21 August 2011


A few easy meals for hungry people who have no cooking skills:

1.  Stir fry  —  Heat a skillet, add a little bit of vegetable oil (no more than 2 Tablespoons), add some chopped onion, sauté (that means stir it around every couple of seconds while it cooks in the oil over medium-high heat).  Once the onion is starting to brown a little tiny bit, or has become translucent, you want to add some julienned carrots (they can be thinly sliced instead of julienned, but they should be thin enough that they'll be able to cook fast, and small enough to pick up with a fork and stick in your mouth), broccoli (cut up the green leafy part into little 1-inch pieces [called florets]), and whatever else (sliced).   Keep the heat high and keep stirring, constantly.  Fragile stuff (e.g. peapods, sprouts) and things that are best only slightly cooked (e.g. radishes) should be reserved for the end.  Once everything's almost done, add your stir-fry sauce, stir it up and get everything out of the pan ASAP before it overcooks.  Best served over some white rice.  The easiest way to make rice is in a 2:1 water:rice ratio.  Bring water and rice to a boil, stir once or twice, put lid on, and reduce heat to low for about 10 minutes or until the water's all gone.  Oh, and if you want to add mushrooms to your stir fry, I find it best to sauté them first, take them off heat, and then add them to the stir fry just before your sauce.  Normal white button mushrooms take about 6 minutes to cook.  You'll know they're done after they've given off all their liquid and the liquid has boiled off, so they're starting to brown.

2.  Some embellishments for jarred pasta sauce  —  sauté half a diced onion in olive oil until the onion is starting to turn brown and it's very soft (don't burn it!).  Then add one or two cloves of garlic (peeled and pressed or minced), stir around for 30-60 seconds, then add a little bit of wine to the pan (1/4 to 1/2 cup), let it boil a little bit, then add your sauce.  To the sauce you might then add a little extra olive oil, or some tomato paste, or some sautéed mushrooms (see above), or even a bit of ground beef that's been cooked in a skillet.  Simmer the sauce until it's not soupy (adding tomato paste thickens it a little).  Then serve over a bed of pasta, with grated fresh Parmesan on top.

3.  Potato-leek soup — take 3 medium sized leeks, cut off the roots (but not the white part!) and the dark green parts of the leaves.  Wash thoroughly.  Then slice the light green leafy part and the white bottom of the leek very thinly.  It should make between 3 & 4 cups of sliced leek.  Put it in a pot.  Next, take 2-3 medium-to-large sized yukon gold potatoes (i.e. a little more than 1 lb), peel them, slice thinly and dice them (the dice should be about 1/8-1/4 inch).  There should be again 3-4 cups of potato here.  Add them all to the pot.  Now put 8 cups of cold water in the pot, along with 1 Tablespoon of table salt.  Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Partially cover it and let it cook for 40-50 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Then, using a rubber spatula, force the soup through the strainer, including the solid bits.  If there's stuff that just won't go through, discard it (these would be tough stringy bits of leek, which no one wants to eat anyway).  Stir up your soup, taste it, add a bit of salt if necessary.  The soup can be refrigerated this way and kept for a few days.  Just before serving, however, you should bring the soup back to a simmer and stir in 1 tablespoon of heavy (i.e., whipping) cream or half as much butter, per cup of soup.  Then serve.