Meals around here are pretty basic, which is my preferred way. I know some people like to cook by using every single pot in the house but I have a holistic view of the kitchen, which includes cleaning. Meals are good when they taste good and are healthy but also when they aren't a burden to make or clean up after. Cast iron pans are helpful in this regard because they're a pain to clean once they cool down but very easy to clean when they're still hot. This trains you to clean as you go. But it's not like I'm the best at cleaning the kitchen, I still make a mess. The god of iron is Crom, he lives in the earth. Stong and practical, easy to clean while hot.
The staple food is rice. We got a rice cooker but I put my foot down about not getting one with teflon so we got one with stainless steel. Actually we got one of those Instant Pots, it's great. We mostly use it for rice and for cooking dried beans without soaking them. As a rice cooker it's superb-- the rice is perfect and like all good rice cookers it plays a little electronic melody when you open it. And it was cheaper than a good rice cooker, by half. Totally no problem.
Lately I've been cutting way down on an already low sugar intake, which has the side effect of tuning my tastebuds to the point where rice tastes extra delicious. Also I found that cutting out sugar makes the one beer I drink every 2-3 days taste like apples. I found it confusing at first but it's like being in the country and turning off all the lights and tuning yourself to the starlight. I'm not coming at you from a health judgement angle here- you can spend your food points however you want and use any style of lighting you require. This is more like a lifehack for enhanced appreciation of simple food, or for saving money on sauces and IPAs. Or maybe it's just "science experiment"-- there's no reason to require a utility vector here. Actually if anyone can confirm the beer ⟶ apple thing I'd appreciate it, my other guess is that it's somehow medically significant. I'm trying not to entertain those thoughts but I'm not averse to knowing. WebMD had nothing.
Rice is a real every dayer, a good standard food that you put vegetables on and that's a meal, that's food. The other one is peanut butter, which we started buying in 7lb buckets from Virginia and Spanish Peanut on Dexter St (order online, curbside pick-up). We're on our second bucket of the epidemic now. I only get natural peanut butter, where the contents are just: peanuts. You have to stir it sometimes but so what, I can stir.
Americans tend to do peanut butter as a sweet, with jelly, or chocolate, and that's great. But you can also go savory, that's where I've been at. I have two key ways of styling it:
- peanut butter on toast, with chopped raw garlic and sriracha
- Peanut Butter Pasta
Style 2 is just rice noodles with peanut sauce. I know that rice noodles are not "pasta" per se (just checked wikipedia for this) but I sacrificed accuracy for alliteration.
Peanut Butter Pasta
- put a big thing of water on the stove
- put at least a half cup of natural peanut butter (more) in a large mixing bowl.
- acting on intuition, add to the peanut butter as many of the following as you have on hand. The only non-negotiables are the peanut butter and some manner of spicy element. You don't have to make it really spicy but it should have a little heat. The heat is good for you.
Try a half tablespoon each, then adjust, or use less if you're like "wow that's too much"
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- apple cider vinegar
- Sriracha or other spiced sauce
- fish sauce (omit for vegan version)
use as much as you want
- garlic powder (this is the only time I use garlic powder. if you don't have it used finely chopped garlic, which is probably better anyway)
- cayenne pepper (if you don't have sriracha)
- add a half cup of the boiling water to the bowl, then stir it all together into a smooth sauce. Adjust flavorings as needed. Add more water if you want the sauce soupier.
- Put half a package of rice noodles in the pot (for 2 people, or 2 meals). You can get these at any (?) Asian market-- It's not uncommon for there to be an elephant on the packaging, which I appreciate. I don't know if that means anything beyond "They're as good as an elephant", but that's enough for me, I love elephants. What I'm really looking for is the kind where it's possible to take half the noodles out of the bag without them flying everywhere. Haven't found that one yet. As far as noodle thickness, I get the one that's linguini sized, or using my personal pasta timeline, "teenager". Angel Hair is child, Spaghetti is both baby and adult.
OK I looked it up-- "Erawan" isn't just "an elephant" but the Thai name for the mythological elephant Airaavatha, a white elephant who carries the deity Indra and is the king of all elephants! Erawan is the cloud-maker, spraying water into the air with its mighty trunk, and is often depicted with as many as 33 heads, but I think  that's just a local stylization for "there's a lot going on with this guy". I'm guessing this particular elephant is on the noodles as a cultural identity marker (food of Thailand) and because the noodles are white like the elephant? And maybe also because cooking them creates a cloud? I mean "as good as an elephant" is all I want or need but anyway you slice it its a great vibe. Hail to the king of the elephants!
- It's easy to overcook the rice noodles and turn everything into a mushy mess, so my only advice here is don't do that. Cook until they're soft and springy.
- rinse the noodles in cold water when they're done so they stop cooking immediately and don't become a single sticky mass, then add them to the sauce bowl and thoroughly stir them in.
To make this "a meal" you have to pair it with a vegetable-- all true meals contain a grain, a green, and a protein. I like leafy greens cut and fried, but in a pinch I'll do purple sauerkraut, which gives the meal kind of a 90s colorway, almost Deep Space Nine. Sometimes I squeeze a lime over it but I'd never do lime and sauerkraut, that's like, both too far away and too close. Anyway there's a lot of room for integrating other special ingredients, this should be considered a baseline version.
If you lack the resources to make a true meal out of this then at least add some manner of garnish on top, even if it's just "more black pepper". Even if it's just a leaf that you put on top of the noodles, then take off when you're about to eat. To be honest, this is a depression-era dish (qua "you have depression") that fought its way into the repertoire, like pancakes for dinner. If you're making this as a regular everyday meal and you don't dress it up a little, that can be dispiriting.
On the other hand, if you are depressed, and you're just trying to make food out of whatever's in the house (mean cuisine), by all means add as much vegetable matter as you can, but don't feel the need to make it look pretty. I find that in those moments of malevolent torpidity, it's a poor bet for me to try and make something nice to cheer myself up-- I'm just going to fuck it up and feel worse. Better to make a big ugly sticky bowl to appreciate and identify with. Your experience may differ but for me it goes: This is my slop and it sucks, but it's what I want ⟶ I'm the slop ⟶ I'm actually pretty good.
The music in the kitchen is usually: Jazz.
- this seems to be the family-run fundraiser for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot multiple times in the back by police in Kenosha WI last week. [gofundme]
- donate to the Milwaukee freedom fund, to help people protesting the police in Kenosha and fighting for postive change in WI: [link]
- donate to the FANG community bail fund, to help people fighting for change in New England [gofundme]
- in re: Crom, I rewatched Conan the Barbarian again not too long ago ([link]), it's still good. Here's the cutest scene: Conan and his new bud (legendary surfer Gerry "Mr Pipeline" Lopez) hanging out by the fire, talking "so, what gods do you pray to". [youtube 3min]. I love this energy. Very few theological discussions are this chill, in my experience people maintain their god-framework as a closed system.
- Any time I put salt and pepper in my food I think of these clips from when Patrick Stewart hosted Saturday Night Live and the musical guest was Salt-N-Pepa: [youtube 7sec], [youtube 3sec]. He really throws himself into to "Pepa" (compared to "pepper"), and that's why he's our captain. Matt Carroll had a whole bit where he'd impersonate an SNL host announcing a musical guest, but I can only remember this one and Charles Barkley ("Ladies and gentlemen, Nirvana"). What were the other good ones?
- I love getting messages about my pancake recipe, it happens about once a week that someone texts to say either "i made the pancakes, thank you for the recipe" or "I'm sorry, can you send me the pancakes recipe". In regards to the latter it's no problem at all but for situations where I'm unavailable at the moment I've put the recipe here at an easy to find location: [fujichia.com/pancakes]. I've also added a link to the pancake recipe from this website's 404 page, so if you misremember the url you'll still find it. go ahead and try www.fujichia.com/[any string of characters]. Try Fujichia.com/pnacnakes or Fujichia.com/acnapkeas or Fujichia.com/pfkfoiwfejoijweoowoijeoij, it doesn't matter. Of course the best way to go is to write the recipe on a piece of paper and write "it's right here" at the top, then put it on your fridge and never take it down. That's what I did. The full pancakes post is here: [fujichia]. And again, texting me about this is no problem. I love to hear from you and I'm happy you're eating well, or anyway I'm happy that you have the desire to do so. :)
This is post #32 of a series of weekly transmissions from this castle. New ones on Tuesdays.
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