Oh my god! It’s interactive! It’s Web 2.0!!! We’re in the mother f’ing blogosphere!!!! WAGAWGAWGAWGAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!
Sorry, I’ll try to control myself, but one of the fun aspects of blogging is being able to interact with our oh-so-enormous readership. So here we go:
“A reader challenge for the Food Junta: Any cooking suggestions for someone who (theoretically, of course)
1) Does not have the full array of cooking implements (no pots, one frying pan, no microwave)
2) Does not want to acquire a never-again-used set of ingredients
3) Does not want to deal with perishables in the fridge”
Short answer, yes. Slightly less short answer, yes but spend $20 on a cheap pot and roasting dish. Long answer after the jump.
Phil’s questions bring up so many issues, that it’s hard to decide where to begin. So in no particular order here are some responses:
– I definitely have some good things to do with just a frying pan and spoon or spatula: eggs, sauteed meats and vegetables, etc. BUT, the possibilities will increase exponentially when you invest in a sauce pan big enough to boil pasta/rice in and a roasting pan for your oven. This is a total investment of $20-$30 and will allow you access to way more dishes, especially those that require more than one element at a time: rice and beans, pasta and sauce, etc.
– Fully equipping a kitchen so that you have the tools for almost any recipe is NOT expensive either. Mark Bittman wrote a piece a while back on how restaurant supply stores are a new cook’s best friend. Check it out.
– I hate pantries full of obscure ingredients that are only useful in one random dish I made for a special occasion. Which is why I tend to toss recipes that call for “whole cardamom pods” and the like. The best way to start building a pantry of staples that are used regularly is to start cooking recipes that will force you to buy ONE new pantry ingredient. Then start looking for other ways to use that ingredient in other dishes. For instance that thyme you bought when you roasted a chicken will also go really well on the carrots you’re braising tomorrow. This way, a new ingredient can be an inspiration and a learning experience rather than just a waste of money. As for some basics to start with, stay tuned for some posts from Claire on stocking your pantry.
– If you don’t have one of the four spices in a dish – LEAVE IT OUT. There are a few occasions where this might not turn out well, but 95% of the time, skipping an ingredient or two is not going to harm a dish.
-I also hate wasting money on produce that then rots in my fridge. How do I resolve this? No big shopping trips. While I go to Trader Joe’s every now and then and stock up on a bunch of non-perishables, the rest of the time I rarely shop more than a few days in advance. I bought two potatoes this morning and they are already in a tortillaEspanola (recipe soon). The times I have tried to shop for a week+ at a time have ended with unused produce in the garbage. Additionally, stopping off on my way home from work to pick up and ingredient or two makes shopping a much more pleasant experience than trying to assemble a list of everything I might eat in a ten day period and elbowing my way through a crowded market on Sunday evening.
– Invest in a simple cookbook. Either of the two I wrote about several weeks ago would be good as would that sempiternal classic, The Joy of Cooking. Browse through it in your free time, not when you’re starving and want dinner in an hour. Dog-ear some simple recipes that appeal to you and don’t require you to go scavenging the town for exotic ingredients. Then when you have an evening with some free time, try cooking one. The first time might be a 3-hour long catastrophe, but after a couple of tries you will get better and faster. Everybody has to learn sometime. Don’t give up after the first flaming potholder or charred eggs.
That’s most of what strike me at the moment. Phil’s challenge, however, gets at the heart of Food Junta’s mission. We want to demystify cooking for people like Phil and show them that preparing food for yourself can be easy, cheap, and fulfilling.
Also, we’d like to get rich and famous. Anyone want to give us a book deal?