I'm a bad chef, but I still cook a lot

Apr 18, 2012

If you follow my self-obsessed twitter stream at all, you might know that I cook a lot. Which isn't to say that I'm any good at it. Again if you know me, you'll know that I'm not, nor am I capable of, being modest. My reasons for cooking come down to my cheapness and my desire to eat healthy (in equal parts). I feel like I'm getting better at it, but very slowly. I see it as an out-of-this-world investment (both in myself and financially), and if it takes me 20 years to not be embarrassed by what I cook, so be it.

I'm always amazed that people think healthy eating is expensive, because in my experience it's almost always cheaper. The expensive stuff is either overly processed, or loaded with sugar, salt and/or fat. This is a battle-cry which has been taken up by people before.

When I think of cheap and healthy food, banana's and sweet potatoes are at the top of my list. But they are far from being alone. Eggs, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, oranges, apples, peanuts, onions, green beans, peas, squash and tofu are all deliciously healthy foods which tend to be cheap year round, wherever you live. While I know a lot of people can't stand them, I also love legumes which are probably the cheapest and healthiest of all.

On top of this list you can then add food which is seasonal and regional to the list. For example here, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, dragonfruit and asparagus tend to be pretty cheap - but I know that's not true everywhere.

The problem, I think, isn't that healthy food is expensive, it's just that people are lazy. Not only do they not want to cook, they don't want to learn to cook.

But there's no reason you can't start small. Get some broccoli, cut about 1 inch off the stalk. Stand it up in a very small amount of water (say 0.5cm) in a pot, cover, and turn on high. You want to cook it by steam. I don't know how long it'll take to cook, but it won't take long. The worst thing you can do is overcook it. It should still look a lively green. Maybe 1 or 2 minutes after it starts to steam? I dunno, try and learn..that's the point.

How about cutting up some potatoes, tossing them in a bowl with a bit of olive oil and seasoning (lately I've been using a chopped up bird's eye chili pepper to build up my spice-resistance). For 4 potatoes you might use 1 or 2 tbsp's of olive oil. I don't know, just eye ball it and adjust the next time. Then lay it down on a sheet covered in tin foil (shiny side facing up!) and bake at whatever...my little oven doesn't go above 220C (lame). After about 10 minutes I shuffle them around and leave them in for another 10 minutes.

Here's what some of tonight's potatoes (the inspiration for this post) look like:

baked potatoes