An amusing article at the Beeb this week, with much wringing of hands about the increasing tonnage of convenience foods in supermarkets.
Pfft. I like lazy food: it gives me a chance to cook something when pressed for time, as opposed to throwing in the towel and ordering a pizza. It allows me to claim weeknights as my own. It is often over packaged – which I don’t like – these days the heretic’s garbage day consists of a small bag of organic horror and a huge bloody sack of packaging – the subject of another rant.
Here are some useful things.
- Pre prepped sofritto is a life saver. It’s not that much trouble to peel and dice an onion, ditto a carrot or two and half a bunch of celery. Add it all up, and you don’t have much of your weeknight left. And half a bunch of celery, damnit. They don’t sell it by the half bunch, so the other half gets popped into a sealed tupperware in the fridge with the best intentions, and its deliquescent remains are tipped ceremoniously into the rubbish a week later.
- Grated Mozzarella
- Not the delicate buffalo cheese that you slice and serve as antipasto, but the vigorous chewy cow’s cheese, that is perfect on pizza and in parmigiana di melanzane. Get it pre grated, in a resealable plastic bag, and store it in the freezer.
- Marigold Bouillon
- Popularised by Nigel Slater, this stuff makes quite good vegetable stock and allows all manner of wonderful things to be attempted when time is of the essence. Don’t leave home without it.
- Chopped Pickled Ginger
- Peeled, chopped, packed in a jar of white vinegar, and none the worse for wear.
Now, there are some things that don’t make sense.
- Chopped Onions
- If anyone finds this too hard, please let me know and I will write a short, abundantly illustrated article on how easy this is.
- Stoned Olives
- The second you take the stone out, they start losing flavour. So buy them with the stone in, even if you are simply going to chop them up finely and throw them into pasta sauce to tantalise the oleaphobes in your life.
- Peeled Potatoes
- I’m sure this is only an urban myth.
- Adulterated Garlic
- If it comes in any other form than a whole head, it ain’t garlic. The chop and pickle in vinegar approach – that serves ginger and chilli so well – doesn’t work, and as for turning it into powder, oh dear. (Note: the garlic you see in whole heads is dried. Keep an eye out in the shops right now for fresh Spring Garlic, with its thick stem and wonderful flavour.)
- Chopped Meat
- Other than mince, I find pre chopped meat vaguely disturbing. This could just be me.