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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Barbara Kafka's Continuous Cooking

A change of pace from my ruminations (to be continued) on cash gifts for adult children. Today my plan was to buy a chicken (a good sale at Rouses) and roast it. I was at the store because I had to mail a few items and also needed some milk. That was good, because chickens were nowhere to be found. I had to get a raincheck. In fact, I was at the end of a long line for my rain check. (Why? the chicken wasn't THAT cheap.)

So we're gong to have potato and vegetable hash, part of my clean out the fridge quest, and some eggs, which were gifted to us by a retired colleague.

But something good came from my roasting plans. Since I didn't want to roast a chicken all by itself, I had decided to roast some veggies too. So I took a look at a cookbook I had gotten from a long while ago. I confess I had not opened the book: Barbara Kafka's Roasting: a Simple Art.

Kafka anticipated my oft-repeated sentiments that people today eat fewer home-cooked meals AND spend more time at it, because each meal is a unique event, shopped for and prepared in isolation. Here is Kafka's eloquent exhortation:

It seems to me that less cooking is done today than used to be and that when it is done, it is so much more work because we have lost the habit of the continuous kitchen. We start each meal from scratch with fresh shopping and a brand-new independent recipe. Our predecessors didn't, and we can save ourselves a great deal of work and have better, more economical food with greater depth of flavor by seeing cooking as an ongoing process. There is not better way to get in the habit than with roast birds, meats, and fish.

"Start with a roast" might be the motto of the continuous kitchen. When the roast is done and eaten, there are usually leftovers of the home cook's version of a chef's mise en place for future meals.

. . . .paragraph on using bones to make stock . . .

Leftovers have gotten a bad name . . .. Today's leftovers can be turned into
tomorrow's elegant first-course salad, a simple sauter, or a curry. Having good leftovers is like having a good souos-chef in the kitchen, someone who has done half the work before I turn up for the finishing touches.


Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

That hash sounds good girl!!
I too use the ole bones to make stock. Nothing better........
Hope you're having Margarita's for Cinco de Mayo?
If not, I'll have three for you :)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Mervat said...

I use left over roast chicken by de-boning and making toasted chicken, aioli and pickle sandwiches using Lebanese bread, the next day. I serve with a toasted bread salad (a Lebanese salad traditionally called fatoush). The meal is just divine and means two meals out of one!

Duchesse said...

My mother used to say, "If you have a ham in your fridge, you have a million dollars", which is the same idea as "start with a roast'. Mervat, my mouth is watering!

SLF said...

Even if you don't roast the chicken yourself there are so many possibilities! My friends love the rotisserie chickens from Wal-Mart (usually around $5) and I made them save the carcasses for me in the fridge. After they ate two I boiled them down, added a few dollars worth of ingredients and we had a delicious gumbo!

--Frugal Son