After my Bullshit Revisited post, I received mail and comments suggesting that what I was advocating was spending hours in the kitchen everyday. No, I just want people to cook. If it’s for 10 minutes or 110 minutes, I don’t care. Just leave the boxes on the shelf and prepare a meal with real food.
Real food doesn’t have to be complicated. As an illustration, here’s what I ate last week. A week ago Sunday, we had a friend over for a big fillet of salmon on a plank on the grill, with asparagus and pearl barley “risotto” based on a recipe from 101 Cookbooks.
Honestly, most of our meals are quite zippy. I leverage a couple of bigger meals cooked on the weekend for use throughout the week. I eat a lot of leftovers. We endeavor to use everything in our crisper drawers. Every other week, Mike makes a batch of no-knead bread dough that we dip into a couple of times during the week, most often on the weekend.
One thing that truly speeds up dinner? Good knife skills. It’s the most essential lesson that I learned in culinary school. If you’re lacking knife skills, find a local cooking school and sign up. It’s the best $35 to $50 you can spend in terms of feeding yourself better.
Would this look different if we had kids? You bet. I could never take a bath at midnight while making an artichoke. Would I cook as much if I lived alone? Probably. Mike and I eat different breakfasts. While I eat most lunches in my writing office, he goes out for lunch often, in part as an excuse to get out of the house. I made my own dinner three nights last week after getting home past 10 p.m.
Breakfast: Small egg sandwich made from a slice of whole-grain toast, mustard, a slice of cheddar cheese and a fried egg. (Less than 10 minutes)
Lunch – Leftover barley risotto
Snack – An apple, some rye crisps
Dinner – at almost midnight after late night writing, so dinner on my own. A whole steamed artichoke, slice of leftover salmon and an arugula salad with spritz of lemon and bit of olive oil. It took couple minutes to prep pan of water, put in artichoke and then let it steam for 40 minutes while I took a bath, then spent less than four minutes prepping leftovers, salad, and lemon-butter for the artichoke petals.
Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with the last of the leftover asparagus, shredded swiss chard (six minutes)
Lunch: Last of the barley risotto, small side salad with half an avocado
Snacks: Cottage cheese, couple rye crisps, slice of gouda cheese, an apple
Dinner: Salmon cakes made with the last of salmon served with avocado dressing, steamed peas, green salad with shredded basil (25 minutes)
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with berries leftover from Sunday night dessert, handful of almonds
Lunch: Half packet ramen noodles in miso soup with green onions
Snacks: An apple, couple handfuls of Kashi high-fiber cereal, some almonds
Late-night dinner after long writing day: Stir-fry with results of vegetable drawer raid, zucchini, onion, carrot, asparagus and cilantro, plus peanuts and frozen peas. Served with brown rice that Mike brought home from Thai place. (About 15 minutes)
Breakfast: High-fiber Kashi cereal with soy milk
Mid-morning snack: Half a mango, cottage cheese
Lunch: Steamed broccoli with grated cheese, almonds, leftover brown rice
Snack: Couple walnuts, a handful of Triscuits, rest of the mango
Dinner: Whole grain linguine with clam sauce (using canned clams), with garlic, baby tomatoes, parsley and fresh basil. Mixed green side salad. (Less than 20 minutes)
Breakfast: Omelet with tomatoes, arugula and garlic
Lunch: Went out for chicken fajitas that did not sit well with either of us
Dinner: Whole wheat penne with tomato sauce spiked with garlic, olives, last of the arugula and fresh basil (about 20 minutes)
Breakfast: Applesauce, later a protein smoothie with greek yogurt
Lunch: Rosemary carrot soup (recipe test) with greek yogurt garnish, fresh no-knead bread. (Took about an hour total, but 20 minutes active time to prep carrots and bread)
Snack: Two plums, later a piece of bread with peanut butter
Dinner: Went out to eat with my regular date guy.
Breakfast: Homemade French toast (from leftover bread) with cinnamon and honey (about 15 minutes)
Lunch: Baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, fresh no-knead baguette. This took about 1 hour 30 minutes, but only about 15 minutes active time. Meanwhile, we prepped our rental apartment for viewing.
Dinner: Ham, fresh mozzarella and basil sandwiches (about eight minutes)
Late-night “30 Rock”-watching guilty pleasure snack: Little bit of homemade mac and cheese (12 minutes)
Now cooking: Big batch of white bean soup, carrot and swiss chard soup made with the leftover ham bone. Let beans soak overnight. Chopped up vegetables and put into refrigerator while watching TV. This morning, drained beans and sauteed vegetables while coffee brewed. Added in ham bone and water, some herbs and it’s simmering away.
Now freezing: four six-ounce batches of chopped up ham for future soups, omelets, quiche, pasta, braised dishes, whatever.