Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Years ago when I was in a neurobiology lab studying the effects of drugs on nerves, it dawned on me – why use synthetic pesticides when you can cook up some of the most bug-toxic stuff in your own kitchen? Nicotine and caffeine, two of the world’s most popular drugs, are LETHAL to insects. Here’s how to put this to good use in the coming “aphids are eating my garden” season.

First, take  some tobacco – equivalent to about two cigarettes should do it, and two table spoons of ground coffee – DON’T USE DECAF -the caffeine is what you are looking for. Go ahead and use more of both if you like (I cooked up the first batch of this simply by cleaning up the cigarettes butts my smoking roommates left on the back patio).  Soak this in rubbing alcohol – maybe a half cup or so (or high-proof vodka, if that’s more convenient, it will also help make this more fun -soak longer with vodka as it isn’t as strong alcohol-wise) for a week or so. With a funnel and a coffee filter, drain off the resulting dark brown stinky fluid into a 1 liter spray bottle. This alone with some water will be pretty bad, but there’s something you need to do to make it better.

Bugs breathe through pores in their skin, and this stuff will kill much quicker if you can get it in there better. Also, its good to have some repellent qualities to this stuff, so lets juice it up.

Add several dashes of the hottest hot pepper sauce you can get –Capsaicin is what you want – pepper spray would do the trick too, but be careful if you try that – spraying into the bottle could get you covered in nastiness (trust me on this one).  Next fill the bottle with water. Finally, add  good squirt of liquid dish soap.  Why the soap, you ask? It’s because of the bug breathing pores (spiracles for the geeks out there) – the soap helps break the surface tension of the liquid and allows it to enter these pores much more easily. Don’t use very much soap – too much and the spray bottle will fail as the liquid foams in the mechanism.

Give it a little shake to mix it up. Let it settle.

This stuff is almost instantly fatal to aphids, and will kill most any other insect eventually if sprayed directly on them. And your plants won’t care one bit about it. And to us mammals, it’s effectivly non toxic – DON’T DRINK IT THOUGH – the nicotine from two cigarettes CAN KILL YOU if you drink it. Shouldn’t be hard to avoid drinking it though, it STINKS.

Also, DO NOT SPRAY UPWIND – trust me, you don’t want to get a face-full of this spray.

So, yeah, it’s smelly, but would you rather be spraying some synthetic chemicals made by a mega corp?

Think about it.


PS – for aphid control, spray the UNDERSIDE of plant leaves – that’s where aphids feed.


Last summer, I had a rattlesnake longer than my arm curl up next to my front door. As an animal lover, reptiles esp (I miss my iguanas sometimes) I normally would never harm a snake, but there are kids, old people, and beloved pets in my complex and this snake was a foot from my bare ankles.  Rattlesnake bite most likely would not kill me, a decent sized healthy adult man, but I have no desire to find out what it feels like, and trips to the ER are costly. He was just too close for comfort. Animal Control said basically ” We don’t do snakes” and the fire department wanted nothing to do with it either.

Without going into details, I have a large and very real Columbian machete (for zombies, you know?) that I put to a more mundane use.

Here’s the snake, right next to my front door:

Anyhow, I figure I had a unique opportunity to try what many consider a delicacy, and I hated the thought of just  killing  it and wasting  it. I won’t go into cleaning, just Google “cleaning a snake for cooking”.

First I made a beer-batter with a can of beer and flour added to get it the consistency of pancake batter.

Then rolled the snake in an  egg and then battered that sucker up.

Fried in deep-ish oil in my favorite cast iron skillet until it was flaky – much like fish gets when cooked.

Melted some butter, and I and my girlfriend ate that thing with a fork and dipped in butter. Ab-so-fucking-lutely delish. Tasted kinda like lobster, but with fish-like bones.

Simple and fairly quick. Trick is obtaining fresh snake, I suppose.


Two summers in Alaska, living in a tent, taught me a few things. First, I like to camp. Second, well, bears. And it also taught me how to cook on a campfire. Pancakes, burgers, bacon, in a cast iron skillet are easy.  But fish, unless you fry, is a bit trickier.

Anyhow, I came back from work one day, after a short day at the cannery – we ran out of fish to process, so  we were getting a couple of days off – and when I walked into camp there was a nearly five foot long King Salmon lying in the sinks, a few large fillets already cut from it, a knife stuck in it and a sign taped to the wall above it “Eat Me”, it read. Turns out another camp resident had caught it for his smoker, and it was simply to damn big for him to smoke it all.

A beer run and a trip to the grocery store later, and I was ready to roll.

Here’s how I cooked it.

Cut two big fillets.  Took some heavy-duty aluminum foil and laid the fish on it, skin side down. Top next with two large tomatoes, sliced thin, covering both fillets like a blanket.  On top of this, same deal with two large lemons. Then a table spoon of butter on each to top it off. No salt, no spices, just that. If you add salt, you will increase the boiling temperature and over-cook your fish.

The next step is key. Folded up the foil lengthwise and crimped it/ folded it over on itself tightly, left one end open, (looked like a foil “Hot Pocket”) and kinda lifted up the  open end.  I cracked a beer, drank half of it, poured the other half in the foil-bag I just made.  Beer number two, same deal with the other fillet.  Then sealed the remaining open end very tightly.  It is key to make the whole package as tightly seal sealed as you can – air tight.

Placed the package in a bed over coals (don’t bury), and waited.  After a while – depends on how hot the fire is – the foil package “poofed” sort of like Jiffy Pop popcorn when the beer and butter and juices reached a boil.  (If you didn’t seal it air tight, this “poof” won’t happen and you may overcook your fish – that moment where is poofs is when its boiling inside, and it means the fish is done.)

Take them out of the fire, unpeel the foil, and feast. Add salt to taste at this point. Since you poured out half of your the beers you’ve opened so far, go ahead and have a full one with the meal.

This also works in the oven – set it to “broil”.

Trust me – this is fantastic.  If you are buying your fish instead of cutting it off a giant King Salmon, I do not recommend farm raised fish – the texture and flavor isn’t right.




Posted: March 8, 2012 in Recipes
Tags: , , , , ,

This is how I bake bread.  It’s sort of a recipe.  With this kind of thing, it varies a little every time.

4-6 cups flour

2 cups milk or buttermilk

packet of yeast

three tablespoons sugar,(honey alternately)

one tablespoon salt

four tablespoons butter

fresh rosemary and sage a “handful”.

Activate the yeast by stirring into about a 1/4 cup of warm water

Put the milk, sugar, butter, spices  and salt in a saucepan, bring to a just barely boil.

remove from heat, let cool a bit.

Pour in a blender, blend vigorously to get any piece pieces of herb shredded, pour into large mixing bowl.

Mix in a cup of flour, let cool to “not hot enough to kill yeast”

Pour in the yeast, mix well.

Slowly pour in and mix flour. This is where it gets tricky.  Depending on ambient humidity, you may need more or less flour, less will be used with buttermilk.  You have to practice.  Basically once you can’t mix it by hand anymore, turn it out onto a boards covered with flour and start to knead.

I’m not going to tell you how to knead.  I suggest googling it.  Lots of good tutorials.

After kneading, let it rise, covered, about 40 minutes or “until double”.

Flatten it again, roll it out flat, Rollup into a tube/roll, cut it in half.

Put each half into a bread pan, squish it down with your fist so it fill the pan.

Let this rise again, covered, until “double”.

Bake at 350-370 for about 30 minutes.  Crust will be dark golden brown, and the loaf should sound “hollow” when thumed lightly.


That’s how I just made awesome fresh baked bread.







 The Thinking Viking loves to cook.  I have some secrets, (Thanks Dad! You were the gourmet) – most of which I will only share in person.  But this one is already “out” and it’s “that time of the year” so….My secret Cranberry Sauce recipe.  It all boils down to one ingredient.

Ok, here’s your basic recipe.  (from nothing special about I just googled -Simply

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice. (this is where the secret is)

And you basically just boil the hell out of it until the consistency is right.  Low temperature, un-covered…

So, this works fine.  But I have a secret.

Swap out half the sugar with HONEY and screw this suggestion of optional ingredients and instead add several table spoons of fresh ground ginger.

This makes “good” cranberries sauce “Great”.  IMHO


Ok, here’s my super-great steak -mushroom-potato meal indoors with no BBQ grille recipe (adaptable to outdoor grilling – just be sure you keep the mushroom slices big enough not to fall through the grill).

1 12-16 oz boneless rib eye. New York Strip alternate.

1 large Portobello mushroom/ half carton baby Portobello

1 large russet potato

4 slices bacon

steak sauce

Worcestershire sauce

balsamic vinegar

12 oz can of Coke

12 oz beer (something clear, no stouts etc)

olive oil

black pepper

sea salt

Marinade the steak in equal parts Coke and Beer (lager, nothing fancy, “clear” ), with generous helpings of A1 (or your favorite  steak/bbq sauce), ( I used about 6-8 tablespoons and tossed some Tapitito hot sauce in too) Worcestershire sauce and a couple of table spoons – hmm several tables spoons balsamic vinegar. 1 tablespoon+ fresh ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Save a half cup or so of this for the shrooms. – let steak soak covered at room temp for at least three hours. The acidity of the mix will prevent bacteria growth, don’t worry.

Slice shroom into long strips and soak in the rest of the marinade. Get all pieces well soaked, leave it soaking until ready to start cooking.

Cook and eat 2 slices of bacon, keep the grease – cast iron skillet best.  Time to preheat oven to BROIL.

Remove mushroom from marinade and brush/shake with olive oil until coated (seals in goodness).

Sautee mushrooms in bacon grease until they just begin to darken and soften – remove and save.

Turn up heat on skillet little past medium, remove steak from marinade and sear both sides in bacon grease/mushroom juice in skillet. maybe thirty seconds a side.

Put steak on broiling pan/grill – put remaining bacon on top of steak like a blanket and cover it all with sautéed shrooms.

Broil 5 minutes – remove shrooms and bacon, flip steak, put the shrooms and bacon back on -bacon on top this time, broil 5 more minutes.

This should give a barely medium rare, juicy steak. Increase cooking as needed for less rareness.

While the steak is cooking freaking microwave the potato and warm up /soften some butter for it.

Eat the steak with a piece of mushroom in each bite – alternating with buttered potato bites.

Enjoy with a cold beer or a glass of Petit Sirah or Cabernet.