Statistics tell us that when it comes to what’s really cooking in the kitchen, most have 10 to 15 recipes in their repertoire and rotate them ad nauseum. While this research may infer there is boredom in the kitchen, there’s more to it than meets the frypan. Finding recipes all the family will enjoy is one challenge, what with individual preferences, downright fussy eaters, vegetarian teens, and yes, let’s not forget healthy and tasty. Then there is the issue of time - or rather the lack of it. According to those same statisticians the average time spent preparing and cooking dinner is 20 minutes or less.
Organizational specialists suggest stocking the pantry and the freezer with a stealth-like hoarding mentality. The reality is, we often find ourselves staring at shelves bulging with packages of rice, pasta and beans, or frozen hunks of chicken or stewing beef, often in a Zen-like trance after a wild day at the office. What we really need are some short-order supper survival tips that offer variety with few ingredients and minimal time and effort.
Well, here to the rescue are the culinary cavalry, so to speak, fighting kitchen boredom with little-time, no-whine recipes. These busy professional home economists, with culinary skills at their very capable fingertips, face the same stresses as the typical Canadian family - juggling jobs, kids, and the family’s car pool pick up schedule.
Barb Holland, P.H.Ec. is a freelance Professional Home Economist and recipe developer. While many envy her home office - the kitchen is steps away and commuting non-existent,
variable schedules are her personal juggling act. Holland finds it disconcerting how many people take the route of fast food, take-away and restaurant meals. All can be tough on the waistline and the wallet. Her super-quick recipe is based on that hoarded pasta and a jar of pesto.
Barb’s Warm Pesto Pasta Salad
When summer tomatoes are at their best, toss a quick meal together with a jar of prepared pesto. While this pasta salad can be made with the more traditional basil pesto, you could also use arugula pesto with fresh arugula for a very peppery kick.
12 oz. (375 g) rotini pasta
½ cup basil (or arugula) pesto (or more to taste)
1 bunch fresh arugula
1 large ripe tomato, chopped or 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until tender.
Wash arugula, spin dry and remove stems.
Drain pasta (don’t rinse) and place in large bowl. Toss with pesto. Add arugula leaves
and tomato, toss again and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Ellie Topp, P.H.Ec., is the co-author of nine cookbooks including “The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, 2nd edition” by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, Firefly Books, 2007 and "Fresh and Healthy Cooking for Two - Easy Meals for Everyday Life" by Ellie Topp and Marilyn Booth, Formac Publishing, 2011.
Ellie’s Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Soy-Mustard Sauce
Lean pork tenderloin grills to perfection in short order for an easy meal. If the grill is not handy, simply roast it in the oven. Serve with couscous and steamed broccoli for quick dishes to round out the meal.
1 lb. (500 g) pork tenderloin(s), 1 or 2
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 clove garlic, minced
Trim any visible fat and membrane from meat.
Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over meat, turning to coat thoroughly. Set aside.
Preheat barbecue to high and lightly oil the grill. Place meat on grill and reduce heat to
medium-high. Turn meat and brush with sauce frequently until outside is caramelized but
inside still pink, about 10-12 minutes. Alternatively, bake in 375F oven for 40 minutes
or until meat has just a hint of pink remaining. Slice and serve immediately. Makes 4
Couscous with Lemon and Fresh Herbs
Couscous with a hint of lemon and fresh herbs is a perfect accompaniment to pork. Garnish with currants or sunflower seeds if you desire. In small saucepan heat 2 tsp. vegetable oil over medium heat; cook 1 minced shallot until soft, about 2 minutes. Add 1-1/2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup couscous and grated rind of 1 lemon. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme or rosemary or 1 tsp. dried.
Diane O’Shea, P.H.Ec., is a professional home economist and Family Studies (Home Economics) educator. Days are kept busy as a secondary school teacher, department head and Family Studies lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Western University. Now retired from O'Shea's Farm Fresh Vegetables and Berries, there is time for the four children, their spouses and three grandkids. Diane is presently busy planning for the Canadian Symposium for Home Economics and Family Studies Educators in February 2017.
Here she shares her favourite topping for seasonal fruit.
Diane’s Strawberries ‘N’ Cream
O’Shea fell in love with strawberries and Devonshire cream during a trip to England many years ago. The O’Shea farm proudly produced summer and day neutral strawberries for over 20 years. This is her Greek yogurt-based alternative. While similar to Devonshire cream in consistency, this recipe provides a delicious richness with the bonus of being low in fat. Enjoy the berries and all the seasonal Ontario fruits coming to the markets with this simple topping. And, it’s short order, too!
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced or other seasonal fruit
2 cups low fat, Greek-style natural yogurt
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice or 1 tsp. almond extract
Combine yogurt, sugar and lemon juice or almond extract.
Spoon over fresh berries or fruit. Garnish as desired. Makes 4 servings.
The Ontario Home Economics Association, a self-regulating body of professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life.