I am no expert on feeding kids. But I think the worst mealtime strategies uphold the false classification of food “for children” and “for adults” and often result in lower standards for what we’ll ask our kids to eat.
To archive recipes for a cookbook, you must subscribe to a specific taxonomy of food. Any distinction beyond “poisonous” and “edible” would reflect your assumptions about how people decide what to cook and eat.
Cassoulet involves preparing all ingredients individually which then bake off all together, slowly, at the end. Add confit to the process, the project becomes a three day affair with an arsenal of pots.
In my teaching kitchen, I watch adults enjoy experiment, but seek success. They want to acquire experience, but to come away, ultimately, with an arsenal of tested ideas. Kids, however, don’t care as much about culinary convention or precedent.
I am not opposed to the recent growth of pre-prepped ingredients. I understand why, for instance, a home cook finds it tempting to buy pre-cut vegetables or packaged stocks, especially if he/she is typically pressed for time to prepare meals. But while it is understandable to buy a bit of mise en place to help out with a meal or fill your pantry, I wonder what kind of price we pay for leaving most of dinner’s prep to someone else.
I was setting up for a workshop last week, which included pulling dozens of prepared items from the refrigerator. We always start with a nice lunch, and I often marinate olives to match whatever we’ll eat that day. I wanted to give the olives time to warm up before serving.
Chefs prep dishes in steps to handle volumes of orders efficiently and well. Home cooks can take cues from this professional system to streamline and personalize their own kitchen work. Let’s take, for example, the making of pie.
Today’s restaurant menus read like grocery lists. Descriptions, even prepositions, are edited out. Steak isn’t “served with.” Peppers aren’t piled “on top of.” It’s this elemental style, which makes restaurant food seem sparse, unfussy, even when it’s not.
Kim Severson of the NYTimes wrote yesterday of recent trends toward efficiency in the kitchen, in efforts to reduce food waste at home. I’ve been told that being an expert of re-purposed food carries a certain culinary clout; it is a status-marker of the contemporary cook.
In less time than it took to make one complete fruit crisp, I made kits for two of them, plus kits for three different cookies, two different cakes, one soda bread, and six batches of pastry dough. I didn’t finish one pastry item completely, but I feel as accomplished as if I had made them all.