Now to say I remember what actually happened would be a lie, but I do remember shaking his bed, banging on some pans, screaming “BIG UPPPSSSSS,” and putting ketchup on a doorknob. Then one of my accomplices told my roommate, “I think you were just robbed?”
-Almost Vegan Official
We have all been there. That moment your mother/father/boss/police find you hiding in your buddies closet and all you can think is, fuckkkkkkkk. For myself I never really did anything bad as a kid. I never got brought home by the police or stayed out partying and had to sneak back in. I don’t really remember ever doing anything bad. It’s safe to say I was a stellar child and I am sure my parents are happy for how well behaved myself, and my sister, were in our youth. However, like most children in America, the moment I left my home I kinda went out of control. I didn’t get into hard drugs or start robbing liquor stores, but I did really start to acquire a taste for that liquid gold we call booze.
In highschool I was so dedicated to track and field I never really drank. After graduation I attended a few house parties but never really went crazy. Then that following winter I enlisted into the United States Navy. If there was an organization that promoted drinking more than Budweiser it would be the Department of Defense (DOD). I served my enlistment working with both Sailors and Marines. To say one can out drink the other is a bit of a debate, but I do know those two are the kings of drinking in the DOD. I have never seen groups of people so eager to get as completely trashed as possible every chance they had. It’s almost poetic when your watching it–a sea of men chugging beers, passing bottles of cheap whiskey and rum, forming clouds above from chain smoking cigarettes, and fitted with a fist full of chewing tobacco in their lower lip. I have seen this same image across the globe. No matter what the environment Marines and Sailors like to get drunk-af.
I spent my early naval days training in Great Lakes, Illinois. I made about 500 dollars every two weeks and every weekend I would spend about 250 on alcohol. I was only 19 at the time, so I wasn’t really going to the bars to drink. So what my friends and I would do is get a bottle, or 4, of the cheapest liquor we could find (my personal favorite at that time was a gallon of Jim Bean (a cheap whiskey-blend). We would rent a hotel and drink as much as we could. No mixes, no cups. Just passing the bottle and chugging as much as possible in one gulp. We would then make to-go cups (a fast food or bottled soda mixed with 50% alcohol 50% soda) and venture out into the city. Honestly, I don’t even remember what we would do. No of us were really into restaurants and we couldn’t get into the bars so I’m assuming we just walked around, being drunk and disorderly, until we passed out. This degenerate lifestyle is seen positively to young Marines and Sailors and being the overachiever I am, I found it a goal to be the best degenerate I could be.
After graduating from Hospital Corpsman (medic for sailors and marines) school my friends and I went out to Buffalo Wild Wings. There I remember taking a bottle of Southern Comfort into the bathroom stall and proceed to do as many shots in a row as I could before I started to feel drunk. The craziest part of this whole experience wasn’t me doing this but was my peers encouraging it. It was cool to be drunk. This behavior followed me to my first duty station in the Pacific island of Guam. Here I had my first experience with the law and felt it to its fullest.
The day started as a typical Wednesday afternoon. I am now 20 and working as a Hospital Corpsman. The government of Guam had just changed the legal drinking age from 20 to 21 and our command was just waiting for someone to make an example out of. All the Corpsman lived within walking distance to the hospital (where we worked) in a symmetric subdivision that connected all the homes by a large open field in the center of the complex. In the middle of the field the residents and I would usually set up chairs and drink the night away. We did this often and nothing really became of it. Nobody got hurt or in trouble for doing anything stupid. However, one night that all changed when we decided to mess with my roommate.
Conformity is a huge part of the military and when you’re different you are wrong. This makes sense in the military–it’s a dangerous job and things are done in a very specific way in order to make a safe and effective environment for everyone. My roommate was also underage but did not want to take part in our drinking festivities. Of course this bothered us and we took it as an insult. So after the sunset, our liquid courage filled selfs decided to give him a little tease.
Now to say I remember what actually happened would be a lie, but I do remember shaking his bed, banging on some pans, screaming “BIG UPPPSSSSS,” and putting ketchup on a doorknob. Then one of my accomplices told my roommate, “I think you were just robbed?” I don’t know if my roommate actually believed him or he wanted us to get in trouble, either way, he called the MA (Military Police) and so we ran–I was one of the only underage people in the group so finding me drunk would get us into a lot of trouble.
As soon as I got the news that the MA was actually coming down to investigate I froze. I turned into a caveman, just grunting and jump shifting my legs back and forth. I had to get out of there fast. In hindsight I should of just walked off base, or hid in the bushes, pretend to be in the shower, go “running”, literally anything instead of what I decided to do.
My friends told me to hide so I ran–what I thought was a far distance, to my buddies house, right next door. I ran upstairs and found myself a comfortable spot in their bedroom closet. There, I sat down, hugged my legs and waited while everyone else waited downstairs. I heard the MA and instantly recognized his voice. Of fucking course the MA working that night was the god dam Cheif (E-7). (Chiefs in the military are the top dogs. They are the highest ranking enlisted members in the navy. It would be like getting arrested by the Captain of the police force). So there I was listening to the conversations happening downstairs. I then hear the conversations stop and I started to hear footsteps come up the stairs. I heard the Chief MA asking of my whereabouts and of course everyone denied having seen me. I snug my way closer to the wall in the closet, thinking I’ll somehow blend into the wall.
The footsteps are now in the room and the closet door opens. The MA pushes the hanging clothes and locks his eyes with mine. FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK is all I could think. I was drunk, new to the command, underage, and just got found hiding in a closet from the Chief MA of my command–A great way to start my military career. I still had hope and thought if I just play it cool he won’t realize I’m drunk.
Anyone who has ever been drunk knows there is no hiding it and plus I mean, I was the only sober person so I hid in a closet? Doesn’t really make much sense. So following events led me to confinement in the Naval hospital for 30 days. I was giving extra duty (longer working hours) half months worth of pay, but the hardest part was having to give an apology to that ass hole of a roommate I had. I am usually quick to forgive but I will always hate that guy. There are so many ways to handle that situation but calling the MA’s I think was completely overboard. But what goes around comes around and the following months I actually got awarded for my great work in the hospital and was even asked to be part of the Commanding Officers retirement ceremony, a very big honor for any military official to be apart of. I went on with my career moving to Mare Corps Base Hawaii where I lived for another 3 years and got to experience the beauty that is the Hawaiin Islands. The drinking of course continued but as I aged I started to stray away from chugging Southern Comfort in the Buffalo Wild Wings bathroom stall and drank in a more socially acceptable manner. (Smashing beers on the walkways of Mackey Hall).
While in Guam I was blessed with being invited to many BBQ’s on the island and fell in love with food for the first times in my life. My single most favorite dish from the island is called Chicken Kelaguen. It’s essential finely chopped chicken with lemon juice and is served at BBQ’s all over the island. It’s light, delicious, and perfect to make for large groups. Usually you use a rotisserie chicken you can find in the store, chop all the meat into itty bitty pieces, then mix with some lemon juice onions and coconut. For this recipe I wanted to give it an Almost Vegan Official twist. I am going to show you how to make my favorite marinade ever, and also how to use the chicken three ways–I mean this is a food blog, I’m not going to tell you to go buy pre made chicken! To pair with this great party dish I am also going to introduce the Hawaiian Classic, Musubi. Pronounced “Moo Soo Bee” its essentially a large rice block with a piece of meat on top. It’s found in local 7/11’s and convenient stores around the island and is a great on the go snack. Normally relatively cheap I’ve also seen high end versions. Enjoy the recipes, try them out, take those pictures, tag @almostveganofficail, and drink responsibly.
Almost Vegan Official Marinade Recipe
Coconut Sugar or Dark Brown Sugar-144g
Song: Thunderclouds by: Sia
Blend all ingredients in a blender or cut up everything really small and mix.
Use to marinate any of your favorite meats or veggies and enjoy the beauty that is the Almost Vegan Official Marinade.
*After your good hits the grill be sure to splash some lime juice on it. Goes great with the marinade.
Start cooking the rice and turn on the grill or get that cast iron hot.
Wipe off any excess marinade from the chicken then place skin side down onto cooking surface.
4 minutes later, turn that chicken over and finish cooking and repeat with the rest of the chicken. (re-turn to prevent burning if needed).
While chicken is cooking, dice up the chiles
Once rice is done take out needed amount and mix with a small amount of coconut oil and add chiles.
Cut chicken into desired shape for the musubi
Form rice, then add chicken and wrap the musubi using the seaweed strip.
Wrap in plastic wrap for later munchies or enjoy right away the glory that is the Musubi.
*when forming a musubi it is best to use a musubi press. But if need be you can form it with your hands. Make sure your hands stay slightly wet when handling the rice to help prevent the rice from sticking. *What the hell is a musubi press? Click the link below… https://www.amazon.com/s?k=musubi+press&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
“Originating from the Midwest and making its way into all our hearts, the Midwest Taco takes the Mexican classic and gives it an American Midwestern kiss. It’s delicious, nutritious but most of all, DELICIOUS!”
If you ask any true Chef they will say, “understanding tradition is key when creating a new dish.” What does it mean to be traditional though? I feel, especially lately, people in America are obsessed with keeping their culture theirs and calling out others for “stealing” what they believe belongs to them. I read an article a few years back when the Disney movie, Moana, came out and the following Halloween white children were being attacked for wanting to dress up as the characters from the movie. Disney had a full kids-suit that resembled the body of the Polynesian Demi-god Maui. Maui is a mostly naked character completely covered in tattoos. The skin on the suit is naturally brown, the color of a Maui, and the tattoos are etched into the fabric. It is basically a full-body removable tattoo sleeve. Disney got so much backlash from this children’s costume that they ended up having to take it down and issue an apology to the public.
I can see both sides. I feel like a few individuals may have seen this suit as sort of a “black-face” type issue and I totally agree with the possible concern of the suit. But, this is a children’s Halloween costume. Halloween is literally the only time you are supposed to dress as something you are not. If the kid wants to be a Poly Demi-god then let him. We let our kids pretend to be pimps, gangsters, monsters, Indians, Egyptians, and Greeks. I do not see the issue in this case. At the same time, a similar article was released about a non-Polynesian girl dressing as Moana. One comment stuck out to me. The women complaining said something along the lines of, “there are more than enough white princesses to chose from why does she have to steal ours.” Being a white male I may never truly understand the view of a non-white individual. However, I think the issue is that societies take a large pride in their history and culture (I’m also very patriotic and feel truly blessed to be born in the worlds’ melting pot) but are afraid of it getting repressed or even worse eliminated. I think this then can come off as a shout for division in cultures, which I feel like is the opposite of what America stands for. It’s also against the history of mankind.
Since the dawn of man, we have been sharing ideas and cultures with one another. It’s ok; that’s how we advance in life and enjoy everything this world has to offer. It troubles me when I see someone complaining about the “white man” stealing their culture while using their iPhone to comment on a facebook post, using the internet. If we kept everything to ourselves that would create a completely boring world. Where would the English be without a decent curry? Eating meat pie and fish and chips for the rest of their lives? The beautiful pizza would be trapped in a small country in Europe and then what would we serve literally every lunch-in ever. Even the American burger would be obsolete since the Cow came all the way from Asai. (Literally America’s most famous dish.) Now I understand people arguing over children’s’ clothes is something most people could give two poops about. However, in the culinary world “keeping it traditional” sometimes takes over the creative process that is cooking and can actually ruin a dish’s legacy.
I think pizza is a great example of the beauty that sharing our cultures create. I have had pizza, staring over a gorgeous river in the heart of Florence, Italy. It’s a moment that you can enjoy completely alone and I recommend everyone to try it at least once in their life. (I believe eating food in the country of origin is a very important part of being able to truly respect the foods culture.) I have also had .99 cent cheese pizza, wasted, at 2 a.m. in the middle of the road in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Another equally great experience. And, if you’re from the midwest, you know the glory in a fully loaded, supreme, deep dish pizza from your favorite fast-food chain. (Personally I’m a Jet’s Pizza fan.) If you ask an Italian Chef he may tell you that true pizza can only be made in Italy and requires specific ingredients from specific regions of Italy. We can see though that this is not a black and white answer. Pizza has transformed into a worldwide phenomenon and every country I have ever been too had its version. Of course, we should give credit where it is due and thank Italy for the gift they have shared with us. But should you not make or eat a pizza unless your an Italian? Of course not, that is crazy!
I want to remind you that I totally get the argument behind cultural appropriation. I understand the love a person has for their way of life and the fear of it being stolen or forgotten. In Korea, I tried to find a perfect burger. However, after ever burger I tried, I got up and proclaimed, “this is not a burger, this is a sandwich. A burger should be a ½ of beef topped with raw red onion, sliced tomato, lettuce, and sandwiched in between two toasted, sesame buns.” This may be true to me, but in Korea, a thin patty topped with as many toppings as possible is also a burger. Today I don’t see Italians rioting in the streets of New York to give them their pizza back and I didn’t notice any Americans protesting outside to stop creating false burgers. What I do see is people enjoying a bite from another culture and its what makes the sharing of cultures and ideas great! Culture is meant to be shared and by keeping it to ourselves we are depriving the joys it can bring to the world.
So this brings us to today’s recipe. We talked about Pizza, Burgers, Polynesia, but I want to teach you a personal favorite of mine. The humble Taco. Not only is this dish loved across every continent, but it’s also super easy to make and always delicious. I love the taco and it’s one of the dishes people can easily make at home. For this recipe, I wanted to show you a beautiful blend of cultures to create what I call the Midwest Taco. Originating from the Midwest and making its way into all our hearts, the Midwest Taco takes the Mexican classic and gives it an American Midwestern kiss. It’s delicious, nutritious but most of all, DELICIOUS! For these tacos, I wanted to have a guest star appearance. Brought up between Mississippi and Oregon, this man creates the best Midwest Taco you will ever have. My first bite brought me straight back home to when we would have Taco Night in my Michigan abode. It’s mostly boxed and canned ingredients and I don’t think there’s a single ingredient in it that would have been in the first South American tacos (most likely consisting of a corn tortilla and fish) but it still comes in the same format as a traditional taco. To take it a step further I wanted to make this one using vegan “beef.” I think it shows the importance of adapting our old and loved recipes in order to fit into our modern society.
Tylers’ Midwestern Tacos (Vegetarian)
Beyond Beef (16 oz package)…1
Onion (white)…¼ cut into squares
Taco seasoning packet…1
Re-fried Beans (Canned)…1
Spanish rice packet…1
Iceberg Lettuce…one cup cut into itty bitty squares
Mexican Cheese Blend Packet…1 cup
Sour Cream…1 glop per taco
Chile…2 (finely chopped)
Cilantro…a few sprigs
Flour Tortilla…2 per serving
Song…I’m Shipping Up To Boston, by: Drop Kick Murphys
Turn oven to 250 degrees
Start with the Spanish rice packet. Follow the instructions on the box.
Heat a skillet and drop in the beyond beef.
Add the onions and cook until beef is done and onions are translucent.
Bust open that can-o-beans and heat up in pot or microwave.
Add cilantro and raw chilies to beef and stir in
Heat up the tortillas in the oven
Hot Sauce…Dealers choice
Build da taco
Add equal parts rice, beef and beans onto a warm tortilla
Top with iceberg lettuce, sour cream and, of course, the Mexican cheese blend.
Slowly add the hot sauce of your choice.
Repeat the process for the second taco and give both a little drizzle of fresh lime juice.
Take a picture, tag @almostvegnofficial, and feast upon the glory that is the taco.
When shopping for ingredients go for what’s on sale. “Bargain shopping is part of the Midwestern experience.”
“If cooking with real beef, be sure to drain the fat before adding in the rest of the ingredients to give it a healthy touch.”
“Buy beyond beef again for tacos. When you add all the traditional flavors it’s delicious and you don’t miss the beef.”
Add the deliciousness that is the pulled pork to a warm corn tortilla
Take a picture, tag @almostvegnofficial, and feast upon the glory that is the taco.
When cooking the pulled pork weight the amount of total pork in grams. Bone-in or bone out its all the same. Take that total amount and times it by .008 in order to derive the proper amount of salt. I used a pressure cooked. For every pound of pork, it said to cook it for 15 minutes. If using an oven set that guy to 250 and place pork in a deep pan and completely cover with tin foil so no water can escape. Let cook for 6-8 hours for a smaller amount, about one butt. Check and if not super easy to “pull” with a fork then let go again for 1 hour. Consecutively checking until super tender. It should “fall off the bone.”
Make the salsa one day in advance. It gives time to let all the flavors meet, bond, marry, and produce a wonderful concise flavor.
Whenever using spices, like cumin, I like to buy in whole seed form and then crush by hand. This gives the spices a longer shelf life.
There are times when you should skip the farmers market but making a salsa is not one of them. Getting fresh in season tomatoes will drastically change the flavor of your salsa. It may cost a tad more but will be totally worth it.