Broke Ass Gourmet

I remember when I was 19 back in 1992 and moved out of parents’ house to attend Cal State Long Beach, I found myself being strapped for cash living in an apartment. My dad was cool enough to cover my rent, but nothing else. It was either that or I live in the dorms which he agreed to pay for, but I tried that for a semester and found out it wasn’t for me. Nobody knew shit about cars or had any interest so I couldn’t hang. Regardless, I had this nasty habit called a RX-7 Turbo II (FC3S). It might as well have been a coke habit because all my money went into making 400hp. Keep in mind that back then there were no bolt-on turbo kits or complete lines of turbochargers to choose from so EVERYTHING was expensive and you had to fabricate most of it. The good stuff is still expensive today so don’t cheap out on the Ebay Made In China shit. Anyhow, so when I wasn’t out eating the 39 cent tacos at Del Taco (yes, they used to be 39 cents back then) or getting $3 fake ass Chinese food (yes back then those $5 lunch deals used to be $3), I would crack open the freezer and break out the 99 cent frozen food or instant ramen.

The instant ramen had all the flavor right out of the box, but the sodium and preservatives will fuck you up and make you sick after a while. So I discovered that you could tweak frozen food and make it semi-enjoyable. Just like fast food, you don’t want to buy anything because the picture looks good on the box. Fuck that – it looks absolutely NOTHING like it does on the box after it comes out of the microwave. Stick to what you generally like or would order in a restaurant. For example, if you would normally order lasagna or pizza at restaurant, go for the lasagna or pizza. Fake ass Italian food is a good choice for frozen food because it’s flavorful to begin with. Screw anything with the word “Health” or “Low” on the box because as few meals as you’re going to be eating to save for that turbo, you don’t need to worry about fat, sodium, cholesterol, etc. If you’re a fat ass, don’t live at home, and are broke, then just forget your car entirely. It will never make 400hp because your fat ass will eat your turbo away. This guide is for those of you who are willing to sacrifice a little flavor (food) or something you can savor (horsepower).

I’ll run you through one of my all time favorites – frozen pizza:

Method of cooking: Frozen food always says some shit like “Only 2 minutes!” This might be true, but many microwaved foods can be VASTLY improved simply by the method of cooking. For example, frozen pizza taste like dough with some tomato sauce and salty meat if you cook it entirely in the microwave. To remedy this, first go to the Salvation Army and pickup a toaster oven for like $5. You can use the toaster oven to improve all kinds of frozen, canned, or instant foods. Second, defrost your frozen pizza in the microwave for approximately 1 minute. Next, remove the pizza and scrape all the melted cheese on the edge toward the top so no cheese protrudes off the edge. Then, put the pizza on your toaster oven’s rack DIRECTLY. No gay aluminum foil bullshit. Set it to 350-400 degrees and bake it for 6-8 minutes. BAM! You’ll end up with a crispy crust frozen pizza with evenly melted cheese on top or low budged CPK. Even if you ate 3 of these suckers, you’re still saving $12 over a trip to CPK.

Optional seasoning: By adding a couple of spices and/or seasoning, the taste of your frozen pizza can also be greatly enhanced. I used to keep a shaker of oregano, basil, and garlic powder in the kitchen cupboard. Go to the supermarket and get the supermarket brand because it’s the same shit – basil is basil, oregano is oregano, and garlic powder is garlic powder. Screw the name brand shit here. After pulling the pizza out of the microwave for the defrost, sprinkle a little oregano, basil, and garlic powder on top. Not too much, just a little. The oregano and basil really gives you that Italian flavor. Garlic powder gives it a little kick. Yeah, I know this isn’t gourmet food and it’s far from true Italian flavor. Remember, you’re just trying to enhance your 99 cent pizza to make the experience decent.

Extra cheese: Whatever pizza you choose, it can always be enhanced with more toppings. One of my favorites is additional cheese. You can get a bag of Kraft or supermarket brand grated cheese called an “Italian Blend” or something like that. It’s like $3, but it’s good enough for like 12 pizzas so it’s well worth it. Sprinkle the cheese liberally all over the pizza after the microwave defrost. When you pull it out of the toaster, that additional cheese will not only enhance the flavor, but it makes the pizza look WAY better. You also add other stuff here: bacon, ham, onions, etc.

Toppings: I’m one of those guys that has to have the parmesan and dried red pepper to sprinkle on my pizza. This is no different whether I’m at Round Table or at home with my 99 cent pizza. You can buy these for super cheap at the supermarket or if you’re a real cheap ass, you can get extras next time you go to Costco or get some delivery pizza. If you’re feeling adventurous, bust out the Tobasco and sprinkle to taste. If you’re one of those JDM worshipers you should do this because they do this in Japan. They like thin crusty pizza too. In fact, after all this your frozen pizza will probably taste just like a $15 pizza in Tokyo.

So by following my frozen pizza instructions, you’ve turned your 99 cent piece of salty dough into fake CPK/JDM pizza. Your total cost is still under $1.40 including tax and it greatly enhances the frozen pizza experience. This same thing applies to all other frozen foods. Just keep some of the essential spices in the cupboard to enhance canned soups or chili, frozen meatloaf, frozen pot pies, etc. Sooner than you know it, you’ll have your turbo and 400hp. Fortunately for me I’m no longer a broke ass with an RX-7 habit, but I still enjoy that frozen pizza on occasion. More frozen food tips later…

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