point, this meal: black pepper biscuits (they spread too much), saucy black beans, and garlicky cheesy grits. Also, since I was also processing a big bowl of peppers from the garden, I rough-chopped a bunch and threw them on a baking pan, along with a couple onions and some sausages, and roasted the whole mess in the oven.

And then here was my lunch a day or two later: the leftover grits (made from yellow popcorn that I little-red-hen milled myself) and sausage and veggies, plus some sauteed mushrooms, a bit of cheese, and a fried egg. I did not grow up with grits, but even so, they strike me as comfort food.

This same time, years previous: of mice and men and other matters, the quotidian (11.6.17), cinnamon pretzels, musings from the coffee shop, awkward, bierocks: meat and cabbage rolls, crispy cinnamon cookies.


  • Margo

    ALSO – leftovers! They are a gift, but there are fewer around now that my kids are bigger. I actually do not call them "leftovers" but rather "food in the fridge." I take the approach that this is our convenience food, our prepared food, and I don't take ANY COMPLAINTS about it.

  • Margo

    I, too, avoid frying in the house!!! Can I make that sauce by mixing equal parts ketchup and mayo? I would guess anything fried would taste good in that – yum.

    I read somewhere that MSG is naturally occurring in some foods and our bodies can handle that, but when it is extracted and ramped up as an additive, it can be too much and an allergen for some people. I don't buy MSG, but I've stopped worrying about it. Not a lot of processed food with MSG comes into our house, but we do love us some ramen 🙂

  • Lana

    Our oldest daughter is extremely sensitive to MSG but none of the rest of us have that problem. Our alternative medicine practitioner said it is fine if you tolerate it but if you don't it will never change since it is not a naturally occurring substance anyway and the body doesn't know what t do with it so it is just eliminates it unlike artificial sweeteners which the body stores until it causes pain. I used to have a container of Accent and never knew what to do with it so I finally threw it out. It implied on the label that you should just add it to everything which kind of weirded me out.

  • beckster

    I love these posts, Jennifer! I get a lot of ideas and learn a lot from them, and I appreciate that so much. Like many other things, MSG has gotten a bad rap. My mother's generation used Accent a lot. I wonder if they still sell that. I am sure there are rare individuals who have trouble with it, but it is pretty innocuous.
    We eat leftovers all the time at my house. I practice the art of the "continuous meal" here, LOL. There is almost always a leftover with any meal that I cook. I almost always cook enough of any entree or side to carry over to a future meal. I admit I have strong, mostly negative, feelings about people who refuse to eat leftovers. It is so wasteful on so many levels. And they are part of a lot of very good meals around here, if I do say so myself.
    Why no frying in the house? Just because of the mess? And how did you grind the popcorn? I am intrigued. I am thinking of buying a grain mill. Bread with freshly milled grain vs. bagged flour is like comparing a fine restaurant to fast food.
    I would happily dive into any of the above plates with relish!

    • Jennifer Jo

      No frying because of the heavy grease smell and all the oil splatters — I always end up scrubbing the floor, counters, my glasses….ugh.

      My mother-in-law bought me a grain mill (the nutrimill from Lehman's Hardware: https://bit.ly/2NoxhVs) years ago and I LOVE it.

      You really do need to come over sometime….

    • beckster

      Well, if I could come over, I would. We would have lots to talk about! I have been looking at a Mockmill, but I will investigate the Nutrimill now. I am just trying to justify the expense. You know, working on my rationalizations, ha ha.

  • lisa

    I love (cheesy especially!) grits! A staple where we live – any local breakfast place worth its salt will have grits on the side for every menu item.

    I found I learned a lot about food and what pairs well when I started focusing more on leftovers, years ago. A family of 7 with three cross-country-running teenagers has to serve leftovers, I suppose. I don't plan a meal now that doesn't include making enough to last at least 2 meals…

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