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Friday, June 30, 2006

La Lucha Continua - Part 1

Yes, folks. It’s feast or famine over here at Ye Olde Presse. Seeing as though I’ll have a long weekend coming up, expect more updates than usual (ie., more than once every two weeks).

Hey, remember that post a while back where I got all up in your face and political on your candy ass? Ok, ok – I know that happens often, but really I wanted to revisit that type of post and so today I’m running through a few news headlines and happenings and doing my part in the never-ending struggle to bolster the proliferation of food-related infotainment.


First, let’s start with the United Farmworkers. Oh yes. Them again. Aren’t they ever satisfied? Geez, you think bending over in a field all day, enjoying the sun and the fresh air, would put them in a better mood. But, nooooo!

There I was, trying to enjoy the drag queens and the Gay Catholics at the Pride parade last Sunday when I’m handed a sticker that says "boycott" something or other. It turned out to be a UFW thing so I stuck it on my t-shirt (my House of Beef one), because a.) I like the people who pick my food and b.) I’m such a sucker for stickers I probably should start an album or something. I even wear the “I Voted” sticker.

What a nerd.

Anyway, boycott Krug and Mondavi wines until they negotiate a good contract with their workers. For you recovering alkies like me, the only dilemma you may have is “how do I boycott something that I don’t buy in the first place?”; to which I suggest you make stickers (here I go with the stickers again!) that read “Voted Best Wine by Ann Coulter Three Years In A Row” and stick them on every single Krug/Mondavi bottle you see.

Oh, and while you’re at the UFW website, what the eff is this all about? Threemile Canyon Dairy: you are some sick and shameful Ann Coulter lovers.


Speaking of cruelty to animals and people alike, our least favorite animal rights group has been scratching up dust in Salinas dressed as disabled chickens and generally annoying that fat guy in front of you trying to pick up his 6-piece Original Recipe chicken combo at KFC.

Now I agree that the conditions that chickens live under in factory farms are pretty awful and outrageous and now Rainbow Grocery lists which of their eggs come from chickens that have or haven’t been de-beaked, so kudos to them. I’m all for humane, range-roving, un-genetically modified chickens.

But I pretty much hate PETA.

Says a construction worker/dilettante Biologist in line waiting to order chicken strips “chickens are pretty dumb animals”. To which a rare fully-clothed, non-celebrity member of PETA replies, “no, they’re inquisitive and interesting.” Said the woman dressed in a chicken suit and being pushed around in a wheelchair in the hot, mid-day, Salinas sun, “it’s better than being boiled”. And said the college student observing the protest “it’s outrageous" but "interesting”.

I swear, I can’t figure out who or which species is more dumb or inquisitive, but at least they’re all “interesting”!


At least if you get your wangs in Oakland, you can rest assured there will be no CFCs at your KFC. Oakland became the latest city to ban Styrofoam in take-out packaging. Of course, this solves nothing regarding the intense garbage that surrounds most fast food joints and the burger wrappers crumpled up and thrown on the sidewalk, bus, or what have you. To do that, several thousand litter bugs would have to either be lined up and shot or put through intensive, severe Soviet/Mao-era reeducation camps.

I’m all about totalitarianism when it comes to people who litter....and having the trains run on time.


Something’s fishy in the state of California! (So, what's new?)

Seems like what was once a sustainable way of life for both Fishermen and Native Americans who relied on the salmon from the Klamath River has now been wrecked and it seems that very few are rushing in to help. Especially not the Bush Administration.

For years, the Chinook salmon have been dwindling due to a change in water temperature and a resulting bacteria caused by algae along the Klamath River caused by dams. The dams are part of an irrigation network that sustains large (and small) farms, most of whom are already subsidized by YOUR MONEY. Most Big Ag folks who depend on the reservoirs oppose destroying the dams, owned by a Scottish company, which is what the treehuggers, the fishermen, and the Indians want.

In the meantime, the fishermen are asking for Federal Assistance, since they're like "What else is there left for us to do? Sell Crystal?", but Bush is like “talk to the hand cause the brain don’t understand”. The Big Ag folks, as represented by the Klamath Water Users Association, say “oh, but we support the fishermen, only we’re opposed to any government regulations that protect the very fish they rely on that’s endangered of becoming extinct because it interferes with our irrigation practices.”

Although I’m new to this issue, it seems to me that if there are no fish to fish because the Big Ag and Little Ag are unwilling to budge, then there probably would be no fishermen to fish them – thereby what the KWUA says about “supporting the fishermen” is, well, fertilizer. Of course, if you really want to know what the KWUA think, just take a look at their lawsuits, as represented by the fine legal team over at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a pro-business (at any cost), anti-environment rightwing den of buttheads.

I love the web. I also love to go to these peoples’ websites and see who sits on their board of governors or trustees. It always says more about the organization and how it’s supported than anything.

Hmm. It seems that one of the trustees is no other than John C. Harris, owner of Harris Farms, Inc.

Who or what is that? Well, you know that big stinky feedlot on Interstate-5 you pass on your way down to LA? That’s Harris Ranch. Harris Ranch also has a famous restaurant (NOT the one on Van Ness – that’s Harris’ Restaurant – no relation). Harris Ranch, by the way, also supplies most of the beef used in In-N-Out burgers (sorry, but I had to share...I know. I like In-N-Out too) and even the halal beef you find both in Berkeley and San Francisco.

John C. Harris, being your typical, Central Valley rancher, is a major contributor to politicians who are anti-environment and pro-business, i.e., Republicans. But in addition to contributing to the Bush/Cheney campaign of 2004, guess who also got a little sumpin’ sumpin’?

Why no other than our very own Senator Dianne Feinstein! Or should I say Dianne (estimated worth between 25 & 30 million dollars) Feinstein. You know, anti-free speech, unabashed warmongering Dianne Feinstein.

Democrat, "Harris Ranch Steak" Dianne ($36.95) Feinstein.

So to wrap up: big, juicy, tasty Chinook Salmon from the Klamath river are rapidly dying off because Scottish-owned dams used to provide water to wealthy Mega-Farms (who are already subsidized by the American taxpayer) are destroying their natural breeding ground and because of that, Indians and Fishermen are in danger of starving to death, even though they have the lip-service support of the Big Ag folks who are represented by an anti-environmental law firm (thereby, naturally opposed to the Fishermen and Indians demands of destroying the dams to save the fish) whose board of trustees includes one of the wealthiest factory farmers who gives money to dastardly Republicans and odious *Limousine Liberals.

Tweakers, take notice. Cheap meth may be coming to a Klamath River community near you soon!

*I hate to admit, but to her credit, she at least joined Boxer (who was the main sponsor) on this.


While we're taking care of big business, let's talk about Horizon so-called Organics. It seems they ain't all that and a bag of chips like we believed. First, they were bought out by a Backwasher in 2004 and since then the party has been over for California Happy Cows. A group of meddling do-gooder investors have issued a shareholder proposal challenging whether Dean Foods, the owner of the Horizon brand, Silk soymilk, Berkeley Farms, and is the largest dairy corporation in the U.S., is violating the spirit and standards of the Organic label as understood by the USDA and American organic consumers. It seems large-scale, 5000-head dairy farms isn't what most people who buy organic think of when they see that cartoon cow jumping for joy on the box of Horizon brand products.

Actually, I think of pink-tutu'd cows with straw hats jumping over shiny, happy clown cars filled with big, people-sized talking tomatoes singing the Banana Splits song while lollipops float overhead in a sparkling diamond and marmalade sky.

But, then, my standards are pretty high.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Drunkard's Dream

We are living the days of our dying dreams,
Now is the time to sing a new Spring.

- me, written late at night and drunk

If you're wondering why I haven't written in the last 7 or 8 days, it's because I voluntarily checked myself into an acute alcohol detox in-patient facility in Oakland.

Now 3 days after being released, I look back on my "drying out" stay as my 2006 Alcohol Detox Summer Camp,only there was no hiking or handmade macrame pot holders and the camp name wasn't some racist-sounding American Indian jibber-jabber like "Camp Wannetanka" or "Camp Mekaleka-hi-lekka Hinyho".

I've been drinking since I was 15, but in the last 8 or 9 years, it really got out of control. Back in my punk days, it was all the more expected (unless you were Straight Edge) that a 40 ounce of OE or some other wretched malt liquor would accompany you through the many house parties, shows, and hanging out in squats. That and a pack of GPCs, otherwise known as Gutter Punk Cigarettes. As I grew older, I gravitated towards vodka, and mixed drinks in particular. My drink of choice, the one that debilitated me the worst, was vodka and Collins Mix. Whenever I'd drink out, it'd be Gin and Tonic.

Of course, I've tried to quit on my own many times. I even went a few months once and hit that pink cloud thing. But of course, I eventually relapsed. Remember that Ab Fab episode when Pats quit drinking and started exercising and she leaps through the entryway of Eddy's flat saying "Oh, God I feel so great! I feel so alive"? At that point Eddy hands her a cigarette and shot of vodka and suddenly we, the television audience, laugh at Pats sudden relief to revert back to the same old lovable boozehound.

It was funny. No really, it was hilarious! I laughed. But at that time I also was still in the romance stage of my addiction. Don't worry though, I still love Ab Fab.

At one point, during one of my swearing "I'd get straight" failures, I switched to wine since it was the "healthy choice" – you know, the heart thing and all. I came to learn the tastes and intricacies of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and Port and Cabs and various wines from Spain, France, and Australia. I learned how to cook with wine (risottto and boeuf bourguignon) and which wines paired best with cheese and how to savor them. In fact, I learned how to drink wine pretty quickly, so quickly that one bottle per day turned into 2 and then 3. Pretty soon all eyes drifted downward towards the bottom shelf of the wine display (not at K&L, but at Safeway) and that wasn't what I'd call sophisticated or cultured or healthy.

Sophisticated? I wasn't sophisticated. I was Trailer Fabulous.

Don't get me wrong; I always use to buy top shelf anything – vodka, gin, scotch, wine. However, the more I drank, the more I spent, and pretty soon every thing became bottom shelf, much like the vodka I began to buy, which ironically was called Winner's Cup. Of course, inside I knew it as Loser's Cup, but that didn't deter me. I may have been a drunk, but I wasn't delusional, and an 11-dollar plastic bottle Loser's Cup could last me a whole lost weekend.

Until I checked myself into this clinic, I was completely unable to go one day without drinking, even when I was so sick from a stomach virus that I couldn't get out of bed. It was depressing. I felt hopeless (and yeah, there were thoughts of suicide). And of course, various things in my life suffered.

The blog entries for starters. Writers may make great drunks, but drunks eventually just make dead writers.

That which does not kill you is kitsch.
- written again, by me, late at night and drunk.

Frankly, whenever I'd get home, I'd rather drink than write, even though I often made the excuse that I needed a drink to start writing. However, after the second drink, the writing stopped, the Word document would close, and I'd drink myself silly listening to or watching the same stupid songs or videos over and over again. I think I've heard KC and the Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go" 150 times in the last three weeks.

Oh my god, and don't even get me started on how many times I've watched the "Radio Ga Ga" Live Aid video clip where Freddie Mercury, in his flaming, Castro Clone, prime, rocks Wembley to it's foundations, all the while strutting like a goddamn gay peacock with an attitude. He was so awesome.

Instead of idolizing a dead, gay, British Parsi, I should've been hanging out with friends or going to movies or doing something. Instead, I had two friends; one in each hand – the drink and the mouse; a crappy, totally anti-ergonomic mouse, to boot.

I'd love to go over all of my horror stories with you, about how I was becoming the drunken terror of San Francisco (bus drivers were frequent targets), of sneaking aboard tour busses and riding them back to the hotels, of randomly jumping onto those stupid party faux-cable cars and almost falling off and killing myself, and of the many blackouts and stupid things I said and did that I never remembered the next day, that is until someone told me.

But I think I'll save those for my AA meetings.

The greatest part of doing this detox thing was knowing that, when I was released, I would have had successfully broken that day to day drunk and started off having one foot on the path to recovery.

The not so great part was being locked up with a bunch of addicts and alcoholics in one hospital wing with no where to go, attending 5 to 6 meetings a day and going through the "I'm Kevin and I'm an alcoholic", and even worse, the Serenity Prayer and touchy-feely cheer at the end that completely creeped me out (at first). Luckily, the moment I checked in I was given a heavy dose of Librium, which made my thinking so foggy it was like standing at the top of Twin Peaks at 5 PM..

I have to admit, it took me awhile to relax and get over my self-conscious behavior. The Serenity Prayer was especially hard since I don't really like to say the word "God" in reference to what AA calls your "higher power". I know most people relate to this thing or idea called God and that's who or what they reach out for help to. But frankly, I think that’s a dangerous game.

Not only that, but it's just a little too needy in my opinion. It's like borrowing money from your parents and then having them expect you to call them every fucking waking minute of the day. Only, after a while, even they will get tired of your constant calling, especially when you want something, which is why you keep getting their answering machine, even at 9 PM on a Monday night!

Frankly, if I was the higher power, I'd have Caller ID.

Luckily I wasn't the only one who was uncomfortable with the God thing. One guy substituted "Truth" for "God" and I thought that admirable. Also, I never really memorized the whole prayer and cheer thing, which must be a resistance thing on my part, since I've almost got the "We Belong Together" song by Mariah "Call a doctor, I think my ears are bleeding" Carey down pat.

All pretentions of food snobbery were vanquished as soon as I was subjected for the next 5 days to hospital food. Being somewhat of a decent home cook, I figured I could whip up a fabulous creation, MacGyver-style (isn't that reference a little dated by now?).

I’m mean, if convicts can make Pruno out of fruit cocktail and packets of sugar, I could at least come up with something fairly edible.

If only.

The first day (lunch) hamburgers were served. I'm not sure how they were cooked, but they looked like braised, previously frozen, industrialized, pre-shaped patties swimming in a pool of greasy broth and I suddenly felt the angels of Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan standing behind me, lifting me up by my arms over to the whole wheat bread and whatever raw foods were available.

So I made a sandwich of sliced deli turkey, swiss cheese, red onion, and salad greens (the only lettuce available). I mean, fuck! Even Martha Stewart had access to dandelion greens when she was in the slammer.

After the second or third meal of sandwiches, I finally caved in and jumped feet first into the hot bar. In actuality, not all of it was bad. It did send off a lightbulb though. All of a sudden, I thought "Holy Schmoly!, I've discovered the Detox Hofbrau! (Jonathan, we totally missed one!)"

This food was definitely 50s style, with vegetables that had been cooked so much they hit rock bottom and kept on digging, much like those of us eating them. There were some breaded pork chops that were decent (OK! I admit: I went back for seconds!), a Hamburger Helper-type of macaroni thing, and roast chicken that was unfortunately a little too wet from steaming too long in the hot tray. There was something like roast beef in gravy, but looked like TV-dinner Salisbury Steak, that I made a sandwich with and was actually ok, in a Tommy's Joynt sort of way.

Oh, and all condiments were in packages.

What really saved me was the assortment of fresh fruit (apples, oranges, and bananas) that was available at all times, plus there was usually fruit cocktail salad for lunch and dinner. And thank you-know-who for the endless supply of yogurt (which I macked on every chance I got), even though it was the Yoplait, super-sweet, super-additive kind. No plain yogurt, which is my first choice. But I did feel better knowing I was getting some of that healthy bacteria into my system.

Breakfast was pretty awful most of the time. There was bacon that was so greasy that it took 4 napkins to completely absorb the excess grease. The pancakes would've made my grandmother roll over in her grave. And something, was it scrambled?, eggs that were one big congealed hard lump and, honestly, I was just a little surprised. I honestly didn't know you could get eggs to do that!

At first, I thought "Is this a Ferran Adria thing? Is there a pallid, genteel, lisping Spaniard moonlighting in Summit Medical Center's cafeteria kitchen?" I wasn't seeing anything resembling foam or a deconstructed Rice Krispie Treat, so I dropped it after a while.

Oh, there were also cereals in boxes but, sorry: I'm not 12 years old anymore. And besides, they didn't even have Count Chocula, Boo Berry, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Again, I thanked my "Higher Power" that there were bananas and yogurt. No real coffee or tea since everything was decaf, but I did double up on the tea bags once.

And well, that was it. The place definitely should've had a nutritionist on board, but I was just so thankful to have been there, meet some of the people, gotten a headstart, and treated with so much kindness by the nursing and counseling staff and my recovering peers. Seriously, the nursing staff, especially the daytime staff, were frickin' miracle workers and I thank them from the bottom to the top of my heart.

However, on a sadder note, most people, like myself, in the program could only stay for the detox (5 days total) since most insurance companies do not cover additional treatment, and really, that is fucked up. A lot, I mean a lot, of people need the full 28 days to get back on track, but insurance companies are giving us less and less and we are paying more and more.

I, being quick to blame anything and everything that has ever lived or moved, would like to point out that I blame both the Democrats and the Republicans for swindling the American people when it comes to full, real, and comprehensive healthcare on demand. And I don't stop there, because I also blame the ones who should be helping us, ie., the medical groups and physicians who are part and parcel to this healthcare racket that enriches the few and drains the pockets of the many.

For example, the psychiatrist who recommended that I enter this program saw me for a little over an hour (75 minutes). He mostly spoke at me the majority of the time and listened a little whenever I could get a word in edgewise. Later, when I received a copy of the statement he sent to the insurance company, he had billed that 75 minutes out at $400! Christ!

Ok, now I realize how he can afford the 17th century Chinese chest, 18th century screen, and (proving money can't buy taste) gaudy French rococo gilded chairs in his waiting room.

Seeing that statement pissed me off so much that I'm really debating whether to see him again, despite the fact that he is a pretty well-recognized expert in his field (but $400? Please!).

The night before last, I attempted to go to an AA meeting at a place in the Tenderloin. Big mistake. It was a pit, it was hot, and it stank. It was for hardcore winos and junkies, and frankly, I can't be there right now. I decided to skip it and search around for others in the next few days (I went to one last night).

Instead, I stopped by Original Joes, had the pan-fried sweetbreads with mushrooms and onions, discovered that I love Original Joes, and walked the rest of the way home. It was a long walk home and I felt a little on edge. But the air was cool, I was sober, and as afraid as I am that I might slip, I felt deep down, if just a little, that I might have something to live for.

So, you know, I think I'll be alright.


Monday, June 12, 2006

The King of (Chinese) Sausage

I just recently got turned onto Chinese charcuterie simply by walking into the various markets in Chinatown and becoming terrified.

Terrified at the throngs of people jammed into tiny spaces between bins of flopping, half-dead fish and strangely phallic green things that may or may not be vegetables. Terrified of dried shrimp, dried fish, and dried "I have no fucking idea what that is but I'm going to pretend that I didn't see it". Terrified of the smells and sights, of things called Black Moss and preserved cabbage and strange things resting in jars and, most of all, terrified of trying to actually pay for what I've picked out (hint: I've learned the ancient art of Bag-In-Buddha's-Hand Long Arm Counter Stretch which, in addition to being useful in handing money to the cashier, can kill your opponent with just 3 quick strikes to her little ol' mid-section).

By now it seems as if I've stepped into one of these Stockton Street markets dozens of times. Nevertheless, that same old fear ever so often pervades my every living being. Most times I'll make it to the entrance, look in, and be like "No. I'd rather rip my nose hair out one by one than jump into that mess."

So as you see, it has taken me some time to actually find the courage to buy those weird things in jars, pay for them, make it out of the store mentally undisturbed, and then, finally, use them in a dish.

Now I can (sometimes) bravely walk in, recognize those preserved black beans or dried shrimp or dried rice cakes, and then 5 minutes later, pink plastic bags in hand, happily head towards home.

Rice Cakes

A word of advice: anyone you see crossing or walking down the same side of the street with pink plastic bags in hand, show them a little extra courtesy. You have no idea what they just went through.

That, and they can kill with just a flick of the wrist (while waiting for change, of course).

One of the strange and crazy ingredients found in Chinatown markets that had me stumped for a while were the Chinese sausages. Initially I bought them at any ol' place and used them to flavor rice or "lo bok go". Since I sucked so bad at attempting to make lo bok go (a good thing, since it's so greasy), I stuck to the rice.

You can buy the Chinese sausages (in Cantonese, "lop cheong") anywhere – a lot of it is imported – but I eventually found a local place on the quite, peaceful alleyway, known as Walter U. Lum Place, called Guang Zhou King and King Sausage that makes its own. King and King is almost the antithesis of the crowded, hectic, impersonal, and yes, rude, places you often find on Stockton Street.

First, can you smell that? It's clean air. As soon as you walk in, there are no pushy old ladies giving you the "what's he doing in here" look, either. Instead, you are welcomed by a small, but open, space; on either side metal shelves are holding dried, canned, and jarred foodstuffs – soy sauce, noodles, etc. Towards the back is where the real action is.

There is where you will be greeted by a gentleman who appears in his late 50s or early 60s and whose demeanor immediately puts a smile on your face.

The first time I went in, I knew this was the place I wanted to shop for the rest of my lop cheong buying days. This is the source. This is in accordance with all things that are good. It was airy, clean, welcoming, and not one pushy old lady in sight.

The owner sits in the back of the store where he is surrounded by dozens of hanging sausages, bacon, and flattened dry-cured ducks. Often he will call out, "Hey brother! What can I do for you today!" I usually pick out a couple of the regular pork sausages and some of the liver/pork sausages, but lately I've gone for the dry-cured duck legs (in Cantonese, "lop op") and the bacon. Whenever I've had questions, the owner has always been happy to give me various suggestions and tips.

To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous about trying these duck legs, but the end result ended up blowing my mind. The dish I made with them was simple, quick, easy, and tasty. Granted, I didn't really have to shop for anything except for the duck legs, since I already had everything on hand.

The first dish I made with the meats I bought at King and King was Steamed Cured Duck Leg with Asparagus Tips and Rice. Using a cup of washed rice and two cups of water, I brought the rice to a boil over high heat, uncovered. Just when small holes of escaping steam started to form, I sprinkled on top a couple of minced shallots, laid the duck leg fat side down,

and surrounded it with the asparagus tips (you could easily substitute broccoli or "gai lan" – the Chinese broccoli). Then I covered the pot, turned the heat down to low, and let it steam for the next roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, I removed the duck leg, carefully removed the meat (it's hot!), and diced it.

What came next was a simple matter of plating. The taste of the duck was rich, flavorful and salty, so, really, no salt or sauces were needed. The duck has so much flavor that it would be a crime to cover it up with soy sauce (which would be salt-overload) or any thing else. I mean, I didn't even want to mix it into the rice with the asparagus.

Instead, I treated the rice as a buffer between bites and the asparagus as a side dish. Of course, the rice is partially flavored with the melting duck fat that was absorbed from the leg while cooking, so it has a certain merit beyond being a mere side of cooked, white rice.

Eating this duck leg isn't the same as eating duck confit, which also is naturally salty. Duck confit has a much more delicate flavor and texture that has been developed by cooking first and then preserving in fat for several months. This air-dried, salt-cured, duck leg is much more assertive, a little tougher, and saltier, but nonetheless, rich and tasty. The color of the meat is a striking dark red.

The second dish I made with the charcuterie from King and King involved the sausages and the bacon. It is Chinese Bacon and Sausage Stir-Fried with Rice and Chinese Broccoli.

I should emphasize that often in Chinese cooking, the sausage and bacon, unlike Western cuisine aren't the main stars but rather the players in the production. Not to say they don't stand out and aren't featured players, but rather they are usually in-company-with rather than acting solo.

For one thing, the Chinese-style bacon (or in Cantonese, "lop yuk") cooks down to almost nothing since it's mostly fat. It's basically cured pork belly with some meat. It comes with the rind attached, so before cooking you should trim that off. Like lop cheong, it has a sweet and slightly spicy (think 5 Spice Powder) flavor to it.

Like the previous dish, this one was quick and easy. I used the day-old, leftover rice from the previous dish to prepare a quick stir fry with the cured meat I had on hand, plus some "Chinese broccoli" (or in Cantonese, "gai lan") that I had bought while sending several Chinese shoppers and the random lost white tourist to an early grave using my Buddha's Stretch technique.

After finely chopping the sausage and bacon, I gently sauteed them in large skillet. If I had to do this over, I would've cut the bacon, and especially the sausage, into larger angular cuts. I did, however, cut the gai lan stalks into large angular cuts, and reserved the leafy portion to the side.

After lightly sauteeing these things, I reserved them to a side dish, turned up the heat to medium high and added the rice. The bacon and sausage renders enough oil to the pan that you never have to add oil. It's also best to break up the rice clumps before you attempt to stir fry.

Once the rice had heated up and was beginning to stick to the bottom, I added a little pepper, the meat/veggie mixture, the gai lan leaves, and some water to release the rice on the bottom and to steam cook the rest of the food.

After about 10 minutes or so, it was ready to chow down on. You could add a little bit of seasoning, although it's not necessary. I think when you have such fresh and superior products as these, it's really a mistake to "drown your food".

Besides, you'd be totally unworthy of the Pink Bag hero/heroine status if you did so.

And why even risk that?