Thursday, April 12, 2012

Myth: Cooking Real Food Takes a Long Time

Making tortillas. My second attempt yielded 25 in 30 minutes.

I often talk to people, be they strangers or friends or family, about food, nutrition, and cooking. Some are like-minded, others think I'm completely whackadoodle. Most are on the fence. They agree that there is something not quite right about our food system, and even their own diet. "But," they protest "I don't have the time to cook like you do. I have to do _________; you stay home all day."

I have been thinking about this for a while, and I realized something. I make many, many meals that take less than an hour to cook. Most I can have done in 20-40 minutes of hands-on time. Are you surprised? I'm not. I often cook with two little boys at my feet. If I'm lucky they content themselves with emptying the pantry. Normally I'm begging Jack to go get toys to distract the baby, because Andy is perfectly content to spend 10 minutes emptying the recycling bin, sifting through the garbage, emptying my cabinets ("no no no not the Pyrex! Here -- take the recycling bin!!"). After that he spends the rest of the time clinging to my leg wailing.

Not pictured: the two kids clinging to my legs

So time spent in the kitchen is kept to a minimum unless Husband is home. Even then he has to take the boys out to the park when I start cooking, because no matter what time of day I begin, both of those little imps will be underfoot.

I am going to write a series of posts on cooking against the clock. I'll share different time-management strategies I employ, like meal planning, cooking ahead, shortcuts and easy back-up meals for those times that you forget to turn on the slow cooker or thaw the meat.

For today I will end with my new favorite 10 minute meal. As a kid, one of our favorite meals that my mom would make was tacos. She'd use the packaged taco dinner kits, ground beef, and canned refried beans and we ate it up greedily. Since I started cooking real, whole foods a few years ago I have gradually updated my childhood favorites. 

Beef, lettuce, curtido (homemade, lacto-fermented), Crema Centroamericano - NOM!

10 Minute Tacos*

4 boneless chicken thighs or 2 pounds beef chuck roast
1 onion
1 Tbsp taco seasoning (I make mine with this recipe)
1 14oz cans diced tomatoes, drained, optional
1 small can chopped green chiles (or 1 fresh Anaheim chile), optional

1 c dry rice (we prefer brown), w/ water required for type of rice
1 lime, optional
handful cilantro, optional

2 c pinto or black beans (you can use a can, or soak/sprout and cook large batches of beans and freeze them in small portions)
24 corn tortillas (it is very easy to make your own!)
shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, guacamole, curtido, or whatever you can think of to put on top.

-4-10 hours before mealtime:
Dice onion, and combine first 5 ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on low 4-6 hours for chicken, 8-10 hours for beef.  

-1 hour before mealtime:
Cook the rice in the rice cooker. (or cook the night before)

-10 minutes before mealtime:
Heat the beans, toast the tortillas on a cast-iron griddle, comal, or skillet, and stir the juice of 1 lime and a handful or chopped cilantro into the rice (If using precooked rice, try putting your rice in a colander and pouring boiling water over it. Super speedy!) , shred the meat with forks.
-Top tortillas and eat!

 * Your time may vary. If you're in a rush, right before mealtime, use leftover chicken mixed with the spices and reheated, or substitute ground beef and brown the ingredients on the stove. That will make this recipe 15 Minute Tacos. Or forget the meat all together, and just use beans and rice. That would make 7 Minute Tacos)

Shared with Simple Lives Thursday 4/12/12 and The Pennywise Platter 4/12/12  And Scratch Cookin' 4/17/12


  1. Hi Corrie,
    Wednesday is Taco Night in our household and has been the kids' favourite meal for the past several years!
    ~ joey ~
    p.s. And the next night is usually Spaghetti Night to use up the leftover beans. Gotta love simple cookin'!

    1. Indeed! Sometimes my husband gets funny looks from his coworkers because of his beany leftovers. And recently I've been sending him with purple pickled eggs as a snack, lol. He's a good sport about it all.

  2. OMG I haven't seen beet pickled eggs in YEARS!!!


      They were really easy to make and they look spectacular. I want to make some deviled eggs with them.


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