Posts Tagged ‘food’

TKOG #93: The kind of relentlessly frugal mistress of the house who can wine and dine the masses on a single blooming potato and spends nary a cent on her daily food budget.

I am: a busy/lazy urban 20something with no great affinity for scrubbing pots and pans.

I am not: even the mistress of a decent-sized apartment.

The Scene: My kitchen, surveying with distress my bare pantry shelves after I idiotically decided to embark upon this challenge. Fun fact: if you want to stretch your creative lady of the house muscles, you might want to consider going shopping first. To wit, my only foodstuffs: a few boxes of dry pasta; jars of peanut butter in every conceivable denomination of crunchitude; two pounds of frozen chicken drumsticks; the rest of a freezer full of flash-frozen spinach and kale; five pounds of onions and a few peppers; an apocalypse bunker’s worth of canned beans; various spices and condiments. And, of course, about sixty cans of Fresca, because I don’t care what my landlord says: the water in Brighton may be potent, but it sure as heck isn’t potable.

Ran this experiment over the course of a week back when I was full-time unemployed, and this much I’ll say for it: once you get tired of all the food you own, snacking to while away the long hours of unemployment becomes infinitely less appealing.

This much I’ll also say: dude, three meals a day is kind of a lot more food than you’d ever imagine. Especially if you aren’t brilliant enough to keep a bar of emergency chocolate around.

Spent an afternoon cooking up barbecue chicken drumsticks and a pot of the best damn vegan barbecue chili ever, and was on the verge of deciding, ‘dude, I am a total friggin’ culinary slash domestic genius!’ when the crazy went in. I don’t know if you’ve ever jolted awake at 2am to rifle through the pockets of seventeen pairs of jeans, praying for a stale old butterscotch candy but … uh, but neither have I? Ahem.

Also, life-saving technique: once you’re down to nothing but pasta and frozen vegetables, might I heartily recommend the world’s easiest peanut sauce (which is to Thai food as Kraft Easy Mac is to Italian): 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter; 1/4 cup hot hot hot water; 2 tbsp soy sauce; 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar; pinch of brown sugar. Whisk ’til it’s creamy and smooth. Dump liberally on everything you eat.

The Verdict: Dude, unfortch, I think it was the peanut sauce that did me in. Contrary to my broke-ass 20something nature, I’ve never been a huge pasta fan, but after I ran out of real food, I reverted to peanut noodles. Despite the fact that I’d cut sugar, pizza and anything fried out of my daily stats — to say nothing of the fact that I was so bored with my limited food options that I really wasn’t eating much — I managed to put on like five pounds over the course of the week that I have yet to shake.

That said, it was a good reminder to actually friggin’ cook every day, if for no other reason than to stop spending $7-12 daily on food of questionable nutritional value. I’m pretty proud of myself for living across the street from the best damn pizzeria in Boston and only violating my strict budget once (to stress-eat a Milky Way after the worst job interview ever).

Okay, though, spill, guys. What do y’all eat when the budget is lean? ’cause I’m saving up for a trip to Barcelona, and sadly see many, many more days of spend-free eating in my future…


Read Full Post »

One in a two-part series about gross things I’ve put in my mouth lately. The next one is TMI Thursday-able. Ugh.

NTKOG #85: The kind of saline-blooded Bostonian for whom no table is complete unless weighed down by a bowl of chowdah (positively brimming, natch, with sliced up — ugh — clams).

I am: afraid of fish and all marine life. Like as in I have a legitimate fear of mermaids. Icthyophobia. It’s a thing, I swear to you.

I am not: going to bore you with the traumatic childhood events that sparked this phobia. Let’s just said it involves my sister waging koi-pond genocide with an algae skimmer.

The Scene: The lovely town of Newport in mythical Rhode Island, where I went to visit my dear friend Physicist. After he forced me to verbally confirm the existence of Rhode Island (I had theretofore been an Island denier), he promised to take me to a restaurant that would win even me over to the local delicacy.

The whole drive over to The Black Pearl, I mentally thumbed through my meager collection of clam trivia. To wit: 1) they are related to snails; 2) aren’t their brains in their feet or something?; 3) they are gross little fuckers, is what I’m saying.

We order bowls and just a few minutes later, the (adorable) waitress plunked before me:

This much I will say for clam chowdah: it’s a big time-saver. In that it comes already looking like vomit. But it smelled like cream and dill and kind of reminded me of Russia, so I tilted a brimming spoonful in my mouth.

TKOG: Hey, this isn’t bad!
Physicist: See, I told you.
TKOG: You kind of have to — chew it, though.
Physicist: Uh, yeah, about that…
TKOG: [thirty seconds later] OH MY GOD WHY AM I STILL CHEWING?!

So much for my glorious career as a chowdah aficionado. Waitress? One roast beef sandwich. Rare.

The Verdict: Hey, at least I gave it a shot, right? That’s the thing about seafood: from what I’ve experience, it’s way chewier than at all acceptable. Makes sense. I mean, the animals it comes from are water-proof, I guess.

My other thing about seafood, apropos of not much: when I eat beef, for example, no matter how friggin’ hungry I am, I’m eating, what, like 1/300th of the cow. But when you eat seafood? You’re eating the whole dude. Plus usually the fifteen other dudes he was hanging out with at the time of his demise. And look, I know there are parts of me that no one would want to eat. Like, if a carnivorous giant popped me into his mouth like a roasted peanut, personal interests aside, I wouldn’t be all that psyched about his culinary decisions. Whole-dude eating: not for civilized people. So. You can go ahead and think about that, chowderheads.

Read Full Post »

NTKOG #6: The kind of girl who, upon seeing homeless people begging in the street, promptly gifts them with a warm, nourishing meal.

I am: a warm-hearted bleeding liberal, and try to keep my eyes open to suffering in my community. When I see homeless people, I try to weigh my current financial situation against my desire to give, and spare a dollar or two, at least.

I am not: perfect about this, by any means, though. At the end of the day, I know the dollars I dispense are just tiny hits of anesthesia to numb me to over-powering white/affluent guilt.

The Scene: Walking to my sister’s from my new apartment, I passed a kosher deli, in front of which stood a large, sad-eyed woman with an adorable toddler on her hip. “Can you spare a few dollars?” she asked me, her eyes liquid with self-pity. “I just need to get something into their stomachs.” She gestured with her head over to another child, a few years older, hunched on the deli’s stoop.

“Of course,” I tell her, reaching into my wallet for three dollars. As she tells me “God bless you,” I am transfixed by her crumbling brown teeth: some are missing, others turned sideways, and all looking as though they are at war with each other. This is the mouth, if not the face, of institutionalized poverty.

As I walk onward, the afterglow of white-guilt assuagement is short-lived. For only a few dollars, what can she get those poor children? They need a real meal, something warm and lasting. My options are few: a sushi place, a Kosher bakery, a Pita Pit. I stop in the latter, then walked back out. Children are picky, maybe even starving children, and after going several days without eating, who knows what hell exotic mediterranean fare might wage on their angry intestines.

A burger joint comes into view. Surely just the thing! I stop inside and order four kids’ burgers and two cartons of french fries. As I wait for the fresh patties to grill up, I am alternately plagued with worry that by the time I return, they will be gone (but how far can a mother and her two starving toddlers walk? and where else do they have to go?), and visited by happy fantasies of the mother clutching the greasy bag to her chest, thanking me with tears in her eyes. (“Don’t be stupid. You’re not a saint. You’re just doing this for a dumb blog.”)

Finally the order is ready and I rush back to the deli. I don’t spot the family at first, then notice the same beautiful, sad toddler on the hip of her equally mouth-decayed father. I hand him the bag, “These are for you.”

“Thank you so much! God bless you,” he says. “My wife is inside trying to order. Would you believe we are only three dollars short of what we ordered?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any more cash.”

“No, no, you have already helped us so much. God bless you.”

The Verdict: After handing off the meal, I stop on the corner of the block across the street from the deli to shuffle in my purse for my phone. I feel a warm glow of pleasure — even moreso because the thanks were fairly understated. I peek back over my shoulder to see if the children are already eating the burgers and see the husband, leading the kids to a car in the deli’s parking lot.

Peering through shrubbery, I watch him toss the bag of burgers into the backseat and strap the toddler into a carseat, then buckle his son into the front. After a moment, the mother comes out of the deli, holding a large bag of food. They pull out of the parking lot, and, giving up any attempt at subterfuge, I run after them.

They are driving a spotless white 2007 Nissan, with current DMV tags. CURRENT DMV TAGS! I follow the car a few blocks through the stately, tree-lined neighborhood, but they finally lose me.

I guess I should have stopped at that sushi place after all. Hope I didn’t offend the little tykes with such pedestrian fare as burgers.

So Am I That Kind of Girl? The kind of girl I am right now is friggin’ incredulous — too much so to even be properly incensed. I snuffled indignantly the whole walk home. But even though this was a bit eye-opening, it wasn’t enough to permanently tourniquet my bleeding liberal heart. Still, next time, instead of shelling out $$$ for burgers, I’m going to just keep a stash of PowerBars in my purse to get my feeding-the-hungry fix without running too big a risk.

Read Full Post »