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Cooking Dirty

August 13, 2014

Cooking is cleaning. I have no idea who said that, but it wasn’t me. Someone also told me once that cheesemaking is cleaning as well. The point is that making food is a messy enterprise, and it’s important to clean up after yourself. If you don’t, some might say you aren’t cooking at all. Instead, they would dismiss your efforts as simply having made a mess with food.

The best approach to this is cooking clean. The clean as you go technique may take a bit more time and care up front, but it saves you from that dreaded pile of dishes, utensils, cookware, measuring devices, and trash that can collect over the course of meal preparation.

Watching someone cook clean is really inspiring. The first time I ever witnessed such a thing was in college. Her name was Keiko, and at the time her cooking skills seemed mind blowing.

I’ve gotten much better at this over the years. There’s the old kitchen motto, if there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out. For me, that was last night. And it gives me a tremendous amount of sympathy for those who say that cooking meals at home is too time consuming. Even recipes that don’t require a lot of active time can still have a crushing amount of clean-up.

Really, I just took on far too big of a project for a weekday.

Starting with a messy kitchen is a recipe for doom. And I must confess, when I started preparing for dinner, the dishwasher was full of clean plates, and there were dirty plates and silverware cluttering the counter. What can I say? I got behind.

To make matters worse, I had just returned from the CSA pickup so I had three large bags fulll of farm fresh produce. And on top of it all, the counter was extra crowded thanks to the slow cooker.

The centerpiece of dinner was the pasture raised bone-in pulled pork shoulder that had been simmering away for hours, but I had an hour and there was a bunch of stuff I wanted to do.

1) Hand slice cabbage, scallions, green peppers and baby fennel for a peanut oil and apple cider vinegar cole slaw. This had to go first, so it had time to sit and meld.

2) Triple wash salad greens from the farm for a simple side.

3) Prep corn for being fire roasted on the grill.

4) Pull the pork.

5) Strain and reduce the cooking liquid and porkalicious juices.

6) Whip up a barbecue sauce

7) Fire roast the corn

One thing that was fun about this was that I finally got to use the side burner of the crappy gas grill for reducing the pork drippings. That was awesome. It was a great way to keep the heat out of the house, and I’m totally doing it again.

But by the end of the night, in addition to all the dirty dishes from dinner, I had the slow cooker’s crock and lid, the strainer, the sauce pan, the corn platter, the salad bowl, the pulled pork bowl, the knives and cutting boards, all three sets of tongs, the slaw bowl, the butter plate, the measuring cups and spoons, and more. Plus at the end of dinner, all the leftovers had to be put away in addition to the produce from the farm which was neglected until after the meal.

All said and done, it was two loads of dishes in the dishwasher, plus a bunch of stuff that got done by hand. This was not one of those quick and easy weeknight meals that people try to convince working families to try and cook. Although I bet Keiko could make it look effortless.

The good news is that I don’t particularly mind. Also, dinner is pretty much figured out for tomorrow. Instead of corn, we’ll have the leftover pulled pork with a panzanella (our first of the season). Although, as I seem to remember, that takes a lot more work than it seems. We’ll see if it all comes back to me.

Luckily, I write down all my favorite recipes in this blog, so I always know where to find them.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    August 14, 2014 8:55 pm

    PHEW. I’ve always thought it was rather OCD of me to clean up so diligently while I’m cooking. Makes me feel much better to know it’s a GAMC (Generally Accepted Method of Cooking). :)

    I think I do this as a direct result of my post-college-graduation summer spent in France as an au pair. The unpaid (just free airfare, room & board) job didn’t involve much care for the 10-year-old only child. My main duty was to do dishes and kitchen clean-up after every meal. American-born Madame did not cook in the classic French style, but in a VERY lean style (no added fats, ever), so the mess never included greasy stuff. But she really took advantage of having a live-in maid… the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a tornado after EVERY meal!

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