We all have a friend like Jim. His desk drawers are so full of candy and salty snacks that people in the office come to him instead of hitting the vending machine for a mid-afternoon fix. Peek into his car and you’ll see a week’s worth of fast-food takeout cups scattered among ketchup and salsa squirt-packs. And go over to his house for dinner and you’ll be lucky if a Pizza Hut Cheesy Bites Pizza is the special of the evening.
Yes, we all know a junk-food lover. (Or packaged-food enthusiast as they like to be called in their support groups.) So we immediately thought of Jim when this new book arrived at our office. It’s called Junk Foodie (by Emilie Baltz) and it’s an insanely creative concept for a cookbook. Really, it’s an uncookbook.
Each recipe is comprised completely of junk food. The only extra ingredient you need is water. The few tools you need are a microwave, a measuring spoon, paper plates, a plastic spork, a plastic knife and a microwave-safe bowl. You know, the college student Deluxe Chef’s Kit.
Full disclosure, we haven’t had the nerve to actually try any of the recipes ourselves because, well, some of them frighten us. Like French Onion Soup made of Onion Flavored Rings, hot water and Cheetos. Or Chocolate Orange Crème Brulée composed entirely of an Oreo cookie, the cream from a Twinkie and a package of Orange Kool-Aid. Somewhere, Wolfgang Puck is in the fetal position rocking back and forth, tears bursting forth in between Austrian-accented wails of misery.
But then there are some recipes that sound and look pretty fantastic, like the Aztec Coffee Cake (pictured above). Once nothing more than a few humble Oreos, Chips Ahoy and a couple Hot Tamales, it’s now something you’d pay $5 for at a trendy bakery. Amazing what a little water and a spin in the microwave can do to transform something banal and bourgeois into something gourmet and sophisticated. Ish.
Whether you’re afraid of the stove or know someone like Jim who can tell you what’s on every Dollar Menu in town, Junk Foodie is quite a find. It’s gorgeously photographed and just demented enough to get our enthusiastic seal of approval.
So next time you don’t know where to take your sweetheart on a date, look no further than the vending machine in the parking garage. A four-star, four-quarter meal could be just on the other side of the glass.
Photography by Emilie Baltz