Morris Dovey
Bachelor Cooking

 
Introduction

I really don’t like to cook - I like to eat, but I’d almost rather not eat than waste time making a mess in the kitchen that I know I’ll have to waste more time to clean up later. There are a number of solutions to the problem, but the most practical for me has been to find dishes I could fix for myself without a lot of fuss and bother. None of the recipes here are of my invention - all come from more capable friends. I’m unashamedly adding few recipies that I haven’t even tried - and you can tell which I have tried because I include a bit of my experience with them. I hope you enjoy and eat hearty!


My Basic Kitchen Equipment

  • Countertop electric grill
    I bought one with a Teflon-coated grill and that could be run through the automatic dishwasher. All of the meat I ate was grilled on this handy little appliance.

  • Crockpot (slow-cooker) with timer
    I bought one with a timer so meals could cook while I was away at work. At the end of the timed period, it automatically switches to a low heat setting to keep food hot without overcooking or drying food out.

  • Small sauce pan with lid
    Used for cooking/steaming vegetables and boiling eggs.

  • Medium sauce pan with lid
    Used primarily for cooking spaghetti.

  • Frying pan with lid and spatula
    Used primarily for frying eggs and bacon.

  • Pyrex liquid Measuring cup
    For measuring liquids (usually water)

  • Dry measuring cup set
    I used one of the cups for measuring hamburger when I made patties to freeze.

  • Toaster
    I sometimes enjoy toasted bread or bagel with breakfast. I found this toaster on sale for $14 and ten years later it still makes toast just the way I like it.

  • Rice cooker
    I like rice and the cooker was a $12 impulse purchase that got a lot of use. If you buy one, look for a simple, easy-to-clean design - and read the directions.

  • Electronic kitchen timer
    I bought a $3 timer with a belt clip (because I’m an absent-minded cook with other things to do). It keeps me from burning my food.


Pot Roast

This takes between five and ten minutes in the morning. I found that if I started brewing morning coffee I could have the pot roast cooking by the time my coffee was ready.

Into a crock pot (in this order):

  • a half cup of water
  • a good (heaping) handful of small (washed) potatoes
  • a small cut up onion
  • a smashed garlic clove
  • a couple or three cut-up carrots
  • a couple or three cut up celery stalks
  • a 3 - 5 pound chuck roast
  • a light sprinkling of salt and pepper
Put the lid on the crock pot, make sure it’s plugged in, and turn it on to cook for five hours while you’re at work.

After the first time, adjust the recipe to suit your own taste. It’s actually pretty difficult to screw up, and your ten minutes of prep time will provide several hearty meals.


More options (variety is the spice of life):

Swingman suggests "Cajunizing" by adding fresh sliced mushrooms and one chopped bell pepper to the mix, make slits in the raw roast with a paring knife and insert a few peeled garlic cloves, and replace the water with red wine.


Everyday Steak Dinner

The secret to this recipe is in the shopping beforehand. I learned from a butcher in Philadelphia that a steak is just a slice of roast, and that slices from one of the less expensive roasts were an economical way to eat. He suggested “butter steaks” from a top blade roast and asked how thick I’d like them cut and a guess at how much I’d like them to weigh. I guessed 3/4 inch and 5 - 6 ounces (this turned out to be a good size for me). I asked for 1½ pounds to experiment with. A week later I was back to ask for double that much.

When I got home, I slipped each steak into a sandwich “baggie” and put them in the refrigerator’s freezer compartment. The baggies prevented the steaks from freezing together. Later I learned to put all of the baggies into a Zip-Loc freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

To cook one of my steaks, I pulled it out of its baggie, microwaved it for 40 seconds, and put it on the grill. Grilling time will depend on a whole collection of factors, but the steaks I bought were as I liked ’em after 7 minutes on each side. I used the timer and usually spent the time while the steaks cooked on the first side checking phone messages and reading the day’s mail.

I bought bags of salad (and several different salad dressings) in the grocery store. To go along with the steak I normally microwave baked a potato or cooked rice, and and fixed either frozen mixed vegetables (“California Mix” was a favorite) or fresh broccoli (remove the stems and peel them - they're good eating too).

In-kitchen time: usually 10-12 minutes.


Spaghetti Dinner

Spaghetti (angel hair pasta in my case) dinners were reserved for those times when I was too tired to do more than an absolute minimum in the kitchen - and I didn’t allow myself more than one per week. I used the medium saucepan to cook the spaghetti and the small small sauce pan to warm some packaged spaghetti sauce. A slice of bread and a bit of salad on the side completed the meal.

In-kitchen time: about five minutes.


Hamburgers

I bought 90% lean hamburger in five-pound packages. When I got it home, I used one of my measuring cups to get consistant portions, and rolled each portion into a ball. The ball went inside a sandwich baggy, and then I pressed it into a patty with the bottom of the small saucepan. When all the hamburger had been portioned, the baggies went into a Zip-Loc freezer bag which went into the refrigerator's freezer compartment.

To fix a burger, I pulled out one of the pre-made patties, dropped it on the grill, and set my timer. While the patty cooked I dug out a bun and loaded it up with the stuff I like with my burgers (lettuce, pickle, onion, and sometimes a bit of tomato). Hamburgers aren’t much of a meal, but they’re great for lazy weekend lunches and midnight snacks.

In-kitchen time: about five minutes.


Julie Gilbert’s Incredibly Good Soup

Cut a one pound package of Velveeta cheese into ½-inch cubes and set aside. Into a soup pot, empty two 10¾-ounce cans of chicken broth and (using the now-empty cans as measures) an equal amount of water and bring to a boil. Then add one 24-ounce package of (thawed) frozen O'Brien plain Hashbrowns. Cook on medium heat for twenty minutes and then add the Velveeta cheese and continue cooking on medium heat until all the cheese is melted.

The thickness can be fine-tuned to individual preference by adding a half to a full cup of potato flakes.

Shredded or finely diced (cooked) ham (my first choice) or similarly abused turkey (my second choice) or chicken (my third choice) will add flavor and texture; and the addition of small bits of broccoli makes the soup more interesting - but I strongly recommend that your first batch be made "plain". The basic recipe is so good you'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment.


Erica Russell’s Corn Casserole

This corn casserole is absolutely delicious and wonderfully easy to make. Erica says each time she makes it it’s a little different but still good. I don’t have any difficulty believing that!

What you’ll need:

• 2 cans of cream style corn
• 1 can regular sweet corn - keep water in it
• 1 cup of ring pasta (Anellini)
• ¾ to 1 cup of shredded cheese
• salt and pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl or pan that can go in the oven. Erica says she doesn’t measure the salt and pepper – “I just add a little of each” – so live dangerously!

Bake the casserole in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. When done the noodles should be soft and the cheese should be melted!


I’ve only ever had this as a side dish, but I’m pretty sure that with the addition of some ham it’ll make a really yummy main dish. I’ll let you know after I’ve given it a try!

As I was typing this in, it occurred to me that the recipe might also work really well if the Anellini were replaced with couscous. Hmm...


Robatoy's "Jewish Penicillin"

In a soup pot (8/16 quart), put the following:

  • 3 good sized leeks. Cleaned and cut into pieces.
  • 4 gloves of garlic, crushed.
  • one clean whole chicken.
  • a tbsp of cracked black pepper.
  • a goodly amount of tarragon.
  • one small bay leaf.
  • one envelope of saffron if you're in that income bracket.
  • just enough water to cover the chicken
Simmer till chicken is cooked and leeks are glassy (If you simmer too long, the chicken falls apart, which makes it much harder to get out of the pan.

Lift out the chicken, strip off the meat and toss it back into the broth.

Add a bit of salt to taste and presto!! Jewish penicillin. Will cure what ails you.


More (optional ingredients):

  • A cup of rice (me), couscous (Dave Balderstone), or vermicelli (Robatoy)
  • Vegetables - whatever’s available. Lew Hodgett suggested cleaned and chopped: celery, carrots, green beans, yellow squash, broccoli, frozen peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, zucchini, okra, and whatever else is in season. The only limitation appears to be the size of the pot!

Copyright © 2009 Morris R. Dovey

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