Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck roast
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
handful ginger, finely chopped
handful garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground chili pepper
peanut oil
fish sauce
soy sauce

rice noodles, prepared according to package directions

Suggested accompaniments:
bean sprouts
chopped shallots
sliced green chilis
basil leaves
cilantro leaves
mint leaves
lime quarters
hoisin sauce
chili sauce

Brown roast in oil and set aside.
Sauté onions and ginger until onions are soft.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add sugar and spices and sauté briefly.
Add a cup of water to pot and bring to boil. Stir and scrape any cooked-on bits off the bottom of the pot.
Return roast to pot and reduce heat to very slow simmer. Cover tightly.
Cook until roast is falling apart, around 3 1/2 hours. Add water as necessary.
Add fish sauce, soy sauce and msg, to taste.

Cut the roast into bite-size chunks and serve with the pan sauce over noodles, with accompaniments as you like.

Image CC-BY by benketaro


“Look at Yaro over there,” Kola said. He pointed at Yaroslav, who was shouldering a quadruple-sized tube of construction adhesive. “Nobody does demolition like a Cossack. Nobody in the world!”

The apartment was sliding out of the tower like a popped-loose Lego block.

“Russians, Georgians, Chechens? They think demolition is all C-4 and iron balls. Fuck them! We Ukrainians destroy with finesse!”

Yaro’s crew was swarming over the apartment, attaching a canopy of fat steel cables.

“Yulia,” he said. “What a goddess! There are no men in Kharkiv, you know that? Yulia went there to do some shopping, and all the men died of erections. Even some of the women!”

The crane was lowering the apartment toward the flatbed.

“When she gets home and finds her apartment missing—I’m telling you—Ivaniak’s head is going to explode! Explode! Even before she tells him!”

I checked my watch.

Kola punched me in the shoulder so hard I staggered. “You’re not the one who has to worry, my friend,” he said. “You’ll be safe at home, masturbating over your new treasure. Never mind that we will still be here tending to our angry friend.”

The apartment reached the truck, which sagged under the weight.

“I hope for your sake that you live in a mountain fortress with several large dragons keeping an eye out for Ivaniak! If you’re really unfortunate he’ll send you pictures of Yulia!” Serhiy pulled up in a sedan. “Time to go!”

We climbed in.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but Chinese cars are shit.” He patted the headrest in front of him. “Korean cars are shit. Russian cars are not even shit.”

Serhiy’s head sank deeper into his shoulders as we accelerated.

“I have all my cars built for me in Latvia. In Latvia, they know cars!”

“I hear in Los Angeles they know cars. But compared to Riga…”

We turned a corner at speed and our tires skipped across the road.

“I’d like to tell you that the best cars come from Ukraine. I’d like to tell you Kiev is car capital of the world. Even Sumy!”

“But compared to Riga, Kiev is shit. Los Angeles also, compared to Riga. You think they can build cars like this in Los Angeles?”

We were now speeding along a country road.

“But now?” he said, flipping down a screen, “Now, we watch pornography!”

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by colemama

Jua Kali

Martin Abasi
our local jua kali man
built me a nanoassembler
in exchange for my Jonway.

He used pallet wood,
cord from radial tires,
ferromagnetic paste
and Burmese contraband.

It makes decent Fanta,
Mars bars,
hair relaxer
and Polish vodka.

I paid off the local muscle,
my landlord,
my coffee shop
and my ex-husband.

In a few weeks
if my luck holds
I’ll have the cash
for a new Jonway.

Image CC-BY by whiteafrican

North Pacific Gyre

When Americans die
they float on for years
in plastic bottles
far out at sea.

The bottles decay
the souls are released
eaten by albatross
strangling their young.

I found one myself
cloudy but whole
half sunken there
and poured out its ghost.

It offered one wish
I asked for reprieve
It laughed from its guts
and dove out of sight.

Image CC-BY-SA by qnr


I looked at the bowl of rice. “I can eat kasha,” I said.

Kola waved his kasha at me and roared, “This is Ukraine! You think we don’t know how to treat Chinese?” He gave the kidneys a stir. “And anyway, the last time I served kasha to a Chinese I found him hiding in the bathroom, cooking rice in a tin cup over a Zippo lighter. He must have had the rice in his pockets!”

“My family is from the West,” I said. “We eat bread.”

He banged his fist on the counter. “Tonight, you eat rice!”

I raised my horilka and blinked at him through the glass.

“Chop me a pickle!” He dumped the kidneys from the skillet into the soup pot.

I pulled a reeking pickle from the jar and looked around for a knife.

“Anyway,” he said. “What makes you think it’s in Sumy?”

“I’m not paid to think,” I said. “I go where I’m sent.”

He laughed and handed me a bayonet. “You’re a liar,” he said. “Tell me another.”

I chopped pickle. “Ivaniak,” I said. “He keeps it at his girlfriend’s house.”

“Ivaniak,” he grunted. “You’re a better liar than I thought.” He swept pickle slices from the counter and tossed them into the pot. “You want Ivaniak, and you come to me?”

“You have friends,” I said. “Call them. Offer them soup and kasha. I’m sure they’ll do it out of friendship.”

“They might,” he said. “But I won’t.” He took the bayonet back and used it to stir the soup. “What are you offering?”

I shook my head. “Not me,” I said. “My boss.”

He frowned.

“Rolling stock,” I said. “Twenty spine cars.”

“Condition?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Five to ten years old. Completely serviceable.”

“Fifty cars,” he said.

“Twenty-five,” I said.

“Eat your rice and get out,” he said.

“Thirty,” I said. “And a ’47 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, freshly restored, in a garage fifteen kilometers out the Sudzha road.” I tossed a ring of keys onto the counter. Pickle juice splashed up onto my shirt.

“Fuck your mother,” he said, reaching for the keys. “Sit down and eat some soup.”

Image CC-BY-NC-SA by avlxyz

Bacon and Eggs

Two slices bacon, diced
Two scallions, diced
One egg
One tablespoon chili-garlic paste
One portion noodles, cooked per package directions
One tablespoon oyster sauce
Hot sauce

Fry bacon. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry scallions in bacon fat. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry egg in bacon fat. Remove from pan and set aside.
Fry chili-garlic paste in remaining bacon fat.
Add noodles to chili-garlic paste and toss.
Add bacon and scallions to noodles and toss.
Add oyster sauce to noodles and toss.
Serve noodles.
Top with egg.
Garnish with hot sauce.

Keema Kofta / Spicy Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I ordinarily get the sauce simmering and then make the meatballs and drop them directly into the sauce.

Two tablespoons-ish vegetable oil
One small onion, finely chopped
One tablespoon-ish ginger, minced
One garlic clove, minced
One heaping teaspoon turmeric
One 28oz can tomatoes (whole, diced, pureed or sauce, as you like)

Saute the onions and ginger in the oil until onions are soft. (I use high heat and lots of stirring and aim to get the onions slightly golden, but that’s not critical.)
Add the garlic and saute until you can smell it (just a few seconds usually).
Add the turmeric.
Add the tomatoes.
Bring to a simmer.

One pound ground lamb
Two or three cloves garlic, minced
One teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes, or to taste
One heaping teaspoon garam masala
One teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 cup (or so) yogurt

Mix ingredients with your hands.
Form into small meatballs.
Drop into simmering sauce.
Simmer for fifteen minutes or so.
Stir in the yogurt before serving.

Zinesters in Twin Cities Metro Magazine

I get name checked in Twin Cities Metro’s August DIY issue! (An issue of Untold Tales and a selection of Uncles comics are included in the Zine Prize Pack.)

Idea + Paper + Stapler: Zine culture is alive and well in the Twin Cities.

Zine Prize Pack: Win a collection of handmade, DIY goodness.

File under: “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

Image by Tate Carlson, Copyright 2011 Twin Cities Metro Magazine.