The Starvin’ Diner Cookbook

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 2013


Discuss this article in the Diner Pantry inside the Diner the Diner appears to have some of the most EXPERT Growers of Food and Green Thumbs around anywhere in the Collapse Blogosphere, taking said food and making it Tasty for Consumption is it’s own art form, and this is not a skill everyone has cultivated over the last couple of decades. Going way back to when I was a kid before Microwave Ovens even, you had your Swanson TV Dinners and Jiffy Pop Popcorn, not to mention of course the horrendous soggy Canned Vegetables many a Mom (including my own) popped out of the Can. It was in fact a Revelation to me just how good FROZEN asparagus was compared to the Canned Version, since my mom never bought or cooked a Fresh Vegetable in her LIFE far as I remember anyhow. LOL. Loved my Mom to the end a little while back, but man she was one really BAD cook. LOL.

Mom got distracted easily, and so even EZ to cook stuff like throwing a Steak under the Broiler got overcooked and ruined on a regular basis. Forget Eggs Over EZ, if mom tried to flip an egg in the pan, the Yolk was BUSTED and the whole thing came out with the consistency of a Rubber Tire well worn over the Eisenhower Interstate. The Bacon was either close to RAW or Black and Burnt, or a combination of both (Bacon tends to wrinkle up as it cooks so if you don’t flip it regular or press it while sizzling, you get raw spots and burnt spots). Home fries from Mom were Smush Fries, no crispiness, might as well eat Mashed Potatoes for Breakfast. Mom’s Pancakes even from Aunt Jemima Mix were not thoroughly mixed, so you always had Lumps of Uncooked batter floating around in them.

She had a couple of meals she generally could do OK with, her Fried Chicken wasn’t too bad, but still Kentucky Fried Chicken was way Better. As a matter of PURE SURVIVAL and wanting to eat decently as a kid, I learned to Cook at a very young age. I was not much more than 10 years old when we first returned from Brasil and my parents got divorced that I began cooking for myself. Over the years I got pretty good at it. My main deal was BBQ, and I still like MEAT cooked over an Open Flame best, but in many if not most Industrial Living Situations, BBQing is not Practical. Best example here I can give is my College Years at Columbia, when I went on the Food Plan for my First Semester of On Campus living (which was actually my second semester since I did Commuter from Fabulous Flushing Queens the first semester). food was actually WORSE than anything my Mom ever cooked up, which is hard to believe but true. LOL. Anyhow, Columbia is an Urban Campus, and they were not too cool with you setting up a Hibachi on the Quad Lawns, so in my Sophomore year I brought in a Flip Over Oven/Broiler, a Hot Plate and a small fridge as my main cooking/food storage tools, and for the rest of my years at Columbia did my own Meal Plan. This actually is how I met my Illuminati Spawn Girlfriend of those years, my cooking smells wafted around several floors and she came looking to see where it came from. 🙂 The saying goes that a way to a Man’s Heart is through his stomach, but it works EQUALLY well in the other direction! Serve up a good dinner, even Illuminati Spawn are PUTTY in your hands! LOL. OK, the Ganga didn’t hurt here either. 😉

Anyhow, overall my Food Budget was pretty Limited at the time, so making good meals out of Cheap raw foods was my priority. Combined with stuff I picked up from a few relatives over the years, our Cooks in Brasil who came from the Favelas and just generally experimenting around I came up with a whole bunch of very tasty dishes you can cook up on a Shoestring Budget with only the most rudimentary of Cooking Tools. Most of this stuff was done on Hot Plates and other Electric Cooking devices that preceeded Microwaves, but you can also cook most of the stuff similarly over a small fire with just a grate over it to drop a Saute Pan, Dutch oven etc.

So for today, to begin the Starvin’Diner Cookbook here on the Diner, I will begin with RE’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Recipe for making fabulous Spaghetti sauce to spoon over the Pasta of Choice, which usually lasts a good week or so for one person. You can vary ingredients quite a bit to get differing flavor sauces, so week to week it is never the same and does not get BORING on the palate.

RE’s Doomer Cloudy Meatballs & Spaghetti


1 lb Ground Beef
2-3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 head of Garlic (10 cloves or so)
1 Medium Size Onion
2 Large Green Peppers

Optional Ingredients

1 cup sliced Mushrooms
Hot Peppers (amount varies by type and how hot you want your sauce)
Sliced Black Olives
Spices as Available and Affordable (Oregano, Parsley, Marjoram, Thyme, Bay Leaf most recommended)

First you carve out the pound or so of ground beef you will use to make up the batch, and drop it in a bowl. Then you crack 2-3 eggs into it, depending on their size. Jumbos, 2 eggs, anything less probably 3. Then you shake in the bread crumbs, and start mushing it together with your hands, until you get a nice consistency which takes some practice to know how it feels. If you want to add fresh herbs from the garden as you mush it up, this will make it tastier still.

Once you have your mixture nice and uniform, you form your Meatballs, I generally go for smaller Meatballs in the 1-2″ Diameter size, they tend to hold together better. Pitch said Meatballs into a saute pan, flame on medium-high, and push them around a lot to Brown evenly. The Fat in the Meatballs will start to render out, 80% Ground Beef which has plenty-o-fat in it works well, so you don’t need any cooking oil or butter. nice and evenly Browned, you take the meatballs out of the pan, and drop them in a bowl to wait. You use the Fat in the pan then to saute up Garlic, Onions, Peppers and Mushrooms, none of which were on this Grocery List but you can buy or grow at some point. After all your veggies in the Sauce are nicely softened and slightly Browned or Burnt, throw the Meatballs back in, then pour the Spaghetti Sauce over the whole batch, cover and simmer on low flame for an hour or two. You can pitch some Basil Leaves and Oregano in here during the simmering also.

Cooking the Pasta is also an art form of its own, seems simple enough to Boil Spaghetti, but this also Mom fucked up regularly. She often did not stir it well or add a bit of Oil or Fat to the water, so the spaghetti often came out cooked together in Clumps. Middle of the clump, uncooked spaghetti, outside of Clump, overcooked flabby Noodles. You need to sprinkle the spaghetti into the boiling water separating it with your fingers as you go. Also a good idea to break the spaghetti bunches in half before you drop them in the water, they fit better in a typical size pot this way. Only if you are cooking up HUGE batches of Spaghetti in a really BIG pot should you drop in full foot-long Noodles.

Besides adding a bit of Cooking Oil, Butter or FAT to the water to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking, you also want to add a teaspoon or two of Salt. This makes the water Boil Hotter which is better for cooking “Al Dente” pasta. Al Dente Pasta still has some texture left to it for chewing. Pasta cooked too long or at too low a temperature ends up with the consistency of Pablum, which is good if you have no TEETH anymore, but overall is not the best eating for the typical Tooth Filled mouth. LOL.

You will get enough AWESOME Spaghetti Meatball Sauce out of this from 1 LB of Ground Beef for about a week eating it every other day. Alternate with Rice and Beans or a Chili, its pretty decent variety, with maybe a day or two where you eat Premium, make Chicken Parmigiana from the Breast Fillets etc. I can easily make a $100 SNAP card pull enough off the shelves of Safeway to feed myself, and probably a second person also.


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