September 13, 2017

Egg Salad

All of my bowls are garbage, so you can thank my parents for
the blue part around the egg salad.
I've seen a lot of people posting articles and recipes lately about how the summer isn't over yet. The main point of these seems to be that it's not too late to capture the spirit of the summer and have a great time, and you should totally make watermelon slushies while you still can, and also while you're at it click on some links and buy stuff. I don't know what these people are talking about, because nothing is more summery than going to a picnic or outdoor even of some kind, looking at the egg salad and doing some very frantic math about things like how hot it is outside and how long the food has probably been sitting out of the fridge. There's a reason for this. It's because egg salad is awesome. Or at least it can be. Think about it: if there was a pile of old gummy bears slathered in grape jelly and mayonnaise sitting out there you wouldn't think twice about just moving on to the pesto pasta salad and calling it a day. But egg salad we linger over, because it has the potential for greatness. The fact that it costs like 5 dollars to make a tub of it doesn't hurt either.

Ingredients:

1 dozen Eggs (Preferably chicken eggs. Definitely not fish eggs)
1/2 a Red Onion
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
Salt 
Black Pepper

So straight off we're going to need to boil our eggs. Overcooked eggs end up with hard and discolored yolks which bring shame upon your dojo, and it can be a fine balance cooking them just enough. If only there was someone who had posted egg-based recipes before that you could read and learn from (For those of you too proud or lazy to follow the link, bring them to a boil then turn off the heat and leave them in the water for about 14 minutes. You want more details, hilarity, and also a recipe for deviled eggs? Then follow the stupid link). Once your eggs are cooked and cooled down to a reasonable temperature, it's time to get peeling. Peeling eggs is an art-form inasmuch as it's confusing, frustrating, and everybody who claims to truly understand it is clearly using cocaine. Allegedly, if your eggs are older then the membrane between the shell and the egg becomes more detached, making peeling easier. But, if like me you don't have the time to be lovingly aging your eggs before use, you're just going to have to power through it, and probably yell and cry a lot in the process. Once you've recovered from this process (Physically, that is. The emotional scars will last a good long while) it's time to slice your eggs. And sure, you can get all hipstery and have your eggs "artisanally sliced according to ancient methods," which we all know just means badly cutting your eggs with a knife. Or you can use egg slicers. You know, those cheap and useful things that have been around for decades that make this process take like 2 minutes instead of 20. Slice your eggs, then turn them 90 degrees and slice them again. 
The sandwich jauntily displays itself on a diagonal
cross-section to try and attract a mate.

Now that your eggs are finally finished, all that's left is to choppity chop your onion into tiny bits, then splorp in your mayo and mustard along with an average sized human's pinch worth of salt and pepper, and stir that sucker. Gently. Because the idea is to have a light and fluffy finished product where you can distinguish between egg whites and yolks, not dense and homogenous egg goop. So gently stir until everything is combined, and you're technically done. For a little added color and flavor you can dust the top with some smoked paprika, but that part's totally optional (as opposed to all the other parts of this recipe which are mandatory, and I can totally verify whether you've done or not). Now go ahead and serve that delicious nonsense up plain, or slather it on to a sandwich, or do whatever other weird things you normally do with egg salad. Although personally I think that it tastes better after having a couple hours in the fridge to relax. But what do I know? I don't even artisanally slice my eggs according to ancient methods.


September 7, 2017

Vegan Chili

Say hello to my sister. This is all her fault. Unless it turns out
great, in which case this is all my fault.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Then again, they also say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, which is ludicrous because the relative value of a bird doesn't change just because it's in a bush. I mean, sure, maybe if it was in some super hard-to-reach bush on top of a mountain, but that was never specified. And there are pretty much bushes everywhere. But I digress. The point is that I had a great need, and thus needed to invent. Specifically, my sister is in town, and she doesn't eat a lot of the basic foods that make up deliciousness and joy. And sure, she claims that while she's here she'll eat whatever you give her and won't be picky, but she says it with the same look in her eyes that the animals have in those over the top ASPCA commercials with the ridiculous Sarah Mclachlan music. So I needed to make something without red meat, processed sugar, flour, and probably a bunch of other things that I'm forgetting. And somehow I needed to make it taste good. And by coincidence, lately it's been kind of chilly in Chicago. And so, just like every major marketing campaign ever, inspiration was born from a stupid pun.

Ingredients:

2 standard issue Onions
3 ribs of Celery
3 largish Carrots
1 lb. Crimini Mushrooms
5 cloves Garlic
32 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes
15 oz. Black Beans (Personally, I used canned beans because I didn't have the time to deal with dried beans and their endless drama this week. But if you do, soak your beans for 6-8 hours, then replace the water and boil them for another 45 minutes in salted water. Same thing you do with communists.)
15 oz. Kidney Beans (Ditto)
1 Green Pepper
1 Poblano Pepper
1 Jalapeño Pepper
6 oz. Tomato Paste
2 cups Vegetable Stock (That you totally had left if you made my empanadas from last week. And it turns out that I made the empanadas that I made last week, so that worked out for me.)
1.5 TBSP Cumin
1.5 TBSP Dried Oregano
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is prepare yourself. Not in an overly dramatic, "prepare yourself for destruction" sort of way, although that couldn't hurt either. But there are a fair number of ingredients here, and it doesn't hurt to get them ready in advance so that you don't have to worry about preparing your next ingredient in time before the fire burns everything (especially your pride and insurance premiums) to a crisp. So, if you've got the wherewithal, spend some time now cleaning and dicing your vegetables and rinsing your beans. For the rest of you who thrive on the constant thrill of possibly burning your dinner and/or neighborhood, feel free to twiddle your thumbs while you wait for the rest of us to finish prepping. Alright, now coat a pan with oil, and sauté your diced onions and celery over medium-high heat along with a standard pinch of salt. Cook it until the onions start to get some color before adding in your mushrooms and another pinch of salt. When you sauté mushrooms, they release a whole bunch of liquid, shrink, and start smelling kind of nutty and awesome. When this happens, add in your assorted peppers and garlic. Cook for another minute or so before adding in your tomato paste, cumin, oregano, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne.

Pro-tip: For the best results put your reddish chili in a red
bowl, and then photograph it under orangish light.
Pretty much all forms of canned tomatoes that I've encountered suffer from the same problem that diet coke does. Namely, they taste like cans. But cooking them down with the rest of your ingredients helps soften that metallic taste a lot (I haven't checked to see if this also works for diet coke, but I feel like it probably does). So cook your vegetable-tomato sludge down for a couple minutes before adding in your diced tomatoes and another pinch of salt. Let it keep cooking for another minute or two, at which point your entire home should smell delicious [or possibly smoky and ashy, depending on how successful you were at chopping as you go. I didn't burn my house down (this time)]. Throw that whole mess into a slow cooker/crock pot along with your carrots, vegetable stock, beans, and bay leaves. Cook it on the high setting for 2 hours, and then on the low setting for another 2-4 hours. Then remove your bay leaves and eat it. Like, all of it. Because this sucker isn't just "good for being gluten free," or "good for being vegan," both of which are code phrases for "bad, but maybe it could have been worse." It's just good for being food.

August 30, 2017

Empanadas

My level of preparedness here is shockingly out of character
Mankind has, throughout its storied history of expelling gasses with varied effects on the immediate environment, struggled with one all-important goal. Delicious food that you can carry with you and eat on the go without getting your hands full of crap. Many different solutions to this eternal search have been tried. Burgers are too messy. Burritos had promise, but towards the end they can be even worse than burgers. Moms across the world put in a bid for fresh fruit, but most fruit leaves you carrying some form of garbage with you afterwards until you can find the nearest trash can (a problem made even more severe by the fact that throughout most of human history the trash can hadn't been invented yet). Fortunately, the great minds of a generation got together and decided it was a good idea to just stuff delicious meats and vegetables and whatnot inside some flaky pie dough and call it a day. It's in their crumb-littered footsteps that we follow.

Ingredients:

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
6 oz. Vegetable Shortening
1 Egg
Roughly 1/3 a Cup of Water
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 standard-issue Onion
4 oz. Crimini Mushrooms
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Cup Vegetable Stock (Sure, you could use store-bought stock that tastes like nothing. Or you can make an entire pot of vegetable stock even though you only need a cup of it, and freeze the rest. You know, like a winner)
1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBSP Ground Cumin
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Vegetable Oil
Salt

Yes, that's a lot of ingredients. I know that I usually try and make recipes without long and daunting lists of things you need to buy and/or prepare, and that the sight of this may be a bit of a shock to some of you. I can offer you this solemn advice, given to me by my grade school administrator in the aftermath of the debacle that ensued when a teacher tried to physically restrain me from getting an inhaler when I was having an asthma attack in class:

Get over it

And sure, from the mouth of that administrator it may have been criminally negligent, but here it's pretty appropriate. You're making two things, a dough and a filling. It's not like I'm asking you to make a dipping sauce, a side salad, and a vegetable puree to go with it. Now that I've sufficiently asserted my dominance, let's get started. Use a whisk or a fork to mix your flour and a large human's pinch of salt. Add in your vegetable shortening and mix it together with your hands, kind of squishing it as you go, until all the flour is incorporated, and everything is crumbly bits. Kind of like food sand. Mix in your egg and then stir in water slowly until a loose dough forms. Cover your dough with plastic wrap, and throw it in the fridge for 1/2 an hour. After 15 minutes it's traditional to suddenly remember that you forgot to add in an egg and then frantically grab the dough out of the fridge and add it in, hoping that it won't make too much of a difference. But that part is optional.

Told you. Whole damn pot of vegetable stock.
While your dough is relaxing in its chilled isolation chamber, start working on your filling. Start by chopping your onion, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic into tiny little bits. Remember, this is all going inside a handheld pastry, so you don't exactly want giant bits of anything making it hard to eat. Get a pan good and hot, then coat it in oil and throw in your ground beef (Being more Jewish than most people in the world, I use kosher meat, which already has a fair amount of salt in it. If you don't, because you're...you know...normal, add in a pinch of salt).  Brown it as best as you can, and remove it from the pan, preferably with a spoon or other hand-tool, but if need be with your bare hands. You know, like a man. Then add in your onions along with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until they just start to get some color and then add in your mushrooms, peppers, and garlic, along with another pinch of salt. Cook everything down until the peppers start to soften and the mushrooms shrink down to the point that you wonder if you forgot to add them in the first place, but you check your fridge and there are definitely no mushrooms there so you start to wonder if the entire memory of buying mushrooms was a false memory your brain provided to cover up some trauma. Then add in your vegetable stock, vinegar, cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne, stir that mess together, making sure to scrape up any brown crusty bits from the bottom of the pan to join the party, and keep cooking it until your meat mixture is nice and saucy, but when you take out a spoonful no liquid runs in to fill the gap. Turn off your fire, and let that whole mixture cool down to room temperature.

The hardest part of this recipe was not eating these long
enough to get a decent picture. 
 Now it's time for the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "mind-shatteringly frustrating." Roll out your dough until it's about 1/8 of an inch thick. It should be thin and easy to work with, but still sturdy. Cut out rounds using a cookie cutter, a drinking glass, or the perfectly round hole in your soul, and start stuffing them with your meat mixture. Add in too little and you'll end up just eating dough, but add into much and they'll break and explode everywhere, and all of your friends will laugh at you. Have fun! Basically, you want to dollop some of your mix into your dough disc, and then bend one end over to form a kind of dumpling with a meat pocket inside. Press down along the edge with a fork to seal it (Fun fact: pressing on it with a fork is also how the US government seals many things, most notably foreign trade agreement), and repeat until you run out of dough, run out of innards, or give up in a cloud of rage and inadequacy. In any case, grease a baking pan and throw your empanadas into a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until they start getting golden brown and look incredible. Then just wait for them to cool, give up, eat them, and burn your mouth. Totally worth it.



August 25, 2017

Dark And Stormy

Southern Illinois: where you learn that the sun was really
just the dark lord Sauron after all. 
I'm not an expert in irony, but when a fairly rare celestial event comes knocking on your door and invites you to get excited about it, only to have it be cloudy and rainy, well it's clear that we're being messed with. Not me, mind you. I was in southern Illinois for the total eclipse, and the sky was clear. It was awesome. But it seems statistically likely that you experienced nature trolling you. So your desire to drink your troubles away is understandable. And, if you're gonna drink until you can't feel feelings anymore, you may as well drink something good, and preferably a punny reference to all of the disappointment you experienced because you probably couldn't see the ridiculously cool thing that I totally saw, or at least couldn't get a very good view of it.

Ingredients:

Dark Rum (According to the people at Gosling's Rum, Gosling's is the only acceptable rum to make an authentic Dark 'n' Stormy. They seem objective.)
Ginger Beer
Limes
Ice

So, as you probably already know if you're from Bermuda, know literally anybody from Bermuda, or know any hipster snobs who only drink things out of mason jars, the Dark 'n' Stormy is kind of the national drink of Bermuda. Go figure. Lots of people claim it was invented there, but none of that has much to do with how to make it, so who really cares (historians, probably)? The first thing you're gonna need to do is learn the fine differences between ginger beer and ginger ale. Because one is a spicy, occasionally alcoholic, drink with a light and complex flavor. The other is a sweet fizzy drink with a hint of ginger flavor. Which is fine, but they aren't the same thing. Once you've learned about the fine distinctions between things, take your ginger beer and pour it over ice, preferably into a glass of some sort, until it's about 3/4 of the way filled. Then gently top it off with your dark rum. Add in a squeeze of lime juice, and garnish it with a lime if you're feeling fancy (I, apparently, was feeling fancy. A fact which flies in the face of my carefully crafted reputation as basically a hobo), and you're done! You should have a glass of dark liquid kind of swirling majestically on top of a sea of lightness and carbonation that it's slowly devouring. Which looks awesome, but if you drink it will just taste like one ingredient and then the other. So mix that sucker up if you know what's good for you.
So this, my 4th attempt, was more "dark" than "stormy."
But in my defense...sue me.

You can adjust the amounts of everything here to your personal taste, but I like it with this distribution (that's 3/4 ginger beer, 1/4 dark rum, and a squeeze of lime juice, for the slow class). The spiciness and crispness of the ginger beer lightens up the kind of burnt molasses flavors in the dark rum, and the lime juice kind of brings it all together. It tastes vaguely tropical, and kind of pirate-ey. Which technically isn't a word, but it's a pretty accurate description of the emotional response to drinking these, and I've already had a couple of them so it's a word now. Make sure to tune in next week, when I continue to make the written and spoken word my unwitting servant.



August 15, 2017

S'mores Cookies

I think my favorite part about this picture is the pierogi stand
towards the back, because it seems so out of place.
It's kind of funny. Last week I worked so much that I didn't have time to post. A non-stop stream of 12-hour shifts, it seemed. This week, I'm working even more because apparently my current employers don't understand the concept of a regular schedule, but that's besides the point. The point is that, despite being overworked to the point of exhaustion/thoughts of sweet sweet vengeance, I managed to make it to a county fair last week. It's one of those things I've always heard about and seen on TV, but never actually experienced myself. And it was pretty awesome. People playing the stupidest games of "chance"you can imagine, rickety rides that were clearly put together wrong by the carnies running them, and food stands selling the most ridiculous foods you can imagine. Deep fried everything, random bits-'o-beef, and even one place that just called themselves "hot Wisconsin cheese," which sounds wrong on at least 3 levels. So I got to thinking about random foods you could make in weird ways. And since s'mores are never far from my mind during the summer (Or winter, or fall. Don't ask about spring.), I got to thinking about how to combine all of that s'morey goodness into something easy the snack on that doesn't require you to have a campfire immediately available. I also got to thinking that I'm avoiding the state of Wisconsin for a while.

Ingredients:

2 sleeves Graham Crackers
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1.25 sticks Butter
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 largish human's pinch of Salt 
Mini Marshmallows

The first thing you're gonna need to do is stop drooling. Because let's face it: even the concept of S'mores Cookies is enough to set off a pavlovian reaction in any creature with taste buds and the capacity for memory. Once you've got your various excretions under control, unceremoniously shove your graham crackers into a ziploc bag and crush the life out of them with a rolling pin, frying pan, or series of well placed karate chops. Now take a large bowl and throw your butter, which should be room temperature, into it along with your powdered sugar. Realize that you forgot to let your butter warm up, and wait the approximately 3 days that it takes for it to do that. Then beat it together with your sugar until it forms a cohesive paste that already kind of smells awesome. Then take the remains of your Graham Crackers and mix them in. Once the mix gets cohesive, and kind of sludgy, mix in your eggs one at a time, and then your salt and vanilla. Once the whole thing comes together, gently stir in your chocolate chips, and then scoop the cookies out on to a baking sheet (about a teaspoon of cookie dough for each cookie, and leave room because these suckers will totally expand outward trying to escape the terrible heat of the oven you shove them into. Isn't baking fun?)

Not pictured: me writhing on the floor at the taste explosion
going on in my mouth after eating these.
Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "the heavy burden of decision-making." So I tried these suckers a couple different ways. I tried stirring the marshmallows into the batter, which didn't even kind of work well. Then I tried partially baking the cookies and then shoving marshmallows on top for the second half. And finally I tried completely baking them, then adding marshmallows on top and shoving that whole mess under a broiler for like 30 seconds. The last two ways both worked pretty well. I'd recommend either really, although I think I slightly preferred the half-baked, marshmallowed, and then rest-of-the-way-baked version. In any case, the cookies bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. So make them however you choose. Or follow my advice and make them the way I said I prefer. You know, because you ostensibly came here for advice on how to make these things in the first place. Or you came here by mistake thanks to my deceptive advertising. Either way, you're welcome.


August 4, 2017

No-Bake Mint Cheesecake

Mint leaves: making nature kind of worth the hassle
For a long time, I considered no-bake cheesecakes to be in the same classification of hipster-nonsense as waxed moustaches, drinking gin out of mason jars, and judging others for not living a "sustainable" lifestyle while you yourself are living off of a trust-fund. Not much has changed. All right, maybe it's changed a little bit. It takes forever to set up in the fridge. That's a lot of free time. Which can totally be used by unemployed hipsters practicing their ukelele solos for the open mic next week, but can also be used by people who have actual jobs, and not that much free time. Given the right preparation, this can totally be the dessert version of a crockpot dinner. Just get it going in the morning, and enjoy it when you get home at night. I, for one, am totally in favor of taking the hipster nonsense and using it against them like that. Now I just need to find a productive use for kale.

Ingredients:

16 oz. Cream Cheese, softened (You "soften" cream cheese by letting it get to room temperature. You do this so that your cheesecake doesn't have gross lumps running through it, causing your friends and family to rightly shun you at all social gatherings)
14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 pouches Graham Crackers 
1 cup Mint Leaves
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Unpacked Light Brown Sugar (Typically, brown sugar is measured in one of two ways. "Packed," meaning you measured it out and then smashed it down to take up less space for no discernible reason, and "unpacked," meaning you decided that just measuring it out once like a normal person was all you had time for today)
1.3333333333 sticks Butter
The juice from 1/2 a lemon
Free time

The first thing you're gonna need to do is get rid of that uneasy feeling you have in the back of your brain about making a no-bake cheesecake. I get it. Theres something vaguely unsettling about a cooked food that you don't actually...well, cook. But fear does not exist in this dojo, so get over it. Now that your existential worries have been quenched under a torrent of repression and cautious optimism, take out those uncomfortable feelings on your graham crackers by crushing them in to tiny bits as a warning to the other ingredients. Mix in your brown sugar, and then get to melting your butter. Add your melted butter in with your sugar and the crushed bodies of your graham crackers, and stir it all together. Take about 2/3 of your mixture and dump it into a springform pan (A springform pan is essentially a pan with a clasp that you can release to loosen the sides and take it off. If you don't have one, you can use a pie tin and things will still be mostly ok. But your parents may not love you anymore. I don't make the rules, I just dispassionately inform you about them). Pack down your graham cracker sugar sand into a firm layer along the bottom, and throw that sucker in the fridge while you work on your cheesecake guts.

Bonus points for failing to slice all the way through the crust,
making it impossible to the see the bottom crust deliciousness
So this next part is gonna be complicated. You ready? Ok. Take the rest of your ingredients and...mix them together. Sure, you've gotta choppity chop your mint first, and if you want to make your life easier you'll start this whole mess by mixing the sweetened condensed milk slowly into the cream cheese before adding everything else in. But that's really it. Just mix it all together. Then take your crust out of the fridge, slap that mess on top of it, and top it off with the rest of your graham cracker mix. Then throw that sucker in the fridge for...a long time. I mean a long time. At a conservative estimate, I'd say 2 presidential administrations. You will check on it multiple times, and each time be shocked that it's not ready yet. I just warned you about it, but you will still do this. Eventually it'll set up, and it'll be solid enough to cut pieces of and eat pretty much like a real cheesecake. And it kind of is a real cheesecake. Or, at the very least, an extremely thick milkshake. Enjoy!


July 25, 2017

Garlic Fennel Soup

Fennel sits proudly atop the corpses of its vanquished foes
I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush here, but anybody who doesn't like garlic is a filthy communist who deserves, at the very least, to be launched off of a tall cliff via trebuchet. Garlic is one of the few things that makes life worth the hassle of putting on pants in the morning. If they made a cologne that smelled like sautéing onions and garlic, I would buy a lifetime supply. Not only because that's pretty much the best smell imaginable, but also because it would be the perfect litmus test for everybody I meet to determine whether I can be friends with them or I need to break out my trebuchet (or both). The point is that garlic makes everything better. And when you mix it with fennel and onions there's pretty much no point in trying to get anything else accomplished, because your day will be filled up with eating that mess, and then with talking about it to anybody who'll listen.

Ingredients:

3 Fennel Bulbs 
2 Standard-Issue Onions
10-12 Cups Vegetable Stock (Pro-tip: For extra deliciousness, take the stalks off the top of your fennel, and toss them in with your vegetable stock when you make it. Extra Pro-tip: Make you own vegetable stock)
5 Cloves of Garlic
5 Yukon Gold Potatoes (You want a potato that's gonna hold together while cooked, and not fall apart like the second act of a student film. If you like red potatoes, that's fine. If you like russet potatoes, get used to disappointment. Delicious delicious disappointment.
Olive Oil
Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is choppity-chop your onion and fennel into little, easily manageable bits. Nobody has ever actually told me that it's a good idea to peel off the outer layer of fennel, like I do with onions, but nobody ever actually told me to go to Ireland, and that worked out pretty well. I'm pretty sure that applies here too. That's how logic works. Anyway, once your onions and fennel are chopped, sauté them in some oil, in a pot over medium-high heat along with a standard-issue pinch of salt. Let that awesomeness cook together for about 5 minutes, when it starts smelling ridiculously good. Then peel and mince your garlic until your hands, cutting board, kitchen, and school districts all smell sufficiently garlicky. Throw it in with your onions and fennel and cook that sucker until it starts to smell so good that you seriously contemplate forgetting this soup altogether, and just shoving your head into that burning-hot pile of delicious face first. About one minute.

Pistachios haphazardly strewn about to distract from the
featureless surface of this bowl of insane flavor.
Slice your potatoes and add them into the party just to get all of the flavors acquainted with each other, then drown them, along with everybody else still in the pot, in a raging torrent of vegetable stock. Bring your stormy sea of fledgling soup to a boil and then slam a lid on it to keep anybody from escaping. Turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 25 minutes, when the potatoes are soft and cooked through, but still have some shape to them. And now you have insanely delicious soup! That's also....very very beige. Of all the food I've ever made, it's probably the most beige. And I once made apple sauce. If you're cool with this, eat and enjoy. If eating monochromatic food tears at your soul because you can't dissociate external beauty with intrinsic value, the chop up something pretty to garnish the top. Like chives, or pistachios, or a rare painting you stole from a rich collector years ago, and haven't found a use for that lives up to its value and beauty until now. You know, whatever you have lying around.

July 19, 2017

Ginger Citrus Salmon

I like how they added insult to injury by posing the fish
as if they were swimming.
Lately, it's come to my attention that death is a looming specter from which escape is impossible. I say this because I seem to be aging at an alarming rate. It started off innocently enough. One day I was able to walk in to a bar and order a beer. Then, a couple years later, I was able to do the same thing even if they asked for ID. This seemed ok with me, and I didn't give it much thought. I was a fool. Because lately, this whole "aging" thing has started to affect me in uncomfortable ways. There are whiny kids everywhere with fidget spinners and bad music, and that's not even the worst of it. I've found that, on rare occasions, there are times when I don't actually crave delicious meat. Every so often I decide to eat something else entirely. This doesn't seem acceptable to me. And sure, some of you might be pointing out that I've often written recipes for things that don't contain meat. And that's true, though it's pretty rude of you to have pointed it out. But while I've certainly eaten other sorts of food before, in my heart I always knew that I was just doing it because I didn't have access to any salami at that specific moment in time. This is different. But, if I'm going to eat sad nonsense food like fish, it may as well be a delicious fish. Gandhi said that.

Ingredients:

4 Salmon Fillets
3 Green Onions
1 Grapefruit
1/2 a Lemon
2 TBSP Chopped Ginger
1 TBSP Honey
2 Large sized Human's pinches of Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is go to a fishmonger and get yourself some fish. Sure, you could get some sort of pre-packaged frozen salmon from a giant store that only sells 56 packs. But it won't taste as good. The reason for this is that all regulation fishmongers have a giant pile (or "heap," if you want to use the technical term) of fish lying on way too little ice to effectively keep it cool. This is important, because it allows you to taunt the fish as you're buying it, thus causing it to experience some delicious rage. In any case, go get some fish, then squeeze all of the juice out of your lemon and grapefruit and dump it, along with all the rest of your ingredients, into a ziploc bag. Let that whole mess marinate in your fridge for at least 1/2 an hour. All of the flavors are gonna get to know each other, regardless of whether they want to or not. Confined spaces will do that, as you know if you've ever been stuck on an elevator with somebody.
Recommended serving size: 1 school of fish 

Once your fish is desperate to free itself from the confines of your  bag-o-goodness, take it out and then immediately throw it on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. The key here is to move just slowly enough to give your salmon hope, and then immediately crush its dreams. Before making this recipe, chances are you weren't a sadist or a liar. That's some training you can't get in the public school system. Anyhow, leave your fish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, then take it out and consume it. It'll taste awesome. Try not to think about the fact that you could have chosen to make a steak instead. The Irish had a deity back in the day who got turned into a salmon. That's something. So think of yourself as a devourer of gods, not an old man sadly eating fish and waiting to die. See you next week!

July 14, 2017

Pickleback

About as bad a pickle-based idea as Pickleback shots seem
There was a time when whiskey was only drunk by old men with monocles and cigars who spent their time sitting in leather armchairs and betting large swaths of land on games of pinochle. Nowadays, thanks to industrialization, increased quality of life, and some handy bloody coups, whiskey can be enjoyed by anybody willing to shell out a moderate amount of cash. Which, has mostly worked out well for me. But familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt. I mean, what other reason can there be for the nonsensical things people are doing to whiskey these days? Which brings us to the Pickleback. A couple years ago, the internet got all up in arms (as it tends to) about this new trend of taking a shot of whiskey and immediately following it with a shot of pickle juice. Despite immediately having several important questions about this phenomenon (such as the type of, and quantity of, the drugs enjoyed by the creator), I managed to resist ever trying it. I enjoyed my whiskey pickle-less, and all was good in the world. Now, years later, I was reminded of this trend, and a morbid curiosity overtook me. So I decided to try it out with a couple of different whiskeys and see what happens.

Ingredients:

Pickle Juice
Whiskey (According to the internet, Jameson is the preferred brand. Would the internet lie to you?)

Despite my natural aversion to ruining good whiskey, I actually talked myself into thinking I would like this. I like whiskey. I like pickles. Why wouldn't I like both of them together? (For the record, I also like steak and ginger ale, but I didn't decide to mix those together) So I went with 4 different whiskeys. I used the internet-approved Jameson, which is an Irish whiskey for those of you who don't know. I also decided to use my preferred basic Irish whiskey, Tullamore DEW, some Knob Creek bourbon, and some Benromach scotch (Which, because the Scottish apparently hate the letter E, is technically a whisky, and not a whiskey. In their defense, what has the letter E done for you lately?). So anyway, the first thing you're gonna have to do is get over the natural aversion that most living things have to just straight-up drinking pickle juice. I love pickles. I've even made them from scratch once or twice. But I never really considered drinking their leftover juice, mostly because I'm not starving or crazy. I mean, it's pretty much cucumber embalming fluid. But I digress. It's time to get over your hangups about not drinking things that, technically, were never meant to be consumed by any living creature, and pour yourself a nice full shot. Now pour a shot of whiskey, consume it, and then immediately follow it with your brine. 

Not pictured: Pickle Juice. It knows what it did.
So, personally, my initial feeling was one of disappointment. Not at the experience, more at how much it didn't actually feel like an experience. I tasted whiskey. Then I tasted pickles. I didn't really taste any blending of the flavors in any significant ways. The pickle flavor overpowered the whiskey and just replaced the flavor in my mouth. But, after 3 sad attempts, I came to the Knob Creek. This actually seemed to work. The harsher flavors were kind of mellowed, and some interesting subtle notes were emphasized by the pickling spices. Also, at this point I'd had 4 shots of whiskey in a fairly short period of time, so your results may vary. So in the end I'd say that mixing pickle juice with whiskey and then naming the concept after one of the most hated bands of all time wasn't a complete failure. It totally works if you're either already drunk, or if your whisky has more apparent bite than flavor. Or both! Or if you don't like the taste of whiskey, you drank it to try and impress somebody, and you just want to get the flavor out of your mouth as fast as possible. And replace it with pickles. Enjoy!


June 28, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Early in the morning, before they doll themselves up, cookies
are just shapeless motionless blobs. Just like the rest of us.
On multiple occasions here, I've posted recipes that I've adapted from things that I used to eat growing up. And sure, stealing things from your parents is harmless fun for the whole family, but rarely has anything been stolen quite as brazenly as this chocolate chip cookie recipe. There are no clever little changes I made to enhance the recipe, like altering the ingredients, changing the quantities, or slapping my name on it. This is just, straight-up, cookies that my mom makes. I wasn't even planning on making this week's post be cookies. It was gonna be egg salad. But then I went over to my parents' house for a minute, smelled cookies, and realized that egg salad is a garbage food for garbage people. I'll probably make it next week.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour 
1.25 Cups Unbleached Flour
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed (Brown sugar is essentially sugar with molasses. So if you squeeze it, it packs together, kind of like wet sand. So make a sand castle out of brown sugar and a measuring cup.)
3/4 Cup White Sugar
3/4 Cup Butter or Oil (If you're using butter, because you have taste buds, 3/4 of a cup is the same as 1.5 sticks. You're welcome.)
2 Eggs
1.25 tsp Vanilla (Technically, my Mom's recipe calls for a "generous teaspoon of vanilla," but since that's totally not a thing that actually exists, I decided to change it slightly)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
No fewer than 12 oz. of Chocolate Chips

The first thing you're gonna need to do is find yourself a couple of bowls, or bowl-like objects. Fill once up with your various forms of flour (Personally, I'm guessing that the whole wheat and unbleached stuff got into this recipe because of my sister who, as a rule, doesn't eat white flour, consume any sugar, or enjoy life), along with your salt and baking soda, and whisk them all together until you can't tell them apart, even though some of your best friends are baking soda, and you swear you're not a bake-ist. Next, take a completely separate bowl, and cream your sugars into your oil or butter (butter). I used up my parentheses telling you the obvious truth that you should be using butter, so I couldn't use them to tell you that "creaming" is whisking the crap out of your sugars and butter so that the sugar crystals actually rip little holes in the butter, trapping air inside of it, and making it light and fluffy. So....make a note of it. And then whisk in your eggs, one at a time, along with your vanilla.

So, how's that not shoving burning hot cookies into your face
going? Asking for a friend.
Now it's time for the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "flour will be on your clothes until the day you die in a grease fire." Take your flour mixture, and start incorporating it into your sugar glop. Mix it in slowly, in a couple batches, and your clothes might live to see another day. Then add in your chocolate chips. It has been stressed to me that you cannot have too many chocolate chips, nor can you skimp on the quality of the chocolate. That said, some of these brands in the store are like 3 dollars per chip for some bespoke hipster nonsense. So for my money, I say don't get "uncle joe's chocolate-like chip-substance," and also don't get any chocolate chips that come with moustache wax and kombucha tea. Just get regular chocolate chips. And add them in to your batter. Then take a teaspoon, and scoop some heaping mounds of said batter on to baking sheets, leaving room for them to spread out, lightly experiment with drugs, and do their own thing, and shove them into a 375 degree oven until they're golden-brown and delicious. About 12 minutes. (Pro-tip: After they're done and you take them out of the oven, the baking sheet is still hot. So maybe get your cookies off of it before they burn on the bottom). Then try to wait until they cool before shoving them in your mouth so that you don't end up burning yourself horribly, despite the fact that everybody knows cookies are best fresh out of the oven. Enjoy your moral quandary!


June 21, 2017

Jalapeño Cornbread

We're gathered here today to mourn our dear friend Eggs...
In the hallowed halls of "foods that disappoint me," cornbread has got to rank pretty high up there. And don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that I don't like cornbread. It's just that I (and, I assume, everybody) have memories of tasting delicious cornbread, that's light but somehow crumbly at the same time, but doesn't fall apart. This is the cornbread of my idealized youth. And I constantly try to find it. I will pretty much always get cornbread if I see it on a menu, or at a barbecue, or lying unattended in a parking lot, or whatever. And it always disappoints. I pretty much have the same relationship with cornbread that some people have with heroin. So in the spirit of not being perpetually disappointed, and of not ending up an empty[er] shell of a man, I decided to make my own. And in the spirit of lifting heavy things, I decided to make it in my cast-iron skillet. Which (spoiler alert!) turned out to be a pretty good call.

Ingredients:

1.25 cups Cornmeal
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour (Pro-tip: Don't put the "all-purpose" label to the test. It's pretty much just for cooking and for making paper mache dinosaurs)
2 Eggs
1.5 cups Coconut Milk
1/3 Cup Honey
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
1 TBSP Pickled Jalapenos (Available in pretty much every supermarket. If you can't find em, any canned chiles will do)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1.25 tsp Salt

So, let's address the elephant in the room first. Yes, this recipe has no meat or dairy of any kind in it. Some might even call it vegetarian and/or dairy-free. In my defense, I know a decently large number of vegetarians, and they've gotta eat too. Also, I may have not wanted to go shopping. The point is, this is delicious and you need to stop being so judgmental if you every want to find love. Step one is taking your dry-goods, also known as your cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and whisking them together so that they can get to know each other, share some good times, and try to forget that they're going to get baked in an oven until they're golden and delicious. About a minute seems like long enough. What does flour really have to add to a conversation anyway? Now it's time to deal with your jalapenos. If you have a reasonable can from a reasonable brand, they should already be chopped into little bits. If, like me, you have nonsense jalapenos, you may have to chop them down to size on your own. So...get on that.

Slice it like a pie, cut it into squares, or just eat it like a
giant pancake. There's no wrong way to devour this sucker.
Once your (my) jalapenos are chopped, It's time to get cracking with your eggs (puns!). Whisk them into a homogenous egg-goop, and then add in your honey. The coconut milk and lemon juice together do a fair job of simulating buttermilk. Do you technically need to mix them together before you add them in? Probably not. But baking is a lot like witchcraft (Weird big hats, precise measurements of odd ingredients, used to trick people into loving you, the list goes on), so I didn't take the risk. In any event, add them into your egg-goop along with your jalapenos, and mix it together. Next, pour your wet ingredients on top of your dry ingredients, and mix them together briefly. You don't want to overmix. This is technically known as the "muffin method." Personally, I'm not sure that "add the wet stuff on to the dry stuff and don't mix it too much" actually needs a special name, but who am I to argue with nonsense? Anyhow, throw a little oil in your cast-iron skillet, and heat it up in a 400 degree oven for a minute or two. Then take it out, preferably without burning the crap out of your hand, add your definitely-not-muffin-mix into the hot pan. Then toss that sucker back in the oven for about 20 minutes. When it's done, it'll be crispy and golden on the top, and set in the middle. Then take that sucker out and do your best not to eat the entire thing yourself without sharing any with the vegetarian friends you mentioned earlier in your blog post. You know, hypothetically.


June 14, 2017

Cherry Jager Milkshakes

Yes, I've used this picture before. And no, I don't care.
It's that magical time of year again. That time of year when the birds sing, the flowers bloom, and the sun does its best to kill us all with its terrible terrible heat. At least, that's the way it seems in Chicago right now, where the heat has gotten so bad that the Cubs have been forced to just try and let their opposition wear themselves down, Rocky Balboa style, until the opportune moment to strike. That moment is apparently some time after the game is finished, but I'm sure it'll come eventually. The point is, the sun has it out for us. Again. Because, despite my repeated warnings about it, our federal government has done almost nothing about that dumb ball of gas that sits around in middle of our solar system, without paying any taxes, and expects us to just deal with it pelting us with radiation. So since our elected officials obviously can't be trusted not to kowtow to the powerful "sun lobby," it's up to me to find a way to keep us cool until we can get our sweet sweet vengeance.

Ingredients:

1 Pint of Cherry Ice Cream 
2 TBSP Jagermeister
1 Cup Chocolate Milk

You may have noticed that there's not much to this recipe in the way of ingredients. Is that because like the famed inventor of the clock radio, William Taddly Clocksworth (prove me wrong), I'm a genius who took basic ingredients that were lying around everywhere, and combined them into something glorious that had never before been conceived of? Yes. Yes it is. Anyhow, step one is to take your ice cream out of the freezer, and let it get just a little bit melty. If, like me, you're living in an apartment that doesn't have any air conditioning, this should take about 12 seconds. Once this is done, add in your Jager, and stir that whole thing up to distribute it throughout the ice cream, and  throw it back in your freezer. This is one of the hardest parts. When you feel that blast of cold coming out of the freezer, resist the urge to just set up a tent and live there for the Summer. I know it's hard, but if you persevere you'll be rewarded with cold boozy deliciousness. You know, the American dream.
Semi-stolen Slurpee straws just seem somehow appropriate
for a boozy milkshake. 

The freezer's gonna make your ice cream super cold again. You know, like freezer's do. The alcohol in the Jagermeister is gonna help keep your ice cream from freezing solid, even though it's just as cold as it was when it was frozen. This is because of a fascinating process called "science." Take your boozy ice-cream sludge out of the freezer, and mix it with your chocolate milk. Sure, you can add toppings like whipped cream, sprinkles, and hope if you like. Who am I to stop you? But even without any of those things, this sucker is delicious. And, like with all delicious things, I'm left wondering why you're still here instead of consuming it at this exact very moment. Like, right now. Go.

June 7, 2017

Sweet And Spicy Baked Beans

Yadda yadda moved cross-country, globe-trotted, got a new
job, had it catch up to me. The point is, I'm back now. You
can tell from how you're actively reading my words right now.
So Summer came early. You can tell from the sweltering heat, rampant humidity, and annoying people with giant floppy hats. If your hat is large enough to cast shade upon an entire family of woodland creatures, I probably have no interest in talking to you. The point is, it's hot outside. And when it's hot outside, humans tend to throw barbecues so that we can eat our food out in all of that heat. Instead of inside, where we have things like air conditioning, and a somewhat less-dense mosquito population. Leading brand-name scientists believe that this is part of an important evolutionary trend known as "doing stupid things because they're expected of you." It weeds out the independent thinkers and radicals from our population so that they can go on to do the truly important work of furthering humanity's intake of McNuggets. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that you're going to get invited to barbecues, you're going to be expected to bring a side dish, and people will have already called dibs on bringing easy/obvious things like chips or potato salad. Welcome to baked bean country.

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried Pinto Beans 
28 oz. can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 largish Onion 
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Rubbed Sage (Despite how it sounds, this is a real thing. You can buy it in supermarkets.)
1 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Chipotle Pepper
Olive Oil, for the sautéing and whatnot
An unspecified amount of Salt
An equally unspecified amount of Water

So....that's a lot of ingredients. Some people might look at a long list of ingredients and become disheartened, thinking that the recipe is going to be incredibly labor-intensive and tricky to pull off. Others might see it as a challenge they can rise to, to really prove to themselves that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Still others might think, "it's beans. How hard can it actually be?" These are the smart ones. Step one is to unceremoniously dump your beans into a large pot, which you'll then fill with water. Cover the pot, and let your beans soak for about 8-12 hours. While you totally have the option of using this time to sleep, or go to work, if you hover nearby your beans the entire time, eschewing responsibilities, common sense, and basic hygiene, you'll receive valuable bonus points that can later be exchanged for fantastic prizes (Prizes like eviction notices, cardboard box forts, and hepatitis). Once your beans have finished their soak, drain the water away, and replace it with exciting new water, to confuse and disorient your beans. Now it's time to strike. Turn the heat on to medium, and boil the crap out of your beans for an hour. Put a lid on the pot so that none escape.

I had something for this, but then I saw the deliciousness
and kind of lost my train of thought. 
While your beans are being viciously boiled, it's time to make the...everything else, I guess. Choppity chop up your onion and sauté it in your oil along with an average sized human's pinch of salt. Let it cook down until the onion gets translucent and starts to smell awesome. Then mince your garlic and add it in to the party. After a minute of stirring and salivating from the smell, add in your...all the other ingredients. I mean, chop up your chipotle pepper before you dump it in. But really, just toss everything in the pot along with a largish person's (Roughly Conan O'Brien sized) pinch of salt, and let it cook down for about 10 minutes. By now your beans should be killed to death, so take their corpses along with 1/2 a cup of the water you boiled them in, and dump them in to your sauce. Set it on medium heat and cook it for 10-20 minutes, or until it starts to look thick and kind of sticky. And delicious and whatnot. And that's it! Delicious baked beans, perfect to accompany any meal, indoors or stupid. Happy early summer!


April 14, 2017

Matzah Pizza

Here we have Matzah, in its natural habitat. Notice how the
ridges camouflage it, helping the matzah to better elude flavor.
For the...less semitic of my readers, saddle up because this is gonna, without a doubt, be the most jewish-y post I've ever posted. Because, as you may-or-may-not be aware, we're currently deep within the bowels of the Jewish holiday known as "Passover." And, as you may-or-may-not-but-I'm-betting-on-not be aware, one of the key elements of this holiday is eschewing a vast array of foods, including leavened breads. Another is drinking large amounts of wine, which is pretty much the only way to get through a week without leavened bread. What does this all mean, practically? Well, for starters, it means that you should be nice to your Jewish co-workers this week, because they're cranky. It also means that for the more observant Jewish people out there, there's pretty much nothing to eat, so you have to make due with weird facsimiles of real food. Which brings us to Matzah Pizza.

Ingredients:

2 standard-issue Matzahs (A Matzah is an unleavened wheat cracker. Essentially, it's big cracker that has slightly less flavor and nutritional value than the box it comes in. Any supermarket with a kosher section likely has them.)
4 TBSP Marinara Sauce
4 oz. Cheese (What kind of cheese? That's a whole pit of nonsense and terror we'll get into later. But the short answer is, Mozzarella if you can get it)
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 average-sized human's pinch of Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is abandon all hope of this thing you're making looking or tasting like pizza. Unless you live in California, in which case this will probably be the most authentic and delicious pizza you've ever had in your life. Take one of your matzahs and slather it up with half of your marinara. Fun fact: because of all of the dietary restrictions involved in Passover, many people won't eat any processed foods that haven't come from a factory specifically monitored to make sure that it's Passover compliant. Another fun fact is that pretty much all of the companies that make food specifically for Passover have absolutely no idea what they're doing when it comes to the making food part. Which is why you'll see a bottle that says something like "Spicy Tomato and Basil Marinara" and take it home, only to realize that it's essentially plain tomato juice with sugar added in for some reason. Anyway, back to our Matzah, which we just spread "marinara" on top of. Take half of your red pepper, oregano, and garlic, and add them on top of the marinara to help make up for its many flaws.

"Pizza cheese." Because who doesn't put a weird combination
of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on their pizza?
Now we're up to cheese. Which often suffers from the same Passover-related maladies as things like marinara. If you're lucky, you'll be able to find actual cheese, with standard names like "mozzarella," "cheddar," or "whiz." But, often times you'll have to suffer through weird pseudo-cheese blends like "fancy shreds" or "pizza cheese." I prefer "pizza cheese" over the various shreds, because they're at least confident enough that they won't be sued for putting cheese in the name. Add 1 oz. of it on to your marinara. Next, add your second matzah on top of the cheese, and start repeating this process. Because matzah is horrible stuff, and if you want it to have enough sauce to be flavorful, it'll lose all structural integrity, so we need layers. Or pacts with your friendly neighborhood deity. Or both. Anyhow, slather up your second matzah with the rest of your garlic, oregano, and red pepper, along with your salt for good measure. Add on the rest of your cheese, and toss that sucker in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. And that's it! Aren't you glad you got sucked into the terrifying world of Jewish cookery during Passover? Me neither


March 8, 2017

Further Adventures

So, apparently life is an endless stream of wonder and amazement. And that's without having taken any prescription-grade narcotics (that I know of. I haven't been brace enough yet to try and figure out what Dunkin Donuts uses to make their vaguely-egg-shaped-disc-and-cheese-substitute breakfast sandwich). Because I'm traveling. Again. Apparently I was able to use all of the points that I racked up on my credit card from my previous travels, and use them to subsidize even more traveling. And since I'm, in essence, a shiftless hobo who works nonsense jobs to help fund a life of creative endeavors and whatnot, time off wasn't hard to come by.

So I'm off to travel the world, see new sights, drink new drinks, fall in love, and have a tragic fairytale romance that ends in in killer-bee attack. And that's just what I have planned for my 3-hour layover at the Frankfurt airport. And, as is the long-established tradition of my traveling, I'm here to promise you that I'll sample in local cultures, cuisines, customs, and happy-hours, and bring them back to all of you people, stuck at home. This of course, is a dirty lie. History has shown time and time again that while I may intend to make good on these promises, I likely won't, or at least won't regularly, due to unforseen factors like sporadic internet access, malfunctioning apps, and forgetting to. So I can't say I'll post regular updates (well, I can. Technically speaking I may have already promised it like 3 sentences ago. But I'm hedging, so bear with me), I do intend to post some stuff. So check back in if you get the chance, and I'll do the same. And in any event, I'll be back in 2 weeks. One thing I can say for sure is steer clear of the Frankfort airport for a couple days. Those bees hold a grudge.

March 6, 2017

Lokshen Milk

Welcome to the exciting, fast-paced world of eating way too
much dairy. Currently unincorporated
Everyone grew up eating something. For some people that something was unreasonably large amounts of fast food. For others it was cheap ingredients, coerced against their natures into delicious home-cooked meals designed to stretch a struggling family’s income. And for some it was...I don't know…chicken? What do nondescript people eat? I'm sticking with chicken. Chicken and asparagus. Some people ate chicken and asparagus. Today however, we’re focusing on the second category of food, and specifically on a dish that I remember fondly from my youth. It’s easy to make, tastes good, and is a great way to feed a family for about two dollars and some change. And the recipe has been in my family for generations. Two generations, as far as I know, but it still counts.

Ingredients:

½ gallon Milk
½ lb. Pasta (traditionally, growing up, my family was fairly specific about the pasta used. Upon growing up I've come to realize that it doesn't really matter, and my mother won't actually barge into my apartment and stop me from using the “wrong noodles.” Because I won't buzz her up.)
1.5 TBSP Butter
Salt

The first thing you're gonna need to do is channel your inner poor immigrant of vaguely eastern-European descent. Got it? Cool, let’s get started. The name Lokshen Milk, loosely translated, means noodle milk. Which sounds super gross, especially given the propensity these days for weird alternative forms of milk. But what it actually is, essentially, is a soup. Maybe even a stew, depending on the proportions of the ingredients (which I guess is technically true of most things), but I'm gonna play it safe and stick with the soup version. Anyhow, take your pasta and throw it in some boiling water until it's al dente (a curious Italian phrase I may have mocked at one time or another, that means “to the tooth.” Which essentially means that it [the pasta] is cooked, but still offers resistance when bitten. Like a sleeping person on a beach).

It looks exactly like what it is. A bowl full of milk and pasta.
It tastes awesome though.
Once your pasta is cooked to my liking, drain it and then throw it right back into the pot again. Add in your butter and milk, along with salt to taste, and bring that sucker up to...well, not quite a boil. Boiling milk is generally frowned upon. People say it burns super easily and that it kills the nutrients. This may be true. What's definitely true is that it makes a crazy mess. So bring your milk up to just under a boil. Then serve it up to your squalling family by the bowlful. And I know that some of you are undoubtedly sitting with your hands eagerly raised, begging to ask how a giant bowl of milk, butter, pasta, and salt can possibly be healthy for you. Well, I promised it'd be cheap, easy, and delicious. I also may have promised through insinuation that it wouldn't be chicken and asparagus. I never said anything about healthy.


February 23, 2017

Salmon Patties

The best salmon has a mermaid on it. Remember that, as
you're lured to your watery demise.  
They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Unless you're allergic to citrus, in which case when life gives you lemons you swell up and die. The point is, we all have to make do with some unfortunate circumstances. For some of us, that may be an embarrassing medical condition, or a weird laugh, or maybe having to stay at work until after midnight because other people screwed up, and the people who should be saddled with responsibility dumped it on you, even though they sure as crap aren't going to pay you any more for doing their stupid jobs for them. You know, hypothetically. The point is, when you get home from your day of being embarrassed, laughing weirdly, or being stuck doing somebody else's job for them, you want to just sit down and do nothing. But you're stir crazy because your brain is working out ways to untraceably burn down your stupid workplace. So you need something to occupy your time and mouth. Something easy, delicious, and made from ingredients that are close at hand. Bonus points if it's something you grew up eating, so it soothes your soul and keeps your dumb workplace unburnt for another day.

Ingreidients:

10 oz. Canned Salmon (You can totally get those cans of salmon with the skin and bone bits still in it so you need to do extra gross work. Or you can, you know....not.)
1/2 a Standard-issue Onion
1/3 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 average-sized human's pinch of Salt
Butter

The first thing you're gonna need to do is somehow will yourself off of your couch and into your kitchen. Allow 20-30 minutes for the standard hemming and hawing about whether you're actually hungry (even though you haven't eaten all day), and whether it's a better idea to just go to Dunkin' Donuts (it isn't). Once you're in the kitchen, drain your salmon and melodramatically throw it in a bowl, even though you're home alone and nobody can see you. Take a grade-3 mashing fork, and mash it into bits. Next, choppity chop your onion down to size, and then throw it in the bowl along with your bread crumbs, eggs, pepper, mustard, and salt. Stir that nonsense together until you've got a relatively homogenous salmon-goop, which makes you really start to question whether you were actually hungry after all. Take a pan and melt some butter in it over medium heat.

Sure, you could use some garlic mayo, or ketchup, or...a
fork. Or you could just gobble them down without
pausing to chew. You know, like a duck.
Now comes the fun part, and by "fun" I mean "gross." Dig your hands into your salmon goop, and form patties, roughly 2 inches in diameter. For those of you who didn't bring your protractors with you to the kitchen today, the patties should be about the same size as the palm of your hand. Take the goop discs you lovingly crafted, and throw them into the pan of hot butter. Cook them on each side for 2-4 minutes, until they're good and brown. Be careful when you're flipping them, otherwise you won't end up with salmon patties so much as you'll have salmon garbage. Once they're done, go collapse in a heap with your prize, and pray for a better tomorrow. Bonus points if you remembered to turn off the stove!

February 12, 2017

Poison Apples

Artist's depiction: my emotional reaction to
my recent experience in Indiana
So, I almost died this week. Not in the teenage girl “I will just DIE if Tiffany wears the same dress as me” sort of way. More in the “truck forcing me off of the highway at 60 MPH in the middle of Indiana” way. This has brought up a lot of strong emotions, not the least of which is the very strong urge to ensure that whenever I finally do die, I do it somewhere better than Indiana. Seriously, Indiana is the worst. Their slogan is “The Crossroads of America.” Even their slogan knows you don't want to stop in Indiana, and that you're just passing through on the way to somewhere better. That said, I am grateful to the Indiana-based tow truck driver who drove me 150 miles at 6 AM. It was a long and emotionally taxing day. When I got home, I just wanted to sit down with an easy and tasty drink, and poison my insides until they matched how I felt.




Ingredients:


Jagermeister
Hard Apple Cider
Ice


The first thing you're gonna need to do is practically drown yourself in a sea of pathos, so that your posting ANOTHER drink recipe will be forgiven, or at the very least excused. I already did that with my delightful first paragraph that talked about how I almost died in a state whose main claim to fame is being the place where Joe Jackson beat his kids for not singing on key. But that's my thing, so you'll need to find your own. Once you're done establishing your cred in the pity and sorrow communities, fill up a cup with some ice. Ice is key. Without ice, all you have is some gunk you mixed together. With ice, you've got a cocktail!
Look at Jager and Cider. Just chillin' out, maxin', relaxin'
all cool. Lousy punks. 

Take about 6 oz. of your cider and pour it over the ice, making sure to remind everybody that another ingredient is coming soon, and you're not just some cider-drinking wuss (despite overwhelming evidence that, left to your own devices, you would totally love to be a cider-drinking wuss. Don't worry, this will taste good too). Add in 1 oz. of your Jagermeister, and then settle in for some hard life choices. If you want to go all decorative, leave it as is. It'll look like cider with darkness oozing down into it. Which sounds awesome, but when you first drink it the only thing you'll taste is the Jager. Or, you can lightly stir it, with a spoon or a small decorative frond or what-have-you. It'll just look like ominous dark liquid, but it'll taste awesome. OR, you could strain out your ice and pour it into shot glasses. It doesn't matter what anything looks or tastes like if it's in a shot glass. The only thing people care about is that there's a slightly-less-than-toxic amount of alcohol in there. Whatever method you've chosen to display your poison immediately prior to imbibing it is fine with me. Enjoy, and celebrate being alive! And, more importantly, not being in Indiana. See you next week, unless random emissaries from a random place succeed in their apparent quest to kill me!