Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Some Thoughts on Cooking and Food

Tonight I made spinach and black bean quesadillas for dinner. I've made this recipe several times, and the results are good. At least, the Man and I like them, especially with fresh salsa. Jack? Not so much. Will? Don't ask. Still, I keep dreaming this is the kind of food my boys will take to: healthy, vegetarian, full of fiber and spinach goodness.

The thing is about these quesadillas, they're a pain in the tuckus to cook. Have you ever tried flipping two tortillas vaguely strung together by a little cheddar cheese and filled up with beans? Believe you me: the beans go flying. Not to mention that this is a supposedly low fat meal (I may tuck in slightly more cheese than the recipe calls for; sue me), so there's not a film of butter or oil on the pan making the tortillas easy to move around. No, it's cooking spray all the way.

So the frustrated flipping is overlaid in an aura of smoke from the tortilla bits burning on the pan. And it ends up taking a long time to cook the quesadillas because you can only do one at a time.

Tonight, as I was fixing them, I had this thought: Why do I cook stuff that's no fun to cook? Fortunately, spinach and black bean quesadillas are yummy (yes, Jack and Will, they are), so it's not like those awful meals that take forever to prepare and then sit there flabby and tasteless on your plate, and you feel so defeated you want to weep. But still, by the time dinner was over, I was tired and listless. Maybe I'd inhaled too much smoke from the pan, I don't know.

You know what I love to make? A Cobb Salad. You bake a few chicken breasts (and over the years I've learned how to do this so that the chicken breasts are nice and juicy, but still fully cooked), and the rest is pretty much just chopping. I like chopping. I pretend like I'm Julia Child and have a grand old time. I make a nice vinaigrette, feeling very urbane as I do, and voila! Dinner is served, and everyone loves it. Not a bit of smoke in my hair, either.

I don't have any big point to make here; I'm just pondering what the proper balance is between effort and end product. Really, what I'm pondering is why we don't order out more. Or why we don't embrace the raw food movement. No more cooking or baking! Just chopping! And chewing!

Somebody pass me a carrot.


Pom Pom said...

I know! Dinner is over rated. Let's start taking a mug of yogurt outside in the evening and calling it good. We could do other things with our families, couldn't we? I know better. When our kids were living at home, they'd get up before noon, stretch, and then ask me, "What's for dinner tonight?" Really.

Heather said...

I make black bean pizza instead. Still has the cheese and you can add any toppings, but easier to bake/eat than quesadillas.

Puree 1 can black beans, some olive oil, some salt & pepper, and a bit of cilantro if you like, until the consistency of hummus. Spread on pizza dough, top with veggies and cheese, bake 20-25 min until crust baked and cheese melts. Easy, everyone can pick their fave toppings, and all leave happy.

Gumbo Lily said...

I have a simple solution to turning those quesadillas because I used to make them like you do. Just put your fillings on one half of the tortilla, fold over, smash a little and toss into the frying pan. I can make two fold-over style quesadilllas in my skillet. Easy to flip, easy to get out. Then use the pizza cutter to cut into wedges. SO much simpler than flipping a big 12" sucker!

I like making EASY food. Half hour meals. I make lots of stir-fry over rice. My family likes it. (They love quesadillas too)


Tracy said...

I've often wondered why I can't just dump out my grocery money on the table and tell the kids to have at it. Really, would that not be simpler and more time efficient that shopping, storing, cooking and eating? I think so!

But no. They tell me it is illegal not to feed children and I fear they may be right. I schedule convoluted cooking procedures for days when I'm more inclined to have oodles of time. And I make those meals because I like to eat the result. And then ignore the dishes til the morrow!

Susan said...

I admire that you like salads. Frankly, I get tired of all that chewing. A bowl full of salad looks like a bottomless pit to me. I'm not a huge fan of chopping either. Perhaps, I'll try pretending I'm Julia Child. Then again, I'd much rather gorge myself on her Boeuf Bourguignon than a salad. I love the idea of eating closer to the earth, but the simple fact is that I like meat-even (gasp) red meat- a whole lot more than I like salad.

Angela said...

Is it just me - or do other people find themselves getting resentful when it has taken me the best part of an hour to put a meal together, and it gets snarfed down in 15 minutes then everybody leaves the table and goes off to do whatever [and Mum has to clear up?!]
I have decided that if it takes more than 30 minutes to prepare then it must be prepared in sufficient quantity to freeze at least half for another day!

GretchenJoanna said...

I also use Jody's technique for quesadillas, but cooking them slowly in a cast iron skillet makes it so you don't need any oil or spray, and they come out nice and soft and brown....