1015 Roadhouse Dinner with Mom

Mom picked just about the most beautiful weekend of the year to come visit.  It’s sunny, the days are in the 60s, and the leaves are brilliantly colored.  Tomorrow we’re going to the Iowa game – my birthday present to her – but tonight we stuck closer to home, and indulged in what Laurie Colwin might call “nursery food” and I call just damned good: dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

Zingerman's Roadhouse
Photo by Debs Leigh

For me: Salisbury steak. I don’t know that I’ve ever had Salisbury steak before, but it’s what jumped off the menu at me, despite Mom’s memories of it as a gross school lunch. In this case, it was a thick burger patty topped with a rich mushroom gravy and served with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. I ate every last bite, sopping up the last of the gravy with a slice of buttered bread. I’m sure it went straight to my arteries, and I didn’t care.

Mom had the pulled pork with greens (not green beans, as she expected) and mashed potatoes. The server brought her two extra sauces so that she could try all three, and was happy to bring some extra pork out when her portion turned out to be very fatty. Shane had some amazing scallops – tender, sweet, and perfectly grilled – along with mashed potatoes and spinach.

We left full and happy, and after a quick stop by the Deli, we spent the rest of the evening on the couch with Toy Story 3: a nice end to a nice night!

A Week of Bachelor Eating

I could tell you all of the pathetic meals I dreamed up while Shane was gone.  We hadn’t totally restocked the fridge, and I wasn’t totally in cooking mode yet.  I went to Ferndale for a half day, and then had houseguests for three nights.  My meal planning went something like this:

  1. Open the fridge.  Stare at the contents.
  2. Open the crisper drawers.  Move a few things around.
  3. Open the cabinet.  Stare at the contents.
  4. Return to the fridge.  Complain to the cats that I didn’t want to eat anything in the fridge.

And so it went for nearly a week while Shane ate his fill of schnitzel and weird vegetable terrines, with the occasional good meal sandwiched between a lot of odd conference food.  One night I had yogurt, a pear, and peanut butter toast for dinner.  Another night my Couchsurfers treated me to dinner at the Roadhouse, where I had excellent, if overly mustardy, pulled pork and we split two desserts three ways:

Roadhouse Dessert

After the Roadhouse dinner, I was determined to get my ass back in the kitchen, so I pressed a block of tofu overnight and made this:

Proof that I did cook at least once while Shane was gone

For the tofu:
16 oz package extra-firm tofu
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, one crushed, the other thinly sliced

Press the tofu in the fridge overnight to get rid of excess moisture. Slice into 8-10 slices of roughly equal sizes, then marinate in the remaining ingredients for 30 minutes to one hour, then broil until cooked through and golden, about 10 minutes on each side.

For the sprouts:
1-2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, halved, stem end removed
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter, then add the garlic and saute until golden. Add your sprouts and cook over medium heat until a little golden and a little wilted. I find it’s helpful to cover the sprouts to help them sweat a bit. Yum yum.

I also had a great squash idea, involving one acorn squash and some leftover pancetta:

green tomato, acorn squash, other squash all home grown
Photo by burtonwood + holmes

Preheat your oven to 375. Take a small acorn squash. Cut it in half with a sharp knife. It’s probably safest to cut off the top so that you have a flat surface and the squash doesn’t rock around. Place your squash halves on a baking sheet and add a spoonful of brown sugar to each half. Top each half with a thin slice of pancetta, then place in the oven. Forget about it for an hour or so until your house smells amazing. The pancetta will be crispy, and the interior of the squash flavorful from the rendered fat and the brown sugar. You might want a pinch of salt, but that’s about all you’ll need.

Long story short: I’m glad Shane’s home and that we can go back to eating like civilized people.

0730 Hustin’ to the Roadhouse

I was at happy hour at Dominick’s when I got the message from Jenny – she and Richard were thinking about stopping at  Zingerman’s Roadhouse also en route to Detroit for the Maker Faire.  Was I interested in joining them?  Answer:  Yes please!  The only hitch? I was on campus – nearly 3 miles away – with no vehicle.  Fortunately the 30-45 minute wait gave me just enough time to hustle across town.

While I know I should’ve tried one of the many amazing meat offerings on my first trip to the Roadhouse, I regrettably wasn’t that hungry.  The three of us split a basket of sweet potato fries with a delicious spicy mayo, and I enjoyed a bowl of mussels steamed with white wine and shallots.  I envied Richard’s fried chicken and Jenny’s fancied up mac & cheese, and was thankful that we live just down the street and so can try these and other Roadhouse options at our leisure.  I also look forward to trying more of their cocktails, as my Corpse Reviver No. 2 combined several of my favorite drinkity things: gin, Lillet Blanc, and Absente.  What any of those things have to do with corpses, I’m not sure, but I certainly enjoyed it.

In addition to a great meal, it was fun to catch up with friends that I see quite rarely – and to learn about Henry Ford’s hatred of cows.  I had no idea!  A casual Google search turned up this book, which includes the tantalizing quote:

“In 1919 [Ford] advocated the elimination of horses, cows, and pigs.  ‘The world would be better off without meat,’ he said. ‘It’s 75 percent ashes anyway.  Milk can be manufactured chemically.  Every animal used on the farm these days is a waste of time.'”

He goes on to refer to cows as “the crudest machine on the world” and horses as a “twelve hundred-pound ‘hay motor'”. Thank you, Henry Ford, for the car and for allowing your ridiculous statements to be captured by the press so that they could amuse me 90 years later.  And thank you, Jenny and Richard, for inviting me to dinner!