……….Let me start by saying very clearly – I am not a chef. I have limited culinary training, and by limited, I mean I’ve taken two cooking classes in my life. And one was ‘Cooking and Wine’ so I’m sure you can imagine how much I retained. However. I love to cook and have always been fascinated by the art of culinary expertise. I read recipes, I talk to people who do cook and I ask questions… mostly I can understand, but a lot of time I just nod and say “oh ya” as they explain things that go beyond my comprehension… Emulsify? What the hell does that mean? I wish I was smarter within the world of cooking but when you’re raised on ‘mish mosh’ (a collection of leftovers heated up in the microwave) your education is limited… yet, I will say I am pretty creative. I can improvise most things and usually come up with a dish that doesn’t totally suck. I call it: Ad-Lib Cooking.
“If you have Chicken, some —-, and some —–, then —– it all together, top with —- and you got chicken alla —–” -Dude Who Ad Libs Chicken Dish
One of the biggest components into this theory of “ad-lib cooking®” which I am now copyrighting, is from a girl I dated. We were in a rush, both starving, and knowing that we both would get blacked out if we didn’t eat (we were going to an event with an open bar) I threw something together. I had a package of frozen turkey meatballs, an array of seasonings and sauces and some toothpicks. Presentation is key. I microwaved the meatballs, put some BBQ sauce, Sriracha, and Worcheshire in a pan with a touch of marinara and garlic, threw in some Lawry’s season salt, simmered for 5-10
minutes and then put them on a plate with little toothpicks. She tried one, looked at me, smiled and then shouted, “You’re a star!” It was her little phrase, and I loved it, but I loved that reaction even more. Something I ad-libbed together in a few minutes and the satisfaction of it actually being pretty decent. We ended up getting drunk (but not blacking out!) and making more later that night and you know what, they were pretty damn good. Sober and drunk. I never thought about what I was doing and I had never made these meatballs before, but I just kind of figured what tastes combine well together and what is simple yet effective.
“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” -Anthony Bourdain
From this moment I received a little confidence boost that made me think, hell, maybe I could just bullshit my way into making good food with simple ideas… I mean I did it throughout school without a problem. Except in 6th grade when I forged my moms signature and spelled her name wrong. In my defense, it was a spelling/vocabulary test I failed which needed her signature, so it kind of goes hand-in-hand. Thanks Mrs. Loiterstein.
Back to this theory of simple ideas becoming “star-worthy” meals or snacks, or stomach fillers so you don’t get blacked out at a public event. Not all of us are culinary experts, or foodies, or house-wives/husbands… some of us are working adults who want to stay in on a Sunday night and drink single-barrel whiskey while listening to George Thorogood and watch the rain fall down. Fuck that sounds romantic, right? Well that’s what I did Sunday night and I loved it.
Sunday nights should be our nights. Time to sulk in our Sunday blues knowing we have to be up the next morning to face the certain mundaneness that permeates throughout our weekday. Reminiscing of a weekend filled with instagram-worthy pictures, and facebook-worthy check-ins. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a Sunday night to yourself, take advantage of it. Try something new…
I looked up Drunken Noodles and since I had just bought a Wok, figured I would give it a go. I went to Trader Joes which has a limited Asian Aisle, so I improvised. I bought flat egg noodles, a stir-fry veggie bowl/package (fresh, not frozen – and I usually would buy individual veggies but this was easier/cheaper for just one person), organic chicken because I live in LA and that’s what we do, garlic and jalapenos. Boiled the noodles, cooked the chicken in the wok with some olive oil, threw in the veggies, diced jalapenos, minced garlic, and then simmered in some Thai Peanut Sauce, adding some Soy Sauce and lots of Sriracha. I cooked for maybe 30 minutes all together, adding the noodles halfway through (while having an appetizer of Sourdough loaf with olive oil, balsamic, parmesan and pepper dipping station; #mishmosh) and came out with a “star-worthy” ad-libbed dish. I ate, I drank, I watched Shameless (best show on TV) and then Girls (not the best show on TV), took a hit of weed and a xanax and was asleep by 10pm (after folding my laundry of course). Now that’s a beautiful Sunday evening, completely ad-libbed.
PS. I also brewed my own beer and tried it on Saturday. It was delicious… now if only there was a Tinder-App for “Cooking and Beer Tasting”.
Beer Kit found here: Mr. Beer
Recipe I ad-libbed found here: Drunken Noodles
Have a good work week… and when your fridge gets low and you need to improvise, just remember… You’re a star.
5 Fun Facts About Things in This Post
- Spaghetti and Meatballs is not Italian, and you most likely will not find that dish in Italy. It is an American dish that Italian Immigrants made in the US because meat was cheaper and more plentiful than in Italy.
- Noodles should be cooked al dente (al-DEN-tay) literally means “to the tooth,” which is how to test pasta to see if it is properly cooked. The pasta should be a bit firm, offering some resistance to the tooth, but tender
- Whiskey is beer that has been distilled two or three times and aged in Oak barrels.
- When I got caught forging my moms signature, I had to call her in the middle of class and admit to it while on speaker phone so everyone could hear.
- Emulsify: To make two or more liquids combine together… like oil and vinegar.