Let’s face it, our lives are very, very busy. Work, school, family, etc., etc., etc. As a result, we’ve become pretty darn good at looking for ways to shave time from things. We found that route that saves 5-10 minutes from our commute. We plow through “junk” emails while on the phone. We shouldn’t, but we knock off calls, emails, and texts while in the car. Don’t you feel like sometimes your week has become a never-ending list of to-dos and shortcuts? And, yes, that does extend into our homes - cleaning, laundry, cooking our meals. We want the fastest way to get food on the table. And trust me I get it. Especially on busy weeknights.
But as we have plowed through Summer and past Labor Day, we know Autumn is just ahead. I’m going to argue for taking a little extra time…to make our meals better (and better for you) and the preparation of them more enjoyable.
Now you may be thinking that in some of my social media posts I share ideas about how to make cooking faster. I think of it a little differently. I see those tips as ways to be more efficient (especially when prepping) and planning in advance. The idea is, yes to save some time, but also to lower your stress levels while helping you turn out great, homemade dishes.
One thing I truly like about cooking my own meals is that I can completely control what’s goes into a dish (and just as importantly what doesn’t). I’ve heard it said that 90-95% of the sodium we take in comes from processed foods and fast foods - and I truly believe that. Cooking for yourself and controlling what and how much of each ingredient you include gives you the ability to make healthier, but still very flavorful, dishes.
So in a reversal of sorts - here are some ways to SLOW down when it comes to cooking - but without cooking taking over your life!
- Do an extended cooking session over the weekend. Often weekends are a slower time. Perhaps choose a few recipes that you can take your time cooking. Ones that you can eat maybe on a Sunday night, but that can also be reheated (and/or frozen) for weeknight meals when you are short on time.
- Choose some long, slow recipes for times that you will be home. How about a braised meat dish or a brisket? A little work up-front and at the start; but then they cook for hours with very little attention. And BTW collagen begins to melt at about 160F and turns to a rich liquid, gelatin. This gives meat a lot of full, deep flavor and a wonderful silky texture.
- Visit a farmers market. This is such a great way to take some time out of your day. You get back in touch with where your food comes from. You can take your time and select what you want, discover new foods to try, talk with growers. It’s a wonderful way to slow down and (dare I say it) get back to our “roots”. (OK, that joke was awful! LOL)
- Start baking bread. Baking bread is one of those things that you really just can’t slow down. Yes, yes, yes there are quick-bake recipes and recipes that are pretty short (think muffins). But breads require focus (ingredients need to be pretty precise) and time (to mix, proof, rise, bake, etc.). It also allows you time to be creative and find (or invent) new breads to try out. Take your time and enjoy the bread.
- Cook your eggs more slowly. Yes, I know this seems like such a small thing. And, yes, you can scramble an egg over high heat in a matter of seconds. But I’ve found that when I cook eggs more slowly over lower heat, they turn out better. They have more taste. The texture is better.
Almost imperceptibly the days are getting longer and longer. Soon (not fast enough for me!) Autumn will be upon us. Let’s slow down a bit. Let’s take the time to enjoy the experience of cooking. The food will be better, healthier and more satisfying. Our minds will benefit as we focus on a single task and block out the world for a while and make a good meal. Slow down and try it.
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