I rewrote the cookbook's intro. I don't know, is it too wordy? I've retitled the book. And I've fiddled further with the structure of the book. It's starting to feel right. I just need to force myself to learn how to cook a few cassaroles (ugh! Not my favorite thing to cook at the best of times, and especially not in the heat of the summer) and fiddle around with tomatoes and zuchini when they are in season. Then, compile the recipes in order. And write the essays. Okay, so I still have a metric crap ton to do. But it feels doable, especially now that I have reclaimed my evenings. (Now if I can just keep myself away from Portal 2 long enough to be productive. . .)
How to cook nutritious meals from scratch, on a budget, when time is short.
It is not hard to cook good food “from scratch”. Meals made from common, whole ingredients are less expensive and better for us than packaged, premade foods. And cooking from scratch doesn’t have to take a long time. Let me explain:
The American diet of pre-made “convenience” foods is making us sick. We shovel “snack foods” into ourselves at all hours of the day, we eat alone in a hurry instead of socially and slowly, we eat too many animal products and too many refined grains instead of fruits and vegetables - and we focus on foods being a delivery system for nutrients, which lets us be fooled into thinking that a package of cookies labeled “heart healthy“ is actually good for us. Other cultures do not suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity - that is, until they adopt our foods and food habits.
Though traditional diets around the world come in all types, what they have in common is that their foods are cooked from whole ingredients, with customs that limit the amount of food eaten and extend the enjoyment of meals. If we do the same - and if we combine good cooking habits with the American customs of family dinners, pot-lucks, and cook-outs - we can live healthier lives.
Some people insist that pre-made foods are more affordable than whole food ingredients. This is only true when comparing the most bottom-of-the-line premade junk food with exotic and out-of-season whole foods. American staples such as potatoes, cabbage, whole raw chicken, oats, and in-season greens are a bargain compared to breakfast cereals, fried chicken, and “low fat” microwave meals. Such staples are also far more packed with nutrition than any packaged food - including the packaged foods that claim to be good for you.
Cooking fancy meals from scratch can take a long time. But time is fleeting for working families, so there are two kinds of recipes in this book: “quick” recipes that can be made in a half hour or less, with practice; and “make in advance” recipes, which produce foods that either store well, to be reheated at your convenience, or which can be carried easily to a pot-luck.
The recipes and strategies in this book are what I used to feed my family during my time as a working mother, so I can tell you from experience that it is possible to have a career and a family and home-cooked meals that don‘t require sacrificing all of your scant free time or money. It is my sincere hope that you will use this book to foster a love of cooking, a love of sharing food, and a love of eating that brings you good health, family bonding, and a deeper connection to your community. May the fork be with you!
Table of Contents
Basic cooking equipment
Food-handling safety tips
Freezing and thawing tips
Basic seasonings and spices
Preparing a week’s worth of food in advance
Weights and Measurements
Eggs (scrambled, fried, etc.)
Bread (simple stuff-on-bread recipes)
Bread puddings and French toast (bread plus custard)
Pancakes (the humble pancake has so many variations!)
Beans (boiling and freezing)
Salads, salsas, and marinades (raw veggies, salad dressings, and meat salads)
Whole meats (whole chicken, roasts, chops, pulled pork, etc.)
Balls, patties, and loaves (tuna patties, meatloaf, fritters, etc.)
Veggies (stir-fried, baked)
Stir Fries (combinations of meats and veggies)
Pastas (and ideas for topping pastas)
Grains (whole grains, variations)
Greens (cooked greens)
Sauces (marinara, cheese sauce, gravy, pureed veggie)
Soups and Stews (stocks, soups, chili, stews, curries)
Casseroles (enchiladas, gratins, baked pasta)