Hot Chicken Kelp Soup

This will be one of the weirder soups. I invented it because looking in the pantry and the freezer these are the first things I came up with:

  • Chicken strips (say, 1/4 bag)
  • Rice (I used a cup of long grain rice)
  • 1/3 bag of Japanese or Asian-style veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, water chestnuts, etc)
  • 3 dashes of Sriracha (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 or 3 tubes of Kelp Soup Stock

As is usual, I cook the rice until it’s almost done, then throw in the chicken, veggies, Sriracha, kelp stock. Then I cook another 10 minutes.

There are many brands of kelp soup stock. The one shown is from Shimaya Company, and imported by Daiso, the Japanese import store chain. That’s where I got mine. This particular pack is divided into 7 packets. Two or three are good, depending on your taste. I think the Sriracha enhances the kelp flavor, which is why I used it.

Tuna Hummus Salad

Tuna is a cold water fish and hummus is made in the Middle East where you’re unlikely to find tuna. But this being a world of oddity, we give you the tuna hummus salad. Hummus is a good substitute for mayo, being way less in saturated fat. Okay, here goes…

  • Tuna (I always use 1 can for me, 2 if I have a guest)
  • Chopped up celery
  • Garlic – maybe a teaspoonful chopped up
  • Chopped tomato

Hummus, the amount you’d use if you were using mayonnaise. Here’s great Hummus recipe which is a good way to use up that spare can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) you have stashed away.

So, mix away. Spread the tuna salad on bread, tortillas (very good on wheat flour tortillas), or put it over a bed of rice, which is how I used it today. Don’t forget that if you have the large flour tortillas you’ve got a wrap! Very chic, y’know?

Variants: You can add some avocado, hot dog or hamburger relish, maybe come cumin. Normally using a can of tuna the dish would already be salty enough. If not, try some smoked salt seasoning or Cajun seasoning. I’m a big fan of hummus. It can go almost anywhere mayonnaise is used, and is so much better for you!

How to Simmer Somthing

Most of my dishes don’t require any simmering, but during the chill of autumn and winter, it’s good to have a pot of hearty something on the stove. If you’re cooking something that takes awhile to cook such as split peas or beans, you’ve GOT to simmer for about 45 minutes or so.

First, what you do is heat the stuff in the pot on HIGH. Let it come to a boil but watch it very carefully because things like split peas can create a foam that boils over.

When your potful of stuff has boiled for a few minutes, THEN turn the burner down to simmer or low. Watch the bubbling. When it barely bubbles, you have it hot enough to cook, but cool enough so what’s in your pot won’t burn. Nothing is more foul than burnt split peas, or harder to clean out!

Finishing up, if you’re summering something chances are that it’s creamy, cheesy, or otherwise goopy, so it’s going to stick to your pot. So, as soon as you’ve poured your meal into your serving dishes immediately put the pot into the sink and fill it with water. This will keep the stuck stuff in a dissolved state so it’s much easier to clean up afterward. Remember to put your spoons, spatula, and other things into the pot, too, so that they’ll all benefit.

Hummus!

I had 3 cans of garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. What to do with them? Howza bout making hummus? That way you have a tasty snack suitable for chips, pita bread, or even tortillas or bread.

  • 1 Can of chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup Tahini – That’s a paste made of roasted sesame seeds, usually in the oil and condiments section of the market
  • 2 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice – best if fresh, but ReaLemon is fine
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, roasted is best, but raw is okay
  • 1/3 cup Water
  • Salt, about a teaspoon, maybe a little less

That’s it! Then stick the mess in a blender and run it until the hummus is all creamy. Keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator. When you see the prices of the ready-made hummus in the store you’ll definitely go for your homemade variety.

If you want to get fancy, shake a little paprika on it, then put a sprig of parsley on top. Some other variations you could try is smoke salt or Cajun seasoning in place of the salt.

Uses of hummus: It’s a great sandwich spread, but it can also be used as a dressing for everything from a hamburger to a salad. Experiment.

Cajun Chicken Parmesan

I dont normally do baking recipes, but this one is so super-simple! Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken strips or breasts or what have you
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise or low-fat mayo known as “salad dressing”
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh or grated)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Pour over chicken, and bake at 400 for 40 minutes. That’s it! Here’s the Cajun seasoning I use.

You might also try it with a dry barbecue or grill seasoning. It creates a very unique dish your friends will rave about!

What Spices Go With What?

Spices are good, and most of them are good for you, too. But some spices work with some foods and not very well with others. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Black pepper and salt work on anything. Pepper is especially good on chicken and fish.
  • Your basic curry spices (coriander, turmeric, and cumin) seem to work best in lighter dishes such as chicken, a light fish such as a haddock or codfish, and even on light beef. They don’t do so well on heavy things such as salmon, wagyu beef, etc.
  • Chili powder works well on beef, but not so well on chicken, though it’s done.
  • Campbell’s cream soups (Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken, etc) work well on the lighter foods, such as chicken.
  • Tomato sauce, tomato soup, etc., tends to work well on heavier meats such as beef, pork, etc, especially when combined with vegetables and pasta.
  • Rosemary is a good thing to add to a pork sausage, beef, or turkey dish. My mom used to bake chicken with a brush of oil and fresh rosemary and that worked out really well.
  • Basil covers lots of sins — you don’t think your dish is going to do very well? Or you’re making a meatless dish? Basil won’t fail you, especially if you can get it fresh or frozen. It has a heavy flavor so, as I said it covers lots of sins. A simple dish of pasta, basil, and mozzerala with a little butter is a fantastic dish!

One thing you could try is to experiment with seasoning mixtures and see if anything hits your fancy. This assortment has “taco seasoning”, which I can see would work on a bunch of dishes.

Fish Stick Stew?

Y’see, I had this bag of frozen fish sticks (Gorton’s). So, what to do with them? I made a stew. Unlike most of my recipes this is a 3-step process due to different cooking times.

Step 1: Dump a bunch of brown rice into a pot of water. Cook for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add frozen veggies and a bunch of fish sticks. In mine I put in about 1/3 bag of Japanese vegetables (water chestnuts, mushrooms, broccoli, etc), and 8 fish sticks. Keep cooking for 5 more minutes.

Step 3: Turn the burner on low (simmer), take the pot off the stove and drain out the water. Now, add a can of tomato sauce. Cook another 5 minutes, so that your total cooking time for this dish is 20 to 25 minutes. Make sure that you have the burner on low because you don’t want to overcook anything, but still want the tomato sauce to blend in with everything.

Tomato sauce is usually pre-spiced and salted, but it may not have enough salt to suit you. Also, note the use of the fish sticks. Fish sticks are usually made with a whitefish, such as cod, hake, haddock or pollock, which has been battered or breaded. The tomato sauce is powerful enough, so you don’t want an intense fish, but something just fishy enough to give you fish flavor.

Joe’s Special

Joe’s Special is a dish that originated in San Francisco. This was a hangover cure concocted by a chef, probably at New Joe’s in North Beach, but popularized by Original Joe’s in the Tenderloin. It always includes eggsspinach and ground beef. Other common ingredients include onionsgarlic and sometimes mushrooms, and various spices. It is a scramble, but spinach is the big star here. It takes awhile to fix, but it’s absolutely great.

Here’s what purports to be the “original” recipe as relayed by Original Joe’s. Heck, it works for me:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 pound freshly ground chuck
  • 3/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano + 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Now the process:

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat, stirring from time to time, until it just starts to brown. Add the meat and saute, stirring, until it just loses its pink color. Add the spinach to the pan and stir it in. Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork to blend. Add to the center of the skillet and scramble with the beef mixture. Serve topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

If you’re going to be a true San Franciscan, serve it with fresh sourdough French bread.

Hash

Hash originally was just chopped up fried leftovers. Now it has come to be a bit more specific. Hash typically contains potatoes, meat, and onion, and is griddled or fried. You have a skillet, right? Okay, take that out…

The potatoes I used are either those pre-made Ore-Ida hash browns or some random potatoes I picked up somewhere. So, either chop up a potato or two, or take 2 or 3 has brown patties, stick them into your skillet with just a touch of oil. Add some meat and onion (better to use real union here rather than onion powder). Now if you have other spare parts (I happened to have half a bell pepper and some broccoli), chop up those and toss them in.

Now, turn your stove burner on high and use your spatula (wooden one, please) to keep stirring the stuff around. You probably would want to add some ground black pepper and a few dashes of salt. Cook and stir until the potato turns brown along the edges. Remove from the stove and enjoy!

Free Food Pantry

Most people don’t want to get free food from food pantries. But in these days when the rich are getting richer and ripping off workers, and those workers can’t make ends meet even with two jobs, I decided to start going to food pantries myself. When you realize that at least 50% of food is wasted because it’s “expired” or imperfect. It’s perfectly good food!

“Expired” food is a misnomer. Food isn’t good one day and suddenly bad the next because of a date on a package. The “expiration” date is used as a way to sell more food to scared people. Test the food yourself: If it smells odd or it has mold or other discolorations, okay, it’s bad. But very little food goes bad after the expiration date.

Milk. Take milk, for instance. I know people who throw out milk if it’s “expired”. Nonsense. If it smells okay and tastes fine, it’s good. Even if it curdles, it’s still okay as long as it smells and tastes fine.

Food pantries distribute food donated by manufacturers and distributors. You’ll get some odd things sometimes. Most food pantries prepare a bag or box of food for you each week. Some weeks you might get several of the same things time and again because they have a surplus of that particular food. Other times there won’t be anything you want to use, or you’ll find strange foods that have been discontinued because shoppers in grocery stores didn’t like the package!

These are the kinds of foods recently distributed by a local food pantry: a loaf of whole wheat bread, a bag of flour tortillas, cans of garbanzo beans, black beans, tomato sauce, vegetable soup, and fruit cocktail. There have been Girl Scout cookies (probably because the Coronavirus problem has kept Girl Scouts from going out to sell their cookies), huge bags of raisins, bags of “Himilayan Sea Salt” (that’s the rocky pink salt that is all the rage these days), and lots of rice.

Food pantries also give away fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. It’s not unusual to get a whole chicken, frozen salmon, and sometimes some unusual vegetables. Oftentimes the food pantry may have recipes for preparing the unusual foods.