Fruit Sauces

You know when you’ve found yourself with fruit leftover in the fridge, just about to turn? Or when you’ve made pancakes but realize you have nothing sweet to add? Or when it’s day 3 of a 5-day camping trip, but you’re back at your home base because your gear wasn’t waterproof and you have to get rid of your leftover apples before you cross the Argentine-Chilean border?

If you’re like me, all of these have happened to you in the past two months. Fortunately a single solution solves all three of these problems: sauce your fruit.

You probably thought that the fruits are goners and that it was better to bite the bullet and throw them out than let them rot. Or you have serious guilt over throwing away food so you intentionally forget about the fruit until it is so moldy that nothing in the animal kingdom should be eating it. But you can save those last apples and turn it into something better than they ever were before. All you need is your stove, your otherwise to be discarded fruit, flour, and sugar.

Chop up your fruit rather finely and put it in a covered pot on medium/high heat. Let the heat break down the fruit, and depending on the sweetness of the fruit involved and your sweet tooth, add sugar. Flour or corn starch thickens the sauce. Heat until you don’t want to anymore, and you’ve got yourself another great sauce.

Do it with a bunch of apples and some cinnamon, and you’ve made apple sauce. Or go crazy and mix fruits. Just promise to tell me about it when you’re done.

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Cuban Black Beans and Rice

I sometimes think that by having a food blog I’ve turned myself into some form of evangelist.  As if I’m thinking “these noodles are soooooo good.  I must share them – with the world!  Everyone!  To your kitchens!”  But I haven’t been taking mission trips to Africa, nor am I buying Google AdSpace.  Marketing of Oh, Sustenance! has been limited to my Facebook and Twitter profiles and a line in my email signature that follows my international phone number.  I’m comfortable for it to remain that way until I am confident that my ways of preparing food are undoubtedly superior than those of my readers.

But sometimes my food is better yours.  And if you ever were to find me standing on a soapbox outside a Minnesota Twins baseball game shouting unintelligible nonsense to the innocent passersby who just want to have a pleasant evening with their grandchildren, I would most likely be trying to share with them the story of black beans and rice.

Ask anyone who has lived with me in the past year and a half.  I love making black beans and rice.  It was my college staple.  Open up a can of beans, chuck in every aging vegetable you have left in the pantry, put on warm rice, and within 30 minutes you are feasting like a Cuban king.

Since moving to Argentina, I had to make some culinary adjustments.  Usually the adjustments follow the thought, “What?  They call this a civilized city and they don’t have _____?” where the blank is interchangeably filled in with the words: spices, cream cheese, peanut butter, salsa, bagels, maple syrup, spicy food.  Add canned black beans to the list.  But I would not be defeated, and I learned how to make black beans and rice from real black beans.

I found a good recipe and made it bigger.  It gives six sizeable portions; we’re talking full lunches, and it keeps for a week in the fridge.  It’s dirt cheap, tasty, and hearty.  For students entering finals period, listen up.   Let’s get to the recipe.

Make your black beans and rice with:

1 lb black beans.  The real deal.

2 cups rice

2/3 lb of a nice beef cut.  It’s optional if you’re veg or trying to save some cash.  This amount makes the dish moderately meaty.

2 medium onions

1 – 2 red bell peppers.  These are the only two required vegetables in my mind.  Add what you want to the rest.  The vegetables below are suggestions that worked out well for me.

4 Tomatoes

1 can corn.  They have those here.

3 carrots.  The sugar in the carrots really come out in the dish, almost too much.  So these are cautiously recommended.

6 – 8 garlic cloves

Olive or other cooking oil

Salt, pepper, a lot of cilantro, and any other spices you want to add.  I used red pepper flakes, paprika, and a bit of Sriracha pepper sauce to give it that kick that food writers like to write about.

How to make it:

  1. Soak the black beans overnight.  I know, this takes planning, but it makes cooking the beans way easier.  So plan one day in advance.  If you need something quick for tonight, cover your beans with water in the largest pot you have and make Egg Drop Soup for tonight.  Leave a good four inches of water above the beans so they water to absorb.
  2. Good morning!  Let’s check on those beans, shall we?  Drain them, cover them with water again, adding the garlic, half of a pepper, and some of your spices.  Bring to a rolling boil, then down to a simmer and let it sit for about 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender.  It will depend on how long you soaked them.  You soaked them, right?  Add salt when about 15 minutes remain.
  3. Cook the meat in a frying pan and vegetables in another large pot.  Save the biggest pot for these vegetables.  Cook the onions in the oil first, then add the pepper and other vegetables you want to cook.  Salt and pepper them and add up to a cup of cilantro.  Yes, that much.  Add your other spices.
  4. Add the meat, then the beans, then the rice to your gigantic pot of ever-increasing goodness.  Continually stir until it is evenly distributed.

By giving this recipe a shot you will have the quintessential Oh, Sustenance! cooking experience.  All four burners going at once, and it all ends up in one big pot.   Someday I’ll learn how to bake, and when that day comes I promise to share with you plenty of delicious recipes for cookies, breads, and whatever else people use the oven for.  Until then, I’ll help you get to know your stove better with recipes like this.

Bonus material!  The first of many.  And get this, it’s a video.  How to chop onions, from a master chef.  It’s brilliant.  And since I haven’t figured out how to embed videos yet, here’s the link. Honestly, you should be the ones sending me stuff like this, after all the posts I write for you.  But this is the Information Age, and I have to compete for your attention with videos of hidden cats.  So thanks for sticking with me thus far, and enjoy the video.

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Flavorful Sesame Salt Over Asparagus

Quick post today! There’s not much floating around in my head right now, so I give you minimal tangential commentary today. Of the two times I’ve prepared asparagus, this was way better. It’s simple and flavor-intense and uses the sesame seeds you have left over from sesame noodle night. Thank you Epi for the inspiration but no thank you for making it unnecessarily complicated. Rest assured, Oh, Sustenance! will never include fleur de sal in an ingredient list.

1 ½ Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Paprika, ½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 ½ pounds asparagus
Cooking Oil

Grind up your salt and spices the best you can. Not having a mortar and pestle, I used the bottom of a glass cup on a plate and it worked moderately successfully. Sauté the asparagus in oil. Put it on your serving plate when it’s done and sprinkle generous with the sesame salt mixture. It´s good.

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Argentine Dulce de Leche

And we’re baaaack! Back on track, back to mack on some snacks with Georges Braque. Back from the netherworlds of Argentina and Chile, and ready to pour all my energy inspired by nature’s wonder into writing about the food I make. If I were a quintuple-platinum Emmy®-nominated rapper, this would be my Recovery. If I were a food blogger, it would be the first of about seven posts before I get bored and take another break for the holidays.

Like my trip, this post is Argentina-themed. So to all of you readers who were complaining about the excess of Asian food recipes from blog based out of South America, this is for YOU. After trying to make it, however, you may realize that you’d rather stick with the cuisines that were developed in the presence of spices and other sources of flavor.

Dulce de Leche. Sweet of milk. That’s all there really is to it. It doesn’t exist in the United States. I’m not sure why. In Bolivia, we made dulce as a way to preserve the milk we couldn’t sell before it spoiled, so maybe our nation’s long tradition of pasteurizing milk is what denied us from ever trying to add immense amounts of sugar to milk. All I do know is that it is put in everything sweet here. Bread, pastries, cakes. Mostly in bread-related things. It’s good, it’s novel, and it takes a unfortunately long time to make. It makes great gifts or contributions to your upcoming holiday parties, so give it a shot. For me.

The ingredient list is so simple, it gives you that odd feeling of knowing exactly how much sugar you are eating. We’re all about transparency here at Oh, Sustenance.

And we’re doing it metric, just the way abuela does.

    Ingredientes

2 liters leche entera

600 grams azucar

Two teaspoons of sodio bicarbonato for color

1 teaspoon vainilla

Bring the whole milk to a boil and then drop it down to a good simmer. Add the sugar slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate it well. Then add the baking soda and vanilla. Cook at the slow simmer for approximately two hours, stirring every ten minutes or so. The trick to making good dulce de leche is to NOT BURN IT. I once had my three liter batch completely ruined by a few burnt pieces at the bottom of the pot. The burnt taste permeates the rest, giving you a not-so-nice campfire taste to the spread. So cook down the milk gently, and you won’t waste your afternoon.

Test the consistency of the liquid on a plate. Put a bit on and let it cool. If it doesn’t run too much and is closer to butter’s consistency than that of honey, we’re done. It keeps in the fridge for months. Put it in a nice glass jar and give it to your friends to whom you don’t plan on getting real gifts. They’ll love it.

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Traveling

Hello Dear Readers! The lack of content recently is not due to a lack of interest on the behalf of the site’s manager, but rather due to a lack of internet and a kitchen. I’ve been moving apartments and traveling, and food for my in over the past two weeks has been much closer to the actual definition of the word sustenance, as in it sustains living.

So in lieu of writing a post about how to make pasta and red sauce when you have to share a stove top with a group of twelve Israelis, or how pack a Tupperware of tuna fish salad, I give you photos of cute Patagonian animals and a huge glacier.

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I have a whole line of new food posts for next Saturday, when I get back to the city. Stay tuned.

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Homemade Lemonade

I know that the vast majority of my readership is bracing for winter, but it’s getting HOT down in Buenos Aires.  We’re talking hunger-sapping heat, and it’s only the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent of May.

It was 9:20 PM and I hadn’t made dinner yet, nor did I really want to.  What I really wanted at that exact moment was to be drinking lemonade.  But I’m in Buenos Aires, and such comforts from home are not sold in stores.  I ran outside to the Bolivian fruit stand down the block, asked for seven lemons, and after being given a verbal spanking for even daring to ask for lemons “20 minutes after he closed,” he sold them to me for a large discount since he didn’t want to turn his scale back on.

So, $1.25 lighter and seven lemons heavier, I returned to the house and was so ready to quench my thirsty that I drank four glasses of water.  This was all for the best since figuratively and literally turning lemons into lemonade is easier said than done.

The ingredients you need are simple: 7 lemons, just over a cup of sugar, 1.5 liters of water

And your equipment: A pot, a large bowl, a fruit juicer (or for the brave and strong, your hands), a juice pitcher.

  1. Put the water to boil in your pot
  2. Get the lemons ready to by juiced by rolling them again the table or playing indoor sports with them for a few minutes.   Cut them in half and collect the juice.  Keep the solid part for pulp.
  3. Put your left over lemon peels in the large bowl and cover them with the sugar.  Let this sit for as long as you like, as the sugar takes the lemon flavor.
  4. Pour the hot water over the lemons and let that sit for a while too, as the sugar becomes syrup in your lemon concoction.
  5. Pour in the lemon juice and pulp and take out the lemon peels and any seeds that have fallen in.  Let this refrigerate until May, or whenever you want to start drinking it.

The recipe turned out a little sour, but lemons are sour so you’re doing it right.  If you feel the need, dilute it with water or add more sugar to make it the way you want.

Oh, and making this sustenance gets a little messy.  Wash down your counter top when it’s all done.

A little sour, a little sweet.

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Sesame Noodles

I had one of the most delicious pasta dishes yesterday, and you can be eating the same thing exactly 20 minutes from now if you are fortunate enough to have the following in your pantry: 16 oz pasta, garlic, sugar, oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chili sauce, peanut butter, and sesame seeds.

I visited Buenos Aires’ Barrio China just last week and still had a decent stockpile of the Asian cooking staples, so this was easy for me.  Any Asian market and most grocery stores in the states will have your missing ingredients.  Thus no excuse remains for this not to be tomorrow’s dinner.

Two steps to the recipe, adapted from one found at Allrecipes.

  1. Make Pasta, preferably something stringy like spaghetti.
  2. Heat everything else together on a stove and mix with the pasta.

The end result is a smooth, think, peanuty, Asian noodle dinner.  It fed two hungry Asian food lovers (that’s Asian-food lovers, not Asian food-lovers.  There was only one of those here), so it could probably feed a family of four with an appropriate side dish.

The Ultimate Asian Fusion Dish with some vegies to the side

Sesame Noodles - Good Sustenance

Photo courtesy of WhatInDarnation Photography.

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Egg Drop Soup

Exotic, easy, and with a “um, what am I eating, exactly?” feel to it, Egg Drop Soup is perfect for that elitist dinner party you planned a week ago and forgot about until the first guests arrived.  I’ve whipped it up the last two times I had people over, and on both occasions I found myself explaining the behind the scenes mechanics of the soup on the table.

Still Cookin (Alternate Text)

Egg Drop Soup

I’ve never ordered egg drop soup at a Chinese restaurant, since I generally refuse to pay other people to make soup for me, so I do not know how it is supposed to taste.  All I know is that this tastes good.  The recipe can be multiplied to infinity as long as you have a big enough pot and infinite number of eggs.  It stores well, so make a lot!

Of the ingredients, only eggs and ginger are totally necessary.  Use freshly grated ginger if you can because it’s more fun and makes you feel much more legit when making it.

Ingredients for eight sizable bowls

  • Eight cups chicken stock, from cubes or your gigantic personal vat of chicken bones
  • Four Eggs
  • About an inch or two of the piece of ginger, grated.
  • Six green onions or scallions chopped finely.  Celery works if you don’t have it.  Shallots and chives probably work too.
  • Just a bit of lemon juice and soy sauce if you have and want it
  • Two tablespoons or so of flour or cornstarch to thicken the soup
  • Two to five cloves of garlic

Here’s what you do:

  1. Boil the stock, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, green vegetables, and lemon juice together.
  2. Take a bit of the stock out and mix it with the flour well.  Add it back to the broth when the lumps are gone.
  3. Whip together the eggs.
  4. When the broth is boiling hard, turn the heat to low and drop the eggs into the soup.  Pour gently, through the tines of a fork, from about a foot above the soup.  Have a friend stir the broth counterclockwise and recite your favorite incantation while you are dropping gradually the egg.  The egg will magically transfigure into noodles upon impact with the water.  If you do not stir, the noodles will not be long and stringy.  If you do not chant, you’ll be ok.
  5. Turn off heat after you’re done and eat that.
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French Toast’s Powdery White Secret

Somethings should never change.  Mastercard Commercials.  NYC’s Little Italy.  Christine O’Donnell TV Ads.  And mother’s french toast recipe.  The fantastic combination of eggs, bread and maple syrup to break up the breakfast monotony of my six different cereal choices.

Last week we ran out of all our basic breakfast foods, which means there was no more oatmeal in the pantry.  Three eggs remained, which was not enough for two people who take the “breakfast is the most important” thing seriously. So french toast was the choice.

But I was about to start a food blog, and writing about the boring way I made French toast would surely make me lose the little readership I had.  With this newfound credibility granted to me by my blog, I decided to search for the best French toast recipe on the planet.  And there I discovered the secret ingredient in France’s most successful export.

Delicious French Toast with Flour

Flour

Why had I never tried this before?  Basically this turns French toast into bread soaked in sweet crepe batter.  And who doesn’t like sweet crepes?  If you don’t, this blog is not for you.  Flour thickens the batter, allowing it to soak through almost twice the number of break slices I thought I would get.  I thought I would have to ration my batter to get it across enough bread, but by my eight piece of toast, I was left pouring the batter over the already soaked toast on the pan just so I could finish the batter and start eating.  It turned out delicious that way, so do that.

Here’s what I used:

Butter for the pan

Wheat Bread for the, um, toast

3 eggs

A little less than 1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

A little less than 1/3 c sugar

A lil bit of vanilla

A little Salt

A good smattering of cinnamon

Make your French toast

You know what to do.  Whisk together all the ingredients and heat up your generously-buttered frying pan.  Keep whisking the batter as you use it, because it separates and the flour gets lumpy.  Dip the bread, slap it on, and put it in your mouth!  Don’t forget to chew – it’s good, enjoy it.

It was good enough to eat on it’s own.  I added a fruit sauce I will blog about in the near future and dulce de leche, being the Argentine substitute for pretty much anything sugary you put on baked goods.  You put on whatever you so desire – it’s your breakfast!

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Let’s Do This

Oh, Readers!  Welcome to my newest online projection of myself, Oh, Sustenance! the food blog.  To introduce myself to this community, I am a 22 year old straight white male from Minneapolis and recently moved to Buenos Aires to work, speak Spanish with “sh”s in it, and see what warm Christmas is like.  My job hasn’t started yet, and this seemed like a fun way to kill some time, by which I mean, I’m going to take this blog incredibly seriously and you should too probably by reposting this to all of your myface retweeters.

I like tasty food, but I don’t like that food costs money and takes a while to make.  So you will find that my food recipes are cheap, delicious, and in qualities much larger than you and your friends could eat in a single meal.  That’s why they invented leftovers.

In summary, I will periodically make food, write about it, and put up some pictures.  Depending on how relatively difficult this is, I may give an estimated cost of production of the recipe, so you can see how much bite you get for your buck.

Provecho!

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