What Are You Going To Feed Jack?

The end of the day is a horrible time for all mothers in general and mothers who work outside the home in particular. While the rest of the adult world kicks back into relaxation mode, mothers are punching into their second job.

Years ago, when our family was much younger, my mother would routinely infuriate me by asking “what are you going to feed Jack?” moments after I had returned home from work.

If I happened to be in painter mode (my alternate universe when I wasn’t in corporate designer mode) I would have finished a very dirty, loud and physical job on a construction site (just like My Royal Consort). And if I was in my corporate mode, I would have completed my hour-long commute in rush hour traffic. To my mother it mattered not how long or how hard I had worked—Jack needed to be fed! Apparently, feeding myself, or the kids was not important.

In my mind, my mother’s question implied that Jack was an entitled man-baby who needed feeding; he needed to be “fed” because he had toiled all day long to bring home the bacon, whereas my labors were merely a frivolous lifestyle choice.

My mother was an outstanding cook who made everything from scratch, so even if I was bone tired and feeling as mean as a snake after doing construction work all day, opening a can was not an option.

All these years later, I can appreciate my mother’s question in the spirit in which it was asked. My mother was extremely progressive, but when it came to certain gender roles, she was a slave.

Today, I am a willing kitchen slave. I love to cook even when it means cooking in a tiny travel trailer with nothing more than an anemic gas range, a chef’s  knife, two skillets, a small saucepan and a stick blender. This is our third year out in the Casita and I have amassed a few killer menus that I wouldn’t mind paying good money for in a restaurant. I can wrangle up something really tasty even in a Walmart parking lot as long as I have my war chest of ingredients and a tank of propane.

In a new category filed under “What are you going to feed Jack?” I will periodically share some of the best camping recipes. Keep in mind that I am a vegetarian, and because of my selfishness, Jack is routinely denied real sustenance in the form of meat. Jack is over 6 feet tall and weighs 150 pounds soaking wet, which according to both my parents is because I won’t give him any meat.

Thanks to our lifestyle on the road, there are times when I have recourse to prepared foods such as pesto or canned beans. In real life, I would make everything from scratch. When we shop on the road, we buy a ton of vegetables, which I then prepare and stash in bags so that at the end of a long day of hiking, I can throw together a good meal without making a huge mess. For example, I’ll peel and fine-dice a sweet potato into tiny cubes. A head of cabbage gets sliced and stored, broccoli gets chopped, etc. The only exception is onion because of the smell. As for garlic, I prep that before leaving Rhode Island by processing it into a paste and packing it in olive oil.

I have very little space in my spice drawer so I only bring salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, curry and thyme. For added flavors I always have lemons, limes, agave, soy sauce, liquid smoke, Vegennaise (vegan mayo that I like better than mayo) a can of salsa verde, mole, and jalapenos. I carry a good assortment of quality packaged Pacific brand broths, unsweetened coconut milk, a crate of our own home-made tomato puree, a container of Buitoni pesto, some grated parmesan. We always have one carton of good quality soup, a large can of tuna and a pound of pasta for those “fuckitol nights” when we get home late. And it goes without saying that no trip to the southwest is worth a damn if you aren’t taking advantage of the real tortillas.

Here is one of our mainstay menus.

Raw Slaw Slad (yes, Peter, I meant “slad”)

1 C finely diced sweet potato

2 C red cabbage sliced into fine ribbons

1 plum tomato, cubed

1/2 avocado, cubed

1/4 C sunflower seeds

1 TBS flax seeds

1 handful of raisins or any other dried fruit

1/4  C vegannaise

1 lemon

Pinch of cumin

Olive oil

In a skillet prepped with a tiny bit of olive oil, throw down the sweet potato and let it cook slowly on a low flame without messing with it. After awhile, check it for “doneness”. You want it just past crunchy, but not mooshy. One side of the cube should be slightly browned. Toss in the pinch of cumin, the salt and pepper to taste. Stir it around to coat, remove from flame.

While the sweet potato is cooking, mix the Vegannaise and lemon together with a fork. Adjust flavoring depending on your love of lemon.

On each plate, make a bed of cabbage, then artistically arrange all the other things on top. Lightly dress with the vegannaise lemon dressing.

Rhode Island Jonnycakes Gone Wrong

For you non-Rhode Islanders, we have a thing called a Jonnycake that is just another manifestation of the higher power who loves us. It is traditionally made with white corn meal, boiling water, salt, sugar and cooked in bacon fat on a griddle. I abandoned the bacon fat years ago in favor of butter (and to deprive Jack).

1 and 1/2 C boiling water

1 and 1/4 C Jonny cake meal (I use Kenyon’s from my home town)

1/2 C grated Parmesan

A fistful of chopped scallions

A fistful of finely chopped jalapenos or Serrano peppers

Earth Balance (a vegan butter substitute that I particularly like)

Throw down four blobs of batter onto a hot skillet coated with the shortening of your choice. Let it sizzle for a moment before squashing it down into a 3” disc. Leave it alone for six minutes, and then only flip it if the bottom is golden brown. When the second side is golden, serve it with a blob of Earth Balance with the plated slaw.

Throw the dirty dishes into a bucket, put the bucket under the bed and be grateful you don’t have to eat at Applebee’s.












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  1. Wayne Rocheleau says:

    And Sarah says, what are you making for dinner tonight. Answer, left over smoked turkey and bean soup!!!

  2. Judith Salomon says:

    I love johnnycakes too! Only use Kenyon’s, of course. Hope you are enjoying your trip.
    Love, Judith

    1. admin says:
  3. katy says:

    This might be my new fave! Love those recipes.. I feel like having a jonnycake right now and wondering if I have any meal in the freezer. I am shutting down the house tomorrow, sob… its gonna be too cold to risk those crappy pex pipes. Plus its a distraction and I am falling behind on my project due to my penchant for procrastination. Like I could go downstairs right now to start up a batch of them jonnycakes, and I HAvE bacon and bacon grease! and eggs, and thats about all I got here besides booze! Anyway, hope you will put this up on FB so I can share!

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