30 June 2009
As you may know, I love breakfast with the intensity of a million nuclear bombs exploding on the surface of the sun while Iron Maiden rocks out by playing The Number of the Beast from a stage made of battle axes on nearby Mercury. I think the simplicity and deliciousness of fried eggs, bacon, and toast may represent my favorite meal of all time (along with all my other favorite meals of all time, of course.) Throw in some heavily-poured Greyhounds, a touch of hash browns, and maybe even a little morning sex in the kitchen, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a way to start the day. Unfortunately, the lucky lady lowering her standards to give you that morning sex may not view breakfast the same way you do. Where you see sausage, she may see a fruit salad. Where you see grits, she may see a blueberry muffin. And where you may see a perfect excuse to pair eggs, potatoes, and butter in a food prayer answered, she may see you making her pancakes, because she didn’t let you pee on her last night for nothing. I don’t know why, but some nefarious and surreptitious group has infiltrated our once nitrate and cholesterol-laden meal and made it an ersatz dessert, replete with powdered sugar and tiny chocolate chips of shame. I’m sorry, but I just can’t abide by such grotesquery.
Breakfast is supposed to be about eggs, first of all, bacon a close second, and potatoes and toast rounding out the quadrangle of deliciousness to be consumed in the a.m. Other local variations are acceptable – and even encouraged – as long as they look they were cooked in a kitchen at Denny’s. Having something sweet at eight in the morning is, frankly, gross; unless you’re talking about cuddle time with me, that is. I don’t like pancakes, I hate french toast, and muffins make me want to strangle a puppy even more than I already do – which is a fucking lot. Regardless of my particular (and unassailable) tastes, there comes a time in all of our lives when we will have to suck it up, make some batter, and griddle-up some flapjacks with stuff in them. “Why?” you ask? Because, otherwise, all the pretty girls will leave us. After all, pretty girls fucking loooove sweet shit for breakfast. In fact, you might even say that they “eat it up,” if you were to insist on being totally hilarious about the matter. I don’t like it, you don’t like it, nobody but the pretty girls like it, but we’ve got to do our part, here, if only on behalf of our enormous, glorious penises. And, just so you don’t go making shitty-ass breakfast desserts for that hot piece you roofied last night, I’ve got a handy guide for your morning-afters.
Pancakes have “cake” right there in the name, so it’s no surprise that I hate them worse than you now hate that Chinese symbol you had tattooed on your bicep ten years ago. Sure, you lather ’em up with butter before you eat them, but you also have to pour on liquefied sugar to make them palatable, which is the mark of all inferior foodstuffs. Plus, one time when I was a kid, I was forced to eat an order of pancakes that, looking back on it, tasted like the guy behind the dumpster in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Seriously, they tasted like nightmares. But, again, my opinion doesn’t count – nor should it – when I’m cheferating for some beautiful blond baby. If our ladies are willing to put up with our inane ramblings, our regretful manners, and the attendant jealousy that comes with dating such heartbreakingly beautiful men, then the least we can do is make them some gross breakfast food.
I wasn’t aware that I was the world’s greatest pancake maker until I made them for the first time, a few weeks ago. The irony is not lost on me (note: this is not “irony”.) And, while I’m willing to impart my pancake-making techniques, you must promise me that you’ll cook them while clutching a rose between your teeth, just like I dreamt about you last night. For the batter, mix flour, salt, sugar, yogurt, baking soda, club soda, and eggs. Mix, without over-mixing, and spoon out a couple of table spoons on a buttered-up nonstick pan. Flip when little bubbles appear, and cook a few minutes more. Feel free to add blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, or nuts, because this is America, dammit!
Like most things French, the eponymous breakfast dish is deceiving. “I like bread,” I think to myself. “I like cream and eggs, too – what could go wrong?” A lot, you damned inquisitive psyche. Namely, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Seriously, folks, if you want bread pudding for breakfast, just say so. There’s no need to beat around the bush about it. I mean, you don’t see me trying to justify my 8:00 a.m. greyhound drinking by telling my guest that it’s healthy because it’s almost 20% juice, do you? Of course you do, you Helios-like semi-Deity, because that’s exactly what I do. Then I start yelling, and pose the following: “What, I slave over a hot stove all morning, after registered scientisting all week, but I can’t have a morning cocktail? Is it so bad that I want to take the edge off, first thing in the morning? Don’t forget, I had to wake up right next to a living, breathing reminder of how God-awful my life has become – I think the least you can do is forgive a little nip to ease me into the day. What are you, my fucking parole officer? Did you let that guy you were fucking behind my back have a morning cocktail? Did he get to have a mimosa or two? Or were you guys too busy, you know, FUCKING BEHIND MY BACK?!?! Jesus Christ! My mother was right, I should never have started dating a girl from my AA meeting.” Anyway, dunk thick-sliced brioche or challah in a shallow dish filled with milk, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs, and sugar, on both sides. Cook on a griddle until it looks like French toast. Seriously, can you believe that bitch back there?
I’m admittedly spit-balling, here, but I think this shit’ll work. Take the above pancake recipe (note that I’ve left out all measurements to make it less confusing – you’re welcome) but instead of using sugar, don’t use sugar. Take half the yogurt and mix with some sour cream. Add some parm, cooked bacon, and scallions. Griddle that bitch up. Now you can have a nice homogeneous meal with your sexy counterpart, even if only on a macro level. Either that, or you could just go with my other alternative: TCP’s Big Plate of Bacon.
In spite of all that delicious angst back there, I love cooking breakfast for other people in the morning. Not only does it give me the aforementioned excuse of drinking heavily at an otherwise socially-unacceptable time, but it also affords me the opportunity of making my favorite meal of the day for my favorite people. After all, if you’re at my house at 8:30 a.m., you’re either a favored guest, a hooker I’ve locked up, or are currently stealing my television because my reclusive nature makes it seem as though I’ve been on vacation for the past week. In the case of the former most example, cooking something good to start someones day off is as satisfying as this sentence is cheesy and sentimental. In closing, pancakes are gross.
6 June 2009
When I was a wee lad I, like everyone else on the planet, read the book Angela’s Ashes. For those few among you who haven’t read it (or seen the movie I forgot that I saw, until just now), it tells the story of Angela, a secret agent in MI-6, and follows her through Europe as she exacts revenge for her murdered partner, one bad guy at a time, until she’s finally able to scatter her fallen comrade’s ashes in his hometown of Ankara. At least that’s what I wish the book was about, because the actual novel was more depressing than an average Cincinnati Bengals season. A well written book, it nonetheless made me feel sad every time I picked it up – perhaps so sad that I will one day write a harrowing memoir about me reading it, which will no doubt surpass the original in out-and-out depressing subject matter. One thing the book definitely had going for it, though – aside for Frank McCourt’s writing – was his description of the hunger he and his siblings endured, as well as the attendant joy and sensory overload which accompanied the occasional sussing-out of a real meal. In particular, he glowingly describes how he would occasionally have the pleasure of fish & chips, that most iconic of British pub food. And, man, does that motherfucker make fish & chips sound good. Listen to this part, after our tiny, hungry, kleptomaniacal hero steals fish & chips from some courageous, passed-out drunk: “[I] thank the drunken man in my mind for drowning the fish and chips in vinegar and smothering them in salt and then I remember that if I die tonight I’m in a state of sin for stealing and I could go straight to hell stuffed with fish and chips but it’s Saturday and the priests [all right, that’s enough]…” See, aren’t you craving some fish & chips, right now? And commas? I don’t know if I’d had fish & chips until I read this book, and I am eternally grateful to it for making the dish sound too irresistible not to try. In other words, I guess I’m saying that Frank McCourt’s terrible, impoverished childhood was probably worth it. I’m just glad he could pull himself up by the bootstraps and build enough wealth to finally buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I was recently looking at a map (of the world, no less) and discovered that true fish & chips are located very far away from me. The British pubs around my neighborhood make delicious versions, sure, but it’s just not the same unless your meal is interrupted by some Man U fan hitting you in the face because he takes your blue jeans as a sign that you’re a Chelsea supporter. I think those are soccer teams – did I do that right? Good fish & chips, though, does not require a first-class ticket on a Virgin Airlines flight, a stay at the Savoy, or thinking Eddie Izzard is funny. No, fish & chips can be made right in your very own home, after you’ve drunk eight pints of Guinness and four shots of Bushmill’s. So let’s get to it, mate, an’ cook some chips, yeah?
Stuff To Put In Your Lorrie
Cod pieces (or, “cod fillets,” if you don’t want to be hilarious about it)
Other stuff I’ll list once I think you’re ready to read it
Congratulations! You’ve Just Graduated From The Best Four Years Of Your Life – Welcome To A Big Bag Of Suck.
3 June 2009
Class of 2009: Congratulations on your graduation day! You’ve worked hard for this moment, and you’ve earned it. I can only imagine your excitement, as I look out upon your smiling, hopeful faces. Actually, I can’t really imagine it, because you idiots seem to be happy about the fact that you’re leaving a situation where your schedule revolves around Wasted Wednesday and going snowboarding. Are you guys fucking for real?!?! You should be applying to grad school, right now, in hopes of extending your four-year, post-high school vacation. Seriously, all the girls here are under 25, and will probably have sex with you if you give them coke! They don’t do that in the real world – you have to buy them expensive jewelery for that! And, trust me, when you get an actual job you’re not going to be able to wake up on a Tuesday with a hangover and just decide, “Oh, well, I can probably just stay home this morning.” Unless you get a Union job, of course. Seriously, what the fuck are you smiling about?!?!
But fear not, morons, because you’re about to get smacked dead in the junk with the cruel whiffle ball bat of reality. They say that graduation is not an “end,” but a “beginning.” Well they’re wrong, because it is most assuredly a fucking end. An end to fun; an end to finals being the biggest worry of your life; and an end to drinking on a week night for fun, rather than for the purpose of forgetting, even if just for a moment, that you’ve become the man of “quiet desperation” described by Thoreau. And you pathetic bastards have it doubly as bad – you’re entering one of the worst job markets since every time I’ve ever tried to get a job, and the economic landscape is just plain rough, in general. The lucky among you will have a nice reprieve from the real world while getting drunk and pretending to be disappointed about being unemployed. However, there are some of you out there who, for whatever reason, actually applied yourselves for the last four, glorious years, and will unfortunately land some generic office job at a non-descript corporation with a name like “Lexonix” or “Invectco” or “Invectronix.” I just hope you like hearing “Only x more days ’til Friday” at least ten times every day of the week until Friday mercifully arrives, at which point they’ll invariably say “Ugh, at least it’s Friday.” Do you know why they say these things? Because they’re assholes, of course, but also because, unlike the inspirational quote above the entrance to Dachau, work is most assuredly NOT freedom. It’s, like, the exact fucking opposite of that. And for those of you thinking “That won’t be me – I’ll get a job that I love,” I’ve got news for you: no one is advertising an opening for “Lap Dance Recipient,” and you’ll never see a Want Ad reading “Full Time Scotch-Taster and Belligerent Wall-Puncher Needed.” Trust me, I’ve looked.
Regardless of your individual circumstance, it’s a tough economy out there. You’re going to have to scrimp and save and maybe even buy blended whisky. You’re going to have to hawk your stuff and sell your plasma just to make rent. You’re going to have to roll tourists on the boardwalk just so you can fix before the hallucinations start. It’s going to be tough, and I don’t envy you one bit. I know it sounds depressing, but I would like to leave you on a happy note, as I do have some good news: I’ve banged, like, four co-eds this weekend, and I’m proud to report that The Chef’s Prerogative’s stiiiiiilllll got it! Anyway, I’m out, suckas; chuch.
In an interview I recently conducted with world-renowned economist, Milton Friedman, for this blog post, he concluded that “We’re all fucked!!! Run for your lives!!!” This is in marked contrast, however, to the informal poll I took of the ten other people working in my Registered Science lab, all ten of whom reported that they were currently gainfully employed. Whoever is right, I thank God that registered scientisting and obscene blogging are recession-proof industries. What’s not recession-proof, though, is making expensive meals in your home. So say goodbye to your suckling pig. So long to your pate de foie gras. Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out, eating five steaks in one sitting. But, while wallets may be a little light, right now, there’s no excuse for resting on your laurels and making bland fare solely for the purpose of saving money. Indeed, there are numerous meals, humble in their prices, yet delicious in their execution, that can serve to help you ride out this economic down-turn in style. The following are some of the meals I’ve come to turn to when my side-business as a gigolo slows down, which is never.
Red Beans And Rice
Red beans and rice pairs up two of the most common – and cheapest – staples the world has to offer (not so fast, Africa.) But, like most humble foods, when made with care and attention, RB&R is absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s got a ham hock in it, so you know it’s good. Not only that, but this delicious dish is actually, dare I say: good for you! Beans are high in fiber and protein, and rice is… well, rice is what sake is made out of, so it’s good for making bad feelings go away. While simple to make, RB&R is, however, a time-consuming endeavor, taking up to three hours to cook. But, again, you’re probably sitting at home all day, anyway, so why not cook while you’re playing Worlds of Warcraft and listening to your fourth hour in a row of Sportscenter? Saute onion, bell pepper, and celery in a cast iron pot. Add in the ham hock and some minced garlic. Sort the beans and remove any pebbles, then add to the pot, along with enough water to cover everything by a couple of inches. In terms of seasonings, I always add a bay leaf, Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, a little cumin, and red pepper flakes; but in these dire times, feel free to throw in whatever you may have in your pantry, as well as grass, dust, and kitty litter. Simmer for two to three hours then remove the lid and let the liquid reduce to the desired consistency. Pour over a bed of rice and enjoy with a cross-cultural tortilla. P.S. This meal is seriously, like, eight bucks to make, and will keep you fed at least until your dignity wears down and you finally pawn that watch your grandpa gave you. P.P.S. Wow, that last sentence was way more sad than funny. Sorry.
Pasta – Imagine That!
Making pasta is about as cheap & easy as the sorority girl at the frat party who’s doing kegs stands, and who will, later in the evening, let you film whatever dirty thing you want to talk her into. But, then again, you already know this because (a) you’ve made pasta before, and (b) it is your sister we’re talking about, here. You can get a pound of pasta for a buck, and you don’t need much else besides oil, seasoning, and maybe some veg to make it taste great. For an easy dinner that won’t hurt your wallet, simply saute vegetables and garlic in oil. Add pasta and toss. Please be aware, though, I invented this recipe, and have copyrighted it under the name TCP’s Lotsa Pasta Madness (beat ya to it, T.G.I. Fridays!). So if you make this thing, please understand that you will owe me royalties, and I will exact my recompense by expropriating the hopes and dreams or your children. Or you can just send me a check – whichever.
Continuing with the carb theme that I’m just now noticing, is perhaps the most awesome meal ever devised by hungry, fourth-century Chinese college students. Ramen is chinese, right? Anywho, grocery store Ramen, on its own, isn’t exactly haute cuisine – it’s freeze-dried noodles with packets of MSG cocaine for flavoring, for Christ’s sake. What the fuck ever, though, because Ramen is cheap, comforting, delicious, and cheap, and if you eat enough of it, I’m pretty sure you’ll probably get scurvy, which will make you sound like you’re a pirate. And, while Ramen may not be the most stylish of fare, who’s to say you can’t dress it up on your own? Boil that shit in some store-bought stock to add flavor; add some chicken you grilled on your George Foreman right before snorting that Ativan; forego the Ramen altogether, tell your mom and dad you need money for books, then spend that money on an enchilada dinner at The Blue Iguana and three forties of Old English. It’s all good! I have fond, fond memory of late night Ramen dinners, and though pleasuring the entire Spirit Squad sapped me of the strength needed to add any non-packeted accoutrement to the dish, your own Ramen adventures are limited only by your imagination and the contents of the food isle at your local gas station. Get some nachos while you’re there, you deserve it!
Well, there you have it: a woefully inadequate guide to eating on the cheap. I apologize that I didn’t have more recipes for you, but I’m pretty busy, right now, lighting fifty-dollar cigars with conflagrant hundred-dollar bills. Hopefully, though, this humble guide has inspired you to understand that even the most pedestrian of foods can be delicious, so long as the cook is willing to take his time to impart as much flavor as possible to it, and also to ignore anything and everything that Rachel Ray says. I generally try to add extra flavor with fresh black truffles and saffron, but garlic powder works, too, if that’s all you’ve got in your mobile home. In conclusion, college is awesome, “red beans” sounds like it should be offensive to both Native Americans and Latinos, I still eat Ramen once a week, paying for pasta at a restaurant is stupid, and Britney Murphy’s career is not going as well as planned.