Feedbag: How Can I Make Caveman Food That Tastes Good?Welcome to the Feedbag, where all the dumb questions about food, drink, cooking, eating, and accidental finger removal you've been embarrassed to ask can finally receive the berating they goddamn deserve. Also: answers. Send all your even-vaguely-food-related questions to albertburneko@gmail.com with the subject "Feedbag." All of them.

Jake:

I am a college student and subscriber to the paleolithic diet in a way, basically I just don't eat grains or dairy, and I am running out of exciting recipes beyond chicken breast and steamed vegetables tossed with olive oil dressing. I'm wondering if you can give me any decent foundations that I haven't yet thought of, but I also don't want to be a boner who buys spaghetti squash and seaweed.

I don't know much about the paleolithic diet, other than the general rumblings out there that it is either:

  • A) At best, a cosmetically modified re-branding of the same broad dietary guidelines—lean meat, nuts, leafy vegetables, no simple carbohydrates, and so forth—that form the general basis of the Mediterranean Diet, the Atkins Diet, the 4-Hour Body diet, and a bunch of other brand-name diets, only with the silly and needless added prohibition of dairy, or
  • B) At worst, a plot by aliens to trick us into turning our blood into caustic acid which they will eventually use to clean the bathroom tile on their spaceships.

But, based on my general, vague, possibly completely imaginary understanding of the paleolithic diet, you're allowed to eat things other than chicken, right? I mean, our caveman forebears may not have eaten refined wheat flour, but they ate all types of other shit, didn't they? Birds, berries, rodents, nuts, ungulates, lichen, marsupials, each other, actual shit, you name it. (Also they probably didn't steam things.) So, why the hell are you eating chicken breasts all the time?

Let's pretend that this is an actual conversation, and that you just answered, "ME NOT KNOW." Well, I'm very happy to tell you that the very simple answer to the very simple problem you're having with your very (needlessly and comically) simple diet is: Um, eat some things that are not chicken breasts. Cook a steak. Season some fish and roast it in your oven (400 degrees, 10 minutes, give or take). You can get frozen fish on the cheap that'll turn out perfectly tasty once you thaw and cook it, assuming your (hilarious) diet doesn't forbid the exploitation of refrigeration technology our Cro-Magnon ancestors couldn't dream of imagining. Roast some chicken legs and thighs in the oven until they're cooked through, then sauté them in a pan with their own rendered fat until their skin turns crispy. Endurance-hunt a buffalo across the Serengeti until it collapses from exhaustion, spear it through the heart, and then chow down on its still-warm organs.

No but seriously, use your imagination. You don't have to suffer for your diet. You just have to get made fun of online for it.

Max:

When I go to a sushi restaurant, I notice many of them reuse their empty Siracha

Sriracha. Sriracha. There's another r in there. No big deal, everybody makes mistakes.

bottles for other sauces. With that in mind, I have started saving mine, to make some sort of sauce. The only problem is, I'm not sure where to start. Any advice? The most obvious answer (and what seems like most of the sushi guys do) is to just mix some Siracha

Dude. Sriracha.

with mayo, producing some sort of pinkish orange sauce. Not only do I find that boring, but if I want to dilute my Siracha

Max. Buddy. What the fuck.

(unlikely) I will just use less Siracha.

WHAT THE FUCK MAX.

I want to make something good that is fun to squeeze on sandwiches and other things. I consider myself a somewhat adventurous cook, I've made things like Chicken Kiev and chili oil to name a couple. At this point I feel like I've written too much to be included in the Feed Bag, but I'm just wondering what's the best use for empty Siracha

[sobbing]

bottles?

I like your thinking, Max, except for your weird refusal to spell sriracha correctly. Sauces are cool, and so are sriracha bottles, and so is filling your home with garbage instead of discarding it like a normal person. I'd say that your empty sriracha bottle is probably best suited to dispensing sauces and dressings similar in consistency to sriracha (or, alternatively, thinner sauces which are appropriately used in really large quantities, which is to say, none of them); that rules out chili oil, vinaigrettes, soy sauce, and the like.

So, what to put in there? How about purée sauces? After all, that's basically what sriracha is: a purée of chilis and garlic with some other stuff. So, purée some herbs in a little bit of olive oil; you ought to get a pretty-looking green concoction you can use to garnish things. It may not keep long enough for you to use an entire sriracha bottle of the stuff, but in the meantime it'll be fun to play with. Hell, throw some nuts, cheese, and garlic into the blender with your herbs and make a pesto. Or (assuming you're not an anti-mayo ninny), make some fiery wasabi mayo and keep that in your empty sriracha bottle. Or simmer some berries, citrus zest and juice, and sugar in a pot for a little while, then strain the resulting sludge through a cheesecloth and save the tasty, vividly colorful syrup. That'll look pretty gorgeous in little dots on a plate of dessert.

Any of those will be fun. Probably the best thing to put in your sriracha bottle would be some kind of fiery red chili purée from Thailand, but I just don't think anyone would ever go for that.

Duke:

Feedbag: How Can I Make Caveman Food That Tastes Good?

I suffered the above pictured wound by using a fork to scoop up bacon from a pan. How does the savvy chef treat a similar wound from hot scalding grease without spending 3 hours and $400 at the emergency room?

So, one afternoon several months ago, I was browning some sausage in a hot pan for sausage and peppers, which I make damn near every week in the winter as part of a desperate season-long program designed to sustain my will to live. Because I was making quite a lot of the stuff, I'd been working in batches, which meant that my stupid glass cooktop surface had gotten awfully hot. Somehow, at a certain point, I managed to spill some liquefied pork fat onto the surface of the (again, extremely hot) burner; this fat instantly began to smoke alarmingly. Hoping to avoid a grease fire (mostly because a burning house would've interrupted my kids' naptime, and grumpy nap-deprived kids are worse than death), I quickly and stupidly grabbed a nearby rag and started to swipe the hot grease off of the cooktop.

This was a poor choice.

The instant the rag touched the (once again, screamingly apeshit-crazy hot) surface of the burner, its fibers melted and stuck. Because my hand was moving very fast at the time, the sudden stopping of the rag caused my hand to roll over, which caused the the middle, ring, and little fingers on my left hand to roll directly across the insane, nuclear-fusion-hot surface of the burner, searing themselves on three sides. There came an audible hissing sound from the cooking of my hand. I know I can be prone to hyperbolizing, but please do believe me when I say that this moment was the precise and literal moment of God's death and the unraveling of all matter in the universe for all time.

In short, your stupid little bacon burn is a buncha bullshit. Fuck you.

The nice thing about searing your own hand my goddamn hand oh God oh God is that, after you have hopped in place for a while, run your hand under some laughably insufficient cold tap water, and then spent a hellish, sleepless night on the couch keeping your destroyed hand submerged in icewater, you get to come to your senses the next day and recognize that you need medical attention if you intend to use your fingers for much more than horrifying schoolchildren for the rest of the six or so hours it will take you to pull your own head off from the pain of having a cooked fucking hand attached to your wrist. Sure, it costs a lot of money if, like me, you lack health insurance, but then at the end of the whole thing you get a tub of painkilling ointment and a nice happy bottle of Vicodin, which is the most wonderful thing humans ever invented.

If spending the money for an ER or urgent care visit is not an option for you (and it wouldn't have been for me but for the welcome intervention of a relative with the good sense to have a functioning adult life), there are probably some over-the-counter topical ointments you can get that will ease the pain a little bit. If you can keep the burn on ice without soaking it (evidently soaking the skin until it is nearly sloughing off is a bad thing, according to a doctor who tried very hard not to laugh in my face when I tearfully removed my wrinkled, waterlogged hand from the tupperware full of tepid tapwater in which I had ushered it to her office), the cold will help with the pain too. You know what else will do that? Booze. Lots and lots of booze.

But, really: If you can get to a doctor, and can afford it at all without mortgaging your future, go. Vicodin. Best. Thing. Ever.

Hass:

For some reason, I cannot deep-fry anything without risking a moderate explosion. I thought this was going to be covered in the crabcakes article, but to no avail. Ideally, I'd like to make a respectable bowl of chicken wings (de-tipped and all).

Hass, I'm sorry to say that I'm not an expert on deep frying. I think deep frying sucks, mostly because it leaves behind a bunch of oil for disposal and benefits greatly from the purchase of dumb crap like digital thermometers and frying baskets and entire stupid deep-fryers, and to hell with all that. However: If you're keeping excess water out of your oil, if you're not letting the oil get too hot before putting things in it, and if you're not deep-frying friggin' M-80s, you should be able to avoid explosions.

Pat your chicken wings dry and dust them with flour before you fry them (giving them a few minutes to hang out in their flour coating is a good idea, as is shaking loose any excess flour before they take their dip). If purchasing a thermometer isn't for you, you can get a general idea of whether your oil is too hot for cooking by dipping a wooden spoon into it: if nothing happens, your oil isn't hot enough; if little bubbles form on the spoon, your oil is hot enough; if the mushroom cloud is visible from space, you are a fucking moron.

Send your Feedbag questions to albertburneko@gmail.com.

Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. His work can be found destroying everything of value in his crumbling home. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.

Image by Jim Cooke. Photos courtesy Shutterstock.