Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cooking Small and Eating Large

As you may have followed through MamaSquirrel's updates, this summer I had an awfully hard time finding a a job. As I happened to have a house lined up for the fall with a twelve month lease, I resorted to moving in there and working in a different city. This of course means that I've been doing all my own cooking and housewifery.

While I no longer have to deal with the Treehouse dietary needs (I made brownies with nuts in them for the first time in my life! I cook with salt!), I do have a few of my own challenges to work around. I tend to work a lot of evening shifts and have night classes the nights I don't work, so I have a rather odd meal and sleep schedule. I also don't have a huge range of kitchen equipment to work with. Additionally, I don't have a ton of freezer space so while I do occasionally cook larger meals and save some, I primarily cook enough for one or two people which means I have to adjust most recipes.

The solution:

One of the first things I bought when setting up my kitchen was a baby slow cooker: only 1.5 quarts which was quite the scale down from the family-size I've been used to using. It's the perfect size for one or two portions and can hold a surprising amount of food. My meal is ready right when I come home from work and it makes incredibly tender meat. I don't think I need to sing the praises of a slow cooker too much, MamaSquirrel does that already.

My second student-friendly cooking tip is that Google is your friend. While I have a decent set of "normal" cooking skills, when you have a limited set of resources to work with you will discover that almost anything is possible...and if it's impossible, someone else will have tried it first and will tell you so. I don't have any pots, but I do have several different sized skillets. Through careful searching I have uncovered the secrets to making pasta in a skillet, mashed potatoes in a skillet, and vegetables in the microwave. After the friendly students at the campus farm stand convinced me that I should buy a bunch of garlic scapes, Google explained what exactly garlic scapes are and what the heck I should do with them.

Technology in general has changed cooking so much for me since I first started as a child. Being able to search and print out a recipe was pretty much mindblowing once the internet gained momentum. But now? I just prop up my tablet on the kitchen counter...blow up the zoom to display the ingredient list so I can see it from across the kitchen, scroll through comments to see who tried what, instantly pull up suggested substitutions, and the list goes on. No more painstakingly copying out recipes from Chatelaine or the back of the cereal box: I just snap a picture with my phone and pull it up in the kitchen.

Last but certainly not least, I have cooking buddies. Several of my friends from school are also taking summer courses, and live in the same blocks-from-campus neighbourhood that I do. Sometimes we take turns cooking or band together on a recipe. It also makes grocery shopping a lot easier since I can still buy more economical family-size packages and then split them up with a friend or two without worrying about eating nothing but that one thing for the next month.

I've actually managed to make some really delightful meals over the past month or so, and hopefully I will remember to post again and share some of them.


Jeanne said...

Loved this post! I'm now off to google garlic scapes and why I need some.

Mama Squirrel said...

I saw Jeanne's comment in my inbox and thought "Garlic scapes? I've never posted about garlic scapes. Actually, I've never even heard of garlic scapes. What's up?"

Thanks, Apprentice! I'm glad your baby slow cooker is working out.

May said...

I love my slow cooker! I have made quiche in it (probably my greatest triumph) and many other things. Mine is a combination rice cooker, slow cooker and vegetable steamer, which is wonderful because I can cook almost anything using one of the settings - including pasta. It might be worth looking into getting a rice cooker as well :)