A Grilled Cheese Upgrade, Campfire Potatoes, You!

Good morning! Sorry for the radio silence. I am thisclose to turning in a first draft of my manuscript and it’s all I’ve been spending time on during my waking working hours. Not a ton of other stuff happening — since we last spoke, I’ve walked over the newly opened pathway on the Mario Cuomo Bridge (above, though it will always be called the Tappan Zee in our house, FYI); voted for our new Congressman (hooray!); and started Bojack Horseman. (It’s so funny, but very very dark.) Here’s today’s PPP…

Project: Next-Level Grilled Cheese

Phoebe should write a whole cookbook on how to make the perfect grilled cheese. She’s gotten so good at it, that we’re at a point now where her sister won’t let anyone else in the house make her one. Her technique is very mysterious — she cranks the heat and yet never burns the bread or undercooks the cheese, even though her mother says every. single. time. you’re going to burn the bread and undercook the cheese! Andy might be giving her a run for her money, though, because he experimented with ingredients earlier this week, using mayo instead of butter on the bread, adding a thin layer of Dijon underneath, and swapping out the usual cheddar for muenster, king of melting cheeses. Not a light lunch, but holy moly. We’ll have to have a side-by-side taste test next week.

Pantry: Campfire Potatoes

One thing you can say about the DALS house — we are creatures of habit. The campfire potatoes we had last night have been around since my first year writing this blog, and that’s for a reason: They are so simple and satisfying, especially when it’s hot, the grill is fired up, and the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven. Here’s what I wrote a decade ago:

Buy potatoes fresh and buy them little, wrap them in foil with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then put them on the grill grate for 30 minutes. (Listen to them  — if they sound really sizzly, check to make sure they’re not burning.) When they’re cooked, dump them into a bowl, smash with a fork, just so enough so the flesh bursts out of their skin, pour a little more olive oil on top, a squeeze of lemon, whatever chopped fresh herbs you’ve got (we used chives here) and a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche.

Purpose: What’s Your PPP?

Enough about me, what would your PPP look like from yesterday if you had to write one. The formula, in case you haven’t figure out yet, is actually four parts: 1) Something you did/read/watched yesterday, no matter how boring it may sound 2) a pantry-based food or drink you might’ve cooked, no matter how simple 3) suggestion or recap of a more involved baked good or kitchen project, no matter how basic 4) moment of connection to the world outside our quarantined walls.

Stay safe. See you next week!

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at jenny@dinneralovestory.com.

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Wow can’t believe the new bridge is finished! I used to be scared to drive over Tappan Zee after my husband told me how overdue it was to be replaced, haha. Will always be called the Tappan Zee in our family too.

I’ve really enjoyed these PPP posts and gotten a lot of great new recipes from following along as well. For my project I finally made our baby registry public after having our 20 -week scan. I think seeing our kiddo kicking on ultrasound made the whole ‘we’re having a baby!’ thing finally feel real! For pantry we made some truly delicious pizzas from scratch last week, using the sauce base from this site. sprinkled in a little pesto for added deliciousness 🙂 And for purpose, I mustered up the courage to call the police department and mayor’s office in Louisville, KY to ask for justice for Breonna Taylor. Hard to do but well worth it.


My PPP: Yesterday, we got together for social distancing drinks with some friends to let the dogs run circles around the yard and stayed until after dark. Evening plans necessitated a quick dinner, so we did taco bowls with black beans, brown rice, shredded cabbage, feta, lime, salsas, and the ever-important crushed tortilla chips. This week’s project bake was Smitten Kitchen’s strawberries and cream biscuits: good for old grocery store berries, and eating a homemade baked good for a weekday breakfast is always special. We’ve also gotten into the show Superstore: along similar campy lines as The Good Place or 30 Rock, but you can tell that the writers put as much energy into the humor as they do the critiques of racism and classism, which is just what I’ve been craving these days.


I love this series so much. It’s the perfect combination of recipe, connection, and action. My PPP (for right this minute, plans/moods change by the hour around here) is Pantry: slow cooker pinto beans. A family favorite, to eat over rice or in burritos. Project: tomatillo salsa. We ordered 5lb of tomatillos from a local farm that arrived yesterday and that will keep us busy for the afternoon. Purpose: last Friday we emptied the tzedakah box while having an intense conversation about race and the state of the country with the kids, ages 6 and 9. Together we decided to donate to Black Girls Climbing, a climbing team here in Berkeley, and Acta Non Verba, an urban farm in Oakland focusing on youth education.


Thanks for mentioning Black Girls Climbing – just donated myself after seeing your comment!


1. I watched the fourth training for Vote Save America’s Adopt a State. I adopted Wisconsin. We live elsewhere now, but I was disgusted that my home state voted for trump in 2016. 2. Chilaquiles for dinner. 3. My daughter and I have baked almost every weekend since March but this weekend we are making cardamom saffron ice cream. The cardamom is steeping in cream already. Yum! 4. I guess I connected with the outside world via the Zoom training. And I walked with my daughter in the afternoon and my husband in the evening. We enjoyed spotting a deer, snapping turtles, one snake, two Great Blue herons, one Green heron, a groundhog who should’ve been more shy, and many other birds and bunnies.


Project: I recently made this simple yogurt cake with fresh whipped cream and berries: https://hitherandthither.net/first-yogurt-cake-for-kids-to-bake/

Pantry: For tonight’s Friday night cocktail, I’m making a Moscow Mule. Fill a glass with ice (use a copper mug if you’re fancy). Add 2 oz. vodka, top with ginger beer and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Stir and enjoy.

Purpose: Last night I watched this great documentary:

Have a good weekend!



-30 Rock: My husband and I are watching the entire series for the 3rd time/4th time??? so that our 13 year old can watch it with us. He loves it…as he should!
-I threw together my first zucchini pancake with slowly dying zucchini in fridge and it was great! Will add these to our regular summer dinner rotation. https://homesteadandchill.com/parmesan-zucchini-fritters-recipe/
I skipped the yogurt sauce to make for a quicker prep and just set out a bottle of sweet chili sauce but they were great plain.
-For the weekend I am pickling red onions, just a quick pickle which I had been doing regularly but have stopped in past few weeks which is CRAZY because in summer it is more valuable than ever. Will add to salads, burgers and tostadas this weekend. I’m also feeling the regular itch for play date cookies so i think that has to happen…


I cooked some chickpeas in the instant pot the other day but hadn’t figured out what I was going to make with them, and then I ended up getting some little zucchinis at a farm stand. I was madly googling zucchini pasta recipes but ended up instead with Smitten Kitchen’s crisped chickpeas with herbs and garlic yogurt (and zucchini, it turns out). It was quick, easy and delicious. I now know what I’m doing with the rest of the chickpeas! (Recipe here: https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/09/crisped-chickpeas-with-herbs-and-garlic-yogurt/). We’re on a late dinner schedule because I like to take advantage of the late light and stay in the garden as long as I can, so we ate while watching our nightly episode of Call the Midwife. I am a little surprised that this is what we are binging now, but apparently we are, as we just started season 6. (And, to my surprise, I actually loved the Xmas special where they go to South Africa!) I also got strawberries at the farm stand. What we don’t eat for breakfast may end up in a baked good, but I’m not sure what. I’ve already made strawberry shortcake for my partner’s b’day a few weeks ago and Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry cake. I am super extra grateful to have a big plot at the local community garden (as well as a garden at home). All of the gardening has saved me this spring, and the community garden gives me some social connection in a place where it’s very easy to socially distance. The (expletive) woodchuck seems to be back and has decimated my kale and broccoli, but the tomatoes are looking great. They like the heat even if I don’t!


1) Watching The West Wing for the first time. 🙂
2) Smoothie Bowls (Avocado, banana, spinach, OJ, Milked Cashews, Frozen Mango, chia, collagen)
3) 10 & 8 yr old daughters Karis and Katherine are working their way through Paleo Baking at Home by Michele Rosen and the banana bread was delish
4) Facetiming w/my 96 yr old Grandma Blanche after rereading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry and thinking of her

Kimberly Locke

1- Watching The West Wing for the 1st time 🙂
2- Smoothie Bowls
3- Daughters Karis (10) and Katherine (8) are baking their way through Paleo Baking at Home by Michele Rosen and the banana bread is delish
4- (Outside) Bookclub discussed Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry 🙂


I’ve been reading In Cold Blood, something I have always wanted to read and finally have gotten the chance! I made a vegan Penne Vodka with all ingredients I had on hand, and then a loaf of sourdough because one can not have enough pasta and bread in tandem. I sewed new masks in a corgi print and plan to give one to my fellow corgi owner up the street. A busy little day!
Thank you so much for these PPP posts – I have enjoyed them from day one of the quarantine and look forward to them each day. And I am so looking forward to your vegetarian cookbook!


1. Just finished Chemistry by Weike Wang (winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award!). It was a good and quick read.
2. Stopped by the farmer’s market this morning and grabbed a bunch of basil for pesto. Had to sub in pumpkin seeds for pine nuts because that’s all I had in the house.
3. We are lucky to have a mulberry tree and lots of rhubarb in the garden, so my kiddo and I used both to make a rhubarb and mulberry jam. We ate it on toast from our local bakery–divine.
4. We’ve been going to this farmer’s market since we moved to this city five years ago, and every summer, we see the same not-so-strangers. It gives me warm fuzzies to know that they’re all still here.

P.S. Jenny–if you haven’t already, I recommend that you read up a little bit about the casting of Bojack (https://screenrant.com/bojack-horseman-allison-brie-diane-voice-actor-regret/). While the creator addressed this issue a few years ago, it really does highlight the need for true representation in pop culture (https://slate.com/culture/2018/09/bojack-horseman-raphael-bob-waksberg-diane-nguyen-representation.html) As someone who’s Asian American, I couldn’t stomach watching Bojack despite its critical acclaim for this very reason. But I would like to add that you shouldn’t need to be a BIPOC to demand better from creators.


I’ve finally convinced my husband to watch the Harry Potter series for the FIRST time; seeing the magic light up on a grown man is priceless.

I also made cream cheese from scratch cause I didn’t know it’d be so dang easy! Whole milk and lemon? Done.

I also watched the debate for my local prosecutor—didn’t realize what a circus it would be, but it helps to know how to vote and how to be an advocate.


Rainy day, so…..1. Watched Unorthodox – all 4 parts, 2. tuna & white bean salad, 3. Bon Apetit’s Breakfast Blondies and Pizza Camp Zucchini, Cream, Basil and Garlic Pizza (wow) 4. Vote Save Wisconsin!


Yesterday I came across a pride parade in my neighborhood! Also started watching Nadiya in the Kitchen on Netflix and loving it. Pantry based food – made a blueberry and peach crisp! A more involved cooking project – I’m not sure yet! I enjoyed tackling Carla Lalli’s grandma style pie which lived up to the hype. Moment of connection was definitely the drive by pride parade yesterday – a bright moment as right now here in Texas the Saharan dust is blowing through


Mayo on a grilled cheese is key! I can’t remember where I first read the suggestion, but it is now mandatory in our house. When I got home from the hospital after having my daughter my dad was waiting wtih a grilled cheese to welcome us home, it’s one f my very favorite food memories…


1) We recently installed an outdoor shower (glorious!), so I took a hot shower in the cool, misty Maine morning. Lovely.
2) We had a bag of cherries that were just barely past ripe. I made a clafouti (via King Arthur baking) using pantry basics (milk, eggs, sugar) and subbing gf flour for regular. Delicious. It was gone soon after.
3) The kids and I have been watching episodes of the Great British Baking show now and then. Yesterday we had a three part challenge (categories decided by my nine year old- fruit, savory and sweet.) I made profiteroles filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache for the sweets round. Yum.
4) Signed up for the online event ‘How to be an Antiracist’ with Ibram X. Kendi on July 20th along with my mom, sisters and a few close friends.

Jaspreet Chowdhary

I am not sure what I would put into a PPP, but am using the comments to crowdsource. I have two kids (ages 5 and 8). We have made a few things together on this PPP, BUT I would love advice and ideas from other parents who are working full time while trying to do childcare. The virtual camps are not working well. Right now, my spouse and I trade off during the day with the kids and then both us of are staying up until at least midnight to try to get everything finished. It is exhausting and not sustainable. Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom!


I love these posts. Thanks for continuing them when you have time. Some of us know it won’t be “normal” for a long time, if ever.