While cooking can be relaxing and inspiring, sometimes the daily grind gets in the way of your enthusiasm to put effort into cooking dinner. This is probably one of the reasons why fast food is so popular (amongst others). But quick easy meals don’t have to just be steamed veg and stir fries. There are other ways to keep your precious time while cooking slow, tasty, easy meals…
I can think of nothing better than spending an overcast Sunday baking bread, brewing stocks and generally making culinary sunshine. It can be so relaxing to get into the kitchen to try out a challenging recipe, cooking for the soul if you will. And I absolutely love learning new cooking techniques even if that new technique feels harder than learning the Michael Jackson moon walk – actually no cooking technique is that hard! The point being that the idea of slow food – the philosophy of growing, making and eating your food using traditional methods and ingredients – can be both relaxing and inspiring.
Of course some days the idea of making dinner yet again is just not something you feel like doing. Often you have better things to do than spend your time in the kitchen. And then there is the fact that not every day is Sunday. This is one of the main reasons why the fast-food industry is one of the biggest in the world and the reason why ready-made meals are such good sellers at the supermarket. It is also the explanation why people are always on the hunt for quick and easy recipes.
The thing is, time is precious but it is also eternal. Does this sound like a poignant point to you or just meaningless philosophical drivel? What the hell does the eternity of time have to do with my dinner you may ask yourself? Well, the answer is of course the fact that your time may be precious to you, but time in general isn’t necessarily of much concern (hungry stomach notwithstanding).
Just because a meal takes hours to cook doesn’t necessarily mean that it takes four of your hours to make – most of the time used may be the oven’s, for example. Roasting doesn’t necessarily take all that much effort. Slice some potatoes into quarters, half some carrots and parsnips, a whole chicken, a sprinkle of olive oil, salt, pepper and some lemon juice banged into a hot oven. Done. You don’t have to think about it for at least another 40 minutes. Voila, easy meal.
In fact roasting is a great way to enhance the flavour of your meal without having to cook things in multiple pots and pans and tend the stove making sure you food doesn’t bubble over or burn. Bung your veges into a roasting tray and put ’em in the oven and forget about them for a while. Roasted tomatoes make the best tomato based sauces. Carrots, pumpkin, garlic and onions turn oh so sweet and can be used in dips, sauces, soups and stews.
And most important of all you will avoid having to cut your onions and garlic into small pieces and will avoid having to wash up large number of pots afterwards. One of my favourite easy meals to make in this way is my spanish chorizo and lentil stew. You can make a whole weeks worth of meals in only one hour – although more importantly only 10 minutes of your time. Let the oven do the rest.