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One-sentence Reviews

Tales from the 99

Merch

Tales from the 99:
Easy Eats for Hard Times

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

That's right, our 99-cent store often has portobellos. A package of two big fat ones for a buck. But you gotta use them fast—there's a reason why they go for a dollah.

Anyway, this is really easy and tasty. If you don't want sausage, substitute another tablespoon of cheese and a tablespoon of olive oil. If you don't have portobellos, use several large brown mushrooms. They're the same thing, really.

  • Two large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Italian sausage
  • 4 tbsp water, broth or white wine
  • 2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp ground Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp oil-cured or Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Flat-leaf parsley, a handful, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Slit open the sausage and discard the casing. Brown the sausage along with the garlic. Add a couple of tablespoons of water after it browns, sooner if it sticks.

While the sausage is cooking, cut the stems out of the mushrooms and wipe the caps with a damp paper towel. Put the mushrooms upside down in the baking dish along with the water, broth or wine. Chop up the stems.

Combine the stems with the breadcrumbs, cheese, pine nuts, olives and celery. Add the breadcrumb mixture to the pan when the sausage is cooked through. Remove from the fire.

Pile the stuff on top of the mushrooms. Bake for 25 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Top with chopped parsley. Eat 'em up.

Mess o’ Greens

Mess as in “a whole lot,” like “a mess o’ catfish.” Which you might as well fry mud, as far as I'm concerned.

  • 1 lb. of mixed greens
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar, preferably balsamic
  • 3/4 cup broth (chicken or veg)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt

Bitter, tough greens are best, like turnips, mustard and collards. If you’re using collards, you need to cut out the stem—they're too tough to eat. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the garlic over a pretty good flame till it turns color or you get tired of waiting. Add the greens, turning them around to coat them in the oil. Add vinegar, broth, red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Add some sugar, too, if you’ve used red wine vinegar instead of balsamic. Turn down the heat and simmer till tender, about 20 minutes.

Roasted asparagus

The 99-cent store seems to have a lot of off-season asparagus. Whether it's brought up from south of the border or it's grown locally during the winter, I dunno. All I know is it's cheap and easy. But hold out for the fat ones. The skinny asparagus isn't worth the trouble.

  • One bunch of asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil–flavored cooking spray
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare asparagus by snapping off the woody ends, rinsing it, and patting it dry. Put it in a roasting pan or casserole dish. Give it a good shot of the cooking spray, toss with garlic, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or so till it’s getting soft and a little browned. Good hot or at room temperature.

Fajitas

Easy, if smoky. Works well with beef, chicken and pork.

  • Some leftover rare beef
  • A medium white or yellow onion
  • 1 large or several small red, yellow, or orange sweet peppers
  • A couple of jalapeño or serano peppers
  • Garlic
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cumin (optional)

Slice the beef thin and let it come to room temperature. Peel the onions and slice them lengthwise. Seed the sweet peppers and slice them lengthwise. Slice the hot peppers into rounds. (Seed and devein them if you don't want the dish to be too hot.) Smash the garlic and mince it small.

Open a window or turn on your stove's fan—preferably both, as the kitchen's about to get filled with smoke that will burn your eyes and lungs out. Over a high flame, heat a cast-iron skillet till it smokes. Add oil. As soon as it’s hot, which will be very soon indeed, toss in your onions, garlic and peppers. Add salt, pepper and cumin. Cook over high heat till onions and peppers get good and brown. Add beef, cooking just till it's heated through. Serve with beans and tortillas. Also guacamole if you have an avo tree.

Beanie Weenies

beans

That's right, beanie weenies. We're not even sure how to spell it. But talk about fast, cheap, and loaded with salty goodness. Mmm-baby. Just like chewing up a greasy salt lick down at the old cow pond.

15 oz. can of red kidney beans

  • 2 tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Hot dogs

Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a good-sized saucepan. Add ketchup, mustard, honey and soy sauce, as much as you want of any of them. Slice up some hot doggies. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Stew it till the ketchup and all has made a sauce for the beans and doggers.

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secret biskit

"The Biskit"