Vegetable-Free Living

By Roger M. Wilcox

Last modified on 28-November-2004

Intro | chapter 1 | chapter 1.5 | chapter 2 | chapter 3 | chapter 4 | chapter 5

Chapter 5: Vegetable-Free Recipes

I have a confession to make.  It's not just vegetables that I hate to eat.  I also don't eat fruit, or nuts (except for peanuts), or seafood (except for fish sticks), or condiments.  I have the diet range of an eight-year-old.  (Except for the no-condiments part.  When I eat a cheeseburger or a hot dog, I eat it plain.  Even your average eight-year-old is generally amenable to ketchup.)  So, this means that the recipes on this page are not only going to be vegetable-free, they're going to be vegetable-fruit-seafood-nut-and-condiment-free.

Vegetable-Free Macaroni and Cheese

You will need:

  1. One (1) cooking pot that holds at least 2 quarts (or 2 liters), with a lid;
  2. About 4-6 cups (1.0-1.5 liters) of water, in said pot;
  3. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of salt, in the water in said pot (optional);
  4. One (1) box of Kraft® Macaroni & Cheese Dinner;
  5. 1-4 tablespoons (15-60 ml) of butter or margarine; and
  6. 1/3-½ cup (80-125 ml) of milk, any variety.
Put the pot of water (with the optional salt in it) on the stove.  Turn the heat up to its highest setting under the pot, until the water boils.  While you're waiting for the water to boil, tear open the box of Kraft® Macaroni & Cheese Dinner and take that little packet of processed day-glow cheese food powder out of the box, leaving behind a big bunch of macaroni in said box.  When the water boils, dump the contents of the box (i.e. the macaroni) into the water, turn the heat on the stove down to medium-low or lower, put a lid on the pot, and let it simmer for about 6-8 minutes.

After the macaroni has simmered to the desired consistency, turn off the heat on the stove, carry the pot over to the kitchen sink, and drain the macaroni.  Draining macaroni is easiest if you use a strainer, but then you'll just have a dirty strainer to wash after you're done, so instead you can put the lid on the pot ever-so-slightly off-center so that there's a tiny gap on one side between the pot and the lid that's too small for a macaroni to sneak through, and then dump out the water through that tiny gap (thus retaining the macaroni in the pot).  Admittedly, this trick takes some practice to master, but you'll thank yourself for the effort later when you're stranded on a desert island with a pot of cooked macaroni full of water and no strainer.

Next, add the butter or margarine to the drained macaroni in the pot.  Stir the contents well so that the butter or margarine coats as much macaroni surface area as possible.  It's best to stir using the same fork you're going to eat this with later, for the same reason it's best not to use a strainer when draining (i.e. one less utensil to wash).  Then, tear open that packet of processed day-glow cheese food powder you set aside two paragraphs ago, dump its contents into the pot of buttered-or-margarined macaroni, and stir the powder into the macaroni as best as you can.  It might form little cheese powder clumps, but don't worry about that at this stage.  Finally, add the milk to the pot, and stir again.  This time, you must stir thoroughly, until the milk has merged completely with the orange cheese food powder and all the macaroni is coated in a homogenous yellow-orange layer of reconstituted cheese food sauce.  If there isn't enough milk to go around, add a little more milk.

This is usually enough to qualify as "done" to most people, but if things didn't go perfectly through the above process — say, you took too long and the macaroni isn't hot enough, or you added too much milk — you can add one extra step.  Make sure you have a little too much milk stirred into the cheese food sauce, and then put the whole pot back on the stove on its highest heat setting again.  Stir the mixture constantly, making sure you scrape the bottom of the pot to keep the macaroni from sticking in one place and burning, until the extra milk has boiled off and the cheese sauce is the consistency you'd like.  You are now guaranteed that the macaroni won't be too cold.

Garnish with black pepper.  Serves two.  (One, if you're particularly keen on pigging out.)

Now, you may be asking yourself, why is such a self-evident recipe here on this webpage?  Anybody can make a meal by following the directions on a box of pre-fabricated food, can't they?  Well, yes, they can.  But when was the last time you actually appreciated pre-fabricated food instead of bad-mouthing it, instead of dogpiling on top of it with all your snooty cooking friends who insist it can't possibly taste as good as a meal you make "from scratch"?  I feel privileged to live in a world where I can throw the contents of a box into a pot of boiling water, or move a brick of something from my freezer into my microwave oven, and five minutes later I've got a steaming hot plate of damn good lunch or dinner sitting right in front of me.  No person who enjoys the benefits of modern industrialized civilization should have to stoop to the level of cooking "from scratch."  The prejudice commonly felt against pre-packaged food isn't because it doesn't taste "as good as" food you make and measure by hand, it's because it's inexpensive and easy; and as any street-level "connoiseur" will tell you, if you want to impress your friends by how "refined" you are, you have to judge the quality of every product by its price tag and the amount of back-breaking sweaty labor that went into it.  This star-bellied Sneetches mentality has resulted in people paying good money for one-liter bottles of plain water and for "gourmet" food that's not so much better than the normal variety as rarer and more expensive.

Vegetable-Free Beef Teriyaki

  1. Cook one (1) steak to the level of doneness you like it.  Do not season.
  2. Cut the steak up into little bitty strips, small enough that you won't have to cut it up any more when you eat it.
  3. Cover the cut-up pieces of steak completely with teriyaki glaze.  (Not teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki glaze.  Teriyaki sauce is designed for marinading, and if you marinade the steak ahead of time you'll only change its texture and chew profile to something un-steak-like.)
  4. Let the steak sit there in the teriyaki glaze for a couple of minutes to "marinade" in it.  It doesn't take long.  This would be a good time to whip up that instant white rice you were going to make to go with the beef teriyaki, which you forgot to start making when you were cooking the steak.  You can't have authentic Japanese restaurant cuisine without some white rice.
  5. Pop the steak with the teriyaki glaze on it into the microwave oven for about a half a minute or so, to get the teriyaki glaze hot and to reheat the meat.
  6. That's it!  You're done.  Eat up.  The experience will be just like ordering "beef teriyaki, no vegetables" at a Japanese restaurant.

Vegetable-Free Tuna Noodle Bake

You will need:

  1. One casserole dish that holds 2 quarts (about 2 liters) or more;
  2. One pot with 4-6 cups (1.0-1.5 liters) of boiling water in it;
  3. Up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of salt in the boiling water (optional);
  4. One strainer, for draining the noodles;
  5. One oven which can be heated to 350° Fahrenheit (180° Celsius);
  6. 6 ounces (170 grams) of uncooked dry wide egg noodles or medium-width egg noodles, which works out to around 3-3/4 cups' worth;
  7. One standard 10-3/4 ounce can of condensed Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup (I prefer Cream of Chicken because, frankly, mushrooms are just one step away from being vegetables);
  8. 1-1/4 cups (295 ml) of milk (any variety), which miraculously works out to just about the volume of the above soup can once the can has been emptied;
  9. 1/3 cup (80 ml) of grated parmesan or romano cheese (the Kraft stuff in the cylindrical green shaker cans works just fine);
  10. Two 5-ounce (142 gram) cans, or one 12-ounce (340 gram) can, of chunk light tuna in water, which you'll have to drain and flake;
  11. One pat (around a half a tablespoon or 7 ml) of butter; and
  12. As much ground black pepper and paprika as you want.
Dump the egg noodles into the boiling water, and let 'em simmer for about 4 minutes.  While they're boiling, butter the inner sides and bottom of the casserole dish, then into the casserole dish dump the cream-of-X soup, the grated parmesan or romano cheese, the drained tuna fish, the milk, and as much pepper as you'd like, and stir them together until they're more-or-less homogeneous.  You'll have to break up the little chunks of tuna and half-congealed condensed cream-of-X soup as your stir.  (Okay, this will probably take you more than 4 minutes.  You'd be better off to get a head start by buttering the casserole dish right after you first put the pot of water onto the stove and are waiting for it to boil.)

Once the noodles have boiled for about 4 minutes, drain them in the strainer.  They won't be completely cooked, but that's okay, because they're going to absorb some of the moisture from the concoction in the casserole dish while they're baking.  Dump the drained noodles into the casserole dish and stir them into the concoction until the noodles are more-or-less uniformly distributed.  Sprinkle as much or as little paprika on top as you'd like.

Then, place the casserole dish — uncovered — into the 350° Fahrenheit (180° Celsius) oven.  It'll cook faster if you've preheated the oven, but it's not strictly necessary to do so, and not preheating will save on your energy bill.  Bake for 25-30 minutes if the oven was preheated, or a few minutes longer if the oven wasn't preheated, until the concoction is bubbling and the surface is lightly browned.  Officially, this is enough to make 4 servings, but a "serving" is a pathetically small portion of food in my never-humble opinion, so realistically you can count on this dish satisfying the food needs of two people.

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