Monday, October 17, 2011

Turkey Time

There comes a time in a woman's life when she needs to do something in the evening other than research and write about animals that are extinct. So I will switch back to an old favorite: animals I have recently eaten.

The humble turkey. I've seen them in the wild, and I've seen them in zoos around the world. Beautiful feathers, ornery attitudes, goofy sounds. $3.79 for a ground pound and a quarter at Smart and Final.

The mainstay in my house over the past year at least has been turkey stewed with veggies. Hell, half the reason I haven't restarted this blog is most meals I cook are just stewed turkey. (And I think the only reader is my mother.) But lest we take for granted the turkey, symbol of plenty, humble in price and rich in flavor, I should put forth the recipe.

2.5 lb ground turkey (85%, 93%, or 97% fat free)
3 heads baby boc choy, soaked to remove sand
2 heads broccoli
1 head garlic
1 yellow onion
2 tbs peanut oil
2 tbs olive oil
1 jar of pasta sauce with as few ingredients as possible (optional)

Simmer the turkey in a big frying pan with a bit of peanut oil. I start with the lid on while I chop the veggies. Chop anything green and robust into maybe 2cm pieces. Add the veggies on top of the turkey and cover with a big glass lid. This way the simmering turkey juices steam the veggies for you. Eventually I ladle the veggies and any excess fluid into a stew pot and uncover the turkey so it browns in the pan. Meanwhile I chop the onions and garlic.

When its well cooked and browned (this often takes like a half hour from the start), move the turkey into the stewpot and put it on low. In the now-vacated frying pan, simmer the onions and garlic with olive oil but just for a couple minutes. I like the onions weakened and sweet but I want the garlic still very strongly-flavored. When its smelling awesome, add the oily garlic and onions to the stewpot, stir, and add the optional jar of pasta sauce. I often buy a bunch of Classico sauces when they're on sale at Vons. Let this sit on low for about twenty minutes. Then put it in glass canning jars and sit outside to cool, and finally put it in the fridge.

Amir and I used to eat this over pasta, back when we'd use about a 1:1 ratio of pasta sauce to other ingredients. Eventually we just started adding so much turkey and veg that we neglected the pasta entirely.

Serving suggestions:
Just now I had it this way; NorthOfTheBorder;
microwave 1 cup of stew for 2 minutes
top with cold Queso Fresco, black olives, and half an avocado
devour while your boyfriend plays guitar for you (optional)

Amir's favorite;
Spoon heated stew onto toasted whole grain bread with spicy russian mustard

spoon into pita bread liberally spread with thoum arabic garlic sauce (we get ours at Al Wazir on Hollywood)

Dainty Delight;
layer over arrugalla and heirloom tomato slices on toasted sourdough english muffins
(I haven't actually tried this but it sounds AWESOME right now)

mix with wholegrain rotini pasta

Hungry Darling?;
Cook some rotini pasta when the turkey is stewing. Grate parmesan cheese into the stew. When the stew has been on for a while (or even if its been off and sitting for an hour) ladle alternating layers of turkey stew and pasta into a bread loaf pan. Grate parmesan and smokey gouda on top. Broil in the toaster oven. Offer to boyfriend when he gets back from a long night of martial arts training (optional).

Recipe alterations:
Use 85% turkey (occasionally on sale for $3/3lb at Vons) and don't add any oil. Set some turkey fluid aside for the garlic/onion step.
Other veg winners:
hard squashes, zucchini, celery, carrots
Hit and miss:
peppers, dark greens (kale/chard), yellow squash

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mesquite honey chicken

boneless chicken
mesquite seasoning

This works with any boneless chicken, but I prefer thigh meat. Set raw chicken in an untreated tephlon frying pan and liberally spoon mesquite seasoning onto it, and rub it in. Drizzle honey over the chicken. You want it in a very thin layer laying over the seasoning. Go away and do something else for five minutes.

Return to your chicken, and add a small puddle of water to the pan, which will help distribute the heat evenly and turn the seasonings gradually into a sauce, then a glaze. Turn the heat on low and rip the chicken into bite-sized pieces as it warms up. Now you can ignore it, returning now and then to poke at it and flip pieces over.

Fluff rinsed leaf lettuce into a shallow bowl. Dump the chicken, and any excess glaze, over the lettuce. Serve with tooth-picks at a tapas party for no-cleanup genius.

This was a huge hit. I did the exact same with pork and that also worked well. This is a derivative of a bbq technique for pork. It's my favorite. Leave the pork coated in seasoning and honey for at least an hour, then bbq with pinapple rings. Absolute gold.

I'm using crappy costco mesquite rub seasoning from a large tub I got for cheap a year ago. I really want to learn to harvest and prep my own mesquite so I can forgo the other bs. Suggestions?


anaheim peppers
goat cheese
queso fresco

Yesterday I hosted about a dozen friends for a tapas party, in honor of my dog's birthday. Sadly my camera is still broken, so no photos. This plate worked really well:

Quesadillas and Stuffed Peppers

Set a small thin corn tortilla on an ungreased tephlon frying pan and crumble a thin collection of Queso Fresco onto it. When the cheese begins to change shape, press another tortilla on top.
Wait a minute for them to merge, then flip. When it's all done - the cheese is binding the two together and is soft throughout, then rub a little butter onto each side of the quesadilla and let it brown up just for like 10 seconds.

Stuffed Peppers:
Cut the top off a long green anaheim pepper and remove the inner seed stuff. Use a chop stick to stuff cheese into the pepper. The best result was about half Queso Fresco and half goat cheese. They have very different melting behaviors. Put a little foil on the rack of a toaster oven, and lay the pepper directly on the rack, but with the unsealed tops laying over the foil. Toast for about 10 minutes, then wait five minutes before pulling them out.

Cut the quesadillas into tiny wedges, and slice the peppers, leaving basically rings of pepper around blobs of cheese. Add some slices of avocado, and serve with toothpicks.

These were a huge hit, and my favorite part was that there were no utensils to wash.

Goat Cheese Predicament

While walking through the Silverlake farmers' market savoring an over-priced cup of ethical java, I glanced down at a table to see a photo of a baby goat. Make that, a ruthlessly adorable baby goat. All black, spindly little legs, defiant, clueless expression. I staunchly avoid these booths, offering $6.00 quail's eggs or hyper-ethical clams, but I adore the idea that people can make a living in southern California by tending animals responsibly.

I stopped walking and said aloud, "That's a really cute goat." I looked up at the vendor, a tall, blue-eyed guy with a little blond stubble and a movie-star grin. Not my type. I looked down at the cheeses; little plastic tubs with a dabble of soft flavored creamy goat's cheese, and firmer varieties in wedges.

We talked for a while about the goats and the farm and the cheeses. Soledad Ranch? Farm? Whatever. The vendor said some friends of his own the place - up in Mojave - but of course he lives down here. At last I shelled out $15 bucks for a huge wedge of smoked firm cheese, and a tiny tub with a spoon-full of fresh stuff, with a blank flavor and that unmistakable texture.

I bought the cheese for a party, so I'll share the ideas that worked. But now I have a lot of expensive left-over goat cheese that I don't know how to use. Suggestions?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thai soup for your short attention span

Contains MSG: so you know it's legit!

Ok. So we here at Feast are not all about pre-made junk, processed foods, and particularly monosodium glutimate. But what the hell.

I eat all the time. Every day. Like at least seven times a day. So sometimes I eat kind of dubious stuff. Cheap, delicious, healthy. Choose two.

So at my aformentioned favorite Thai market, the Bangluck Market on the south side of Hollywood Blvd just west of Normandy, I found a jar of Tom Ka Kai soup paste. Thai food is really hard for me. I am always missing something, so doing it from scratch is just too much work 90% of the time. This stuff has MSG in it. But I thought about it and I'm thinkin- so does all that delicious Thai food I pay folding money for at Sanamalang.

So here's the bachellorette magic! In a small pot, cook up 6 Trader Joe's (I swear they aren't paying me) chicken postsickers in a puddle of water with a splash of black seseme oil. While they cook, rip up some spinach into a small soup bowl. This is a great time to use your beastly large spinach leaves. Chop green onion chives, cilantro, and aneheim peppers. When the dumplings are done, add extra water - like 1.5 cups. Stir in a spoon of soup paste. Toss in the veggies, except the spinach. Give it a minute, then pour the soup and potstickers into your bowl over the spinach. Eat with chopsticks or whatever.

It's magic.

The soup makes even formidable spinach plyable, and the intense flavors are well-balanced by the bland potstickers and bitter greens.

It's not the same as a delicious bowl of leftover Tom Ka Kai soup, and it's got enough salt that you don't want to do this more than three times a week (trust me!). But it's totally meal-shaped and will fill you with exotic-ish goodness on a tiny budget and a short attention span.

The breakdown:

TJ's potstickers
soup paste
green onion chives
anehiem peppers
spinach (tough OK!)

Matches well with Kirin Ichiban, which Micron Liquor sells for 8.99/ 12 pack.

Bachelorette Pizza

Disclaimer: Not a particularly sexy pizza. Just a good pizza idea for the single lady. Or bro.

Trader Joe's makes these medium Margarita Pizzas. They're from Italy (!) and cost like $4. I keep a stack in my freezer for emergencies.

About the same price as a pizza crust, they have very little on them; a tiny splash of sauce and some cheese slices. That's ideal for creating your own low-maintenance meal quickly.

Chop or rip:
sweet basil
spicy basil
past-its-prime spinach
anaheim peppers
cherry tomatoes
red bell pepper

Put those on the frozen pizza and cook that sucker for 7 minutes, right on the rack. I wanted to put cheese on it but my cheese went bad, and I found out it's actually great just like this.

The awesomeness comes from Thai Town. Next to Sanamalang, our favorite cash-only Thai place (on Hollywood just west of Normandy), I often stop into the Bangluck Market to get cash. Last time I bought a bag each of fresh "sweet basil" and "spicy basil", about $1 each. Sadly I don't know anything about these plants or where else to find them, so if anyone does, please advise.

So yeah. Keep some frozen pizzas around, and you can toss any veggies you have lying around on it. It's especially good for veggies that are a little gamey so you don't want them fresh.

Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Extremely Random Salmon Success!

I'm tired. Like, obscenely tired. Like, slept from 6-7 pm before deciding that I should get out of bed and return at, say, 9:00.

After a few minutes of Marquito listing the things I might call for delivery - cuban, pizza, chinese, thai, each causing us more nausea than the last - and the places I might drive if I had ANY will to leave the house, I asserted that seductive third option: I can cook. Requiring movement from the sofa, this prospect Marco finds particularly nauseating.

At last I stalked with a surly glare into the kitchen. The refrigerator prognosis was bad. I've eaten a lot of augmented frozen pizzas lately. All out. No lettuce or crispy spinach. No broccoli. No beans, fresh meat, serviceable cheese. No leftovers. In the freezer, nothing meal-shaped. After days of oatmeal, ramen, and coffee, my body was begging for protein. I resolved to woman up and cook a salmon.

Trader Joes sells silverbrite salmon fillets frozen in pairs for cheap. Wild caught Alaskan.

I'm tired because I taught some general education university geology labs today - beginning at 8am. And last night, well, I should have stopped at that first draft Spaten Optimator. Hindsight.

So I was in a weird mood, ok? Just keep that in mind. Here's what I combined in one pot, heat off:

1.5 cup cooked spirally pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lemon juice
1 chopped fugi apple
1 fork drizzle of blackberry honey

And in a frying pan:

salmon fillet
1/3 red bell pepper, chopped to 2 cm chunks
2 green onion chives, chopped fine-ish
1.5 minced green aneheim (I think) peppers
1/2 lemon juice
1.5 fork drizzle blackberry honey
2 diced tamatillos

Plating: shallow bowl, with ladle of pasta salad next to about half the salmon entree, with six plump cherry tomatoes on the side of the pasta.

Appetizer: a half can of ripe green/black olives to savor.

Beverage: slightly warm can of Kirin Ichiban

Dessert: same olives, chilled.

Diagnosis: Totally delicious.

No photo will accompany this post, on-account-a there's too much sand in my camera.

It's a very proud success for me. I had a completely absurd assortment of ingredients. By no means do I support anyone going out and shopping to create this kind of meal. The lesson for me is that if I follow my pallet, in my indefatigable, Remy the Rat - esque confidence, I can make a delicious, healthy meal out of just about anything.

The big lesson here is what's NOT in the meal. Garlic. Crushed red pepper. Salt. Pepper.

In fact, I didn't use any seasonings at all. I'm pretty predictable. So when I'm hungover, surly, and don't want to cook, I think it's a response to what I image I'm going to make. Boredom.

Sometimes ya gotta surprise yourself.

So here are some details for order of operations:
Pull everything veggie-related from the fridge.
Leave the tomatoes on the counter to warm up. (Ideally they shouldn't be in the fridge to begin with, but hey. We're city people. Gotta protect that tomato investment.)
Set water boiling in a pot.
Thaw the salmon in the microwave.
Chop the veggies.
Cook the pasta without salt or oil.
Simmer the salmon in the frying pan. Low heat.
Open a can of olives, and eat some.
Drain the pasta and toss it right back in the pot with some oil.
Toss the veggies into the salmon.
Add lemon juice to both pots.
Dice the apple and toss into pasta.
Drizzle honey on both pots.
Dice the tomatillos and add to the salmon.

Somehow the olives really tied the meal together. I made enough for two but I would NEVER prepare this kind of meal with a guest. Not yet. It would have to be someone who's extrememly loving and forgiving, because it's quite likely it'll taste like crap. It's like ingredient rulette. Each time you add something, it could be just the additional flavor the meal needs, or it could be the staw that breaks the flavor's back. This time, I got lucky.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Coming Soon: duck how-to

My mom and I made these two ducks for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in the universe and one I heartily believe we should celebrate all the damn time. That's what this blog is about really. Every day you deserve to make the most of what you eat.

I've got to compare notes with mi madre because it wouldn't be fair to post the how-to on these ducks without cooking times and temps and all that.

I'm not really a recipe person. I hate cookbooks. They always call for things I don't have. My kitchen mo is really to combine things that are lying around and let my experience inform what I buy next time. All that said, when it comes to making birds, you really need a damn recipe to tell you about, like, ovens.

Bad Company

Delicious food served with delicious food is delicious, right?

I share with you now a terrible misadventure, because I care about you, and don't want to watch you make the same mistakes I did. It's a coming of age story, really.

Now, here are three totally delicious things to eat:

1) Huevos Pobres

Fry up some spicy sausage, and add fresh veggies.
cherry tomatoes
bell pepper
sweet onion
aneheim peppers
crushed red thai peppers
minced fresh garlic
Add eggs to that and cook it till awesome.

2) Restauranty Salad

Slice cold polenta and fry it in pork fat until its crisp.
Serve this on a bed of romaine, add cherry tomatoes and queso fresca.

3) Candy-dream-universe Salad

Pile broken queso fresca with fresh pithed strawberries.

Now, do NOT combine these three dishes! It's horrible! Sweet merciful crap!

The eggs were savory and cooked to perfection. The polenta crunched superbly alongside the yielding queso. The cheese and strawberries blended serenely. But combined into a meal, I could not enjoy these sensations.

These foods cannot share a plate together. It's like inviting your ex and all the people you're dating, and kind of dating, and have a crush on, to the same barbecue. Each as an individual is so enjoyable, so full of complexity, inviting slow savory appreciation. Combined, the personality of each dish clashes with the tone of the next. The greasy sausage and the blithe strawberries represent two different parts of your palate, two equally important desires that cannot be satisfied at the same time. Not, at least, as they are each achieved in these dishes. They're mutually exclusive.

Even worse was the pairing with delicious Newcastle Brown Ale. Even the glass of water felt awkward, and asked to leave.

Leftover Chronicles: Marco comes home

Marco came home after a few months in Miami. I used to cook often alongside the three guys I live with, and Marco's return sparked a little of that down-home goodness. This is a meal for budget-stretching, and an ode to the well-stocked veggie drawer.

Serendipitous Entree: Pork. I brought home leftover pork from a paleontology dinner at La Barca on Vermont in K-Town. So we stewed that up with some broth.

Side: Cuban black beans. Stew these things together for as long as you can:

canned plain black beans
fresh minced garlic
red onion
bell pepper
pasilla pepper
lime juice

Side: Rice and broccoli

I think I threw the broccoli into the pork for a while to soften up. I put frozen corn into a pan with some water. As it starts to thaw, I added the broccoli and some butter. Then, garlic. I prefer this with TONS of sauteed hot pepper, but the guys are not so into spicy.

Also Vic has that pitiable genetic condition (Pauline told me so and she knows stuff) that makes cilantro taste like hot ass, so when he joins us I forgo cilantro.

Plating: I LOVE these shallow bowls I got at the Goodwill when I moved in. Spoon the pork onto ripped romaine, and slap some sides next to it. Garnish with fresh mandarin slices.

If you've got some tortillas this mean is cutlery free. That was sort of my theme for November.

Out of Season

At the risk of alienating my non-existent readership with untenable recommendations, I am posting a backlog of favorite meals. This little gem of the lean season (fiscally and caloricly) was inspired by field food.

Lydia is a genius and co-conspirator. We went to Nevada for a two-day, eight hundred mile camping blitz of field work. We invented this perfect field sandwich.

One half a sourdough english muffin, warm
one wedge of laughing cow soft cheese
one package of marmalade

I know this involves processed things instead of whole foods. That's kind of the beauty of field food though. Steal a packet of marmalade from one of those little jam caddies at a diner. The cheese wedge is sealed in foil. The english muffins are a dollar a pack at Vons. At home I use mom's homemade marmalade. I should get her to publish that recipe.

The whole meal includes farmer's market strait-ups:
queso fresca
cherry tomatoes
boiled egg

This is a good meal for breakfast, but if it's evening (or if you're a drunkard) pair with Newcastle Brown Ale.

Lounging Around

They were still selling strawberries at the farmer's market on Sunset this morning, so I guess it's not too late to publish this gem from many weeks back.

This became my favorite snack for about two weeks strait.

queso fresca
cherry tomatoes

Pair with Flight of the Concords.

Desert field work: food gets serious

I spent last week trekking across the deserts of Nevada and Utah, on a paleontology field trip. I concocted the most astonishingly terrible gorp recipe which I must share with you! Combine these things in a bag:
Trader Joe's Tamari Roasted Almonds
TJ's Wasabi Peas

Totally delicious in a sinister way. Induces AWFUL breath. Lots of protein.

The other amazing wonder food from heaven is something I found in Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles. If you are headed to the field, I highly recommend this. Bring chop sticks and a bag for the tin when you're done. (For a detailed review, see my Nov 2008 post, "Indulgence in a shitty economy")

Duck Season

This is another epic salad. This is also a cool no-effort clean-up meal if you follow the order of operations.

As soon as you get in the door, set down your bag, let the dog out, and walk into the kitchen. Cut a sweet potato in half and put one half inside your toaster over. Set the timer for a half hour. Go about your buisness.

When you come back to the kitchen, slice some duck and put it on foil next to the potato in the toaster oven. Put these things in a bowl:
One or two handfuls of spinach.
Queso Fresco (stab at the round with a fork to break off some chunks).
Sliced strawberries.
Mandarin wedges.

When the duck is warm all the way through and the potato is stabable with a fork, you're ready to eat. Put the duck on the salad. I recommend a Kings Hawaiian Sweet Bread roll if you aren't raging against the processed food machine.

Pair with a rad beer of your choosing. Or, if you're not drinking tonight, enjoy Trader Joe's pomegranate juice watered down with some bubbly water.

Woodland genius

This is really just a plating recommendation for duck.

Slice some leftover duck and put it on foil in your toaster oven (it you don't have one go buy one now because they are AWESOME). Also put some leftover wild rice mix in there. Bake that for long enough for it to warm up. Serve it with a few big unaltered branches of broccoli and a green onion. Totally awesome.

Here are beer pairings, sorted by emotional context:
Convincing yourself that eating alone is the hallmark of independence and being single is your CHOICE, after all? Newcastle.
Worried about the recession? Trader Joe's Octoberfest.
Excited about an upcoming date? You could push it and go with a Red Trolley.
Want to reward yourself for a hard week of work, and prevent any work happening after dinner? Spaten Optimator.

Leftover Chronicles: epic salads

Yo. In desperation to procrastinate grant-writing, I bring you special reports from my backlog of recipes for holiday leftovers. Too late for your Festivus ham? Well it's in time for Easter.

Pictured here is one of the raddest salads. First, let's talk about salad. Salad is a medium. Like it's brethren the Sandwich, or the Pizza, the Salad is a format for food. Too many people limit their salads to veggies, and douse the veggies in unhappy glue-soup dressings. Here at Feast we're as enthusiastic about minimalism as we are devoted to deliciousness.

Here's how to make the above salad.
Put a handful of spinach into a dish. Now you are officially making a salad, so anything goes. Spoon some cold home-made cranberry sauce onto the margin.
On the counter, assemble: some pecans, a fuji apple, plantains, ham. From the fridge, get your masson jar of Duck Fat (we haven't covered how to get make this but I'll post it soon).

Put about a teaspoon of duck fat into a frying pan and kick the burner to medium. While the grease melts and spreads (mmmmmm), chop the fuji apple into cubes a bit bigger than dice. Once the grease is liquid-y and clear, turn the heat down to low. Toss all the apple cubes in the pan and shimmy the handle so that all the pieces get coated in a layer of duck grease. Now let them cook a little bit in the pan, flipping them around. It should take about a minute or two. The idea is to let the sugary outer margin mix with the grease and caramelize a little bit. You don't want to cook the apples all the way through. When they're done, put them in a little dish like the people on tv do.

Now the plantains. Slice them pretty thin and fry those puppies up (add oil - canola or something, it needed). While the plantains fry, slice your ham into medium pieces. Slap the ham into the pan when there is only a little tiny bit of duck grease left. You don't want to add grease to your ham but it will keep the ham from drying out as it warms up.

Now put all these things onto your salad at once.

The flavors of the duck, fuji, ham, and plantain are so rad together. But it's really important to have a hefty bed of spinach underneath. It's a great way to eat a bowl of greens with iron and all that. Most importantly, the crisp, mellow bitterness of the spinach balances out the decadent insane flavores dancing around it.

Notice we didn't do anything to the nuts. Candy would be overkill here. And the ham is plain also; no coatings or nonsense.

I made this with my mom, at my parent's place, with ham leftover from a class party (Graduate Sedimentology Seminar: Carbonate Depositional Environments). We also made basic cuban black beans. My mom, in an adorable effort to welcome my independent heathen spirit to her home, bought BEER (gasp) for me. She chose Corona (probably from seeing comercials for it, bless her heart), and with a crisp lime it went well with the beans. But if I planned this meal for guests (and it would be perfect as a romantic dinner for two), I would pair it with something richer and not too sweet. Negro Modelo maybe.

Other pairing options for this salad, matched to goals:
Stay in and play ping pong? Black Toad.
Party? Red Stripe
Decadent romance? Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Old friends, maybe some Scrabble? Firestone Double Barrel

Incidentally this is a coffee table that my dad carved for my mom when they were dating.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The season

Howdy all! It's the season for lavish meals, fatty meats, and great company. With the economy on crutches, we here at Feast are concerned with eking the most out of holiday leftovers. To procrastinate real work, we'll be posting a few gems of leftover love. Also, bad ideas to avoid. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Indulgence in a shitty economy

It's a rough economy, people. As a grad student, I'm counting my blessings, and battening down the financial hatches. This week I went with my roommate, Josh, to Little Tokyo. He was going for Ramen with friends, and I hitched the ride to get out of the house, and get origami paper.

I should write about our favorite Ramen houses. Coming soon.

In the Ninja Market, Rachel and I went bananas. She admitted she only joined bf Will to buy candy at the Japanese market. So on the shelves I discovered, to my glee, some inexplicable canned fishes.

Many of us in the interweb generation connect with Beat litterature in different ways. I've always harbored impractically romantic feelings toward canned fishes. I don't mean the kind of minced tuna you feed to cats or stir with mayonnaise. I mean anchovies, sardines. Little fish lined in a can, which cartoon characters taught me to open with some kind of magical key.

Imagine my disappointment to discover that these miracle meals of the destitute cost upwards of 4 dollars, come in a rainbow of flavors, and, most disappointingly, taste like ass. I can't have breath like that unless I actually am in a boxcar.

Flash forward to Ninja Market. Same size cans. Pop top. Japanese writing and photos of sensually sweetened fish fillets. Bright colors. I found a sign in english declaring some of the cans to be yellowtail. So I bought a few cans. Josh guessed the other I bought might be eel.

Tonight I got home late, walked Gilligan, and set some eggs to boil for my camping trip this weekend. I peeled open a can of yellowtail and a beer.

The fish is a solid fillet, with bones and varied shades of muscle. It's rich and complex, without any fishiness in the flavor. Nothing like canned tuna or salmon. The sauce was just right- sweet but not insane. Around 240 calories, and half of those from protein, half from fat. I'll add pictures soon so you can find your own. These will definitely be my favorite camping lunch this weekend- and a good reason to get a car running so I can get to Little Tokyo more.

At $1:30 a piece, they're cheaper than a cup of coffee. Full consideration of sustainability is pending, but my dog loved the left-overs more than her enviro-sin Little Ceasars. Double bonus.

Coming soon: camp-out cook-offs, toaster oven lovin, best-spent sweet bucks, and budget cheeses for the poor and classy.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shark Harbor: Outreach Sausages

I love outreach work. It's a thing we do.

On the kick-off night of my last hurah campout on the backside of Catalina Island, we met a gaggle of workers from another of the island's non-prof outfits. We invited them over for dinner but most were pretty shy, and they didn't want to take our food.

The next night two guys were back, installing trail signs. After a careful inventory of our stores, I convinced my friends that we had enough food to share and still eat well. We had nine sausages, three portabellas, a tuna steak or two, and tons of veggies. With english muffins for breakfast, and plans to leave before lunch, I wagered we could share.

Alex and Emily were very doubtful, but agreed. Jade and Andy joined us for dinner. They were surprisingly polite, ate less than I'd calculated, and helped cook too. It was a huge success.

Alex prepped foil packets with tuna, chicken sausage, and veggies. I filled the skillet with brauts and veggies, and the pork casings from the chicken sausages (Emily doesn't eat pig.)

Emily master-minded some biscuits on the skillet.

I snapped the portabella stems for inclusion in the braut mix. I filled each cap with worcheshire sauce. I added the olive oil (with spices and lemon) from the jar that held dolmas. The dolmas I'd paired with light beer on the beach all afternoon, and one or the other was addling my brain enough to make cooking dinner a little extra hap-hazard.

We did the braut skillet first, then placed the portabellas on the rack, the foil packs on the coals, and the biscuits in the pan. We left the shrooms on the longest, and they came out really well. The biscuits were problematic because we'd get distracted an let them burn. Just a sign that the conversations were great. It takes people to feast, after all. And those guys deserved it. Look at the sign they put up! They were hauling fifty pound bags of concrete while I was sleeping in a lounge chair in the surf. Thanks guys!

High Desert Burritos

I returned to the mainland and spent two days in the city, before departing for another camping trip. A three-day expedition across the Owen's Valley and White Mountains, the trip was both an introduction to California geology, and a social event for my cohort of first year grad students. Our guides, two veteran doctoral students, planned the whole thing really well, and packed all the frills.

The old-school pump-action camping stove was finiky. Plamen cleverly quelled a disconcerting fire lit on the spicket of the canister, by pouring sand onto the outlet. The photo shows the thing functioning normally. Ish.

Whitney organized an assembly line; students chopping veggies, imitation chicken, real chicken, etc. I use the word chopping liberally. There was a lot of slicing, due to a derth of good knives. People did well with plastic and pocket. They packed really well, but it's a good general note to self for future camping trips. You can NEVER have enough knives. Bring as many knives as you have people. I ran into the same problem on my Catalina excursion the previous weekend. I didn't do much for the main meal, but I did augment the beans with my favorite mixture of minced garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Oh, and I added some Corona to the chicken which I think helped a lot. Whitney prepped it in a large stainless fry pan with onions and garlic. It came out great.

The result of all this labor was the perfect high desert burrito. I'm going to love grad school.