Sometimes you just need to use the food that you’ve been avoiding. 

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I know that in the past, I have talked high and mighty about the need for prepared meals in the life of any given family. Meals shouldn’t come out of a box or a bag (specifically tv dinners or anything with the word ‘helper’ after it).

The day will come, Dear Reader, when you can give no fucks about preparing food. You could be short on time.  You could have had a bad day (or week). The people you are preparing said food for could be a real bunch of assholes about what you have made in the past. You could just simply be out of steam.

The point is, is that it’s ok, to reach for that which you have been avoiding with respect to the menu your personal kitchen produces (as long as you make it your own). 

On occasion, I will do this quite simply because I can. Preparing meals is really difficult when you are doing so with the intent of people actually eating the food you put in front of them instead of just moving it around on their plate or whining about any given facet of the meal. In short, it’s a nice little break you can give yourself. Me? I try to do it at least once a week.

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My answer to the dilemma of ‘making it my own’ is to throw in so many goddamn vegetables that not only am I changing the very nature of whatever package I’m working with, but also I’m ensuring that leftovers will result.

Leftovers are good. They are your friend. They will be there when you don’t know what to make those ingrates for lunch. 

I digress.

The trick with veg-ifying Ramen, is to leave everything in the pot for as long as possible. In doing so, the noodles, veg, and whatever else you may want to throw (Chicken or shrimp works in this instance. Personally I throw the chicken in the bowl prior to serving. Throw it in the pot and it’s liable to disintergrate on you) in their sucks up the boullioned water thereby ensuring maximum flavor output.

IMG_2953 TA DA! It’s a ‘healthier’ take on ramen. 

A word to the wise: Ramen leftovers are shit after a day. If you’re not having it for breakfast or lunch, don’t bother.

Don’t want to fuck with Ramen? I can’t blame you. You can achieve the same goal with that ‘american classic’, macaroni and cheese. 

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Mac & Cheese is a versatile staple. You can throw anything in it and it will come out ok. Hot dogs, tuna and peas, bacon & broccoli: whatever you want. You’re the one eating it.

On a personal note, through a lot of trial and error (because I live with some picky sons of bitches) I have landed on a solid combination.

IMG_3167Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (with corn & mixed peppers), a side of broccoli, and chicken. 

This combo produces empty plates, consistently, in record time.

In closing, preparing food is great because you are keeping the best interests of your family in mind, but sometimes you just need to take a goddamn break.

Have a cheater meal that is your go to? Don’t be shy: share it in the comments, mang! 

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Some thoughts on the idea of Father’s Day.

As per usual, I am a day late and a dollar short when it comes to these ‘themed’ posts. You can most assuredly count the fucks I give about that on one hand.

Fatherhood, let alone parenting, can seem like an insurmountable challenge at the best of times. As men, we are genetically predisposed to the societal conditioning (e.g men work while the women stay at home) that fucked up our predecessors. The challenge lies in finding a navigable path between the pomp and the piss of the past. 

We need to be sensitive while not being insensitive. We need to be accepting of others differences while not  being totally dismissive. We need to accept the fact that we (the current generation of ‘young’ fathers) grew up in a different world than our children are currently living in and as such we need to not let our own past shadow our children’s future. 

I conversed with my friend, The Rock Farmer, the other day about those challenges and we surprised ourselves when we realized that we were cut from the same bolt of cloth

Our motivation for getting through those challenges? Anger. Not fuck stuff up, ‘Hulk-SMASH’ kind of anger but the type of anger that won’t settle for the ‘it is, what it is’ attitude that the 21st centruy has birthed and is hungry for change, for progress. 

The next time that these ‘appreciation’ holidays roll around (specifically Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) it might help to keep in mind that the titles ‘mother’ and ‘father’, are not only nouns, but verbs. To mother or to father is to do your best in raising the next generation that will not only take care of you, but also (hopefully) add value to the world at large. 

I gave my wife wood for Mother’s Day.

Yes, I know Mother’s day has come and gone. No need to be a pedant about it. 

Regardless, I would be remiss if I did not walk you through the ‘punishment’ that I put myself through because of it. 

Mother’s day (along with Father’s day) has always been hit or miss with my wife and I. It’s not that we don’t care about either of those days. It’s also not because we think the other doesn’t deserve a day to call their own. 

Speaking for myself, I think that it’s because we didn’t have a good idea of what those days were really about when we were growing up. This was the direct result of both of us coming from ‘broken homes’. Kind of hard to know what Mother’s day or Father’s day was all about if mom was talking shit about dad or vice versa.

The hit and miss of these days for us has resulted in poor planning and a light touch of misery throughout the day. 
This is not to say that all of them have been miserable. They just haven’t been as great as I thought they should have been

I am a fan of turning negatives into positives. This year, my wife was going to be out of town for Mother’s Day so I decided to capitalize on that and make her something that she wanted: patio furniture

As luck would have it, I had the materials I needed right under my nose. 

  
That’s right: I got the bright idea to repurpose old furniture into new furniture. 


Enter the parts of our sofa
that our kids fucked up. There are two parts. For some reason, the corner piece didn’t get a picture snapped of it. Sorry about that. 

“How hard could it be, right? All you have to do is de-upholster it and see what you’re working with. I ought to be done with this well before she gets home”, I thought. Famous. Last. Words. 

Here’s what the skeleton of the couch looked like. 

   

 

Obviously this was the easy part. See all that white, cotton-y, shit? That’s what was left over from the upholstery. All of what you’re looking at is held in by staples. So many. Fahking staplessssss. 

People who build furniture for a living (presumably in a factory environment) are not shy with the staples. For reals: it took me the better part of a day and a half just to remove all of them. And there were still some I didn’t catch until the very end. 

  
After the clusterfuck with the staples, it was time for me to remove everything else that would interrupts one’s ass from hitting the floor. Above, you see what that looks like. I knew right away that this piece would be a ‘seat’. All I needed to do was to shorten the width of it. 

  
Like so! Basically, I cut the motherfucker in half and left a chunk out of the middle of the original design.  To measure, I used a yoga mat since my wife was out of town and essentially none-the-wiser. The corner piece was a bit of a sticking point for the repurposing basically because it was so goddamn awkward looking. 

  
As you can see above, I made up my mind and turned that odd-ass couch piece into an extension of the original ‘seat’ idea I was struck with. 

My reasoning was simple: Don’t want to lounge, turn that motherfucker sideways and you got a table. 

To finish out the construction of the ‘seat’ piece I used wood from the original sofa corner piece. This posed a bit of a problem as there wouldn’t be enough wood to finish out the ‘extention/table’. However, it was a problem easily fixed by an old pallet. 

  

Ta fucking Da!
I couldn’t stop here, though. As previously mentioned, I live in Florida (aka the ball-sac of the east coast). If I were to put these two pieces outside, as is, the sun would go “OOOOOOHHHH HOW CUTE” and then crush all of my hard work with all of it’s burning hate. 

  

Enter the sander.
Why sand? Because when you’re working with wood that is going to be living outdoors, you need to protect that shit with the weather seal of your choice. My choice was the Thompson’s Water Seal that you can spray on. ($6 dollars a can at Home Depot if I’m not mistaken.)

How much to sand off though? This wood wasn’t meant to be ‘exposed’. It was meant to support cloth and cotton, and all other sorts of nonsense. Yes, that’s right, I fucking guessed. 

  
The top half of this photo is unsanded. I reasoned that as long as there was a slight, noticeable difference in color and texture of my wood, then it would be ready for the sealant. 

  
So far so good. Luckily, when my wife came back to town and I showed her what I had been up to, she was really psyched. 

In short I invested 3 weeks (because I was operating without a plan and it was hot as fuck when I set about this project) and $60 (That is for the sealant, a box of screws, and the cushions. The cushions were the most expensive part!). 

What I learned was that making shit is really, really satisfying. Also I concluded that the meaning behind a given holiday doesn’t matter. If you’re happy and the people that you love are happy, then it’s all goood. 

How to turn “taco night” into “taco week” while being a sneaky son of a bitch!

IMG_3008I like tacos. You like Tacos. We all like tacos. The only problem with the tacos is that they never last long enough. People are either just too into the taco or else you didn’t buy enough of the things that make tacos great.

Today I’m going to show you how to make the ingredient that makes the taco (the meat) last all week. As an added bonus, you’re going to learn how to properly season your meat.

Ingredients

  1. Taco receptacle of your choosing. (Whatever you want to use in order to get the deliciousness from your plate to your face. Old El Paso has a metric-fuckton of kits in your local super market. Word to the wise? Kids are clumsy as fuck. Mine still have a hard time tilting their head in order to take a bit out of a taco shell. As such, I like to alternate between the stand and stuff tortillas and taco salads. With the salads, I just break up the taco shell and throw all of the fixings in a bowl).
  2. Ground meat. Want to use turkey? Knock yourself out!
  3. Mushrooms (aka THE SECRET FUCKING INGREDIENT).
  4. Seasonings
    1. chili powder
    2. red pepper flakes
    3. garlic powder
    4. onion powder
    5. salt
    6. pepper
    7. cumin
    8. oregano
  5. Taco fixings. (Whatever the hell you want: sour cheese, lettuce, taco cheese, salsa… It’s your damn fiesta: LET ‘ER RIP, NEPHEW!).

Before you do anything else, take another look at the picture at the top of this post and then come back. That white, plunger looking thing is CRUCIAL to the expansion of your precious taco meat. It’s made by Oxo and I have no idea what the proper name for it is.

In the event that it is discontinued or your retailer of your choosing doesn’t carry anything remotely like it, THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER WAYS TO BEEF UP YOUR TACO. You don’t need to use mushrooms. You could use peppers, onion, and more importantly MORE MEAT. If you are opting out of the mushrooms, skip ahead to the “Seasoning your meat” part of this recipe. 

Deploy the mushrooms. 

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Once upon a time, I brought up my taco-quandary to my beloved and she hipped me to the idea that mushrooms, when prepared properly are nearly indistinguishable when they are cooked with ground meat. Got some fuckheaded kid in your house that won’t eat the vegetables or else won’t fuck with more mushrooms? THIS’LL FIX THEIR LITTLE RED WAGON!

What you see above are the pre-sliced mushrooms. Typically, these cost a little more. It should be noted that I am a cheap son of a bitch and if I have pre-sliced mushrooms in my fridge, I got them on sale. Don’t want to fork over the extra wapum for the sliced fungi? I don’t blame you.

Prior to the insertion of mushrooms into your chopper, THEY DO NEED TO BE SLICED. It just makes it easier. You can throw them in whole, what the fuck do I care? It’s your kitchen.

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                                      After you’re done processing the mushrooms, they’ll look like this.

If you take off your glasses and squint really fucking hard, this totally looks like ground beef.

Seasoning your meat

Depending on your choice of meat (ground beef, turkey, small child) there is absolutely no reason for you to be compelled to “drain your meat”. However you are preparing it, that shit will cook off. Just leave your meat in the pan until it does.

Mushrooms have a lot of water in them. When you add them to your meat, you should expect to see that water brought out by the heat. Don’t freak: it will cook off.

When you cook the meat, it should go without saying that you need to break that shit up. However, people are stupid. So I have to say it: break up the meat when you throw it in your heated pan.

When it comes to cooking the ground meats, I don’t stick with one particular setting of flame.

If I have a lot of other things to do in the kitchen, I keep the flame to medium, or low. If I’m in a hurry, I leave that shit on high.

KEEP IN MIND if you are cooking on high heat, you can’t get distracted. If you do, your meal is fucked.

Right about now, your meat has had a minute to start sizzling in the pan. Here’s where your spidey-senses need to kick in. Once things are cooking, but not completely cooked, that’s when you add the mushrooms. After you throw those bad boys in there, stir them up with the meat to get everything nice and coagulated.

Season your shit once the mushrooms start putting off moisture.

As I am sure that I have mentioned before, I don’t measure seasonings. I just don’t have time for that shit. You want to measure your seasoning? Feel free. Nerd. 

I season to taste. What this typically breaks down to in the realm of the taco is that I go down the line of seasonings and I shake that shit on the taco meat as it cooks in the pan. What you want to do is not dump a stupid amount of whatever in there. Just add enough to change the color of the meat. Then mix that shit up and give it a minute.

After you give the taco goodies an appropriate amount of time to take on the seasonings that you added to it, get a spoon and help yourself to a sample. Taste ok to you? Fuck it: you’re done. Taste a little light on a certain seasoning? Fix it up how you want it.

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This is what you should get when you’re all done. No, I’m not showing you what a taco looks like jam-packed with all of this goodness. What you see here will last my family a week.

Want yours to last longer? Add more of whatever you want. More meat? Why the fuck not? Can’t get enough of the ‘shrooms? Add some more.

You’re the one doing all of the work: Add whatever-the-fuck you want.

Why your idea of ‘good parenting’ is fucking your kid up.  

I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to being a spectator to other people’s families. It’s not like I’m that busy. I also don’t live in the middle of nowhere. For the most part, it just doesn’t come up. When it has, my wife and I have been consistently blown away by how shitty most families are

I’m not a snob. 

I don’t think that I know more than any other parent from my age group. I am also without academic credentials that would label me an expert in all of the things that I run long at the mouth on in this arena. With that in mind, when I am invited to someone else’s home, who is my age and has children that my other children run around with, I can’t help but notice all of the shit that is wrong or could be done differently. 

A lot of my distate towards other families stems from my fellow parents and their inability to deal with their own shit

So what if you had a bad childhood? You’re not tipping the scales the other way when you put ‘Little Johnny’ on a pedestal. The only thing that you are doing is giving him license to act like a little asshole when you unleash him on the neighborhood.

SO you hated the fact that your parents made you do chores and DIDN’T PAY YOU for the half-ass job you probably would have done? Your precious little Susie-Q isn’t going to fare any better than you would have.

OH BOO HOO! Your parents made you keep a consistent bed time even if it was the summer? OH YOU POOR DEAR! In retaliation you’re letting your little miscreant stay up until he passes out from exhaustion? Bully for you! Great job totally disregarding the fact that kids need to sleep. A LOT. Not just for mental growth, but for physical as well. No, you’re not setting him up for failure at all.

To date, only one family has passed muster with me. (I’m looking at you, ROCK FARMER).

What parenting is. 

Parenting isn’t about you. It’s not about your bullshit baggage that you have been carrying around since you left home. It’s about the descendant(s) you have created. 

Want your kid to have it better than you did? Give him what you could have benefitted from. 

Think your parents did a shitty job with you? Do the opposite of what they did. 

Think your parents did a good job with you? Do an even better job than they did. 

What I’m getting at. 

The greatest thing I have ever heard about parenting came out of the mouth of Keanu Reeves when he was in the movie ‘Parenthood’.

You need a license to drive funny cars but they’ll let any asshole be a parent.

 No amount of planning will prepare you for being a parent. You could have contingency plans like most people have worry. It won’t matter.

Before you bring that small bag of respirating water home, you need to fully wrap your mind around the idea that you no longer live for your self, you’re living for someone else.