Anti-Cookbook: Chili-Garlic Crisp

Just a little condiment that ends up going on or in about 30% of the food I eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Qt. Neutral oil (Canola, Peanut, Vegetable)
  • 2 cups dried chilis (spicy!!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt

Recipe:

  1. Put your chilis in a food processor or blender and completely obliterate them. Not like to the point of a powder, but you want the chunks to be seed-size or smaller.
  2. Give the garlic a small dice.
  3. Add chilis, salt and garlic to the oil in a small saucepan.
  4. Bring to about 185 degrees and continue cooking for as long as it takes for the garlic to stop releasing water bubbles and totally dry out. This could take hours, so make sure you are checking on it every now and then to make sure it’s remaining at a suitable temperature and that the garlic isn’t burning.

The resulting oil is bright orange on the plate and the fried chili and garlic adds a nice crunch on top of just about anything. As per usual, I’m not sure how a chili crisp is made traditionally, but I think this one is as close as it could be.,

just a few deep thoughts i got going on (trademarked)

  1. What about a stockbroker that’s blind and he has to do the stocks in braille lol

2. Jesus “Jack” Christ

3. What about like a guy that’s a cowboy but he has an italian accent

4. What about Italian Luchadors and instead of taking off their masks its a mustache instead

5. What about fried cured pig cheek (guanciale) and some herbs and a nice olive of melon

6. Cant think of anyone who has a problem with Maine

Anti- Cookbook – Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1.5-2 cups brown sugar (Sometimes I accidentally add 2 whole cups, which makes the cookies chewier and flatter)
  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt (I like more!)
  • 1 bag (2 cups) chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees
  2. Unwrap butter and cook in microwave on low power until it’s half-softened, half melted
  3. Mix brown sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla and whisk vigorously (or use a hand/stand mixer) until the mixture becomes lighter in color and texture
  4. Mix flour with baking soda and salt and add this mixture slowly to the other mixture
  5. Once the dough is made, mix in the chocolate chips and add about half a teaspoon of cinnamon
  6. Scoop out balls onto parchment-lined tray and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Blog Post:

I’ve been making these cookies since I was a little kid and they always turn out good. Except for that one time in fifth grade when my friend and I baked cookies together and I accidentally replaced the flour with powdered sugar. Her mom wasn’t happy and I didn’t cook in their kitchen again for a long time. Anyways, these cookies are chewy in the middle and crunchy around the edge. Sometimes I make small adjustments or call audibles–white sugar & molasses, extra salt, hot melted butter– if I’m out of an ingredient and as long as I stick to the base ratios provided above, the cookies always turn out pretty good. I can pretty much guarantee that everybody will like them.

Cookbook – Sticky Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2-4lb. chicken breast
  • 1 packet Lipton onion soup mix
  • 1 (12oz.) jar apricot preserves
  • 1 bottle Wishbone Russian or Ken’s Country French Dressing (not creamy)
  • White rice
  • Broccoli (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and literally just combine the soup mix, dressing and preserves in a bowl and mix them up.
  2. Pour the sauce over the chicken in a heavy baking dish
  3. Put it into the oven.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, prepare your rice and broccoli–I steam it in the rice cooker
  5. Cook chicken until internal temperature is 160 degrees and remove from oven, about 30-45 minutes depending on how big your breasts are
  6. Let it cool! The chicken will cook the rest of the way through and you won’t burn 3 layers of skin off of the roof of your mouth.

Blog Post:

That’s it! Sticky Chicken is my essential comfort food. Cheap, easy and filling, it’s truly the lowest risk/highest reward dinner that I can recommend. It’s got that premium combination of sweet, sour and savory (even more with some soy sauce) that we all know and love. Mixing onion soup mix and apricot preserves and salad dressing might sound a bit weird, but Americans have made much stranger casseroles over the course of the last 50 years and longer. Sticky Chicken is especially good in the wintertime when you want something that will make you feel the good kind of bloated that comes with eating a big bowl of stew. It was what my mom made when she didn’t want to go all-in on dinner but still wanted to make sure my sister didn’t whine about it. You’re bound to get really fat if you eat a lot of it, but once you eat it it probably won’t matter. And make sure you save your leftover sauce too! Use it again, put it in a stir fry or repurpose it into a barbecue sauce or marinade. Again if you’re worried about undercooking your chicken, get a probe thermometer they’re like $12.

The Anti-Cookbook

I’ve never really been into cookbooks. I peek at a recipe now and again for guidance, or on occasions where I’m making something totally new, but I cook mostly using techniques, not recipes. I learned by looking, tasting and doing, not by reading. And when I do need a recipe for reference, hundreds of options are available on my phone within seconds. Moreover, these recipes are almost all free to access and rated by popular consensus. It’s really convenient, but it comes with the caveat that you have to scroll through a poorly formatted ten-page blog post littered with ads to actually get to the recipe. Cookbooks can be the same way–pedantic, long winded, personal–though more care is taken with the writing. Hardcover cookbooks often give a glimpse into the life and philosophy of a well-known chef or personality that drives people to purchase them; the best ones are as much “book” as they are “cook”. But that still hasn’t been enough to get me to buy one for myself, let alone read one I’ve gotten as a gift cover to cover. Why read and look at pictures when I could listen and watch famous chefs cook with mown eyes? I don’t have a great answer to that question–I just haven’t found it.

What I do have though is a disheveled mental archive of the recipes and techniques that I’ve learned or created over the course of my life. Writing a proper cookbook would be an exercise in regulating my creative process to a standard that normal, non-chef types can work with. I can deal with that, but I’d rather not. I’d also rather not try to sell my recipes on a gimmick–like using AAVE to sell mediocre food to white people–or from behind a wall of shitty blogging about how much I love Parker House Rolls. People enjoy the things I cook (they said so). They also ask me for cooking advice, which I enjoy giving; I learned to cook the exact same way. I don’t know everything, but it can be hard to relate to someone who knows everything.

My idea is this: an ongoing, casual, recipe first (on the page) online cookbook. I like to eat foods that make my brain feel good and don’t cost half of your paycheck to eat. I also don’t like being told what to do or adhering to strict rules. I know there are other people out there who feel the same way stuck in a habit of eating frozen tendies and take out. My goal, if you could call it that, is to remove some of the hesitation or mental blockage preventing people from cooking for themselves. Included are the people who want to cook, but just think they don’t know how. I want to show people that as long as they like when food tastes good, they can make food taste good for themselves too. If you need another reason, knowing how to cook also makes you more attractive to everyone I think.

There’s a time for frozen tendies and a time for Chinese takeout. There’s also time to make a pot of rice and make your own sesame chicken. Why would you not want to spend fifteen dollars and fifteen minutes of your time to save money on a week’s worth of pulled pork sandwiches? Doesn’t really make sense to me. I want people to be able to get as much out of the food that they eat as I do. Not nutrients, but the good brain chemicals–the drugs ones. Just buy a meat thermometer if you undercook your chicken, get out a spoon for tasting and don’t get too scared of burning stuff because sometimes burnt stuff tastes good.

Bonus Paragraph: I’ll update posts with pictures as much as I’m able. Also–if you have any questions or troubles or even want to request that I do a post about a specific food you like you can literally just text me or email me, send a pigeon, etc.

Plague Raves

To the dismay of many, events now colloquially known as plague raves are happening all over the world—even with the threat of an ever-worsening global pandemic looming overhead. Countries like China or Vietnam that effectively neutralized their COVID problem are having actual disease-free raves which Westerners witness on social media. Countries like America or Italy have not faired as well in disease prevention and for the most part look on in jealousy as club-goers across the world get their kicks. 

The response of most folks—at least the Americans I know—has been to virtually attend raves via their computer. After nearly a year in the throes of COVID, there are plenty of online dance parties and music festivals to attend. Dirtybird—a popular house and techno label out of San Francisco— has a weekly lineup of rotating DJ’s and regular shows going most of the evening. Movement Festival in Detroit puts on occasional weekend long “festivals” that you can attend for free in the comfort of your living room. Sure, this simulacrum of the rave experience isn’t what we all want, but obligations to our fellow man make it the best option we have.

I want to avoid inflecting a total moral polarity on the decision whether or not to attend an in-person event during the pandemic, but that is hard to do. To me, plague ravers seem at best ignorant—or uneducated—of the situation at hand. Worse, some of them don’t even care. However, at the very bottom of the “ethical pyramid” are the people who organize these events and promote them by exploiting everyone’s deep desire to go get nasty in a club or muddy field somewhere. It seems reasonable that a particularly social person would break quarantine or safety restrictions to attend a party. After all, they’re not the one throwing it—it’s going to happen anyway—but to overlook the real human lives at risk when you let a whole lot of them breathe on each other for 6 hours is more than neglectful, it’s manslaughter.

DJ’s aren’t off-the-hook either. I’m not talking about local, small-time DJs who barely make enough money DJing as it is. I’m talking about the rich, plane-hopping assholes who play the plague raves to cut another check. In America, our first glance at the plague rave came early on in the summer when The Chainsmokers threw a party in the Hamptons. Understandably, people were upset. The practice of pandemic partying, however, has really taken hold across the Atlantic as well as in Mexico.

The Twitter page Business Techno has put together the best chronicle of the 2020 COVID raves and the DJ’s who play them. Amelie, Nina, Marcel, Loco Dice.—some of the biggest names in the business are publicly promoting and playing these parties, seemingly without shame. They use excuses like “all proper protocol was followed” or “people just need to party” and become defensive when confronted about it. These people are all doing something they feel that they need to do, but the truth is they don’t need to do it at all.

I’m not trying to say that everyone should just be cool with never going to a rave again, but that’s not going to happen. What I am saying, though, is that people—especially famous DJ’s—can endure a relatively brief period of not being able to go out dancing to reduce the infection rate of a deadly disease. It may feel like it sometimes, but going out to the the club or to a music festival isn’t actually the thing keeping you alive. Doing drugs, drinking and wearing glitter on your face certainly isn’t helping either, and the fact is the most important part of the experience, the music, is still there. 

A virtual music festival is not the same as a real one and it never will be, but that’s OK, because virtual music festivals are not forever. Consider the death toll of the pandemic already and ask yourself if you really can’t wait any longer—because most of the world has to. Flying somewhere where restrictions and guidelines aren’t followed cannot be justification enough to do so. In fact, it’s a privilege! Maybe it’s not the buzzword you wanted to hear, but the privilege of plague raving is apparent. Many people have lost family members, jobs and their savings. Many people wouldn’t even consider going out to a rave in a time like this. However, many people also don’t seem to mind exacerbating these problems.

It’s on the promoters not to organize them, it’s on the DJ’s not to play them, but it’s also on you to not attend plague raves. You just don’t need to go out the same way that some people need to not have a disease that destroys their respiratory system. Don’t wait until a nurse is shoving a tube down into your lungs to have second thoughts, it’s definitely not worth it. Just buy a strobe light get some loud speakers and do some [redacted] in your living room.