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Nov 29, 2011

Gourmetting Your Ramen and other food tricks

If you're anything like my wife and me, both in college and little time to eat good outside of Sundays and maybe Saturday mornings, you probably find yourself arriving home at night too tired to make anything beyond a pot of Ramen noodles or some condensed soup. Any food really, if you eat it often enough, begins to taste like wood. I like to be creative and turn to our spice rack to jazz up our mundane meals into surprisingly scrumptious dishes! Try these simple tips to make your food taste just a bit better.

Garlic Tomato Soup
Add a tablespoon or more of garlic salt to your tomato soup to add a delicious, zesty bite to it. It goes down deliciously on a cold day. Other good additions are basil and hot sauce.

Gourmet Miojo
Miojo is Brazilian for "Ramen noodles." Though American miojo isn't quite as good as the miojo down there, I try to adapt some of the creative twists I took when I subsisted mainly on this cheap nighttime supper. For chicken-flavored Ramen noodles, my wife loves when I add freshly ground pepper and basil to it when it's finished boiling. It's surprising how much better a simple "backup" dish like Ramen can taste with just a few spices. Hot sauce is also a good addition to Ramen, and I prefer mine unbroken in the package, with just a little bit of water left.

For an interesting twist to your miojo, crack an egg into it while it's still boiling. It will turn your dish into a protein-enriched meal and thicken it too.

Better Tuna Fish
This might be a placebo effect, but I find that if you prepare tuna fish the night before you eat it, it tastes a lot better. Something about it sitting in the fridge overnight seems to allow the mayonnaise to absorb better or something. I like tuna better gray-colored than pinkish.

Also, don't put too much mayo! That can ruin a good tuna sandwich. And never use Miracle Whip. It's called "salad dressing" for a reason.

...although I've never used it for that either. It's only good on like, ham sandwiches.

Microondas Burrito Magnifico
Just because you don't have time to brown beef and cook refried beans to make your own burritos doesn't mean your microwaved "little donkeys" have to be boring! Throw on some cheese when you've got 30 seconds left on the clock. After it's cooked put a dollop of sour cream and salsa on it and for a crunch—seriously, try this—a handful of crumbled tortilla chips! Turn your appetizer into an entrée. There have been times when I've even had some spare jalapeños and leftover rice to add. Be creative and resourceful!

I got the idea from the restaurant Gator Jack's (Subway does this too, probably) to put salt and pepper on my ham sandwiches. It's a great addition and very simple. I had to be very creative last summer when sandwiches day in and day out got tedious to eat. I even unwittingly invented a delicacy when I accidentally bought sweet pickles instead of dill pickles and put them on my turkey sandwich. Try it yourself! When in doubt, put on a layer of sauce that normally wouldn't go on a sandwich, such as Thousand Island dressing or steak sauce. You never know!

I'm also beginning to discover that whiter cheeses go better with meat sandwiches than yellower cheeses like cheddar, but it's still a work in progress...
* * *
Maybe I'm just a food fanatic (my favorite show happens to be Man v. Food), but I don't believe food should just be for nourishment. Throw a random spice in your next mundane dish and see what happens! I've had my share of disgusting inventions (just ask my wife), but now and then I'll find something that becomes a new sensation in my kitchen. It's worth it all when, rather than a last resort, my wife actually gets a craving for Gourmet Miojo.

Nov 12, 2011

Webcomic #1

I don't anticipate making many of these. They take forever to draw by hand, scan, color, and edit; and making it this way just doesn't look very good. I dunno. We'll see. I did name this "webcomic #1" just in case...
 I do love the way Dustin's face turned out in the last frame, though...

Nov 10, 2011

Quite Small Tales volume 2

A preschool teacher was trying to help a young boy play on a waterslide. The boy, despite his teacher’s explanations, continued to climb up the slippery part rather than walk around to the ladder. The boy smashed his face again and again, crying. Finally the teacher gave up, leaving the boy to figure it out on his own. Eventually, the boy did figure out how to go down the slide from the back, avoiding slipping and hurting himself. He went down for the first time, squealing with delight.
“Time to come inside!” called the principal.
A child sat in the kitchen as his mother prepared dinner. Soon, his father came home. Hanging his coat on the coat hanger, the father walked toward the fridge, and asked “Do we have any booze?”
“What’s a boo?” asked the boy.
Tingo and his brother Tongo were in the same math class at school. One day the teacher presented a difficult, time-consuming problem for them. Tingo spent a half hour on the problem and finished, and was able to play online role-playing games the entire evening with no worry. Tongo, on the other hand, procrastinated. He went with his friends to Pizza Hut, putting the math problem at the bottom of his priorities. He ended up finishing with his friends at 12:30 at night, was too tired to work on the math problem, and failed the assignment. This bumped his math grade from a “C-” to a “D+” and Tongo’s father took his iPod Touch away from him.

Nov 4, 2011

The Power of Imagery

A couple of writing exercises.

The tree sat with its branches tenderly reaching for the breeze. Rob saw its branches, illuminated in the sunlight, speckled with flowery-smelling blossoms. A bud would drop every once in awhile, and the white petals would circle slowly and gently till they lighted like butterflies on the grass. Rob could hear the hum of bees in the meadow, and twittering birds perching in the leafy branches shading his head. It was here that he had first kissed Hannah. He had pressed his lips against hers, for the first time finding out that kisses are wet. He had felt her black hair slide silkily through his fingers, heard her breathing, felt the tree’s smooth bark behind him and her heart beat through her denim jacket. That was years ago.
Rob looked the ring on his left hand gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. He rubbed its polished metal surface and sighed, his eyes closing slowly. She would be coming home when the sun went down.

*          *          *

The tree, like a gray stone pillar, sat holding its bony branches slack, creaking like a coffin lid as the bitter wind made it sway like a hangman. What little bark that was left on the stony trunk was brittle and encrusted with lichen. Rob leaned against it, clutching his coat tightly to his body as the cold swirled around him. He could smell the rotting wood, hear the crows in the tree’s hollow cawing mournfully. He grasped the trunk as dead leaves swarmed past the tree in a gust. It was as smooth as bone, and tiny parasites had burrowed through the wood in jagged patterns. It was here that Rob had received the fateful phone call. The call that had changed the honeymoon plans to funeral arrangements.
            Rob’s eyes watered, whether from the wind or his aching heart he did not know or care. He let them stream as he pulled out the photograph. There was Hannah, beautiful and gone; her black hair entwining her head like a veil. In a moment of madness the wind snatched the photo from his fingers, and an updraft carried the photo away into the swirling gray sky.