Michael Ruhlman’s one: Think

Wandering around the web I found Michael Ruhlman’s website, and was immediately fascinated by his approach to teach people cooking. Bear in mind I am not someone who watches cooking shows (or has a TV for that matter… though I got a nifty projector this weekend!) so it was a complete new experience for me. As a matter of fact, I was so excited I got his book Twenty, where he explains what he considers the most basic techniques in a kitchen everybody should know. Today I will talk about the first one: THINK.
I plan my meals. Being a grad school usually means I don’t have time during the week, so I cook all my food Sunday morning, put it in nice plastic containers (yes, I know I should move to glass and I will! Just not today… or next week). It also means I choose them earlier, usually Friday or Saturday, when I have some little free time, or when I make some free time by neglecting responsibilities (like studying for my midterms). That doesn’t necessarily mean that I think them through: just that I make a nice grocery list centered around the recipes that caught my eye that week and that at least I know I will use all of them. But, this week, I decided to read even once more the recipe, so I knew what I was going to do, and boy the difference was great.

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Since I had some Acorn Squash from a couple weeks back, I decided to use them based on this but with my own meat mixture, which I modified from my mom’s Picadillo (chopped meat) recipe. I cut them open, cleaned the insides and put them face down in water into the oven.

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Thirty minutes later I flipped them, doused them with butter, salt and pepper and put them back inside again.

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Since I already knew this was going to take approximately an hour, I used the downtime to cook the meat. I fried onions in coconut oil, and when translucent I added the meat until cooked.

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While that was cooking, I fried some collards in coconut oil. I also chopped some carrots and sweet potatoes, and boiled them to soften them.

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When the tubers where soft, but not mushy, I drained them and added them to the meat, and condimented with cloves, cumin and just a dash of chili pepper, to counter the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. I let them steam for a bit.

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And when they were all cooked, I stuffed the squash with a base of collards and some meat. Delicious.

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Also another part of my planning was letting my roommate know that I’d be massively cooking. He decided not to bring his girlfriend for lunch after church for the first time.

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