Friday, November 29, 2013

Internment: Spaghetti Tuesday

Hershel Greene bravely cares for the sick and dying members of the Group. He refuses to give up hope, even in the face of grave danger.

Although Sasha and Glenn are sick themselves, Hershel enlists their aid and the three of them tend to the needs of those most desperately ill. When a patient is lost in death, Hershel will not allow anyone to witness the destruction of the body; insisting that "a sad soul can kill quicker than a germ."

His relentless spirit of optimism literally keeps them all alive throughout the night.

Rick returns at last and reveals the unthinkable to Maggie. It was Carol who was responsible for the murders of Karen and David. He also reveals that he left her behind during the supply run. She is alive. But very much alone.

Maggie is stunned but agrees not to share the news with the Group until Rick can discuss it with Hershel. Maggie warns Rick that the fences will not hold as Rick takes his precious packages inside the prison. 

Rick has brought back fresh vegetables and food as well as over-the-counter medications to last the Group until Michonne and the others return. Hershel continues to care for the sick even as Glenn and Sasha collapse from the effects of the virus.

Thanks to his father, Carl has food to prepare (including fresh tomatoes) for those in quarantine. Hershel had joked earlier to Sasha and Glenn that he wanted to have Spaghetti Tuesday…on Wednesday.

Spaghetti is a nutritious staple to keep on hand; especially if you can scavenge whole wheat spaghetti. When topped with seasoned fresh tomatoes, it becomes even more special…because it then becomes Spaghetti Tuesday.

The Group had an herb garden, with fresh basil that was still intact. If you cannot grow or scavenge fresh basil, then dried basil will work well also. If your fresh (or canned) tomatoes are not sweet, feel free to add a bit of sugar along with the other seasonings.

And when the dead rise; you can have Spaghetti Tuesday any day of the week you wish!

Spaghetti Tuesday

1 pound spaghetti
6-8 ripe Tomatoes, chopped
2-3 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
Fresh Basil, chopped

1/2 tsp. Kosher Sea Salt (more to taste)
1-2 tsp. Sugar

Parmesan Cheese for serving

Chop tomatoes and place into a large mixing bowl. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Add Kosher salt and stir well. Taste for seasonings and add more Kosher Salt if needed. If tomatoes are not sweet, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir well. Allow tomato mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes while you prepare pasta. It's better if you let sit for 30 minutes (the flavors will develop and the salt will draw more liquid from the tomatoes). This step is critical.

Fill a large Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat or medium-hot campfire coals. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well and top with fresh tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Fresh Basil and Parmesan Cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Indifference: Sun Dried Tomato and Chicken Stew

Daryl, Tyreese, Michonne and Bob have been forced to continue their mission on foot after a disastrous run-in with a Mega Herd. They make their way to a gas station and express-mart where they're able to hot wire a car and finally begin to make up lost time.

Bob confesses to Daryl that he has battled alcoholism and is reassured that he is no longer alone. They reach the veterinary college at last and split up to collect their desperately needed supplies. Once they reunite, Bob directs them to take additional antibiotics.

A small group of Walkers takes notice and they're forced to climb out a window to escape with their precious packages. Bob nearly falls to his death, yet seems more concerned with protecting his knapsack. Daryl discovers a bottle of liquor within the bag and the two men nearly come to blows.

After their escape, they locate a minivan and plan their return route. As they leave, Michonne promises them that she will no longer leave the prison to hunt for the Governor.

The drive back would have been long and tedious, requiring stops to scavenge gasoline. Hershel would have seen to it that they had something to eat on the road.

Sun dried tomatoes and chicken stew is an intensely flavored dish, thanks to dried herbs, broth and the concentrated flavor of the sun dried tomatoes. It requires almost no attention; simply stir up the ingredients and allow to simmer.

If you can scavenge fresh onions, it will taste even better; but minced, dried onions will still be delicious. A few cans of chicken meat boost the already substantial protein content provided by the Cannellini beans. When  your group wants something tasty and special…but nobody has the time to slave over the campfire…pull out the ingredients for this stew and knock their socks off.

And when the dead rise; don't take apricots (or peaches) from strangers.

Sun Dried Tomato and Chicken Stew

2 cans chicken meat, drained
1 large onion, peeled and diced (or 2 Tbsp. Dried, Minced Onion)
1 jar oil-packed Sun Dried Tomatoes, drained well and sliced
1 can artichokes, drained, rinsed and chopped
2 cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 quart Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
2 Bay leaves
2 tsp Italian Seasoning

Kosher Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Heat over medium heat or medium-hot campfire coals. Allow to come to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer gently (stirring every once in awhile to prevent sticking) for 1 hour. You may need to add additional liquid (water) if the mixture becomes too thick.

Taste for seasoning and add Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste. Serve hot. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Isolation: Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese

The brutal murders of Karen and David have rocked the Group. Tyreese erupts in rage and sorrow and the resulting brawl ends in a sprained hand for Rick Grimes.

Hershel advises that they must isolate those showing symptoms to protect the most vulnerable of their Group. He believes that the veterinary college more than 50 miles away at West Peachtree Tech may still have medications that would help the victims of the infection. So Daryl, Tyreese, Michonne and Bob prepare to leave, while Carol and Glenn separate the group that were exposed in the initial attack on Cell Block D.

Sasha shows signs of illness and says a tearful goodbye to Tyreese; while Hershel and Carl trek into the woods to gather elderberries for a medicinal tea. Maggie urges her father to stay away from those infected but Hershel refuses, since this is the first time they have control over what they risk their lives for.

The threat facing the Group is unlike any other they have dealt with before. The battle ahead will not be won with cunning or force, but with time. Only the immune systems of those infected can do the fighting.

Those that stay behind can do little but provide supportive care to the sick members of their Group. Kind words, plenty of fluids and comfort food would be the best they could do.

The American favorite of Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. Using pantry ingredients, our vision of this soothing dish is leagues ahead of the standard Kraft-brand style fare.

Careful use of cheese and aromatics push the flavor to new heights. Make this delicious meal when your group needs extra comfort.

And when the dead rise; don't cough in front of Carol.

Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound box Macaroni

1 (10 oz) can Evaporated Milk
1 (16 oz) box Velveeta Queso Blanco, cubed
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 can Anchovies, drained
1 (8 oz) jar Sun Dried tomatoes, drained and chopped finely

1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Red WIne Vinegar
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg (optional)

2/3 cup Bread Crumbs
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese

Fill a large Dutch oven with water and bring to a boil over high heat or very hot campfire coals. Cook macaroni according to the package directions and drain well.

While macaroni cooks, mix the evaporated milk and the next in a large, heavy saucepan. Allow to heat gently over medium-high heat or very hot campfire coals until cheese and anchovies melt.

When the macaroni is drained, return to the Dutch oven and pour over cheese sauce. Mix well and set aside while you prepare crumb mixture. 

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and the next three ingredients. Sprinkle over macaroni and serve immediately, making sure that each serving gets some of the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Infected: Five-Spice Lo Mein

The start of another morning at the prison finds Rick enjoying a moment of happiness with his baby daughter Judith. Beth takes over the care of the little girl so Rick and Carl can start their morning chores.

It is still quite early so the crews assigned to cull the Walker herds gathered at the fences have not started yet. 

The sound of gunfire inside the prison stuns those working outside. Rick, Carl, Daryl and those on guard quickly mobilize and storm D-Block. Impossibly, Walkers are inside the secure block and chaos has erupted. Children are screaming and the adults there have been caught completely off guard. When the Group finally regains control, at least a dozen of their own lay dead or dying.

Upon examining the bodies, they discover the start of it all was young Patrick, who simply died and turned during the night. The doctor among the group realizes that it was likely pneumococcal or an aggressive flu strain.

Whatever the origin, they now have to quarantine everyone. Hershel also insists that they get rid of all the pigs, as they can spread the disease further. Even burying the bodies must be done with masks and gloves to prevent infection.

The Group does not have a moment of rest. As they prepare the Death Row block to house those showing sings of illness, the prison's perimeter fences  begin to buckle under the weight of Walkers pressing inward.

The culling cannot be done fast enough and the fences threaten to collapse completely. Rick decides on a way to draw off Walkers and get rid of the infected pigs all at the same time. Driving the Jeep, Daryl leads the Walkers away as Rick rides in the trailer hitched behind it; dumping the pigs as they go. The plan works and the fences are saved. But the day has been catastrophic. Their friends lay dead and they may all be infected with a virus or infection that would have no treatment at all.

Despite their heartbreak, they still had to eat and eat fast. After carrying out the bodies, Hershel would make them eat something.

Canned tuna, pasta and some pantry seasonings combine perfectly to make Five-Spice Lo Mein. Since they had a small herb garden, they would also be able to use cilantro and spring onions. If you cannot scavenge these, you can substitute dried cilantro and chives. 

Spicy foods may even help your immune system do battle with viruses and bacteria. So feel free to use as much sambal oelek as you wish. If you cannot find this spicy condiment, feel free to experiment with cayenne pepper.

And when the dead rise; never take M&Ms from Michonne!

Five-Spice Lo Mein

1 large can Solid White Albacore Tuna (in water if you can find it)
4 T. Soy Sauce
2 T. Brown Sugar, Agave Syrup or Honey
1 1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek
1 T. Chinese Five-Spice Powder
1 T. Garlic Powder (or minced fresh if you can find it)
1 T. dried Ginger (or grated fresh if you can find it)

1/2 to 1 pound fettuccine, linguini or other flat noodle

Scallions, chopped
Cilantro, chopped

Fill a large heavy stockpot with water and bring to a boil over high heat or hot campfire coals.  Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well.

While pasta cooks, combine drained tuna, soy sauce and the next five ingredients in a large cast iron skillet. Warm gently over medium heat or medium coals. When pasta is cooked and drained well, add to the skillet and toss gently to combine and heat. Toss with chopped scallions, spring onions or dried chives and fresh or dried cilantro and serve immediately.