Simple cooking

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
~Calvin Trillin

I cook anywhere from 75-100% of my food in a little tiny kitchen. It lacks a full-size stove, dishwasher, pantry, working garbage disposal, and much in the way of countertops, cabinets or general room. I lack even more in the way of kitchen gadgets.

A lot of people would consider it impossible to cook in such a space with so little equipment. I don’t even own a cookie sheet, for crying out loud, although I am going to replace my regular frying pan with an Asian-style pan with deep sides.

My roommate has even less than I do, and cooks almost as much. How do we do it?

Simply. We pick simple recipes with few ingredients. I normally base meals off what I already have on hand, and very few meals involve more than five ingredients. I keep staples like rice, spices, and chicken on hand almost all the time, which makes it convenient to throw a meal together quickly.

I also use leftover ingredients to make other meals. For example, this week I was eating egg salad. I had some eggs left over, so I grabbed a tomato, bell pepper, and jalapeno to make scrambled eggs and veggies. I ran out of eggs. Tonight I’ll use the leftover tomato, bell pepper, and jalapeno along with some chicken and tortillas I had in the freezer to make chicken tacos. The leftover chicken will probably be used for chicken alfredo with the leftover pasta I have sitting around. And so on and so forth.

Often I’ll also make multiple recipes at the same time that utilize some of the same perishable ingredients. If I decide to make quiche (always the “garbage” or “kitchen sink” quiche), I’ll check on my stock of rice and grab some raisins for rice pudding. Both recipes call for milk and eggs, two items I usually have left over if I only make one recipe.

And while I love cookbooks and recipes, I much prefer cookbooks that stick with “one-dish” or five ingredients or less. This is another reason why crock pots are so lovely. I avoid recipes that need a lot of ingredients, strange ingredients, or utensils I don’t own.

My spice rack is also simple. I stick with basic spices that I use over and over again for a variety of dishes. I substitute whenever possible.

Cooking is simpler than many people want to make it out to be. If you want gourmet food, sure, it’s going to be complicated. But if you’re looking for simple, healthy recipes that don’t take long, cooking doesn’t have to be hard.

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One Response to “Simple cooking”

  1. maloyo Says:

    I’ve thought many of the same things, and wondered why apartment living is so overlooked. With a bit of shopping around, nice smallish places can be had just about anywhere. And unless you’re in a high cost metro, at decent prices.

    Something you might want to check out, cooking wise, is a website for the 10 in 10 diet. A Canadian woman provides a lot of useful info about heating healthy, seasonal food, and keeping food costs low. Lots of batch cooking ideas. Not all of it will work for you, but if you’re like me, you’re always open to ideas for simple, healthy, affordable eating.

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