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Since starting the BTD about 6 years ago, I have developed an approach towards cooking that makes the most sense for me. I’m going to use this space to cover all the background and ‘basics’. It will also serve as a reference for my future blogs about cooking.
- Most days I don’t have the energy to use more than 30-40 minutes preparing a meal, many days I don’t have the time. But I’m not overly fond of leftovers! That means the vast majority of things I make are simple and/or don’t require a lot of preparation work. The meals I feature that take more effort should be viewed as the exception rather than the rule. Anything that takes more time than that is something that can be left on the stove or in the oven for extended periods without the need for stirring, turning or otherwise needing attention.
- My personalized diet plan, SWAMI, suggests only a single serving of grain daily. Another reason not to spend a lot of time or energy on baked goods, when whole grains used in meals suit my tastes better. From time to time I will make a batch of cookies or a no crust pie. Other baked goods are very infrequent. I do use rice noodles on occasion.
- Ideally all food is grass-fed, wild, free range, organic and fresh. My world is not ideal, so I use canned or frozen food sometimes and buy some produce that is not organic. When a recipe is given, assume that all foods start out fresh and have been made ready for use by washing, trimming, peeling or other normal preparations.
- Most of the things I make don’t require precise measurements. I treat recipes as guidelines that are open to interpretation. Recipes are there to provide ideas first, and methodology if trying ‘something different.’ The ingredient list may be modified and quantities are only a ballpark suggestion.
- In the spirit of the previous bullet, when I say ‘butter’ or ‘olive oil’ that might be what I use, but someone else might use ghee, some other oil or fat, or even eschew added fats for some recipes. It’s all about ideas.
- I have a few ‘tricks’ that come up frequently. One is using a little extra water. For digestive purposes I like my grains softer and more water is how you get there. Another reason is for leaving foods cooking on the stovetop with less need for checking or stirring. Sometimes that makes a dish ‘wetter’ than one might normally want and that gives rise to another trick – tempering in an egg or two near the end of the cooking period. It’s a way to thicken and makes things a bit ‘richer’ at the same time. Like many people I can use an egg or so per day.
- Presentation is a nice touch. For example, when using peppers choose different colors to make a dish more visually appetizing with a minimum of effort. I don’t always manage to do those type things but they are something to keep in mind.
- I tend to use a curry mix at least once a day when cooking. It’s something that I prepare enough of at one time to last a week or two. You’ll have to figure out your own mix. This is what serves as my base, with occasional additions:
2 parts each of coriander, turmeric, fenugreek and ginger
1 part each of cayenne, cinnamon and clove
That’s about it for the time being. This will get amended later as needed.
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