The sad thing about the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) is it has robbed us if the knowledge and experience of cooking. It has effectively reduced “cooking” to adding water and a few processed ingredients and microwaving. We are losing the art of both cooking and the family table. Food has become about instant gratification and pleasure instead of true nourishment and fellowship.
Cooking can be made fairly simple and much less intimidating if you consider this: most cooking methods are the same every time you employ them no matter what food you are cooking. The variation will come were time and temperature are concerned (and in the Google age, no need to panic!). Here are some basic cooking methods to begin trying at home:
Pan sauté: use a healthy cooking fat in a pan on the stovetop, melt it usually over medium heat for produce or medium high for meat, add ingredient and cook to desired doneness. Stir any produce frequently to prevent burning and make sure to turn meat halfway through cooking. Stainless steel dishes are ideal for this type of cooking and always come clean-salt, baking soda @ blue dawn make a great cleaning agent for anything stuck on!
Steam: use a metal colander over a pot with two or so inches of water in the bottom of the pot (you don’t want the water touching the bottom of the colander) and put any veggie or fish down into the colander over the water, cover, bring water to boil and let steam to desired doneness. I did green beans yesterday and they took 20 minutes. Google your veggie for cooking time estimates.
Roast: line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, heat your oven to 350-400 degrees depending on your ingredient, melt butter or coconut oil and toss with ingredient and add seasoning according to your recipe or desired flavor. For example, I do this with asparagus using 1-2 TBS coconut oil and add salt and pepper. Spread ingredient on baking sheet and roast 15-30 minutes depending on desired doneness (remember your cooking assistant, Google!)
Grill: wet skewers and cut up fruits and veggies. Skewer them and grill them until just marked.
When cooking whole grains like rice or quinoa, use about 1 cup of uncooked grain to 2 cups water or liquid of your choice (try free range chicken stock -yum!). Bring liquid to boil, stir in grain, cover and reduce heat to low. Do not remove lid until liquid has been mostly absorbed. Then season to taste or recipe.
Each of these methods can be applied to whole foods like broccoli, greens of any kind, bell peppers, asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and on and on. You will want to invest in a cutting board for produce that is sturdy and a high quality chef’s knife. These will be your best friend as you prep whole foods. If your meals don’t require any washing or chopping, chances are you aren’t consuming whole foods. If you are intimidated by not knowing what temps and times to use, remember, your eyes and your mouth are a great tool for testing doneness.
For some of you this is nothing new. For others, this is scary new territory. These are just a few basics to get you started. Cooking cannot by any means be condensed into one blog post.
I challenge you to try to make food that must be washed and chopped. Just TRY. If you fail, I promise you will learn and the next time it will be easier. Pinterest and Google are the two best resources in my home for getting new ideas, tasty recipes and proper cooking times and temps. Get out of your cooking comfort zone and do your palate a favor: make something new!