What happens when cooking happens…

So here’s what went down today. We got to combine raw food with heat, which is this really cool process called “cooking.”

Here’s how it works with 13 people doing it all at once. We’re all set up in 3 groups at different ranges and we’ve got everything we need – a pot of salty boiling water for “parcooking” (that’s partially cooking) broccoli, and precisely medium diced (1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″) potatoes in another pot for “parboiling.” (Not to be confused with parcooking above – one is for green veg and one is for root veg, one starts with the produce out, and one starts with the produce in.) We’ve got various colanders with bowls beneath them, a bowl of cold water for shocking the parcooked broccoli, a tray for quickly cooling the parboiled potatoes, and two saute pans set up for each, with clarified butter for potatoes and whole butter for broccoli.

Welcome to cooking where you are encouraged to dirty as many dishes as possible in the process. (Fortunately, the dishwasher completes its cycle in 3 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly.)

That’s when things start boiling over. (Yeah, gag, I know.) Suddenly you’ve got a flurry of people screaming “hot!” while racing to the sink in the back with stuff in need of draining. And everyone’s there at once and the sink is quickly filling up with discarded pots and several of you are looking nervously at each other because you realize that the bowl you used to transport the colander there has been recently showered with boiling water and you need it to bring the drained stuff back but you’re not so sure about wanting to pick up a recently boiled-upon aluminum bowl and you don’t want your side towels getting wet and you hate it when Chef starts cracking jokes about how your life as a hand and glove model is over and you better suck it up. And all this drama is just to drain the damned stuff. You’ve still got to saute and try to pull off the flipping stuff over without a spoon manouver, meanwhile other people are hurtling by you with boiling water screaming “hot” and you know they’re not talking about you in your chef’s coat.

But then you all get to have yummy, buttery hash browns and broccoli for lunch and you start to think this is all really cool.

You will never make hashbrowns without all 18 steps again

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11 Responses to What happens when cooking happens…

  1. Brian says:

    Your post reminds me that Jocelyn recently cooked broccoli also but for Olivia, which basically means “steam the hell out of it and then run it through the food processor.” In fact we have cooked everything for Olivia ourselves and the only store-bought baby food she’s had is Yo Baby yogurt. If you watch the office, you may remember that Jim could diaper anything (including Angela’s cat.) My equivalent skill is turning anything into baby food. : )

    • Pamela says:

      I’m sure there is some French terminology to describe exactly that.

    • jen says:

      I’m impressed that you use a food processor so much– we just squished everything through the hand-crank food mill! You must be making enough to freeze… we never got that cool. Our kids both ate jarred food, with stuff food milled off our plates at dinner. Maybe with this baby (#3 arriving this month sometime), we’ll finally achieve our food-pulverizing potential!

      • Brian says:

        We are making enough to freeze and using this little beauty for freezing. (Silocone = BPA free). All you do is push them out into a freezer bag and suck the extra air out with a straw. Four or 5 pears will make the equivalent of 7 jars of baby food for a fraction of the cost. I am Martha Frakking Stewart.

      • Pamela says:

        Hey! Quit commandeering my blog with baby talk. 😉

  2. mk says:

    i had two thoughts while reading this post and looking at photos:
    1) those are most uniformly diced potatoes i have EVER SEEN.
    b) you get to eat all that at the end?! that is a whole reason in itself to go to culinary school!

    • Pamela says:

      Well, there are 13 of us eating it, but yes, lunch is basically included. And lunch for several friends. And dinner. 🙂 We’ll have to pick a day for me to get on the train to Beacon immediately following class!

  3. jen says:

    I never really thought about how many steps I skip in cooking a) because I didn’t know about them (starting veges in the pot before or after boiling the water makes a difference– ok, cool– sounds very plausibly scientific) and b) to make efficient use of dishes and counter space. An exception to my kitchen efficiency is salad– I rinse lettuce leaves by hand and lay on them on a towel to dry off rather that using a salad spinner, which I swear crushes and dents the lettuce more than dries it. I’ll be curious what the proper way to wash lettuce is when you get to the salad unit. 🙂

    • Pamela says:

      We washed lettuces today, actually! With perhaps the exception of Boston lettuce, which is easily bruise-able, we all used the salad spinner, which shouldn’t bruise them because it is mostly centrifugal force doing the work -they’re not actually getting bounced around in there… I must thank you, though. Your farm share vegetables were my first introduction into myriad types of greens, and between me and one other girl, we were the only two that could basically identify everything by sight and/or taste.

      • jen says:

        yay– that’s cool. spinner it is– maybe I’m just spinning them all too fast or something.

        the greens are a trip with the kids– when Carol’s kids visited last summer, Rachel took Emily around the yard and offered her tat soi, swiss chard, forellenschluss (an heirloom lettuce), and various herbs– sorrel, basil, parsley. Emily was astounded, having really only eaten iceberg lettuce.

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