Top 5 Worst Things You Could Have Had for Dinner

Aside

Joni has been posting recipes of things you would be happy to have for dinner.  Here are a few things you really should not have for dinner.

5. Rotisserie Chicken

By my expert calculations, there is a 17.2% chance that you will get food poisoning each time you eat a grocery store rotisserie chicken.  Eat at your own risk, my friends.

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4. Liver

Eat this only on accident.  Or in Italy.  I have yet to find any other acceptable occasions for eating liver.

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3. Leftover icing

There is no excuse for this.  Icing’s primary ingredients are sugar and lard.

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2. Sketti with Butter and Ketchup Sauce

Someone should tell Honey Boo Boo that nothing about this is okay.  Have you ever read the nutrition label on ketchup?  Heinz contains 4 grams of sugar in every tablespoon of ketchup.  Ketchup is not good for you.  Mixing it with butter just makes it worse.

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1. Dumpster Dive Food

Has anyone else seen the commercials for Extreme Cheapskates?  I cannot handle the dumpster diving.

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Pat yourself on the back if you did not eat any of these for dinner tonight.

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The Hunger Games: Catching FireBugs

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This spring two of my friends made a hypothetical Hunger Games.  Given that I am on the fringe of their friend group, I suspect I was included primarily to help their hypothetical Games reach 24 contestants.  During the Games, fringe-lurker that I am most definitely when I hang out with their group, I hung out in a tree while the rest of the now former friends battled it out in the arena.  Eventually only one other contestant remained.  I dropped something on him from my tree post and won.

Lately I have had some Katniss Everdeen meets the Incredible Hulk moments when it comes to bugs.  This weekend I trapped a centipede under a rug and then jumped on the rug to kill it.  Tonight I hunted a giant, flying cricket throughout my room until I finally squished it with a hand weight.  I simply am not as afraid of bugs as many people I know.

My classy, indoorsy brother and his classy, indoorsy girlfriend bore witness to the Mexican jumping bean routine I did to kill the aforementioned centipede.  I was kind of embarrassed.  Wouldn’t you be?  I suspect the only other beings known to do this are Bear Grylls and my cat.

I will leave the snacking to you, Bear.

Nonetheless, in an effort to make this less of a useless, gross narrative, I will share with you the bug hunting skills I learned as a jungle lady in Costa Rica.  Truthfully, I lived in a nice little house in the city, but saying that I was a jungle lady sounds more impressive.  The iPhone-sized cockroaches in my nice little city house were undeniably impressive.  Maybe you can pick up a thing or two from my bug hunting style.

First, a hard-soled shoe is your best weapon.  A shoe is a great tool because it is easy to hold, easy to wield, and both heavy enough and of a large enough surface area to get the bug.  Aim for the bug and swing the shoe like you mean it.  This is not the time to act like a dainty lady.

Second, if you catch a bug in a wad of toilet paper, flush it down the toilet.  You do not want it crawling back out of the trash can.

Third, prevention is key.  Make an effort to keep your living space a place where bugs do not want to hang out.  Holes in the screen, crumbs on the floor, dust in the corners all attract bugs yet are preventable.

That said, I have a slightly unorthodox view on killing bugs: if it is not likely to hurt you, you probably do not need to kill it.  I feel bad when I kill bugs, so sometimes I let them run along on their merry way.  Killing anything, bugs included, for sport and sport alone saddens me.  I think Katniss Everdeen would probably think the same way.

25 Before 25

I keep seeing these # Before # lists pop up around the Internet.  I have mixed feelings about them.  On the one hand, no one really cares that you or I want to figure out how to French braid your or my hair before your dog’s half birthday next month.  On the other hand, sometimes lists like these provide an interesting window into a person’s priorities and interests.  Their staccato nature also fits well into our technologically overstimulated short attention spans.

My 25th birthday is this December.  That leaves me only a few months to do these things.  Given that deadline, I have not included any big ticket items that might go on a bucket list.  I am neither traveling, nor getting married, nor starting my own business, nor anything monumental whatsoever.  I am simply operating from a carpe diem point of view.  I want to make the 100+ days left of my 24th year count instead of squandering that time away on Facebook.

1. Don’t wear sweat pants or gym shorts in public.

2. Go to an outdoor movie.

3. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Towpath train.

4. Try a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks.

5. Go on a real, decent length hike.

6. Trace my family lineage back to Europe.

7. Do the Tour de Donut.

8. Finish Invitation to a Beheading by Nabokov.

9. Finish El general en su laberinto by García Márquez.

10. Make soybean baklava.

11. Be extra punctual.

12. Make homemade jam.

13. Cut back on my use of Facebook.

14. Make homemade ice cream.

15. Bake Irish Car Bomb cupcakes.

16. Write (and finish!) a short story.

17. Obtain gainful, respectable employment.

18. Bake mocha cupcakes.

19. Do a fitness event.

20. Pick my own produce.

21. Watch The Motorcycle Diaries.

22. Read a book every month.

23. Carve a pumpkin.

24. (Possibly) Get my TEFL/TESOL certificate.

25. Recreate simit as I ate it in Turkey.

What are your short term goals?

Kumpir: A Twist on the Baked Potato

After much hemming and hawing over having a whole lot of nothing to say, I have decided that maybe my “nothing” is enough to say.  This “nothing” is a recipe.

This afternoon I could not find a good recipe for kumpirs, something that quite honestly I do not need a recipe for.  I watched those tasty loaded baked potatos get made a handful of times in Turkey, enough for me to know how to make one.  for potatoes and cheese to make myself a cheap, filling dinner.  What I wanted was for Google to reassure me that my memory of the kumpir served me correctly, but instead I got a handful of boutique kumpir recipes very unlike the buttery, cheesy fast food version I had in Istanbul.

I know perfectly well how to prepare a kumpir, so since Google is lacking in solid kumpir recipes, I thought I would share.  For about $10, you too can make an “exotic, foreign” dish.  You can pat yourself on the back for being all swanky and multicultural.  All it takes is a microwaved baked potato and, truthfully, whatever leftovers you feel like wrangling out of the fridge.  The toppings I list are the standard kumpir toppings, but the kumpir is more of an art form of throwing everything you can find on a baked potato than of following a specific recipe.  Given the dismal economy and rising food prices, I think a lot of people could get on board with my quest to lower my grocery bill without feeling like all I eat are ramen noodles.  So I present the kumpir, a gloriously fatty, delicious, cheap meal.

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I neither made nor ate this particular kumpir, but it looks legit.  I found it on Google, which does in fact have many good things even if the specific kumpir recipe I want is not one of those things.

What you will need

Really large potatoes

Shredded mozzarella or feta cheese

Corn

Hot dogs (about 1 hot dog for every 1 large potato)

Macaroni salad

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Optional, suggested additions

Pickles

Peas

Olives

Butter

Ketchup & mayonnaise

Anything you need to eat right away before it goes bad

How to make your kumpir

1. Microwave cook the baked potatoes.

2. Heat up the corn and hot dogs.  Cut the hot dogs into little pieces.

3. When the potatoes are cooked, split them open.  Leave enough of the potato skin uncut that the potato still stands upright like an oval rather than flat on the plate like a disc. 

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This is an example of how NOT to slice your potato.  I overcut mine and it turned into a flat, listless baked potato.  My sense of spatial reasoning is not so great…

4. Scrape the potato off the skin and mash it inside the skin.  Keep the skin upright here still. 

5. Add the cheese in and mash it with the potato.  Don’t be shy about adding cheese because in this case, the more cheese the better your kumpir will taste and look.  (If you are using butter, also add it now.)

6. Add the pickles, olives, macaroni salad, etc.

7. Add the corn and hot dog slices.

8. Top with ketchup & mayonnaise.

9. Enjoy.

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This is how the finished DIY kumpir should look.  I wish I could credit myself with producing this baked potato, but my boyfriend made this one.

The budget friendly breakdown

$2 Two giant potatoes

$2.17 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, only about 3 oz of which were used

$2.28 Macaroni salad

$1 Package of eight hot dogs, two of which were used

$1.50 Jar of pickles, half of which were eaten

$.70 Corn

Total cost: Under $10

The best part?  We will each get two meals out of those two giant potatoes, so this $10 recipe serves four people.  You even have ingredients left over.

Definitely Better than Camping

I spent several nights in a cave…

…in early January…

…in the middle of nowhere…

…in Turkey…

And it was fantastic.  My boyfriend and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Cappadocia in central Turkey (from Istanbul where we were based in January).  By impromptu trip I mean we bought the plane tickets about 48 hours before the trip and arrived in the middle of the desert with no hotel and only the vaguest idea how to get from the airport to a town that offered hotels.  We managed to catch a few shuttles that got us to the center of Göreme where we consulted my Lonely Planet guidebook.  We checked out the hostels it listed in the center of town only to find them dingy, deserted, and overpriced.  I was about to say we should just grab one of those hostels because it was cold and we were stranded, but my boyfriend suggested we at least check out the Lonely Planet #1 choice for Cappadocia.

So we did.  We had to drag our bags up some gnarly cobblestone street hills in search of the #1 choice, but a few pit stops to catch our breath later, we were at the Kelebek Cave Hotel, and, oh my goodness, was it worth the hike!  If anyone out there is considering a trip to Cappadocia (and I have some acquaintances who are or will soon be in Turkey), I highly recommend Kelebek; even if you will never in your life so much as consider a trip to Turkey, you can still browse the pictures of the hotel. Traveler’s tip, always have a multi tool pocket knife with you.

As per its name, Kelebek Cave Hotel is a collection of caves carved into the natural stone in Cappadocia.  It is really quite beautiful.

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The top of the line room at Kelebek is the Presidential Suite, which reportedly has an amazing view of Cappadocia.  Here is the room.

ImageWe did not stay in the Presidential Suite, but we were more than happy with our room.  We could not have been happier with our experience at Kelebek.  The service was extraordinary, the free breakfast gave a tip of the hat to Western tourists with French toast, and the tours through the hotel were perfect.  We would love to stay there again.

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Kelebek: http://www.kelebekhotel.com/index.php


I feel comfortable saying that the Kelebek Cave Hotel is the coolest place I’ve ever stayed.  Should you ever find yourself in central Turkey, I highly recommend visiting Cappadocia and staying in Kelebek.

A few pictures of Cappadocia for reference…

From the top: pigeon houses, an early Christian monastery, the remains of an early Christian fresco, and a 3,000 year-old underground city.