Cooking from Scratch is now on facebook! Click here to check it out!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

No Fuss, No Muss

I really enjoy cooking. I like darn near everything about it, including those tasks that some might consider tedious. I enjoy the serenity I gain from chopping and dicing ingredients, using my knife in efficient strokes. I like cracking and separating a dozen eggs for an angel food cake, working carefully to get all the egg white I can without breaking a yolk. I enjoy rolling out pasta even when I make a large batch that takes me an hour or standing at the sink peeling and paring a bushel of peaches. I enjoy all of these things because the outcome is worth the effort. The entire time I am working, I understand that every motion I make has a purpose. It is because of this efficiency that I accept the tedium with joy.

What I can't abide by, however, is work with no purpose or reward. Why spend extra time doing things that don't actually affect the end result? I can see no reason for it. I will pare those peaches because I know that the flavor of the tree ripened ones when they are canned will be unmatched by anything I could purchase. I dice my own vegetables because not only are the prefab ones at the store expensive, they have to be treated with preservatives to give them a reasonable shelf life. But what about some of those things that you often hear chefs going on and on about? So many of these techniques are just not necessary and do not affect the result, so why should you spend time doing it the "right" way? I don't see any reason to. Here are a few of my top "not worth the effort" tasks in the kitchen. What are yours?
  1. Weighing Ingredients - I just don't see the need for it! 99% of the time, the difference between weighing and measuring is negligible. Alton Brown, on the Food Network, has recently become a fan of weighing ingredients, so much so that he doesn't typically even mention an equivalent measure. That is frustrating to me. While there are a few instances where weighing is important or, in some cases, even easier, for the most part, I just can't be bothered. I can stuff a scoop in my flour jar and measure out 2 cups of flour a lot faster than I can dig out my scale and measure 9 oz.
  2. Speaking of measuring... I also don't get the need for the whole "fluff and level" part of measuring (for flour especially). Again, while there are always fussy exceptions, most things that I bake could care less. I measure flour somewhat haphazardly and I am never disappointed with my results. As far as I'm concerned, this is another case of "why bother?"
  3. Why do so many people roll their lemons before juicing them? "To get the juices flowing" seems an odd rationale considering the fact that when you juice a lemon, you end up destroying all the membranes in the flesh that hold the juice anyway. I just can't see how a little roll on the counter (unless you roll the living heck out of it) is going to impact how much juice you get or how easy the fruit is to juice.
  4. It seems every "official" instruction on dicing an onion always includes cutting slices parallel to the cutting board as seen in this illustration. Onions are already segmented in that direction by their layers... why would you feel the need to make those additional cuts? When I dice onions, I cut in two directions only: both cuts are down and perpendicular to each other.
  5. Deveining shrimp is typically another time waster in my book. While I might decide it was worth the time if I splurged on jumbo shrimp, I usually get the smaller ones. In my experience, the 20-30 count size shrimp never need to be deveined and I have never particularly noticed an off taste or grittiness because I skipped this step. Deveining shrimp definitely fits in the tedious category, especially if you're trying to clean the small ones. Since this task should actually be named "deintenstinal tracking," it only makes sense that the larger ones might benefit from this procedure, but save your time on the little ones.

That's all I can think of for now. Besides, my butt is screaming at me from sitting on the floor. You never realize just how nice furniture is until it's gone!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...