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Tuesday, April 17, 2007  

Hot Mess Lunch

The advantage of having both Trash and myself working downtown is that there are literally dozens, if not scores, of places where we can walk from our offices and buy something for lunch.

The disadvantage of having both Trash and myself working downtown is that there are literally dozens, if not scores, of places where we can walk from our offices and buy something for lunch.

It's convenient and tasty, but potentially very expensive. You can't buy even a decent fast-food lunch downtown for less than six bucks, plus most of these places have a tip jar out as well. Part of the jacked-up prices is from the amount of rent that businesses have to pay to maintain space in the Skyway. And part of it is the "stadium tax" for that new baseball park that nobody ever asked us if we wanted (oh, wait, they did ask us, like a hundred times, and we said no every time, and then they got tired of asking us and decided to build it anyway, in part by raising my property taxes, and will I ever so much as get a free ticket to a Twins game or fifty cents off an eight-dollar beer? I will not).

So anyway, one of the money-saving things Trash and I like to do around the house is spend a little time every weekend making our lunches for the coming week.

Hang on just a second. I'll get back to the entry after I look at the beginning of that first sentence again, and chuckle to myself about how it makes it sound like we churn our own butter and make clothes for M. Small out of dryer lint.

So, yes, we generally make our lunches for the week on weekends. Trash is really the mastermind of the whole effort, coordinating which pan goes on which burner and who's bringing what which day, while I generally have my hands full just keeping something stirred. It sounds like a big, hairy effort, but usually within an hour we're putting lids on the plastic food containers to stick in the fridge, and only forty-five minutes of that hour is spent looking for those lids.

Part of what makes it easier is the slow cooker. It's especially handy for roast and veggies. On Saturday night you brown a roast, stick it in the crock pot with some potatoes and carrots and mushrooms and onions, add seasonings and various fluids, and scoop it all out into containers at some point on Sunday. Tasty treat sensation. Trash, being a vegetarian, doesn't eat the roast, which leaves more for me. She likes the veggies, though, which I can take or leave. It's really win-win, except for the roast (which is getting into reasons why Trash is a vegetarian, so we'll leave it at that).

The only problem is getting enough seasoning in there so it tastes like anything when it's finished. I learned how to make roasts in a roaster pan in the oven, not by essentially boiling them for twelve hours. You can't be shy with the seasonings.

Last weekend, I wasn't.

We've got these big, Sam's Club-sized plastic containers of garlic salt, garlic powder and onion powder that looked like they were going to last forever until we started using them on slow-cooker roasts. There's no finesse here. Pretty much all you do is open the shaker side of the plastic lid, tip the bin upside down over the crock pot, and give it a couple of hearty squeezes. You know you have enough seasoning when the top edge of the crock pot looks like it's been in a room where someone's sanding drywall. Except last week, I accidentally opened up the wrong side of the plastic lid on the garlic powder container. That is to say, the spoon side. Suddenly my roast was obliterated by a garlicky snowdrift. I heard vampires screaming from seven miles away.

I was able to spoon some of it back out (and it was on there thick enough that the first few scoops went, uncontaminated, right back into the container), but I was still pretty certain that underseasoning wasn't going to be a problem this time.

Sure enough, when we decanted it into the Tupperware that night, we tasted it and agreed that it was "a little strong." Trash was especially disappointed because the consistency of the gravy was perfect, and that never happens in the slow cooker.

"Well, all that garlic powder thickens it up nice," I pointed out.

I'm not entirely ashamed to say that I didn't brown-bag it every day last week, even though I was sick on Tuesday and on vacation on Friday. Next week? Maybe we'll just bring frozen burritos or something.

posted by M. Giant 3:33 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

My mom did that with cayenne pepper once. After that, ALWAYS pour seasoning into your hand first, THEN into the pot!

By Anonymous Nicole, at April 17, 2007 at 4:14 PM  

One time I killed my sister's goldfish by doing that with fishfood.

By Blogger Jodi, at April 17, 2007 at 6:37 PM  

The perfect crock pot - pot roast ) or as my family calls it, the 1 pound pot):

1 lb meat - seared and chunked
1 lb carrots
1 lb potatoes chopped, chunked, whatever
whatever other stuff you want to add like onions, 'shrooms, celery, etc
1 can low sodium beef broth (about 12-16 oz)
1 tbsp Penzeys Chicago Steak seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Brown the meat with some of the spices, dump it on top of everything else in the crock pot, pour in the can of broth (no more than an inch or so of liquid) and walk away.

10 hours later, you have Nirvana.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 17, 2007 at 7:11 PM  

I invented a recipe for garlic butter a couple of weeks ago that I sold for a very nice sum of money to Iran and North Corea.
We had guests over that day, and we all agreed 'it was a bit strong'. People actually jumped out of the train when I commuted to my work the next day. When it was driving at full speed. Over some very high bridges. Through the teeny little part of the windows that you can actually open.

By Anonymous be.bart, at April 18, 2007 at 6:19 AM  

Mine involves the roast, 2 sliced onions, the veggies, a bottle of beer (excellent tenderizer) and heaping spoonfuls of whatever spices smell good - often cumin, corriander, some dried hot pepper and some black cardamom pods. But really, I think the beer is the secret for the delicious taste.

By Blogger peasantwench, at April 18, 2007 at 8:13 AM  

Beer is totally the secret ingredient.

My recipe is easiest of all:

Meat
Veggies
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
beer

Makes excellent Beef Dip sandwiches.

By Anonymous mehgs, at April 18, 2007 at 6:02 PM  

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