Category Archives: Food

Carrot

Why did I think it would work? I mean I guess the flaw in my reasoning seems obvious now, but at the time I didn’t even consider that it might not work.

When I found those two little carrot seeds hidden in a discarded packet on this godforsaken junk planet, what can I tell you, I just thought who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity, you know? I mean, you can’t call the synthesized stuff you get from the Feedos real food, can you?

Those seeds were my babies. I could barely interpret the cheap paper packaging, but I followed every instruction to the letter. I collected all the food scraps I found and put them in a pile to rot and make nutritious soil. I planted the carrot seeds three inches apart. I even hoarded my water ration in an old plastic bottle to pour on them every couple days.

This was where I expected failure. Growing vegetables from seeds wasn’t easy even when I did it with schoolkids back on my home planet. One of those little seeds survived, though. Day after day I watched it grow, terrified another inmate would spot it and dig it up or carelessly step on it. For three months, that’s all I thought about. That carrot kept me going when the heat seemed unbearable and the rising stink of the garbage pile threatened to drive me mad.

It was one day that I heard a washing machine had tumbled off a pile a couple miles away and nearly killed somebody that I couldn’t wait any longer. The future wasn’t something you could count on here. It was still weeks too early, but I dug up the carrot.

It was a sight to behold – small and skinny, bent and with two ends, but vivid orange and sturdy. I couldn’t remember the last time I had something crunchy that wasn’t fried. A real carrot. It reminded me so much of home I wanted to cry.  This would be the first carrot Chucky had ever seen.

He was eleven now. Born on the ship, Chucky knew nothing of home. He fidgeted on his chair, black with the yellow foam showing in a tear on the side. “Mom said you had extra rations for me.”

“Yeah,” I said, “check out what I grew.”

He looked at me like I was going to lift my shirt to show him a tumor on my chest. I carefully unwrapped my carrot, and he squinted at it. “What is that?”

“It’s a carrot, buddy. It’s for you. Try it, it’s good.”

I held the carrot out to him, and he stared at it for some time before snatching it from my hand and putting it in his mouth.

“blech!” he shouted, throwing the carrot away into a nearby pile of old socks and takeout cups. He stared at me for a moment, then he said “that’s not carrot! What are you trying to pull?” He scowled, looking paradoxically like one betrayed, and fled. I retrieved the carrot, of course.

At supper time, I went to the vegetable Feedo and swiped through the options until I found the “carrot” option. The cartoon character representing “carrot” was smiling and bespectacled. “I’m good for your eyes!” it chirped in an overwrought falsetto. I pushed the VEND button and received a little orange box with green trim.

“Carrot” was shaped in the platonic ideal of a carrot – an oblong cone with a spiky green cap on top. The coloring was somewhat askew, with the orange of the carrot extending well into what presumably was supposed to be the green stem.

“Carrot” yielded immediately to my plastic spoon, and I scooped it up and into my mouth in the way that one ate most Feedo vegetables. As I expected, it was a sweet mush whose flavor represented only the most distant memory of that of a real carrot.

That evening, I carefully washed the dirty sock smell and ingrate saliva off of my precious carrot and consumed it bite by bite. It took most of an hour to savor that meal. It was the best I’d had in years.

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Sweet Potato Sausage Hashbrowns

This is a cross between two recipes:

The Sausage Recipe: https://noblepig.com/2014/11/sausage-sweet-potato/

The Sweet Potato Recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sweet_potato_hash_browns/

The sausage was pretty much the same from the Sausage recipe.

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Rather than painstakingly cube the sweet potatoes and boil them, I used my Ninja chopper and chopped them into little pieces, being careful not to puree them. These little pieces I placed into a pan with olive oil and cooked like hashbrowns, roughly according to the Sweet Potato recipe.

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Perfect for a potluck!

Saving the world one fancy hamburger at a time

I went on a food tour this weekend that was entirely out of order. You see, we started the tour with what really should have been the grand finale. “Bull City Brewery” had a fantastic hamburger and pickle chips, but what it really was selling was a sense of meaning. The proprietor told us all about the moral, environmental, and health dangers of conventional meat. The solution, as he described it, was to eat at Bull City Brewery. Indeed, he said that this restaurant is a B-corp, that is, a corporation that officially enshrines environmental and community impact as additional bottom lines alongside profit. It is one of only sixteen B-Corp restaurants in the world. The owner exhorted us to switch to completely pasture-raised meat. By eating at Bull City Brewery and its sister restaurant Pompieri Pizza, we were saving the world.

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This hamburger will guarantee your eternal soul a seat at Valhalla

The problem with this is that when I went to Pizzeria Toro I expected to be similarly inspired. Instead, well, honestly I could barely hear the speech because no effort was made to give us a separate space from the noise of the main restaurant. Mostly it seemed to be about the history of the building and the ever-changing menu. I heard not one mention of how I personally was a hero by eating this pizza.

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Major religions across the world neither warn against nor extol the virtues of Pizzeria Toro

Very disappointing. In Alley Twenty-Six, I learned about the suffering caused by the gin craze in the first half of the eighteenth century in Great Britain (our craft cocktails were neither helping nor hurting that cause).

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The cocktails at Alley Twenty Six will provide a fun evening, but they won’t provide any particular nourishment for your conscience.

Our octopus hush puppies at Dashi  did not prompt us to briefly transform into a force for good.

screenshot_20180729-0934081Our fresh local catfish and succotash at The Piedmont offered no redemption for our personal sins.

img_20180728_174936714All in all, it was a great time for me personally, but I want to feel like me going on a food tour is a great time for the whole world.

The take-home question is this: When will all restaurants be able to make sure that my dining experience is a reason for humanity to celebrate?

As much as it pains me to do so, wiser people than me have encouraged me to let my readers know when I do not intend to be taken seriously. This is one of those instances. In fact, I do not expect every restaurant I go to to tell me I’m a wonderful human being just for eating there. I do think B-Corps are a good thing, however. Now that I know they exist, I intend to patronize more of them. They include King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Etsy and an ever-growing list of other companies.

Sushi Pizza

An important part of the scientific process is the reproduction of experiments. When one scientist gets a particular result, it is that scientist’s job to describe the process they used to achieve it.  Then other scientists can do the same experiment and confirm that indeed they witness the same phenomenon that the first scientist claims to have discovered.

Here I am providing a service in the same vein, but for the benefit of the culinary rather than the scientific community.  (Huibregtse, 2017) describes a “healthy” sushi pizza with a rice crust and fish toppings. Whether a dish based heavily on short-grain rice can be considered healthy is outside the scope of this work.

Methodology

I collected the sashimi-grade fish from “toyo shokuhin & gift shop” in Raleigh. The proprietor was not there when I arrived. As I was trying to decipher the fish options, I heard rhythmic popping noises behind me. I listened to them as they made their way from the back of the store to the counter, and when I went to the counter I saw she was popping a strip of bubble wrap one bubble at a time. When I bought the food she asked me what I was making. I told her “sushi pizza” and showed her a picture. She asked if I was having a party, and I said, no just a date. She took out a Sapporo beer can and handed it to me. I said “for the date?” and she said “this is a reward for spending $70.”

I added tamago (japanese omelette) to the toppings, and cut the nori more thickly than Huibregtse.IMG_20180331_122454408.jpg

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Discussion

A few tips to get the most out of your sushi pizza:

Go light on the rice – we couldn’t eat much pizza because I’d packed so much rice into the crust, and we ended up with lots of extra toppings that we had to find other uses for or just eat sashimi-style.

Consider making a thin-crust sushi pizza and splitting the same amount of rice over two pizzas.

Use scissors on the nori, and don’t expect to need more than a sheet or two. We have so much leftover nori it’s a relief that it will last longer than the fish.

Conclusions and Future Work

Sushi pizza is a promising alternative to traditional sushi. It has the limitation that it can lead to an excess of rice in comparison to the other ingredients, but as we discuss in the Discussion section this may be ameliorated through simple experimentation.

Works Cited

Huibregtse, Kelly (January 5th, 2017) Recipe Makeover: Healthy Sushi Pizza  retrieved from https://asideofsweet.com/make-healthy-sushi-pizza-recipe/

A crime against coffee

I am a coffee drinker. I am not a coffee connoisseur. I take pride in this fact, much in the way that many people take pride in not being able to name bubblegum brands, sports teams, or all 151 original Pokemon.

When I started drinking coffee, I bought my first grounds from Amazon, picking the lowest price per ounce I could find. Then I bought a cheap coffee maker and made five cups at a time. I would store them in a Mason jar in my refrigerator and drink a little when I needed a boost in the morning.

I figured I would enjoy seeing the looks on people’s faces when I told them my clever sacrilege against coffee. I tried it at a recent party and it went something like this.

Sam: I just started drinking coffee, and I don’t take it seriously at all. You see, I take this Mason jar –

Person A: What brand of coffee?

Sam: Uh, just the cheapest Amazon brand, Folgers, I think. Anyway, I fill a Mason –

Person B: Folgers!?

Person A: Really? That’s like saying you drink tea, and it’s Lipton’s.

Sam: No, no, you don’t understand. I’m a coffee unsophisticate, but in a cool way that actually makes me more sophisticated. Let me tell you about my Mason Jar.

Person B: Folgers is a crime against coffee. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Then I was sentenced to death and thrown into a boiling hot pot of fresh-ground Doma Coffee “The Chronic – Super Dank” Dark Roasted Fair Trade Organic Whole Bean Coffee. Or some kind of coffee anyway. I don’t keep track.

Image Credit: https://www.isabellabannerman.com/licensing-and-merchandise/

Cornmeal Pancakes

These were popular for Christmas breakfast, so here’s a simple recipe.

Ingredients

1 Cup whole wheat flour

1 Cup yellow cornmeal

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

1/4 cup butter

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients

Beat eggs, melt butter, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix.

Melt a little more butter on pan before you cook for each pancake.

Life after Whole30

That’s it, it’s over. In experimentation, I didn’t have any dramatic reaction to anything as far as I’m concerned, so moving forward will simply be a matter of moderation. I still don’t like to waste food, though, so do you remember the cheesy quinoa with ground sausage I had been planning to eat before I started this diet? Well, now I’ve taken it out of the freezer and incorporated it into an egg bake. The bake is now significantly richer than before, and sits heavily in my stomach, and it wasn’t even half of the cheesy quinoa I’d made. Nevertheless, it’s a victory to keep it out of compost.

As advertised, part of the benefit of Whole30 is not only to learn sensitivities but to change my relationship with food. Now I don’t feel like giving up the sugary sauce on my meat in the SAS cafeteria means I’m depriving my life of joy. In my rambling after the wedding, I suggested that it might change my relationship with a number of things. After spending a month internalizing the virtue of self-denial, it would stick with me.

To be fair, it hasn’t revolutionized everything. I still have perhaps more than my share of vices, but I have learned to appreciate self-denial, and I may give myself more 30-day challenges to try and change my lifestyle. Here are a couple I’ve thought of already:

  • Nirvana 30 – For thirty days, entertain no thoughts of how things could be better or could get worse. I’d have to figure out a good threshold over which I’d have to start over, because avoiding thoughts is harder than avoiding food.
  • No Loaf 30 – For thirty days, all activities must be either productive or social.
  • Smile 30 – For thirty days, entertain no negative thoughts. When they arise, just say “It’s Smile 30, and I’ll deal with it next month.” Exceptions can be made for urgent matters.
  • Slow 2 – If you tend to speak before thinking, count to five before you say anything for two days. Probably a weekend, since it’s unlikely your co-workers will indulge your bizarre behavior.

featured image credit: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Mummified-Buddhist-Monk-Found-Resting-in-Lotus-Position-471648.shtml