A Bachelor's Adventure in Cooking

…or “I Like This and That, I Wonder How They’ll Taste Together?”

A few moments ago, while sitting here reading the boards, I had a pang of hunger so I heaved myself out of my chair and went scavenging in the kitchen only to find my cabinets mostly bare and my fridge full of frosty beverages and not much else.

I did happen to find a large can of chili in one of the compartments and an onion in another though, so I decided to tempt the fates and try my hand at some Tex-Mex.

Not having a functioning stove, I wound up dicing and then broiling half of the onion in my stove after seasoning them with some garlic, cayenne, and chili powder. While that was going on, I was also doctoring up the rather bland chili with a little bit of hot sauce.

About five minutes later, the onions golden brown and added to the chili, I tasted my finished product and still found it lacking. Even for canned chili, the stuff didn’t taste that good. Not knowing what else I could do, I looked in my cabinets some more and finally found something promising - horseradish sauce! I love the stuff and thought it would go great with it, not only improving its flavor but also giving it that extra heat it needed.

Sadly, I was wrong. I don’t think I could have created something more offensive to the taste buds if I had covered a bowl of chocolate ice cream in lima beans and then topped it with a sauce of equal parts ketchup and vegemite.

After my tongue regains its function and my stomach stops roiling, I think I’ll just walk to the Burger King down the street for lunch. While I doubt its greasy fare will do my stomach any favors, at least its unambitiously bland Whopper won’t cause my taste buds to mutiny.

Aesiron, as I have told you before and will tell you again…sometimes you scare me. That is all.

Five minutes? You were cooking the onions far too fast, that was your problem.


I like raw onions and cooked them to soften them, not to, well… actually *cook *them. I wanted the flavor intact but just didn’t want them crunchy, and five minutes in the broiler did that perfectly.

Besides, it was most assuredly the horseradish that did it. It was passable until I mixed it in where it suddenly became less palatable than my niece’s used pampers.

Whew, the horseradish chili sounds pretty bad! You are a brave man!
I was hungry and got adventerous once.
It was surprisingly good, but dreadful to the eye.
I mixed leftover pizza sauce and garlic butter/sauce (cheezybread fixins’) together and dipped oatmeal cookies in it.
Now you’re thinking horrible right? Wrong. It was awesome.
The cinnamon/allspice and garlic went nicely.

Horseradish sauce? Yikes. I am notoriously weak of mouth and gullet, so any kind of spicy or hot things frighten me. I had to force myself to eat salsa a week or so ago. I like salsa, but it was a bit harrowing for me. Cleared out the old sinuses though.

Aesiron, you weren’t even drunk. I thought this kind of experimentation was left for when one got drunk.

As a bachelour, I’ve had to learn to cook for myself. (Actually, I learned as a kid.) Some of my “experiments” turned out pretty well. For example…

Once I made some rice, except I used vegetable broth instead of water. I added a tin of Veg-All, and some shrimp. Then I added soy sauce. Tasty.

A (girl) friend of mine told me recently, “I wish I knew how to cook like you. How do you learn to cook?” I told her that the secret is to A) not to be afraid of experimenting; and B) eat whatever you cook, even if it’s not all that great. Eventually, you’ll learn. (Incidentally, she’s not a bad cook. She makes lasagne and BBQ beef.)

Aesiron, I like your thinking. It seems like it would work out well.
I have posted elsewhere about my concotion of tuna sandwich with Wasabi horseradish which earned the name Tuna Stun. My greatest failure though was when I had a couple of perch fillets, a frying pan, but no butter or oil. I did have some maple syrup in a cabinet and actually tried to fry the fillets in the stuff. My poor young bachelors synapses were definetly misfiring that day! I ended up throwing the whole pan away with the fillets burnt into the caramalized gunk coating the bottom.

I sometimes like a little ketchup on my scrambled eggs. One time I had a stroke of what I thought was genius: why not add the ketchup to the raw eggs, scramble, and cook as usual?

The resultant dish was probably edible, but it was both visually and texturally unappealing. The ketchup had dome something to the texture of the eggs, turning them into a sort of smooth-yet-clotted paste, sort of like ricotta cheese. But pink. Pink as raw salmon. It was disgusting.

One morning, all to be found in the fridge were some eggs and an onion. I was starving, so I did the logical and created an onion omelet. It tasted pretty good, actually, though I did frighten my roommate from five yards away when she got a whiff of my breath.

I like to cook, and am not afraid to experiment. My worst disaster was around 4 or 5 years ago. I took diced chicken breast, soy sauce, almonds, and I think maybe brown sugar. My aim was to make a sweet-ish almond type chicken. Well, the result was less than appealing, but I still ate, and vowed never to attempt something like that again.

My favorite:
Sauteed zuccini, onions, mushrooms, and snap peas
A clove of garlic
Angel hair pasta
Parmesian cheese

tummy grumbly Mmm I’m hungry now.

Aesiron, you made me laugh out loud with that story!

My cooking screwup story happened when I was about 14, and a friend and I were making brownies from a mix while my mother was out somewhere (go ahead and clue the ominous music).

We mixed everything up (or so we thought), and put it in the oven. When the timer said they should be done, the mix looked pretty much the same as it had when we put it in the oven. We realized we had forgotten to put the eggs in.

Now, I remember what happened next as being her idea, and she doubtless remembers it as being my idea. Anyway, one of us got the brilliant idea to try mixing the eggs up with the still-raw brownie mix in the pan. Makes sense, no? We forgot to put the eggs in, so we’ll mix them in and try baking it again.

When we did this, we realized what was wrong with that plan. The eggs started frying in the pan pretty much as soon as we put them in there with the mix. We tried stirring faster, but that didn’t help. Finally, we gave up and scraped it all down the sink.

When my mom came home, she sniffed the air and said, “Have you girls been baking some sort of yummy chocolate treat?” I (truthfully) said no…

My latest creation:

Garlic Candy

1 head of garlic
3 tsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of white sugar
1 knob of butter
pinch of salt
1 large box of breathmints

Can be scaled up as desired.

First, seperate the head of garlic into individual cloves, using only the large/medium sized cloves and remove the hard bottom bit but do not de-skin. Put in a small saucepan and pour enough boiling milk in to cover (boil the milk in the microwave to save time) and simmer the garlic for 3 minutes.

Remove garlic cloves from the milk and discard the milk. De-skin the cloves and cut each in half along the axis(ie: cut the long side) and remove the center heart. The heart also contains some bitterness and is best removed.

Once you have achieved this, set a non-stick pan on the lowest heat setting and have your knob of butter gently bubbling and toss the garlic cloves in with a pinch of salt and allow to brown. You want this to go as slow as possible to obtain the best tasting end result so put it on the lowest heat you can get so it’s barely bubbling. Once the under-side is brown, flip and allow the other side to brown.

Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in the balsamic vinegar. I find it’s a lot easier if you heat the vinegar in 10 second intervals in the microwave and then stir until fully dissolved.

This is the crucial bit: Once the garlic is nice and golden brown, pour the balsamic mixture in the pan and swirl around until you have the vinegar and the garlic evenly distributed and no garlic is overlapping. You need to be relatively quick about doing this because very soon, the sugar mixture will get very sticky. Once it becomes sticky, DONT touch the pan. Anything you do will just make the entire mixture roll into a ball. Leave it on the heat until the sugar mixture turns to candy. It’s kind of hard to tell this and it involves a certain bit of trial and error but your basically looking for colour and bubbles. The colour should lighten from black to a medium brown and the bubbles should get progressively bigger until they are abut 3 cm across. It’s more of an experience thing but it’s pretty tolerant to error and if you dont get it hot enough, you get toffee which is still pretty good.

Once it’s reached candy stage, turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature (If you have so much candy that it covers more than a thin layer of the pan, you might want to empty the pan onto a sheet pan covered in wax paper to cool) and then stick it in the fridge to cool to fridge temp. Once it’s cold enough, break it up into individual chunks and then either eat straight or serve atop something else.

Tremble ye mortals! it actually turns out to be a damn tasty treat.

My version of Bachelor Chow:

1 pound of elbow macaroni, cooked
2 small cans tuna
2 cans condensed soup

Mix everything together and eat! A big bowl of this stuff would last me for about 5 days. If you’re feeling adventurous, just try a different sort of soup. New England Clam Chowder works amazingly well for this.

Of course you can make any number of fortified ramen dishes.
One of my favorites ramen concoctions used:
sliced leftover porkchops
sliced onion
shredded cabbage
lots of hot sauce
a dash of pepper flakes
a glug of vinegar
a teaspoon of sugar
soy sauce and the bullion packet
Sort of like an easy Hot and Sour Noodle Soup with leftovers.

The best box Macaroni and Cheese has canned tuna, chopped onions, and pickle relish mixed in.

(No, I’m not a bachelor, just lazy.)

If the lunch I just had was any indication, it seems I’m not totally inept.

I got a large garlic and herb tortilla out of my refigerator and stuck it in the oven to crisp up a bit while cutting some cucumber, onion, bell pepper, green olives, and roma tomatoes into thin strips. Once they were cut, I threw them in a bowl with some crumbled feta cheese and some toasted sunflower seeds, drizzled them with balsalmic vinegar, and them tossed them around to coat.

By that time, the tortilla was nice, warm, and toasty, so I got it out, laid a bed of baby spinach on it, then topped it with my balsalmic vegetables, rolled it up into one freakin’ huge burrito, and had one of the best meals I’ve had in months.

I think I’m going to have another for dinner.