Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Foodstuff.

I have a cookbook which I absolutely love because every recipe can be made in twenty minutes.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Meals! In twenty minutes! (Or if you’re a mite slower like I am, and are constantly stepping over a certain white dog while you cook, it might be more like twenty-five minutes.)

But still. By the time we drive to a restaurant, order, wait for the food, eat and drive home, at least 90 minutes will have passed. Plus we’ll end up paying three or four times as much for that meal as it costs to eat at home.

So to make a relatively inexpensive, home cooked, FAST meal and be eating it in twenty minutes? I’m sold.

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Although I won’t be posting any of the recipes today, here are a few tips from the book about saving on cooking time.

1. Buy an extra set of metal measuring spoons and remove them from the ring. Store the individual spoons on a magnetic strip close to your spice cabinet. If you’re only using one or two spoons, why wash them all? Plus, they’re easy to grab in a hurry.

2. For a quick side dish, stir any of the following into a pan of cooked rice: Crumbled bacon and sour cream, grated Parmesan cheese, crushed pineapple and green pepper slices, Teriyaki sauce, chopped pimiento and chopped parsley, toasted slivered almonds and chopped cashews.

3. Keep three sets of measuring cups on hand; you can speed through recipes without having to wash and dry that same half cup measure multiple times.

4. Put a pot of water on to boil as soon as you walk through the door from work (before changing clothes or reading the mail) and you’ll be halfway to cooking pasta, steaming rice, or boiling potatoes when it’s time to start dinner.

And if you’re really in a hurry to get water boiling fast, divide the water between two pots and then combine them after they’ve boiled.

5. Don’t throw away leftover rice; freeze it for future use. Measure by 1 C increments into Ziploc bags and write the amount and date on the outside. Before sealing, fluff the rice with a fork to prevent clumping.

To use, remove rice from bag and out in a microwave safe bowl; microwave covered on high for 1 minute per cup. Fluff with fork and continue with recipe.

This method defrosts rice but doesn’t heat it through. If you want to heat it all the way, continue heating in microwave by one minute increments, checking each time.

Or you can put rice in a pan on the stove and heat it 2-3 minutes per cup. (Covered with just a little bit of water.)

So there you go! Some ideas to make your (and mine) limited cooking time go a little better.

If you go to Amazon or Ebay, you can get this book (used) for just $6 or $7, including shipping. I highly recommend it!

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And on the subject of food, last night I was not in a real enthusiastic cooking mood and hadn’t been to the grocery store in a week; however, I knew that at some point in the evening, something fairly nutritious and vaguely delicious needed to appear on the kitchen table. So I scrounged morosely around in the freezer for a little while and found a box of fish sticks, which I try to keep on hand for those fairly infrequent “I don’t wanna cook” nights.

Then I discovered some macaroni and cheese that someone had brought to a meal at our house, leaving the leftovers behind. I had divided it up and frozen it for future use. (It's amazing how well mac and cheese freezes!)

My original idea was to bake the fish sticks and just put them on the table on a plate, and put the mac and cheese in its own bowl. But then! A teeny burst of inspiration made it's way through my non-excited-about-cooking-brain and I found a prettier way to present the evening’s repast: everything in one dish with the macaroni on bottom and the fish sticks on top--with a little parsley tossed over it all. It made it look a “real meal,” instead of a pretend meal!

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I also made some oven bread and threw it into a white bowl, just to get it to the table in a hurry. But then I just couldn’t stand the sight of pale bread in a white bowl so I took an extra four seconds and grabbed a napkin to put in the bowl first. It made my color-lovin’ heart so happy to see what a big difference such a little thing made.

And it made my heart even happier when my sweet daughter noticed my efforts and said, “Mom, that sure looks pretty!” (Steve and Sarah are always very diligent to compliment even my most meager efforts—I am blessed.)

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In non-cooking news, I am continuing to enjoy the “What I Love About Where I Live” entries. (Scroll down a few posts to find it--the title is "A Great Idea.")

If you haven’t chimed in yet, I’d love to hear from you. And if you haven’t scrolled through other peoples’ comments yet, I think you’d really enjoy taking a few minutes to do that. It’s fascinating to read where all our Smithellaneous Neighbors hail from.

4 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

That cookbook is now on my Christmas list. Looks perfect for my family. Thanks for the suggestion.

Debra
Box Elder, SD

MaryH said...

Supper last night looks yummy - I have got to get that cookbook!

Shari said...

I need that cook book!! I live In Pittsburgh PA, I love it for lots of reasons! We have 4 distinct seasons, my family is here. People would be surprised to know that Pittsburgh is a very safe city, People are very friendly and very family orientated. Lots of traditions from all diffferent cultures! Great old buildings and Houses! No other place like it!!

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