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Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Cook More

Wow, that was an exciting moment this Thursday, going to Barnes and Noble and finding 5 copies of my book on the shelf!

"How do you find the time to cook?" is a question I often get from friends and students.  We have, collectively, forgotten how to cook, not just how to do it but how to fit it into our lives.  How do people find the time to eat real food all year, cook from scratch, and return to  traditional health-enhancing preparation techniques like soaking grains and beans, fermenting, and sprouting?  Much of the secret has to do with habit.  Cooking is a healthy habit, like exercise, meditation, and the like, that you build and then it becomes a sort of addiction, something you wouldn't think to live without.  Cooking, too, is intrinsically rewarding, as it provides great creative and sensual pleasure.  In fact you can't be truly healthy without practicing the art of cooking.

One thing that keeps me going in the kitchen is subscribing to a CSA box (thank you Full Belly Farm)  which ensures that a big box of produce is there each week to inspire me.  Here is an excerpt from my book, Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy (click here for more info and a link to order) with my favorite

 Tips for Busy Cooks

1.   Cook once, eat twice (or more). Cook a double batch of grains or beans and the extras can go into the next meal or the freezer. When you turn on the oven, consider what else can go in to be cooked for a future meal—a whole squash, perhaps, or a batch of beets for salad or pickling. Many leftovers can become an unconventional breakfast or brown bag lunch.

2.   Cook on Sunday for the week. A half day spent cooking a large pot of beans and a soup and beginning a fermentation project can be the start of several meals for the later in the week. If you tire of eating the same dish, freeze (and label!) half your batch in single-serving containers instead.

3.   Think ahead. It becomes automatic: while doing dinner dishes, I’m thinking about what we’re having for breakfast. In the morning, I’m planning dinner. What needs to be soaked, sprouted, or defrosted for the next few meals?

4.   Shop with a list. Obvious to some, a revelation to others, this is also a good way to stick to your budget.

5.   Keep your pantry well stocked. Having grains and beans, oils, condiments, spices, dried fruit, and canned seafood on hand, combined with the stores in your freezer (see below), will prevent many a trip for take-out.

6.   Make good use of your freezer (part 1). Instead of packaged “convenience foods,” keep it filled with cooked beans, meat, leftover soups and stews, pesto, and broth and you’ll have the ingredients for a real meal at the ready. Frozen broth and beans defrost quickly on the stove top while you chop and sauté whatever fresh vegetables are on hand to make a delicious soup or stew. Top with sauerkraut, Creme Fraiche, or  an herb pesto and you’re dining on real food faster than it takes to heat up a frozen dinner or dine out.

7.   Make good use of your freezer (part 2). Save bones and vegetable trimmings for stock until you have enough to make up a batch. Freeze cooled strained stock in Mason jars, leaving plenty of headroom to prevent breakage, or in repurposed yogurt or other plastic food containers.

The other tips are on p.154 of the book.  Drop by my Facebook fanpage for the book here and read an excerpt, find reviews, events and classes and drop me a comment or question.