May 2, 2013

Aristocrat in the Kitchen: Layering Food

A Victorian girl sits for breakfast in a lush room.
Annie Rose Laing (nee Low) "At the Breakfast Table"

On Saturday I mashed sweet potatoes.
That night for dinner, I had an artichoke and a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes.
On Sunday, I chopped up a tomato, avocado and sweet onion salsa
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes and toast with salsa.
On Monday, I made strawberry jam from discounted strawberries at the store.
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, and a slice of toast with jame for desert.
Yesterday. I chiffonade and roasted Brussels sprouts
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, and a small side of Brussels sprouts.
Today, I made leek and bacon white sauce.
This night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, a small side dish of brussel sprouts and a few bites of the leek and bacon white sauce.

A girl sits in a court yard filled with hay and broken baskets, plucking a chidken
William Henry Hunt "Plucking the Fowl"

This is not my attempt to try and rewrite "The 12 Days of Christmas" with much less entertaining or rhythmic verses, but rather me trying to put a theory into practice.

Often, as is the course of most grad students I've met, I will work right up to the point past hunger, run down to my refrigerator and throw it open only to realize I have nothing to eat. Oh, there is food there, but it all takes at least thirty minutes of preparation. In sadness, I stuff myself on popcorn.

Or, I only have enough time to make one item of food which leaves me hungry and lacking many nutrients.

All in all, it shouldn't have taken me very long to come up with my new idea of layering food. The concept is very simple:

Every night make one largish batch of something new. For dinner, eat a little of that and a little bit of all your other food for a more balanced meal.

In short: continual leftovers.

A medieval cook glances disdainfully over her shoulder as she prepares chickens for the spit
Pieter Aertsen "A Cook with Poultry"

This is working for me for several reasons:

~ Cooking is mostly scalable. Cooking five sweet potatoes to mash doesn't take a considerable amount of more effort or time than cooking one.

~ Cooking only one dish a night is incredibly freeing. Rather than needing to plan a new menu every night and cook up a protein  vegetable, and starch. I can just cook one thing and add it to the repertoire.

~ There is a greater variety of food in my fridge. When you only eat a little of a dish, it lasts for longer than when you consume half of it as your whole meal. (Though, I do admit I am learning the downside of this with the sweet potato)

~ I know I am getting a better variety of nutrients, flavors and vitamins with each meal. I've heard that the body isn't full until you've had one of every flavor. This ensures you don't have to break your back doing that.

~ If I run out of time and skip making a meal one day, I'm not going to resort to junk food. There is enough food in the fridge to tide me over for a day or two until I can cook some more.

It is this final point that appeals the most. For the sake of my pride, I'm not going to mention how many dinners were little more than popcorn or chips, just because I was too hungry to cook by the time I went down to the kitchen. Now, even on the days I'm stressed or distracted, I won't be skipping a nutritious meal.

It's not exactly an anti-fragile. However, it is far less fragile a system than before.

No comments:

Post a Comment