How many times does a recipe, or food idea seem like a great idea … until you read the final entry: Place in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Groan! I can’t solve every instance of this mood-killing statement, but I can help when you are working with blending dehydrated spices or herbs into your meal.
I love specialty salt, especially grey salt, often from France. I also love dried hot pepper flakes, especially if they are made from my own dried chilies.
Freezing meat allows you to keep real ingredients on hand. You can save plenty of money when buying in bulk quantities, or stocking up at special prices. Purchase extra amounts of specialty or hard-to-find cuts and save time and travel costs.
But how do you know what portion of any one item you will need? Small families sometimes have guests, and even large families can need just a bit of a frozen meat.
There are times when I don’t have a clue what I am having for dinner, beyond that it is pasta. I choose the noodle type by how much time I have, put the water on to boil, and only then do I decide what the sauce will be.
Note: I deliberately present this dish as a concept, rather than a recipe. Recipes take a long time to follow, and you often don’t have the exact ingredients cited in the recipe. You will make more real-food meals at home if you have concepts stored in your memory, and can work with the ingredients you have on hand.
You can’t make real food without spices. Period! Real food ingredients come in a naked state. That’s what makes them perfect. A blank canvas to paint your next meal, reflect your mood and custom-tease your senses. But you need a good method to store and use spices to unlock the full potential of spices in your cooking.
Warning! This is not one of my simple tips. Making roasted peppers takes time. It’s fiddly. It’s also worth it. I’ve tried bottled roasted red pepper, and while I don’t know exactly how they make them, I taste a chemical undertone every time. The version you can buy at an olive bar in an upscale supermarket is often great, but very, very costly.
Once in a while, when I find a really good price on red pepper, I will buy a few and commit the time to roasting and freezing a supply.
One of the best parts about cooking real food, is that you can change your mind in an instant. You might feel like Thai food on Saturday when you are shopping, but on Wednesday, you are leaning to Mexican. I’m spoiled, but I am spoiled because I have those choices. This article illustrates the freedom of real food with total transformations of basic crock-pot stew.
Quick and easy separate freezing
I outlined the process for freezing individual portions of meat after a major shopping trip, but this is an everyday alternative.
I used one quarter pound of ground chicken, which left three portions. I simply formed three patties (wet your hands so the chicken does not stick), and placed them on a plate lined with the plastic from the chicken container.
I don’t know anyone who cooks as much as I do. I know wonderful cooks who make much fancier fare, and others who’s presentation rivals top restaurants. But for straight out, cooking everything from scratch, every meal, I’m right up there with the certifiably obsessed. I obviously have a good, working kitchen, relatively organized. Yet, it fell apart because of one little event.
I bought a few new plates.
I love bean sprouts. I love them in sandwiches, soup, salads and stir fries, of course. Trouble is, they last about 20 minutes in the fridge before they turn into a soggy, slimy mess.
Store them in a covered container filled with fresh water and a lemon slice, and you will find that your bean sprouts will stay fresh, white and crisp for a week or more. Trust me … it works.
Hint: Find a place that offers bean sprouts in bulk.
Who doesn’t love rich, buttery mushrooms? But mushroom are world-champion butter-sponges. In my endless quest to have the foods I love without the heavy fat burden, I tackled the mushroom many years ago. It took some experimentation, but this method delivers all the taste, no extra work, and ends with about ½ teaspoon of butter per serving. The trick? Add the butter when it counts.
It’s June, but it’s also a blustery. and cold. Soup required. There is nothing faster, or more comforting than a bowl of hot soup. Good pre-made soup is very expensive. Cheap soup is not good. All but the premium-priced, organic, canned or packaged soups have an ingredients list that would test a professional chemist’s knowledge. And if you think you are doing yourself a favor to buy a ready-made version from a large grocery store, really do yourself a favor and request a nutrition statement.
There is a real-food option. In fact, homemade soup is a very simple meal. This post will just cover my cream soup method, but just increase the broth, and you have a non-cream version.