Saturday, July 25, 2015

Four Walls and a Roof: Spaghetti alle Vongole

The Group's joy is short-lived. They are horrified to discover that the cannibals of Terminus have tracked them to St. Sarah's Episcopal Church, and violently kidnapped and mutilated Bob Stookey before returning him to the Church's doorsteps. They also realize that both Daryl and Carol have gone missing. While they are attempting to treat Bob's pain with morphine, he reveals that he was bitten at the Food Bank.

The Terminus cannibals are led by a young man named Gareth. He soon taunts and threatens Rick's Group from the woods surrounding the church. Rick knows that the cannibals cannot be allowed to live. He takes Sasha, Michonne, and a small group with him to hunt down Gareth and the Terminus survivors.

Tyreese is left behind with Eugene, Rosita, Gabriel and Carl to protect Judith and the mortally injured Bob. Impossibly, Daryl and Carol are still missing and the group worries that they're being pursued as well.

Moments after Tyreese and Carl close the church doors, Gareth and his group emerge from the woods. Tyreese leads the Group into Gabriel's private chambers and urges them to remain silent. As Gabriel torments them, Judith begins crying and reveals their location.

Only Rick's return prevents even more violence. Rick, Sasha, Abraham and Michonne brutally dispatch Gareth and his followers.

The danger has passed, but for now they must care for Bob during his final moments. Each of the Group says their goodbyes to him. Bob says a private farewell to Rick and Judith; and Sasha sits with him until his death the next day.

Despite the terrible events they have seen, they had to eat before they left for Washington. Only of the few members of the Group still thinking clearly was Eugene. Although severely lacking in social (or survival) skills, Eugene would make the effort to make a meal for the grieving Sasha as well as the Group.

Spaghetti alle Vongole is a rich garlic and clam sauce served over pasta and is comforting as well as delicious. All the ingredients are pantry-based and would have been among those brought back from the Family Services Food Bank.

Make it for your group and watch their faces light up when they take the first bite.

And when the dead rise; remember that nightmares end…they don't end who you are.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

1 pound Thin Spaghetti
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder (or 2 cloves minced garlic if you can find a fresh head of garlic)
1 Bottle Clam Juice
1 Tbsp Butter Flavored Sprinkles or Butter Buds
1/2 cup white wine
1 or 2 cans Clams, drained
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tbsp Minced Parsley (dried)

Optional: Parmesan or Romano Cheese

In a large saucepan, bring at least 8 cups of water to a boil. You may prepare the pasta and the sauce over a traditional stove or a campfire. Follow directions on box of pasta for preparation times and be certain to follow the "al dente" times. You don't want the pasta to be overcooked. Drain well and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat or medium-hot coals. Add garlic powder, 1/2 of the bottle of clam juice, Butter Buds and wine. Allow to simmer and reduce by one third.

Stir in clams and heat thoroughly. Add crushed red pepper and minced dried parsley. Stir in drained pasta and toss gently to ensure the sauce coats all the strands of pasta.

Serve immediately. Although  cheese is not traditional for spaghetti with clam sauce, you may serve it with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan or Romano cheese for added flavor.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Strangers: St. Sarah's Slumgullion

Rick Grimes and his extended family have spent the last days wandering through the woods of Northeast Georgia. They have no particular plan except to place as much distance as possible between themselves and a violent band of bloodthirsty cannibals.

Only Carol's quick thinking and fearless execution of her plan has saved them from a gruesome death. Now their only concern is getting food.

After hearing screams, they come upon a priest who has become trapped on a boulder, surrounded by Walkers. Upon being rescued, the priest introduces himself as Father Gabriel. The Group learns that he has been hiding out in St. Sarah's Episcopal Church since the outbreak. The church also happens to manage a Family Services Food Bank.

Gabriel leads them to the food bank and they discover a huge supply of canned goods and packaged foods that are completely untouched. Unfortunately, the food pantry is also occupied by Walkers that must be cleared out. As always, the Group shares the risk and is able to emerge with carts and boxes of food that will last them for weeks.

They make their way back to St. Sarah's Church. It has been their first moment of relative peace since their near-death experience at Terminus. The church is secured; bottles of communion wine are opened; food is heated and prepared; and a celebration is begun by the Group of strangers brought together by the end of the world.

They allow themselves to smile and even laugh. Against all odds they have managed to survive and stay together. Abraham proposes a toast and urges the entire group to aid in the mission to take Eugene to Washington, DC. Rick finally agrees and the decision is made to take a church bus on the journey.

With such a selection of canned goods, the Group could actually decide what they wanted to make that night. Canned beans, canned chicken, macaroni and cheese, plus a generous cup of wine and seasonings combine to make the unusual and delicious St. Sarah's Slumgullion. Use whatever similar ingredients your group has and your own seasonings and don't be afraid to be creative.

And when the dead rise; don't take in wayward priests that you find on rocks.

St. Sarah's Slumgullion

2 (15 oz) cans beans (any kind-we used Bush's Sweet Heat), undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 box macaroni and cheese (we used Annie's Shells and Cheddar)
1 small can chicken breast, drained
1 cup red wine
1 Tbsp. dried minced onion
3 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

In a large saucepan, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken breast, wine, and spices. Heat over medium heat or medium-hot campfire coals until simmering gently. Stir in macaroni from the macaroni and cheese mix but NOT the cheese sauce.

Cover and allow to simmer until macaroni is al dente. You may need to stir in more wine if the stew becomes too dry. Stir in cheese sauce mix and allow to simmer for 1 more minute. Serve with crackers or biscuits.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Update from the Field: Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Startling radio advertisements as well as rumors of a self-described "Sanctuary" have been debunked according to scouts in the Northwest region of Georgia.

The message had been broadcasted over and over and was simply stated: "Terminus. Sanctuary for All. Community for All. Those who arrive, survive."

Scouts came upon the abandoned train terminal and found the remains of an unfortified shelter, but no survivors. Fire and possible explosives had destroyed most of the facility so no detailed information could be obtained.

Impossibly, a portion of what appeared to be human remains had been prepared on large dryers, rendering them into what the scouts believe to be human "jerky." When the gruesome discovery was made, the scout teams quickly retreated from the area.

Earlier in the survey and investigation, the scout team had discovered a substantial cache of cases of powdered milk inside the facility. All of the cases were seized and are now being distributed to all survivors in the region.

Although the results of the survey and investigation were inconclusive, it can be stated with certainty that the survivors manning the "Terminus" station were armed and dangerous. Any reports of shelter and/or safe zones are likely false. The surviving members of the U.S. Federal Government leadership remain in hiding and no government run shelters exist in the Southeastern part of the United States.

In honor of the fortuitous find of the scouts we present Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Adapted from the USDA's own recipe, this appetizer was developed as a use for government donated milk powder. Garlicky and creamy, your group will never know this delicious appetizer is entirely made from pantry ingredients. Serve with crackers, flatbreads, biscuits or whatever you can scavenge.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 (7.75 oz) can Spinach, drained well
1 (13.75 oz) can Artichokes, drained well and chopped
1 (8 oz) can Water Chestnuts, drained well and chopped
2 (5 oz) jars Old English Cheddar Spread
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Dried Milk Powder plus 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup minced onion (fresh) or 2 Tbsp dried
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

Optional topping: Crushed Saltines

Preheat oven to 350°F or heat campfire coals to medium-high heat .

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine spinach, artichokes, water chestnuts and mix well. Stir in Cheddar spread, the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Dried Milk, water and all the seasonings. Spread into a 8 inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with crushed Saltine crackers and remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until heated throughout and browned on top. Alternately, cover with foil and place over campfire grill and heat for 35 minutes or until bubbly and browned.