Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making something from nothing ...

So one of my hidden talents is that I can cook edible food. It's true.

Not many people know this, as I rarely cook for other living beings. [Or dead ones, for that matter. You'll find no zombies at my table!] The rarity of my food preparation has increased since moving back into my parents house. There's just something about having your own kitchen, to where foreign kitchens seem alien and, well, scary. Also, if I start cooking at home, I have to be prepared to make dinner for EVERYONE ... and ... I'm lazy. Ironically, my younger sister has been cooking up a storm this summer. Part of me thinks it's just to get out of doing dishes, but as she's actually quite adept at it, and her food is very edible, I don't mind.

I'm currently doing a brief stint as cat sitter at Lara's, so I have a kitchen. With privacy. I decided today that I was going to cook myself an actual dinner, so I made my way to Trader Joe's and wandered around looking for inspiration that wouldn't cost me more than $20.00. And I found it in the form of stirfry. I make a MEAN stirfry. I have several different varieties, in fact. They had some delightfully fresh and lean stewing meat, and I said, "yes please!" [note: if you can avoid it, do NOT buy stirfry meat from the grocery store ... thicker cuts are usually better.]

Also unknown about my cooking skills, is that I specialize in making a meal out of hardly anything at all. I can take ingredients from a cupboard and whip something completely new into existence. I don't boast about much, but I DO boast about this. I made a chicken dish for Lara once, when we had a bunch of random condiments, and chicken. That was it. I created, "Everything but the kitchen sink" chicken. I kid you not, it was pretty phenomenal. An example of ingredients: soy sauce, Italian dressing, oranges, wine, and cinnamon. Seriously. There were some other things in there, but I can't remember what they were. That's the one problem with inspiration - it doesn't ever get written down. Methodology escapes me, even at the best of times.

And because my thoroughness is often lacking concerning simple matters like checking for ingredients, or making annoying reminders like grocery lists - I simply go with what I have. So while at Trader Joe's, the only part of the stirfry that I actually purchased was the meat and two cloves of garlic. I knew Lara probably had some veggies and rice, though I wasn't totally sure. Part of the glory of instantaneous cooking is being able to casually deny just about anything and its absence from your kitchen. Think you might be out of pepper? Scoff at buying more! Who is ever out of pepper? Wonder if there's anything for a side-dish? Side-dishes are for wimps! Flatly deny any and all doubts that pop into mind, and live by this motto: "No guts, no glory!" [Remember - part of the fun is the absence of ingredients, and the gritty inspiration that comes with trying to make something from nothing.]

When I returned to Lara's apartment from the grocery store, I decided to make a marinade. I had meat and garlic, but what else? In surveying the contents of Lara's stores, I found lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, and olive oil. MORE than enough! I finely chopped a couple of cloves, created a spice rub, and mixy-mixy, dashy-dashy, and a squirt or two later, I had half a pound of steak sitting in plastic baggies filled with a marinade created haphazardly by yours truly.

I've been watching a LOT of the food network. A. LOT. And usually at times when I shouldn't - like at 11:30 p.m. on Sundays when, lying in bed, I'm cheering along the Iron Chef, watching Cat Cora create a seven course gourmet meal, with maple syrup as the featured ingredient. Watching maple-glazed salmon being prepared at 11:30 p.m. is just not a good idea. Because you know what you dream about? Maple syrup. And then you wake up craving maple syrup. FOR DAYS.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm....Maple syrup....

Sorry, I'll stop drooling now.

Anyway, the Food Network has been advertising for "The Next Food Network Star." And I am not one for reality television. AT ALL. But. It occurred to me, in my guerrilla marinade creation-a-ganza, that I could really pull off my own cooking show. In fact, I think I'd call it "Guerrilla Cooking 101," or possibly, "Ten Ingredients or Less." Ooooohhh ... or how about, "Captain Indie and the Skillet?" The show would be geared toward single men and women between the ages of 21 and 40. I would have a normal, apartment-sized kitchen, with utensils that most people have, because let's face it - most folks don't own a lemon zester or a meat tenderizer. Sacrilegious, I know, but a reality nonetheless.

I'd gear the show toward people looking for minimal shopping, minimal time, but looking to impress lovers, friends, family, and earn the pride and glory that comes from creating the something from nothing. My kitchen would be complete with a portable ipod player, and would feature bands to listen to while cooking whatever slap-dash thing I was creating for the day. For example, when preparing BBQ or Grilling, I might play a band like The Old Crow Medicine Show, or Gillian Welch. While preparing a meal for vegetarians or Vegans, I might listen to Nirvana or Wilco. Spicy dishes? The Beatles, Vampire Weekend, and so on and so forth. And I could have guest cooks make their own guerrilla dishes, with tunage recommendations! This idea just keeps getting better and better!

Creating something from nothing, with minimal effort, time, and supplies - while jamming to tunes, and Trader Joe as the official supplier. Am I wrong in thinking that this could be the most awesome show ever?! And it would certainly solve my unemployment issue....
This blog is brought to you by:

Random cupboard spices
Private kitchens
Maple syrup


jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Go for it! I mean, are you seriously going to apply for such a gig? If so, go for it!

Phoenix said...

You should totally blog about your cooking experiences. Then, a) you'd remember what you used, and b) we could all benefit.

Also, how is it that I've never had your stir-fry? Or Caity's chocolate cake of foodgasm or whatever it is you guys call it...

Radical Bradacal said...

Ooohhh ... I'm thinking about it, Jennifer ... I'm definitely thinking about it!

Phoenix - blogging about guerrilla cooking is akin to making a mathematical equation regarding poetry. It can be done, but doesn't it defeat the purpose? But for you, I'll try. You silly A- type.

The reason I haven't made stirfry for you, probably stems from the fact that I usually put quite a variety of spices in it ... and I know how your crazy Scottish self revolts toward too much spice ... but I can try to tone it down, if you'd like. Also, the dish of my sister's I think you are referring to, is Raspberry Sin? And she only makes that for special occasions. Like Thanksgiving, or the odd and rare family dinner night.