Gourmet Cooking in PRISON?

July 14th, 2009 by admin Leave a reply »

It is my good fortune to be a part of a Toastmasters club at the state prison just outside our little town.  We meet on Mondays and each week we are treated to a variety of speeches on topics ranging from soup to nuts.  Last night Phil did a “TV segment” as he taught us the fine points of cooking in prison.  IT WAS HILARIOUS!  But every guy in the club assured me that this is truly one of their favorite treats.  They make them regularly and highly recommended to me that I try it.  SERIOUSLY.

Here’s how Phil makes PRISON P’ZONES:

*Please note that Phil shops in the prison canteen so his package sizes will vary from the choices we have using SNAP,  Angel Food Ministry choices, food commodities or food pantries!

1 package of 6 tortillas

1 package of pepperoni

1 package of cheese

1 small jar of jalapeno peppers

He uses one paper towel per P’zone and lays each tortilla atop a paper towel.  Using a standard issue protractor as a cutting tool, Phil divides the cheese into very small pieces and arranges them on one half of each tortilla.  Then he divides the pepperoni accordingly and places that on each tortilla.  He then folds each tortilla in half, taking care to keep all the ingredients inside at all times.  Then, using a second paper towel on the top, he IRONS with the iron that is chained to the wall, each P’zone until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is nicely warmed.  He recommends for those of us on the streets we would find it easier to use our George Forman grills!  Phil eats the jalapeno peppers separately -the way I might enjoy chocolate chips!  I guess we can use our own discretion when it comes to jalapenos!

Incidentally, Phil’s speech evaluator was gracious; he did share his disappointment, however, that Phil did not furnish the club with samples of this delicacy!


Phil is not alone in his culinary prowess.  I once attended an event at the prison where someone made nacho cheese dip IN A 30 CUP PERCOLATOR!  It was delicious!

Creativity seems to bloom when funds are scarce and kitchen equipment is absent.  Think about how YOU might create tasty, interesting dishes for the people you love even though you may not have a tricked-out gourmet kitchen and a ginormous food budget!

Your comments have been coming in at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com and we deeply appreciate that.  We note that people are signing up for tips and information at Food Stamps Cooking Club, tooThanks for getting the word out!

Connie Baum



  1. Sheila Davis says:

    Phil and you are both INSPIRATIONAL in your creativity. Now if I only had a P’zone for breakfast as I don’t think I can wait until lunch. Love and Light to both of you, Sheila Davis

  2. Thanks a bunch, Sheila! I’ll be making a grocery run SOON to get those fixings, too! I think the midday meal will be much more interesting at both your table and ours!

    I think to keep it authentic, and to honor the speaker, let’s use our irons!

    Isn’t Phil just the BEST?

    Mother Connie

  3. Anita says:

    Ask for a follow up presentation on how to make prison burritos! Those guys crack me up with their creativity… and then I get to thinking what would I do if I didn’t have so many of the modern day conveniences that I do and my laughter turns to amazement that they figure this stuff out!

  4. Yes, Anita, the subject of burritos did come up! Phil’s evaluator talked about it and got big laughs!

    I think they show grace under pressure.

    Mother Connie

  5. WritewhereUr says:

    It just goes to show “where there is a Phil there is a way”! LOL Very creative. Excepting for the jalapeno’s it sounds good to me. Getting kind of hungry now that I think about things…better go make lunch…I am late!

  6. Yes, you are so WRITE, Rainy–where there’s a Phil there’s a way! So glad you stopped by and I hope you had some taco salad left for your lunch! It’s too hot for ironing tortillas today! grin

    Mother Connie