Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Multipurpose Foods

Multipurpose Foods

By: Chef Cristian Feher

The Swiss army knife was invented in 1897, and since has become known worldwide as a symbol of multiple use and application. The manufacturers have touted that, “you can do anything with a Swiss army knife!” You can cut. You can eat. You can saw. You can magnify. You can tweeze, and you can unscrew. The only thing you can't do, is eat it. That's where multipurpose food comes in to play. This article offers a quick list of foods, although not Swiss in origin, that you can use for various tasks. And you can eat them too.

Apple Cider Vinegar – This strong vinegar makes excellent salad vinaigrette and is a necessary ingredient found in many grilling and bbq sauces. But once you put it in a spray bottle it becomes a weed killer, ant deterrent, glass cleaner and chrome polish. You can also add it to your pet's drinking water to discourage fleas. And if you think that isn't enough, you can also neutralize jelly fish and bee stings with it. Yes, you can be a hero, and ACV can help.

Virgin Coconut Oil – Is used today by millions of people around the world. It's an excellent substitute for butter and lends itself well for all-around healthy cooking. Since it's solid at room temperature you can also bake with it in recipes where you would normally use hydrogenated vegetable oils and animal lard. However, coconut oil is not just for healthy cooking, it is also used as skin moisturizer and can prevent protein loss in hair. If you have some time on your hands (and a chemical engineering degree) you can also make biodiesel with it and run your hippie van across the country. It has even come in handy to loosen up the different parts of my daughter's wooden babooshka doll. I always keep a jar of Kelapo virgin coconut oil in my pantry.

Coca-Cola – There has never been a more iconic drink. From modern American cities to the most remote reaches of the African jungle, Coca-Cola is known as that dark, refreshing, effervescing drink invented by American pharmacist John Pemberton in the late 19th century. Aside from being a refreshing, sugary drink, it also has many other uses. Hollywood mops movie set floors with Coca-Cola before a fight scene to make sure the actors don't slip. You can clean burnt pans by boiling some Coca-Cola in them. You can soak gum in it to get it out of your kid's hair. And the United Satates Navy uses it to clean marine film from the hull of their submarines.

This should give you some useful ideas of products to have around your kitchen. Because you never know when your skin will need moisturizing, or when your submarine will need cleaning. Do you have your own multipurpose foods? If so, please email me at tampabaychef@gmail.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The end of the world food guide

The Post-Apocalyptic Eating Guide
By: Chef Cristian Feher

You wake up to a serene silence. A breeze sneaks in and rustles your hair. The air is cool. Your eyes are still closed. There is something missing. Did you forget something? Are you late? You're still too foggy. The ceiling comes slowly into focus. You look to your left. The alarm clock is blank. We must have lost power last night. You reconnect with your pillow, sinking into it, slowly losing consciousness. The sensation of falling. You're jolted up from the blackness with a searching thought. It can't be that late, the sun has not yet fully risen. You feel the warmth of the sheets and stretch your legs. Something is different today. There are no birds chirping. Your cat is not asking for food. There is no traffic. No dogs barking. You look to the ceiling once more and take a deep breath. You say to yourself, “Today is going to be a good day.”

The bathroom lights don't work. Power must still be out. That sucks. Your breath stinks. Gotta brush your teeth. The water is still running. The tube of toothpaste has been empty for days, but you still manage to squeeze out enough to brush with. You rinse and put it back on the shelf. You will squeeze it again tomorrow. The sun pokes a ray into the living room. You yawn on the way to the window. A good head scratch. You notice how much hair you have. It feels good. The street is empty both ways. Where are all the neighbors? Well, it's Sunday. It's Sunday. What did you forget? The mail. You didn't get the mail on Saturday or Friday. You hope no one sees your hair. You dig your slippers out from under the coffee table. Your toe dexterity is excellent.

A cool breeze. You skitter across the lawn. The dew from the grass is wetting your toes. Will they see your ridiculous bed head? Better hurry. Open the mail box. Bills, bills, junk, bills. Where is everyone? You begin to walk back to the front door but you stop. Standing still. No birds. No dogs barking. No neighbors. No electricity. No sounds of traffic. You're alone.

It's May 22nd, 2011 and your mom was right. You are special. And you're the last goddamn human on Earth. Now, what to eat? (cue Metallica [For Whom The Bell Tolls] and roll the title credits). This is my post-apocalyptic eating guide.

An amateur might waste time crying and clutching onto photos of loved ones. But not you, you're special. The clock is ticking and there hasn't been electricity for close to 12 hours now. You are very much aware of the “ice window”. The ice window is the precious few hours left until things in grocery store freezers start to melt. Another guy might start collecting cans. But you know those will be around for the next 100 years. Ice cream. You may never again enjoy ice cream. Must get to the ice cream.

You run to your car. It starts. It starts! You pull half way out of your driveway and stop. No time for BS. Ice cream is melting. But Steve down the street has a Dodge Viper. You have a Honda Civic. A moment of hesitation. The choice is clear. You run down the street in your slippers and bed head. You kick open Steve's door. No one is home. Just as you expected. Swipe the keys. You are now rolling past your house in Steve's Viper. Bad ass.

You double park across two handicapped spots and run to the grocery store. You wonder why you just locked the door and beeped the alarm. Focus. Ice cream. The doors are closed. You may never get ice cream again. You look around. The streets are empty. There is only one car in the parking lot. Steve's Viper.

Steve's Viper smashes through the front doors of the grocery store. You hear the peculiar sound of a sports car crumpling up against a cash register. One of those new, yet insignificant experiences that you can't help but mark off in your mental list of things that make you go “hm..” You run into the darkness of the grocery store. Isle 7. Flashlight. Batteries. What was that? Did you hear something? Heart racing. Ok, get yourself together. The ice cream is melting. You make it to the freezers. So many flavors. So many choices.

After two hours you are sick of eating ice cream and can go an eternity without it. Over the next week you live in the grocery store. You enjoy frozen waffles, rib eye steaks, ribs, baked potatoes, lobster, salmon, tiger shrimp skewers and dijon crusted lamb chops with the charcoal grill you've set up conveniently in isle 8. By the eigth day you start wondering if you've made too much smoke in the store. You also wonder why you haven't gone home, and why you've slept on a beach recliner on top of the dog food shelf. Are you afraid of something? No. You're alone. There is no one else.

All the fresh food has started to spoil. You estimate that there is roughly 10,000 cans of food in the store. If you ate three cans per day.. Yes, you're fine. This store alone can feed you for nine years.

You are ready to go back home, but you stop at the front doors. A thud. You heard a thud. Out on the street you heard a thud. Did you? You can't be sure. It's dark out. Too dark. Better wait until morning. But you don't go to sleep. You sit up behind the customer service desk and watch the front doors (and Steve's Viper) until the sun comes up.

You put Steve's Viper in reverse. The radiator rips off and stays on the floor next to the cash register. Your dad was a mechanic. You know it's going to overheat. Who cares. You floor it home. Steve's' Viper is abandoned in the neighbor's yard. Home. It doesn't feel like home. It's a house. You can have any house now. But what's the point? What's the point of life? What happened? Why are you the only one still alive? Ok, shake it off. What to eat?

It's sometime in June now. But you've stopped keeping track. The animals have started coming back. There are birds again. Still no people. You saw squirrels, and there are fish in the ocean. You've been living in Hulk Hogan's house. Driving Hulk Hogan's cars. You're even using Hulk Hogan's bathroom. The water stopped running yesterday. The house has a big gate. The bed is very comfortable. You've planted garlic, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, basil, cilantro, onions and a whole bunch of other stuff in Hulk Hogan's flower beds. You have all your guns with you. There have been sounds at night. Now that the animals have come back, you can't help but wonder what else might come back. But never mind that, you're making ceviche today.

Post Apocalyptic Grouper and Blue Crab Ceviche:

Servings: 4 (so you can eat it four times)

1 Lb of Florida grouper you caught from Hulk's boat in the gulf.
2 large blue crabs you caught at the beach
1 Green Pepper
1 small Onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 handful of parsley
salt and pepper from Hulk Hogan's pantry
olive oil from Hulk's pantry
the juice of four lemons plucked from the citrus trees on Hulk Hogan's back yard.


1.Throw the crabs in a fire for a few minutes. Cool them off, crack them open and take out the meat. It should be nice and smoky! Put into a bowl.
2.Dice the grouper, onion, and pepper. Mince the garlic parsley. Put all in the bowl.
3.Spray liberally with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Wait a few hours for the acidity in the lemon juice to cook the fish. Enjoy by itself or with a bag of Ritz crackers found in Hulk Hogan's living room.

What will happen next? Where will you go? What are those sounds at night? And what will you eat next? Stay tuned for the continuation of my post apocalyptic eating guide and find out. To join my newsletter please email tampabaychef@gmail.com.