Cooking times may vary

A friend recently complained about how it took a full hour to cook

(and clean, afterward) a fairly simple dinner consisting of

spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs. So it caused me to pay attention to

how much time it took to cook meals for myself this weekend. The

results were interesting, and reminded me of the time estimates in a

how-to plumbing book for a particular job (such as removing an old

toilet): Experienced, 20 minutes; Handy, 40 minutes; Novice, 1 hour.

For dinner on Saturday, I sliced a chuck top blade steak into thin

slices (1 minute), and some asparagus (another two minutes), then

heated some olive oil in a pan (30 seconds), quickly saute’d the

asparagus in the olive oil and then put some left-over muscadet wine

and covered the pan to let it steam (about 2 minutes), then with some olive oil, saute’d the sliced beef (1 or 2 minutes), and then re-added the asparagus and mixed it with some Kokomen stir-fry sauce, and served it. Total cooking time? About 8 minutes. Cleanup was batched with other meals, but the time to wash the teflon pan and the dishes was probably no more than 3-4 minutes for a total of 10-12 minutes for the cooking and cleaning.

Lunch on Sunday was prepared by taking a half pound fillet of salmon,

cutting it so that the thickness of the fillet was more even, and then

placing it in a heated pan with olive oil (1 minute), and after

browning both sides (1 minute), I added some soy sauce and balsamic

vinegar and covered the pan for about 2 minutes to let the fish steam

cook while the skin pan fries. In the meantime I took some pre-cut,

pre-washed spinach leaves and mushrooms, and placed it on a plate.

Once the salmon was done, I placed it on the spinach and mushrooms,

and called it lunch. Total cooking time? About 5 minutes plus

another 3 or 4 minutes for cleanup (again batched with other meals).

Dinner was stir-fried sliced beef with mushrooms. It was done pretty

much similar to the beef with asparagus, except that I stir-fried the

beef for about a minute, and then added the mushroom and let both cook

at the same time. I used soy sauce and some muscadet to provide

liquid when I covered the pan to let things steam, and then added

stir-fry sauce at the end for flavor. Total cooking time was about 5

minutes, when cleanup being again another 3-5 minutes.

These were definitely some of my faster meals. Some other recipes

(such as the beef stew in the pressure cooker or the ground beef with

onion and mushrooms) take more like 30-45 minutes to cook, but I

generally cook enough for 3-6 meals at a time when I do them so the

average time for a meal is still under 10-15 minutes.

So to all those who think that cooking takes huge amounts of time,

despair not! Once you’re used to it, you can whip together very

satisfying meals without it taking a huge amount of time (or leaving your

kitchen a mess). And unlike, say, replacing the toilet in your bathroom,

there are a lot more opportunities to practice until it becomes

second nature… that is, if it’s something that you want to get into.

Personally, I think that cooking and experimenting with different flavors

(hmm, next time I should try cooking the salmon with wasabi and

horseradish sauce instead of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar)

can be a lot of fun!