I made a stir-fry tonight. It included marinated chicken (which stewed for about an hour in some apple cider vinegar, some olive oil, some sweet basil, salt, pepper and chilies), carrots, green bell pepper, and onion.
Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times this week is all about the need for sustainable foods. He writes:
There is one notable thing these recipes are not: magic. You cannot produce them without having a functioning kitchen; some minimal equipment, including a pot, a skillet and a bowl; a couple of knives; some utensils; a strainer and a cutting board; and the ability/money to stock a pantry and at least occasionally supplement it with fresh food. These requirements cannot be met by everyone, but they can be met by far more people than those who cooked dinner last night.
He says that a rice-and-bean dish, a chopped salad, and a stir-fry are in essence what makes a cook into a cook. If you can pull together a sensible, well-balanced meal using those three preparation styles, then you’re well on your way to being a successful cook, no matter what tradition of cooking you belong to.
I’m not much of a rice-eater, but I do like lentils. Thanks to my mom, I make a marinated lentils dish which is easy. Simply cook lentils (not a laborious process at all), and then marinate them in a combination of olive oil, vinegar, and herbs (sometimes with mustard). It’s easy to do, and fun. Tomorrow, when I return to school for lunch, I’ll carry a salad with me that I made this evening: baby spinach greens, tomatoes, diced carrots, and a little bit of my lentils to go with them. Again, easy.
The hard part for me is bread, noodles, and such-like. I have my own pasta maker. It’s not a very good machine, but it works reasonably well, and the pasta it makes is light-years ahead of store-bought. It’s tricky to manage that, though, and finding good flour is not so easy. Same with bread — I used to have my own chef or levain, which is a fancy way of saying a sourdough starter. No longer.
In any case, when I’m eating these three dishes that Mark Bittman extols — stirfry, beans-and-rice, and salad — I feel ages younger, a get healthier faster, and I get happier.