An organized kitchen and never measuring anything, help to speed things along. Meals that go in one or two pots are very time efficient. Give me an hour and I can feed 20 people.
The other day I made a hamburger and vegetable stew for a crowd. A large Dutch oven was used. Potatoes were cooked in another large pot. Two Dutch ovens containing the stew and potatoes were placed directly on the table. No fancy serving dishes or extra dirty cutlery for me.
I will present photos of some of these things as I go along.
Today's breakfast, consisted of high quality multigrain bread toasted and covered with organic avocado. The avocado is scraped with a rough surfaced butter knife, to create a sort of butter. It is topped off with turkey bacon.
Notice how I get oil out of the bacon. The pan is placed one side high, and a fork balanced in the handhold.
After putting this together, I realized that it looks like a flower.
I used to put brown sugar on oatmeal. Now it's cooked with raisins and dates.
I seldom use the lids that came with the pots. Instead, dinner plates are used. This allows other things that just need to be kept warm, to sit on top of those resting on the heating element. Once the meal is ready, the bottom of the plate is rinsed, and the hot plate is used. If there's a large group being served, all plates may be stacked on a potato pot. They are insulated by a towel.
If leftovers are stored in pots, plates are again employed as lids. Items can be stacked. Upon reheating, we have another hot plate.
I've been doing this since I was a kid. Various methods of insulating the lid have also been used. It drove my mother nuts. ( well, that and having 9 other kids and a penchant for literal interpretation of religious text😃)
Karen Layne wrote:You mixed the butternut squash seeds and raisins/spices. Have i been missing something here? I usually compost them or save them to plant. Interesting...tell me more.
P.S. It all looks delicious! I'm hungry. I'm going foraging in the kitchen.
I usually toss squash seeds or pumpkin seeds with olive oil and salt and then roast them in the oven. Delicious! When you hear them start popping they are usually done.
Really tough cuts of meat often sit at the store until they put a half price sticker on them. I bought a big beef shank a few days ago and cooked it in a Dutch oven filled with water and a mixture of Italian and Indian spices. After about 8 hours of simmering on low heat, the beef shank was as soft as butter.
This left me with beef flavored water with all of those spices infused. I've been used the rye just as you would use rice, putting in just enough to use up all of the water. Now I have enough spicy rye to use in many different dishes.
This morning's creation is fried eggs with rye and spices added, after the eggs are fully cooked. It was a pretty good mix which added fiber to a meal that otherwise would have been mostly protein.
If you can think of any other uses for rye, let me know. By uses, I mean ways to incorporate it into foods that cook on the stove. I have no interest in grinding it and making bread. Thank you.
They had a really good deal on half-price bison hamburger. I cooked it all up with onions and spices , then turned it into a gravy sauce. The next few meals consisted of vegetables and potatoes , smothered with gravy sauce. This is something I can whip up in less than 5 minutes. Of all of the superior cooks that I know , I am by far the laziest.
Here is my method of using kitchen bowls instead of freezer bags. Bowls can go from fridge or freezer to microwave without the need to dirty other dishes.
I'm about to pick a bunch of evergreen huckleberries and salal berries, while on vacation on the Oregon coast. I've learned I can make a very nice "jam" by combining cooked berries with honey or sugar and Chia seeds. It doesn't last as long in the fridge as regular jam, because it has less sugar, so I make it up in small batches.
I also hate using secondary containers to store (or eat) food in, because every time I move food from one container to another, a little bit of food gets stuck on the first container. I worked hard for that food, and I want to eat it all, not have it stuck on a bowl or pan so that it only feeds my sink drain.
As for using plates as lids, well, that often happens because we can't find the pot or pans actual lid. We have, in the past, used them for lids while cooking, too! They do stack really well in the fridge, too. The only problem with that, though, is we often forget what was in each bowl, and don't get around to eating it in time . So, we often eat and store our food in the same pyrex container, that way we can see inside the container to know what's in there!
I always feel very, um, "white trash" for eating and storing food this way, but it really does make a lot more sense,as it conserves energy, time, water, and food. It just isn't "pretty."
I have wondered if the 'tidies' would survive in a non-electric, 'real' world (as we might be facing one day). I don't think 'original peoples' valued 'tidy'... except, perhaps, in their artwork. I think they were more (had to be) immediately 'present' to/one with their environment, and not interested in standing and appraising from afar.
But... back to Dale's invaluable tips and tricks... yes, more, Dale!!
Sometimes I'm looking to make something tasty in a hurry. The fastest one for me is boiled vegetables with hash browns. That ends up being very plain. But I have a trick up my sleeve. I am fond of the Greek grape leaf dish dolmathes. I often have these on hand. After the vegetable and potato is cooked, I shred a few of them into the dish and I pour the liquid from the can. Quick and easy. When I cook cod or other fish that has little flavor of its own, a mixture of salt and pepper mixed with the grape leaves, makes a nice dish.
I buy mine at a store that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine. They are from Greece. On the container it says "Packed in Grease." I pointed this out to the Persian man who runs the shop, and he immediately got what was funny. "Like parts for the car", he said. "Ours have olive oil, not petroleum."
Dale, you do great food porn. It was worth a drool even if I couldn't eat most of it (being celiac stinks as does medical vegan).
I do love to save leftover pasta water (I get the best chickpea pasta ordered in and am looking to make my own in the near future, the protein return is fantastic), to use in other cooking. And you'd be surprised what you can throw in a huge stock pot and make a good soup from it all. When I cook I take large muffin tins (the jumbo/Texas or six to a tin) and will freeze stuff in those for portion, then pop out and wrap for longer term freezing. Then either warm it up and eat, or add to pot and continue to cook something. So call it sporadic lazy. A little intensive cooking that makes it worth the dishes you will have to do (scullery!!!) for later speeding things up.
Just scored about 15# of shank ham (heat and eat) and cut it up. About 1/3 was fat, gristle, the bones, etc, and I further cleaned down the slices and chunks and put that in a separate bag and froze it. In a few days I will get out the grand mama stockpot and the big old enamel stock pot, and my beans will be soaked and ready and. The big one will get the meat, herbs, spices, a few veggies, to simmer up. The smaller one will do the beans with herbs and spices. Then SOME beans and more veggies will visit the meat pot after I sort through it for the biggest chunks that are inedible but gave their flavor and goodness, and cook into a hearty soup for my husband. I will finish out the rest of the beans with veggies for the vegan version for me. I have tomatoes on vine and with luck will get a couple to add near the end. Freezing some of that off for heat and eat later...
Dale, it is time honored to use plates for lids for storage. I know exactly which size to stick on which pot or bowl. I think I even have a few pieces of corelleware in my large mismatched collection that match yours.
Nancy, the tide around here... we don't go there. I work on 'it's up to a visitor would eat in my kitchen' and from my former food service days (I even held certification) it's up to 'you can safely eat my food'. After this spring and all the plant starts, I have almost everything out of my kitchen again and can find it. It got intense for a while there with all that plant stuff in there too.
My late mother in law was a farmwife, or the endless cycle of cook and wash dishes. I went to meet the parents, it was supper, and after supper I got up and did her dishes. We got along famously after that. If you're going to pull up a fork, be willing to do dishes. (even if you don't know where stuff goes... that's the other rule, DO ask where it goes so that it can be found again).
Dale rates where I'd wash dishes if he'd cook.
A barely related Side Story.
About a month ago, I saw my brother and pointed out that I could pinch almost an inch, on my belly. I asked him if he had any idea what was causing it. Of course I already had the rather comical answer. I have determined that it was caused by second supper. This drew a frown from him. ...When I'm working hard, I'm in the habit of eating to capacity at 6 or 7 p.m., then doing it again at 10:30 or 11 p.m. . When work slacks off or I'm doing stuff that isn't so physical, I think I need to not pig out right before bedtime. That is the only weight control I expect to ever be involved in.
I used curry powder, Masala powder, which I think is some sort of curry powder and poultry seasoning. Lots of pepper and a little bit of an Italian seasoning mix. I generally salt my stuff with whatever quantity of salt is in the Bragg soya sauce. All of this gets mixed up and then roasted.
Another butternut squash was also roasted.
The real story of the day is that I snagged an awesome roasting pan for $8. They had another one of those oval roast pans that was paper thin for $8. It had a lid. I took mine up to the front of the thrift store and pointed out that this one with no lid was the same price. She's seen me before and called my bluff. "You know very well that this is a vastly superior pan because it's four times as thick." Yeah, I knew that. She didn't drop the price
All of this cooking was done in my friend's new kitchen. I did a demolition that had a five-year-old kitchen, complete with four, five year old appliances and granite countertop. A glass top stove and one of those fridges that has the big freezer beneath. I charged her $1,500, which is about $1,100 American. To get in on this sort of deal, you must be an ex-girlfriend that I get along well with. FWB anyone?
Here's the process. Make toast in the toaster. Dip in maple syrup. Butter the toast, just as you would if it was regular toast without maple syrup.
I tried it both ways and it seems to be best when buttered. A very decadent treat. My friend went a bit further and used jam.
The second to last photo is a completely unrelated meal. I don't think it would be very good on the toast.
The last photo shows regular French toast, that my friend covered in other stuff. I produced a pretty plain looking stack of toast, and this is what I was handed back. Not bad.
Edit. Those photos were taken under led light. For some reason this makes it more difficult to focus. Sorry about the fuzzy photos. If you leave toast like this on the counter long enough, it gets fuzzy in a different way.
I chose hamburger, because of an idea I had. This was to infuse the spices, right to the center, rather than on the outside as is done with steak.
The thick burgers were cooked in a generous amount of olive oil, with quite a bit of Italian and Chinese spices.
I never use any of those garbage brand, steak sauces, that are mostly sugar and ketchup. I use Lea & Perrins, which isn't made from a bunch of cheap filler.
After the burgers were pretty much cooked, I put in more Lea & Perrins sauce than the burgers could absorb. Salty soya sauce was also used. As they sat in this pool of sauce, I compressed the meat over and over, so that the sauce would work its way right to the center. Once thoroughly cooked, the burgers were taken out.
The pan was left with a pool of spicy sauce. A variety of vegetables were lightly steamed in a separate pot, and then dumped into the frying pan. They were boiled for a minute, to get rid of some of the moisture.
Vegetables can be bland, and lean beef can be dry. Both of these issues were addressed very well with this spicy sauce.
I cooked this meal at a friend's house, and at first there was disappointment, that I had brought hamburger. That soon changed, to effusive praise, which is all that I expect, when producing a meal like this.
Attention moderators, I can't find the smell button. In order for these pictures to really work, you've got to be able to smell it.
Three days ago, I made macaroni and cheese. But this was far more than regular macaroni and cheese. There were lots of vegetables and chicken included. I shared this with a friend who had to go light on cheese, so I made it fairly light, but made quite a bit more sauce, for me to put on top and mix into mine.
The trick with macaroni and cheese is to get the sauce right. I always make my white sauce with olive oil and flour then stir in the cheese chunks along with spices. Cheese graters are a complete waste of time. I slice the cheese about half an inch thick and then break the little slabs into the white sauce. Stir it up and wait a couple minutes, then stir again and it will all melt into the sauce without the trouble of grating the cheese or cleaning the grater.
This one uses the same hamburgers, but tonight the oil from the burger and the olive oil, were used to cook onions. Italian spices and Masala powder where the main flavors.
In a separate pan, red cabbage, which we all know is purple, was cooked along with carrots beans, corn and peas.
The spicy oil from the meat covered the vegetables. Then, I sliced up some cheddar cheese and melted it into the mix.
Half of the onions were mixed with the vegetables and half were retained in the frying pan.
I made a really big beef stew last night. It contains ground beef, lots of purple onions, carrots, cabbage, peas, green beans and lima beans, kale and several spices. So good that the neighborhood dogs began to howl, when they smelled it.😃
I didn't grow any potatoes this year, too busy. But I do purchase organic red potatoes regularly. I always cook the whole 5 lb bag at once, so there's no sprouting. Mashed potatoes go in the microwave and are then smothered in Gravy Sauce.
The big pot contains about 6 liters of stew, so between that and the potatoes, I will be fed for 4 more days. Highly efficient from a labor point of view. When it runs out, I will make a big pot of something else, and enjoy it for several days. I often do this when I'm just feeding myself. When I'm feeding others, I tend to make a variety of dishes, that are used up more quickly. Some people don't want to have the same thing everyday. My roommate Lorie, asked for more stew on the 5th day, a few weeks ago. It was all gone, and she was quite disappointed. So, when it's really good, there are others who don't mind having the same thing several days in a row.
I have stopped grabbing discount meat from the grocery store, unless it's the 50% off, enjoy tonight organic variety, so I have developed a taste for lentils. I made, and am soon to make again, an awesome vegan chili that manages to be very satisfying texturally, in that I have gotten the lentils to feel like ground beef. I up the flavour with unsweetened cocoa powder to deal with all the sugars from fresh tomato puree, and I have taken to adding peanut butter as well, along with the usual suspects. I like to put half a jar of homemade organic salsa, too, just to make sure I have the whole flavour profile covered.
I am not a vegan. I am emphatically, enthusiastically omnivorous, and if I am starved of it too long, a total carnivore. I have just found myself voting with my dollar and choosing healthier and better-raised meat of late.
I have the girls at my favorite store trained. They always point out, where the deals are, and if the right one is working, she will do the markdowns for the next day, when I show up near closing time. In this way, I'm putting myself first in line for all big markdowns.
I find that the 50% off stuff, forces me to do a bunch of cooking, which I don't mind. I don't want to freeze and thaw it, but I don't mind cooking all of it and then freezing the finished meals.
While very lean beef, may freezer burn, it would take forever for the same meat turned into a gravy sauce, to freezer burn. And, since it's already a finished meal base, I'm more likely to use it sooner. Quite often, when I cook a bunch of discount meat, I do the spicing and cook it with lots of onions and garlic. But I don't usually add all of the other vegetables. Most of these can be quickly boiled, and then a frozen chunk of beef and gravy with onions, is stirred into them. This makes for some very quick cooking.
The large block shaped container can be filled anywhere between half an inch, and 2 inches deep, so that I have a variety of quantity. After the blocks are frozen, they can be added to much larger containers within the freezer. Much easier than trying to carve a chunk off a large brick of frozen food.
When the meat sauce is only an inch thick, in the square shape, it can be laid on top of boiled vegetables, immediately after they are drained. Put the lid back on and do nothing. A few minutes later, the sauce is melted and the vegetables aren't so hot. Stir it up and heat a little more if necessary.
I normally like to cook the potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and other things , in with the bird. But this was not to be. It barely fit a large roasting pan.
The last few photos are not from Christmas time. There was a great deal on chicken breast, so a whole bunch of it was cooked up at once. It goes into the freezer.
After it's mostly cooked, the plates are put on top, as lids. I like chicken to be cooked all the way through. Then, the strips are taken out and put on the plates. They are allowed to cool, and then put in the freezer, on the plates. After being frozen solid, the chicken is moved into other containers. This prevents them from sticking together, so that if only one or a few are needed, we're not dealing with a big block of frozen chicken.
I generally use plates as lids, so that other things can be placed on top, whether it's to be kept warm or thawed.