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Monday, December 3, 2007

Ne Cede Malis

December 3rd, 2007

I guess one of the positive lessons I've learned in my time here is that the human mind, properly ordered, can weather truly horrible circumstances. True, some don't make it here. And, yes, it does change us, one and all. But those of us who do survive have learned to bend, not break. We have all learned to make lemonade, even if the sadistic bastard heaving the lemons at us has an arm like Nolan Ryan. Well, we don't actually get lemons (which would rock), but, trust me, if you tried one TDC meal try, you would learn to become a commissary chef real quick.

Meals here are served at the following times:

Breakfast - 2:30 - 3:00 AM
Lunch - 9:30 - 10:00 AM
Dinner - 3:30 - 4:00 PM

You can expect to get one entree during the day that has some form of protein on it, usually in the form of ham or bologna, though it's really best not to ask. You need to eat this, as protein is precious and rare. The other trays will consist almost entirely of starches, which keep you alive, and malnourished. Usually this means pasta of some rather dubious pedigree, and pancakes for breakfast. You can expect vegetables once or twice a day, and I'm still waiting to see fruit for the first time. I tend to smuggle back an apple from visitation most weeks, which is like DR gold.

I suggest, if you should ever find yourself on the other side of the looking glass, to take advantage of the vegetables at every opportunity. In fact, we are going to stray a bit from my mental blueprint for this entry, and play a little game.

I'm including the commissary list, which you can see HERE, HERE, and HERE, as well as some recipes I've come up with (as well as some from my neighbors). When planning out your meals, remember the following rules: you can spend a maximum of 75 dollars every "spend" (a spend equals two trips, once per week for two weeks, to commissary). I personally live on a budget of around 20.00 dollars, which I am very proud of, as I was quite wasteful in the world. Faithful with very little, etc, etc. Most items on the commissary list do not have limits, except for stamps, which you can only buy at a limit of 20 per week. You should probably consider some multi-vitamins, and some orange juice, though the OJ is sort of pricey. I try to make one really good meal per week, which I make on Sundays. In prison, such meals are known as "spreads," and cooking them is referred to as "spreading." For the rest of the week, consider Ramen noodles, because for 25 cents, the value can't be beat. If you have some high blood pressure issues, like I do, the soups can be problematic. Oftentimes I cook up some rice, and put some tuna or mackerel fillets on top. This costs about a buck per meal, which isn't too bad, by any standards. Besides, you would have a better chance fishing a trout out of your toilet than for TDC to serve you seafood, so it's good to round out your diet with tuna. Remember, it's your responsibility to have a healthy diet, not TDC's. TDC supplies you with the following:

3 meals per day
3 bars of lye soap per week
1 towel, changed twice per week
2 pairs boxers, changed sporadically
2 pairs of socks, changed sporadically
1 razor per week
1 roll toilet paper per week
1 jacket during the winter
1 white jumpsuit, for use when we leave the pod
1 pair slip on shoes, black (called Bruce Lee's)
2 sheets per week

The rest is up to you to pay for, however you can manage it. Now, if there is anyone out there reading this, and you have some culinary skills, see if you can come up with something for me. I shall immortalize you in words! (cue trumpet music) No, but seriously. I'm most proud of my cheesecake recipe, which I pieced together while I was still in county jail. Sara Lee, I'm coming for you, woman. Bon appetit!

Tamales

Ingredients:
10 Ramen soup wrappers cut in half (20 total)
1 chili with beans
1 chili no beans
1 beef pot roast
1 chili ramen soup
3 empty chip bags
1 bag tortilla chips (crushed)
jalapenos (optional)

In a bowl, place the bag of crushed tortilla ships, and add 1 mug of hot water. When they soften up, mash the chips up with a spoon. Add some salt, pepper, and the ramen chili flavoring packet.
In a second bowl, add the chili with beans, the chili no beans, beef pot roast, and the ramen noodles. There really isn't any need to heat this, I've discovered.

With the dough being soft, roll up 20 golf ball sized dough balls. Lay them, one at a time, on each ramen wrapper. Press them out on the wrapper, until the dough is about 3/4 covering the wrapper. Add a spoonful of filler on top of this dough. Fold each end of the dough together, and pinch the ends to seal in the filling. Repeat this process 20 times, and then place the tamales inside the chip bags. Heat them for about a half hour.

You can make any amount of these, but I like to make about 20 of them, and share with my friends. This place can be very rough without an occasional hand from your neighbors. Y saben muy rico. Estan con madre!

Pizza

Ingredients:
1 bag cheese puffs
4 ramen noodles (beef flavor)
1 bag zapps chips
1 chili no beans
1 bottle squeeze cheese
2 empty chip bags
jalapeno slices (optional)

Step 1 - Break up 2 ramen noodles, and add the seasoning and 1/4 of the bag of crushed cheese puffs. Add 1 mug (probably about a cup...but I could be off...this isn't Le Cordon Bleu) hot water to the mixture, using an empty chip bag. Knead this dough, and then roll the top of the bag to keep the heat. Repeat this with the second bag, and then set them under a towel, wrapped tightly.

Step 2 - Heat the chili no beans in your hot pot until it has a texture capable of being spread.

Step 3 - After the crust sets (5 to 10 minutes) slit the center of the bags. Pour equal amounts of the chili and spread this across the crust.

Step 4 - Spread the heated cheese on top, adding crushed zapps for texture (about 1/4 of the bag). On top of this, sprinkle extra crushed cheese puffs and jalapeno slices.

Cheese Cake

Ingredients:
2 packages of powdered milk
3 packets "lemon cool-down"
1 can sprite
1 box oatmeal cream pies
1 bottle strawberry preserves

In a bowl, crush all 12 oatmeal cakes and line the bowl with this paste. Let sit 5 minutes
In a second bowl, add both packets of powdered milk, the three packets of lemon cool-down, and mix these with 1/2 can of sprite. Stir slowly until it reaches the consistency of cake batter. It might be necessary to add a bit more sprite.

Pour atop the oatmeal crust and let set for 15 minutes.

Spread the strawberry preserves on top of the cake. I've also crunched up a mint stick to put on top, which about half of my neighbors liked but half didn't. Half my neighbors don't like anything, so maybe that's not the best of evaluations.

Homemade Convict Bar-B-Que Sauce
Courtesy of Tommy Lynn Sells

Ingredients:
1 20 oz ketch-up (catsup, whatever)
1 beef Ramen noodle seasoning packet
1 chili Ramen noodle seasoning packet
1/4 bottle of hot sauce
1/4 prison spoon worth of coffee
1/4 prison spoon of black pepper

Empty half of the catsup out of the bottle. Mix all of the ingredients, and cook on the hot pot for "I reckon about an hour or so" (Tommy's exact words). Add water to fill the rest of the bottle.
I was skeptic about this one, but it really floored me how good it was. I guess I will have some sauce with my crow, please.

Enchiladas
Courtesy of "Mike"

Ingredients:
1 bottle squeeze cheese
1 chili no beans
1 beef pot roast
2 chili with beans
1 bag porkskins (crushed)
1 packet flour tortillas
2 beef or chili seasoning packets from Ramen noodles
2 empty chip bags

Step 1 - Heat the chili with beans and beef pot roast and place in a bowl, mixed with the crushed pork skins

Step 2 - Fill tortillas with this filling, and place them in the two empty chip bags (4 to 5 per bag, wrapped)

Step 3 - In a bowl, place half a bottle of squeeze cheese and add chili no beans, plus two soup seasonings. When properly mixed, pour this atop the tortillas in the bags. Mix this around a bit, and then roll the mixture around to coat the tortillas.

Step 4 - Place in pot for 20 minutes until hot.

Salsa
(This comes from "Da Bonehead" at Estelle Unit. Thanks, Homey!)

Ingredients:
1 bottle spicy V8
2 bags hot fries - finely crushed
3 packs jalapenos - finely chopped
1 hot pickle - finely chopped
1/4 bottle (or more) habanero sauce
add salt for taste

Mix all the ingredients in a spread bowl. Grab the tortilla chips. Complicated, isn't it? If you can get one of the trustees to smuggle you back a handful of dried onions, that would make it taste much better. Not that I would know anything about that.

© Copyright 2007 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.

2 comments:

Jenneke Den Outer said...

How in earth's name do you get all of that done in prison? but kudos for your creativity.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in addition to your blog you should write a "prison cookbook". Some of these sound pretty good. -Ken