Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beer Cookies

Yeah, you read that right.

Beer... is there anything it can't improve? Digestion, sleep, interpersonal relationships, weight, beer impacts all of these in a healthy and positive way. Wait... unless I'm thinking about masturbation. I get the two confused sometimes.

Don't worry. I'm 74% sure I've got the right one for this recipe. Just in case, though, you may want to make a copy of this recipe and substitute every instance of "beer" in this post with "masturbation." That way, if you make these and they don't turn out right, you'll know I fucked up, and you can make it again with masturbation.

Phew, glad we got that one cleared up!

Take note that these are not especially sweet cookies, not the way most people are used to thinking of. There is a tiny, subtle sweetness to them, but the real kickassitude behind these cookies is their texture and lightness. These are excellent cookies for eating alongside bittersweet beverages like tea and coffee.

Or, you know, beer.

(Did you make your substitution yet? Remember, it could be important later one)

Point being, if you're looking to stuff your face with sugar and stickiness, these ain't the cookies for you. Go buy some fucking box mix and you know what, don't even bother baking it, just put it in a mixing bowl, pour some milk over it, and it eat with a spoon while you watch bad reruns of crappy shows from your childhood that you still insist are good because you can't bear the thought of having wasted all those hours you could have spent running outside and playing and learning on stupid cop shows and fuck-ugly MTV beach parties.

Ahem. Ingredients:

-Some flour. Like, I dunno, a cup and a half or something.
-Little bit of baking soda. Little bit. Jussaweebit.
-Quarta cuppa butta. Microwave that in the mixing bowl for a minute.
-Hazelnuts, a whole fucking cup of delicious, expensive hazelnuts.
-Quarta cuppa sesame seeds. For extra credit, heat these in an un-oiled skillet for just a minute until theyget kinda golden brown.
-An egg. White, brown, speckled, Bald Eagle, Velociraptor, doesn't fucking matter. Stop asking me so many goddamn stupid questions.
-A cup of sugar. Whatever kind of sugar you like. I used grainy turbinado sugar, the stuff with the molasses still in it, but the texture of the sugar didn't show up at all, so I seriously doubt it matters what kind you use.
-Two cupsa good beer*

Here's where it gets fun. What kinda beer are you gonna use? ANY FUCKING KIND YOU LIKE. Normal alcohol rules apply - don't cook with anything you wouldn't happily drink, with the exception being if you didn't like something, but you can tell it was still good-quality, just not to you fancy-schmancy, namby-pampy tastes. For my first outing with this, I used New Belgium's "Shift" Pale Lager, which had a very light body and a respectable amount of hop bitterness and aroma. Not a bad beer, and I'm glad I tried it, but not exactly my favorite. I did realize that it would be awesome to use for cooking if I needed just a slight hint of bittersweetness, though, so I kept half a can in a water bottle for purposes of CULINARY NECROMANCY. I can see this working amazing with a nut brown or a honey brown ale, a sweet marzen or doppelbock, or (as The Thirsty Wench herself pointed out) an oatmeal stout. On the other hand, you could go the complete opposite direction, and get out your IPAs* or CDAs* or anything that's not PBR,* and ramp up the bitterness and dryness. I could see that working extremely well, actually, and now I wish I had a bottle of Arrogant Bastard to try this out with. Try it a couple of different ways, so what turns out delicious, then report back to me so I can make it myself.

*(India Pale Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale, and Utterly Disgusting Horse Piss, for those unfamiliar with the nuances of beer geek language)

Alright, preheat your oven to 350, and just leave it to do its thing while you work. In a mixing bowl (a different one than you use to entertain your sorrows and wasted formative years) pour in the melted butter and all the sugar, and stir that in. Once it's looking nice and mixed, crack yer egg and drop it in, then mix some more. This is called creaming, because you'll cream your pants when you smell how delicious this mixture is. Seriously, you won't even need to resort to beer to reach a state of fundamental rapture and then immediately have to do laundry. Dissolve your baking soda in about half a cup of warm water, then dump that in, too, and stir it up. Then mix in the nuts and seeds and, yeah, you guessed it, stir.

Add one cup of flour, and mix that in. Add enough beer to turn your suddenly-dry-and-powdery mixture back into something more like proper batter. Repeat until all the flour has been used. If you used too much beer for the last time, just add a little extra flour, no biggie. That just means you'll get more cookies. OH THE HUMANITY.

Lick the batter off your mixing spoon, like a proper fucking baker, and then, maybe with a different spoon if you're worried about diseases and shit (but who cares, right, you're the only one who's going to be eating these, right, I mean why else would you even bake cookies unless you're depressed and alone JUST LIKE ME), scoop up some batter and drop it onto an un-oiled cooking sheet. I made drops about the size of the ring my thumb and middle finger make, but your hands might not be caveman hands like mine, so make yours a little smaller. You and your normal-sized fingers. Think that makes you special, don't you? Long-fingered freak. In the good old days, we would have put your kind in manacles and forced you to play the piano for us at parties. A piano SOAKED IN GASOLINE HANGING OVER A PIT OF FLAMES.

Speaking of flames, go ahead and put your cookies in the oven now, for ten minutes. That may seem short for cookies, but trust me, you really don't want to overcook these babies. Not like your neighbor's babies. Doesn't really matter how much you cook them. Unless you're going to eat them. In which case, you want to go about 45 minutes in a 450 degree oven, because otherwise you'll end up with their toesees and fingers charred, but the heart and other nutritious organs not even rare, and that's just a damn shame and after those ten minutes, take the cookies out and let them cool for about a minute. When you scrape them off with your spatula, you may notice these slide around more than most cookies. This is a good thing. Despite their apparent size, the beer you used to make these has made them light and spongy and sproingy like you won't believe. Seriously, pick up one of the cookies, and drop it on the baking sheet. That little fucker with BOUNCE. So fucking cool.

The hazelnuts and sesame seeds add this wonderful crunchy texture to what is otherwise a delightfully soft, light treat that you'd have to be a fat, disgusting pig that no one wants to take to the prom who'll die alone in their bed at age fifty of a pie-induced heart attack to feel bad about eating them. Like I said before, these are absolutely fantastic for teatime, especially if you dip them in the tea.

What's that? Tea's not badass enough for you? Well, Rambo, you know who drinks tea? HOMICIDE DETECTIVES. It gives them energy and alertness without all the stomach problems of coffee, and when you're staring at the body of the teenage girl who came to you for help just the other night, whose case your commanding Lieutenant ordered you to drop because of bullshit political reasons, and now she's dead, she's fly-food, because you didn't have the courage to stand up to your El-Tee, but don't worry, because as soon as you finish your cup of over-steeped Earl Gray and the delicious Beer Cookie that you baked that morning, you're gonna find out who did this, and oh, you'll make them pay in ways that the law can't even imagine, you really don't want to have to deal with unprofessional stomach problems.

That's who drinks tea. And eats beer cookies. And now, so can you.

Enjoy, my delightful little cranberry fuck-muffins.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Pancakes? No. DAMNCAKES. Like pancakes, but they're so good that God cast them out of the Garden HOURS before Eve took a bite of the apple. Who knows what might have happened if she'd found the damncakes first - we'd all probably be immortal space hippies by now, with knowledge of not just the difference between good and evil, but we'd also know Michelle Bachmann's true physical form.

What, you think she looks a probably-real-wild-in-bed Math teacher all the time? That's just to lull you into a false sense of voting for her.

Disclaimer: this post contains measurements. It's sort of unavoidable, considering it's at least partly about mixing pancake batter, and that's not something you want to fuck up. You'll end up with something that looks like a props department prank on the set of Breaking Bad. So, here we go, here we go, here we go.

2 cups all-purpose flour (whole wheat, if your feelin' nastay)
3/4 cup plain oatmeal
1/4 cup regular sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking pownder
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
almond extract
vanilla extract
handful of craisins (cranberry raisins, dumbass)
handful of semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs

Alright. Mix all all your dry ingredients except the craisins and chocolate chips up together - you do not want all your baking soda lumped up in a corner and all your sugar lumped up in another. See above, regarding meth lab scene. So stir 'em up good. When you got it, crack y'r eggs, and chuck 'em in, then the craisins, chocolate, and about two shakes each of almond and vanilla extract (I'm assuming you've got the kind that come in bottles like tabasco sauce comes in. If not, well, use about the same amount as you would for the saliva of a good, contemptuous spit onto your worst enemy's expensive new boots).

You should have a good sunny-colored batter going here. Good. Get out the skillet, griddle, Mongol shield, whatever, and get it up to a little hotter than you'd use to cook eggs. Pour the batter in a little at a time, until you've got something that looks like pancakes which have stared at the Ark of the Covenant for too long. Don't flip 'em until you see bubbles forming and popping on the surface, and even then, lift up the bottoms of the pancakes and see if they're the right color. Note that, because of the ingredients that go into Damncakes, they're going to be a bit darker than normal pancakes, so even if you like yours really light and barely-golden, let them sit a little longer until they have kind of a caramel color to them.

When they're done, take them off the heat and put them on a plate. I shouldn't have to tell you what to do next.

This mix will yield you about 10 normal-goddamn-human-being-sized pancakes, or 6 IHOP-sized pancakes. Freeze what you don't eat, because if they're anything like normal pancakes, Damncakes are just as good when you reheat them after a few weeks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apples and Assholes Sauce/Stew/Soup/Whatever

You ever just sit down and think "I wish I were an asshole right now." Not, I mean, the thing that poop comes out of, but the kind of person who can walk down the street, whistle a jaunty tune, and then stick their leg out and clotheseline a health freak off their way-too-expensive mountain bike? Or the kind of person who carries a power drill with them for the sole purpose and spinning it loudly in the air whenever a stranger tries to ask you a question? Maybe you want to be the kind of person who includes the word "assholes" in the title of a post on cooking food that people will eat. Maybe you'll go down on all fours and bite the heads off of flowers that your elderly neighbor spent hours planting.

Regardless of your precise intentions, being an asshole is incredibly fun. It spits in the eye of enforced decency, it swings a 5-iron right into the balls of the society that keeps you from doing what you like when you like it, and it is a perfect sort of spiritual liberation. Of course, there are ways of being an asshole that actually make the world a better place. It's true.

For example - mix onions and apples together. What an asshole combination! Who in their right minds would eat something like that, those things don't go together, what are you trying to prove?

Too bad. I feel like being an asshole today, so that means I feel like mixing weird shit together. And, look, think about this - onions and apples are both sweet, crunchy, and mix extremely well with spices. Yet, typically whenever we want to start up a base for a stew or a sauce, we only ever use onions. Yes, apples have a sweeter, more powerful flavor than onions, but what if we want to use that to our advantage?


Alright. Get a pot, and get olive oil heating up. Wait until your kitchen smells like a Roman being gently, deliciously cremated. While this is happening, chop an onion in half, and then chop it into the smallest pieces you're capable of chopping. No, put the fancy onion chopper thing away, just get out a big, sharp knife, and chop as best you can. You can't use a knife, we can't do business. Because, after all, this isn't just a cooking blog, but a VIOLENCE blog, and seriously, have you ever tried murdering a nosy neighbor who saw what you keep in your basement with one of those press-chop doohickeys? Let me tell you, it's not easy, and it's no fun, and you'll ruin the press-chop doohickey anyway. Stick with a knife.

Got your onion chopped? Good. Crying? Good. Pretend to feel bad about breaking up with your ex while you cry, it'll help you feel justified in dumping their lazy, no-good, can't-do-that-thing-you-know-THAT-THING-you-really-like-in-bed, probably-sleeping-around-on-you-anyway HO-BAG. Then chop the apple, into not quite as small pieces. You can skin the apple first, if you want to, but I kinda like the skins of apples and tomatoes, so I tend to leave them in stuff I make. They lend a nice meatiness and sometimes a proper crunch to things. I like crunch. It's the short version of Crazy Lunch, which is often what I end up eating. Apple chopped? In it goes. Then, quarter a tomato, decide whether you're gonna leave the skin or seeds out (I kept them both), and then chuck them in as well. Stir the whole thing up, and let it get good and properly introduced to itself. And don't be afraid to cram your stirring spoon down and mash things up a tad, either.

Next, pour maybe three cups of V8 vegetable juice in there, and then a few glugs of red wine. Stir all that in, crank the heat up, and let the alcohol cook out of the wine. Keep that bastard stirring. When everything begins to take on kind of the same color (it'll be a properly autumnal clay red-brown), turn the heat down a bit, and season with as much ground white pepper as you like, and more garam marsala than you think you'll need. Stir all that in, and let it condense down, mashing it occasionally.

At this point, you can experiment a bit. Chicken or turkey? Chop those birds up and toss them in, let them cook in the sauce! Another apple, fresh this time and in larger chunks? Sure, what the hell, could make for a nice desert! Little heavy cream, or maybe an egg or two, to thicken things up? YUS. Do whatever the hell you feel like, you're an asshole, if someone tells you not to, insult them to their face until they cry.

I used a green apple for this, but if you're savvy on the different types apples and think you know a particular kind that would work best? Use it! Red, green, golden, who gives a shit? Hell, does this even HAVE to use apples? NO. I just liked the apples and assholes alliteration. You could chop and mash some pears, which would probably be simply amazing as a sauce over pork or a real fatty cut of beef; ever wonder what bananas would be like as a sauce element? Chop 'em up and chuck 'em in! If anyone plugs their nose at the idea of mixing onions and bananas, who cares? YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE. Relish it! Speaking of relish, I just realized this may not make an awful relish, if you're keen on making something like that. Put on a hotdog, eat it in front of your uptight boss at the office barbecue. Then quit your job and PUNCH YOUR BOSS IN THE FACE.

The Apples and Assholes recipe has one distinct advantage over most other examples of being an asshole - it doesn't have any nasty repercussions. In fact, it's probably good for you. Or something. Hell, I dunno, my body is a steaming mass of disease and disappointments, held together only by spite and hatred of and from others. So don't exactly take my words on that, right?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ambersbane - To Summer, to Youth, to Music

So I'm a teenager, I'm hanging out with my teenager friends, and there's alcohol involved. Lots of alcohol - not as in copious amounts of one or two brands of beer and a few bottles of wine, but say, a bottle each of just about anything you can imagine - six different kinds of flavored vodka, types of schnapps that I didn't even know existed, bourbon, brandy, and a bottle of scotch. I remember looking at the scotch and thinking "no, that stuffs too heavy for me." I also remembering hearing a whisper in my mind, saying "not yet... not yet. But soon."

Five years later, Johnnie Walker came into my life.

But this isn't about a scotch mix. This isn't a mix that's particularly classy, or even all that strong - it's a drink mix created by an adolescent boy who is acutely aware that there is a larger world out there past small-town Iowa, but who had no idea what it might look, smell, sound or taste like. It's been refined, and modified, and I hope improved, but the core of the recipe is one of exuberance, of "Do Anything" experimentation. Its a drink that tastes the way your favorite pop song from the summer of whatever year you lost your virginity in sounds like - probably not that complex, probably a little too sweet, and maybe it doesn't hold up to time with repeated tastings (listening),  but for what it is, for the time its meant to exist in for you, its perfect.

This drink is to your taste buds what "Alex Chilton," by the Replacements, is to your ears.

So. We're in the basement, and we're trying various liquors, and trying them in different combinations. Most of them were terrible, and the ones that weren't were ones we'd heard of before - Rum Runners, Screwdrivers, White Russians, things like that. Kid stuff. We weren't trying to conduct alchemy here, and we were playing as much as anything else.

But then, I found it. Just the right combination of liquors and additives, in the right proportions. Mixed in a glass, then poured into Dixe cup shots. They were passed around. Maybe we should have made a toast to youth, but we were too young to know that. So we shot them back.

The only one who didn't like it was my friend Amber. Instantly, the drink had a name.

So here's what you do:

You'll need two different kinds of vodka, a decent-quality plain vodka (I've made it with everything from Svedka to Grey Goose, so its really up to you and your wallet), a cherry-flavored vodka (UV has worked the best for this, though there are plenty of brands I have yet to try), Kahlua, and hazelnut flavoring syrup, lightunsweetened cream, as well as about two handfuls of ice (chips would be better than cubes).

Important - do NOT substitute cherry flavoring syrup for the cherry vodka. It makes the drink intolerably sweet, and the vodka acts to both cut the drinks actual density, as well as add a little extra kick. I also think it provides a better aftertaste than cherry syrup. Also, cherry syrup just really looks like congealed blood to me. I get them confused sometimes.

Hmm. That would explain why that one batch came out salty. It would also explain where Karen, and those twenty minutes I seem to have lost, got off to. Ahh, memories.

In a mixing glass, throw in three shots of plain vodka, one shot of cherry vodka, about a tablespoon and a half of Kahlua, and two teaspoons of hazelnut syrup, and about half a cup of cream. Stir the liquid ingredients together by themselves first with a spoon (make sure you get a good whirlpool going), and then add the ice chips and shake it like it's the last high school dance you'll ever go to and you want people to remember you for something besides that time you fell asleep in Chem I and woke up with streamers of snot running between your nose and the lab table.

Let the ice melt - this is why you want chips, rather than cubes, because it'll take longer for them to melt and they'll do that nasty layered separation thing, and even when you mix it back together, nobody wants to drink anything that ever looked like that. The ice will have chilled the glass (ideally, you should get a bit of condensation on the sides - especially if its summer. And really, this is a summer drink, even as thick as it is), and it will have thinned it out a bit. Since Ambersbane is meant to be a shooter drink, thickness is a bit of a concern, and you don't want a milkshake by the end of this - think the density (but not the texture) of pulpy orange juice. If you don't like pulpy orange juice, you and I can't ever hang out together. Pour drinks into shot glasses (you'll have enough for plenty of shots, or a shot each for plenty of people).

Don't make our mistake. Do a toast, for anything. To youth, to joy, to summer, to love, to the fading hours of Black Friday when everyone has just gotten off work, to each other, to yourselves, to the future. Ambersbane is for celebrating. It's too sweet, too thick, and too young-blooded for anything else.

Musical accompaniment:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pasta de Gonzales Rapido

Just a quick one today, folks. Sorry, I don't have time for foreplay right now, and frankly, the cuddling gave me a rash last time. You have GOT to shave your legs, dear reader, or wear wool stockings or something.

Mmmm. Wool stockings.

So, pasta and noodles only belong in Mediterranean or East Asian recipes, to be included with only ingredients from those regions. There are a few weird things like spaetzle and dumplings, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. And if a culture never developed what professional chefs would call pasta, then you should never use their ingredients with a pasta dish. It just wouldn't be right.

*Terrible, frightening sounds of screaming and power tools. Ambulance sirens in the distance, which then abruptly, and unsettlingly, stop.*

Aha. Forgive me, that was my evil, purist twin. He's dead now. I killed him. I killed him with my hate.

Alright. This recipe is stupid easy, dirt cheap, and mad quick. Its not for the pasta purist, but then, this site isn't for any kind of purist at all, so fuck 'em. Here are your ingredients: some kind of wide, flat pasta - fettuccine, mafalde (square or rectangle-shaped), lasagnette (lasagna's cute, but easily-pissed-off, little sister), even some shaped pasta like farfalle (bowties) might work. If you can get wide rice noodles, that would be double-top-best. For this recipe's maiden voyage, I used wavy egg noodles, the kind that comes in a back and you can buy ten pounds of it with a wink and a smile. Get 'em boiling with a pot of well-salted water. Salt isn't necessary for most pasta dishes, and the taste of the saltwater is usually lost with any sauce that you put with the pasta, but in this case, I think it's important. Don't be shy with the salt, either, drop half a cup or more into the water. If you live near the ocean, just go out, steal some seawater, and use that. I mean, we can all use a little toxic chemicals in our system. It builds characters.

A quick note - put the salt into the water before it boils, DO NOT PUT IT IN WITH THE PASTA. Your water will turn into a foamy, angry mess that will do its best to kill you and your loved ones. It's like giving the water rabies, so let me put it this way: AVOID THE WRATH OF BOILING CUJO WATER.

Saltwater boiling? Good. Grab a skillet or fry-pan or something, nothing too huge cuz you're just not gonna need it, and it'll take longer to heat up than necessary. Put a tiny bit of oil in there, and keep the heat relatively low, far less than you'd need for making a stir-fry. Think scrambled eggs, here. Now, get out some chopped green chilies, about a handful. Now, I used a tiny can of chilies, and that worked perfectly - in fact, the preservative liquid helped distribute the heat more evenly. Fresh chilies will work just fine, though, in fact probably better, so if you got it, use it. Also get out some spinach, a big handful of it. When the skillet's ready, chuck your green stuff in, and keep it moving. Get that spinach wilted, and grin with terrible joy as they scream for you to stop. Don't - the spinach is trying to trick you, and it deserves its fate. When its wilted, grab about a thumb-sized amount of cream cheese - unsweetened only, please. The sweetness in cream cheese you'd use for confections will throw off the great spicy flavor you'll get from the chilies.

Your water should be boiling by now, so chuck in the pasta. Toss the cream cheese into the skillet, mush it down, and spread it around evenly. As soon, like, THE EXACT SECOND the cream cheese goes from a nugget to a puddle, get the chilies, spinach and cheese off the heat, and keep it stirring so it doesn't stick to the skillet. Watch the pasta, and as soon as its done, drain it, then throw it, and the skillet's contents, right back into the pot you boiled the pasta in, and mix it all up. Remember how you stirred like a motherfucker for the beer sauce? STIR LIKE THAT MOTHERFUCKER.

When the pasta is evenly coated (it won't be a thick coating - this is almost like glazing the pasta, with the chilies and spinach just sorta hanging around) get it into bowls, and crack some black pepper over it, if it's not spicy enough for ya yet. You can add cheese if you like, but I honestly don't think this needs it.

This whole recipe took me no longer than fifteen minutes, and the ingredients are cheaper than your Aunt Edna. You really have no excuse for not making this and serving it to everyone you know.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Culinary Necromancy: Zombie Potato Stew

We've all been there. Its dinner time, or four in the morning (which in the circles I frequent, are pretty much the same thing), and you're hungry. So you check the fridge - nothing. You check the pantry - less than nothing. You check the icebox - same old story, not even a lonely rabbit carcass. You try to scrape the congealed remains of that last glass of wine you spilled off the foyer floor, but there's not enough there to do anything with.

Oh sure, you've got STUFF, and with a little linguistic gymnastics you might call it FOODSTUFFS, but there's no meal there. You know it when you've got a meal, your cooking brain just knows it, but right its not doing you any good. In fact, right now its mostly despairing because a lot of the stuff in your larder is about to go bad, but you've got no place for any of it.

This is when you have to stop using your cooking brain, and start using your cooking balls.

This is when you have to chuck everything you've got into a pan or a mixing bowl or the stove, fire up your intuition, and open yourself to the possibilities before you. You've got no recipe, no guide, and no idea what the crap you've thrown together is gonna look like. This is the really fun part about cooking, the breakneck pace you have to set for yourself, the mental flexibility and problem-solving skills you thought you gave up when you quit dating, and the sheer fearless creativity that defines true art. You shouldn't be intimidated by this prospect, or even humbled - every professional cook has had to go through this at some point, usually as part of the hiring process. True story - most cooks are, as a sort of test, given a mish-mash of seemingly random ingredients and tools, a time limit, and a dinner party of four or so, and told to make something of it.

Some people call this "cleaning out the fridge," or "cooking with the garbage disposal." These are fair enough names, I suppose, but they sound a little domestic, a little relaxed. You should never be relaxed when you're cooking like this. You should have your hair in a rat's nest, you should be wearing a stained and tattered robe (and nothing else), you should be pacing back and forth across your kitchen, frightening your pets and family/roommates, muttering arcane and terrible phrases under your breath. Because if cooking is magic (and I believe it is), then this is the wildest, darkest, most dangerous and uncontrollable magic of all. This is Culinary Necromancy.

Recommended cooking music: '80s punk, especially the Misfits and the Ramones, supplemented by stuff like Night on Bald Mountain and Uranus the Magician.

Obviously, the resulting recipes will be one-of-a-kind, spur-of-the-moment things, befitting particular situations, and when you decide to call upon your own necromantic powers and summon your own culinary demons, you'll have different ingredients, tools, limitations, and circumstances. You can, if you like, follow the instructions (such as I ever provide all of you with anything like specific instructions) for these recipes to the letter and create your own incarnations of these evil but delicious meals, but the real intent behind this is to inspire you and illustrate how the process of Culinary Necromancy works. I want to show you what I did when faced with the empty wasteland of a kitchen, so that you'll have a better idea of what to do when you find yourself in similar dire straits. This is inspiration, not instruction. Kinda like porn, in that sense.

And now, for our first of many such examples of this dark and evil practice, Omniphage proudly presents the recipe for:


Old potatoes are like old girlfriends: they just get uglier the longer you have to look at 'em, but you just can't seem to either get rid of them or find a use for them. The worst part is that most places sell potatoes in those giant nets that hold roughly a berjillion of the damn things, and there's no way you're gonna use up all of those as quickly as you'd like. Hell, I come from Midwestern and Irish stock, and even I have my limits for potato consumption. So you use the potatoes you bought for a casserole, or hash browns, or batting practice or whatever, and now you've got a bunch of extras just sitting around, growing fur and eyeballs.

Spinach is likewise sold in gigantic amounts and, like potatoes, it gets old fast, especially the hydroponically-grown stuff. The difference is that spinach can be used in just about any meal, but then, if we had the makings for a normal meal, we wouldn't have to turn to the Eternal Powers of Darkness and Punk Rock, would we? Spinach is also bulky as hell, especially considering how much it reduces when you cook it, and it just takes up space in the fridge that could be better used to hold, oh, say, beer, or leftover pizza, or the mailman's heart, or the whispering roses that just showed up on your pillow that one night. So even if its not going bad, using up extra spinach can only be good for your kitchen.

Flat beer is nobody's friend. Flat beer that went flat because you couldn't drink any more of it even at prime drinking temp is even worse. This may seem to go against my previous statement of "if you wouldn't drink it, why the hell would you cook with it?" but stay with me here, and I'll explain. Rogue Brewery makes an weird, fascinating brew called Chipotle Ale. Guess what its brewed with. Now, I like ale, and I like spicy things, and I like beer that encourages me to continue drinking it. But there's just something really odd about taking a sip of beer and tasting the smoky spice of a dried jalepeno - usually I'm drinking beer to cut and neutralize spices after I'm done with them. So I drank as much of the Chipotle Ale as I could, but I have a rule that's served me well so far - if you're drinking a beer, and every time you take a drink you have to follow it with water, then you should quit kidding yourself and stop drinking that beer. Life's too short to drink beer (or eat food) you don't genuinely enjoy. However, I didn't pour the Chipotle Ale down the drain, because I saw potential for it. I re-capped it as best I could, and put it away for a time when I'd have use of it.

(Quick tangent. Herein lies a good lesson for practioners of Culinary Necromancy: Never, ever throw and ingredient out just because you didn't end up needing it for a recipe. Unless it is at risk of going bad quickly, seal it up and store it. Always be thinking about potential uses for such unwanted bits and pieces, plan ahead, make notes, and above all, do not despair if you can't think of something right away. Your fridge might not thank you for it, but your trash can, your wallet, and your taste buds, will.)

So what did you do with going-bad potatoes, too-big-for-its shelf spinach, and flat, weird beer? Well, I'll tell you.

Get a wok, making sure its big enough to hold all the potatoes you'll be needing to get rid of. Get those potatoes washed and chopped up good and small, a bit bigger than bite-size. If these are especially old potatoes, this will also help to identify which ones have already betrayed you and are harboring dark spots and mold. Set your chopped potatoes aside in a big bowl, and get together the makings for the stew components.

Pour a bit of cooking oil into the wok. You can use olive oil if you like, but really you should save that for your more prima dona recipes. Normal vegetable oil will do just fine. Get the pot going over medium heat. When the oil gets hot, pour in the chipotle ale (I'd bought a 40 oz, since that was all they had, and barely drank off the neck of the beer, leaving me with something like 35 ounces of the stuff), along with four or five squirts of Tabasco sauce, or whatever brand of hot sauce you have and want to get rid of. Throw in as well five taps of Worcestershire sauce, and a few shakes of ground cinnamon. Get that up to simmering heat, and through in the potatoes.

Notice that your wok is definitely more full than you're probably used to - we're using a wok instead of a pot here because we need wide volume more than tall volume. The objective here is to cover the potatoes with the beer so that they actually boil in it, which probably won't happen in a pot because the beer simply won't go very high in one. If it really bothers you that you're making stew in a wok, then go to the sink, splash water on your face, and remember that these are your tools, and that its your responsibility to use them to fit the situation, not just the situations they've been used in before.  Relax - Emeril isn't going to bust into your kitchen and punch you in the face (BAM!) for using your tools "incorrectly."And even if he did, so what? This is your kitchen, your place of power, your sanctum sanctorum, and you can do whatever you want in there.

Allow me to repeat that: YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT IN YOUR OWN GODDAMN KITCHEN. This applies especially to Culinary Necromancy, but really it works across all spectra of cooking. Do what works, and use your head, but never refrain from something just because grandma from the old country or your favorite Food Network star wouldn't like it.

Let the potatoes boil for a while. While this is happening, the liquid is also going to reduce down to more of a thick, stewy consistency. When the potatoes are losing a bit of their hardness, get out a packet of rice and your spinach. Whatever rice-in-a-bag you've got will do just fine, I personally used some Uncle Ben's wild rice mixture. Now here's the interesting part - grab the flavor packet out of the box, and pour it into the simmering stew along with the spinach. Stir it up so the spinach and flavor stuff is evenly mixed in, then throw your rice in the microwave with as much water as needed (back of the box should tell ya). When you're nuking the rice, go about five minutes less than what the box tells you to do - you'll finish cooking the rice in the stew itself. While this is happening, start stirring the potatoes around. Watch your stew - it should still be more liquid than solid if not, turn the heat down a bit, and add in some more beer - you'll probably want to drink beer with stew anyway, so just crack one open a bit early and pour some in there. When the rice is done, throw it in, stir it up. Taste-test the rice and potatoes - they should come to doneness at about the same time. When they do, get the wok off the burner, and get your bowl(s) ready. Grab whatever cheese you need to use up out of the fridge (I used sharp cheddar and it was glorious), and throw it into the bowl, then spoon the Zombie Potato Stew over it. Stir it up so the cheese gets nice and stringy. Serve hot, eat with a spoon. Store the rest of the stew (you more than likely made a lot, since this was, at least in part, an effort to get rid of unneeded stuff) in the fridge or freezer for later, when you're hungry but your powers are too drained for Culinary Necromancy.

And by the way, if Emeril did happen to come by to chastise you, hit him in the head with the now-empty wok (BAM!-), bake him in the oven, chop 'im to bits, and store him in the freezer. Like I said before, never waste potential ingredients.