Original Recipes

                                                                                       Taking fun as simply fun

                                                                                       and earnestness in earnest

                                                                                       shows how thoroughly thou none

                                                                                       of the two discernest.

                                                                                                                        – Piet Hein

A vegetarian is a person who never eats meat in public.

Tigers generally have catholic tastes in food, though they are known

occasionally to eat protestants when they think  no one is looking.


        I am a solitary bachelor who started learning to cook in graduate school, which already puts me well beneath the notice of any chef worth the name. I am fond of saying that for me, cooking is not so much an art as a survival skill – how to stay alive in the kitchen. Notwithstanding, the recipes here do have virtue of a sort: They are all quick and easy to make in single portions, and mostly use ingredients with a long shelf life (perhaps on the shelf of a refrigerator or freezer). Furthermore, I would not be reluctant to serve most of these dishes to my friends while expecting them to remain on speaking terms with me, provided they survived.

        Salt does not appear as an ingredient in any entries below; I have never been in the habit of using it. Don’t let that stop you from salting as you please.

Broccoli Burritos:

– for one small burrito –

one 8-inch flour tortilla (soft taco size, in some stores)

small handful of cooked broccoli (so it is soft), chopped to half-inch pieces

one ounce feta cheese, crumbled

your favorite salsa, to taste

Preheat the tortilla to make it flexible – try 20 or 30 seconds in a microwave. Fold it with the other ingredients inside, burrito-style, and microwave till the cheese melts (30 seconds works for me).

Option: Use brussels sprouts instead of the broccoli. Brussels sprout burritos, anyone?

Fruit and Cheese Risotto:

– for one hearty serving –

half cup dry white rice

quarter cup feta cheese, crumbled

quarter cup mixed dried fruit, chopped pea-sized or slightly larger

orange extract

boiling water

Suitable dried fruits include pineapples, mangoes, dates, raisins, currants, cranberries, and pears.

Put the dry rice in a suitably large pan and add a cup and an eighth of boiling water and between a quarter teaspoon and a half teaspoon of orange extract, the latter to your taste. Heat on high till the water starts to boil again, then reduce to simmer and cook till almost done. (In my microwave, 15 minutes at a power setting of 3 out of 10.) When the rice is a minute or so from done, or perhaps just after it is done, mix in the cheese and dried fruit, fluff with a fork, let cool a bit, and serve.

This also works without the feta.

Instant Mini Pizza:

– for one small pizza –

one pita bread – plain is good but try flavored as well

enough tomato puree to cover the pita, likely several tablespoons

other pizza toppings, to taste

Microwave, broil or toast the pita till it is firm enough that the tomato puree won’t make it soggy. Spread on the tomato puree, add other toppings and microwave or broil till hot and crispy. The secret here is making sure the first round of heating the pita gets it far enough along so that it crisps up nicely before the other ingredients are overcooked.

Jay Freeman’s Favorite Dessert:

– for one helping –

generous scoop of Haagen-Dazs “Baileys” ice cream

generous dollop of maple syrup* poured over the above

This works just as well if you are an effete intellectual ice cream eater who spoons up individual bites of ice cream coated with topping, as if you are less cultured and even more intellectual, and wait till the ice cream has started to melt in order to stir everything into a rich, viscous and slurpable mass. And by the way, it is of course a waste of maple syrup to let non-intellectuals have any.

* The darker grades of maple syrup are tastier and less expensive than the lighter ones.

Maple Baked Beans:

– for six helpings, more or less (less if you like it, more if you don’t) –

two cups dry black beans (other types would likely work as well)

one-third cup maple syrup

Wash beans thoroughly, then cover deeply with water and soak overnight. Expect the beans to triple in volume. Drain off water, wash again. Add maple syrup and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for two hours, checking water level frequently to make sure it doesn’t get below the top of the beans. The idea here is to end up with the top of the beans just about level with liquid, so you get a nice sauce and don’t have to discard any of that delicious maple-flavored water.

I cook this in a microwave: Add syrup and boiling water, cook at high power for perhaps five minutes (till it boils), then reduce power (power level 2 works for me, your mileage may vary) and simmer. I have an electric teakettle full of hot water ready to bring to a boil when the beans need more water.

This recipe is based on my grandmother’s cooking: I never did learn the precise recipe for her baked beans, but I remembered that she used maple syrup, so I decided to experiment and see what happened.

Maple Oatmeal:

– for one hearty helping –

one cup dry non-instant oatmeal

two tablespoons maple syrup, more or less to taste

boiling water

Put the oatmeal into a microwaveable cup or bowl more than large enough for it. Pour the maple syrup over it, and microwave for 30 seconds. (That gets the syrup thin enough to mix easily with the boiling water.) Add a cup or slightly more of boiling water, stir, microwave for another 30 seconds or so to be sure the temperature is boiling, then cool, stir and eat.

Maple Spaghetti Squash:

– for one helping –

half of a spaghetti squash

two tablespoons maple syrup, more or less to taste

Clean and steam the squash. (I prop it on something microwave-safe in a microwave-safe dish with about a quarter of an inch of water in the bottom, then cover it and microwave on high for nine minutes; your microwave may vary.) As it is steaming, after it has started to soften, baste the inside of the squash with the maple syrup. Alternatively, scoop out the cooked meat of the squash and mix with the syrup.

Maple syrup works well this way with most squashes; try butternut squash and acorn squash.

Miso Soy Gravy:

– for three or four cups –

one cup soy flour

one half cup soy-based butter substitute

powdered miso soup sufficient for two servings

two cups boiling water

Mix everything and stir or whisk till smooth enough to suit you, but remember: Lumps add character to any sauce. Reheat in the microwave if necessary to get the butter substitute well blended in.

This is a useful sauce for pasta, rice, baked potatoes,vegetables, and even bread or tortillas, but probably not for ice cream, even though it does look kind of like chocolate ...

Poached Egg in Oatmeal:

– for one hearty serving –

one cup dry non-instant oatmeal

one egg

one and a quarter cups of water, more or less

Boil the water in a saucepan that egg won’t easily stick to. As it approaches a boil, break in the egg and cook it a minute or two. (You may have to experiment to make sure the egg is cooked.) Break the egg and stir the oatmeal in with it. Bring all to a boil again, remove from heat, and serve.

I used to make a meal for me and my cats from a multiple portion of this. I would serve out my portion in a separate dish, stir a can of wet cat food into the rest, and feed the kitties.  They loved it.

Primordial Stew:

Also known as Bottom of the Garbage Pail, Primeval Ooze, Vegetable Goop Soup,

and Doctor* Freeman’s Universal Vegetable Ichor.

– for more than enough –

enough week-old fresh vegetables to almost fill your favorite stock pot

enough water to cover them

enough seasoning (your choice) to make everything palatable (your judgment)

a ladle with a long enough handle to reach the bottom of the stock pot

Many markets restock fresh vegetables once a week, and reduce prices on last week’s unsold stuff the day before, so you can go marketing then and buy lots cheaply. Clean the vegetables, then chop, slice or dice them as appropriate, and fill the stock pot to a level where you won’t worry about it boiling over. Add water and seasoning, and bring to a boil. Simmer till done. The way a graduate student tells whether it is done, is to push the ladle all the way to the bottom of the stock pot and bring it up slowly. If it contains anything recognizable, it is not done.

* I do have a Ph.D. (but not in food service), and this is graduate-student cooking.

Pumpernickel Pizza:

– for one small pizza –

one slice very dark pumpernickel, the dense kind that comes in thin-sliced squarish bricks

enough tomato puree to cover the bread, likely a tablespoon or two

tangy cheese, say feta or cheddar, crumbled or shredded, enough to cover the bread sparsely

Microwave, broil or toast the pumpernickel till it is firm enough so the tomato puree won’t make it soggy. Spread on the tomato puree, add the cheese, and microwave or broil till hot and crispy. The secret here is making sure the first round of heating the bread gets it far enough along so that it crisps up nicely before the other ingredients are overcooked.

Root Beer à la Vermont:

– for one 12-ounce can of root beer –

8 drops of maple flavoring

– for one 2-liter bottle of root beer –

2.5 cc of maple flavoring

Add the flavoring and mix carefully. I use A&W diet root beer for this beverage.

Squash/Tomato/Lime Salad:

– for about four helpings –

about a quarter of a medium butternut squash

two whole medium tomatoes

lime juice

Clean and steam the squash. (I prop it on something microwave-safe in a microwave-safe dish with about a quarter of an inch of water in the bottom, then cover it and microwave on high for nine minutes; your microwave may vary.) Put it in the refrigerator to cool. When it is chilled, peel it and chop the meat into small bite-sized pieces. Similarly chop the tomatoes. Drizzle on some lime juice – about half a tablespoon is a good place to start, but strengths of juice vary – and stir all together thoroughly. Serve cold.

Three C’s Salad:

– for as much as you like, use equal volumes of –

cooked cold cauliflower, chopped to small bite-sized pieces

chopped cabbage, either red or green, but red is more flavorful

dry-curd cottage cheese (maybe less than equal volume, to taste)

Mix, and add dressing to taste, but the result may be moist enough not to need any.

Tomato Ambiguous:

– for as much leftovers as you wish to use up –

non-instant oatmeal

tomato soup

leftover dinner or side-dish fare

Make the oatmeal, thick, using tomato soup for the liquid. Add in the leftovers while it is cooking. Makes kind of an oatmeal stew. The “ambiguous” part of its name is the variation in leftovers.

This also is graduate-student cooking.

Tomato Potato:

– for one serving –

one baked potato, with the skin on

one fat wedge of fresh tomato

Put the baked potato on its side. and cut from the upper surface a wedge the same size and shape as the wedge of tomato.  Push the tomato in where the potato came out.  Be careful the tomato seeds and juice don’t squirt all over everything while you are eating it.  If you are ambitious you could warm up the combination, or even put the tomato wedge in while the potato was finishing up being baked.

I think tomato and potato flavors blend well.  Tomato puree is a tasty topping for baked potato.

Turkish Coffee à la Vermont:

– for one serving –

a double espresso, made by whatever means you wish

one teaspoon maple syrup

one quarter teaspoon powdered cardamom, more or less to taste

Mix the maple syrup and cardamom with the double espresso while the latter is very hot.

Real Turkish Coffee (which most of the world knows as “Kaweh Arabiya” -- Arabian Coffee) is made very strong, seasoned heavily with cardamom, and sweetened heavily with ordinary table sugar.

Weetabix with Brown Sauce:

– for one, er, serving –

one Weetabix*

a good brown sauce, such as HP Sauce

Crumble the Weetabix into a cup. Pour on enough brown sauce to moisten it. Don’t actually eat this, just tell your English friends about it and watch their expressions. (Weetabix and brown sauce are staples of English cooking, but I doubt that many Brits mix them.)

I actually did eat some once. It was terrible, but when I told my Brit friends about it, I was careful to say how much I loved it and how much I appreciated English cooking in general.

You can pull the same trick on Australians with Vegemite and ice cream.

*Weetabix is an English breakfast food similar in principle to what is called “shredded wheat” in the United States. Like shredded wheat, it has the property that there is no way to tell if it is stale.

Special supplement:   MENU  FROM  THE  CANNIBAL  CAFETERIA

     One man's meat is another man's poi, son!