Cooking leads to Confidence. Confidence leads to Injury.

The last few months, I have been cooking more and more for myself. I think I have finally figure out what sorts of recipes I need to be making, and what sort I need to stay away from. For instance, I’ve made pickles a dozen times. And I always think they’re going to rock. And they do; but the fact of the matter is that I cannot eat pickles sufficiently swiftly to justify making them. I end up sitting in the dark, sobbing, my hands reeking of vinegar and mustard seed as I try to stuff them down and avoid wasting them. Simple recipes are what I need to take a whack at. Ones that may take a little time, but don’t create a whole gallon of food that I will get tired of no matter how good it is.

The reason for this is McDonalds. When the hell did they get so expensive? When I was in limbo after moving out of Philly but before moving into Michigan, I got a Big Mac meal. It was $8. $8 for something that is 95% water, 0% nutrition, and at any rate I’m only really going to be able to hang on to for an hour. Do you know what you can buy in the grocery store for $8? A pound of fresh salmon, a package of brussel sprouts, and a bottle of coke. A half pound of ground lamb, a pound of couscous, an onion and a zucchini. A pound of whole wheat pasta, a can of sauce, and a pound and a half of italian sausage. I can go on and on. Suffice it to say that fast food is fast, but it’s not cheap by a damn sight. And I’m not buying the ‘there’s no time to cook’ justification for McDonalds. It took me 20 minutes yesterday to make fried zucchini (the only good kind of zucchini), pasta, and a nice little salad. And that 20 minutes includes washing all the dishes in my sink.

In the past month I’ve been trying to cook a lot of fish. Because I like fish, but it’s always intimdated me. Catfish was my first shot (it’s cheaper than ground beef!) and aside from the fact that it’s a fish that is 99% oil, it was delicious baked in the oven. I made homemade scrapple again. I even made ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in citrus. It was delicious.

Today I tried out a new tofu recipe. I’d made it before, but decided to kick up the spice a notch. Put the tofu between paper towels and under weight (a can of soup on a sheet pan) for two hours to get the water out. Put it in the marinade for an hour. Flour, eggs, panko breadcrumbs, fry it in oil 3 minutes per side. Delicious and good with some spaghetti.

What was the marinade I used? Half brine from a jar of pickled jalapenos (with some of the jalapenos thrown in for good measure) and half homemade chipotle hot sauce (boil chipotles in vinegar for 20 minutes; discard peppers if you want it mild, blend it all into a paste if you want it obscenely hot.) I added a dash of honey and a dash of Worcestershireire sauce.

Did I mention this marinade is the spiciest thing I’ve ever made? That’s where the injury came in. I wasn’t sure how spicy it would be. But it’s a marinade, right? How much could be absorbed? I had my first bite, and I was really enjoying it, until I felt something not dissimilar to the feeling of billions of slinkies slinking down stairs just underneath my skin. I looked at the clock, only to see the hands gyrating wildly as time flew past my sweating eyes. I staggered to the mirror, where I realized that my skin was the color of an overripe tomato, and that’s the last thing I remember seeing because I passed the hell out. When I woke, it was the next day, and there’s a strange person-shaped outline in the carpet where I had been laying. My lips are chapped beyond recognition, and I’ve lots a not insignificant quantity of hair. My teeth have turned the shape and color of a neglected farm gate.

What I’m trying to say is that it was very spicy. I am considering bottling my marinade and selling it as either a delicious condiment or a riot control paradigm.

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