Meat! Loaf!

Loaf Night (4) I would do anything for meatloaf.  I would indeed run right into hell and back. 1  But I don’t need to.  Because I can make it myself.  I doubt that they have very good meatloaf in hell, anyway.

Last night, Juliana and I hosted our very first LOAF Night. 2  This is pretty much just us having a weekly open supper invitation for friends and family, where we provide meatloaf and whoever’s coming brings a side.  Wine flows freely.  Talking bones are loosened.  Good times are had by all.  And then I DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE HOME!  : D Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Yes, I would even do that.
  2. Loving Our Awesome Friends.  We were inspired by this article from Serious Eats.

I’m back! (now with 100% more chicken tikka!)

Tikka (1)It’s over.  I did it.  Sixty-hour weeks, with my full time job plus another twenty at a certain coffee franchise we all know and maybe not love, but frequent regardless.  It’s done!  And the goal of the whole thing has been achieved: there is a shiny new(ish) 1 Ford Focus sitting in my driveway.  We’re no longer a one-car family!  Woohoo!

But most importantly, what this means is that I once again have time to spend with you, my beloved readers.  So thanks, Mom.  I hope you enjoy the post.  (If there’s anybody else out there, well hey!  How’s it going!  How’d you find me!?)

In this episode, we’re gonna tackle a dish that has been very frustrating for me: chicken tikka masala.  Tikka has not been a frustration because of its preparation; it’s pretty dead simple.  It’s not the taste; that’s just good stick-to-the-ribs (British) Indian food. 2  It’s that, as simple and tasty and healthy and just all-around GOOD as chicken tikka masala is, I have somehow managed to avoid it on the blog until now. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2004 is pretty new, right?
  2. Seriously, look it up.  Tikka masala is not real Indian food.  I think it was invented in Scotland or something.  I see it as the Brits trying to make a culinary apology for kidney pies and marmite.

So I’m a failure…

Photo 59… but I’m not gonna let it get me down.

I have discovered, after over two months with just a single post, that I do not have the energy level or maniacal drive necessary to work 60-hour weeks and complete two posts a week.  Hell, I’ve hardly been cooking at all; my wife, Juliana, has been honing her chops in the kitchen because I have generally been out working till, oh, 11pm or so.

I was finally able to scrounge together the will to come check the site, and I find that there are two hundred pages worth of comment spam.  So… yeah, sorry about that.  I’m cleaning it up.  If you notice that a comment you made and feel strongly about got deleted, let me know and I’ll search it out.  I like comments.  I really, really want real people to let me know what they think.  But two thousand ‘wow great article well researched food for thought try nike gold shoes not malware!’-type stuff gets in the way of that.  I know the bots aren’t reading this.  I’m just grousing.

But this is not the end of Feral Cuisine!  What little time I find in the kitchen is, by necessity, spent slinging together ultra-fast, stupidly simple foods that I can use for days as packed lunches and suppers.  Remember, I don’t have a car to drive home for meals, and I am working 8am-10/11pm most nights, so I generally have to pack TWO meals a day that are light and portable enough to pack in my backpack for biking to work, calorically dense enough to actually SUPPORT me for 14-hour days spent on my feet (plus, again, the bike ride), and tasty enough that I will want to eat them and not cheat and pull out my debit card at the Wendy’s down the street.

Juliana has been brilliant in the kitchen.  She is taking my random, scattered notes and experiments, and turning them into straightforward, step-by-step, freakin’ DELICIOUS recipes.  She took the Chicken Tikka Masala that I had been tweaking for a long time, trying to get it just right, and made it PERFECT: rich, savory, slightly sweet and spicy, and dead easy.  I can’t wait to share that recipe with you guys.  (I was gonna post it a long time ago, but then I had tikka at a restaurant, realized my version was nothing like the popular conception of the dish, and had to go back to the drawing board.)  She’s also figured out an awesome stroganoff, a kickin’ meatloaf, some curried chicken salad that is way better than the stuff I posted a couple months ago… In short, she’s awesome, and her culinary prowess is about to propel this blog into overdrive.

I’ve come up with a few things myself in my meager free time: oven-barbecued pork burnt ends that can be used for just about anything, and a stew that, quite accidentally, came out with a decidedly East-Asian flavor profile that was unexpectedly delicious.  I am also beginning work on a tutorial product for folks just starting out in the kitchen to start cooking restaurant-quality meals in the Feral style: healthy, high-protein, fast, easy, and delicious.

SO.  There is much more to come.  Just as soon as I whittle my work schedule a bit.  : )

-Josh

Pig Party Part Deux: Ham and Bacon are Done!

DSCN6659So it’s been a while.  Working 8am to 11pm will do that.  : P

The bacon and ham finished curing.  I am not prepared to call it a success.  I have very mixed feelings about the results.  But I’ll get to that.

So a couple of weeks ago, I took a pork belly from the Asian market, a pork sirloin roast from CostCo, and my pink salt, rubbed the belly, brined the roast, and put it all in the fridge to cure for ten days. Continue reading

Kielbasa Hobo Packs: (Almost) Fastest Dinner Ever

Hobo (9)Sometimes we over-think food.  Poring over cookbooks or blogs bursting with ‘the perfect seasonal frittata’ or ‘hearty bolognese-bechamel paleo lasagna’ 1, we often forget that food is just… food. Sometimes you don’t even want a ‘dish’, you just want to throw a bunch of s*** together and call it a meal.  And more often than not, it ends up tasting pretty damn good.

You’ve had hobo packs before.  You might not have called them that, because maybe you’re afraid of offending somebody.  But I shelved a whole stack of books about ‘Hobo Quilts’ at work, and if a minor publisher is able to get away with it, I’m sure a food blog with thirteen subscribers will be able to pass unscathed.  Hobo packs are just veggies and meat tossed onto a square of foil, closed up, and cooked till done/tender/tasty.  There’s some fancy version of the technique that uses parchment paper and is called ‘en papillote’, which I think is French for ‘in pretension’.  Meanwhile, my wife is chopping veggies and kielbasa for some tasty hobo packs in good ol’ American ALUMINUM FOIL (made in China), and she’s happy ’cause it’s easy, and I’m happy ’cause it tastes awesome, and everybody’s happy together. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Dang, I was making up stuff to mock but I really want to try that now…

Pig Party! Home-Curing Bacon and Ham

DSCN6640This week, the planets aligned and I got an unprecedented two days in a row off of both jobs.  Two whole days, no responsibilities.  Nowhere I have to go, nothing I have to do.  Complete freedom.  What to do?  Binge-watch Game of Thrones on Project Free TV?  Read the kickass novel that my coworker authored and loaned to me? 1  Drink a whole bottle of wine? Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Well, I am gonna do that anyway.

A Fancy Dinner Party for Poor People

DSCN6634So now that I am working crazy hours, I thought it would be really fun to start having folks over for supper once a week.  Friends that I haven’t been able to see lately, family, work folks I haven’t ever connected with outside of the store…  I want to start to have a social life.  I figured weekly supper is the best way to do that within the confines of work hour insanity and the one-car situation.

Something else exciting to report: me and the wife have been saving our pennies and have finally signed up for our CostCo membership!  : D  Which means that we were able to get two whole chickens and a 4-pack of pork roasts, plus all of our regular Aldi/PriceChopper groceries, for $76.  That’s $4 under our weekly budget, with enough meat to last us TWO weeks.  Maybe soon we’ll be able to afford BEEF.  : D

So back to the main subject here.  I’m poor, and I don’t have much time.  I’m busy with homework, or all of my meager free time is spent writing a blog (: P).  But I’ve promised my friends supper, and they’ll be over here in an hour and a half, and I don’t want to serve them cereal, because that just really doesn’t go well with beer, and I like beer.  What am I gonna do? Continue reading

Chicken Salad Sticks

DSCN6630Things have been quiet here the last couple of weeks.  That’s because I picked up an extra job, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to fit cooking, eating, socializing, working out, sleeping, and general living into my now-even-more-compressed free time.  The benefit to YOU is that I am now going to be forced to figure out ever-more-efficient recipes and methods for my own survival.  I am going to do my darndest to have something ready to post twice a week, Mondays and Fridays at 5:30 pm.

This full-time-plus situation is not permanent.  The wife and I are hoping that with the extra income, we’ll be able to pay off the credit card, pay off the car, and get me a car; we’ve been doing with one car for the last six months.  I’ve got a bicycle to get myself to work, but rainy days and a crappy Kansas City winter have me extremely excited to be driving my own vehicle again.  Once all that stuff is paid off, our monthly expenses should be lower than they are right now, thanks to the elimination of credit card and car payments. Continue reading

The Feralist Manifesto

DSCN6631I want you to cook.

I want you to cook healthy, delicious meals for yourself, your family, and your friends.  I want you to know what foods to focus on to make you and those you know fit and strong and beautiful.

I want you to believe that, because we all eat every day, food is of vital import.  It builds us.  Like music and art, it defines our culture.  It provides opportunity for togetherness and celebration.

I want you to know that being working poor / starving artist / overworked / underpaid is not an impediment, that it is possible and necessary for us to embrace home cooking as our main source of sustenance.  The middle class may be in decline.  We may be part of the rising bohemian class, growing up in the relative luxury of the American bourgeoisie and accustomed to its luxuries but maturing into a world where the dream jobs of yesteryear are in short supply.  We may work long days for low pay.  But stress unites.  Shared problems strip away differences and bind us together as a people. Continue reading

Book Review: Michael Symon’s 5 in 5

DSCN6615First of all, I had no clue who Michael Symon was before I read this book.  I have never watched ‘The Chew’ or any of the other television programs that Mr. Symon has appeared on.  My knowledge of celebrity chefs and popular food personalities is entirely gleaned from the covers of cookbooks that I shelve at my job, and consists of exactly two nuggets of information: 1) Jamie Oliver’s current haircut makes him look like a cockatoo, and 2) I really don’t want to get into a fight with Anthony Bourdain.

I actually discovered this book by searching for ‘quick recipes’ on the website of my local library. Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 popped up as one of the results, so I used the handy dandy ‘Reserve’ feature to get the book sent to my nearest branch and held at the counter there for me. 1  I have looked over a lot of similar cookbooks, and frankly, I was prepared for disappointment.  Most ‘fast cooking’ cookbooks either have no concept of what ‘fast’ actually is, or vastly overestimate the skill and speed of the cook. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. The Johnson County library is pretty rad.