“Quick and easy” might be a phrase most reserve for frozen or fast food, but a new cookbook adds “cooking” to the list by giving common-sense tips that are, ironically, uncommonly heard of.
In addition to recipes, the “Quick and Easy Cookbook: Delicious Meals in Minutes” (Covenant Communications, $19.99) by Debbie G. Harman and set to be released in March, introduces time-saving tips, make-ahead meals and designated pages for note taking. Here are some unique helps from the book that might extinguish notions that cooking needs to be complicated or laborious.
In one section, Harman focuses on utilizing kitchen gadgets and tools.
Most people are aware that slow cookers can save time and effort in the kitchen, but how many people know that using kitchen scissors can reduce the time it takes to slice green onions or bacon? Or that a waffle iron can make great quesadillas, hash browns and grilled cheese sandwiches?
Even a blender can whip up more than just your standard smoothie.
“Everyone has maybe Kitchen Aids now, and they don’t realize how easy it is to toss things in the blender to chop up,” Harman said. “You can chop nuts in it, and you can actually grind wheat in your blender.”
Time can also add up quickly in the kitchen if the room itself is not organized cohesively. Harman gives some tips in her book for organizing, including keeping microwave-safe dishes close to the microwave.
In college, Harman took a food preparation class that required her to count the number of steps she took while preparing a meal. Although it seemed silly to Harman at the time, this exercise taught her how much time can be wasted running around getting various ingredients and kitchen tools.
Harman remembered that class later on when she was remodeling her kitchen.
“I kind of organized my kitchen better so that I could save time, and I’m amazed at the difference that it makes by where you place things,” she said.
Harman touches on the option of buying pre-cooked and pre-packaged foods in her book. However, she also poses a thought-provoking question.
“Another thing you have to remember is that when you pay more money to save time, you have to actually pay back that money. So if you have to work more to pay back the money you spent to save time, is it really saving time? Or are you just trading it from one place to another?”
According to Harman, the answer to this question will vary by person depending on what they are buying.
A unique feature in the cookbook is the “Microwave Meals” section that includes a chicken enchilada casserole and a hot layered dip recipe in addition to many others. While Harman said she prefers more conventional methods of cooking, she also said microwaves are a convenience we have today that can be useful when cooking.
The “Make-Ahead Helps” section of the book contains recipes that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen, such as frozen burritos, freezer dinner rolls and spaghetti sauce.
Harman said she doesn’t know that it saves time to make a bunch of meals in one day, but that doubling what you are already making can be beneficial.
“If you’re going to cook four potatoes, why not cook eight? And I’ve done that for years — baked eight or 12 potatoes and put the other ones in my fridge, and used those for hash browns or casseroles later.”
“Quick & Easy Cookbook: Delicious Meals in Minutes” will be available at Deseret Book and Seagull Book.
Kaylene Morrill Wheeler is a freelance writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org