Cooking things brings out the flavor. Chemistry happens. Post-surgery, I can't eat many raw foods. I figure I'm not a gorilla or a cow who must chew chew chew all day to become nourished. Humans can cook, which helps us digest much more easily. My body just can't digest raw food now. That's OK. Michael Pollan dives deep into cooking in his latest book and Netflix series Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. I will be revisiting his words of wisdom often in these posts...
"Our growing distance from any direct, physical engagement with the processes by which the raw stuff of nature gets transformed into a cooked meal is changing our understanding of what food is. Indeed, the idea that food has any connection to nature or human work or imagination is hard to credit when it arrives in a neat package, fully formed. Food becomes just another commodity, an abstraction. And as soon as that happens we become easy prey for corporations selling synthetic versions of the real thing--what I call edible foodlike substances. We end up trying to nourish ourselves on images...(Cooking) --defined broadly enough to take in the whole spectrum of techniques people have devised for transforming the raw stuff of nature into nutritious and appealing things for us to eat and drink--is one of the most interesting and worthwhile things we humans do."
So, this Master 5 idea. The gist is that if I can remember 5 basic ways to prepare my meals, I have 5 blank canvases. And these preparations make for 5-6 meals for me, so I cook one or two of them on Sundays, after grocery shopping that morning or the day before, and split them into containers to take the work the rest of the week. These are my Master 5:
Cast iron fry pan. Quick, even heating. Can take a beating. Veggies in first, then meat, then turn the pan stickings into a sauces to pour over everything. Stove top cooking, but can be put into the oven.
Oh my god I love my Le Creuset cookware. Super expensive, but last forever and cook evenly while taking a beating. You get what you pay for. Well, I didn't pay for this. My brother got this for me for my birthday, as well as other LC items. Gifts that have changed my life!
I start again with veggies, add the meat, pour in stock, put the lid on, and cook on stove top or move to oven for a few hours. Divine melding of flavors.
I also use this pot for soups and stews. Once things are cooked through, I just insert an immersion blender and blend as smooth as I desire in the moment. Much easier than pouring into a blender.
Super-fast, super-hot. You have to have everything chopped, laid out and ready for this preparation. Touch of sesame oil, veggies, small pieces of meat, then add cooked rice noodles. All in a few minutes. I will also have the sauce already prepared. My favorite is a peanut sauce I make from scratch.
OK, this photo's from Amazon. My stove-top grill is a mess right now, and I need to go buy a dang brush and clean it. Next year I want a small grill to keep outside. The good thing about this is it's small, and will hold just enough meat and veg for a couple meals. So easy; just a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper. I don't even use sauces on grilled bits.
Next post I'll show some recipes resulting from these Master 5.