Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

Um, yeah, it's the same word as "puta" in Spanish. Easy one pot thing (not counting the pasta) and covers anything you may already have on your breath. The classic version says sautee some chopped Kalamata olives in butter, add garlic and anchovies, then add the pasta to heat it through, then finish with a handful of Parmasan.

Well danm me but I was fresh out of olives and anchovies. (I eat the olives nekkid, with that potato omel from last week, and usually have anchovy paste on hand for, well, I really can't remember.)

So, butter melts, add a big handful of cooked chopped bacon (we talked about it earlier), big dollop of garlic (seriously, I now resent the time I wasted chopping garlic. Now I just get it in a big squeeze bottle like ketchup. It's cheaper and easier.) Add a couple handfuls of cooked pasta - I'd done up rotini, but anything works. When the pasta starts to sizzle, dump in a bunch of Parm, toss a couple times, shove it into a bowl and eat. Actually, the bowl part is optional, but if you retain any dreams of a love life I suggest you not eat from the skillet.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Follow up

Undergarments, particularly of the garter and or suspender type must always be purchased at leqat one size small. That is flattering to the recipient, and entertaining to the boyfriend who gives her a ride oo the mall to get them replaced by the "right size". This observation should be carried out from a safe distnce, using binoculars, and, if possible. parabolic microphones, and permitting a clear line of escape.

I did say from a safe distance. didn't I?

You get what you pay for

That's kind of a stream on my spleenventing site , but sometimes teh cheapness works. Went to Easter Sunday Mass with the Boiz, wearing my favorite seersucker suit. Cost me $3.00 at the resale, along with the twn Tony Lama boots, (also about $3.00, same resale). Had at least a dozen women sak me about the suit, and 4 or 5 guys ask me where I had it made.

Me, I'm lucky. I can buy off the rack pretty much. (Note to self: Stop buying Ice Cream "cause the boiz may drop by and need some"), provided the rack is big enough. I take a 48 reg, with the trousers taken in. I'm just a bit skinnier than the late husbands of the widows who empty the closets on the demise of their dear husbands (sniff). Thank God for portly dead guys, sez me.

Here's something you probsbly didn't know. All those male models, with the buff bods and the oiled 6packs? 38 regular. They're serious bodycon midgets. Look at them! They're always shorter than the female models. The chick models are cast for height adn depth of cleavage. Women's sizes make no sense at all - your darling dumpling Aunt may wear the same size as one of hte runway Amazons, but for some reason it doesn't look the same on her.

But for guys it's the 38 regular (not even a .38 special) that gets he jobs. It may explain some (but not all) of the cocaine use. It's just to delay any growth spurts.

btw, guys. Know your girl's sizes. And wander through the chick sections of the resale shops. Feel free to grab women and ask their opinions. Find one of the same relative dimensions of your desiderata, and ask if it might fit. Seriously.

Most women are flattered by the attention ("hmm, looks kinda like me...and will become WILLING CO-CONSPIRITORS. You know what they're thinking? It's not "this guy's a perv". They're thinking "Oh sweet Jesus if only MY boyfriend cared this much".

This technique also works when buying clothes for one's self ,but the perversity of the double ex folks may rise to the top. Ask at lest 2 women if that plaid sports coat makes you look stupid."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Serious Guy Style

This an omel. Not an omlette.

Sautee a bunch of onions and peppers (they come in bags, right?). Add a couple of potatoes. do it all in a mess of bacon fat. Add some of that bacon. When it's all nice and cooked, add the eggs. Mine has ten eggs, with a buttload of cheddar and parm, 'cause those are the ones I had on hand.

Here's the fun part. Sweep the top with a propane torch. got to congeal that top surface of the egg mixture..

Wow! That inch-thick layer of stuff is now like, dude, three, four inches thick! Yeah, that's the point. You can finish it in the oven at a high heat, or just turn it. I flip the motherfucker like the dudes on the Cooking Channel, but I'm older than you and I've had years of experience. My SIL (who comes from a French restaurant family, in France) prefers to put a plate on top of the skillet, invert the whole assembly, and then slide the less-cooked side down in the skillet. Works for me, too.

The great thing about this is that the only ingredient that you really have to keep is the eggs. Tomatoes? Groovey. Peas and carrots? No problem. Spam, spam, spam. baked beans and spam? Do It!

The other great factor is that it doesn't have to be hot and fresh. A slice of cold omlette is a wonderful lunch. A nice wedge of cold potato omlette, with a handful of good Kalamata olives, a decent bolillo, and a bit of cheese is a standard lunch throughout the OliveOil belt. Your boss might get pissed if you insist on the bottle of red wine that usually accompanies this lunch, but the sonofabitch probably would have issues with the mandated siesta, too. Nyikulturniey. Ketchup is allowed. Sriracha is encouraged.

Break it down: really, what's the point? When I worked in cubicle land, I was constantly being invited to head out to lunch. Doods refused to believe that I brought my own lunch. They all thought I had some special deal with a catering company. Until I catered a lunch for 20 using only the heating element of the coffee machine, the microwave, and the contents from my truck's tool box. And I kept and displayed the receipts. Charged 'em each a buck in front, and then gave change. Ha!

Now, cooking on the job,. that's a different post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Note to Self

Most recipes will not call for garlic, Sriracha, and Wasabi ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Further note: Bacon really does help

Thursday, April 7, 2011

About Rice

"Preacher Ben, despite adversity
saved a southern University
Said his nephew, ain't that nice
Uncle Ben's converted Rice"

Now I love the place, spent many doped up and beery hours there, majoring in sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. But there has to be more than plain white on rice.

The first thing is the liquid. Rice is cooked (white, brown, wild, or zebra-striped) at 2 parts liquid to 1 part dry.

That means you don't need a bunch of graduated cylinders to cook it. It would help if you had some idea of the actual size of the beer mugs in the freezer (that's where I keep mine, what are you, nykulturny?), so as to figure volumes for prepared rice (like the stuff in tubes or boxes)

First way to improve rice is by using better liquor. Down, boy! in cooking, liquor just means the cooking liquid. It's French, it doesn't have to make sense.

Lemme introduce you to KnorrSuisse. Where I grew up it was pronounced as a single word. The Brits call 'em "stock cubes", and they come in all sorts of flavors: beef, chicken, shrimp, tomato, squid, and God knows what else. Yes, I have seen squid flavored KnorrSuisse cubes, and so there, Oh, and vegetable, chili and onion, and garlic.

These are VERY salty. If you use one don't ad salt to the rice. Adding salt to rice is done for 2 reasons - to add salt, and to equalize atmospheric pressure. Seriously. There are physics involved. But if you live near sea level just forget about it. OK?

If you're GOOD WITH A KNIFE you might think about doing a quick browning of some onion, or maybe a fast sautee of onion and peppers before you add the rice and water. You'll need to cut into small enough pieces that they will all cook at the same time. If you add mushrooms, then you're in danger of making a risotto. Please, don't do that yet. Plus, mushrooms are so full of water that they throw the proportions way the fuck off.

You know what I forgot? Carrots. You know why? 'Cause they're part of the Holy Trinity. And you should know about those already.

So you've got a base of some sort. You don't have to be fancy all the time, but basic cooked rice is to tell you the truth prison food. You have to have roughly 2 parts water to 1 part rice, plus enough to make it edible.

Here's what I like: About one small handful each of frozen peas, carrots, and corn. With a KnorrSuisse Caldo de Tomate cube. Good as a side, better under an etufee o creole, or Fra Diavlo


I'm a semi-observant Catholic, and I cook.

Meat prices are rising and going to continue to rise. Personally I blame corn ethanol. All that corn that used to make tortillas, cornbread, and bacon (it's the main feedstock for cattle, hogs, and even dogs and cats and if you don't believe me look real closely at the ingredients panel on your big bag of Purina Large Animal of Your Choice Food). Instead it's being turned into whiskey and burned in cars and trucks. (End of ride on that particular hobbyhorse)

But you know what's cheap? Seafood! (Yay!)

Me, I'm lucky to live on God's own Texas Gulf Coast, but the price of shrimp, scallops, and all sorts of fish has been decreasing in inflation adjusted dollars. Fish farming is growing like a venereal wart, especially in small countries that don't use a real alphabet.

So in the spirit of Lenten observances and good food, lessus have some SEAFOOD!

Here's one, free and for nothing, Shrimp Dra Diavlo sort-of-thing:

Ingredients: Read the damn thing. I'm not real big on units when cooking, other than for baking, and I don't do that anymore. This is a recipe for 2.

Sautee in a big skillet at medium high sort of heat a big handfull of onions and peppers. I tend to get the "3 Pepper and Onion Blend" from the local grocery, and use about 1/2 a bag

Add a half of a mess of garlic. We've got sriracha coming in later, (If you don't know, sriracha is a wicked Asia blend of garlic and hot peppers. Comes in a convenient squeeze bottle, Has printing on the front of the plastic bottle, in green. Has a rooster on it. Some folks call it "rooster sauce") I get the quart jars of minced garlic 'cause I'm lazy. I've spent too much time in restaurant kitchens "re-chopping" garlic that some minion thought was good enough. When you start to smell the garlic,

Add about a pound of cleaned shrimp. That means heads, shells, tails, all that stuff OFF. This is gonna be good, and you won't wanna have to fuck around with "some assembly required" when it hits the table. This would be a good time to add some basil - maybe a teaspoon - and some oregano (if you really have too, use just a little bit, and this is only if you insist on calling it an Italian dish)

When the shrimp are almost done dump in about half of a can of crushed tomatoes. The standard can size for crushed tomatoes is 28 - 30 ounce, so dump the remains into a nice jar or something so you can use it the next day. Now here's the great part. Sriracha! Blurt forth a reasonable amount, stir it in and wait for it to bubble.

Pour it over pasta or rice. You did read this through before starting, didn't you?

Over pasta you've got the EyeTalian classic Fra Diavlo, over rice you have Camerones Enchilados.

Protip: add some cooked chopped BACON at the same time as the shrimp.

Super Protip: Buy bacon ends and pieces in the 3 pound box. Cook in massive quantities, chop, and store. Some kitchen professionals like to keep "just a pinch between the cheek and gum" (as the sainted Earl Campbell used to say in the Copenhagen ads). Cutx down on nicotine fits in the high stress work of running a restaurant kitchen. Seriously. I mean it. And keep most of it in the freezer, because, let's face it dude, that much bacon, cooked and on hand?

Super extra special protip. You do a pot count on this? Do the rice or pasta in advance, and you've only got 1. count it, one, skillet to wash. Get rid of the shrimp hulls and rinse the pan and dishes, unless you want the kitchen to smell that way in the morning. It's not too much to ask. And she's worth it.

Let's break it down:
Plant matter (1/2 bag pepper & onion mix) = 0.50
Shrimp (1 pound @ about $5/lb) = 5.00
Pasta or rice = 0.65
ATW (restaurant shorthand for "all the
way" - salad, side, french bread) add another =4.00
Total: =10.15

Compare and contrast with same at decent Eye-Tie Bistro or Spanish place at about $20 per person for the same meal.

Do it at home, impress the girlfriend, spend ome of the saved cash on an upgrade on the bottle of plonk.

You go, Tiger, now show her how good you are out of the kitchen. Maybe you could be nice and let HER cook breakfast.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Holy Trinity

Ain't all that holy,

Cajun = celery, onion, pepper
French = celery, onion, carrot
Carib = onion, celery, bean

Fuckit., Go ang Google the phrase and you'll find dozens of interpretations. They're all good. The secret is to cook them down to a brown that is not scorched, but that rather releases the aromatic qualities.
That is to say that if it smells perfect you've overcooked it . Just like toast.

Y Chromosome Alert

Hardware. You don't need nearly as much as you thought. Personally, I'm living off of a two burner hotplate, a crockpot, an old microwave, and a panini press.

Yeah, they're all electric. When I moved into this apartment I really didn't want to have to dick with getting the gas on. The meter had been pulled, and the landlord had made it clear that any deals with the utilities were on my own dime. So I decided not to spend the three to five hundred dollars to upgrade his plumbing.

So I've got a microwave. a two burner hotplate, and a crockpot. Plus the impedimentia that goes with once having a real kitchen: pots, pans, lids, this, and, that, and the other.

What I really needed was a set of skillets, two saucepans, and a pasta cooker., A wise woman (Julia Child) once said "don't be a pot miser, but wash every one when you're finished with it". Hey, she worked for the British Secret Service, while being from fucking RHODE ISLAND and having some sort of speech impediment, on top of being six feet tall. Her husband was a very brave man. And I wash each cooking implement as it is used. Don't want Julia Child pissed off at ME, no sir.

Ok, I do have a thing for tall women. I also have a thing for short women. And redheads. And blondes. and brunettes

So let's look at a recipe.

Shrimp Something

Cook Pasta or Rice (I always do rice with some peas, carrots, celery, corn, onion, peppers, and other stuff. But not at the same time) ((I like to us the 'yellow rice, 'cause I can't afford to buy saffron myself. If I could, I'd just as soon but gold bullion)(Which makes a really nasty soup stock, if you ask me).
Cook some bacon
Pull the bacon from the grese and chop it up
Toss a in bunch of dry clean seafood (Scallops! I fucking love scallops! But they have to be dry, dry, dry to get seared. Otherwise they just get steamed, which is no good at all).

Let them cook until they start jumping around a bit when you move the skillet, then add 'other stuff'.

I suggest adding (for nekkid scallop) equal amounts of good cream sherry and good cream cream, with a touch of perhaps rosemary if you can get it fresh from you neighbor's yard, or some curry if that's a you've got.

For shrimp. I like to use a dose if Sriracha followed by crushed tomatoes (not sauce, not paste).

Feel free at any point to add additional onions, peppers, &c.

Great for Lent, great at any time

Total time opening fridge to wiping mouth: 25 min.
So where do you want to go for dinner: Total time two hours

[ook, I didn't say"start cooking rice/pasta at the samw time as other stuff:"
Jeebus, you stoopid of something

Fill Your Fridge

Fill it full of ice water if you must. That damn box is costing you about $20 per month for the electric bill, and that's if it's empty. A full fridge costs maybe $5.

Get yourself some stuff that freezes well. You know what freezes well? Frozen Veggies!

Mixed Veg, peas & carrrots, Colonel Corn (for those of us coming out of the military), 3Pepper and Onion! All this stuff is available at my personal local Kroger / Randalls / HEB/ anything other than a damn ghetto grocery for under a buck per packet.

You know what else freezes well? IQF stuff! I mean it stands for Individually Quick Frozen, but did you realize that restaurants are allowed to call it "Fresh"?

Huh. Didn't think you did. In the case of fish and other seafood, we're talking about 45 minutes before that yummie yummie sushie becomes salmonsicles. Yay for us! That wonderful piece of fish that you shared with your girlfriend because you couldn't afford two entrees was probably IQF. Same with the scallops and the shrimp. Lord knows I hate to say so, but as a lifetime resident of the Gulf Coast I have to tell you that live shrimp are superior only when used as bait.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Essential Bachelor Diet

Your place probably came with a fridge, right? So stock it with beer and a bottle of ketchup and all's right with the world, huh?


Sure, you can live on delivery pizza, Chinese (or if you're really hip, VietNamese) carryout, and microwave burritos. Hell, I did, until I realized that half of my disposable income went into inflating my waistline.

The trick is to eat simply, cheaply, and well. A buddy of mine, after his 4th divorce, claimed that he just couldn't survive on less than $200 per week for food. His diet was Chinese (at a very modest place in Houston's Bellaire Chinatown, Breakfast at Mickey D's, and pizza or carryout Mexican every day.

Let's break it out. EggaMuffin plus hashbrowns about $5, plus $3 for a coffee at Starbucks. (But you write off the Starbucks 'cause of the free internet and maybe you can meet a contact there, right? Tell it to the IRS auditor)<

$6 for lunch (the $3.99 special, plus iced tea, plus a buck tip).

$8 for the pizza, 'cause you've got a coupon, but a 2 dollar tip, 'cause, really, you can't give less than that.

So we've got 24 dollars in food. For one day. And you still haven't had a really nice meal.

Now let's compare and contrast.

Oatmeal with cream and brown sugar (under one dollar)

Leftovers microwaved for lunch (on a pro rata, call it 3 bucks), with iced tea made on site (by submerging tea bags in a bottle of water).

And then a steak dinner with baked potato and salad (about $7)

Ok, let's hear the totals!
$24 for the carryout and drive through
$11 for the DIY routine


I hear your screams. And I know the guys that paid for designer gourmet kitchens covered with carryout boxes, And I know that some of you are the same people.

Rest easy, for more will be revealed.

Welcome, &c

This will be my attempt to share essential Y-chromosome information to others in my situation. Those living alone in this brave new world, bereft of the wife, girlfriend or mother that once took care of care and feeding.

I'm guessing that most of us have had a breakup of some sort - divorce, separation, whatever. On my case, I'm middle aged (for a whole at least, then it will become old) with two teen-aged sons. .

My problems may not be your problems, but as it has been said, a wise man learns from his mistakes. A really smart one learns from other folks mistakes.

I'm giving you that opportunity