Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How Our Guide to College Cooking Will Be Different

Frugal Son and I are racing to the finish line of our project. Still, even a very short e-tome turns out to take a lot more time and care than one would think.

Yesterday, I received a robocall from the public library telling me an item was being held. Yippee! It was the rice cooker cookbook I had requested from the accommodating bookbuyer.

There are many enticing recipes in the book, 300 of them! And therein lies the problem for the College Cook. How do you choose? Opening at random, I find Lemongrass Steamed Fish. In my well-stocked kitchen, I see I lack: fish, Chinese cooking wine, lemongrass.

Let's try again: Chilled Soba in Green Onion Dressing. I lack mirin, soba, and sesame seeds.

My point: shopping takes more time than cooking, or at least as much. Unlike me, the College Cook lacks a well-stocked pantry and a regularly scheduled grocery run. So if you shop for your chosen recipe, you waste not only time in going out for supplies, but the supplies--what do you do with the leftover mirin and lemongrass?

So based on my recommendation, you may have made the excellent decision to acquire a rice cooker for your College Cooking adventure. But traditional recipe-based cookbooks do not solve the problems you will be facing: getting and storing your ingredients and having recipes that use the ingredients you have.

Our College Cooking Crash Course tells you WHAT to buy (20 ingredients, most of which don't require refrigeration); WHAT to cook (only around 14 recipes, enough for 2 weeks); HOW to do it (none of the recipes requires much prep; most don't require chopping!); HOW LONG it takes (most around 20-30 minutes of no-work time during which you can talk to your roommates, read a magazine, or STUDY)...and, at the end, there is almost no clean-up.

We've been cooking like this for most of the summer and it is SO EASY.

Here's an example, which we ate last night: 5 ingredients are MACARONI, TOMATO SAUCE, RICOTTA, FROZEN SPINACH, and GRATED ITALIAN CHEESE.

I measured 2 cups of macaroni, added about a cup of the tomato sauce and enough water to cover, turned on the machine, checked for the mac to be done after about 15 minutes, switched the machine to warm, stirred in about 1/2 a cup of ricotta and 1 cup of frozen spinach, threw in some parmesan.

And it was GOOD. All we had to wash was the rice cooker insert. And our bowls. And the measuring cup.

Let me know if you try it!

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