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Uncrushable Laser Monkeys! (or, what I had for dinner)
Avacado Cheese Sandwiches
Thursday, January 5, 2006, 03:59 PM - sandwiches
After finishing a cross-country road trip, one gets to really appreciate vegetables. You can take them for granted, sometimes, but gosh they're good after days of fast food chains who, while they might be kind enough to serve veggie burgers, won't give you anything vegetable-like besides a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato, and diners, where the closest thing you're getting to a vegetable is blueberry pancakes. Not that I mind blueberry pancakes, but sometimes I want a little something more. So yesterday I went to the store. Today, I made avacado cheese sandwiches for lunch.

Usually sandwiches are rushed affairs, but today... oh yeah, they were still rushed. Eating that is, because we had to take the laundry out of the dryer. But I actually put effort into making them yummy because I had good ingredients. Normally I jut rush through and make same-ol'same-ol' sandwiches.

Ingredients


bread. A nice crusty whole-wheat loaf.

cheese. A very old, hard, sharp cheedar.

Green Onion

Avacado. I used 2 little avacados for 3 sandwiches. Normally avacados are really pricey, but if you go to a vegetable stand you can often find bags of little tiny ones that are too small to sell in supermarkets that are really cheap for their mass.

Mustard. The kind that has actual bits of mutard seed in it, as opposed to the bright yellow mayonaise-textured kind.

Salt and Pepper

Process


Cut several slices of bread. Stick half of them in the toaster oven. Cut cheese to cover the other pieces of bread. Cut a green onion into little rings and distribute it between the pieces of bread. Swap the cheesey pieces of bread for the dry pieces of bread from the toaster oven. Spread Mustard on the toasted pieces of bread. Cut open an avacado and slice bits out with a knife and spread them onto the bread. I made a pretty thick layer of avacado. Salt and pepper to taste. Get the toasted cheesey-onioney pieces from the toaster oven and stick them on top of the avacado halves. Voila.

Split Pea Soup
Friday, December 23, 2005, 10:13 PM - soups, sandwiches
We made split pea soup yesterday. Yum. Split pea soup is the reason for the existance of ham. We made stock from the ham bone on christmas* evening and used it as a base for the soup.

Ham Stock



We cooked the ham in a large dutch oven that we use as both a stock pot and a roasting pan. After carving the ham, we simply stuck the bone back in the pot. There were lots of good drippings caked onto the bottom of the pot. By making the stock immediately after, we guarantee that we get their yummy goodness. Equally important, we guarantee that those caked on drippings that would be a pain in the ass to clean off on their own will spend several hours ooking away. Add a couple of coarsley chopped onions, 3-4 carrots (also coarsley chopped) and several sticks of celery (you guessed it---coarsley chop that too). I also threw in some exceptionally gristley pieces of ham that I wouldn't want to encounter in a sandwich.

Pour enough water into your pot to cover everything up. Let it ook for several hours on low heat. I always heat it up until it boils then turn it down until it just barely stops and leave it at that temperature. Look in on it periodically, but you don't need to obsess. If it gets foam on top, skim it off and throw it into a can that is destined for the trash. When it's ooked for several hours, strain out the veggies and ham bone and throw them into the trash. Then skim the fat off the top and put it in the can you're skimming things into. You don't want ham fat down your garbage disposal. Now you can refrigerate or freeze the stock for later use.

Split Pea Soup


Pour 6 cups of ham stock into a pot. Add 1 bag (~2 cups) of split peas. Let it ook until the split peas are hydrated to the point where it looks like a thick green sludge instead of split peas in water. If you get impatient, I've been told that you can hit it with an immersion blender, but I'm a big believer in ooking. After it's done ooking, add some diced ham and let it go a few more minutes to warm the ham up. Serve and eat.

Leftover Split Pea & Carrot Soup with Ham Sandwiches


Today we had leftover split pea and carrot soup. We took 1 leftover bit of carrot soup and some leftover split pea soup and stirred them together and microwaved them. It worked. The carrot soup was definitely more potent, but the flavors didn't conflict or anything. There wasn't quite enough for a meal, so we served it with ham and cheese sandwiches. We made one ham/cheddar sandwich and one ham/jack sandwich, put a bit of oregano on both of them, and split both of them.

Melts
Friday, October 7, 2005, 10:30 PM - sandwiches
Menu
Today we split a mung bean cake for breakfast and ate out for lunch. For dinner, we had patty melts with leftover carrot soup.

Recipes (and other commentary)

Mung Bean Cake
You can get mung bean cakes at your local asian market. Yes, even if you live someplace like Albany with teensy tiny asian markets with sufficiently small selections that you have to bring ingredients with you from San Diego to cook with. So there is no excuse not to try mung bean cakes. They're little pastries with a sweet pasty filling. It's not too sweet, though. If I had to choose between a chocolate donut and a mung bean cake, I'd take the mung bean cake.

Salad and Tortellini Soup
We went to a restaurant called Maggie's that is across the street from the laundromat. It's Italian. Everything around the laundromat is Italian. There's a pizza place and a deli as well. All 3 will make you the same assortment of sandwiches. The only difference is the deli will sell you bread or various Italian food imports, the pizza place will sell you pizza, and Maggies will sell you soups and salads and has indoor seating. The salad was mediocre, the soup was yummy.

Patty Melts
We've been making a lot of patty melts lately. I'm not sure why. I think possibly because we haven't felt like using much tofu lately, and there are only so many varieties of fake meat. One of them is the Morning Star Farms patty, which is really good. And possibly because I just discovered grilled cheese sandwiches recently. I never knew about them before. When I was growing up, a melted cheese sandwich was made by sticking cheese on bread and microwaving it. A melt is different in that it is cooked in a frying pan and the bread is buttered. That didn't go over well during the all-fat-is-bad period and I think many moms of my mom's generation tried to kill the grilled cheese meme. Not maliciously, but because they thought it was in our own best interest. However, grilled cheese is better than just melted-in-a-microwave cheese.

1. Slice some bread. I used rye bread from the Italian deli mentioned above.

2. put thinly sliced cheese on all of the slices of bread. I used cheedar, although I've been told Swiss is the classic thing to use.

3. If you have onions, cook them up in olive oil until they're nicely carmelized. You can cook the patties with them at the same time if you have a big enough frying pan, or you can do them in series. We were out of onion, so instead of cooking up onion I just heated the patties and put a mixture of dried onion flakes and chopped garlic on half of the pieces of bread. Put cooked patties on the same pieces as the onions. Normally I put the patties on before the onions, but I don't know if it makes any huge structural difference. Then flip the pieces of bread that just have cheese on them onto the pieces of bread with the onion and patty on them.

You should end up with something like this:

bread
cheese
onion/garlic
patty
cheese
bread

4. Butter the top of the top slice of bread, then very carefully flip the entire sandwich over so it goes butter-side down into the frying pan. The frying pan should be heated to medium heat on the burner. You might smoosh the whole thing a bit with a spatula, if you feel like it. I don't know if it makes any difference or not, but sometimes it feels like the right thing to do.

5. Butter the side of the bread in the pan that is facing up. When the cheese closest to the pan starts to melt, flip the sandwich so the newly buttered piece of bread is down. You'll notice when you do this that little bits of onion will fly all over the place; I haven't developed a technique for dealing with this yet, but as long as most of the onion gets onto the plate in the end, it's all good. Smoosh it with the spatula a little more. Why? It feels right.

6. When the cheese looks to be all melted, transfer the sandwich to a plate and eat.

The bread should turn a toasty golden brown color. What happens here is that the cheese ooks into the bread, and sticks to the patty, and so the patty sticks to the bread, and it just makes this big gooey yummy unified sandwich. When you do it in the microwave, cheese and bread are distinct.

More Ochazuke
Wednesday, October 5, 2005, 07:24 PM - comfort food, flatbread, breakfast, sandwiches
Menu

I don't guess i'm getting off to a very good start here, what with having the same thing two nights in a row just as I start the blog. Then again, I am sick, so I have a good excuse. Today, for breakfast, I had leftover pancakes with peanut butter and jelly. For lunch, I had egg sludge sandwiches. I had some goldfish crackers for an afternoon snack. You can't beat goldfish crackers when you're sick. They have extremely high placebo value. For dinner we had ochazuke, but with broccolli added.

recipes

Leftover Pancakces
1. Have already made pancakes and leave them lying around in the fridge. Since I made the pancakes before I started the blog, I should elaborate.

Since the kitchen here in Albany is about the size of a walk-in closet, there isn't much storage space. That means making things out of boxes instead of making things from scratch. Yummy varieties of flour take up way more space than a little box of mix. Plus the mix means you don't have to have egg on hand, or flour, or baking soda, or milk. These things take space, not to mention the ability to foil the clever plots of egg-booby-trappers.

I wanted these pancakes to be versatile, so I made them more like crepes so that the leftovers could be stuffed with savory filling and covered with sauce some night. That hasn't happened yet, but it might if I get over this cold before the pancakes go away. For nice faux crepes, just add half again as much liquid to your pancake mix.

Preheat a frying pan to medium heat. coat the pan with butter or spray it or oil it or whatever you like. I use an 8-inch frying pan. It holds maybe a 1/4 cup of dough, poured in circles so that it thinly covers the bottom of the pan. I'm not 100% sure if it's a 1/4 cup, because i don't have a 1/4 measure. The 1/4 measure is in a flour canister in San Diego because it seemed convenient at a time... So I use a 1/3 cup measure and don't fill it all the way. I might use less than a 1/4 cup. Who knows? After the dough dries out (you can tell because the surface isn't shiny anymore) I flip it to cook the other side. Because it's thin the other side doesn't take very long. Then put the pancake on a plate and repeat the process until you're out of dough. Voila!

2. We used peanut butter and jelly because we had it on hand. I don't like syrup because it's too sweet. Sometimes I make a berry topping, but that's for another time.

Egg Sludge Sandwich
Egg Sludge is basically just egg salad, but with a cooler name. I don't make egg sludge. It scares me. It's yummy, but it scares me. Deep down, I know it involves mayonaise. Yuck! I can eat it as long as I don't see the mayonaise go in.

Your best bet is to woo someone who is willing to make egg sludge for you. I found mine wandering around in the rain several years ago and offered him a ride home. See how it payed off? He made me an egg sludge sandwich today and I didn't have to look at any mayonaise.

Ochazuke
We made extra rice yesterday because we felt like crap and thought we'd be in need of more comfort food. We made Ochazuke the same way as yesterday, but today we used broccolli instead of peas and carrots. We used up the furikake this time. Next time we're trying a different variety, which is almost identical except the ingredients come in different proportions.

Ochazuke
Tuesday, October 4, 2005, 06:53 PM - comfort food, breakfast, sandwiches
Menu

Today was culinarily uneventful. Breakfast was supposed to be cold pizza, but someone (not me) boobytrapped the eggs so that getting the pizza out of the refrigerator made the box of eggs fall on the kitchen floor. So instead, breakfast was scrambled eggs on rye bread. Lunch was cold pizza.

We're both flirting with a bit of a cold... not enough to be completely dehibilitating, but enough to make us feel like we couldn't make anything grandiose for dinner. Comfort food was in order. So we made ochazuke. It was yummy.

Recipes

Scrambled Eggs on Rye bread
1. remove cold pizza from refrigerator, catching container on egg box so that the egg box falls to the floor. Make sure before doing this that there are only as many eggs in the container as you would like to have for breakfast---in this case, 2 eggs. The eggs should crush enough that you don't want to just stick them back in the fridge, but not enough to get raw egg all over the floor. yuck!

2. Roll your eyes and return pizza to the refrigerator.

3. Get a clean pan--I used a wok because everything else was in the dishwasher and I didn't want to wash anything while holding 2 raw eggs in one hand to keep them from making a mess.

4. Separate the egg from the eggshells. Put the egg in the pan and the eggshells in the garbage disposal. You might want to wash your hands at this point, because you don't want raw egg contamination.

5. In the pan, scramble up the eggs with whatever's handy over high heat. When the egg starts to solidify, turn the heat down (or off, depending on how thick your pan is).

6. Cut slices of rye bread. You might toast them if you have a toaster, or zap them for 15 seconds in the microwave if you don't. Dump eggs on top.

7. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat.

Cold Pizza
1. Have already ordered a pizza a day or two ago, and have left leftovers in the refrigerator.

2. Remove pizza from refrigerator. Eat.


Ochazuke
1. Cook rice the way you'd ordinarily cook rice. We used brown rice, which we're still a little afraid of. We used 2 parts water to 1 part rice. We're still experimenting with brown rice and haven't quite gotten it down. The package said to use more water, but that made it really soupy. 2:1 was still a little wetter than I like my rice, so next time we'll probably use less.

2. Pick a vegetable. I don't think this is particularly authentic, but we used frozen carrots and peas. Throw the vegetable in a bowl, microwave it. Put the rice on top.

3. Add some sour plums. Sure, there are other things you could use, but I've become addicted to sour plums. They're good eats.

4. Put some nori and sesame on top. We have a jar of stuff that's a mixture of nori, sesame, soy, and rice powder. I could tell you what it's called, but that would involve standing up, so you'll just have to go to your local asian market and poke around. If you can't find the prepackaged mixture, just shred up some nori and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. It should work just fine.

5. Add green tea. You could add any tea you like, depending on your mood, but green tea is most appropriate.