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Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for October, 2010

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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