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Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques


[ Currently Eating: Rad Potato Salad ]

Here is a confession.

I sometimes enjoy goopy, gloppy sauce on food. We’re talking fake Chinese food gravy (yes, it IS fake Mr. Hakujin), Cheeze wizgoop, and even the slimy, slurmy goodness of okra and natto.

I have had people tell me they don’t like goopy food because it reminds them of… of, er, uh, you know.

My comeback (pun most definitely intended) is, how do you know what “er, uh, you know” tastes like?

LOL. Here’s to egg on your face. And other stuff.

So, to change beers, I mean gears – I’ve been experimenting with homemade teriyaki sauce lately. That’s the gloopy goopy, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch sauce that they dump on forlorn brined chicken breasts at your local fake Asian restaurant. Choppity chop suey!

I’ve had it in restaurants where it’s almost like a paste, a shoe-sucking gloopy mess, and I’ve had it where it’s so runny that it runs off the plate like Runny Poo. HEE! Poo, poo, poo, runny poo. Since no one’s listening, what a relief it is to be able to write anything without consequences. POO! Poo birds that go poo-tweet, just like Kurt Vonnegut wrote! Bridge over Troubled Waters of Poo, sung by Simon and Garfunkelpoo. Ancient mummified Poo, discovered by a Poo archaeologist. Friendly Furby poo, rare and about to become valuable on Ebay! Lady Gaga’s poo extruded in a spiral and…

[Editor's Note: Sorry, advertisers, I've never been so embarassed... I will get right on chastising my other multiple personality that keeps pooping up, er, popping up.]

Yes, this is Cheap Eats. Read it. Then weep. Hello again, by the way, all you Cheap Eats cheerleaders and naysayers. Hello! I realize that for a little while, or perhaps indefinitely, I’ll pretty much be blogging to no one. That’s OK. Just – if you feel the need to make a truly negative comment like the person(s) who said they won’t be coming back here again because the blog has deteriorated, then please don’t. I won’t approve the comment. And I’ll be sending you mucho bad vibes through the airwave antenna on my head.

I have installed a mean ass airwave antenna booster megacrazything on my head, likely stronger than the one that JPL uses, if JPL was a middle aged bald asian Cheap Eats blogger.

Qzap! You get the picture. And so on.

Back to Teriyaki Sauce, I think I prefer the consistency somewhere in between solidmess and runnypoo, but I can’t decide. In any case – I haven’t had much luck with the storebought varieties. And since this is Cheap Eats, we should probably be making our own.

Here is the start of a 3 Dollars and under recipe:

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce — $0.25
1 cup, plus 1/4 cup water — uh, free?
3 slices ginger, smashed — $0.10
4 cloves garlic, smashed — $0.10
4 tbsp brown sugar — $0.15
1 tbsp honey — $0.25
1 tbsp corn starch — $0.05

Total: $0.90

You get a pot. You fill it up with the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, garlic, ginger and 1 cup of the water. Then you start heating the crazy thing up on low to medium heat, stir it, stir it godamn it, stir it!

Before it comes to boil, take 1 tbsp corn starch and 1/4 cup water and smash-mix the thing in a dish together. You want a corn-starch slurry, it should be free of lumps. You can use your finger to mix it, preferrably not the one you use to pick your nose or dig your earwax out.

Now slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture into the teriyaki sauce. Turn the heat down to “barely on”. It should thicken up right away. Keep stirring it, damnit, STIR it as if your life depended on it!

Just kidding, you don’t need to stir it like that. Anyhow, you can pick out the garlic and ginger now, or strain it if you want. If it’s too thick for your liking, add water.

Pour the gloopiness on appropriate meats or vegetables. There you go, have a “day”!

So far, this teri-sauce mixture seems to taste pretty good. Once in awhile, I chuck in some sesame oil to the mixture, maybe about 1/2 tsp or so.

I like to put it on chicken, but you could probably use it for beef, fish or other things. Just cook the main item fully, and then toward the end you sorta baste it with the sauce, and pour a little more on before serving.

I’d be curious if anyone has opinions on making your own teriyaki sauce. I’m sure your recipe is better than mine. I haven’t really perfected it yet, but so far it seems to taste better than any of the bottled types. I definitely think it’ll come out cheaper in the end to make your own – you can also substitute normal white sugar for the brown sugar or honey, though I’ve never tried it. I’ve seen a lot of recipes that also sub out the ginger for powdered ginger. That’ll probably make it even cheaper.

All right folks, see you in a bit – sorry for all the poo jokes, but you do know that it comes with the territory, right? If you don’t like it, then please LEAVE and don’t leave a comment. As far as I’m concerned, you can fly far, far away, to the land of grumbly poo bears who grumble by leaving grumbly comments on blogs because they’re too lazy to start their own blog. And so on…


[ Currently Eating: Hope, that friends in Japan are OK ]

Jeebus. Yes, I know – I could’ve picked a better post to stage a comeback on Cheap Eats. You know how it goes, and so on and so on.

This Wednesday March 23, 2011, Popeye’s is offering their Payday Special where you can get 8 pieces of mixed fried chicken for only $4.99.

Am I going down to the closest one to check it out? Absolutely. Am I going to eat all that chicken? I highly doubt it. I’ll probably go pick it up, take it to our pickup hockey game, and then give it all away. Maybe I’ll eat a piece, especially if you hold me down and fart soliloquies in my face. You extra-talented sphincter. And so on.

Muggle buggle, I am done.

Editor’s Note: I hope that all the food blogger peeps in Japan have made it through OK. I have family in Japan, but they were all in the Tokyo area, so while times are a bit tougher, it’s not as bad. I feel terrible for the people in the north and near the coast – hope the recovery there goes quickly.

1/8/11 | Whoops


[ Currently Eating: Broken Permalinks ]

Ugh. Sorry for everyone who’s been getting either a blank page, or being redirected to the home page when viewing the Cheap Eats site. I had a bit of a problem with a failed WordPress upgrade, which left files out here and there. I fixed that after some grief last week, but neglected to re-do the permalinks – so everything was redirecting to the main page! I only discovered that this morning and fixed it.

I’m not very familiar with how search engines take that kind of mistake – a week’s worth of redirecting all indexed pages to the home page. But, I guess we’ll see how it goes. Supposedly, a website like ours that’s been up and running for 5 plus years should have some sort of “forgiveness” factor for major screwups like that. But we’ll see – if it turns out the site goes back down to very low traffic, I guess I’ll revisit the concerns from my previous post.

OK, go back to your lunch of bologna on bread…

Also – sorry this post was so serious and contained no inflammatory puns, science fiction wankling or Vonnegut/PKD inside jokes. I will try to make up for it in the next post.


[ Currently Eating: Yummy Chowda ]

What.

Just because I don’t post in a few months doesn’t mean the blog is dead.

Does it?

I dunno. This is the kind of quandary (def: a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation. origin: late 16th century, perhaps partly from Latin quando ‘when’ ) you get when you have a 6 year old formerly extremely popular blog that is struggling to make posts every 2 weeks.

Yes, yes, yes. I know it should be easy. But it’s not. And I don’t want to hear a PEEP from those johnny-come-lately bloggers who’ve started a food blog in the last 2 years who keep writing in to say, “Man, how hard is it to come up with a Cheap Eats post twice a week?”

Man, I’m in a salty mood. Mutha f…

This has become my bread and buttah, if you will. Complaining about the millions of food blogs started last year by bored housewives (I love you, housewives, but I’ve chosen Facebook) who have nothing better to do than provide Google with deliciousy content to chew upon.

Hold on, I have to pee.

Done. Well, you should be happy to note that I did bake a half ham the other day. I baked it offhandedley and capriciously, while doing the whimsical laundry, with a mustard-honey glaze. The whimsical laundry turned out the nice, according to my thesaurus. The capricious ham turned out well too, though not exactically (Alice in Wonderlandly) capricious.

So then, we had about 3 weeks worth of ham sitting around. I decided to transmogrify the ham in a Philip K. Dickensian manner into several different dishes including, but not limited to, ham and eggs, ham fried rice, ham steak, and chowda with some ham.

The latter is the subject in the photo. Preety, isn’t it? The chowda turned out nice actually, but this ham (Smithfield) wasn’t really a flavorful, smoky ham. So I had to add a few drops of artificial smoke into the mix. Incidentally, I’m thinking of starting up a business selling artificial smoke. What I think I’ll do is run around burning down various houses of ill repute, collecting the sexy artificial smoke in various vast glass globes. Then we’ll distill that down into various bottles of sexy ill reputed smoke that I’ll sell on the internet for fifty dollars a pop.

Man, I’ve certainly got a plan. And so it goes, Panama!

Seriously though, the chowder turned out fine and all was well with the world. Until I discovered I hadn’t posted on Cheap Eats for a few months. Thusly, and hencely, this post.

I’ve come to accept that there are very, very few people who understand the direction that this blog has shuddered toward. I would like to thank you personally, fondly, solicitously, lovingly, amorously (what!) and affectionately, but I would also like to say that I completely understand if you decide to slink away Gollum-like from this blog because of its demented, defective bent. Bollocks, I forgive you, and all that jazz. No problemo!

The new year is coming up, and I’ve been considering calling it quits. However, this blog just has too much traffic still to let it rest in peace. I’ll never understand blog advertisers who don’t actually read posts – but I love you anyhow. I love you personally, fondly, solicitously, lovingly and somewhat amorously. Somehow, through thick and thin and somewhat inbetween, I’ve managed to still attract a middling number of advertisers. And that’s money in my poor pocket that can’t be ignored.

Therefore, Cheap Eats will continue to make lovingly concocted food related posts every now and again.

Yasss, yass, yass as Dean would say.

11/16/10 | JITB 2 Free Tacos


[ Currently Eating: Quixotic Quinoa ]

As a measure of how out of touch this blog is, I didn’t even know about the Jack in the Box two free tacos until just a few days ago. And I had to find out about it the same way that a normal shmuck would – through one of their TV commercials.

After 2:00 pm today, on Tuesday November 16, 2010 you can get two free tacos at Jack in the Box.

Back in “The Day” (bloggin circa 2005), fast food companies like Jack in the Box were beating a path to my email inbox. They would’ve probably sent me a notice about the free tacos 2 months ago. It was all I could do to keep up with the amount of submissions, press, free food and beg letters coming in.

I am SO glad that’s over with.

Even spammers have left, seeking fresh blogging morsels elsewhere. I only got 28 fake comments last week, all saying “nice job, how come your blog doesn’t work on the new google browser.”

Though I found out about it awhile ago, I just decided to post it the DAY of, like 20 minutes before it’s about to go into effect. Because, I like to procrastinate. And you probably shouldn’t be eating too many JITB tacos. I’ve sworn off them myself.

But once every 3 months or so, in a moment of great hangry weakness, I will schlep my way through the drive through and stun my stomach with Grade QuestionMark ground beef mishmash ladled into oil-drenched corn shells, sprinkled with warm shreds of lettuce.

I just can’t help myself.

10/26/10 | Eating Expired Food


[ Currently Eating: Dental Floss ]

Ah yes, that ubiquitous question:

Eat or Chuck It?

I’ve often thought that this would make a great reality TV show. Because we know just how GREAT those shows are. It goes like this: line up contestants and put a container of food with a label that says its expiration date in front of them. They either trust the date on the container is correct, or they can call your bluff and eat the food.

Higher elimination levels in this reality game show will feature “obviously” expired food, so that the expiration date doesn’t even make a difference. You know – black pudding, salmon, moldy peaches (ha, not the band), slices of raw liver – just to see who has the cast iron stomach to get to the next round. Last contestant standing, all others eliminated – literally. All contestants will, of course, have to sign waivers of responsibility and blah blah…

Wait, let me guess – you’re the type of person who throws away the milk the day it hits the expiration date.

Shakes head.

No really, I’m really shaking my head. You see, I have a bug in my ear. It’s buzzing.

It is a Class 4 IntelliCovert Miniaturized Operating ThingyDevice. The suits are telling me to tell YOU that there is no conspiracy about expiration dates. That there is no Central HAL-ish Computer subliminally running our lives through these numbers.

Well, they can’t see me typing, so I think we’re safe. At least I don’t think they can detect what I’m typing from the pattern of the sound of the keys I’m pressing, though to be safe I’ve been Hi Pa, Uncle Nathan’s doing just fine! inserting some extra commentary How’s the rutabaga harvest, ey? every so often.

OK, so I’ve pulled a few boners (no not THAT kind of pulling) in my day. I think I may have mentioned this before, but one time (in band camp, of course) I took out a plate of seafood fried rice from the microwave and ate it, thinking that my parents had put it in before they had left for Vegas. Little did I know, it was actually from the day before. Hey, how was I to know – IT WAS WARM.

Son of a gun. I will not even BEGIN to describe the projectiles…

I think I actually fall somewhere in the middle between folks who are paranoid about their milk and yogurt dates being correct, and that lady from the first episode of Hoarders who couldn’t bear to throw away food. Like, the Chicken Tortillla Soup above wasn’t sitting in the fridge. It was frozen solid, so I figured it would probably be good.

Got wood knockers?

The date of January 28 is a little misleading, since there’s no year. Well, it was from the beginning of this year – that’s only nine months expired, so not bad at all, right?

I’m still alive and pearl jamming.

I think with a lot of the “fresh foods” like milk, vegetables, meat, fish – it’s just common sense and using your nose. Stuff like cheese – I’ve been known to slice off the “green” part. Good as new. Moldy bread, good for the head?

A bit more of a gray area when it comes to those dry and canned goods. I think you can usually tell when you open up a can and it smells. Or the bottom of the can has rusted out. Or there’s so many bugs in the dry pasta that it looks like it came seasoned…

My mom is quite a proponent of “Old Food Usage”. Their refrigerator, freezer and pantry are full of all sorts of anachronistic edible treasures. Frozen mystery meats from the 80s. Cans of food where you can tell what era they’re from because of the Mad Men style of font in the titles.

I had to tell her it was time to stop using the old Marjoram to season up stew. It tasted like weeds. I think it was because it was dated 1968…

I have a lot more Matured Food stories to tell but The weather’s been nice here, a little rainy maybe but hey the kids like it I’ve got to run. I’d be curious what the limits are on “expired food” for other Cheap Eats folks…

[Editor's Note: This post was brought to you by Rubicon, the "Soon To Be Cancelled Because Critics Like It But Scuttlefish Don't" show. Season 1 is over, but I'm still basking in that old timey, warm glow of government conglomerate Aunty Nellie is doing fine but her hip's bothering her conspiracy theory. Hmm... I'm slowly realizing that this blog is not really about food - it has morphed into a weird, muddled treatise on Paranoia and its effects on society. I will catch you later, but for now I have to "adjust" the other implanted Class 4 IntelliCovert Miniaturized Operating ThingyDevice I've got on me. Want to know where it is? Surprise Beans!]


[ Currently Eating: Portagee Sausage ]

Hello. Howzit.

To be honest – and when am I not honest – I’ve had a hard time reverting back to non-Hawaiian-vacation mode. Sitting on a beach in a tropical paradise will do that to you.

To be completely honest – I was trying to think of what kind of post would take the least amount of effort and brainpower. I’m still on Hawaii-time and the old bastard brain is not really functionallying correctly.

To be completely, absolutely honest – I would like to end this post right now and run back to the islands. I would set up a shack selling Cheap Eats of Hawaii.

To tell you the absolute, unequivocal, daring, honest truthfully truth – I have run out of ideas. What, you no like?

So here are some words and pictures of fish from Hawaii, and their resulting crispification (this is probably not a word, but I honestly challenge you to refrain from googling it with your itchy trigger finger).

I’ve been a fisherman since birth, and come from a long line of ancient mariner fisherpeoples (Gramps was a well-known handline angler in Hawaii – picture Hemingway’s Old Farking Man and Da Sea). So when I say that catching your own fish for food qualifies as Cheap Eats material, you should believe me.

Honestly, would I tell one lie? Cherry trees, I goin chop ‘em.

There is a large, large issue with catching your own fish – and that is, in most states you’ll need an (expensive) license to fish. Then there are all sorts of boring regulations and limits and size requirements to follow. I’m not even going to tell you how much the California DFG regulation book weighs. Holy crap, I can’t believe the amount of restrictions there are.

And trust me, DO NOT take above the limit and please follow all the farking regulations. Speaking from experience, would you like to know how much the fine is for not having a license or taking more than your limit?

Let me tell you, it is quite a bit more than a speeding ticket.

But in Hawaii – there is no license (no marine license, that is – I believe you need a freshwater license). The limits and regulations are nowhere near as restrictive as the mainland. (By the way, a lot of residents moonlight as commercial fisherman – you just need a $50 commercial license, and you’re ready to go. Sign me up.) And there are obvious “pollution” aspects from chemical factories here in Cali that don’t really exist in Hawaii (well, ciguatera was an issue for awhile.)

It’s a farking fisherman’s paradise. No bulai.

And it makes “subsistence fishing” very, very attractive. My uncle in Hawaii, who is a retired semi-famous chef (no, not Sam Bok Choy), actually says that nowadays, he’ll just go down to the beach in the morning and catch a few fish for dinner. I think a lot of people do that, or if not, damn they should.

Everything is expensive in Hawaii, especially if you’re a tourist. But if you live there, you can get by just catching your dinner and picking fruit.

Trust me, would I lie or exaggerate greatly to da max?

We actually went down to the beach twice to fish – once to try catch some hagi (triggerfish), and the other time it was at night for delicious upapalu (a type of cardinalfish). No luck on the hagis, but we did catch some moana (goatfish) shown in the photo at top.

But then, our nice neighbor brought over some menpachi (u’u, or soldierfish) that were leftover from his commercial fishing venture. Nice guy. Menpachi are a pretty popular fish around here.

Menpachi have a distinct smell, so you really gotta fry ‘em. No boil or steam the buggahs. Also, try watch the bones. But ho, they ono.

We fried em up outside the house fo’ prevent da kine stink. Ono, with light beer and smiles all around. Uncles and aunts, all talking story.

[Editor's Note: This post was brought to you by honesty and Hawaii. Much Mahalo-ness to you. I am sure that I've over-simpified fishing in Hawaii versus fishing in California. I'm sure there are other ramifications and hidden cost of living issues. I'm sure the grass is always da kine greener. However, I just want to say that if you gave me a choice, I'd choose fishing in Hawaii. One of my fondest memories is handlining uku with dad and grandpa from a small boat off the Kona coast. I don't even know if that's possible any more.]




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