Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What to eat next time you're in prison

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 12:55 PM

from_the_big_house_cover.jpg

Apparently life behind bars isn't enough to deter a truly dedicated cook from their craft. At least not for the six female inmates at the Mountain View Unit prison in Gatesville, Tx. who recently released From the Big House to Your House. This unique cookbook consists of recipes using only ingredients that are available in prison. Needless to say, From the Big House to Your House is an intriguing look at what eating is like behind bars.

According to activist website WomenAndPrison.org, "they transform crushed potato chips, sandwich cookie crème filling, powdered milk, cream cheese packets, and chili seasoning into snacks, dips, desserts, and even complete meals."

Not only are the ingredients limited to what can be purchased from the prison commissary, their only heat source is a quart-sized "hot pot." (boiling water=deadly weapon)

Recipes range from dishes like "Almost Teriyaki Soup," to "Peanut Rice," and "Delightful Tuna Nachos." Sound gross? Well co-author Celeste Johnson agrees. "I know it sounds disgusting," said Johnson in an AP profile. "But I love tuna nachos. And I've got so many people here converted to it."

Another interesting feature of the cookbook are the "DID YOU KNOW?" blurbs. Each one reveals an interesting, and at times shocking, fact regarding the prison industrial complex, drawing on national statistics and the experiences of the inmates themselves. For example, did you know that "inmates are allowed to shower every day for about 10 minutes. When the unit is on lockdown, inmates are allowed one shower every day for about five minutes."

More after the jump

The book's preface is upbeat and welcoming:

“ This book is the result of our cooking experiences while confined at the Mountain View Unit, a woman’s prison in Gatesville, Texas. We met and bonded in the G-3 dorm, housing only prisoners with a sentence in excess of 50 years. While there isn’t much freedom to be found when incarcerated, using the commissary to cook what YOU want offers a wonderful avenue for creativity and enjoyment! We hope these recipes will ignite your taste buds as well as spark your imagination to explore unlimited creations of your own! We encourage you to make substitutions to your individual tastes and/or availability of ingredients. We are confident that you will enjoy the liberty found in creating a home-felt comfort during unfortunate times. Happy Cooking!”


From the Big House to Your House
is available for purchase via Amazon, but since state law prohibits inmates from making profit while incarcerated, the inmates are donating all proceeds to their publisher, The Justice Institute, a Seattle group that works with convicts who maintain their innocence.

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