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Single food

13 Mar

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WAH WAHHHHH…. wrinkly chicken in a plastic pan! So hopeless looking.

I’d always avoided the rotisserie chickens at the grocery store because they had that weird hot-plasticy smell emanating from the hot case and their lids were always beaded in condensation which is kind of off-putting. I mean, typically I don’t want my food to sweat. Sweating isn’t delicious. But because of my recent poverty and adjustment to single life, I’ve turned to the unassuming rotisserie chicken somewhat regularly to feed myself. Granted, those wet-looking chickens festering in the red lights of the hot table reek of desperation, but there’s something to be said for them.

A) They’re cheaper than a whole raw chicken, and I don’t even have to set off the smoke alarms in my house while tampering with my lowly rental-house oven. That oven is fickle and in dire need of cleaning, and roasting a chicken is often an unpleasant affair in my home.

B) You can do pretty much anything with them.

The key with these chickens is to pick the meat immediately. If you wait until there’s a half eaten carcass in your fridge, all bone and tendons sticking out like your bedhead, you’re never going to want to finish the job, let alone eat the thing. Nothing is quite as unappealing as a cold, half-desecrated chicken with the skin all congealed and hanging onto the meat like a needy, weird boyfriend. I particularly like the job of picking the meat, since you get to get sticky and reward yourself with the tender oysters that pop out perfectly from the top of the spine. Those little morsels are the best part of a chicken, hands down. It’s also pretty satisfying to tear dead animals apart, especially if you’re about to eat them and especially ESPECIALLY if you’re feeling all weird from some funky man-problem you’re dealing with. Nothing says I AM A BEACON OF POWER like a carnage-pile on your countertop and a neat container of all the good meat-bits in a tupperware beside it. It just screams, “I was conquered by someone who knows what they’re doing!”

Or maybe I’m reading into it a little too much, I don’t know. I like to personify my food. I guess I’m lonely!? Or hungry. A little bit of both…? WHATEVER.

Anyhow, I made this soup with it and it was legit. And now I have SO MUCH CHICKEN in my fridge to make into any number of things for the next several days, so I’m frugal and healthy and efficient and a superstar of successfully keeping myself alive via food even though sometimes it totally feels like the odds are against me on that one. NO BIG DEAL! It’s the small victories, guys.

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Here, make some soup! Squelch your sadness with me!

-Two heads of baby bok choy, chopped
-Handful of shredded rotisserie chicken
-Chicken stock
-Ramen noodles
-Dash of fish sauce
-Some dashes of soy sauce
-Chili-garlic sriracha
-Regular sriracha, because one kind of hot sauce is never enough
-Cilantro

Simmer the stock! Add the noodles! Add the other stuff when the noodles are done! Now eat it! Congratulations, you just kept your blood sugar from dropping to dangerously low levels for another four hours… YOU’RE AN OUTSTANDING HUMAN SPECTACLE.

Eating the Heart

22 Jan

Most people I know have some kind of food that they turn to when they want comfort. It’s something familiar and safe, and it represents a goodness we all crave. We look for the goodness in our lives and we eat whatever that thing is to sustain ourselves. For some people it’s the classic hot tea and chocolate, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or maybe some horrifying combination of burgers and fries at your favorite guilty drive-through.

For me it’s cioppino. It’s a rich tomato-y stew originating in San Francisco that is filled with all manner of seafood: clams, mussels, oysters, cod, and prawns. It is somehow hearty yet delicate, intensely flavorful yet calming. I have eaten cioppino in a little seafood diner at Pike Place while laughing with my family. I’ve made it for Christmas dinner while my mom took videos on her fancy new phone, I of course am ruminating over the correct cooking times for the various shellfish. I’ve fallen in love, starry-eyed in a new relationship, over a bowl of the stuff, in a warm living room (in front of a fire no less… so sue me).

It is delicious and robust. It has heart. It has the inexplicable ability to make my chaotic life feel safe for a few moments. Don’t ask me how it does it because I don’t understand it myself. It’s been said for ages that the sea has healing properties, and a part of me likes the idea that perhaps eating a bowl of the creatures that reside there allows me to somehow harness their powers for myself. Pardon me for getting all universey-magic on you, but cioppino has a spiritual quality, like eating the heart of a bull.

eDSC_0416Longhorn’s get-Sally-feeling-rad-again stew

This is all to say that lately I’ve needed that… to feel warm and safe and happy and taken care of. Thank god my friend Jesse somehow knew that and whisked me down to Edison in the middle of the afternoon to find some cioppino. We went to the Longhorn after hearing they served it, though we found it’s not quite cioppino… it was essentially the same but with spinach and parmesan and ground Italian sausage as well.

Whatever, it totally did the trick. So there in the window in a bar in the middle of all those fields and all that salty sea air, between sloppy mouthfuls of oysters and garlic bread, I got right.

Stews and tattoos

1 Feb

My brother gave me a CrockPot for Christmas and I am infatuated with it. For once those canned-stuff sales and eerie, tough, stew meats at the supermarket have a purpose for me! Though whenever possible I like to buy fresh veggies and free-range, organic whatever, grass-fed happy meats, I am for all intents and purposes, a penny-pinching young person. So those crappy cuts of beef and 15 for $10 canned vegetables are pretty awesome when you’re broke and have a slow cooker to play with. Yesterday, after an awesome breakfast by C (whole wheat pancakes, Italian pork sausage, eggs, and pineapple… with previously posted sage and mint tea) I busted out the slow cooker to get dinner cooking while we were out enjoying the sunshine. Here’s a recipe! Whoa! It’s been ages! I am making this up as I type since I don’t remember the exacts! But dudes, this shit is eeeeeeasy. This recipe is inspired by my mom’s stew she used to make me growing up.

Starving Artist Stew (Contrary to what it’s name implies, this is MEAT-HEAVY. Because I’m a carnivorous artist. And you should be too. Well, on second thought, this would easily be made veggie-friendly if you just leave out the steak and substitute veggie broth. )


A package of the mysterious “stew meat” from your grocery meat section… I don’t remember how much weight it was. Just go with the amount of painfully tender meat you can imagine yourself eating in 6 hours from now and use that much.
1 can peas
1 can green beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can corn kernels
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cups or so chicken, beef, or veggie broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed rosemary
freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Alright, nuggets! Pretty much all you do here is what you’d immediately assume based on this recipe. It’s made for morons. Or smartish monkeys. Brown up the stew meat in a cast iron or other heavy pan with a bit of veggie oil. I was going to sautee the carrots and onions in the meat juice but then I was like, “naaaaaaaah, I wanna do as little as possible, please!” If you’re following the so-easy-it’s-stupid way, do what I did! Turn your slow cooker to high and throw in the browned meat and accompanying juice. Then throw in everything else! All at once! If the cooker is piled high with too many ingredients and not enough watery stuff, just add more stock. Or water. I don’t care.

Now here’s the fun part: go do something else all day! I started this at 9:00 in the morning, went on a beach adventure for a couple hours, puttered around aimlessly for awhile, and then it was ready around 3. Well, it might have been ready earlier, but I didn’t check it. I turned it down to low around 2 (after 5 hours) but wanted to let it stew for longer since that is the glory of stews. I had my friend Orion over to my house to work on my veggie-skull sleeve and didn’t try the stew until I was 2 hours in and in need of a little break.

He worked on the reds and oranges (finally!) and after admiring the awesomeness for a few minutes I dove into that stew and took a much-deserved whiskey shot. The whiskey shot was… well… low budget. But the stew! It was lovely! The beef was flakey and tender, the veggies stock-saturated and melt-in-your-mouthey, and the seasonings were pretty much spot on, though I added more pepper since I’m a pepper freak. And just now I had some leftovers for dinner… because stew just gets better every time you microwave it! I don’t know why. But it’s science.


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