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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Violet Cordial

I think this sort of fits the definition of a cordial.. With dandelion season coming in to full swing, I have been toying with some recipes to make flavored syrups using spring flowers. The last batch of dandelion syrup turned out excellent, so I decided to try a batch using violets this time.

I went to the park today and picked about 4 cups of violets and brought them back home. I tried to get ones that had just sprouted up and had not fully opened, because they have not been visited by any bugs yet and have lots of nectar. I boiled the flower heads in 4 cups of water and let them steep for a few minutes. After a while the petals became transparent and the water became a teal greenish blue. I strained the liquid with a sieve and a linen cloth to get all the particulates out. Once i had the strained liquid back on the stove I added about 2 cups of sugar and the strained juice of 2 limes. Once I added this and brought it to a boil, the solution changed to a bright purple, like beet juice. I let it simmer away for about two hours on low-med. heat while I sterilized a jar to put it in. Once it was ready and had a syrupy consistency, I poured it in the jar and covered it, replacing it in the hot water bath to cool.

Once it has sealed itself, I can put it in the fridge and try some out. If you stir about a teaspoon of syrup in to a glass of water, it makes a sweet refreshing tea.

Update: The syrup is really tasty. I could have let get a bit thicker, but the flavor was good, very subtle. It kept its excellent clarity and color and makes a big statement spread on a piece of toast. Im looking forward to experimenting with and perfecting a recipe! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Say "Cheese!"

Today i got lots of really good stuff. I went to one store on the way home from doing laundry, even though I wasnt really prepared to.. i was wearing flipflops and didnt even have a light with me, but my curiosity got the best of me(as usual.) When I saw all the stuff in there, I had to jump in; i think it was worth it in the end. From the frist dive with my sister, we managed to recover:

12 cans Cool Whip
1o tubs Helluva Good sour cream and onion dip
4 packages sliced pepper jack cheese
1 box Moriningstar Farms garden burgers
2 packs carrot cake cupcakes
1lb sliced vanilla cake
1 pouch dried medeterranean apricots
1 green bell pepper
1 bottle raspberry vinegrette

Once I got home, I washed all the food and took inventory. It is really great to find so much cheese that is so fresh, so I was pretty stoked. On our second run later on in the evening, we were lucky to find an even better treasure trove.

7 packs Sargento string cheese
2 bags shredded cheese blends
1 pack "government cheese" slices
2 jars horseradish
6 bags hamburger buns
3 bags hotdog buns
1 box peanut brittle
1 taco kit
1 large can oats
1 box sausage biscuits
1 HungryMan frozen dinner
1 3liter bottle LemonLime pop

With all this cheese, im gonna be trumpeting all night!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Food Galore

Today was such a lovely day that I decided to host a cook out tonight. I invited a bunch of people over and I cooked most of what was left in my fridge. I tried to use the food that was older; stuff that has been frozen for a couple weeks and vegetables that needed to be used. We grilled chicken and some turkey hot dogs as well as a veggie pack that I made last week with red potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, red, white, and sweet onions. I also cooked two pasta dishes and one of my favorite dishes ever, which we will call Tomat. You can find a recipe below. I recently found a recipe that a friend sent me for dandelion cordial, which requires dandelion syrup. Fortunately, I made a batch last week before the weather turned... You just mix some of the syrup in to a glass of water for a light refreshing tea like beverage with a unique floral flavor. Needless to say, everything was delicious. Hopefully, I will be hosting these dinners each week for the rest of the summer. you will just have to keep in touch to find out when the come up.


I start with a hot skillet and add some olive oil. Add minced garlic and roast it while you halve a couple tomatoes. Put the tomatoes face down in the garlic oil and cover them for about five or ten minutes while they cook on medium-low heat. While they cook, slice thin pieces of bread and toast them in the oven at about 325°. You can put some olive oil and spices on them if you want, but with the spices in the tomat, its not completely nessecary. After a bit, the skins of the tomato will shough off easily, so remove them once the tomatoes are soft, then crack one egg per tomato into the center of the pan and sprinkle salt, pepper, basil, and whatever else you want on top. Cover it for a few more minutes until the egg is mostly cooked. Once its done, break up the tomato and egg and sop it up with the crusty bread.
This is a dish that my grandfather taught my dad to make and my dad taught my mom and my mom has made it for us(kids) for years. I like it because it seems so refined but is so simple and delicious to make for any occasion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cooking With Garbage

I have been wanting to have a cooking blog for a while that documented my cooking adventures. Now that the contents of my cupboards depends on what is available, I have had to get very creative with the stuff I find. Some dishes, i ate because i didnt want to waste the food.. others, i cant believe I had never thought of before! So from now on I will be including any interesting recipes I come up with while trying to figure out how to cook what ive got. There are two things that I can think of since I created them both last night.

the "Chinese Burrito" as I called it
I spread cream cheese on to a spinach wrap and cut up some imitation crab meat. i sauteed the crab meat for a couple minutes with some spices and olive oil. While it cooked, I shredded some iceberg lettuce and grated a carrot. When the crabmeat, which I cut like pulled barbecue, was done cooking, I put in on the wrap with cream cheese and added the lettuce and carrot. On top of it all, I put some chinese oyster sauce and wrapped it up. It was really tasty with good variety of textures and flavors; it was a little like a giant california roll... mmmm

Im not sure what to call the other one. Its like a pizza mixed with a pastry. We'll call it an Apricot Bleu Cheese Crostini.
I started by making a chutney of sorts using dried turkish apricots and incorporating them in to a simple syrup. I reduced it down to make it like apricot preserves. While that was simmering, I sliced some thin rounds of bread and toasted them til the outsides were dry and crispy, but not quite toasted. When the chutney was done I spread it on the toasts and crumbled gorgonzolaover it, sprinkling black pepper and chili powder on top of it all. I then baked them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and broiled them for a minute to make sure the tops were nice and melty and the bread got good and crispy.
They turned out to be really really amazing. It had all the flavors and textures you could want: sweet, tangy, pungent, creamy, spicy, crispy, and smooth. I will serve these in my restaurant as an appetizer whenever i have it... i got the idea from the fig preserve and cabrales bleu cheese flatbread the was on the menu at GVG and tweaked it to work with what I had. I encourage you all to try some of the things I post, using whatever you have to make your version, and let me know how it works out!

For my final message, i want you to remember this: try not to throw stuff away. give it to someone or some orginization who can use it. one day there will not be a place where we can just dig a hole and bury stuff... minimize your wate. make a compost pile. put unwanted items on or craigslist. use a fucking mop instead of a swiffer. boycott disposable stuff that has to be replaced constantly, taking up space in landfills and costing you money!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

rainy day dives

Its supposed to rain all weekend, which i hope will be good for diving.. i cant imagine anyone would go unless they really need to, so i expect to find some good things. I went today with "Steven" and we got a few good things. I have never gone before closing before except once right before closing time. There was not a whole lot of stuff but I suspect that most places wait til the end of the day to throw most of the stuff away.. even so, the things we found were sell by today, so I know now that i can get stuff that someone else would have bought earlier this afternoon. Ill probably go back tonight to see what else gets tossed, if i can get some gas in my car without paying for it...
So, here's what we found today:

1 loaf italian bread
6 packages crumbled gorgonzola
6 yellow onions
2 sweet potatoes
11 pack diet cola (broken can)


This is an attempt to document my (mis)adventures as a "freegan." I have been living for the past month or so as those way cool hipsters in NYC and Chicago do without knowing that there is a whole movement devoted to stuff I've been practicing on my own. If you have not heard of them before, keep an eye out because I have a feeling this thing is about to blow up... Freegans are people who reject conventional lifestyles in favor of one that is sustained by what others discard. I reckon they came from those wacky vegans who dont want to support bad shit by buying stuff from companies that wreck the environment and all that jazz... the thing is, no matter what you buy, you are supporting some bad shit, whether you know it or not. The amount of waste that all those brainwashed mindless drones(the average American) produce is so massive that we absolutely can not sustain ourselves, even the rest of our lives, using our current practices. If only five percent of the 305 million pounds of food that is thrown out each year, nearly 4 million starving people in America could be fed. Thats more people than live in Manhattan. This is where the freegans come in. With so much perfectly good food being dumped into the earth in landfills around the country every day, one might wonder why they should ever buy food when they can have it for free.

There is a certain stigma attached to people who eat out of the trash, but freeganism takes it a step further by completely rejecting the economic system and living off the grid, acquiring everything they need for daily life, food, toiletries, clothes, furniture, books, appliances, utensils, and just about anything else, from what others discard as "trash." I, myself have not purchased food in well over a month, and I have no intentions of ever buying anything again, if i think I can find it somewhere(with some exceptions like rent, gas, past bills, some toiletries, etc.)

Now some of you may be thinking "Damn, i didnt know Mikey was so nasty! I bet hes gonna get food poisoning or somethin like that from eatin trash..." but I assure you, the biggest risk involved with dumpster diving is probably getting a cut or getting a strong whiff of something smelly. This brings me to another point that ignorant people are very touchy about: expiration dates. Most often, fresh foods are packaged and given a "sell by" date. This indicates the date at which the product has reached its peak freshness. This is not the expiration date. The expiration date is often days or weeks later than the sell by date of fresh foods and weeks or months even for sealed packaged foods. So the four packages of imitation crab meat I found tonight or the pound of whole milk mozzarella I found two nights ago.. they are not expired. They are not rotten suddenly because they passed the magical number printed on the package. They were thrown in the garbage because people (mostly/especially in America) are brainwashed in to believing that they must constantly discard what they have(even if its perfectly good) and replace it with something newer/cooler/fresher(even better if it's disposable!), and they certainly wont buy something that is imperfect. Much of the food I have recovered was discarded simply because the label became wrinkled or the box was bent or the plastic got torn. The product has no potential to make money for the company it is written off and discarded, because another shipment will come in tomorrow... Because of this, freegans rarely have
a problem finding fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, nuts, dairy, grains, and meats that were for sale to
the public not an hour before it ended up in the dumpster.

This blog is meant to serve as a tool for me to keep track of what I find and also to educate anyone interested in opening their eyes to the disgusting waste of food, resources, and stuff in general that is encouraged by the corporate run and owned capitalist nation that we so willingly submit to by participating in it like a good little citizen(robot) should.

Well thats all for now. This is not some kind of all encompassing definition of problems and solutions... just me bringing this in to the open, where you can decide if its worth something you or if you like buying disposable stuff.

And so, here is the first official documented list of my findings:

4 12oz packages of imitation crab meat
2 loaves Pepridge Farm bread
1 package Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes
2 12pc boxes Texas Toast, 1 garlic, 1 five cheese
1/2 dozen eggs
1/2lb package catfish filets
1/2lb package ocean perch filets
2 12pc bozes Bundinos Ham&Cheese snacks
6oz package Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 bottle of Bolthouse Farms Acai juice (sell by date 3/!?)
2 drawer metal filing cabinet


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