Food Snob Chronicles — Food ain’t just for eating
Sure, some foods are great for vandals, while others are fantastic for grossing out people in the school cafeteria. But, there really are some excellent (non-eating) purposes for foods.
Pickle juice – There are plenty of culinary uses for homemade and commercial pickle juice — adding to a marinade or potato salad, livening a barbecue sauce or re-pickling other veggies — but I like to pour it on the weeds that have grown between the cracks of my driveway. Does it work as well as Roundup? No. But why pour it down the drain when it can wreak some major havoc on crabgrass?
Rice – I’m not sure why you wouldn’t eat it, but there are other uses that are pretty darn good. First, a container of rice will draw moisture from a cell phone or other electronic device that may have been dropped in the toilet. (I sincerely hope you didn’t call me from the stall.) But I like to place about two cups of rice into an old tube sock – secured with tape or twine at the top and microwave for about two minutes. Rice and a tube sock make for a great heating pack. (It also makes a great weapon.) Don’t ask why I still have tube socks. That’s between me and my wife.
Cornstarch – My favorite use for cornstarch — outside of thickening something that I can soak up with bread — is as a playing card renewer. That’s right. Throw about 2-3 TB of cornstarch in a large zip-close bag, and throw in a deck of cards. Shake. Dump and wipe the cards and they’re just like new (except for the Ace of Spades with the bent corner). Believe it, or not, a little cornstarch and water (a TB per pint) in a spray bottle works as well as the other stuff when ironing.
And with Fritos (or any other brand of corn chip), you can do this…
Peanut Butter – OK. I’ll admit that some females in my life (mother/wife) have used peanut butter to remove chewing gum from my coiffure. I’ve also used it in a rat trap (didn’t work as well as bacon). But, other than eating it with chocolate or a boatload of grape jam, my favorite use for peanut butter is as a shaving gel. Don’t laugh. It works.
Dried Beans – The best use of dried beans, other than soaking and cooking, is as a child’s art project. I still have the dried bean and pasta ‘pilgrim’ from … I don’t remember which child. Still, dried beans are also excellent as pie weights. Just toss some dried beans in the bottom of a pie shell when pre-baking. They’ll keep the crust from puffing up and out of control. Dried beans are also good for … bean bags. Yep, it’s true, although I wouldn’t recommend stuffing one of those adult-sized football-watching beanbags with them. Dried beans also work really well as hot or cold packs, but I prefer the rice.
Olive and other cooking oils – I’ve heard of people who use olive oil as a lubricant and wood/leather polisher. I suppose it works in those applications (albeit not as good as WD40 and mink oil, respectively), but the best alternative use for cooking oils is as automotive fuel. Now, before you go fill up the Land Rover with peanut oil, hold up. You’ll need a vehicle with a converted diesel engine. The good news: They are cheap and listed all over national online auction sites. Just put ‘vegetable oil diesel’ in the search phrase. More good news: Your local restaurant managers will love you for collecting their used frying oil to fill up your car. The best news: Your car will constantly emit an odor of French fries.
Beer – Why anyone would be doing anything with beer but quaffing it or using it in a brine, I’ll never know. But, once in a while, someone brings some nasty lime-flavored macro swill to a get-together. What to do with it? Use it to kill slugs. Just place a small bowl of beer in the garden and thirsty slugs will find themselves in a sea of suds — with no way out. A small bowl of beer on a countertop also attracts (and traps) vinegar flies. Otherwise, wash your hair with it or pour it on your compost pile.
Rock salt – I was hesitant to include this, since rock salt is usually used in freezing applications. But, most of us keep a box in the cupboard, so add one more use for it: a coffee pot cleaner. Coffee drinkers know that a crystal clear carafe means not-so-great java. You want patina, for lack of a better word. The residual oils produce more coffee character in future pots. To clean the pot without removing the oils, place a small handful of rock salt in the pot, then fill it halfway with warm water. Slosh it for about 15-20 seconds; pour out the rock salt/water; rinse.
Want to turn me off? Use the word ‘leftovers.’ My mental picture of leftovers involves mostly the dried-up casseroles that I grew up on, or cooked pasta rinsed in warm water to bring it back to life (a habit of my wife’s). The word ‘redux,’ however, implies that something could very well be served on a silver platter. All kidding aside, there are some dishes that are better a day, or two later. Chili tops that list, but Caribbean-style Roasted Pork Shoulder is up there. Enjoy.
Caribbean-style Roasted Pork Shoulder Redux: Soft Tacos
About 1 lb. – Pork, pulled from Caribbean-style Roasted Pork Shoulder **
Flour or Corn Tortillas
**- Any other pulled pork (or chicken) works here as well.
Serve in warmed corn (pictured) or flour tortillas with:
- Finely chopped lettuce
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Salsa verde
Serve with a side of black beans and rice, if desired. Serves 5.
Also delicious with:
- Sour cream (or mayonnaise)
- Salsa roja
- Pico de gallo
- Avocado slices
- Lime wedges
- Shredded Queso Quesadilla