Skip to main content

30 Minute Cookbooks

I just got hold of a cookbook that promises put food on the table within 30 minutes. And then I realised that I hate it.


It is not a lousy book per se. It came from my favourite cookbook producers, America's Test Kitchen.

So what's the problem with it then?

2 things that get on my nerve.

First off, such books mocks at anyone who claims that they can't spare time to do cooking. I read from another good book (The End of Food) that as it stands now, the average family in US spends about 30 minutes a day cooking. So you can see why there are so many of such quick-fix cookbooks in the market. But over here, the economics are slightly different. When one can feed a family of four at an average cost of $3.50 (a decent plate of rice with 2 vegetable dishes and a meat dish) per head, we are looking at $14 a meal. So now tell me if your per hour rate is worth $28, assuming that you can produce the same meal in 30 minutes? The per hour rate gets worse when the family only consist of two persons. Some might say they are only paid $6 an hour, so the above hourly rate is expensive and, therefore, they would be unwilling to pay. But I would bet that these are usually the people who eat out. Why? Cos they need to work longer hours to make up for the lower per hour rate and after that do you think they would want to spend time cooking in the kitchen? So where do such quick-fix books leave them?

Secondly, it doesn't tell other parts of the equation: grocery shopping and cleaning up. Although one would dispute that grocery shopping and cleaning up is part of any cooking, be it the 30-minutes cooking or not, I feel that it is misleading. If I apply the above calculations of per hour rate to include grocery shopping and cleaning up, how much is your time worth? Let's just say that one would spend another 30 minutes doing grocery shopping and cleaning and another 30 minutes cooking a meal which would otherwise cost $14 to eat outside. So can you see now that the per hour rate is getting lower?

If you are lost at my quirky calculations, let me just summise to say that time is a very percious commodity these days and everyone welcomes quick-fixes. But despite that, cooking shouldn't be made to be one of those quick-fixes. To me, cooking is about preparing nourishing food for your loved ones, so if such preparation takes a long time so be it and if it takes only a few minutes to throw together it would be a bonus. Nothing can be compared to a meal prepared at home, and no compelling per hour rate is going to deter me from cooking at home.

Now, please excuse me while I dash off to the laundry to pick up my jackets and then after sit in a car wash. As you can see, I am not against sub-contracting. Just certain departments.


Popular posts from this blog

Main Course Salads: How To Make Ahead

I am still very into salad these days and probably will start to turn various shades of green soon at this rate we are chomping them down.

After making and eating quite a number of salads, I've came away with some notes on how to get a head start in making salads.

Size - Cut it down
I just came across an article from The Kitchn asking if there is a way to eat salad gracefully. I didn't think that there was much hope in that direction until I had the Wafu Salad from Tonkichi that made me realise that it is possible to eat salads gracefully - cut everything into bite-size.

Prep ahead
Although salads needs minimal cooking, it involves lots of knife-work. Slicing, dicing, chopping all take time. But as I've mentioned earlier, most ingredients of a salad can be prepared in advance, but not all. Cut avocados will turn black, apples brown, and so forth. So if you are considering these items for your salad, either wait until just before serving to dice them up or leave them out. Th…

Main Course Salads: Salade Nicoise

My motivation for looking into main course salad was born out of sheer laziness. I was looking for a one-dish meal (less plates) that requires minimal cooking (less pots/pans) and packs lots of veggies as well as being filling. No skimpy wimpy diet salads for this gal.

So if I have to put this into a checklist of evaluating a salad, it would probably look like this.

Salade Nicoise has all the ticks in the check-boxes. Everything in this salad can be made ahead of time. Right down to the proteins of eggs and fish (either canned tuna or leftover grilled salmon). Now, isn't this dish time friendly?

The dressing for Salade Nicoise is just a simple olive oil and acid mix (ratio is 1 : 1.5)with shallots and herbs thrown in together with Dijon mustard. The recipe for the vinaigrette I used came from The New Best Recipe which you will be able to find it on Simply Recipe. I haven't had many main course salads in restaurants, but from the very few that I had eaten, the dressings were …

Conversation With A Pre-Teen

Conversation #36845

Princess: "Mummy, what's this in your phone's photo gallery?"

Me: "Oh, that's my 杏仁茶(Chinese Almond milk drink)."

Princess: "It looks like my slime."

Me: "..."

I still cannot phantom the joy of playing with slime.

This was indeed my precious homemade Chinese almond milk which I had to rationed carefully since I had made only a small quantity to try out. There are plenty of recipes out there, and me being me, I just bought a bag of Chinese almonds (南杏) and just winged it without any measurements. I am beginning to cook like my mum, with whom I am forever exasperated when I try to coax a recipe of my favourite dish out from her. So now I am equally unable to give a recipe here. Sigh ... I guess I am really my mother's daughter. But I will not leave you in the lurch. I made this Chinese almond milk based on this video from YTower Cooking Channel, so go check it. The method is so easy and the result is unlike any…