Being Mollie – In The Beginning…

In deciding how to tackle my great adventures in a Katzen kitchen (aka the ‘Being Mollie‘ series) I realized a few things that I’m offering as tips for anyone daunted by the task of preparing home-cooked meals.

In The Mood…
Let the seasons guide you and pick a theme to focus your efforts. When I think winter I immediately feel chilled and want to reach for anything hot. Soups are a great winter food and salads suit the summer.

Que Sera Sera…
I literally opened the book and it fell onto a page for Hungarian Mushroom soup, the first recipe I tried from the Moosewood Cookbook. Let serendipitous events decide for you what to cook.

Work it Work it…
Use what you’ve got. The recipes I chose included ingredients I already had in my kitchen. No need to go for a big shop, just use what you’ve got. Onions and garlic are popular items you should always have in stock (literally and figuratively!).

And the Stock Pot Goes To
Pick a feature ingredient and work around it. Buy a large quantity and make as many dishes as you can find recipes that have this item. Mine was celery; it featured in all the recipes I tried. This way you save money and reduce waste by buying an item in bulk and using it all up.

Will You Still Need Me When I’m 64…?
Was that paprika or was that red powder just happy to see me? I had a number of unlabeled glass jars with red powder in them. I wanted paprika but I may have got chili powder instead. Tasting the spices didn’t reveal much as these spices were getting on in years. Yes spices go stale. To get the most out of yours label them with date and content.

In Second Place…
So you’ve used what you’ve got, bought an item in bulk so now what? If you realized in the middle of preparation that you’ve forgotten something or have run out of it (as I did!), simply improvise. Use the next best thing you have on hand as a substitute. If you’re not sure what that could be then Google it. Mollie does offer suggestions in her recipes.

Mise-en-place
Simply put this is getting all your ingredients ready before cooking with them. The thing with vegetarian cookbooks is there’s a lot of vegetables. While they may seem tender and unassuming, they are time and labour intensive to prep. It will be worth your while to invest in a good chef’s knife! Price range $50-$300 (something for most people’s budget). Suggested brands: Global, MAC, Victorinox, Henckels, Wusthof.

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