Red’s Brazilian Shrimp Soup

I was in my local market the other day, picking up a porterhouse from the butcher.  The cat behind the counter is a guy who I had talked to a while back, during football season.  He’s a Bears fan, poor guy.  At any rate, when I first met him, I was grabbing about 2 pounds of shrimp as they were on sale.  He had asked what I was going to do with them and I broke down the recipe to him.   Fast forward to a few days ago, he says to me, “I’m so glad it’s you, I made that recipe and man, it was amazing.”  Little recognition felt pretty darn good.  Plus this is at least 2 months later.  Apparently, he got put on late shifts and missed my shopping window.

Today we’re going to look at a soup, traditionally called Moqueca de Camarão.  Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian stew like soup, based off of salt water fish, coconut milk, and a number of other ingredients.  Brazilians have been making this soup and different variations,  for the last 300 years.  I love making this soup because it fits with my minimalist cooking aesthetic.  I loathe doing dishes, so anything I whip up in a single pot is pretty keen in my eyes.  Cooking this meal will typically take about 30 minutes.  The longest part of the process is cleaning the shrimp.  This is a straight up comfort food that is warm and spicy enough to feel good in winter, yet light enough to make during summer.  It tastes even better the next day.

This is what you need:

  • One large pot.  I use a 5 qt. pot from Ikea.  (I didn’t even have to put it together.)
  • 2 lbs. of shrimp (you can use more or less depending on your tastes.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Smash them with a knife, wait 5 minutes, then dice them
  • 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers diced (more or less depending on your tastes)
  • 14 oz or a single can of diced tomatoes.  Get the ones with chiles if you can find them.
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • juice of two limes, or about 1/4 of a cup
  • Sriracha or the chile pepper sauce of your choice
  • 1 can of coconut milk (14 oz.)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Here’s how we do it:

I find it easiest to prep the ingredients prior to cooking, so I have them all on hand and ready once the heat is on.  Firstly, we’re going to heat our olive oil in our pan on medium heat.  Next, throw your diced onions into the pot and cook them until they are translucent.  Do be careful not to burn them.  Next, throw your diced garlic, red roasted peppers in and cook for around 4-5 minutes.  Please don’t burn the garlic.  Then take your can of tomatoes, about a 1/4 cup (more or less depending on your tastes) of diced cilantro, and your shrimps and toss them in that bad boy.  You’re going to cook these guys until the shrimp turn from translucent to opaque.

Right after adding the shrimps

Right after adding the shrimps

Once that is done, we’re on the home stretch.  Add your coconut milk and as much sriracha as you’d like.  I eye ball it because I love spicy food, but you can play with it.  At this point, we just want to heat the coconut milk through, you don’t want to boil it.  Once that is heated, we’re pretty much done.  Add some salt and pepper to taste, and mix in  your lime juice.   Server this garnished with some cilantro, and prepare to have your taste buds knocked into orbit.  This is some good stuff.

If you can’t eat shrimp, or find shrimp, and I only buy it when it’s on sale, you can sub in any white fish instead.  Crawfish would probably work, even chicken.  But as Joshua the butcher said, “the coconut milk just seeps into the shrimp and it is so tasty.”

Ready to be grubbed.

Ready to be grubbed.

Rojos Cracker Ass Carnitas

I feel strongly about upholding culinary traditions.  So much gets diluted in our over homogenized society, that respect for prior generations seems to go by the way side.  Fortunately, I have access to a treasure trove of old family recipes passed down by my Grandparents, and Great Grandparents.  This recipe here is not one of those, and it  is not traditional either.

To make carnitas the old Mexico way, you would take a large piece of pork and melt an almost equal amount lard over it.  After cooking the pork low and slow so that all the binding tissues in the pork melt, the heat would get cranked up.  This would make the pork crispy.  I’m not particularly keen on cooking anything in 2 lbs of melted lard, but I love carnitas.  Thus this is an alternative recipe that will provide the same flavor, just without the lard.  It’s Texas style as I gleaned the recipe of my boy Gordo who has roots in the Tejanos culture.

Gordo cooks his pork in a bottle of cola and orange juice, but I omit the cola and stick solely to the acidity in the orange and limes.

This is what you need:

  • 1 crockpot / slow cooker, or a dutch oven.
  • 1 casserole dish or baking sheet.
  • 3 1/2 – 4 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • Juice of two oranges or approximately 3/4 cup orange juice
  • juice of two limes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbps. salt or more to taste
  • 2 tbps. ground cumin
  • 1 tbps. chili powder
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic, crushed or 1-2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf

Here’s how we do it:

If you’re using a dutch oven, preheat your oven to 300° F and chop your should down to 2-4 inch chunks so they fit in your pot.  Place a bay leaf at the bottom of your pot, then place your roast on top.  Combine your spices and sprinkle them on your roast.  Add your garlic, orange juice, and lime juice.  Now it’s time to get that pork nice and tender.  We’re going to go low and slow, allowing the acidity from the citrus juice to break down the collagen in the roast.  The end goal of this phase is to have a roast that’s easily falls apart with a fork.  If you’re using a dutch oven, your cook time is approximately 2 hours.  In the crock pot, cook times are approximately 4-5 hours on high, or 6-8 on low.   Make sure to check your roast so you don’t over cook it.

Once your roast is sufficiently tender, take the meat and place it on a baking sheet or casserole dish.  Separate the meat using your hands or a fork.  Take the remaining cooking liquid and pour it over your shredded roast.  Now you’re going to place the meat either under the broiler, or in a hot oven around 400°F, until the liquid is gone.  This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.  Be sure to check the pan around the 5 minute mark, as you don’t want to dry out your roast.  You’re abode should smell amazing by now and all you have left to do is grub down.

The rest is up to you.  This is easily enjoyed in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or with some scrambled eggs.  Garnish with a little cilantro, some avocado, and your favorite salsa or hot sauce.  As an aside, this is not a definitive recipe by any means, it’s just one that is simple and works for me.  Some cat’s like to throw some cinnamon in with the roast while cooking.  Others will throw in a bottle of coke, or a can of beer.  You’re mileage may vary.  Do any readers have their own recipe or additions?  I’d love to hear them.

Rojo’s Road To Fitness

I have been slacking on posting.  Things got a little hectic over the holidays, one of my friends got married, and I took a nice week off of work to go to the snow.  I don’t do resolutions these days because I am on a constant track of self improvement.  In a not so recent post I was asked by Solo to give some detail on what I have been doing to cut weight and get in shape.  So hang on to your knickers everyone, here is a glimpse into my routine.

During this past summer, I recall looking at myself in the mirror and thinking to myself, “Damn, I am sure sick of being a fat fuck.”  I had put on about 60 pounds over the period of about 3 years.  I looked like an overweight mountain man.  I remember that day looking in the mirror like it was only yesterday.  I decided right then and there that I was going to change and it started NOW.  I had a friend who was doing good things with a combination of a paleo (and I hate that phrase) diet along with some cross fit training.  The first thing I did was cut out all processed foods and starchy carbs.  This meant, no potatoes, (which this Irishman definitely loves) no rice, no pasta (which the Italian in me also loves).  I then went a picked up Mark Sissons Primal Blueprint.  I took some of the suggestions in the book and put them to practical use.  I had recently purchased a fine pair of running shoes specifically for my foot type and running style.  I have a tendency to over pronate which in the past would give me terrible shin pain.

Armed with a new dietary regimen, which I will go into detail later, I started out with an exercise routine.  Now I have to mention that I do not like going to gyms at all.  Also the only affordable gym in my locale is unfortunately located right in the middle of downtown.  Instead of joining the gym, I researched some home / prison workout systems and started doing those.  I purchased a pull up bar and forced myself to do at least a pull up when ever I passed it.  It was a daunting task at first because I was 275 pounds.  I couldn’t lift that much of me to save my life.  So I would hoist myself up and hold myself as long as I could then slow let myself down.  I would repeat that about 20 times a day until  I could finally do a pull up.

On “body weight days” my routine looked like this:

I would repeat those exercises 3 times.

On non body weight days I would do sprints.  This consisted of about a mile of brisk walking warm up, until I started sweating.  Of course, I always had my dog in tow for this one, it’s his favorite thing to do.  I used my cell phone to time my sprint and rest periods, so it looked like this:  After warming up, as to avoid unnecessary injury and shin splints, I would run as fast as my tubby ass would take me, for a total of 30 seconds.  Then I would maintain a brisk walk for 2 minutes, whilst panting like I had run a marathon, and sweating like a pig in a fire pit.  I would repeat this 6 times, with another mile of walking for cool down.   This usually takes 45 minutes – 1 hour and covers around 3 miles.  The nifty thing about it is after doing this for a month or so, I was able to run a 5k and utilize my sprinting abilities.

That’s the fitness routine I stuck with.  My current routine is the same for body weight, except on sprint days, I work in 50+ push ups.  I usually do 25 before and 25 after.  As far as the number of days I do these, I sprint one day, body weight the next with one day off of body weight during the week.  This past week looked like this:

Sunday:  Sprint + Push ups

Monday:  Body Weight

Tuesday:  Sprints

Wednesday:  Body Weight

Thursday: Sprints

Friday:  Day off because I was playing a gig.

Saturday:  Sprints

Sunday:  Body weight before the Super Bowl

My sprints will begin again today, Monday.  I also recently purchased a weighted vest to get more out of my body weight sessions, and it has been kicking my ass.  However, I do love the feeling of being sore, even if I am walking funny.

Now that we have covered exercise, let’s move on to the new food regimen.

I Love To Eat

I really do.  In order to lose weight, and still enjoy eating I knew I wasn’t going to go full granola and just eat veggies.  I liked what the Primal Blueprint had to say, so I took the 80/20 advice and started eating only non processed foods.  I ate a ton of arugula salads, avocado, bacon, eggs, fish, chicken, leafy greens, and a ton of cruciferous veggies.   In a future post, I will outline some of my favorite recipes.

Basically I ate a high protein, veggie heavy diet 6 out of 7 days a week.  I also stopped drinking beer for the most part and simply stuck with spirits.  I cut all soda out of my routine, aside for the occasional Go-Girl.  (Don’t judge me, it tastes like carbonated pez and it’s made in West Sacramento, so essentially it’s like drinking Guiness in Dublin.)

This was my initial start and after about 2 weeks I started noticing changes.  However my biggest leap came when I started juicing.  Around August 15th, I went out and bought the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer and began juicing veggies.  I would make a juice each morning and drink it either before work, or at work.  Juicing was a game changer for me.  Weight started melting off, I found myself consistently in a good mood, I slept better and my stomach shrank.  My progress inspired several of my co-workers to start juicing and now they are juice fiends.  I was even able to get my folks into juicing and they gave me the Omega 8006 juicer for the holiday.  The omega juice tastes cleaner, is easier to clean, and comes with a 15 year warranty.  You can’t beat it, it’s amazing.  Also you can juice small berries in it and it gives higher yields for leafy greens.

The final change I made is I began supplementing with vitamin D and fish oil.

In addition to all of that I had stopped fapping.

What changed

In a period of about 4 months, I dropped 40 pounds.  I went from a size 42 waist to a size 36.  My shirt size dropped from XXL to L.  I nearly tripled my strength, as observed in the number of push ups and pull ups I can do now, compared to when I first started.  I’ve gained much more confidence, and I seem to have more mental clarity allowing me to express myself in conversation and my music in a much more coherent manner.  The transformation was visible to most around me, garnering me increased attention from females, questions by people who had seen this change, and an overall sense of well being.

What’s Next

My plan for the upcoming months is to tack a extra sprint onto my routine every 3-4 weeks.    Possibly 2-4 days a month I am going to do straight cardio running to see how far I can go.  My current best is a little over three miles and around 11 minute miles.  I am also going to meditate in the morning before starting my day.  I had played with this a bit earlier last year and really liked the results, however, I plateaued at 30 minutes and couldn’t get past that amount of time, even though I had my timer set for an hour.  I think it was an anxiety thing.

Hopefully that answers the question.  If any readers have questions, feel free to post them in the comments or send me an email at Rojobags at gmail dot com.

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Minimalist Chicken Mushroom

I know what you’re thinking.  This dude cooks?  What the flying fuck?  It’s true, I enjoy culinary excellence and pinky raising occasions, especially when concocted in my own kitchen.  Now I am bachelor extrema, and do not have a giant kitchen where I can fire up 4 pans, have a prep station, a sterile station, and a place for dirty dishes.  I’m working with minimal space, so I like to keep my dishes down to one or two pots or pans.  This recipe is a single pan meal and it is super tasty.  It’s a go to jam whenever I am in a rush, or when I am having someone over and don’t feel like doing much.

What you need:

  • Oven safe pan.  I use a cast iron skillet, properly seasoned.  But any oven safe joint will work.
  • some chicken:  Depends on how many you’re cooking for. For the purposes of this recipe I will be cooking for two.  I use two boneless skinless chicken breasts, but bone in chicken is fine, so is the skin as it adds a mighty flavor to the sauce at the end.
  • a grip of mushrooms.  I use around 8-10 oz. of crimini mushrooms, but any non dried mushroom type will work.
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter

This is how we do it:

Preheat your oven to 375 F

Throw your pan on your stove at medium heat.  Use your choice of pan lubricant for this first part.  I didn’t list it in the ingredients because I find it can vary.  I prefer to use rendered animal fat.  My friend Cali-Baba uses olive oil.  My homey Solly-Baba uses coconut oil.  Whatever works for you, use that.  Get that pan lubed up and throw your chicken on.

Cook your chicken at medium heat for about 5 minutes.  After those 5 minutes, flip those birds, add your mushrooms and turn up the heat to medium – high, more on the high end. Cook those mushrooms down around your chicken in the same pan and get a nice sear on your chicken.  Mushrooms are weepers so nothing is going to burn.

Image

After 5 minutes, throw that entire pan into the oven.  Cook that shit until it’s internal temp is around 165 F or the juices run clear.

Remove the pan from the oven and take the chicken out of the pan.  Put the chicken on a plate to kick it.  I usually just put my Wok lid over the plate with a little sticking over the edge of the counter.  This way the chicken stays warm, but doesn’t cook more.

Put that pan on medium heat and throw in a half cup of water.  This is where the magic happens.  That chicken stuff, that mushroom stuff, that water stuff, mixing it together.  Getting wicked.  Cook that down until there is about 1/4 of a cup in there.  Throw your butter in, and stir that mix as the butter melts in.  You can throw any juices off the plate of chicken in there at this point too if you so desire.

Once the butter is melted in you have a delicious sauce.  Throw that sauce and those mushrooms over the chicken and walla!  Bon Ape Tit.

I’ve used all parts of chicken in this recipe so experiment.  Also, I like it to serve it with a colorful salad as this dish is pretty much brown and white, so it’s nice to add a side with some color.  Summer squash, zucchini and red/yellow bell peppers are great as well.  Enjoy.