Monday, January 7, 2013

UnRecipe: The Misanthropic Cook

I know it's a new year, full of promise, potential and hope... but holy $%*&, there are days where you don't want to leave the house. You're sick with the flu, it's been a crazy work week, or more likely, it's cold outside and the effort it would take to get your lazy butt off the couch feels like a request to summit Mt. Everest while wearing deep-sea diving gear. Seasonal Affective Disorder to the Tenth Power with a side of Sad Horns. The post-holiday hangover doesn't help things when you're staring at those Christmas lights you know you're just going to leave up until sometime mid-March. And then it hits you... damn. You're hungry.

Emergency Taco Button - hit it and don't stop! - Photo by Wasabi Prime
Yes, you could go grab a burger. Or order a pizza -- those show up right to your door. I hit the Pizza Button already over the holidays when I was sick and couldn't leave the bed. Even as miserable as I was, I knew I could not live off takeout food. Therefore, in times of illness or just not wanting to deal with the world, I rely on a cache of goods stashed in our freezer/fridge and pantry.

Just call me the Misanthropic Cook. Be it benefit or detriment, since I work from home, a full week can go by where I can get away with not leaving the house except for picking up the mail and the occasional trip to the grocery store -- but even that's optional. Having produce delivered to the house is a bonus -- we're still living La Vida Kale with Full Circle Farm's CSA every other week. But it always ensures you have some fresh produce to combine with whatever you've hoarded in the freezer. My go-to is always soup. I try to always have frozen poultry stock in quart-sized yogurt containers and I'll defrost two if I'm making soup. What goes in the soup? Whatever the heck I have, veggies, meat and all. If I have a lot of starchy things like potatoes, I'll use the hand blender to buzz that down into a creamy, thick consistency, but if I have a random mix of vegetables, I cut them small and keep the soup looking "rustic" so that you can see everything that got put into it. The flavoring is typically salt, pepper and some dried herbs like oregano and thyme, but the soup can easily get a Southwest flair with cumin and chili powder. This is why Whatever Soup is top on my list when I can't or just plain won't leave the comfort of my abode.

Soup and tacos are a hermit's best friend - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I discovered that tacos are the Misanthropic Cook's new BFF. Corn tortillas freeze like a boss. And you can buy them in staggering bulk amounts, which you can separate into handfuls, wrap in plastic and foil to protect against freezer burn, and store until needed. I've also taken to buying up chorizo and freezing that as well. It's funny to say you have a collection of frozen meat tubes, but hey, it is what it is. I prefer the pork chorizo, but you can find beef just as easily. That marvelous mix of ground up, well-seasoned mystery meat (it does say stuff like "lungs and intestine" on the packaging, if you don't want to live in mystery), gets fried up with some finely chopped onion and in the last couple minutes of cooking, crack in a few eggs. It tightens up the mix and it's easily spoonable onto a warmed corn tortilla. It's fine on its own. Or you can add fresh sliced avocado. Or a dollop of sour cream -- plain, unsweetened yogurt in my case. Maybe a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime if they're handy. If you're lucky, you have some roasted tomatillo and fresh herb salsa verde sitting in the freezer that can easily be defrosted. Yes, I'm a bit of a freezer nerd, but it's so nice knowing you have a surplus of homemade stocks, dips and sauces in your personal freezer aisle. Hungry Man dinners, this ain't! Even without all the accoutrements, a basic chorizo and egg taco meal is quick to make, and it's incredibly satisfying.

The 2012 Holiday that Was - Photos by Wasabi Prime
After a whirlwind holiday of overly decorated baked brie (our grocery store is so weird) and new cookbooks that are inspiring, but daunting at the same time, just kick back in your new Lebowski Dude t-shirt, start scrapbooking with meat stickers and have a chorizo-egg taco without the concern of facing the rest of 2013 quite yet. Happy days to all, my fellow Post-Holiday Hobbits.

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