Monday, February 26, 2007

Fill-to lines; cooking in bulk; chinese food

Conceptually, I like the idea of making a big pot of something to eat throughout the week, from a convenience point of view. But I reach a point where I just can't take it anymore. No matter how much I like the thing that I made, after my 4th or 5th helping of it throughout the week, I am desperate for something new. I joked recently that I should draw "fill to" lines on our pots so I don't make too much of one thing.

So, how to deal with this? If I don't have materials to prepare lunch for the day in 5 minutes or so, I will often just skip it and go out to lunch. I do so much less often than I used to, but it's still not ideal. I'm sick of mysterious food. I want to know what goes into my food!

Well, I have a few ideas.

One, a friend of ours is a brown rice fanatic and will often cook thw whole of it at once and then freeze it in meal-portion-sized zip-locks so it is readily available every day. Rice is a good staple ingredient, because it's healthy, filling, and it goes well with most things.

Two, well, I have long been anti-chinesefood. The reason is that most chinese food you get at restaurants consists of slimey, oily glops of homogenous food. Even when I ate meat, I didn't like the fact that most chicken dishes (for example) at chinese restaurants would be NOTHING but chicken in slime. Deep-fried chicken, at that. Most of the time you couldn't even get a floret of broccoli with it. On the other hand, I work (and lunch) with many chinese people, and what I've noticed is that their food is almost always a nice portion of rice topped with equal small portions of meat and vegetables. I'm sure there's some sauce, but I've never seen the kind of oil slick that comes on most restaurant-bought chinese food, and I've never seen any of it deep-fried. I'm getting the feeling that what you find at most chinese restaurants is a very americanized version of the cuisine.

So, the idea I'm getting from this is to prepare rice as above, and then cook (or not cook) our weekly shipments of food in several dishes that are either one or two ingredients, rather than trying to turn it into one or two large dishes. Lunch ends up being a portion of rice and a selection from two to four options, plus some raw fruit and veggies. It can probably all be done in the same time it takes to make the big dishes, and the result is a more diverse menu throughout the week which can be quickly gathered before heading out in the morning.

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