Some things I have learned about myself and cooking during the last three weeks of quarantine:
- Jeremiah requires a lot of meat. I have to meal plan around the meat that we’re eating.
- Since I am buying the meat in larger quantities (aka not the day of, which is what I was trying to do before shelter in place), I have to plan ahead so that I can defrost the meat the night before.
- I’ve been gravitating to meals that don’t take a lot of babysitting – things that can sit over the stove like a braised meat, or things that just cook slowly in an oven, or quick stir fry-ish meals.
- It really does help to prep and chop things beforehand, but it creates more dishes to wash if I put things into mise en place bowls. Still adjusting my workflow to become more efficient and use less dishes.
- For me, now is not the time to be too adventurous in cooking different meals. I find comfort in cooking things I know we will eat and mostly enjoy and I would prefer meal time to be conflict free in our home.
- Lunch has been the hardest meal for me to deal with because we generally don’t have leftovers (and Jeremiah doesn’t like leftovers either) and I don’t want to cook two meals a day. So that is still a work in progress as well.
- I’m glad I had added to my Chinese cooking pantry by getting bottles of cooking wine, dark soy sauce, and replenishing my oyster sauce – most sauces involve some combination of these three!
- I thought I could eyeball a tablespoon amount but I think I am pretty off. Hahaha. Things seem correct in ratio, though.
I still have to cook off recipes as reference, but I hope to gain more confidence in cooking without recipes and instead cooking by instinct. Mentally, though, I’m ok with adjusting recipes or taking out things I don’t have (thanks to the encouragement by Where Cooking Begins! I have made only like two of the recipes from this book but have learned a lot.)
Here are the recipes I used this week for dinner:
- Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs + Carrots + added broccoli. After eating this Jeremiah said that he may start liking carrots now. Win!
- Vietnamese Braised Pork Ribs. I have this recipe on a note in my phone because I am cheap and don’t want to subscribe to the New York Times. Also I generally always use the cut that’s like half the size of a rib, like the kind you use to start a stock.
- Chicken “Pho”. This week’s version was not a success because I attempted to use my chicken bouillon in place of chicken stock (I normally just use water for the broth but Jeremiah wanted a stronger broth) and then it just was an overpowering taste of chicken. In like a chicken noodle soup kind of way and not an Asian chicken broth kind of way and I was not happy with it at all. Also I tried to cook the rice noodles in the way where you pour hot water over the noodles instead of putting the noodles directly in the hot water, and that was also not a success.
- Lu Rou Fan. Still using the same recipe from my cooking challenge!
- Szechuan Style Beef. A new recipe this week – except it wasn’t that new because the marinade sauce is just a similar one that I’ve used before. I did like the addition of celery though, since I have a few stalks left and I never know what to do with celery except for eat it raw with chicken wings or make mirepoix.
- Diy Samoas – using this shortbread cookie + the idea to use maple syrup instead of caramel and this maple syrup sauce.
Any tips on easy lunches would be awesome! Bonus points if they are protein-forward and consist of hot food… aka not salads.