College Vegetarian Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends
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Shockingly few recipes are adequately tested. Do you have to make two different recipes or more? Cooking from a recipe also means you probably made too much food and will be stuck with leftovers that no one wants. More food waste. Every single one of these things adds stress and frustration to the cooking process, not to mention a ton of time, effort and money. The secret to building a cooking habit is learning to cook without recipes. Imagine having the freedom to make your weekly shopping trip at your own convenience, walking through the produce and butcher sections and deciding what to cook for the week based on what looks good.
You choose three main courses, then imagine what flavors and side dishes sound like they would go well with them.
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This comes pretty naturally to you, since you cook so often and have experience with many ingredients. You also know exactly where to find everything. Buying the correct amount of food is intuitive, since you know the eating habits of your household. That reminds you, your kids really loved that squash dish last week so you need to buy extra today. You adjust the seasonings and add a few herbs until it sings.
You make a mental note of this for next time. You already know you made something delicious, but your friends and family praise your skills. They ask what your secret is and if they can have the recipe. So after you eat you just need to rinse the pans and put the dirty plates in the dishwasher.
It takes less than 10 minutes. Removing the burden of following a recipe frees you from all the stress, frustration and waste that comes from not having an intuitive sense in the kitchen. When I was in college I was such a terrible cook that I once burned water no joke, I was trying to make pasta and forgot about it. And it took me an entire afternoon to learn how to boil eggs.
Now making delicious, healthy food at home is as natural to me as getting dressed in the morning or walking my dog.
You want to cook more, so what’s stopping you?
A common misconception is that cooking is a natural talent. But nobody is born a chef, and everyone can learn to cook with practice. The first step is to stop thinking about cooking as a single skill. Instead think of it as a series of habits and skills that make it easy for you to get home-cooked meals on the table. This means you can break cooking down into more manageable tasks and tackle them one at a time.
Because cooking skills build on each other, you also need to learn them in the right order. Learning a bunch of habits may sounds like more work, but it is actually MUCH easier than starting each day with a crazy new recipe. Since I know how essential cooking is to becoming a foodist, I created an online course to teach you how to cook without recipes in just 30 days. It takes less than 10 minutes to read and gives you one simple assignment. The first day all you do is go into your kitchen and get out a knife.
I think I might actually be looking forward to cooking tomorrow!
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Foodist Kitchen was first created as a program called Feast Bootcamp. I loved Feast and got so much great feedback from readers that I decided to take it over and give it a foodist makeover. Thanks David and Nadia! The original program was developed based on hundreds of studies conducted by psychologists and researchers exploring the human brain and how it forms habits.
College Vegetarian Cooking by Megan Carle and Jill Carle | Penguin Random House Canada
The exact same concepts that make habit-changing programs like CrossFit so popular and effective. The quality of time you spend in the kitchen is just the start of how learning to cook without recipes will change your life. Although I have come to enjoy cooking for its own sake, and for the sense of warmth and connection it brings to my home, eating more Real Food and avoiding processed foods is still my top motivation for cooking.
Foodist Kitchen will support you on this mission, and help you build meals based on the Foodist Plate. I am by default eating healthier. Based on that, I consider this money very well spent. One of the unexpected bonuses I got when I started cooking as a grad student was how much money I saved. Restaurants are seriously expensive, and I had actually gone into debt from eating out so often in San Francisco. Not going out or relying on overpriced, bad tasting frozen meals saved me hundreds of dollars a month that I was able to channel directly into paying off my debt and creating Summer Tomato.
I also stopped throwing out as much food, since learning to cook without recipes took the guess work out of my grocery shopping. The total savings was huge. One of the most special things about cooking more is the connections you make with family, friends and your community. Dinnertime at home is one of the most beloved rituals my husband and I share, and we definitely feel the loss when we skip it too many days in a row.
My cooking habit has also trickled into the rest of my family. Before this he was depressed, had had a stroke, and barely wanted to live. My sister-in-law and niece now adore squash, cauliflower and brussels sprouts after having a history of picky eating, all because of dishes I made at home. Brownies with olive oil are really gross. Ask my roommate. Cornstarch: If you make a lot of stir-fries, you'll want cornstarch on your shelf. It is a fast and easy way to thicken sauces, but it can cause a real mess if it's not used properly.
It must be mixed with a little bit of cold liquid before being added to the sauce or whatever; otherwise, it will immediately form large lumps that will never smooth out.
You don't need a lot of liquid, just enough to form a smooth, pourable mixture. One other tip about cornstarch: It doesn't have much staying power when it's used in a sauce. It's meant to be used right before serving. If it cooks for more than 10 minutes, your sauce will begin to thin out again. Whether 'tis betterto suffer the slings and arrows of nasty pesticides or to blow six bucks on two peaches. Oh, sorry. They made us take a Shakespeare class freshman year.
But really, what is a broke vegetarian supposed to do? We know the benefits of organics better for the environment, better for your health, taste better , but they can be totally beyond reach, price-wise. The truth is, some conventionally grown that is, nonorganic fruits and vegetables are grown with lots of chemicals, some with hardly any. If this is really important to you, and you can afford some organics, go for organic apples, cherries, spinach, celery, and berries. Fruits or vegetables you peel like carrots or bananas or peas and broccoli and cauliflower don't expose you to as many chemicals, so buy those organic if cost is no object yeah, right.
Likewise, farmer's markets, which happen in most towns at least once a week closing for the winter in cold climates , can be really inspiring but really expensive places to shop for produce. It's great to be able to give your food money right to the people who grew it, and you should definitely check out your local farmer's market if you haven't already. The vendors will entice you with samples, and in the height of the growing season, prices can be really competitive. For those times when fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available or you just don't have the time to deal with them, the canned or frozen versions are generally good alternatives.
Whether you use frozen or canned is up to you.
In these recipes we used the one we felt worked best in each situation, but feel free to use whichever one you prefer. Herbs and spices: We use dried herbs more often than fresh herbs in our recipes simply because they're cheaper and easier to have on hand. When we use fresh herbs, it's because the dish needs the slightly different flavor that the fresh herb provides. Dried herbs are usually more potent than their fresh counterparts.
That said, now we'll tell you why it isn't always true. In general, dried herbs are more potent than fresh for the first three months. Once that time has passed they begin to lose their potency, and after six months their flavoring power drops dramatically. The same holds true with spices. Manufacturers recommend replacing dried herbs and spices every six months. Since that isn't feasible on our budget, we just taste each dish and add more if it seems like the herb or spice has lost its punch.