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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Not for me, possums. I’m a few loads of laundry and a rereading of The Great Gatsby away from being pretty okay with things. But my bloggy friend Mel of a little lady’s thug life is at a crossroads with her father and — despite seeming like a dude who would punch you in the dang face if you ever offered her unsolicited advice — really needs some feedback. I know how fraught parental relationships can be, and thought if you had a minute to spare to weigh in on her situation or just offer a little love, it would be a really wonderful thing to do.

Check out her post here.

To give you time to read her post, the shortest NTKOG ever:

NTKOG #115: The kind of Ingalls-lite who bakes crackers. Crackers. Honestly. Isn’t that like the simplest atomic guise of bread? I just assumed they were formed in nature.

The Scene:

The Verdict:

[Edit: for those of you who want to try it, this is Mark Bittman’s recipe for parmesan-cream crackers — which I, naturally, slathered with garlic. Thanks to Leigh at Full Gastronomic Tilt for passing on the recipe a few weeks ago! And apologies that I was too deliriously tired to give credit where credit was due in the first place!]

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Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a dang iPod. Also, check out today’s Secret Society of List Addicts list of totally insane things I do when you stupidly leave me alone in your room. (Then delete “ask TKOG over for weekend!” from your Google Calendar.)

NTKOG #104: The kind of placid, capable girl about the house who spurns pre-packaged this and processed that, opting to cook in grand old pioneer style.

I am: a typical busy/lazy broke early-20something.

I am not: Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pa would play a low, mournful tune on the fiddle if ever he witnessed my domestic laziness.

The Scene: The refrigerator box that I rather grandly call a kitchen in my Brighton studio. When I’m at home I eat fairly healthily: an almost entirely vegan diet (yogurt is the only moo product I keep in the house); low-fat this and low-sodium that (’cause I enjoy being able to fit into my bathtub). I’m generally okay about cooking two big meals a week and living off of the leftovers, with nutritional cracks filled in by whatever snack I’m currently obsessing over — usually some variation on the life-giving peanut butter.

Where my  basically sound food and financial strategy falls apart (I mean aside from random convenience store jaunts) is the amount of pre-made ingredients and snacks I rely on out of convenience slash “dude, you can make that?!” ignorance. Last week, inspired by your comments on my broke and hungry post, and heedless of the time and expense of the project, I set about to live a more home-made life.

btdubs, this is literally all of my counterspace.

After I was done chopping up the veggies, all the scraps went into homemade vegetable stock. Ma Ingalls is so proud she's probably knitting me mittens AS WE SPEAK.

Black Beans: Full disclosure: not only do I only eat beans made from a can, but I’ve sworn multiple times I couldn’t handle the pressure of the other way. Justice has been on my case about it for months, telling me that home-made beans are cheaper, tastier and no more difficult to cook. I assumed this was just her leftover un-American spirit.

A pound of uncooked black beans set me back $1.69 — same cost as a can of black beans if you’re silly enough to buy them not on sale. Set ’em in cold water in the base of my crockpot while I slept, then while I was at work, let them simmer in vegetable broth and a container of (deli-section) fresh salsa. Came home to some really delicious black beans that were promply mashed into like sixteen black bean and sweet potato burritos. Dude, let me tell you, when I made my next grocery stock-up, didn’t buy a single can of legumes. Home-made is cheaper, tastier and not a huge pain in the ass. Why didn’t someone tell me?!

Vegetable Broth: While peeling the potatoes, it occurred to me: no one composts out here, so is there something more clever to do with my veg scraps? Quick google search told me I should be saving ’em in my freezer, then churning out delicious homemade veggie stock. Once my bag was totally full, I surveyed the ragtag assortment of motley scraps, and filed this one away as a loser: sweet potato peels, onion, bitter eggplant peelings, a few apple cores, and some slightly past-prime tomatoes and bell peppers. Wrapped the refuse up tightly in cheesecloth and simmered it for two hours in a gallon of water — and can you imagine my surprise when the whole thing turned out so delicious that I actually ate a few ladlefuls straight?! Unlike store-bought vegetable broth, the smell of this won’t magically take you back to ninth grade bio.

Granola: Holy shit, people make that?! I’d always assumed granola was one of those things, like batteries, that you either had to buy or live without. Dude, screw you, granola lobby — I am no longer your pawn. I used Alton Brown’s recipe and was blown away by how fucking good it was. It’s a little on the spendy side (due to the price of maple syrup and the fact that I stupidly bought nuts at Whole Foods instead of Trader Joe’s), but everyone I fed this to raved about it. Plus, seeing simple, boring oats transform into golden clumps of lightly sweetened granola? Made me feel like a sorcerer on a terrible Voyage To Health Food ’70s cartoon. My favorite feeling.

Popcorn: Did you know you can make your own popcorn in a brown lunch bag? All you have to do is put in a quarter cup, fold the bag over a bit and staple it or close it with a bit of tape, then put the bag vertically in the microwave and nuke ’til the kernel pops slow down to two seconds apart. That is INSANE. I always imagined there was some kind of miracle air inside the bags or something, to justify the exorbitant taste.

The only problem with learning how easy and cheap it is to make popcorn: it may or may not lead to you blogging at 8am while finishing a bag of cardamom-sprinkled breakfast popcorn…

The Verdict: Whoa! Completely successful NTKOG! I was obviously expecting to Learn A Lesson, but I wasn’t expecting for every single instance of home cooking to be cheaper and easier than the pre-packaged crap. Plus, my sodium intake was insanely low, which makes my inner 50-year-old man happy (you know, the part of me that smokes cigars and sports a badass fedora).

As a result of this experiment, I want to start taking on another pre-packaged kitchen culprit every week or two and giving it a healthy make-over. Any suggestions for me to get started on, you brilliant foodies, you?

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