Bánh mì, redux

For one of my myriad bookclubs we read The Sympathizer a Pulitzer Prize winning book that is soon to be a Netflix series (or Hulu or some one of those dealios). It is a stunning piece of writing that takes place during and after the fall of Saigon. I mean, the writing is amazing, the story, well, you can just imagine.

Although Husoor picked the book, I made the meal and while I am not terribly familiar with Vietnamese food I am aware of, and have actually made, bánh mì. I am not sure if that is the bread or the sandwich but we had sandwiches made with the bread so covered both bases there.

I had attempted to make bánh mì before because I thought they might be the answer to my French baguette quest. They were not—once again fooled by the YouTube—but the recipe made great bánh mì. That is, I think they were great, I dunno, I have no real way of knowing.

In case you are unaware, the French colonized Vietnam before we went in and made a mess of it but not before the Vietnamese adopted the French baguette and began filling them with chicken and/or pork, and various fresh and pickled vegetables. So I made them, the bread, and then we stuffed them with the various accoutrements. They were good. Again, I think they were. We didn’t have anyone from Vietnam here to tell us differently so I’m going with it.

After reading the book I am not sure I’d want to have to face anyone from Vietnam anyway.

St Patrick is turning in his grave

It’s Guinness cake time of the year and I’ve dutifully made a batch. Only this time I added a bunch of blueberries that were cluttering my crisper drawer. I’m supposed to use dried fruit and candied peel (blech) but I figured that tossing in a coupla blueberries isn’t going upset the apple cart or cause St Patrick to clutch chest in horror. They were on the edge of becoming dried fruit anyway.

I find that the more I make this the further I stray from the reality of the recipe and somehow they always turn out just fine. Luck of the Irish is my guess.

I am turning into my mother

But we knew that.

They put this stuff near the check out at the hardware store for people like me. The mental conflict that ensued after I spotted it was something that might could easily have ended in armed combat if it had played out openly but the dark side won before there was bloodshed. I bought the damn crap (without looking the checkout guy in the eye). And then ate the vast majority of it. Not right on the spot exactly but near enough.

Great idea poorly realized

This looks TOTALLY up my alley and when my friend Karen saw this on a remainders shelf at the grocery store recently she picked one up for me telling me there were more there if I liked it.

I mean, this is soooooo me but there’s a reason they’re on that shelf. Reality did not live up to its promise.

Bánh mì

This is the Vietnamese version of French Bread albeit in sandwich roll form. We’re reading The Sympathizers for one of my myriad bookclubs. It’s a fantastic book which takes place in Viet Nam (and other places) and since it was Husoor’s pick, he’s making Vietmanese food. I volunteered to make the bánh mì. No promises.

This was my first attempt.

It all went well until they were baked and I attempted to remove them from the loaf pan. The bread was nice and definitely good enough for a sandwich but, um, that goddam pan. It’s always something.

This just kills me

My best crop. Lemons. Harvested today.

This tree is at least 30 years old. I treat it badly. It always produces. If only I needed this many lemons. And Meyer lemons at that. They taste weird. Good for savory, weird for sweet.

St Julia forgive me

For a recent family event (my great-nephew turned 12—I am so old) I made Mac and Cheese using a recipe from Cooking Secrets for Men (linked here) The recipe called for a pound of butter. Now I like butter as much as the next guy but I really could not imagine using that much here. I used 1/4 of a pound (one stick which seemed like a lot to me) for a pound of pasta.

I know, Julia Child, as my friend Charlie says here, insists that there’s no such thing as too much butter. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. As it was there was a can of cheddar soup, a cup of sour cream, half & half, and buttermilk, respectively, as well as more than a pound of cheese.

It was a hit. The recipe says it serves 4. Forty more like.

This luscious stuff

Cream-cheese-and-blueberry-preserves stuffed French toast. Mixed the cream cheese with the blueberry preserves, made sandwiches, tucked them into a casserole, doused them with egg, milk, brown sugar and vanilla and gave them a good overnight soak. Baked for an hour, half the time covered then not.

Served with Wisconsin maple syrup.

The photographs do not do it justice I was in too much of a hurry to jam it into my yap. So so so good.

Recipe (sort of) here


Every time I make something like this, which is not often since I rarely have sandwich bread within my grasp, I wonder . . . What Would Wendy Want? She and her picky husband do not like tuna melts or grilled chicken salad sandwiches. This was a grilled cheese and sliced chicken sandwich. I’m not sure how this may be different than the chicken salad grilled sandwich that they do l not like aside from the fact that it’s not “salad” but I wonder.

FYI, I used mayo on the outside of the sandwich and it was perfect, as you can see.