Fast family dinners

Tips from the latest quick-fix books

October 4, 2010

In last week’s issue of the Oregonian, food-section staff writer Leslie Cole tackled a major fall project: cooking at least two recipes from each of seven new "dinner-in-a-flash" cookbooks. What, you mean a professional food writer feels harried at the end of the day and doesn’t know how to get dinner for the fam on the table in less than 30 minutes? Of course. As Cole explains,

I know I should be more prepared. I should cook, label, and freeze family-friendly entrées diligently on my days off, or at least write a week’s worth of dinner menus on Sunday and stock my kitchen accordingly. I rarely do.
My excuse? I’m too busy cooking fun stuff on weekends — things like pies and pickles or a special Saturday-night dinner inspired by a visit to the farmers’ market. Plus I like to cook what appeals in the moment — that means poking my head in the fridge, then dreaming up something that fits my mood. Unfortunately my improvisational spirit doesn’t mesh with fast-paced family life. And I get in trouble for it, particularly when dinner is late and every pot in the kitchen is dirty.

In the rest of her article, Cole sums up the best time-saving tips she gleaned from her book-sampling project, including using spice rubs instead of marinades, jazzing up canned goods, and not cooking any recipe that calls for more than two pans.

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