One of the two things I cooked for myself in college days was my own invention (a roomate taught me the other so it was less interesting though better). I would purchase my chicken leg (with skin) from the butcher on the corner and bring it upstairs into our narrow little kitchen. The stove was by the window opposite the sink, you could reach one from the other by simply turning around. I’d track down my pot, make sure it was empty, extract the chicken leg from its stiff paper wrapper, and settle it in there for transformation.
Here is the recipe, on which I will now confer the epicurean name it deserves: Jambe de Poulet De L’eau, aka Chicken Leg in Water.
chicken leg (unwrapped);
enough water, preferably NYC;
hacked up carrots;
salt, often forgotten
Take the chicken leg out of the butcher paper and drop the paper in the sink for later. Avoid touching the chicken, or else wipe your hands on the curtain, which is dingy and already smells (they say you can’t get salmonella twice anyway, and you and your roomies have probably had it already). Excavate your carrots from last week from the back of the fridge. They are now kind of rubbery which makes them easier to hack up in your weakened, hungry condition. Hack however many your roomie didn’t eat while sleepwalking into largish fragments and stick them in the pot on top of the chicken. If you don’t have at least two, you won’t get much veggie credit. However six is too many and turns the stovetop orange when your dinner boils over. Now head over to the tall, spindly cabinets over the tiny wooden countertop and pull down all the open boxes of spaghetti. Find one that actually has some spaghetti in it and shake it onto the carrots being careful to avoid getting roach droppings in there. If you are nice you will throw out the empty spaghetti boxes but if you are mad at your roomies you will put them back on the top shelf. Now add your New York City tap water. Even back in the day, before foodies existed or were (badly) dreamt of, this was considered a quality organic ingredient. Pivot the pot over to the sink, and splash it in generously, you can afford it. Now, pivot the heavily laden pot carefully back to the stovetop and turn on the gas. If the burner clicks unproductively more than three times, lose patience with the pilot and light the burner with a match in an exciting explosion. Go away for at least long enough to head over to the bathroom, pee, and once again take your roomie’s damp nylons off your bath towel and hide them under her mattress. When you come back your Chicken Leg in Water will be boiling enthusiastically. Let this continue until the skin has ballooned on the leg, the carrots are as soft as Jello, and the spaghetti has swollen to the thickness of a drinking straw. Your dinner is now ready to eat, or at least will be in about ten or fifteen minutes when it’s cooled sufficiently to be approached without fireproof gear. Find a biggish, cleanish bowl in the cabinet (but not the keepsake one that belonged to your other roomie’s dead grandma) and dump, but carefully, your pot’s contents into it. If you did this right there won’t be much water left and the spaghetti will be fat, mysterious, and yellow. The chicken meat is very relaxed and slops easily off the bone, which you can gnaw after everything else has gone down. Hope you remembered the salt! If you did, this is so good that you won’t leave a speck for the roaches. Or the roomies.
Lazy is judgemental. But it’s catchy and it’s good shorthand for what I mean which is reduction of effort. Also, why the judgement, anyway? Why is it a bad thing to fail to be bowled over by bloggers who get milk out of chickens and eggs out of cows before spending the day spinning their own children and canning a half acre of prime farmland? Screw them with their own homemade screws that they mined and cast before giving birth to dinner, publishing a recipe book on homemade paper, and blogging the night away.
Cooking dinner is a big effort that can cast a pall over the earlier part of the day. Effort reduction is key, so make one do the work of two as follows: I made a tasty lentil salad last night. I admit there was a fair amount of effort involved because I had to wash and chop ingredients that I had purchased earlier in a wide-eyed state. Lentils had to be rinsed and boiled (20 minutes usually plenty). Coarsely chopped onion because that was last and I was tired and my eyes hurt. A little garlic so I could finish the shrivelling head. A surviving plum tomato from a previous incarnation – I keep the fridge very cold so few things change state rapidly. Those little cucumbers that were on sale, pain in the ass to peel them so I didn’t. Dark green skin must be nutritious. Good mommy. What else? Oh, yeah. The family member who hates brussels sprouts and spinach was away so I included those. Frozen sprouts. Easy. Fresh spinach in microwave bag. Also easy but I rinsed it after because I am insanely suspicious (though three minutes in the microwave should be an adequate kill step, right?) A moment sufficed to make my own special salad dressing using a packet of Good Seasonings Italian and a lot more vinegar than the instructions recommend. Mixing different vinegars is fun, like wine, balsamic, and cider. Especially if it helps finish a bottle. I do use olive oil but not EVO because it sounds like a washed up band or a sexually transmissible condition).
We ate, we enjoyed or pretended to, we watched a K-drama while so doing. And we had some left despite my efforts to sell it. The next day the family member who does not appreciate most of the ingredients in the lentil salad healthy as they are, returned to her native home. Suppressing my guilt at not making her a festive return dinner that she might actually like, I added ingredients to the leftover salad in order to stretch it out and maybe get stuff in there that she could pick at. Half a box of macaroni enabled me to get rid of said half box. And a block of feta cheese. I had cucumbers left because I got fed up with chopping them the previous night. Newly energized by my idea of recycled dinner, I added these too. And, in order to make the whole more palatable, a lot more salad dressing. And so, we ate once again.
And I wrote a food blog!
“A kombucha SCOBY (also known as a starter culture, mother, mushroom, etc.) is a necessary component if you wish to make kombucha tea. There are generally three ways to obtain a SCOBY;
Get one from an acquaintance,
Purchase one from a reputable source or
Grow a scoby from a bottle of raw kombucha tea.”
There appears to be a fourth way: fill an insulated mug with tea and a little lemon; bring to school and lose there for about three months; find in a corner of an overheated classroom; open to discover a gelatinous mass which resembles a jellyfish; set free…
This method is unlikely to produce kombucha tea but there could be a feral SCOBY on the loose. Hope it’s not angry.