Sage Advice from Matt the Pirate

I met my dear friend Matt in New Orleans (I promise not all of my stories happen there… just maybe all of the best ones) at a pirate-themed event that was taking place in the French Quarter. I was with the Theatrical Combat Network at the time, performing some stage combat, showing off our costumes and generally playing pirate to the entertainment of onlookers, the Travel Channel, and most importantly ourselves.

Matt walked me safely to my hotel on several inebriated evenings, bought me in the wench auction (all proceeds went to helping restore New Orleans post-Katrina) and gave me a place to stay when my flight home was cancelled. Granted that place was in Texas, but any detour is a short one when the alternative is sleeping in an airport. He also endured my vegetarianism at the time, which allowed me to try many new things, but prevented me from trying other things that were New Orleans staples.

A year or two later, when I was the brokest I’ve ever been, Matt called me up at about 2am and informed me that a flight heading to New Orleans was leaving from Detroit in about 4 hours and that he’d like me to be on it.

My. Hero.

I was no longer veggie, so he immediately ensured that I tried everything I had missed the first time around, and all in all it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on to date.

Anyway! Matt was kind enough to guest-blog for us on the wonders of the underexplored markets just around the corner. Here’s what he had to say…

So, I’m not really a blogger, so pardon my writing. Miss Molly has been nice enough to allow me a guest spot in her blog, so I’m going to do my best to say something vaguely interesting.

Now that that’s out of the way, I do want to talk about a frequently-neglected source of incredibly good, cheap, fresh food: your local Asian market.

I’m lucky enough to live in a community where we have a massive Korean supermarket, but even for those of you not in an area with a big immigrant/east Asian community, I guarantee there is at least one grocery store catering to that demographic within easy distance, if you’re in a city of any size. (Try looking for an H-Mart near you)

“But it smells like fish in there!” you say. Yes, it does, because they’re actually cleaning fish at that counter in the back in front of you. Nothing is frozen, and the prices are probably going to be around 2/3 or 3/4 of what you’d pay for fish at the regular grocery store. Red meat can go either way on price, but fish specifically is a staple for the people they’re catering to, so you’d be silly not to take advantage. Beyond fish/meat, the other big draw for me is produce. Really fresh, seasonal produce is what drives most of these places, and again, at a significantly lower price that you’re going to pay for lower-quality produce in the generic grocery stores in your neighborhood. Bigger variety, too; take it as a chance to try some new things, and you may be surprised at what all you find that you like. The other items you can find at your local Asian grocery are about what you’d expect; a variety of fresh and dried noodles (also great ramen that isn’t maruchan/ichiban, though Molly tells me we’re trying to avoid that), a massive range of both fresh and dry spices, and a surprising amount of American name-brand items at significant markdown over your normal local grocer. The short version is, consider giving a different shopping venue a shot. You might be surprised at what unexpected good things you stumble across, and how much money you could save on items you planned to buy anyway.

Thank you so much for your sagely advice, Matt! I look forward to checking out and posting up some recipes from things I’ve found once I wander to the nearest Asian market.

Guys, while you’re hanging out, check out Matt’s Etsy, on which I was given the honour of writing several item descriptions.

Thank you for reading! Remember to like/comment/subscribe/share and if you have anything you would like to contribute, let me know!


How to Chop Veggies

So I realized that I might not be the only one who is horrible at chopping vegetables. When I can have my way, I usually make someone else do it, and I certainly try to never do it in front of anyone. Last time I tried, I bled all over the cutting board.

In order to improve my techniques on things, I sometimes turn to people who are better at whatever I am trying to do than I am. But sometimes I don’t feel like being made fun of or looking inept, so I turn to the Internets for help.

I have compiled here a list of instructional videos that I hope to keep updating and adding to as time goes on. I hope it helps at least one person perfect their veggie-chopping technique!


Bell Peppers (video by simplecookingrecipes on YouTube)

Jalapenos and other hot peppers (video by Tasted on YouTube)

Lettuce (video by MonkeySeeVideos on YouTube)

Onions (video by GoodHousekeepingMag on YouTube)

Potatoes (video by ChefTips on Youtube)

Tomatoes (video by ExpertVillage on YouTube)

I will be back to add more as they come up in future posts! Enjoy, like/comment/subscribe/share as you see fit, and have a great day! Thanks for stopping by.


PSA Regarding Mustard Greens

So, I usually get kale as a dark leafy green to add to my delicious breakfast juice every morning, but last week Kroger was out and so I grabbed some mustard greens instead.

Usually I only add one or two leaves– you can’t really taste them though their nutrients are there– but this morning I grabbed about six so I could make sure to use them up before they started wilting. I balled them up, stuffed them in the juicer, and went about my juicing routine like normal. Except that, when I took my first sip, I made a horrible discovery that has been haunting me today with every burp (or would be, if ladies burped, which we do not.)

Mustard greens are very spicy. Now that you have read this, never, ever forget it.

Say it to yourself in the mirror as you’re brushing your teeth before bed.

Leave sticky notes for yourself on the fridge.

Record yourself saying it and make it the sound that plays whenever you get a notification from my blog, which you should make sure you are following right now!

Do not let the ambush that fell upon my mouth this morning trip you up when you are bleary-eyed and not yet caffeinated.

I added an apple to smooth out the taste, but the spice just kept creeping back in and I didn’t have time to doctor the juice further. This is not to say that I won’t be using mustard greens again, only to say that I will be using them in moderation and perhaps with different juice recipes. I do rather like spicy V8, so I may go for something like that next time.

You have been warned…

Stay tuned for another recipe tomorrow, and don’t forget to like/comment/subscribe/share!


I’m broke, but I like delicious food…

…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I have lived on ramen and microwave burritos before. I have lived on the Dollar Menu and have the thighs to prove it.

Then one day someone told me that I could eat delicious food without tapping into my getting-to-work-and-school gas fund. And get this– most of it even has some nutritional value!

So, I decided to start a blog for other people who have sat in the Taco Bell drive-thru wondering why they raised the price of soft tacos again. People who have made ambitious grocery lists with the best of intentions, gotten to the grocery store, and just filled their cart with the noodle equivalent of cardboard out of anxiety and/or general laziness.

Cooking tasty food doesn’t have to be stressful, and doesn’t have to take a lot of time or ingredients or specialized knowledge. I had to figure all of this out on my own, so here’s hoping that this blog helps someone, somewhere figure it all out.

First, put these things on your next grocery list. They’re what we call staples, and are either necessary for almost everything I know how to make, or have a long shelf life and come in quantities large enough to last you for some time.

sugar (granulated and brown)
canned tomato sauce
canned tomato paste

The other thing you need in order to make delicious food is spices. They vary in price depending on where you buy them, but many grocery stores (especially ones with “value” in the name!) sell them for around $1.00 each. I recommend at least having the following, though more spices means more flavours you can choose from!

black pepper (the regular stuff, used in shakers everywhere)
garlic powder (not salt!)
onion powder
Lawry’s seasoning salt

I will probably come back and add to these lists as I think of things, but these should be enough to get you started!

Thanks for reading, and come back soon for recipes and cooking tips and random anecdotes that have nothing to do with anything we’re trying to accomplish here!