Hard Times Headlines

Just a few satirical news bits in the style of the popular website.

Stick to Your Guns Frontman Announced As President-Elect Biden’s Head Speech Writer

Boys Like Girls Admits: “Boys Can Like Boys Too”

Disappointed Marxist At Wrong “Mayday Parade” Event

Mike Huckabee to Become New NOFX Bassist/Singer, “Fatter Mike”

Straight-Edge Man At All Ages Show For All the Wrong Reasons

Eternal Teenager Mark Hoppus Claims He’s Never Heard of PEN ISLAND, Doesn’t Know How to Type “boobs” on Calculator

Want To Feel Old? The World’s Biggest Sum-41 Fan Is A Lawyer

Introducing PitFit – Long Island’s New “Hardcore” CrossFit Gym

Environmental Scientists in Belgium Are Playing Harms Way Records for Their Windmills, And The Results Are Electrifying!

Professional Wrestler Andy “The Butcher” Williams Outed As Member of Hardcore Band Every Time I Die

Neck Deep Now Completely Submerged in Quicksand

10 Unique Espresso Beverages to Try

Most American coffee shops have the usual selection of Italian classics. If you’re traveling, or happen to come across one of these other beverages in your own city, know what it is!

10. Espresso Romano

Espresso Romano is a bit of a misnomer for this beverage, because it isn’t commonly consumed in Rome or even the rest of Italy. Espresso Romano is simply a freshly-pulled espresso shot served alongside a slice of Lemon. Coffee and citrus may seem like an awkward combination to most, but fans of this delicious drink say that the bright acidity of the lemon helps bring out the sweet qualities of the espresso that accompanies it.

9. Flat White

A Flat White is just like a normal Latte, just stronger. If you’re looking for a creamy espresso drink with microfilmed milk and an extra kick, this is the drink for you! This drink originated in Australia and New Zealand but has recently been gaining popularity in the U.S. after Starbucks added it to their menu.

High quality milk, milk foam and espresso are essential to making a great Flat White. With the decreased amount of milk, the fat content of the milk and how it is foamed need to be perfect or the drink will turn into a simple cappuccino. Next time you’re up early, give the Flat White a try. You can get it at Starbucks, but chances are your local barista will know how to make a great one as well.

8. Vienna Coffee/Espresso con Panna

A sweet treat, Espresso con Panna, known also as Vienna Coffee is the perfect ending to any meal. This drink is made by scooping fresh, homemade whipped cream into a cup of espresso. The delicate sweetness and creaminess of freshly whipped cream complements the boldness of the espresso. The airy whipped cream also adds volume to the espresso, resulting in a beverage with multiple textures and layers to enjoy.

If you don’t have ice cream to make an Affogato, Espresso con Panna is an easy alternative that is just as good. Just be sure to have heavy whipping cream and a dark roast espresso available to make sure your experience is top notch.

7. Breve

Cafè Breve is a common espresso drink in many parts of the world, but not the U.S. It is made by combining a freshly pulled shot of espresso with a small amount of half and half. Breve is the Italian words for short. Cafè Breve essentially means to shorten the espresso with the fatty half and half, as you would with butter in a shortcake or shortbread.

The resulting beverage is a very rich and creamy cup of caffeine. The half and half brings out the natural sweetness and chocolate notes of the espresso, but allows some of the intensity to remain due to the small amount used. If you cant stand cappuccinos or you find milk foam to be too much, try a breve. It’s a quick little shot of energy that wont upset your stomach or break the bank.

6. Cubano

A Cubano is the perfect beverage for someone who likes strong coffee and likes it sweet. It is produced by pulling a shot of espresso over a small amount of brown sugar. The intense flavor of the Cubano isn’t for everyone, but some find the bittersweet combination irresistible.

A dark roasted espresso would be the ideal choice for this drink which is popular mostly in South America. The rich molasses flavor of brown sugar is the perfect pair for the nutty fiery flavors of a dark roast. It might be hard to find this drink in many parts of America and even in your local hipster coffee shop, but it is incredibly easy to make at home, so long as you own an espresso maker.

5. Black Eye

It doesn’t hurt, but it will wake you up! The Black Eye is similar to the popular Americano, but instead of water, the espresso is diluted with brewed black coffee. The resulting beverage is an intense and crazy-caffeinated cup of Joe that is not for those with weak stomachs. Many people add sugar and milk to their Black Eyes, but real caffeine heads will drink it straight up. The Black Eye is like shot of Moonshine when a regular cup is like a Pale Ale, it’ll put one hair on your chest, or not.

4. Affogato

Affogato is somewhat of a cross between dessert and coffee. This drink is similar to Espresso con Panna, except the whipped cream is replaced with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and served with a spoon. You could drink it if you wanted to, but it’s more fun to eat it out of your mug like a little ice cream sundae. This is another “drink” that is more common in avant-garde coffee shops, but it’s easy to see how it might go mainstream soon.

An Affogato is best served with Vanilla ice cream, but can be tasty with other flavors such as dark chocolate, dulce de leche or cinnamon. Some even serve Affogatos atop waffles or crepes for a particularly sweet breakfast treat. Give it a shot, even kids will love it!

3. Macchiato

The well-known Macchiato is on this list because most people don’t know what a real Macchiato actually is. The version popularized by Starbucks is simply another latte with heavy caramel syrup in it and whipped cream on top. This could not be farther from the reality of the Italian Macchiato.

Macchiato is the Italian word meaning “marked”. The powerful espresso shot is “marked” with a very small amount of unsweet milk foam scooped on top. This is the choice drink for fans of strong espresso. It’s nearly just a straight shot, but the tiny bit of milk foam added on top is mixed in to cut down on the intensity of the coffee. I you think you like espresso, go to your local shop and give the Macchiato a try!

2. Dalgona Coffee

While this isn’t technically an espresso beverage, it sure acts like one. This tasty, highly caffeinated drink was popularized in Korea, but recently has been adopted by many Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic due to its reliance on instant coffee. Dalgona Coffee is made by combining equal parts sugar, hot water, and instant coffee and whisking until a mousse is formed. The mousse is then scooped on top of a glass of cold milk and ready to enjoy!

Instant coffee may have a bad reputation, but using it to make Dalgona Coffee is a great way to make it not just palatable, but delicious! This beverage is most akin to a sweetened Latte, but can be altered to your own personal preference. After the mousse is formed, add a little vanilla extract for an easy vanilla Latte. Try some cinnamon in it for a spicy kick. In the wintertime, mix some bitter cocoa powder into the drink for a killer Mocha. This drink is delicious with Oat Milk as a dairy alternative as well! Folgers instant coffee will work fine (and honestly makes the stiffest mousse), but an inexpensive, much tastier option sold commonly in the U.S. is the Italian Medaglio d’Oro brand.

1. Cortado

The Cortado is rapidly rising in popularity across the country. While it is still mostly found in the hipper coffee shops, most baristas you encounter will know how to make one. A good way to think of a Cortado is like a miniature Latte. It is made with a 1:2 ratio of espresso and steamed milk.

Cortado comes from the Spanish word meaning “to cut”. In this case, the espresso is being cut with milk to reduce it acidity. It sounds similar to a Breve and a Flat White, but in reality the Cortado is situated somewhere in between those beverages. The textured milk is fatty enough to reduce the acidity of the coffee and bring out its most complex flavors, but is not overpowering. The natural sweetness, nuttiness and bitterness that define a good Cortado makes it the ideal beverage for many espresso fanatics.

This short list is just the beginning of your espresso adventure. An entire world of caffeine and great coffee awaits those who adventure to seek it! From Italy to Cuba and all the way to New Zealand, folks everywhere are innovating espresso every day. Today could be the day that you discover your new favorite drink; all you need is an open mind and a halfway decent Italian accent to order one.

Top 10 Pokemon to Eat

We’ve all thought about it… so I wrote about 10 minutes of cringe about it.

We know what Pokémon eat – little rice balls, berries, tasty potions – but what do their trainers eat? Consuming Pokémon isn’t completely unheard of (slowpoke tail, magikarp) and using Pokémon byproducts (Moomoo Milk) is fairly common. However it seems that the Pokémon that don’t have shit for brains are generally safe from having their body consumed by hungry (or horny) Pokémon trainers. While it may seem evil, or at best a fetish thing, with the worsening climate and political conditions of the world today a Pokémon trainer may eventually be forced to turn to eating their own prized Pokemon. In the event of such a catastrophe, these are the top 10 Pokémon to eat, paired with a suggestion on how to serve it.

10. Caterpie

The taste and texture of Caterpie is kind of like a cross between a cricket and okra – a little bit crunchy and a little bit slimy with almost no distinguishable flavor. This and it’s wide availability makes Caterpie a versatile choice for Pokémon trainers to capture and eat. 

        Caterpie is quite crunchy when fried and tastes somewhat like an onion ring when beer battered. Sauté the Caterpie to maintain the gooey center while crisping the outside. Add Caterpie to a stew or gumbo to thicken it, or even boil it down with sugar and citrus peel to make a flavorful gelatin. This versatile little critter goes with just about anything if you cook it right!

Serving suggestion: Caterpie Corn Fritters with roasted red pepper crema

9. Ekans 

Ekans tastes JUST like chicken. It may be a little tough due to its low fat content and well developed muscles, but with proper treatment Ekans can be a delicacy. 

Wrangling an Ekans is simple enough, but now what? It’s not strong enough to battle yet, so just brine Ekans in buttermilk overnight and dredge it in flour and Gastly Powder (see number 6) before deep frying to make some tasty Ekans Strips. Dip them in honey mustard, ketchup, or even the super spicy “toxic sauce” made from the excretions of Garbodor Pokémon.

If you’re not feeling like fried food, try braising chunks of Ekans in chicken stock with aromatics until tender, about 9 hours, and serve it on tacos. Cooking Ekans in a pressure cooker will cut your prep time by 75% if you have one available.

Serving Suggestion: Chipotle Braised Ekans tacos with jicama and cabbage slaw

8. Stantler 

It’s pretty obvious that Stantler are just magical deer. As such they have the well developed muscular structure of regular deer, but carry a slight gaminess because they are Pokémon.

Serving Stantler is exactly like serving traditional venison. Make it into jerky by curing it and putting it in a dehydrator. Give it a fine dice and mix with egg yolk, brunoise pickles, mustard and salt for a quick Stantler tartare. Take a center cut from the Stantler and sear it off like a beef Steak. The possibilities are endless!

While Stantler is as delicious as regular deer, it is all the more hard to catch and can easily kill you with its psychic powers, so bring a really big gun.

Serving suggestion: Stantler burgers with lemon aioli, horseradish and burnt onions

7. Feebass

You’ve probably had Chilean sea bass, but how about Hoenn Feebass? This rare fish Pokémon is considered a delicacy in the region but must be caught by a certified Pokémon trainer, a law enacted in 2006 after overfishing decimated the Feebas population outside of Slateport city.

This makes Feebas exceedingly hard to acquire unless you are willing to pay a premium to have it imported from Hoenn. However, if you do get the chance to cook a Feebas, it can be pan seared, grilled over coals, steamed inside banana leaves or eaten raw in a traditional Cerulean Ceviche. Train your Feebas and evolve it into Milotic or just eat it, the choice is yours!

Serving Suggestion: Miso glazed Hoenn Feebas with grilled asparagus and Thai hom mali rice

6. Gastly

The 6th entry on this list is less a food Pokémon than it is a seasoning pokemon but it is included here nonetheless because it’s preparation always results in death. 

Gastly Powder is a seasoning mixture made of the entire Gastly Pokémon and MSG. The Gastly is put into a 700 ceramic kiln and heated until only the residue of the evaporated Pokémon remains. The residue is scraped into a bowl and ground until powdery. 

Gastly Powder, which locals describe as “The Goya Sazòn of Kanto”, is said to taste “kinda Mexican” by most non-animated humans. It is nearly impossible to acquire Gastly Powder without access to a 700 degree ceramic kiln and a Game Boy, but some trainers say that an affordable and more potent substitute can be made by boiling a mixture of blue version cartridges and baking soda. 

Serving Suggestion: small glass pipe, lighter

5. Ponyta 

Number 5 on the list is another controversial pick, Ponyta. While cooking and eating this fiery pony Pokémon may not be against the law in most regions, such practice is still considered social taboo and is not common.

Cooking a Ponyta is as simple as cooking a horse. You can prepare it in any way you would normally prepare high quality beef or red game meat, but a Johto regional favorite is Ponyta carpaccio. The locals claim that the closer your bond is with a Ponyta, the better it will taste when you eat it.

Serving Suggestion: Route 28 Ponyta carpaccio with fried garlic and duck yolk

4. Vanilluxe

Vanilluxe is the only later generation Pokémon on the list for a reason. Most Pokémon discovered after generation 4 are filled with artificial preservatives and other questionable genetic sludge, but Vanilluxe is just a few scoops of ice cream, so that doesn’t really matter.

Publicly endorsed by well-known Twitch streamer Stefan Heck, eating one of these frosty cones is a favorite summer activity for everyone young and old. Vanilluxe is certainly one of the most unhealthy Pokémon out there, but it sure does go great with apple pie.

Serving Suggestion: Vanilluxe affogato with Guatemalan espresso

4. Jinx

Despite its humanoid appearance, it is actually good to kill and eat this Pokémon because it is racist. Additionally, the soft flesh of Jinx has a melon-like consistency raw and when salt cured with Mediterranean herbs makes a delicious snack, not unlike prosciutto or Iberian ham.

Jinx is a favorite among Italians in particular because of its many uses from curing to grilling but also because both Jinx and Italians like to do black face. It is delicious in a ragú and nothing short of necessary on top of a pizza, just remove the outer layer of skin before processing.

Serving Suggestion: Porcehtta of Jinx with walnut and apple stuffing

3. Swinub

Swinub is like a little suckling pig with Chewbacca hair all over it. These furry Pokémon are found commonly in colder regions and while usually kept as pets, are sometimes eaten as well. Preventing your Swinub from evolving into a Piloswine reduces the gamey taste of the meat and less muscle development means that there is a higher overall fat content.

An easy recipe for hungry wintertime travelers is to remove the belly of the Swinub, cut it into chunks and cook it down with beans and brown sugar over an open fire. Swinub is also a favorite for trainers on the move as you can kill it  in a trap overnight, and come morning the Pokémon will be completely frozen and ready for transport and future use.

This cute little critter is an excellent (and healthier) substitute for pork, and its high defense stats mean more protein packed in each bite.

Serving Suggestion: ‘Nub Chops with Kubota squash puree and crispy farro

2. Chickorita

It may come as a surprise that most grass Pokémon taste like shit, but not Chickorita! This starter Pokémon has a tender and flavorful leaf atop its head that will grow back after it is harvested. Getting your hands on one may be difficult, but once the Chickorita is yours, your soups, salads and supper will take a major step up. Sure, it causes the Pokémon a great deal of pain, but it’s worth it.

Chickorita leaf has a mild herby taste not common in the real world, but often compared to as a cross between sage and spinach. It is supple enough to be eaten raw and durable enough to be cooked. You can put it in a panzanella, stew it like saag paneer, boil it in the bouillabaisse, or use it as a pizza topping. Some drug users even claim that the giant leaf is a healthy alternative to traditional tobacco blunt wraps. Just don’t let your Chickorita evolve, as the leaf will become too acrid for human consumption and may be poisonous to dogs.

Serving Suggestion: Dolmas with smoked yogurt and pine nuts

  1. Meowth

Without questions, the top Pokémon to eat is Meowth. It may seem like eating your pet cat, and it kind of is, but boy is it delicious! Those that have worked up the courage to try it say that it tastes like dog, others say there is nothing like it.

However, avid Pokémon eaters insist that you need to get your hands on a Meowth that talks. These trainers swear that the best part about cooking and eating one of these well-spoken felines is hearing the Meowth beg for mercy in a language that you can understand. One well known trainer, Red of New Bark Town, Silver, has been quoted saying the experience is akin to “grilling Gilbert Gottfried over an open flame and eating him with crusty French bread.”

If you can stomach it, or really have nothing good to eat in your fridge, Meowth is a must-try. And if you’re low on cash, techniques designated as torture by the CIA, MI6 and Team Rocket can be applied to extract a significant amount of Gold from this Pokemon before it is cooked. This practice will also tenderize the meat.

Serving Suggestion: Meowth a l’orange with boiled new potatoes and summer truffles

Hopefully it doesn’t come to this, but trainers should be equipped with the knowledge of how to cook and eat their best friends in the event of a global catastrophe. Perhaps the consumption of Pokemon will become more commonplace before then, but for now, we can dream.

TV Sitcom Treatment

Working towards the dream, one derivative idea at a time.

Working Title – The DiNotto Boys/The Second Family

Treatment, Jan. 2021

Boris C.

The ragtag staff of mafia wannabes at Di Notto’s, an Italian restaurant in Boston, find themselves at odds with their customers, the general public and the actual mafia.

The show is an Its Always Sunny style sitcom – no audience, no laugh track, and dialogue that’s open to improvisation. It takes the popular FX series’ small ensemble cast, single episode plot arcs and off-color comedy and resets it in Boston (or a fictitious New England city) with a Mafia twist. The little gang of teenagers, drunken dope addicts and glue-sniffers like to pretend that they’re the Mafia and commit a multitude of small-time crimes, which often bring them at odds with the people around them, including the real Mafia. Like many sitcoms, each episode will present a conflict for the gang and we will see them stumble and scam their way to a resolution by the end of the 30 minute episode.

Like It’s Always Sunny or Trailer Park Boys, the show will attract a relatively young and largely male audience on the basis of its crude humor. However, this show will offer something that Sunny does not – lots more making fun of Italians. With everything going on today, many people need something to take their frustrations out on. Research shows that being racist is out, but being racist against Italians is in. And if that’s not good enough, Boston accents and New-England style comedy are abound for those of us who are tired of everything funny apparently happening in New York.

Sometimes things get so bad that we have to laugh; the same goes for people. T.V. shows in which the audience tags along on the exploits of some of the worlds most horrible, despicable people are more popular than ever as real evil shows its face daily.

Series Main Characters:

Dom – 35-45/Male/Mediterranean White/Restaurant owner, former weed dealer, jackass.

Tommy – 25/Male/White/Manager. An Irish-Catholic Boston Guy who looks like he would call you a homophobic slur.

Al – 50’s/Male/Any Race/Dirty Cop. Sometimes they call him “Juice” for short. He’s a dirty, drunken Boston police veteran who is supposed to be working the neighborhood beat, but is at the restaurant bar instead.

Jess – 21/Female/White or Hispanic/Hostess. A loud, crass and confident lady who tends to fumble most of the schemes the gang concocts. Lives in her car with Tommy. Also the smartest one in the group. Possibly a lesbian but no one knows for sure.

Jumbo (Ronnie) – 23-28/Male/White/Server. Jumbo is the nice guy of the group, but that’s not saying much. He’s huge, he likes to (try to) rap, and he gets the baloney sweats. He looks like the kind of guy you’d see in a GameStop wearing a trench coat and checking the prices of Marvel Funko-Pops.

Cody – 20-21/Male/White and Small/Line Cook. Cody is the youngest and craziest member of the crew. He hoovers up whatever drug is in front of him and will generally do anything the gang tells him to do when it comes to their criminal exploits. He’s a constant source of energy for the group, and often the catalyst that leads to the resolution of the gang’s conflicts.

Minor Recurring Characters:

Valentino DiNotto – 70-80/Male/Italian/Mob Boss. Valentino is the leader of the actual mob in town. He’s really, really old and so are his crew of Made Men. He looks and acts like your stereotypical mafia don.

Bartender – 40-80 but really fucked up looking/Male/Any Race/Bartender. He remains nameless and largely silent but occasionally grumbles or grunts drunkenly when the gang is around.

Dishwasher – 15-19/Male/White/Dishwasher. He also remains nameless, but the other characters say they “think his name is Kyle or something?”

Shop Owner – A constantly changing character who rents the space next door to the restaurant, opens a store, and always ends up the victim to the staff of DiNotto’s; they might be around for a few episodes, or just one. The shop owner is usually genuine and acts as a foil to the personalities of the gang.


The pilot episode Meet the Mafia exemplifies a typical episode of the show.

Meet the Mafia begins with the staff sitting around a large table in the restaurant talking when their meat delivery arrives. Upon inspection of the strange looking delivery, they find a brick of fentanyl-laced heroin inside one of the packages. Realizing this is probably intended for the mafia-run restaurant of the same name on the north side of town, the gang decides they are going to sell it all to pay off the restaurant’s debt. However, they must do it quickly before the mob finds them out. As the gang sells the dope at various places around town, including the local high school, they keep encountering old Italian men and botching nearly every drug deal they try to make – Tommy gets a swirly, an old guy pays for heroin with a check, Cody pees on a drunk guy and Jess drops some heroin in the school lunch. As the gang returns from their street corners, pockets empty, to retrieve more heroin to sell, the real mafia confronts them in their restaurant. The boss, Valentino DiNotto, is so busy loudly demanding his heroin back from the gang that he fails to notice the police officer that has just walked out of the bathroom. The cop instantly arrests Valentino after his boisterous admission of guilt and the gang have gotten off scot-free. As for their debts? Well, Cody quietly sold the majority of the stash to the unnamed dishwasher’s drug-dealing dad for $120,000. Now, the gang has the money to pay off their debts and fund their future wise-guy schemes.

Other series have been made about running a restaurant – or bar – but where this show differs is in the way that the bar serves as more of a background element, rather than the main focus of plot lines. The show aims to be more focused on the gang’s exploits outside of DiNotto’s rather than inside of it. The restaurant, bar and primarily the large round table serve as the gang’s home bass, mostly being used to set up their schemes which are enacted out in the city of Boston and surrounding areas. This show aims to capitalize on the distinct humor of New England (Boston in particular) culture and add in an Italian-American element, something which other series fail to do without being overbearing. The world that the show inhabits will be rich, surreal and present new humorous situations and conflicts to resolve that are unique to the region. Most importantly, the wide array of interactions to be had by our main characters only serve to increase the show’s longevity.

Future Episodes

On The Day of My Niece’s Murder – The staff attempt to whack a customer who left them a bad review online, but fail to do so. They think they can get away with attempted murder, until they discover that the customer is the niece of Don Valentino DiNotto.

Acquittal Party – DiNotto’s receives a contract to cater the Mayor’s re-election fundraiser gala and the crew spends the entire night schmoozing with local officials and trying to get themselves acquitted of their various crimes.

High Stakes – DiNotto’s hosts a shady high-stakes poker game and Dom bets and loses the months payroll. In dire need of money to pay the staff, Dom organizes a heist of a local convenience store, which ends up being a money laundering front for the Mob.

Food Shelf – The gang discovers that their lettuce is infested with E-Coli, so they decide to bring it to the local food shelf. After patrons of the food shelf begin falling sick, the staff of DiNotto’s has to find a way to fix this catastrophe of their creation.

Night School – With hours being cut, Tommy gets a side job teaching culinary arts at a local night college. Short on cash again, Dom thinks he’s the perfect person to make it back – selling Xanax to his classmates.

Jumbo Fumbles the Beat – Jumbo is recorded rapping for a crowd outside of Faneuil hall downtown and much to his dismay, later finds that a video of himself performing has gone viral. Dom decides to take advantage of Jumbo’s brief flit with fame and hires him to perform in the restaurant.

Che Cazzo Fai? – Walking down the street in the North End’s Little Italy, Cody and Jumbo are confronted by two espresso-drinking Italian men who think that Cody has called one of them a “Stinky Bitch”. Chaos ensues as Cody and Jumbo prod the old men, eventually resulting in yet another feud with the DiNotto mafia family.

Traffic – After discovering that the train back into the city is broken down, Al and Jumbo decide they’re going to walk back to the restaurant – through the worst neighborhood in town. Finding their way home gets even harder when they are snatched up by the world’s strangest gang of sex traffickers.

Cook Like a Pro at Home

15 Things you can do to cook like a 3-star chef in your own kitchen!

– “The green beans are $14? How could they charge that much? Are they dipping them in gold or something? –

We’ve all been there. The food is way more expensivethan you want it to be, but when it arrives, suddenly it’s all worth it. “I’ve never made a green bean that good!” might be a true statement, but it doesn’t have to be true for long. The techniques being use in the worlds best kitchens can include some very complicated processes and science, but most dishes are still made using a combination of techniques that you can learn at home with minimal equipment.

  1. Salt

Salt isn’t a technique, but it is the biggest difference between the food you eat at a restaurant and the food you make for yourself. The food may not taste any saltier, and it may not be. The reason why restaurant food often tastes better than your own down-home cooking is because salt is used in every part of the dish, not just on top. 

Next time you make pasta try making your water as “salty as the sea” before adding the noodles. If your flame grilled filet is flavorful enough, sprinkle a little flake salt on top. When cooking from scratch or with low-salt ingredients, make sure you salt every layer of the dish, tasting as you go to ensure you don’t go overboard.

2.  Broil It!

Almost every professional kitchen has a broiler. It’s how they make super-fast nachos, melt up your french onion soup, or even get a good sear on the outside of a piece of meat. If you’ve got an oven, chances are it has a seldom-used broil setting – try it out! 

The broiler gets super hot, so make sure you have hood fans on and a well-ventilated kitchen. And keep an eye on your food! In the broiler, things happen fast. Your toast can go from golden-brown to burnt in a matter of seconds, so be careful!

3. Get Your Own Flat Top!

Stove-top griddles are fairly common, but few people use them fo anything other than pancakes and eggs. A large cooking surface provides certain advantages over a frying pan that can make all the difference when cooking some dishes. 

Are your homemade cheeseburgers really… wet? Cooking them on a big piece of steel allows the cooking surface to stay a consistent temperature to get a good sear and cook of more of the juices that come out. Fried rice always mushy? A flat top might solve your problem! The huge surface area will stay hot and cook every grain of rice without steaming it too much. Even toast tastes better coming off of a flat top! If you don’t have one yet, options today are plentiful and inexpensive.

4. Add lemon juice to everything.

Okay, well, not everything. But almost everything. Seriously. This is a technique I learned working in nicer kitchens that has become essential in most of my dishes. It’s not necessarily lemon juice every time – I use lots of vinegars and other fruits as well – but maintaining a good level of acidity in a dish is something that most home cooks don’t think about. 

Green vegetables benefit particularly from lemon juice. Stir fry some broccoli and garlic, make sure its good and salty, and then hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice before it gets out of the pan. It’s a whole new vegetable! Why doesn’t your grilled salmon salad “pop”? Try carefully applying a dose of lemon juice. I truly cannot stress enough that almost every time I made a vegetable, sauce or dessert in a professional kitchen I used lemon (or vinegar). Balance in food is key, and that’s why the best restaurants pay careful attention to the acidity of each dish.

5. Sous Vide

The sous vide machine, not used by many outside of the industry, is a truly magical piece of equipment. It heats a water bath up to a selected temperature and maintains that temperature consistently for as long as is needed. Simply insert your ingredients into a vacuum sealed bag and submerge in the water. 

A sous vide machine will revolutionize your steak game. Cook the steak in the sous vide with aromatics until it almost reaches the internal temperature you desire, then quickly sear the sides of the steak in a hot pan before resting. This is probably the most expensive technique to practice on this list, but in my opinion, it will yield you the biggest noticeable difference in your home cooking – a foolproof way to cook your filet.

6. Spoon Push

Have you ever wondered why the pureè underneath your steak looks like someone vomited it onto the plate? The answer is simple – you need to do a spoon push. Spread your sauce around the rim of your bowl or push a streak across the middle. Simply put a scoop of a viscous sauce or puree where you want to start the smear and press the bottom of the spoon into it lightly. Spread the sauce in the direction that you want – rotate the plate or bowl with your other hand if you want to spread it on the rim, maintaining enough pressure to spread the sauce evenly until the end. You can make a straight line, a half-moon, even a nike swoosh if you want. It’s all about presenting the main part of the dish as elegantly as possible!

7. Grease, lots of Grease

We all eat too much sometimes, but there’s a special kind of “full” that one experiences after a huge restaurant meal. The portions looked smaller, but you’re way more stuffed than usual. The answer? Probably butter. High quality, healthier oils such as olive, avocado and canola are common for frying and sautéing everywhere, but in many western cultures, butter is ubiquitous. Restaurant’s I’ve worked at usually used at least 25 pounds of it every week. That steak? Basted in butter. The Mashed potatoes? Extra butter. The buffalo wings are better than usual? You guessed it – butter. It’s not good for you, but it works.

8. Deglaze!

That brown stuff that’s sticking to the bottom of the sauté pan? That’s where the flavor is. But how do you get it off? It’s easy, you deglaze the pan. Just pour some liquid (wine, beer, vinegar, anything flavorful). You don’t have to use a lot, just enough to soften the fond and scrape it off the bottom of the pan and incorporate back into the mix. If you leave it all in the pan, you’re missing out on a layer of flavor that can really kick your dinner up another notch.

9. Blanche Your Veggies

Blanche your green veggies, don’t boil them. Not only does this technique allow the vegetables to retain more of their nutrients than boiling, it locks in the bright green color as well. Don’t grill your asparagus until its burnt, give it a quick water blanch then finish cooking them on the grill! to blanch a vegetable, get a big pot of salty water, bring it to a boil, and submerge your veggies in the water for a short time. Take them out and immediately put them into a bath of ice water and leave them there until cool. Blanche them longer for softer veggies and shorter for firmer veggies, and remember that different veggies take different amounts of time to cook. Green beans may take up to five minutes, while broccoli only takes two. The blanching time of all your favorite veggies is readily available on the internet, so don’t worry!

10. Taste As You Go

This may just be the most important technique on this list. Tasting is another technique that’s not really a technique, but more of a basic practice in professional cooking. I’ll bet you can conjure an image of an Italian grandma taking the spoon out of the red sauce and sipping from it. It’s not gross, it’s just how the best food gets made. Every high-end restaurant you go to has a kitchen full of chefs taking tiny bites of food all night long. Don’t wait until your food is on the plate and dump a bunch of table salt on top, taste your food every step of the way through your recipe and make sure things stay seasoned and tasty. Obviously you shouldn’t taste your raw chicken, but you can taste the marinade. Is your meatball spicy enough? Cook up a tester and be sure of it. Oh, and if you’re not cooking for yourself, remember to use a clean spoon every time!

11. Mise En Place

Literally French for “things in place”, is standard practice in all kitchens around the world. Dumping a few things in a crockpot and walking away is easy, but if you want to make something a little more involved, is helps to have your miss en place. 

Before you even think about cooking, get all your ingredients out and in front of you. Measure out the amounts you need and transfer them to containers. Cut your veggies and set them aside. Dice your aromatics and have them at the ready. Get your steaks tempered and primed for the pan. Before you actually let the meat hit the metal, you need to have everything prepared for the execution of your entire recipe. This will ensure you have enough time to focus on making whatever your cooking as delicious as possible. It sounds complicated, but it makes things simple.

12. Temper

We’ve all taken a piece of meat out of the fridge, slapped it on the grill and cut into it only to find it’s still raw in the middle. The first step you can take to prevent this is to temper your meat. Remove your meat from the fridge about an hour before cooking and allow it to come up to room temperature before putting it on the heat. This will leave your pan or grill with half the work it would have to do if the meat started out at 34 degrees and far less if it was frozen. An even cook equals a better steak – and tempering your meat takes another variable out of that equation.

13. Use Fresh Ingredients

This is probably a given, but it needs to be said nonetheless. A tasty, fresh vegetable or cut of meat gives your dinner a figurative shoulder to lean on. You can undercook your carrots, but at least they wont be soggy, recently-thawed and bland. There’s no reason to buy an unreasonably expensive bag of frozen potato product when you can do so much with a dirt cheap raw russet. Freezing meat and fish can offer certain benefits with a diminished effect on quality, but fresh is always best. It’s summer and there’s no Brussels sprouts on the shelves? Try something in-season instead! You may even find that you like some vegetables more than you thought you did before.

14. Braise That S**t

Do you want a tender, fall off the bone pulled pork sandwich but don’t have a smoker? No problem! Just braise it. Braising is among the laziest of all cooking techniques, but it results in some of the most delicious food. Just cover your pork shoulder in a flavorful, seasoned liquid like stock or beer and simmer at a very low temperature till the cows come home. 

Braising meats and meat substitutes for a long period of time not only breaks them down, making them more tender, but also lets the flavor of the braising liquid fully infuse with the ingredients in the pot. If you’ve used a crockpot to make something other than soup, chances are you’ve already braised some meat. It’s a great low-effort option that most home cooks haven’t even considered.

15. Dehydrate

Ok – this might be lazier than braising – but it’s not really cooking. Dehydrating your ingredients can be much more than just a way to preserve your veggies and herbs, it can transform your ingredients into something completely new – Dehydrate your home-grown chili peppers to make a delicious powder for your winter chili. Marinate and dehydrate some pork loin and shred it to make Chinese pork floss. Dehydrate out very thin slices of citrus to create an elegant cocktail garnish and grind the peel up to use in a seasoning mix. You can do dehydrate in your oven, but home dehydrators are widely available, not too pricey and make the process much more efficient.

Now that you’re equipped with a few more ways to take your homemade meal to the next level, go forth into the kitchen and practice! Most of these techniques can sound difficult to those who are beginner cooks, but with just a little practice they can be mastered by just about anyone. Good luck and remember to taste your food!

Buzzfeed Food Writer Q’s

Some application questions for a Food Writer position at Buzzfeed. Did not get the job.


Q: Tell us about your food x quarantine experience: What was the best thing you cooked, ate, and/or watched? How did your cooking or eating habits change (or not change)?

A: I was a chef before the pandemic hit. I was cooking 8 hours or more every day but I wasn’t enjoying it at all. When I was laid off (for the first time) in March of 2020, I actually didn’t panic. The pay wasn’t great, the hours sucked and my lifelong love of cooking was starting to fade. The opportunity to get out of high-end professional kitchens gave me the energy and metaphorical space to really dive into some of the experiments and ideas I wasn’t able to at work. Along with making 3 meals for my girlfriend and I every day, I tested out a variety of new ideas and ended up with a handful of pandemic recipes born out of my own boredom including a squash pie, a ale-onion tart, several varieties of muffins, and a near-perfect replica of the dominoes medium 2-topping pan pizza. However, my favorite culinary accomplishment of the quarantine was my Butternut Squash Butter. 

The idea was simple—When you have too many apples, you make apple butter (right?). If you have too much butternut squash…— so I peeled enough squash to fill my slow cooker, dumped in a bunch of sugar and some water and let it ride. When the squash broke down I blended it into a purée and put it back in the pot. Eventually, it started to caramelize around the edges. I would nearly let it blacken before scraping it off the sides and mixing it back in. After about 36 hours, I wound up with a deep, burnt red colored paste with the consistency of homemade ketchup—perfect! The resulting “butter” tasted just like its color, if that makes sense—robust, dark, and warm. It first was used as a glaze for a grilled pork tenderloin before it ended up in breads and sauces, on ice creams and even as a “syrup” in a remarkably good iced latte. 

The quarantine changed my cooking and eating habits in the way that suddenly, everything was up to me. I may have indulged too much, as many have, but I also managed to get some of my creative energy back and adda few more staples to my recipe book.

Q: What are the 3 best cooking tips you’d give to a beginner? How about a seasoned home cook? What’s the smartest or most underrated kitchen hack you know?

A: Firstly, I would give a beginner the same #1 tip that pro cooks get in pro kitchens—taste your food! Set it and forget it can be nice, but the only way to make sure it’s just the way you like it is to eat some. Secondly, season every layer of the dish. This goes hand in hand with the first tip, but it’s easy to forget. Even “seasoned” home cooks forget to salt their pasta/blanching water. Lastly, I would tell them to start out cooking the things that they like. Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. If you know what good chicken fingers and fries tastes like, try to make some good chicken fingers and fries. Your mistakes will be far more edible!

For a seasoned home cook, the first advice I would give is to invest in nicer equipment. Not all at once, but overtime it’s good to accumulate an assortment of reliable appliances (and knives) that allow you to make anything that pops into your head. Second, I always recommend keeping a fully stocked spice cabinet and all of your basic baking essentials (butter/oil, sugar, flour, eggs, milk) on hand. It’s always helpful to have the building blocks for most dishes at arms reach. Thirdly, practice plating! Your friends say they would pay for your food at a restaurant, make it look like it actually came from one. It can be challenging, but all it takes is some practice really impress your guests.

Q: Tell us about a few food-related things you’re obsessed with. (Could be: Under-the-radar IG or TikTok accounts; TV shows, podcasts, or newsletters; secret menu items; small businesses, etc)


  1. Morning Light Bakery—Winooski, VT

– This is a great Hong Kong style bakery that was opened by an immigrant family in town a couple of years ago. They have awesome baked and steamed buns, homemade mochi and bubble teas.

2) Instagram: mattymatheson

– Matty Matheson is always doing wild stuff, but his obsession over and public exhibition of the under-appreciated Buffalo-style pizza the last few years has been wonderful to witness.

3) Instagram: rwmckinlay

– I have a number of Canadian friends and out of respect, I try to keep up with the general CanCon of the day. My current favorite chef up there is Rob McKinlay. He does an awesome job of showcasing Canadian ingredients and mind-bendingly cool techniques of butchery, classic and modern.


Black Flannel Brewing Company – Black Flannel Brewing Co. serves superior beer and liquor paired with farm to table cuisine, all crafted in-house, for folks who notice the little things. Come enjoy our huge storefront in Essex and watch your food and drink be prepared before your eyes.


“We pair well with people.”

“Best Burger and Beer in a Burger and Beer State”

Willard Street Inn – The Willard Street Inn is a grand Victorian style mansion situated the heart of Burlington, Vermont, which hosts up to 34 guests in classic luxury. Guests may take in the history of the building, have a walk around the beautiful grounds or eat their breakfast in the vegetable garden outside, all before they even leave for the morning.


“Everything Exactly How It Should Be”

“Burlington’s Best Bed and Breakfast. Emphasis on the Breakfast.”

SGETI TRUCK – The city’s ONLY spaghetti-based food truck run by a REAL Italian. He’s got the attitude, he’s got the accent, and you KNOW he’s got the sauce.


“SGETI. Five Dollars.”

“You want it or not?”

“Red sauce by the Boss”

Anti-Cookbook – Crispy “Crab” Rolls

A quick and easy appetizer, dinner or snack that I adapted from a TikTok (yes, TikTok) video that Emma showed me. Pretty good!


  • 1.5 cups sushi rice
  • 1 8oz. package of imitation crab meat (you only need 4oz.)
  • 1 cup potato starch (can user corn starch in a pinch)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 sheet nori
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic crisp
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar (if you don’t have any, just use regular rice vinegar and add 2 tsp sugar and a good pinch of salt.)
  • 1 lime


  1. Prepare the sushi rice. Add 1.5 cups of rice and 2 cups of cold water to a pot. Allow rice to soak for about 15 minutes before turning on heat.
  2. Bring rice to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for another 10 minutes before using.
  3. Season your rice and pack it into plastic wrap in the bottom of a casserole dish. The goal here is both to form the rice into a brick from which you can cut sushi-size nuggets from, but also to help it retain shape when frying. Put the rice in the freezer to cool down quickly.
  4. While the rice is cooling down, get about 4-5 ounces of your fake crab meat and pull it apart in a bowl. Next, add a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of your chili garlic crisp (see previous recipe) and 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Adjust the mixture to your liking (more crab/less crab, more mayo/less mayo).
  5. When the rice is very cool, but not frozen, remove it from the dish and cut into nigiri-sized nuggets. Or maki-sized nuggets. Whatever. I don’t care!
  6. Roll the nuggets lightly in the potato starch and then place them gently in a sauté pan on medium heat with 1/4 inch of oil covering the bottom. Allow each side of the nugget to brown, turning gently to get even coverage.
  7. Remove nuggets from pan to plate lined with paper towel and salt lightly.
  8. Plate your dinner! Put a drip of chili oil down first, then the rice nuggets. Next, place a small scoop of crab salad on top using a spoon and your fingers. Finally, slice up some scallions and a sheet of nori into strips as thin as you can, and liberally distribute over the rolls.

That’s it! I know the knife work is bad, I could only find the worst, dullest one. I also only had corn starch around so I wasn’t able to do this 100% true to the video, but I also didn’t have avocado, because avocado isn’t good on rice to me. The corn starch was a little heavier of a breading than I would have wanted, but the finished product still tasted great. I bet this would actually work really well if you did a traditional double dredge in panko breadcrumbs too… nice.