Heeeey, I'm back!* This blog is about how to eat good on bitch money.

*This is a lie.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloweeeeeeen, boooooo, woooooo, eeeeeeek.

Preliminary thoughts:
On a FRIDAY? WHY? Who has time to put together a worthwhile costume after working all week? Why can't we just make it a paid holiday? It's the last holiday of the year that doesn't make 87% of people want to kill themselves, so it should be paid. So should the day after it.

I've already said too much on this subject this week. I want to try this one candy called Valomilk. You should google that.

Watermelon brains:
There are two easily googled watermelon brain recipes on our friend, the WWW.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Conversations... in Fruit!

I got three cherimoyas from the Fruit Viking. One I gave away. Another I gave away and then snatched back, having second guessed myself. I decided the giftee was going to leave the cherimoya in the fridge 'til it turned into a cherimoya liqueur. You should never "Indian-give" fruit. It's like the ultimate sin in the world. Luckily, she to whom I Indian-gave the cherimoya came over to work on a project and we split the cherimoya, so I may not go to The Lake of Fire. Probably just some boring Dantean circle where you have to account for all your time using S.A.P. or PeopleSoft or any one of those demonbastard softwares.

"This is great!" said my fellow projecteer, upon her first taste of cherimoya.
"Ain't it?"
"It's like a banana... kindof."
"They say it's like a pineapple, but I don't think so."
"No, it's not acidic like a pineapple. At first I thought it was custardy, but it's not, it has sugar crystals."
"Sugar crystals? Are you eating the skin? Because I don't think you're supposed to eat that part."
"No, the sugar crystals are in the pulp."
"They also said it was like a pear, which I agree."
"Yes, it's like a pear."
"It's better than a pear."
"It's not better than a pear."
"I say it is."
"A ripe pear is very good."
"That's true."

And so we came to a shaky accord. Ah, fruit! Most elegant of food groups! Prized bringer of peace!

What reminded me, I'm eating a pear burrito. The recipe is like this:
One Ezekiel 4:9 tortilla.
These things take getting used to, but once you give up on the notion that they're the same as a corn tortilla or a flour tortilla and get into the fact that they're basically horsefeed in a flattened state, you start to like them. (If you've ever stuck your head in a big bucket of that sweet feed they give horses and taken a good long molassesey chevalsnort, you'll know why that idea is appealing.)
One point five slices of basic factory provolone cheese
Paperthin slices of superripe pear, to taste

Arrange cheese and pear on surface of asphalt tortilla, roll into a cigar and eat.

This would be probably a lot better if you broiled it, but who has the patience for that? Well. You know who. MFK Fisher, that's who. But she puts her tangerine slices on the winter windowsill and waits for them to dry just the perfect, perfect amount. Mere mortals cannot approach obsession on this level.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Honest crap vs vile, lying, craw-sticking simulacra-p

(omg, before we begin please note "simulacra-p." If it were only the 1980s and if I were only a recent PhD in literary theory, I could so get my dissertation published by a university press just for that coinage.)

Now, reader, as you know, normally I am not one to drag little disputes from the blaaaagcomments all up onto the front page like SOME blaaaaggers. But some things push you past your limits, and one of those is bad candy, for instance the Ferraro Rocher fakety fakewads recently advocated by otherwise reliable commenter, Robin.

They come in gold foil with like a painting of Mozart on them
They are nevertheless not a good thing
They are unmitigated garbage
Do not buy them

These things are meant to LOOK like food but they are not food. Like, okay, McDonald's has salad on the menu, now. Ha, ha! Would you eat that? Ha ha haaaaa! On the other hand, McDonald's also has french fries, and despite the fact that they've messed them ALL up in recent decades, they're still McDonald's fries, and anybody with a brain would eat McDonald's fries. The salad is made to LOOK like food, but it's lying, craw-sticking simulacra-p. The french fries are honest crap, and they're great. Sure: they'll kill you. But they're good. See? McDonald's and WalMart are merchants of honest crap, and when they try to be something they aren't, it's a scary thing. If you want good ch0colate, you have to get out of WalMart and go online or head over to the little annoying hippiemart and buy single-origin stuff. If you can't deal with that, I surely sympathize, but fakety fakeballs are no kind of answer: I'm afraid you're stuck with crap chocolate, so you might as well get the best of that you can and spend a reasonable amount of money for it, not toss over your last few coins for a lipsticked pig in Mozart pantaloons.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


They sure do rule. If you're ever in some crapvortex of a store and everyone around you is buying, like, pizza-flavored Combos and Little Debbies, look for the nuts and see if you can find something other than peanuts, namely pistachios. The peanuts tend to suck and be boiled in gnarly oil or else dry-roasted to a powder, but they can't seem to mess up a pistachio.

Monday, October 27, 2008

post III, the riposte

Robin! How dare you post in some ancient comment thread! I almost missed your crazed diatribe and let it stand unchallenged. Let me TRY to deal with the worst of your atrocious misstatements.

"Powdered milk is not as evil as Om Nom thinks it is, but it does not compare to regular milk unless put in baked goods or disguised in hot chocolate."
Powdered milk isn't "evil," it's merely revolting. It is not possible to disguise it--well, I guess you could bake with it probably. I never tried. It is the only problem with milk chocolate as most mortals know it: you can taste the sour powdered milk. I now know from reading Candy Freak that it's possible to get candybars made without it, but you have to spend like $46/bar.

"You see, food and its tastes are all a matter of two main things: how open-minded you are to new tastes and what you are used to, taste-wise."
If this were true, we would all prefer powdered milk hot chocolate, because we all grew up on Swiss Miss. In fact, food and its tastes are a matter of one thing: whether you have the sense enough to know what's good when you run up on it.

"Several years ago, I decided on to 'eat to live,' not to 'live to eat.'"

"Eating to live entails figuring out the bare minimum of foods you like and can live with, both money-wise and nutrition-wise."
Then swiftly loading up your trusty handgun and dispatching yourself because if you're eating to live you got no reason to live.

"...Can humans manufacture the vitamins they need from the foods they eat and the sunlight they receive (vitamin D is manufactured by the body due to sunlight expose amounts)? Children who lived in Swiss valleys tended to get rickets much more frequently than those who lived higher up on the mountains. The children in the valleys were vitamin D deficient. So the answer to the question of whether humans can manufacture most of the vitamins they need is 'Mostly, yes, they can, but not entirely.'"
No, given the evidence you provide, "mostly but not entirely" is not the answer to the question you asked. Rather, it's the answer to the question, "can juvenile Swiss valley-dwellers manufacture all the vitamin D they need?" Mostly (they ain't dead), but not entirely (they all done come down with the rickets). About no other nutrient can we tell a gatdamn thing from your example. I must tell you that Juan Valdez concurs with me: he has a mean headache right now despite the fact that he gets plenty of sun. He has been unable to manufacture the vital nutrient, caffeine, and he doesn't get it from his diet since I put him on Postum instead of coffee. (Sue me! I was tired of listening to him crack his knuckles early in the morning.)

"I decided to try to buy as little as possible at the grocery store as I could."

"The rub? I don't really like to cook all that much."
Ay. There is the rub. Learn, yo.

"I am more of an information guy. Ideas are like food to me."
I wonder if the rickety Swiss kids could manufacture vitamin D... from ideas? (You're supposed to read "from ideas" the way George W. reads "from Africa" in that little speech he gave that time about the yellow cake.)

"If a kid grows up only drinking powdered milk (I did not), he is going find regular milk to be a greasy, odd beverage that takes some getting used to."
Wait up because here's another of those ideas for Heidi et al to munch on: what if all milk is revolting? Yes, Pippi! Think on't long and build strong bones the better to ride Mister Nilsson (or was that the name of the monkey? Hell, I can't remember Pippi for beans). Milk sucks. Milk sucks, and that's not just an "idea," it's an obvious fact. Milk sucks. Cream is okay. Whey is bearable. But milk sucks except when it's straight out of the cow. And I know this because my parents tried to get me to like regular milk and they tried to get me to like powdered milk and they made me try chocolate milk and they made me try milks of all butterfat percentages and I hated it all. I did not like anything dairy except yogurt and ice cream and whipped cream and cheese and, of course, glorious butter. I hated milk categorically 'til I tried it fresh-out-of-the-udder, when I loved it, but you can't get it that way in this godforsaken country unless you own a cow, so I maintain that for all practical purposes, milk sucks. O, I drank it when they told me to: one eats what is put in front of one. I ate to live in those days because I had no choice. Now that I have a choice, I live to eat, and I don't drink milk... because it sucks. All those "eat to live" years I drank the stuff, I always knew that it sucked.

"The opposite food plan, 'living to eat' ...says that tasting is one of the most important things a person does. But is it?"

"I find this approach to life to be a materialistic one."
No, it isn't. It's merely sensible. The opposite approach is a self-loathing one. Why would you put something that sucks in your mouth unless somebody bigger than you was making you?

"It is also very expensive to eat that way."
Quite, quite the opposite. Living to eat is far cheaper than eating to live. Take butter, for just one instance. Butter is astronomically better tasting and mouthfeeling and all that than margarine. Margarine's one true advantage over butter is price. My lifelong dedication to butter saved my circulatory system. Now my blood flows free, unobstructed by petrified Country Crock. I don't need a coronary bypass. I save the big money.

Okay, here's today's real post:

Eating at Your Friends' Homes!

It's very important not to piss off your friends. Because: if you don't make them mad, they might invite you over to eat! Now, when you eat at your friends' homes, your little rules about "this or that is off limits" should go where? That's right, out the window or up your undsoweiter. Because following these little rules might what? That's right, piss off your friends. And that brings us right back to the beginning where we did not want to be, damn it. I don't know how to blaaaaag!

Anyway, dinner at your friend's house is the one time when rules like "no supermarket chocolate," and "I do not drink of the orange juice: I only touch virgin citrus with unbroached, blushing peel" are not to be followed unless it's some outlandish kind of crazy situation like your friend tries to get you to drink Crystal Lite or however you spell that crap. MAN that stuff is nasty, OH my god don't drink it. Accept it with huge smiles and glad cries and then pour it in a houseplant at the first op.

Remember: at friends' houses YOU LOVE EVERYTHING!

booga schooled

This one comment from one of the better commenters on this blog was so awesome I decided to "reduce, re-use, recycle" by using it as today's post! I know, right? I am so going to heaven now!!!

Without further A., here is its glorious ass:

In response to one "booga," who said that it's unPalin-like to eschew free "yeast rolls" at trough-style family dining establishments, the commenter wrote as follows:

They're counting on you to eat the yeast rolls. Just try not eating the yeast rolls one day and see what happens.

"Are you not yet enjoying those yeast rolls, Mr. or Ms. Booga?"

"Can I tell the chef you're going to be eating the yeast rolls he made for you with his own hands out of love, Mr. or Ms. Booga?"

"Mr. or Ms. Booga, how can we here at Golden Calf get you around a couple or six of these fresh, warm, free yeast rolls today? How can we do that for you the fastest and the bestest? Would it help if the rest of the waitstaff and I all gathered here around your chair and sang and clapped so that everyone in the restaurant could be alerted to the situation, so that everyone could join in encouraging you to fill up on your warm fresh hot delicious gratuitous yeast rolls and quit hitting the buffet roast beef so goddamn hard? Did you somehow miss the four-foot-high neon 'Three Roll Minimum' sign on your way into Golden Calf this evening? Would you like me to call Kevin the Oven Man out here to 'reason' with you, Mr. or Ms. Booga? Because we can make that happen."

Aw, hell yeah, commenter of the gods! Here's hoping we see more of the same sort of golden-baked goodness from you! And thank you, too, booga, for your contribution.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why not just eat all free food?

Because sometimes free food is not worth the calories it takes to chew it. Included:
-doughnuts at work
-melamine supermarket chocolate
-dopey free "yeast rolls" at feed trough places like Ryan's and Golden Corral
-that orange soupy stuff that they say is "nacho cheese" and it comes in one of those woven wooden bowls at the gringo "fast casual" restaurant before your sucky gringo chalupafajitaplaaaatter or whatever bunk thing you ordered because there was nothing on the menu that was NOT bunk. Don't eat that glue, damn.
-all stuff like the above

See the thing about all this stuff is, it is designed to be not all that great but nevertheless make you ravenous so you eat more food that costs money. It is like if you go to the gentleman's club, what they do on the stage in order that you should order a lap dance and then have your Lancelot urge kick in and get into a bad marriage and end up driving around in a sad kind of "married people" type car. That's what those chips and orange "cheese" really represent. Stay away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to make hot chocolate. Fast.

Bring to boil 3/4 mug of water for each person who will be enjoying hot chocolate today. Throw in some baker's chocolate--about two squares per cup, more or less according to personal preference/how much chocolate you have (or you can add 70%+ dark chocolate). Whisk around 'til it's all blended nicely. Turn down the heat some during this part of the process so that the chocolate doesn't boil. Add sugar and vanilla to taste. Throw in some of that pricey cinnamon, too. Now take the chocolate off the heat and pour it into the mugs, to 3/4 full.

Here's the patentable part: treat it like coffee. Add whipping cream (half''n'half if you're a lightweight, but it's 200x better with cream) 'til it's the right color. Add whiskey or your favorite adulterant until it's the right strength. You can add the whipping cream while the chocolate's still on the stove if you want your hot chocolate to burn the roof of your mouth off, but you must keep this brief and get the pot off the stove before you cook the cream. This is the only way to avoid that gnarly boiled milk taste hot chocolate always has unless it is my hot chocolate. Do not add alcoholic adulterants while the stuff is on the stove, duh.

Do not allow powdered milk to touch any part of your person at any time. Powdered milk is why we do not eat the crappy supermarket chocolate offered to us free at shrimp tasting. Powdered milk is foul, and if living through a depression means eating powdered milk, let's just agree now not to live through it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good Free Food, Bad Free Food

Important to know about free food: you shouldn't just accept all of it without regard to propriety and without regard to the quality of the food.

For an example, let's look at my behavior at shrimp tasting last week. I walked into the lab, selected my two cupsful of shrimp and ate them. You don't HAVE to eat the shrimp to taste them. We have chew 'n' spit going on in the tasting lab, especially when there are spawny oysters. But I always eat the proteinaceous free food unless it is clearly septic.

When I was finished with the taste test, I went over and punched the clock. (We don't actually have a clock, but I like to imagine we do--I'd like it to be like the clock in the Warner Bros. cartoon with Ralph and Sam, the coyote and the sheepdog). Near the clock, I noticed a bowlful of crappy supermarket chocolate. Because two of my fellow shrimptasters were having a spirited discussion about one of their co-workers and how she is an idiot and has an idiot boyfriend and how this idiot and her boyfriend, in cahoots with an idiot boss, have managed to fry three+ motherboards in the past year; because, I say, because of this spirited conversation, I was unable to simply walk out of the shrimptasting lab. Instead, I leaned against the wall next to the time clock and ate a wad of crappy supermarket chocolate about the size of a ground squirrel.


Shrimp: Good Free Food
Crappy Melamine Chocolate: BAD Free Food.

Eat Good Free Food
Don't Eat Bad Free Food.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gettin' Mingy in the Kitchie

Issue one! /McLaughlin
How (and why) to re-use paper coffee filters.

Maybe you have a coffee maker, in which case you should barter it for a parsnip or a couple of week-old radishes because coffeemakers suck. Or maybe you make coffee with one of those doom-dealing, bisphenol-A-leaching plastic Melita filter holders... like me!

If you can't barter your coffee maker because nobody wants it or because it is the last thing you have from your dear, departed great aunt Sal and if you don't have a gold filter for it, go to garage sales 'til you find one. You will find one. The worse the economy gets, the more truly useless things people try to sell. So saddle up and ride out to the more desperate and refi-ed-to-the-hilt of the subdivisions in your area and you'll be a goldfilter owner sooner than you thought possible.

Unless you use preground coffee flakes, the gold filter will let in grounds and the bottom fifth of your pot of bad coffeemaker coffee will be a stygian, bitter swamp. So you want to double up with a paper filter. (You don't use preground coffee flakes because that's disgusting. If you have any Folgers around, barter for some potato peels.)

Either way, whether you make grody coffeemaker coffee or you make Melita coffee like a civilized person, you still want to scrounge up a goldfilter. It will take the weight of the wet coffee grounds off your delicate paper filter and allow you to use it six or eight times, for a savings of $0.0007*.

Here's what you do:
  • Put your precious paper filter in your filterholder
  • Put your goldfilter in on top of it
  • Thow in your coffee and pour water over it or flip the Mr. Coffee switch
  • When the brewing process is complete, carefully lift out your goldfilter and discard or, preferably, compost, the sodden grounds
  • Leave the paper filter in the filter basket until it is completely dry (some say this step is a little obsessive, but the fact is, a wet paper filter is more fragile than a dry one, and if your paper filter tears, you won't be able to use it again, and that's anywhere from $0.0001* to $0.0007* down the drain! Just THROWN AWAY! Lost forever! Have you checked the Dow today? HUH?)
  • Carefully rinse your filter and allow it to air dry
*Actually, it's more than that you'll save, me hearty. Perpend:
The individual filter isn't worth much, granted. But coffee filters are a staple, the kind of horribly necessary thing you sometimes have to go into the store to buy. If you go into the store, the chances that you will spend money are much greater than if you do not go into the store. It is possible to go into the store and buy just coffee filters, but no one ever does. If you go into the store, you will buy, say, a pack of watermelon gum. That's a pack of watermelon gum you wouldn't have bought had you not gone into the store. Right? Right: it's simple logic. And that is why you should re-use coffee filters and why you should purchase the sort of toilet paper that comes in bales and lasts forever. You want that kind of toilet paper despite the fact that it's not recycled. The recycled stuff is always all fluffy and loosely wrapped on the cardboard tube, so that a roll lasts only about a fifth as long as the fat, dense rolls that come in bales. The stuff that comes in bales will keep you out of the store longer. Staying out of the store is very valuable. The toilet paper that keeps you out of the store is going to save you so much money, it's worth bringing on The Day After Tomorrow to get it.

Twice I have found paper coffee filters at estate sales. I bought them both times. Does it creep you out to think of anyone using The Paper Products of the Recently Dead? No problies, princess, more for me. In a month or two when the lights go out, you might find your attitude has undergone a change.

A Warning!
You may be tempted to buy a re-usable cloth filter from the store. Do not get the type made of muslin. After about five uses, they clog hopelessly, and no amount of soaking in vinegar or laundering will get them functional again. Perhaps, like me, you have a friend who is a genius with the sewing machine. Try not to torment this friend by asking over and over and over and over and over if she could please please please please make you a functional, non-clogging re-usable cloth filter. Bear in mind that talented seamstresses are much in demand these days. If you keep asking and asking and asking and asking, you may traumatize your friend, and then where would you be!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Get hooked up.

I was going to talk about free food today, but I'd rather talk about the larger issue of which free food is only a part, and that's getting hooked up locally.

This is sortof an amorphous concept, but it's way key. Here's one aspect of it: I get free shrimp and free oysters and occasionally free all sorts of other sea creatures because I signed on to be an oyster taster over to the aquatic foods lab.

Every few months they'll do another experiment where they, for instance, compare oysters from all over the continent to determine whether there are any qualities specific to oysters from a certain area.

Or the industry will come up with some revolutionary (and always revolting) method of processing oysters for shipping or storing and we oyster tasters will be required to eat the proceeds and report the patently obvious: "freezing oysters and then hurling them at a wall to bust them out of their shells and then sweeping up them and a few bits of their pulverized shells and throwing the whole mess in a big ol' plastic bucket, refreezing it, and trucking it halfway across the country may save you $0.03 per oyster in shelling/shipping costs, but it loses you money in the long run because unless they're a stressed out middlemanagement demon tasked with stocking the buffet table for a cocktail party in the ninth circle of hell, there is no one on earth or below who will buy that nasty 'product.'"

By declaring myself willing to eat swill occasionally, I make myself eligible for the occasional supertreat. For instance, sometimes the oysters are good. If you like oysters, good oysters is a reason to eat bad oysters, and that's really saying something, because there is nothing worse than a bad oyster. Nothing. I don't mean "bad" as in "spoiled"--a spoiled oyster isn't the worst thing in the world; eating it would bring on merciful death. I mean bad as in gravely mistreated. But good oysters make it worth it.

Sometimes? They have extras? And they send us home with bagsful. Bags full of live, fresh, salty, happy, icey, bivalved darlings. Two, three, four dozen.

It is worth it.

So that is one of a few ways I'm hooked up. Get hooked up. Find out what's around locally. Nose around. Take all offers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

sour cream and coffee

Treasured commenter Robin P. reminds us all that sour cream and coffee are essential to life. Say, that reminds me: commenters, please bear in mind, "it's your [comments] that make the show go." (That's stolen from a local radio show.)

Sour Cream
Sour cream makes everything better. Robin suggests putting it on "toast" and "jam or preserves." Of course we wouldn't recommend doing that since toast + jam is death to a neodepression eater (kindling carbohydrates stoke hunger, ramped up hunger --> increased food expenditures, increased food expenditures--> no money, no money --> starvation, starvation --> dEaTh). However, sour cream is an early-depression essential, and it brings us to an important tenet:

Some Luxuries Are Essentials!

It seems counterintuitive, but it is true: some expensive food items are absolutely necessary to successful depression eating, especially in the early days. Sour cream is one of these. Why, I have 1/3 of a pint container in the refrigerator right now, and I use it nearly every day. Here's the basic recipe:

Any vegetable or bean
olive oil
sour cream
an exciting spice

saute onions in oil til translucent
add vegetable either before or after onions depending on its cooktime
when stuff is done, add sour cream and butter to taste ("to taste" will = buckets of both at the outset, dwindling to smaller and smaller amounts as you get used to this cuisine/as sour cream and butter disappear from the national larder. YMMV, of course, especially if you acquire a blackmarket cow.)
Add your exciting spice. It could be curry powder if you like that, or marjoram if you like that, or maybe you like chipotle and chile pepper.
Stir and eat hot. MMMmmmmm!

Robin P. also mentions "single-pour coffee." I'm assuming that's your Melita filter coffee? This is my method:

Fill mug, dump mug in kettle. Crank burner.
Grind up pricey beans.
Put ground beans in melita filter baskey over cup.
Water is boiling; dump over coffee.
It drains directly into cup.
Is good.

Filter re-use is possible. Scroungy kitchen re-uses you may not have considered: that's another post. Have to go eat free shrimp. Free food: that's yet another post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ort report

The first, best tenet of the religion of not starving is not to throw calories away. Eat them or freeze them. Meat scraps left on your plate when you're done with your steak can go in the stock bag. Peels and any oddities you cut off your vegetables as you prepare them for ingestion can go in the stock bag. Everything goes in the stock bag. When the stock bag fills up, make stock and make soup with the stock. Eat the soup. Begin again.

I got some books on freezing at a garage sale for 5 cents each. They show you how to wrap things and stuff and tell you handy tips like for instance, "don't freeze lettuce." Some absolutely fascinating recipes for desserts, since these came out in the 50s. While I can still afford to shop, I should experiment with these desserts and report. Okay: that's what I'll do!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pineapple Fro-YO passes the test!

You don't need no banana! Pineapple Fro-YO is not too sour, it's delicious!

This morning I cut up:
One red pepper
One green pepper
One tomato
Two two-inch cubes of dried out parmesan I found kicking around the fridge (small dice)
I put all this in a plastic container and threw pesto on top of it.

Here is what you need to make pesto:

$10 bag of fresh basil from the Fruit Viking
1/3 of a $10 bag of pecans from the Lady With The Short Fingers
two or three cloves of garlic. Sometimes The Greek has garlic, sometimes not. Random people have garlic at random times.
A $5 hunk of parmesan from the snobby cheese shop or a $2 hunk of lesser quality romano from That One Store

Wash the basil, spin it in a spinner, sit down in front of the thrilling and terrifying TV news and pick the leaves off the stems. Save the stems. Freeze them in your soupstock ziplock.

Grind everything up in the food processor, adding olive oil to taste. Get that one kind of Cali olive oil. B-something, I think. Barrini or something, whatever, it's good.

You'll get a hoarkload of pesto. Eat several spoonfuls right away. Then freeze half, fridge half. Or freeze half, fridge 1/4, give 1/4 away.

Okay, so $10 on leaves and $3+ on nuts seems like a whole lot of money, but the fact is, a tomato, a red pepper, and a green pepper cost about $2 and that plus a dollar's worth of pesto equals more than enough food to last me the entire day. And it is goooooohoohoooooooooood. It's so good you won't even care that Obama is laughing at you because your 401K is a 101K. Ha ha-mmmmmmmm! That's what you'll say.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Process the perishables. STAT!

Chances are you have a few little comestibles here and there left over from The Old Times, when you could still afford to buy foodstuffs. Some of these may have a short shelf life. You may be feeling so dispirited and frightened you hesitate to approach these precious, precious fresh food items. "The Last Lemon," you might be saying to yourself. "I mustn't touch it, there shan't ever be any more, and we will need it for the winter!"

But this is wrongheaded.

Job one in your Desperation Kitchen is to either consume or preserve what will go bad before it goes bad. Do not, in sadly hopeful effort to feed a future which may never come, toss precious, life-giving calories into the inexorably oxidizing maw of the terrible present!

(Instead, eat 'em your ownself.)

Pineapple Fro-YO! A neoDustbowl Receipt!
(See? I spelled it "receipt" 'cause that is the kind of nonsense spelling they used to get up to back in the days of Glen Miller)
I awoke this morning and remembered that there's a depression on. Heart seizing, I rushed to the kitchen, wild to eke out another day or two of hardscrabble existence. "Hellfahr," I said to myself, "there are three fresh pineapples left over from my massive fruit party, and that was like two weeks ago, what am I thinking??"

And it was true: I got these three pineapples for decoration (Nutritive food! As decor! That's actually how we used to think back then!) from The Fruit Viking, whose stall is at the other end of the Saturday farmar from Ditchweed Guy and who is as different from Ditchweed Guy as night is from noontime. The Fruit Viking might also be called the Luxuries Viking. He has greenhouses and can grow anything that occurs to him. So he he outsells everyone at the farmar because he has nothing but amazing and unexpected edible delicacies. Cherimoya once? Okay? Five different kinds of basil? That's the way the Fruit Viking rolls.

So I had been eschewing the Fruit Viking's stall because I had been on that damnation diet for that godforsaken contest I won and then got esscrute out of my prize for by the demonic gym people, and the Fruit Viking was a little disgruntled because I had not been coming around. (When I told him I couldn't buy any fruit because I was on a diet, he said, "We're not allowed to discriminate against different races anymore, but praise heaven we can still abuse the thin." Then he made as if to spit on me.)

The Fruit Viking was finally mollified when two weeks ago I bought three pineapples and a $10 bag of basil to make pesto from. (In the morning! In the Evening! Ain't we got fun! In the meantime! In between time! Ain't we got fun!) (That is what I was singing while I blithely tossed $12 at the Fruit Viking like $12 was of no more consequence than an offbrand Tic Tac) (I was singing it because it is a song of the Gatsby era, I am pretty sure. Anyway, I ain't singing it now, I can tell you that! 'cause we ain't got fun and we ain't got no $12 to spend on no luxury food items from no Fruit Viking!)

So this morning I cut the armor off the aging pineapples. To do this, you whack the top off the pineapple and the bottom. Throw away the bottom (unless it's further into the depression, in which case you might consider retaining it and making a watery, unpleasant soup stock from it). Retain the top and plant it in a pot in a sunny window, or, if you live in a pineapple-friendly climate, in a carefully guarded corner of a brownfield somewhere that only you know about. It may grow into a pineapple. But probably not.

Luckily when I cut off their skins, which is the next step, I found that my three were still in good shape despite my hideous profligacy of the previous two weeks.

You take your knife, which is either a short chef's or one of those nice Chinese knives (or it's a sharpened piece of a drainpipe left over from when you went out and cannibalized the deserted, half-built subdivision for metals to sell at the recycling plant) and you slice down the sides of the pineapple, removing just the barest minimum of skin. there'll be a regular pattern of "eyes" all along the pineapple, and these you pare out with your paring knive (or your scrounged shiv). In this fashion you reduce waste to a minimum.

Now cut the pineapple into rounds and dice. The Fruit Viking sells "edible core" pineapples, so I include the core section with the rest, but let me tell you something, champ: whether your pineapple core is edible or not, you eat it. This is no time to quibble over "edible/not edible." If it's not POISON, you eat it. That's the rule these days.

Freeze the pineapple.

Put about, say, a cup of frozen pineapple chunks in the food processor and grind up. Add enough yogurt or buttermilk to make your froyo the consistency you like. This is liable to be waaay too sour--if you can afford a banana, freeze that, too, and add it.

(But you probably can't afford a banana.)

If you have cinnamon left and it's really good cinnamon, that will sweeten it some. Really good cinnamon is just amazing stuff. It's too bad we won't be able to get ANY cinnamon soon because soon the Internet will go dark and we'll burn the libraries for heating fuel and forget all human knowledge including the route to the spice islands or how to navigate. Better lay in a good supply now!

Frozen fruit + yogurt is an excellent and delicious dessert item. Add whatever sprinkly things you've got around. If you have any Fage, the Greek yogurt, left over from the happy days of yore, your fro-yo will be just that much more creamy and delicious and amazing. Do not fear Fage because it is so butterfatladen. Very soon fat of every sort will be rationed and soon after that there won't be any more fat full stop. Then won't you rue every day you didn't eat that delicious Fage! Certainly you will!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Changin' the project.

Here was my old intro text. I'm just going to stick it here in case I want to go back to it. It went like this:

"I inflated myself to 150 pounds, deflated to 117 and won a weightloss contest. But the evil Gym People running the contest reneged on the prize. They done me and everybody else in the contest wrong, and now it's time we got a little justice on the diet frontier. Are you one of the millions who suffer from infestations of Gym People? Read on and prosper, for I will not rest until I lead us all to a glorious vengeance upon their noisome, hardbodied tribe."

But since the time I wrote that, my resentment for the gym people has- not lessened! oh no!- but paled in comparison to my resentment of the bankers. This is not to say that my resentment of the bankers has grown, for it has not--there is not room in the universe for it to grow any larger. It's just that I hadn't taken it out to admire it for a while. You know how sometimes a beloved fashion accessory gets shuffled to the back of the closet. It was like that. I was going around everywhere sporting my gym people resentment and all of the sudden I thought to myself, "Whatever happened to my towering hatred of the rich? So timeless! Always in style! Where'd I put that?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More drama and cannings among the Gym People!

You may recall that early on in this epic the Gym People canned Stan, who was the annoyingly gung-ho trainer guy whose personality stylings first galvanized my rage to the dangerous levels at which it remained for the duration of the contest. I was annoyed by him and much more intensely annoyed by the loss of him, and it all worked to burn off calories and fuel my furious races across the landscape. It was Stan and the canning of Stan, in other words, that sparked the three-month rage that enabled my stunning success in the overall diet war.

The reason Stan was canned was not made clear to us; he simply disappeared. It became obvious, though, that the longtime gym rat types all knew the score, so, quietly and subtly, using a combination of poke-in-the-ribs e-mail queries and gentle hinting around the scale at the weekly weigh-ins, my friend and I teased out the story. It was not, as I earlier speculated, that Stan's no holds barred approach to weightloss put the gym in potential legal jeopardy if some too-avid dieter destroyed a vital organ or simply died of starvation. No, Stan was fired because he was having an adulterous affair, and the Gym People--or more accurately, one Gym Person, let's call her Oxana--found it distasteful. So Stan had to go and Oxana needed a patsy to take on the responsibility for the weightloss contest. The new guy needs a name. Let's call him... Scooter? No, no, he's nothing like the infamous Scooter you're thinking of. How about Doogie? Doogie is better. The new guy is earnest, very young and puppycute, and concerned with health, just like the original Doogie.

Okay, so poor Doogie assumes the heavy mantle of Wellness Director and begins to try to govern in a poisoned atmosphere of mingled resentment from the Stan factions and lickspittle fawning from the anti-Stan factions. The exercise classes are tough to lead, the weekly weigh-ins chilly and awkward. Doogie begins to find mornings increasingly difficult. The joy he used to find donning the crisp new polo with the gym logo stenciled on the breast is fast draining away.

Meanwhile, all unaware of the torment in Doogie's heart, of how he is being torn this way and that by Oxana and the Stan and anti-Stan factions, the majority of contestants are wildly losing, losing, losing, ignoring the prominent posting of nutrition advice, ignoring the moralizing e-mail bulletins about how we're all in this for our health. Just keeping our collective, sweat-blinded eye on the $750 prize to come. Until the end when we can no longer delude ourselves about the prize because the prize... does not exist. What is in the envelopes at the awards ceremony is not what was supposed to be there. Our hearts break, and some of us, apparently, start complaining pretty hard.

Because guess what!!

Well, first of all, you have to know that the (alleged) girlfriend of Stan has been sending e-mail the entire contest fomenting for the Stan faction to desert. Actually, many of them did desert in the first weeks after the Stancanning, quite without any urging. I was not in the Stan faction or the anti-Stan faction: I was a stateless, lawless mercenary out for number one. But I nevertheless sent a few sympathetic e-mails to Stan's (alleged) girlfriend implying I was in the Stan faction, simply in order to get all the delicious gossip I could out of her. I think I'll call her Iris.

So! After the final weigh-in, Iris writes a jaunty note asking me what happened and who won. So I explain in minute detail all the woe occasioned by the treachery of the Gym People, I express my sympathy for poor Doogie, who was pulled to shreds, and I also explain that on top of it all, I'm probably going to die of organ failure from all the hotboxing and spitting and chemical abuse I put myself through in an as-it-turned-out-totally-unnecessary struggle to lose eight and a half pounds in ten days to defeat Slick, whom I would have defeated anyway without any of it simply by maintaining bla bla blaaa! Basically, I do everything but come right out and announce I'm taking the Gym People to small claims court (I'm not, since that would be supremely idiotic), and then I ask in a roundabout way whether Stan is hiring a lawyer. Iris ignores that question but she does write back and let me know that Doogie deserves no sympathy since he was nothing but Oxana's puppet,


That Oxana got fired!


That Doogie put in his notice Monday and is quitting!

So Doogie will be free at last.

And now we know that there is a power behind even Oxana. She was Darth Vader and we trembled before her lest she stop our breath. We thought her invincible, but all the time there was a shadowy entity calling bigger shots than even she. The Evil Emperor of The Gym People!