18 February 2009

Had to make it happen, and fast.

My microwave is a rather nice one, and lets me set certain foods (like potatoes) to cook, based on the weight in ounces. I'm fairly certain that your microwaves (the ones with the fancy buttons) have the same feature, so I'd encourage you to read the manual, and figure out if such a thing is feasible.

So I was home yesterday, doing some cleaning, and catching up with myself, and I noticed that it was suddenly 6:30, by the time I cleared out the dishwasher. In a blind panic, I opened up the fridge to see what was in there.

1 cup of cooked mung beans (already seasoned, of course).

This is not good. Steve can easily pack that away in one sitting, and still be rather hungry. And this is where those time-saving devices really show their mettle. The first thing I did was to set some brown rice to cook in the rice cooker. That barely takes a couple of minutes, because the measuring is made brainlessly simple via the little measuring cup that came with the rice cooker, and the little lines marked on the inside, that tell you how much liquid to fill to.

Then, I scrubbed off four medium sized potatoes, and weighed them on the kitchen scale. 1 lb and 5 ounces, or 21 ounces. I threw them in the microwave, and set the weight to 21 ounces, and hit the start button. Then, out came a beet. The peeling and dicing of said beet barely took another couple of minutes or so. I had refrigerated my beans in a microwave safe container, so all I had to do was add the beets into the same dish as the beans. I also tipped in about 3/4 cup of leftover coconut milk I had (from some other recipe), and washed out the tin with hot water twice.

In that went as well. Finally, once the potatoes were baked, I switched out the potatoes for the casserole dish, and set the timer to 4 more minutes for the beans and beets. While that was going, I chopped up the beets, and let them wait for the beet/beans mixture to cook through. I wanted the beets cooked, but not mushy.

The whole lot came out, and in went the potatoes. I just let them sit in the dish, and microwaved for another minute, so everything cooks together. All in all, the whole thing only took around ten minutes, and the rice was well on its way to getting completed. Just minutes before he walked in, the rice cooker beeped its completion message. I quickly set a pot on the stove, and tipped in the beans/beets/potato stuff, and cranked the heat onto high heat. The whole thing came up to a boil, which is when I added some finely chopped up green thai bird chiles to the dish, and let it boil for a minute or so.

Steve walked in, saw the red soup, and smelled the freshly cooked rice, and was about to get himself a snack (because he thought it was going to take longer to cook), when I said, "Soup is ready, and rice is ready. Dig in." He looked infinitely relieved, and dug in heartily. While he was eating, I sliced up some pears that were nice and ripe, and arranged them on my block of Himalayan salt. It's this large slab of rock salt, with a pink colour and white marbling throughout. It lends just the slightest hint of salt to any dish. If you don't have such a slab, just the scantest tiniest sprinkle on sea salt will do the trick. This way, when he was done eating the fiery hot food, he could tame the tongue with the fresh, juicy, ripe pears.

If you stop for a minute and think about it, we barely use a fraction of the gadgets that we own, with a tiny fraction of their functions. I'm not one to condone cooking in a microwave exclusively, but there are times when you're in a hurry, and want something quick. The newer microwaves also have loads of nifty time and food saving features. That preset cooking time based on weight thing is ideal.

When the potatoes came out, they were fork tender to perfection, without being overcooked. The only reason I knew of the feature was because I read the instruction manual for the model, where it explained how to make sure the food you put in there gets cooked right. This goes double for my rice cooker, which has the lines for all different kinds of rice (plain white, brown, sushi, sweet, and no-rinse) listed on the inside. It just takes seconds to measure out the rice that I want, and add water up to the line on the pot. And every time the rice comes out of the pot, it's cooked to perfection.

If for no other reason than to get a good working knowledge of your appliances, get out those manuals, and read them (or at least skim them), so that when you are in a hurry, things don't go horribly wrong.