…I have my kids’ favorite pancake recipe memorized.

I don’t remember many baking recipes by heart because I don’t make them enough to bother. But this one gets used almost every week.

Which is good news for me because it means I have less to dick around with in the kitchen when I’m tired and cranky. I can just get straight to work. Sometimes today is worth it not because I’m happy or fulfilled, but because I’m just more efficient at all the other stuff. I’ll take it.

This isn’t a recipe blog, but if somehow you got here looking for one, here you go.

In a dry ingredients bowl, mix: 1.5 cups flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 3.5 tsps baking powder, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp flax seed if you have it.

In a wet ingredients bowl, mix 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup pumpkin, and one egg. Mix until smooth then blend in 3 tbsp melted butter.

Dump wet into dry and mix until lightly combined. Then add as many chocolate chips as you want. Mix until well combined, but still kinda lumpy. Let it sit for like 10 minutes and then cook it on a pan the way you cook any other pancakes.

Serve with whatever. I’m not your dad.

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…it’s an easy school lunch day.

Friday is the day we agreed to send the kids off to school with Lunchables and chocolate milk. So it’s the one day a week I can really phone it in with packing lunches and everyone’s still gonna be happy.

I’m so fucking tired. Why does school start before 10? Why does fucking anything start before 10?

Our entire way of life was founded by and continues to be decided by the dumbest shits.

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…the air fryer turned out to be pretty useful.

We bought it last July during peak Pandemic. The original plan was to fill in the fast food sized hole in our hearts, as we hadn’t been anywhere to get french fries for months on end at that point.

And while we did make fries with it a few times and loved the results, I had feared it was gonna be one of those fad buys that would just take up space after we burned out on it. Lord knows we have too much shit in our kitchen already.

More than a year on, we do actually still use it at least a couple times a week. Just not really for fries. Unless I have the energy to chop and prep them. Which I don’t, on account of being alive.

Turns out the real selling point of the fryer is that it’s just a really efficient oven for short-turn heating. Like whenever the kids want chicken nuggets. The microwave makes them soggy, and the oven takes like 40 goddamn minutes including preheat time, and all that energy is just wasted because you’re not cooking anything else with all that heat.

So we just dump that shit in the air fryer and it’s done in half the time. It has a high power draw, but it does its job fast and then stops, so it uses less electricity overall.

All this time I let the marketing to my inner gourmand lead me, but really it was my inner cheapskate that wanted this relationship.

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…I have a steady stream of Impossible Burger coming to my house.

We get Imperfect Foods deliveries every Monday. And I don’t know for sure that their whole “we’re saving the environment” shtick is totally on the level, ’cause they sell a bunch of bullshit that’s definitely not good for the environment. (Looking at you, organic foods. Fucking organic, man, what a crock of shit. You want to save the environment? Don’t buy organic under any circumstances.)

But one undeniably good thing on their part: they sell Impossible Foods products. Which means every week we get fresh Impossible Burger without even trying. It tastes exactly like ground beef, but digests way easier, and emits way less carbon.

The price could use some work, I’ll be honest. But we can afford it. Haven’t bought any ground meat since before the pandemic and I regret nothing.

Hurry up and make some Impossible Chicken Thighs and Impossible Buffalo Wings. You guys find a way to do that and I swear I’ll go straight vegetarian the same day.

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…our microwaveable popcorn popper does good work.

This thing:

It works as advertised. Combined with a heart-stoppingly sized carton of Flavacol, we’re in constant fresh supply of theater-style popcorn.

Which is good, since watching movies is like the only goddamn thing we’ve been able to do for the last 18 months. It’s like a monkey’s paw wish, man.

“Hey, fat nerd with kids – are you sure you want to spend all your time watching movies? Alright, here’s an endless rotation of the same 20 kids’ movies, and also now that you’re locked in, you’ll be too tired from endless housekeeping that you can’t stay up late enough to watch the good stuff. Enjoy your new life, dumbass.”

Better believe I’m enjoying my fucking popcorn.

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…we’re going apple picking.

It’s the first true autumn activity we get to do this year. Since 2019, to be more accurate.

And apples are actually worth picking fresh. They’re easy to grab and way tastier fresh off the tree. Not like strawberry picking or blueberry picking or any of those other crop-related things we tried in the past. That shit was just chores. Apple picking is actually fun.

And while we’re at it, we’ll go in a vaguely Halloween themed corn maze. The kids will probably run out of energy halfway through and in theory the rest of the day will be easy, plus we can go back to loafing on the couch guilt-free.

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…I’m making ramen for dinner.

One of my projects during the pandemic was learning to make better ramen. I’m pleased to say I’ve come a long way. I can genuinely say I make a better bowl than the ramen shop nearby.

Today I’m doing ramen for dinner, because my kids specifically asked for it. It’s one of the precious few dishes they both agree to eat readily, vegetables and all, with no argument.

I should probably share a recipe, but that’s not really the point. Ramen is versatile. You do whatever you want with it. I’ve opted for a relatively heavy broth, made from homemade stock, miso paste, dashi no moto, and Steak-umms for added body. I’ve learned the perfect method to make soft boiled eggs that peel easily*. I’ve learned to make pickled cabbage. And I’ve experimented with all the vegetables. Ramen is never the exact same twice but it’s always better now than it was before the pandemic, so any day we can eat it is a day worth having.

*Alright, I’ll share this part since it’s way easy and the internet is full of lies about how to do this. Ignore all other egg boiling advice. This is the real shit.

1. Boil your water. Like, a rapid, bubbling, scary hot boil.

2. Add the eggs and boil uncovered for one minute.

3. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Leave for five minutes for a soft boil. Six for medium, seven for hard.

4. Drain and remove the eggs from heat. Ideally you’d put them in a water bath (ice is not required, no matter what the internet tells you), but the main thing is just to get them out of the hot water so they stop cooking. I use room temperature water for this part and it’s always fine.

5. Wait like another five minutes or so and then go nuts. Add to your marinade of choice, or don’t. It’s up to you.

The main thing is: boil your water first and then add the eggs. Nothing else you do matters as much as this. There are subtle things you can tweak to improve it, but all other advice about easy-peel eggs is bullshit. I’ve tried it all, nothing else matters. Age, alkalinity, acidity, poking a little hole in the bottom – none of that is worth a goddamn if you don’t start off with a raging boil bereft of eggs.

The reason is that the egg has a membrane inside that will stick to both the shell and the rest of the egg if you bring it up to temperature gradually. On the other hand, if you dump an egg into a rapid boil, you’re basically shock-cooking the membrane so it sticks to the shell before the egg cooks. So by the time the albumen firms up, the membrane will no longer be “sticky.” Then the membrane / shell fusion slides right off once you get a fingernail under it.

I do recommend using room temperature eggs, but not for any special reason except that they don’t bring down them temperature of your water when you add them. You can boil eggs right out of the fridge, no problem, but you need to use a bunch more water so the pot keeps its temperature up.

And I know this isn’t something I invented or anything like that, so I’m not sharing an industry secret or something. But have you ever googled “how to boil an egg” before? It’s just a ton of bullcrap. Don’t waste your time. Baking soda ain’t gonna do shit.

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…the Aldi brand oat milk is really good.

Which is honestly some of the best news possible, because otherwise there’s no chance I’d endorse a milk alternative. And boy do I want to swear off dairy if I can help it, anything to chip away at climate change.

Problem is, most milk alternatives fucking suck. Especially the really big name brands like Silk. Fuck you, Silk. You fucking liars. You keep adding sugar to watered down primer and I’m supposed to be fooled? Shove it.

But even when there’s an alternative that’s actually worth drinking, its always so goddamn expensive. Bottled water expensive.

Not so with Aldi oat milk. It tastes amazing, like the milk left after you eat your cereal, it’s just as versatile as cow milk, and it’s as cheap or cheaper than regular grocery store milk. Fuck yeah, Aldi, I knew there was a reason I made you my go-to store.

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