Monday, January 18, 2010

Recipes: 2

This dish has its roots in Mom's Tuna Salad. Mom taught me how to make it, and it worked out just fine in college, provided I could keep it refrigerated -- it'll go bad overnight if you don't.

Something most college guys have to figure out for themselves is that proper nutrition can't be maintained by standardized consumption of beer and pizza (when times are good) or beer and macaroni and cheese (when times are poor). You have to eat some greens and veggies occasionally. This salad is loaded with them, tastes great, and you can adjust the makings to suit your desired calorie count.

Thing is, sometimes I wanted to make the stuff but didn't have the necessary ingredients; I had to improvise. Lo and behold, you can improvise any number of ways with this salad, and it's still quite good. I recommend it for sandwiches or just scooping straight out of the bowl with crackers.

It got its current name due to a cat I used to have named Faust; my roommates at the time nicknamed him Professor Doktor Faustus because he learned how to open interior doors by jumping up and grabbing the handle with his front paws, twisting it, and kicking the doorjamb with his hind legs until the door swung open. If the door swung inward, it usually took him a little longer.

Once a week or so, he'd wear himself out trying to open the front door, which was too heavy for him to move.

Anyway, he was a chow hound extraordinaire -- if he had you pegged for a sucker, you couldn't eat around him until he'd inspected the meal and received his tribute. Part of that was my fault -- he and I had an agreement that if he'd keep his distance while I ate, I'd save him a nibble at the end. For some reason, though, Faust had no respect whatsoever for one of my roommates at the time, a guy named Max.

One day, I decided to make tuna salad. I diced up some celery first, and while opening the cans, Faust of course raised hell about wanting what was in them, and I drained the water and let him have it, and he raised hell about wanting the REST of what was in the cans, and I ignored him and he swatted my leg, and I ignored him and he bit my ankle and I ignored him... and then I heard the crunching sounds behind me.

I turned around. He had leaped up on the other counter, and was eating the celery. Apparently, he meant to have SOME of what I was doing, whether I liked it or not.

Max came home from work later and asked if there was anything to eat. I told him there was tuna salad. He went and fixed a sandwich and sat down on the couch to watch the news with me. Faust promptly hopped up on the coffee table and yauped for his share.

Max ignored him.

Faust looked irritated, and leaned over the edge of the table, reaching out a paw to hook the sandwich and bring it closer for inspection.

Max moved the sandwich where Faust couldn't reach it, and bipped him gently on the nose with a finger by way of chastisement.

This was the fatal error; you could swat Faust or yell at him, but to patronize him was a grave mistake. Faust responded by suddenly leaning way forward, winding up with one paw, and firmly clouting the sandwich out of Max's hand.

Max squawked.

I goggled.

The sandwich arced gracefully through the air.

Faust cocked his head, calculated the feast's flight path, sprang off the coffee table, and positioned himself about where the sandwich would land on the floor, all in about three-quarters of a second.

I goggled.

Max recovered, leaped to his feet, hurdled the coffee table with a mighty bound, and fielded the sandwich out of the air about a foot above Faust's waiting hungry paws.

They looked at each other like that for a minute -- Max's face filled with unbelieving outrage, Faust's face creased with mild irritation.

Max roared.

Faust bolted.

I goggled.

Max launched himself after the cat, squishing the sandwich in a deathgrip, waving it around as if he meant to bludgeon the cat to death with it.

I sprained a latissimus, laughing.


a good-sized tupperware-style bowl with sealing lid

Ingredients: use only one from Column A, at least three from Column B, and at least one from Column C.

Miracle Whip salad dressing (1 1/2 cup or so); the new Miracle Whip Lite tastes just as good and has lots less fat, if you're into that sort of thing
Mayonnaise (1 1/2 cup or so)
Tartar Sauce (1 1/2 cups or so, or about 40 of those little packets they have at Long John Silver's)

one or two pickles, chopped up fine or run through a grater; whether they're sweet or sour depends on your taste. Pickle relish also works fine.
one good sized stick of celery, chopped up fine
a small onion, chopped up fine (about 1 cup chopped onion)
1 can sliced water chestnuts (not much flavor, but they do add crunch)
l small apple, cored and chopped up fine (mind the seeds!)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup chopped chives
1 cup cooked pasta (I always liked those multicolored corkscrew noodles or green spinach noodles, but nearly any pasta will do as long as it's in small pieces), boiled or steamed to be tender and slightly springy; drain and let cool before adding to salad; do not overcook!

3-6 entire hardboiled eggs, chopped or run through a grater (Put a pot of water on. Bring to a rolling boil. Put the eggs in it, and set the timer for ten minutes. This recipe works at all altitudes and at sea level.)
1-2 cans tuna (I prefer packed-in-water to packed-in-oil, and always be sure it's dolphin-safe; there's no telling what those fishermen may try to pack in a can and sell you...)
1 package of artificial king crab legs or lobster bites, chopped fine (these taste great, and can be found at the grocery store near the seafood; you can use real crab or lobster if you want, but this is cheaper)
1 can Spam, ground or grated (this is one of the few ways you can totally disguise the taste of the stuff)
1 cup bacon bits (Use real bacon bits. The artificial kind work okay, and they taste fine, but they get soggy and don't crunch, and what's worse, the artificial red color tends to bleed off the bacon bits into the surrounding salad and makes it look like you're eating a Bowl-O-Roadkill.)

Throw everything into the bowl and mix well. Note that it's not a good idea to use more than one from Column A; they don't mix well. Likewise with Column C; use seafood or Spam-and-bacon, not both (eggs work equally well with either one, and make your meat stretch much farther).

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