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“In The Time You Could Call for Delivery…”

November 9, 2009

I am filled with admiration for cookbook authors. Not only do they have to come up with dozens, maybe HUNDREDS of amazing recipes, but you have to find the words to make them jump off the page and say “Pick me!  Pick Me!” to the reader. However, there are a hundful of lines that — while accurate and on target — tend to make many of our eyes roll a bit when we come across them in a headnote.

One such line is this: “In the time a delivery person would bring this to your house, you can make it yourself.”

Orcchiette with Pancetta IKB

Perhaps, perhaps. But:

a) does the delivery man have a six year old banging pots and pans and singing Momma Mia at the top of his lungs while his 9 year-old brother falls limply across his math homework whimpering, “I just can’t do it, I can’t.”

b) during the time you are playing beat-the-clock with the imaginary delivery man, you could have folded a load of laundry, found the missing baseball glove, and written a note to the teacher explaining that should your son attempt to wrap his $400 retainer up in a napkin at lunch again, he is to be dissuaded as you have already spent enough memorable hours digging through the school trash.

I realize that I may have now inadvertently come out on the side of take-out. I certainly didn’t mean to do that. But I did want to acknowledge that the fact that a meal CAN be made in 30 minutes or less doesn’t mean that it was EASY to make it in 30 minutes or less. We understand each other.

For those of us who do want to cook dinner, want that dinner to be on the table in under 30 minutes, and want those 30 minutes to not feel like a Top Chef challenge or some other test of courage and/or guts, here are a handful of dishes to get you to put that take-out menu back in the drawer and hang up the phone.

-Pasta in all forms is a great place to start. Add peas, zucchini, and ham to orcchiette; shrimp and chiles to spaghetti; or cauliflower and chickpeas to penne; or just cook up whatever dry pasta you have in the pantry and toss in whatever fresh ingredients you’ve got in the fridge.

-A stir-fry can come together in no time, and is easy clean-up-wise, since you’re dealing with only one pan. Try combining chile and tofu, chicken and ginger, or beef and asparagus.

-Chicken breasts, as well all know, can be made a million ways. Check out these ten recipes for chicken breasts.

Then whip up a salad and call your troops to the table.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. michelle permalink
    November 9, 2009 7:48 pm

    I think you’re living the same reality I am 🙂 The only ways I can get dinner on the table are a) crockpot, aka god gift to a crazy mom b) help from daddy and c) the dreaded tv. Thanks for some more great ideas!

  2. November 9, 2009 8:19 pm

    I’m so happy you started blogging, Katie. You’re so much fun to read! My faves for 30-min meals: Spaghetti a la Puttanesca (bonus: all pantry ingredients!) and Fried Rice using whatever I have in the fridge. And I’ve been known to cheat by picking up a container of rice at the Chinese takeout on my way home.

    • Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief permalink*
      November 10, 2009 1:09 pm

      Fried rice is one the world’s greatest ways to use up leftovers. And p.s. cheating would be picking picking up that actual fried rice itself at the Chinese takeout on the way home.

  3. November 21, 2009 6:19 pm

    We lead a crazy lifestyle that we could not lead if I did not do a fair amount of the cooking. I can probably beat the delivery guy on one of his busy nights. But, otherwise, food is something I enjoy cooking as much as eating. The kitchen is potentially a hyper-masculine domain. Knives, gadgets, fire. What’s not to like? And with “Iron Chef” turning cooking into football (a recent blog posting), we should be helping more.

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