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Salads, Soups, Stews, Stir Fries
The Four Ss
Cooking is a happy activity. When I am having an off day I either wait to prepare food until my mood improvides or take a proactive approach and plan a meal that requires some preparation time, because getting the food ready, just assembling the ingredients, for example, can improve my mood.
Food nourishes us and we need to approach it with a clear heart and mind.
Now, like gardening, I believe that anyone who wants to can cook. You start slowly and gradually widen your repertoire. Cooking, like gardening, is a learn as you go experience.
There are four categories of meals that you can prepare nomatter what your skill or whether you are omnivore or vegan. I refer to them as the Four Ss: Soups, Stews, Stir Fries and Salads.
You can serve them anytime of the day or night and you can combine them or enjoy them separately, that is all up to you.
Let us start with soup which is most often served as a first course but can also be the main meal. It all depends upon the soup and what you choose to put in it.
If you can make a stock, either chicken or vegetarian then you are ready to make a basic vegetable soup. You can add rice or noodles whichever you prefer or rice one time and noodles another.
You can also add 2 oz of tomato juice to your chicken or vegetable stock and change the flavour. Or you can spice it up and just before serving add a dash of a tomato based hot sauce, how hot is up to you.
Stews, like soups, are versatile and again it does not matter what your preference is you can make a stew that is meat free or meat heavy and again that is your choice.
You may sense by now that I believe that choice has a great deal to do with cooking, well it does. You may have financial constraints in what you can buy, but the Four Ss do not have to be made with the most expensive ingredients.
You may have time restraints, but all the meals but the stir fry can be made in a slow cooker and stir fires take only a few minutes in a hot wok or fry pan.
One major difference between soups, stews and stir fries is that in a stir fry it is advisable to cut all the vegetables into similar size pieces so that they can cook evenly. In a soup or stew you have a little more latitude when it comes to sameness.
The main difference between soups and stews is thickness, not of the vegetables or meat but of the liquid.
I usually add a whole wheat flour to my stews and use less water than I do with soup.
Now when it comes to salads there are few rules. they can be served hot or cold, they can use fish, seafood, rice, eggs, vegetables, chicken, meat, and fruit and whatever else interests you.
My favourite salad is a chick pea, tomato and cucumber combo with lemon juice and cracked black pepper, that is, my favourite right after potato salad.
When it comes to salads let your imagination run free. The pieces do not have to be uniform in size, cut them and tear them as you will. Do remember you are planning to eat them so make them small enough to fit in your mouth.
If you are a new cook, pick a recipe you like from each of the Ss, make them and then pick another. Enjoy the exploration and if you follow the recipes, at least at first until you are comfortable and can stray, you will create a meal you can enjoy, so have some fun and get cooking.
pepper tofu stir fry
simple stir fry
vegetable soup stock
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