Fry up the ground beef. After it’s cooked, stir in the can of man sauce. Let simmer.
Prep your buns. We use submarine buns because they don’t dissolve when wet (looking at you, Kaiser rolls) and they taste good. Pro tip: scoop some of the bread flesh out of the centre of your bun. It makes for more meat room.
If you’re into mayo and butter, slather up the roll. I am a purist who does not need cream to go with my man-sauced meat, but you do you.
Spoon some of the meat into your bun and bun-channel. Add onions and pickles – I use Oh Snap Hottie Bites because a) they’re hot af and b) they’re friggin’ delicious. Ed is a delicate flower who prefers the less-spicy Dilly Bites which are also very tasty but I want my sandwich to make me hurt. Add cheese if you’re into that sort of thing, then top it all with as much BBQ sauce as you can handle. We’re both super fond of Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ sauce, coz it adds a really nice flavour to the meat and spicy pickles.
That’s it. Super short recipe today, but it’s very big on flavour. I call it the Sloppy Jorge because I am very fond of naming things “George”, even if they are not a George at all. This is our go-to quick meal when we’re sick of chicken and fish and poblano peppers, and it never fails to fully satisfy. It’s really just a Sloppy Joe with extra steps, but they’re worthwhile steps that result in a very tasty and filling meal and actually somehow covers all four food groups nicely. If you can avoid eating an entire bag of potato chips alongside your Sloppy Jorge, you might actually have a decently balanced meal. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
At LEAST until the morning light. Possibly longer.
Things are happening, apparently. BC has completely ramped up the vaccination rollout much faster than we thought possible – as of this typing, anyone in BC born in 2009 or earlier (ages 12 and up) is eligible for their first dose of the vaccine. Yesterday, they (they being the shadowy government organizations that decide which microchips will be activated first) announced that second doses are starting pretty much immediately, with your second dose invitations arriving 8 weeks after your first dose. My 8 weeks is up on June 2nd, so while I’m not holding out for that exact flavour of hero, it’s looking like both Ed and I will be double-dosed by the end of June. That is much faster than the original plan, which had us getting our first shots by September, or the updated plan, which said our second shots would be minimum 16 weeks after our first. This is good.
Ed and I have had multiple discussions about what we’re comfortable with when it comes to societal exposure. We’re in agreement that we’ll still be wearing masks indoors in public places, because I don’t think my anxiety could handle a naked face in public just yet. I’m very, VERY excited at the thought of the border opening up again, because I desperately miss our US friends and also Trader Joe’s and my package depot. I haven’t started making lists yet, but I’m basically seconds away from mapping out our Grand Return to Normalcy (which, in our world, is basically a large bag of frozen corn and tater tots).
And yet, for all my eagerness for March 2020 to be over already, there’s one notable area I refuse to think about just yet:
Just as I was willing to be one of the last people vaccinated if it meant that frontline workers, teachers, and retail folk could go first (obviously didn’t happen), I am willing to wait for the world to *truly* go back to “normal” before I start thinking about international travel.
I don’t want part of the experience – social distancing, limited entry, hand washing, mandatory pants in public, restrictions – I want it all. I want to be squished into an elevator with 50 other tourists to get to the top of a tower. I want to hop aboard a bus with strangers and listen to a cheesy recorded tour set to upbeat, royalty-free music. I want to stand in line for an expensive hot dog and not be able to put my preferred relish on it but will make do with the same condiments half the city has used before me. I want to sample foods and drinks and take transit in places I have no business being. I want to experience everysinglepart of “travel”, and I’m willing to wait for it: we’ve all spent so long compromising on our entire existence for the last 15 months that when we’re free, I want to truly be free.
I’ll wear a mask in public for as long as I need to and wear masks indoors if the air I’m breathing isn’t my own, but I’m not going to be hopping on a plane the day after I get my second shot. Hell, my anxiety ramps up if I’m away from my own house for longer than a few hours, so I’ve got a touch of agoraphobia to work through before I get to the point of needing my emergency travel underwear stash .. but it almost feels like it’s time to start hoping again. That would be nice. I’ve been burned out on nothing for so long that I forget what it feels like to have something to look forward to that isn’t sleep because there’s nothing else to do.
For the first time in a long, long while, I’m cautiously optimistic – cautimistic – that there’s something more than an endless sea of nothing just over that horizon.
We have kittens! We’ve had them since December, actually. My Instagram is now a 24/7 all-kitten channel, mostly because I really need a haircut and I miss travel and my balcony, while still my beautiful oasis, doesn’t need to be shared daily.
I’ve had cats almost my entire life, but I’ve never had cats that actually liked each other. Ed had agreed that the next time we were in the market for a cat (so, all the time) we could get a pair. I had tried several times to adopt through our usual rescue associations, but most of BC had the same idea during the pandemic and I didn’t get any responses to the inquiries I submitted.
Then, Chris happened. Chris is the awesome gent who runs the Grist Mill and Gardens up in Keremeos. We met in the early days of social media in Vancouver, and he was always down to show us the proper way to murder people or come to our parties (remember those?) without pants on. Oh, and then there was the shot I invented that had a meatball in it, and the hot dog with a Twinkie for a bun. Suffice it to say, Chris is awesome people even when he DOESN’T have kittens he needs to home.
Close as I can remember, it wasn’t actually my decision to adopt the kittens. Chris posted on social media that he had found some feral barn cats that needed a home, and as there is much overlap in our respective social circles, someone remembered that I had been Desperately Seeking Kittens and volunteered that I would adopt them. I had many thoughts about this, all of them being “YAY KITTENS!!”, but I had to do some fast-talking to get Ed onboard. Ed has a bad habit of sometimes agreeing to things I suggest just to appease me, without thinking it’ll actually happen – this has come back to bite him in the ass many times, because I am a planner. You don’t say “yes” to a planner, because I will find a way to make it happen. I am very stubborn that way.
Okay so the universe had decided I was going to adopt these kittens, and who am I to bet against the universe. Chris had plans to drive into Vancouver for other, non-kitten related business, so he arranged to bring them by our place. A great plan! Except while loading the kittens into his car, one of them escaped and disappeared. It took four days of webcams and tuna, but the missing kitten finally showed herself and was re-scooped for delivery. It felt kind of weird being so worried about an animal I hadn’t even met yet, but I was well-sold on the idea of this particular bonded pair of kittens so it was a few days of heartache until we got word she had been found. Kitten delivery was a go!
Chris arrived at our place on a Tuesday morning with a box full of kittens, who quickly escaped the cardboard confines to explore their new home. The kittens were tiny little gingers, a brother and sister pair:
They were home, but what they hell were we going to name them? We decided to each pick a name, because Ed leans towards the traditional and I am much more of a long florid name with a complicated backstory kind of person. I mulled over a whole lot of ginger-cat names and liked several, but was still holding back on any food-related names because I have serious issues in dire need of therapy.
When we first got word that girl kitten was missing, I made a deal with myself: if she was found, I would name her Sunny after this song. It had gotten stuck in my head while I was doing all my worried pacing and it seemed really fitting. Sunny’s name was decided before she arrived, but what were we going to name the boy kitten?
Ed decided on “Rocky” for a name, which I wasn’t crazy about because it is very traditional. It also didn’t really seem to fit: Sunny was a very cautious, skittish kitten, but her brother was very .. bombastic. He does everything very bigly. He also looks like a little lion, and deserved a better name than something as pedestrian as “Rocky”. We tossed a lot of names back and forth, but one seemed a little stickier than the others: every time he did something cute, we’d say “Look at him, <doing whatever he was doing at the time> – just like a little Rory Calhoun!”
We shook on it, and his name officially became Roary J Calhoun. The J stands for J. It’s a thing.
The kittens have been with us for six months now, and we can’t really imagine life without them. We had high hopes for an entertaining bonded pair, but Chris somehow accidentally gave us two of the best kittens we have ever had the privilege of meeting: they’re (too) smart, affectionate, cuddly, curious, and stinky little beacons of joy. Sunny is also one of the prettiest kittens I’ve ever seen – just LOOK AT HER:
Gahhh. I cannot even. Roary is much less dainty than his sister, but he’s also the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had: when he decides it’s time to love me, I really have no choice in the matter. If I don’t pick him up when he asks (he asks like a toddler wanting to be held: stretches his arms out and chirps at me, often going under my skirt like a perverted Rory Calhoun), he will jump onto me from wherever he is. It’s his favourite game in the kitchen, which adds an element of terror because I’ll be chopping things or at the stove and the next thing I know a 12-pound flying bear attacks me from behind to roll around on my shoulders like a drunk seal. It’s hilarious and scary and adorable. Even when it hurts.
Both kittens have had all their shots, several bouts of medication due to the parasites they picked up while living rough, and were spayed/neutered in early spring (we already have one inbred cat; don’t need anymore). They’re happy and healthy and while Dilly and Lemon are not 100% on Team Kittens, they’ve made our apocalyptic homebound days much easier to deal with.
If you’ll excuse me, I have some kitten snuggling to do.
It’s Shan’s birthday! Celebrate all things Shan by making her awesome breakfast casserole!
Small frying pan
Anything in your fridge that goes with eggs: tomatoes! onions! that one sad red pepper you can’t bring yourself to throw away! Ham? HAM! Corn! Watermelon? Maybe skip the watermelon. Peas! Broccoli! Spinach! Leftover potatoes! Basically, anything. As long as it goes with eggs.
Pre-heat your oven to 400. Dump your mushrooms in a frying pan, and douse them with soy sauce. Fry ’em up nice and tasty. While that happens, grab a tablespoon or so of pesto and smoosh it all around the bottom of your casserole dish. Spread the soy-fried mushrooms on top of the pesto. Add in your optional ingredients.
Open up many eggs into a bowl. Salt n’ Pepa them liberally, then pour in some kefir. This will make your eggs thick and chunky and weird, but bear with me here.
Pour the eggy kefir mixture into the casserole dish, then top it with an entire bag of shredded cheese. While I am a Tex-Mex cheese girl, I use the Italiano blend for this dish coz it’s super good. If you’re a little extra, decorate the top of the cheese with pleasing shapes and flavours. I like to halve a bushel of grape tomatoes and line them up to spell dirty words on top of the cheese.
Put the casserole dish in the oven and let it bake for at least 30 minutes – basically, you want it to not only cook but also firm up (unless you like your eggs damp at which point what is wrong with you) and let the cheese on top brown. I usually start checking it at the 30 minute mark, but leave it in for up to an hour. Use the cheese as your guide. If it’s still cheese-coloured, leave it in the oven. Brown cheese is the key.
Take your nicely-browned casserole out of the oven, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to both settle and also not be catastrophically hot. Slice and serve with a spatula and a variety of delicious sauces, then celebrate Shan for the delight of ingenious flavours inside your mouth holes.
Today is Shan’s birthday! She is one of my very favourite people and I love her madly. We haven’t been able to hang out as much as usual because of the apocalypse, but I hope that will change soon with our shiny new vaccinations and 14 months of non-stop mask wearing. We have *plans*. Birthday plans. I am excite.
I need to preface this story with a confession: we were both high. THAT BEING SAID, this was super weird.
Last night we were hungry, but I had forgotten to take anything out of the freezer and none of the other in-house options were exciting, so we decided to order in. We were also bored of our usual suspects, so we went through our delivery options to find anything that looked universally appealing.
Way, way down on the list of restaurants, we found a place we hadn’t tried before. It was highly rated (9.8/10), had reasonable prices, and offered free delivery. Great! From that moment on, though, everything was .. suspicious:
The place had a very generic name, like “Good Food” – something hard to Google
There was no address for the place listed, just a street name
The menu was huge, which always makes me suspicious of a place
The food they sold was unusual – not that the available items were weird, but that everything was described oddly:
“Breaded munchies”, with no description of what a “munchie” is
Each pizza listing started with “popular pizza sauce” as an ingredient
“Spaghetti noodles mixed with ..”
“Popular veggie sandwich”
You could add toppings to your pizza. In addition to toppings you’d normally find on pizza, you could add:
We decided we were just high enough to be adventurous, so we ordered some food. The weirdness did not stop there:
The ordered arrived quickly, but there was absolutely zero identifying details on the packaging. The food came in a plain paper bag, a plain container, and completely blank pizza boxes. No logo, store name, menu, receipt – nothing but generic, blank containers and the food itself.
Speaking of the food, it was eerily perfect: three identical pizza bases with evenly spaced, totally uniform toppings. Honestly, it looked like what you’d get if you worked on the Enterprise and asked your food replicator for a 10″ Margherita pizza, warm.
We did, in fact, order the “breaded munchies” because we couldn’t imagine what they could possibly be. They were parmesan-garlic bread bites – not breaded, but actual bread.
The food tasted fine! Nothing to write a big blog post about, but perfectly edible and quite good – we’ve absolutely had far, far worse food delivered. If it wasn’t for the fact that a) we were evidently Conspiracy Theory High and b) all the things listed above, it would have been a routine, run-of-the-mill dinner order from a place we hadn’t tried before.
My current theory is that we stumbled upon a mid-range catering outfit doing pandemic business as a pop-up pizza place. Fake restaurants were all over the news a few years ago when food delivery started outpacing dine-in service, but mostly in big cities like New York and San Francisco – definitely not on the outer edge of suburbia, a stone’s throw from another country.
It was fucking weird, and it just kept getting weirder.
I highly recommend you use some sort of chopping apparatus for this, because it’ll go a lot quicker if you do. I also use my mixer for the meat, because touching raw meat is disgusting and I avoid it as much as possible.
Finely chop or dice one onion and half the garlic (3-4 cloves). Add it to the raw ground beef, along with three heaping tablespoons of sawdust parmesan. Moosh it all together with 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Once the meat is adequately mooshed, oil up a large sauce pan with olive oil and cook it all up until browned. Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl.
While your meat is browning, prepare the sauce. Dice/chop/process the other onion, the green pepper, and the rest of the garlic. Add the chopped veggies to the same sauce pan you meated in, and add a couple tablespoons of water. After cooking for a minute or so, add the tin of diced tomatoes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of basil, one tablespoon of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add a couple of spoons (or more) of tomato paste, and stir it all together. Simmer!
Pre-heat your open to 350 or so, then boil the water for your pasta and cook it according to the instructions.
Once you feel the sauce has simmered long enough (it doesn’t need long), add the bowl of meat to the sauce and mix it all together. Drain your pasta and put it in a large casserole dish. I usually dump in half my pasta, then the meat sauce, stir, then the rest of both. Mix it well in the dish. This isn’t a super saucy pasta, but there should be a good ratio of sauce to noodles.
Cover the entire thing with the whole bag of mozza, then sprinkle some additional sawdust parmesan on top.
Put the casserole dish on a baking sheet (warning: it will be fucking heavy) and place it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. At this point, you’re really just melting the cheese and making sure everything is the same temperature. Get a forklift to remove the baking sheet from the oven, let cool slightly so you aren’t serving up sheer lava, and dive in.
I’ve been making this dish for over 20 years. I’ve made it for almost every one of my friends, and I think the record is for like 20+ people at a LAN party. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Fun story: This dish used to be called “Death Pasta”, because I named it in the 90s and everything was hardcore and edgy back then. The name lasted until the start of our current apocalypse, when the “death” part was a little too close to home – so I renamed it “Life-Affirming Pasta”, which is a dumb name but I’m sticking with it.
A word of warning: due to the amount of garlic in this dish, please refrain from serving it to vampires or the visually impaired. In the early days of the dish, I once made it with like 10 cloves of garlic and a girl in my class with vision impairment could literally smell me across the atrium. It was super embarrassing, so don’t do that to yourself.
If you have kids who won’t eat vegetables, this is a good dish to serve. I used to use a food processor for the onion/garlic/green pepper base, which basically pureed the fuck out of them and made them invisible in the dish itself. These days I like my onions and peppers chunkier than pulverized, so I use a kitchen gadget to get the pieces all uniform and junk.
*: I don’t really measure the spices for this dish, beyond “a lot”. I really like black pepper and oregano and basil, so when I say “heaping tablespoon”, I mean heaping. You may want it a little less in your face, so scale back the spicing to your own tastes. Adding additional sawdust parm to the meat mixture is also a good idea, as it’s very tasty.
LASTLY, this dish was cribbed from a super old women’s magazine, back when magazines in doctor’s offices were a thing. It was originally made with ground turkey, and the meat was formed into meatballs so it called for an egg and some breadcrumbs. You can ball up the meat if you want, but it’s really very nice just in the sauce as the recipe above. I don’t actually know what it would taste like with turkey as I prefer ground beef, but feel free to experiment. I’m not the boss of you OR your meats.
A summertime staple, named after the friend who served it at his annual birthday Meat Wave.
Block of cream cheese
Medium tub of sour cream
Packet of taco seasoning
Bottle of taco sauce
Your favourite salsa
At least one diced tomato (if you’re me, use 4)
Green onions, chopped
Every tortilla chip in the world
Other things that I don’t like but would probably be good in this dip, like guacamole or some sort of bean.
A casserole dish
Dump the block of cream cheese, the sour cream, and the taco seasoning into a bowl. Mix that shit up. If you’re Mr. Bean, layer them beans on the bottom of a casserole dish and spread the mixture on top. If you are Anti-Bean as I am, the seasoned cream will be the base of your dip.
Open the bottle of taco sauce and pour it on top of the previous layer. Use a spoon and spread it out.
Cheese. More than that. More. Still more. Look, just use the whole damn bag.
Dump your favourite salsa on top of the cheese and spread it out. If you didn’t use all the cheese in the last step, use more here. Open a second bag, maybe.
Sprinkle the diced tomatoes and green onions on top of the salsa. If you’re making this for Shan, make sure to leave one corner without green onions on it or consider making a second, smaller Vince Dip without the onions.
Put guacamole in there somewhere. I’m not really a fan so I don’t know the best place to put the guac. Maybe over the cheese but before the salsa? I don’t know.
Stick the whole thing in the fridge for at least an hour to get all the ingredients to the same temperature. This is an important step, as it activates the flavours (scientific term).
If you don’t have any guac on hand and don’t want to make some, you could also layer sliced avocado in the equation somewhere. I don’t know where. Missouri?
Serve with every tortilla chip in the world. When people say “damn, this is tasty”, smile and wink and say “Thanks, Vince!”. No matter where you are in the world, he will hear you. Vince hears all, and his dip is stellar.
Oh, Vince Dip. It’s the taste of summer, but you can have it any time. I make it several times a year and it’s my go-to potluck dish. There’s something about the combination of flavours and the excessive amount of tomatoes and green onions that makes it feel like you’re eating a salad, albeit one with a sour cream and cream cheese-based dressing. I was actually surprised that I love Vince Dip as much as I do, because I don’t much care for creamy white things (she says, after posting two creamy white recipes in a row) but it’s really good. Sometimes I make it in the middle of the night so Later Kimli has something tasty to snack on. I love Later Kimli. She’s so full of possibility.
This recipe, if followed as written, will feed 4-6 people until they can’t move. You could probably shrink the proportions and make a smaller amount, but it’s very tasty and a major pain in the ass to make so cook up a lot at once then don’t think about it for a while.
6 good-sized poblano peppers
1 jar of Mexican crema. The one I get is prolly 540ml or so.
1 can of diced chilies
1 can (or 1 cob) of corn (not creamed), drained. If you want to be super fancy, get a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen Mexican street corn and use it thawed. Feel free to also thaw the sauce pucks and throw them in to add extra flavours to your dish.
1 small white onion, cut into strips
Corn tortillas. Seriously, don’t use flour tortillas. You need corn for this.
MANY CHEESES. Get creative. My favourites to use include Monterey Jack, Cojita, Asadero, Oxaca – basically, anything you can get at an authentic Mexican or Spanish store. You can also use cream cheese for additional creaminess, but I am not a fan.
Diced chicken. I usually get a roast chicken from the grocery store, but you could use cooked chicken breast or chorizo or not use any kind of meat at all.
One (1) chicken bullion. I use a heaping teaspoon of this stuff, but a cube or powder-based one will work too. If you’re going for vegetarian, use a veggie bullion.
Some sort of pan lubricant x2
You need to char and peel those peppers. It is going to be a catastrophic pain in the ass, but it’ll be worth it. Using a BBQ or a gas stove or a blow torch, place the peppers directly on some sort of fire. Turn them with tongs until the entire pepper is charred black, but the pepper is still firm. This is important: don’t overcook the peppers, you just want to burn all the skin off. When you have the pepper crispy black, place it in a large bowl and cover it with a plate. Continue until all your peppers are charred and in the covered bowl.
While your peppers steam a bit, slice up your onion and cheeses. Don’t worry about shredding the cheese, just cut it into pieces small enough to melt. Set it all aside.
Grab your steamy pepper bowl, and while wearing gloves (or bare-handed, idc) strip as much of the charred skin off the peppers as you can. Don’t rinse them in the sink for this, as you’ll wash off all the flavour juices. Once most of the skin has been removed, slice the peppers into strips and discard the core and seeds. This is a messy, slimy job. I hate it.
In a large sauté pan, heat up one lubricant and toss in your onions. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add your poblano strips and protein and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle liberally with black pepper and stir in your bullion.
Add crema. Start with about half the jar, and plan to add more whenever things aren’t saucy enough. Add the corn and diced chilies, then start throwing cheese in like your life depends on it. Add more crema and stir the whole mess as it cooks.
Get a clean pan and very lightly lubricate it up (I use PAM for this). Turn the heat on medium-low and put as many corn tortillas in the pan as it’ll hold. The goal here is to just warm the tortillas up a bit so they’re floppy and delicious. I use my hands and flip the tortillas once while cooking, then transfer them to a tortilla holder because that’s a thing I own. Stack ’em up on a plate for communal eating.
Scoop the rajas con crema into a bowl and serve with the warm tortillas. Top each taco with your favourite salsas and hot sauces (we use a super fresh pico de gallo and a jalapeño El Yucateco sauce) and cilantro unless you’re one of those people who think it tastes like soap. Pickled cabbage would be good here. Go to town. It’s a delicious place.
One of my favourite dishes from La Taqueria in Vancouver has always been the rajas con crema. It’s one of the few things I haven’t found a suitable replacement for way out here in Suburbia, so I ran through a few test runs before I came up with .. not a perfect recreation, but definitely a delicious one. This dish is kinda complicated to make, because it comes together extremely quickly when actually cooking but the charring and peeling of the peppers is somewhat of a nightmare. The fact that I make this dish as often as I do is testament to deliciousness, because I am a very lazy person at heart yet I will still do every annoying step needed to make something that ends up feeding us for several days in a row.
Poblano peppers are really mild, so this is not a spicy dish. If you like spicy, you can add pickled jalapeños or hot sauce(s). It’s also not the most attractive dish in the world, but it is REALLY FRICKIN’ GOOD so I think it’s worth making. It’s hearty, creamy, ever-so-slightly spicy, sweet, and tangy all at once and everyone will be extremely impressed with you and offer you baronets and shit. There will be a NetFlix special, but hold out for Disney+. You can swear there now.
Also, if you’re in the Vancouver area, you can get the crema, chilies, and hot sauces at Los Guerreros on Kingsway or in Langely. It’s a tiny place, but they’ve got an awesome selection of Mexican groceries. We go once a week or so to stock up on their pico de gallo, which I go through by the bucket. Super affordable, crazy delicious, and really authentic if you’re into that sort of thing. You can also swap out the crema for sour cream if you really want, but it’s such a nice touch that I encourage you to go balls out on the Mexican ingredients.
A Sunday afternoon in the middle of a stay home order called for a trifecta of Lilac OG (a new favourite from Mota Cannabis), 10th Planet (heavy hitter also from Mota), and a smidge of Sky Cake (an excellent AAA Strain from Budmail).
I spent the afternoon as the clumsy, quirky, loveable, and perpetually single best friend of Paul Rudd’s wife (TBD, but probably Leslie Mann because why mess with a working formula) in a Judd Apatow coming-of-middle-age comedy, in the scene where the couple (who’ve been having marriage issues), find their teen kid’s weed stash and decide to smoke it in a montage set to an album Paul Rudd puts on and dances around the room to. I really hope I’m Margaret Cho. I love her.