I always thought I was a really good multi-tasker. Turns out, I just have ADD. I’m not sure why that never occurred to me. I’m usually working on seventeen things at the same time, and I don’t remember any of them the next day. You should see my kitchen. On second thought, you shouldn’t see my kitchen. A few nights ago was a fairly typical Sunday. I try to prep things ahead of time for the rest of the week so we can eat healthy even when I’m at work until the evenings. There are often several projects going at the same time. I can’t always be organized about it.
Maybe I’ve learned to be a good cook because with cooking, it’s okay to do everything at once–you kind of have to, if you want all the food to be hot on the table at the same time. So, on Sunday, I had way too many raw ingredients cluttering the fridge, and I planned to process as many as I could.
I pulled out all the bags of veggies and started figuring out what I could do with them. Turnips, bell peppers, sweet peppers, jalapenos, cukes, red and green cabbage, basil, fennel, two kinds of squash, and more. I get a little carried away at the farmers market sometimes, even though I get a CSA basket every week. Now there’s a pile of bags of veggies on my cupboards. So…I want to make stuffed peppers for dinner. Sounds good. And hey, roasted veggies alongside. And a soup for another night, why not? I prep a few small beets, some turnips, radicchio, and the fennel bulb. Some olive oil and salt, and it will be ready to go.
But wait–I want to be efficient with not only the oven, but the cutting board as well. Why, I don’t know–I have six cutting boards. I know there’s going to be a huge pile of dishes when I’m done, though. So I want to get the stuffed peppers ready. Defrost the ground beef, but I don’t want to do anything with it until I’m done cutting veggies. Cross-contamination, and all that. And there are turnips left that won’t fit on the roasting pan. I slice them and put in a jar to ferment, along with some sweet peppers and cucumbers. I need brine…so I heat up a pot with water and salt and wait for it to cool.
While I’m waiting for the brine, I realize I can make a batch of sauerkraut from the cabbages. I wash and shred those and pack into the crock with salt, and pound them. Okay. The brine is still hot, what do I do? Turning around, I see the veggies on the roasting pan…can’t quite do them yet, because I haven’t cut the peppers for the roasted peppers. So I do that. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about the pork that needs to be cut up for the Mexican soup I’m going to put in the slow cooker. I already put in the roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cumin. No pork yet, because it has to be the LAST thing I cut up on the board.
I turn the other way and totally forget about anything that’s behind me now. Whatever I can actually see gets my attention. Brine in the jars; it’s cool enough.
Finally, I can chop up some squash for the stuffed pepper filling, toss that all together, stuff the peppers, put them in the oven with the veggies to roast, get the last seasonings in the crock pot for the soup, and put the pork in the pot. All done, except for the cleanup.
Which, of course I did right away. I totally didn’t sit down and play a few games of Candy Crush first.
So, here’s the thing about ADD in the kitchen–you can’t always use a recipe. Some days, the words don’t want to line up right in my brain. I’ve learned to cook my way, by experimenting. And I got pretty good at it. I was a great baker for years, and a decent cook. I liked cooking quite a bit. And then I had to change. Because of my ADD and other health issues, I realized I couldn’t cook the same things that I’d been cooking and eating since I was old enough to stand on a step stool and stir a bowl. The brownies I was famous for, the New York style cheesecake that everyone loved, the sourdough breads I sold at a farmer’s market one summer. They were all things my body didn’t want to eat anymore.
I’ve had to learn new techniques, new ingredients. I have a great collection of cookbooks, but most of them are bread and baking books. I’ve been gathering new cookbooks. It’s easy to do when you have a bookstore. It’s also a bit of a problem, since I love cookbooks so much.
In this blog, I will explore two of my favorite things–books and cooking. Delicious Books is our theme. I will post entries, along with Suzie Chiem, our social media wiz at Green Ribbon Books. My focus will be on healthy foods that are easy to prepare, and the cookbooks and recipes that inspire them. Her take on food will be totally different from mine, and I look forward to reading her posts!
One of the things I like to do on a Sunday is roast up a bunch of veggies to use in different dishes. This past Sunday I roasted beets, onions, and two kinds of peppers.
Spread whatever vegetables you are roasting on a sheet pan with edges. Don’t crowd them too much. Coat with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Keep it simple. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Honestly, I just put it at whatever temp looks good and keep an eye on it. Roast until it looks golden or browned. A list of some things that roast well:
Beets, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, carrots, kale, sweet potato wedges, asparagus, mushrooms, eggplant…all kinds of things. Roasting onions with beets produced this beautiful accident: