Continuing in Poor Impulse Control’s catalog of stuff you shouldn’t throw away so someone can sell it back to you: corn stock.
I’ve been standing around with my hands stuffed in tighter and tighter pockets, waiting for my lungs to feel less furry after that bizarre plague while all around me spring is springing. The thought occurs: Hey, Princess, remember that time you blogged the Constitution? No? Well, maybe you should. Also: where’d you hide the remote?
So. In the fall of 2006, right before the site I was storing Poor Impulse Control’s images on went kerflooey, we undertook this undertaking, intended to enhance understanding.
The Meaty Stuff
Part 1, hot and cold
Part 2, a painful history
Part 3, bubbles that scrub
Part 4, plus shape-shifting
Part 5, shiftless
Part 6, including Johnny
Part 7, perilous produce
Part 8, including Fifi
Part 9, with mood lighting
Part 10, costume drama
Part 11, with feelin’
Back to the beginning
Part 1, autumnal
Part 2, an IQ test
Part 3, hairdo and don’t
Part 4, cattle
Part 5, togetherness
Part 6, voterosity
Part 7, cat bath
Part 8, a pricy prize
Part 9, spiral
Part 10, cucumber
Part 11, organ music
Part 12, crackpottery
Part 13, most papery
Part 14, compulsion
Part 15, listy
Part 16, clam bar confab
Part 17, starboard
Part 18, Oscar
Omigod, it’s a miracle my laptop didn’t sustain friction burns!
Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we pondered a tasty puzzle. An acquaintance must eschew the following:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Ta darling, you say, That’s all well and good, but it’s midday and my lunchbox is filled with no sandwich. Quite right. How do you feel about soup? Plenty of charming people now bring prepared foods to work for lunch and almost nobody discusses their moral torpor – anymore. In our case, a careful reading of the ingredient list is very important since garlic, flour and HFCS will turn up in unexpected places. No ingredient on our list should find its way into a decent New England clam chowder, but it will if someone in R&D took the moronic step of thickening chowder with a roux. So: read. Really.
Making your own soup couldn’t be easier and it will make lunch less like spinning a carnival wheel where hives are the big prize. Got a slow cooker? Good. You are about to develop a new habit: when you cut up vegetables, throw carrot tops, celery ends, onion bits, fennel leaves and so forth into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag and drop that in the freezer. When the bag is full, empty the contents into your slow cooker, add peppercorns, bay leaves, star anise, annatto and celery seeds, a little salt and pepper. Got a chicken neck or feet or a smoked turkey neck? They would add nice flavor and they’re super cheap. Turn this on low and come back in 24 hours. Strain. Taste it. You could season it with stuff you already like in your fridge. If you tell people you make your own stock once a week they will think your are both crazy and curiously virtuous. Don’t tell them all you have to do is plug in the CrockPot.
Roasted Anything Vegetable Soup
(Insert your favorite vegetable here)
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
butter or olive oil
salt and pepper
your favorite herbs
Prepare your favorite vegetable to roast. For instance, halve and clean a butternut or acorn squash. Save the seeds. Or peel sweet potatoes or regular potatoes or eggplant. Or halve tomatoes. What do you like? Roast that in a 400 degree oven until it’s fork tender. Set aside. When cool, cut into small chunks.
In a soup pot, melt butter or heat olive oil. Sweat onion and carrots until onions are clear and sweet and carrots have softened. Add your roasted heart’s desire and mash to combine. Add in stock, maybe a quart or two. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, add salt and pepper. If you want to puree, you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender, if you cover the lid with a towel and pulse carefully.
Serve with a scoop of plain yogurt and a dusting of your favorite herbs. Squash seeds, toasted at 350 degrees until they smell delicious, make a great snack sprinkled with salt.
How do you feel about beef stew? Pot roast? Chicken soup? Tuna salad? Chicken salad? Ham salad with melon? Chef salad? Turkey stew? Sashimi? They can be prepared without the use of our off-limits ingredients. If I, in all my hypothetical allergic glory, were to order any of these items in a restaurant or cafeteria, I would demand the assurance of the cook that I was not about to poison myself. Is that assurance enough? Probably not. I’d personally threaten to haunt the chef that lied and treated me to anaphylactic shock. Haunt them with knives. Yep. But you may be a nice person. If you prepare your own food, you stand an even better chance of both surviving and enjoying lunch.
Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we took on the thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle that is our acquaintance’s Allergies Kick My Ass challenge.
In comments, Miep noted:
Corn is a grain and paprika is a nightshade.
That list of off-limit substances practically describes my diet. Well, except for HFCS. Are there really people who are allergic to garlic? How tragic.
Miep has just met us and doesn’t know yet that I’ve been outwitted by yogurt but I’m seldom unarmed, Georg can do anything unless someone sprays perfume, Siobhan is allergic to wheat and run on sentences and at least one of our lurking readers lives where his eyelids can freeze open, so details matter. Our off-limits list contains foods that turned itchy our acquaintance’s skin; he may or may not be allergic to these foods. He told me years ago he was allergic to alcohol, so we’ll take that for given. Sometimes an itchy spot on a patch test doesn’t mean an actual allergy. Corn turned my epidermis a brilliant vermillion, but I’m not allergic. I crave corn. My kitchen currently contains six different corn flours, all of which look nervous when I feel peckish. Your results may vary, but I am making tamales Tuesday night.
No, I have little idea why HFCS is on the list unless it’s that corn thing. Neither do I have a clue why paprika and why not peppers. Our acquaintance’s wife, who is a genius, has mentioned he is eating potatoes; we may conclude nightshades are not a problem. We also do not know why someone would have difficulty with garlic and not onions, but my mother and daughter have difficulty with onions, not garlic, and who the hell knows? Let’s just work with the list, shall we?
The Fair Georg:
I’d start with tapioca flour, taro, and arrowroot. Taro isn’t common unless you live in Hawaii, but you may live in an area that has enough SE Asian groceries. Think Thai and Polynesian recipes, though citrus makes them tricky. You can make meatloaf with ground meat and tapioca flour. Arrowroot can thicken any sauce as good as cornstarch.
the hardest part is avoiding corn – it’s in fecking everything.
Tapioca, taro, arrowroot and agar agar are all good thickeners. Taro is highly addicting. Eat taro chips and next thing you know you are standing in the snack aisle, growling at teenagers eying the Terra Originals. Maybe that’s just me. I came back from a vacation in Maui and experienced withdrawal symptoms and sloth. Fortunately, I like sloths. And it’s all about me.
We can avoid corn if we eschew prepared foods. The same is true for soy and garlic.
Let’s talk about mid-morning snacks.
Carrot sticks and tahini
Celery with berbed cream cheese
Fennel with sliced ham
Plain yogurt with dried cherries
Veggie chips fried in safflower oil
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Produce aisles are full of fantastic snacks. I don’t know why we’re even worried: if we happen to be at home when we need a snack, we throw fruit, yogurt, a frozen banana and some juice into a blender and set it on Stun. Yes, this diet might be the best thing that could happen to your entire self.
Previously on Poor Impulse Control, we took up the curious case of the deceptively fantastic diet.
The difference between a restrictive regimen and a culinary adventure lies in one’s frame of mind. Are you willing to settle for feeling like you’ve lost out on what everyone else does or can you see past everyone else to what you want? Our off-limits list may give us pause, but after that hiccup, all I see is glorious eats.
No grains, then. Is breakfast impossible? No. Breakfast is actually our easiest get. In America, we think breakfast is cereal or oatmeal or a cup of coffee and ennui, but in other parts of the world, people eat some variation of rice and vegetables. Rice is off our ingredient list, but so?
Fruit salad with cottage cheese
Plain yogurt with honey and sliced banana
Prosciutto and mozzarella pinwheel
Scrambled eggs with swiss cheese
Sauteed spinach with lemon juice
Yes, it is that easy. This is just a template anyone can use to create simple, nutritious and filling breakfast plates, and anyone should. There’s also a whole class of breakfast thingies we should not overlook: custards.
Ta darling, you exclaim, custards are dessert. We can’t have that for breakfast! That’s – It’s – Am I a bad person if that sounds exciting?
Too many rules! For every little voice in your head that says, No no no! you should hear mine purring, Ya hunh. Got any gum?
Yes, but only flourless chocolate cake for you, my darlings.
What’s in custard? Beaten egg, milk, sugar and usually an extract, either vanilla or almond. For our purposes, skip those. You can think of this adventure as permission to consider other flavorings. Lemon, orange or grapefruit zest are traditional custard flavorings, but you can consider brown sugar, jugo de naranja or dried fruit. Simple egg custards are wonderful and flan or tembleque make fantastic breakfasts. Where will you get recipes? Fortunately for you, you’re sitting next to the world’s largest encyclopedia and cookbook and evidently both your curiosity and hunger are insatiable. And don’t forget marvelous curds.
Remember these exciting words: whatever else you make, fruit is your best friend and tropical fruit makes your life positively thrilling.