Miscellanea: Mel

My brother, The ProFit, was complaining that no one ever gets to see the fruit of his efforts.   I reminded him that I post everything he does on the internet.

He spent like 15 minutes scraping away at a watermelon before I realized what he was doing.  Then I turn around and see this thing.

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Yes, this WAS the best use The ProFit’s valuable time.  Why do you ask?

Boredom is a powerful motivator.

Baking: Leche Flan

300 calories

I recently learned this recipe from my Puerto Rican great aunt.  She’s completely nuts and yells at you if you’re standing idle in the kitchen while she’s cooking, but her culinary skills are on point.

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Makes 1 large or several small custards.  Preparation time about an hour and forty-five minutes.

Approximately 292 calories for 1/12 recipe.  Calories in the whole batch: 3,500.

Additional Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Carbs 41g, Fat 9g, Protein 10g, Sodium 120g, Sugar 41g

Tools

Measuring Cups/Spoons, Aluminum Pot, Wooden Spoon, Mixing Bowls, Whisk or Fork, Strainer, Bake-Safe Bowl, and an Oven.

Materials/Preparation

Flan has two main components.  The first is the custard, the second is the layer of caramelized sugar.  They must be prepared separately.

To make the caramelized sugar topping:

  • 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar (774 Calories)
  • About 1/2 Cup Water

Pour the sugar and 1/4 cup water into a high-walled, aluminum pot.  Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and allow the sugar to brown.  You can stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or add more water if you need to.  Once the sugar has changed color, pour it in the bowl in which you intend to bake the flan.

Protip: Caramelized sugar is a pain to clean.  Boil some water in the dirtied pot to get the residue off the bottom.

Now you can make the custard.  You need:

  • 2 Cans Evaporated Milk
    + Coburn Farms Evaporated Milk: 960 calories for 24 oz.
  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
    + Coburn Farms Sweetened Condensed Milk: 1,300 calories for 14 oz.
  • 6 Eggs (70 calories each.)
  • 1-2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt

Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat them with a fork.  Place a strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the egg slime into it to remove the fetus nubs (or whatever those stringy bits are).  Add the milk, vanilla, and a dash of salt.  Combine well and pour into the bake-safe, caramel-coated bowl.

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Bake the flan for about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Flip the contents of the bowl onto a plate and allow to cool.  Serve warm, or refrigerate for a few hours and serve cold.  Don’t forget to drizzle the slices with the sugar syrup.

Light Meals: Root Vegetable Roast

330 calories

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New dishes mean an excuse to show off new guns.

The ProFit and I recently went on a mini road trip to West Virginia.  We stopped at the local Walmart, where my brother noticed beets for sale.  He bought two on a whim, leaving me asking myself (and him), “Ew, what the heck am I supposed to do with these?”  After scouring the internet for ideas, I decided on a turnip/carrot/beet roast.  At the very least, I figured the other vegetables would overpower the weird beet flavor.

I chopped up four turnips, the two beets, then added a small bag of baby cut carrots.  I dumped them onto a baking sheet (I don’t have a roasting pan–don’t judge) and coated them with a little canola oil.  I also added a drizzle of fat-free balsamic salad dressing (I don’t have any balsamic vinaigrette, either–don’t judge), plus a sprinkling of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic.  Cook that for an hour in the oven at 400 degrees F and, hey, you have food.

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Italian craftsmanship ❤

When we move out of the city and have our own garden, I suspect we’ll be making this meal a lot as a cheap way to stay alive.

True story: We bought the turnips at our local grocery store.  There was a sign above the turnips that read something like: “Turnips: a vegetable having white skin with a purple tint.”  I was laughing at how basic that description was until we got to the checkout line and the cashier asked us what vegetable it was we were buying.  I guess city folk don’t actually know what turnips are.

Cashiers are always confused by portabello mushrooms, too.  They ask us, “What kind of mushrooms are these?”  Every.  Single.  Time.  Do these people not eat anything that doesn’t come pre-assembled in a cardboard box?

Light Meals: Uyghur-Style Four Peppers

The Angelist Cookbook, once again presenting only the finest recipes.

As you may or may not know, my brother (The ProFit), bases most of our staple recipes on things he’s tried in restaurants.  Being the jefe at his workplace, he sometimes has to go out to eat with his co-workers.  This means he ends up trying a variety of semi-exotic fare that I, working from home, don’t.

Sometimes, our system works well.  He brings an idea back home with the intention of finding a way to make it on the cheap.  Other times, however, we get something like the following:

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The knife is something The ProFit bought in Afghanistan.  There are Uyghurs working in Afghanistan.  That’s a good enough justification to feature it here.

How did this happen?  The ProFit ordered a dish called “Four Peppers” at some Uyghur-style restaurant.  No, it wasn’t a stir-fry featuring four different types of peppers.  It was literally four peppers on a plate.  And it cost $9.

He made this “dish” at home, too.  I think he felt that, by doing so, it would somehow offset the fact he had to pay nine bucks for a few cents worth of peppers.  I should tell you that he modified the recipe somewhat–the nine-dollar peppers he received still had the stems on them.

Eating out: it’s highway robbery, I tell ya.  Where we live, you can easily pay twenty Uncle Sam Funbucks™ for a veggie burger.  All the more reason to never leave the apartment.

Baking: Vegan Chocolate

681 calories

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You learn a lot about the food you eat when you make it yourself. In particular, you get a sense for the constituent parts of any dish (rather than viewing it as a whole).  That tasty cake you’re eating?  It’s just flour, oil, and sugar.  That muffin, loaf of bread, or cookie?  Same thing.  In fact, almost everything we eat is the same handful of ingredients arranged in slightly different ways.  Food is not actually more than the sum of its parts, is what I’m saying.

The takeaway is this: if you cook, you become more conscious about food.  Really conscious.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I’m not one to shy away from cold, harsh truths.  I honestly think, as obvious as it may seem, that the apparent “diversity” of food is an illusion is a reality most people miss–especially if all you eat is processed junk (soy and corn, corn and soy, more soy and corn).

Chocolate is a great example of this.  I’ve always wondered why it’s so high in calories.  I mean, it’s just cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar.  But, what is cocoa butter, fundamentally?

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Solid at room temperature, but oil nonetheless.

It’s oil.  You’re eating sugar and cocoa powder suspended in oil.

Well, let’s make some chocolate!

Nutrition Information (Entire Base Recipe)

Calories (681), Carbs (54g), Fat (58g), Protein (8g), Sodium (0g), Sugar (29g)

Ingredients: Cocoa butter (4 Tbsp), cocoa powder (1/2 Cup), confectioner’s sugar (1/4 Cup).

Preparation: Heat the cocoa butter in a saucepan until it melts.  Add the other stuff.  Stir.  Pour into container of some kind.  Let harden in fridge.  Done.

That’s really all there is to it.  Chocolate has this reputation of being a finicky luxury item.  Maybe it is if you want like, silky smooth tempered milk chocolate.  I’m not so refined, which is good because I’m also extremely sloppy and lazy.

Now, me being completely unable to follow even the simplest of instructions, here’s how I actually made the chocolates.  I dumped a random amount of cocoa butter into the pot, eyeballed the sugar, and threw in enough Hershey’s cocoa powder until the turned dark brown.  Then I stirred and added more crap until the chocolate was kinda thick.  Then I poured the goop into silicone moulds I bought off Amazon for five bucks and let it set in the fridge.  Some of the moulds had coconut shavings in them (because I can).

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*Yawn*

Anti-climatic, right?  Exactly my point.  Also, now that I’ve made chocolate, I don’t want to eat it.  Especially because I hate Hershey’s.  Ugh, this is like the Injera Incident all over again.

Light Meals: Fungus Sandwich

450 calories

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The blue cheese makes it extra fungusy.

About a month ago, I tried a mushroom.  I’d tasted mushrooms in the past and always disliked them, but it turns out it’s just the canned variety that sucks.  Fresh mushrooms are actually all right, despite the fact they remind me of rot and decay.  More importantly, they’re low in calories, yet add bulk.  Thus, I’ve started incorporating them into salads, stir fry, and so forth.

Today, The ProFit and I tried making a portobello mushroom sandwich.  It turned out pretty good, so I’ll jot down the recipe for future reference.  If I don’t do this, I tend to forget that some particular dish is an option and revert back to my neurotic “mono” diets where I just eat the same thing every day for months on end.

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Total Calories: ~450

Ingredients

One ciabatta roll (140 calories), one or two portobello mushroom caps (66 calories), 100 grams of onion (40 calories), half a bell pepper (10 calories), one ounce blue cheese (100 calories), half a tablespoon of canola oil (60 calories), a splash of teriyaki sauce (30 calories), and black pepper for seasoning.

Preparation

1. Slice the bread and spread the blue cheese on the slices. (Daiya provolone would probably work well, too.)

2. Fry the mushroom caps in a skillet with the oil and teriyaki sauce.  It might also help to cut the mushrooms into strips instead of leaving it whole since the rubbery texture makes it hard to bite into.

3. Slice the onion and green pepper into strips and fry those, too. Don’t add more oil, just Teriyaki sauce.

4. Allow most of the sauce to drain off the vegetables before putting them on the bread. Sprinkle on some black pepper flakes or other seasonings.

5. Spend half an hour scrubbing the oil splatter off the stove to burn off the calories from your sandwich.