This is a post all about prepping food fast. I found it odd that I poured so much time and energy into a post about how to save time in the kitchen . But I hope some of it is useful for you! If not, please just indulge me and I hope I don't bore you to tears. As you all know, I absolutely looove talking about food. In this post we've got easy egg prep, bacon prep, lemon preservation, oatmeal, homemade whey, and banana preservation.
Did someone say FOOD?????
Did someone say FOOD?????
I am not a morning person. Actually, I love living out the morning. But it's the actual 'getting out of bed' thing that always sets me back. I am very productive post-coffee and it's a damn good thing I married a man who doesn't mind getting out of bed bright and early to brew it for me.
Our current morning routine is pretty awesome. Jason doesn't have to leave for work until 8:20 so after we snuggle with the kids for a few minutes in our bed, he takes all the kids out of the room and leaves me in peace. I LOVE being able to roll around and get comfortable without worrying about waking up a sleeping baby.
Since Jason takes the kids, he is usually in charge of giving the kids breakfast. I always keep a good stock of Giant Breakfast Cookies in the freezer for Jason to pop in the oven and warm up. But recently, Jason asked me to make breakfast even easier for him. He doesn't mind getting up, be he is also tired before his coffee. Too tired to wait for the frozen cookies to heat in the oven and the kids get all Hulk Smash on us when they are hungry. Also, the breakfast cookies aren't all that filling (more on that later). (*I know - the microwave is super fast. But we don't use one!)
We already go against the grain with the way we cook (Traditional cooking inspired by Weston A. Price). I haven't met anyone here who cooks or eats like we do. I think it is the best and most nutritious way to eat. It is also the most delicious. Unfortunately, I get a lot of weird stares and criticism when I talk about it to strangers, so you, my friends, must suffer through the posts about food. If I can get it all out here on the blog, I can bite my tongue in public so people don't ask me what I have against their "store-bought blah blah blah".
Recently, I started researched different ways of preparing food to make the prep for our crazy foods easier and faster. You have probably seen a few of them on Pinterest, but I'll share anyway.
1) Hard-Boiled Eggs baked in the oven - originally found on this site
I hate making hard-boiled eggs. The smell alone is enough to clear the house. And, since I spent 30 out of the last 60 months pregnant, I just can't deal with foul smells. But I LOOOVE egg salad.
Did you know it was as simple as baking them in the oven????? I tried it and am completely sold. Now we have egg salad every week.
(Aren't my eggs pretty? My egg farmer Deb is the best. She lets the kids play with the donkeys, goats and chickens every time we visit!)
And I don't even own a 12-cup muffin tin so I had to bake the eggs in a 6-cup muffin tin and it worked beautifully. Since my eggs are fresh from the farm, I have to let them sit for a week or two in the back of the fridge so that I can peel the shell off. Fresh eggs won't peel properly and you lose a ton of the egg that will be stuck to the shell.
I baked 12 eggs at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
As soon as they were done, I popped them in an ice-water bath to cool down.
When they are cooled down, just peel them, toss them in a bowl and put them in the fridge until you are ready to make your salad! But don't worry about those dark marks on the eggs. They are contact wounds from the muffin tin and I'm hoping to get a stone muffin tin soon that might eliminate that mark?
It takes a long time to peel eggs around here. The princess in the tower has to hold each one and say, "Awww - how cute!! I love this egg! His name is Eggbert"
I am currently going dairy-free for Roman so I had to make two versions of egg salad. Also, I despise mayonnaise. Always have. Once, I opened a packet of what I thought was ketchup, squeezed the package and dry-heaved when I saw it was mayo. The stuff just grosses me out! But I'm okay with homemade mayo, and until I get an immersion blender will just have to skip the store-bought stuff.
My mayo-free egg salad:
12 hard-boiled eggs
4 slices of bacon chopped
1/4 cup sour cream (omit for dairy-free version)
salt and pepper
2) Bacon - need I say more?
How about an easy way to cook bacon without flipping, stirring or cleaning, but you STILL get the bacon'y smell through your house?
Lay your bacon on cookie sheets (with aluminum foil if you want, but now I'm starting to wonder if that's a good idea because of aluminum seeping into the food?).
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake your bacon for 17 minutes. Check it. It should be done unless it's super thick. Mine was thick and cooked in 25 minutes.
Check out the super easy cleanup!
But again - I am not sure that cooking with aluminum is the safest. I'll probably skip the aluminum next time?
But even the clean up will be worth it so long as there is bacon at the end!!!!
I chopped up the bacon and froze the bacon bits on a cookie tray. Once the pieces were frozen, I transferred them to a mason jar and now I have frozen bacon bits for when I want to make Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Muffins or Bacon and Egg Casserole!
3) Lemon preservation
This one is so simple. I never have fresh lemons on hand. When we first moved here, I couldn't find an organic lemon so, in a complete panic, I bought the bottled stuff. It just doesn't compare to a real lemon. And it has been processed to include the peel so it is more bitter.
Bottled Versus Fresh
I decided to be thrifty and when I found my lemons, I used the whole thing right away.
First: I squeezed the lemons and saved some in ice cube trays (2 tsp per cube) so that they are flat and thin and can be easily cut in half if I only need 1 tsp. I'm thinking of breaking into one of the cubes for some hot lemon water with honey for this cold I'm fighting!
This the worst photo ever, but those are frozen thin cubes of lemon juice in the bag.
This the worst photo ever, but those are frozen thin cubes of lemon juice in the bag.
Then I grated the outside of each and every lemon and wrapped them up individually so each package has the zest of 1 lemon. I labeled a container and threw it in the freezer with the lemon juice cubes. Now I can give these lemon ricotta cookies a try with the real thing!
Lastly, I threw all the lemon peels in a jug of vinegar. I let the peels sit in vinegar for up to 4 weeks before I threw away the peels and strained the vinegar. Now, I just pour equal parts lemony vinegar and water into a spray bottle and use it as my household cleaner!
4) Soaked Oatmeal
I started soaking my grains a year and a half ago and quick gave UP. Soaking your grains is an important process for improving digestibility and nutrition. I believe that sourdough is the healthiest way to prepare grains but I lost my sourdough starter when I got pregnant with Roman and the general food hate and nausea knocked me out. I don't want to go through all the work of grinding my own grain only to find out that it isn't actually healthy to eat. I experimented with a few soaked grain recipes here and there since I had learned that properly preparing grains is really the best way to go. But quickly gave up on that after trying and failing miserably. And then I read that soaking isn't necessary. I have found so much conflicting information. It's not that I don't believe these other bloggers that it is a healthy way to prepare grains. I just don't believe the bloggers anymore that their food tastes half decent! And I think that the length we go to purchase whole organic wheat berries and then grind them at home and freeze the flour immediately is probably good enough.
I tried this soaked homemade granola with my kefir. Not only was it beyond disgusting, but even when we repurposed it into granola bars with lots of syrup, honey, and even chocolate chips, it was still foul. I am still surprised at how many people made the recipe and loved it.
I also tried soaking my pie crust with apple cider vinegar like so many recipes suggest. I stupidly tripled the recipe so I would have lots of pie crusts in the freezer to make delicious pies whenever I wanted. When the day came to use the pie crusts, I threw them all away. Just the smell alone of pure apple cider vinegar was enough to make me ill. That was the last time I bothered soaking anything.
But then, the other day Jason asked me for a super simple breakfast option for the kids so he could relax instead of spend the hour before work slaving away in the kitchen. The meal has to be super nutritious and delicious. But most of all filling so the kids don't spend all morning begging for food. The unsoaked breakfast cookies don't keep the kids satisfied until lunch. So I started my research again and it led me once again to soaking.
And it turns out that if soaking makes life easier for Jason so I can sleep in, soaking is definitely back in!! I recently saw a video titled: How to Quickly Adjust to the Taste of Soaked Grains. The recommendation was so simple yet so hard for my perfectionist brain to digest: Start small. Soak grains in just a tiny bit of an acidic medium until you get used to the flavor and difference. DUH!!
So, I soaked my very first pot of oatmeal in a teaspoon of liquid whey and it was actually delicious! I was inspired by this post from KitchenStewardship.com.
I heated up 1 cup of filtered water to warm to the touch and then added 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of filtered water, 1 teaspoon of liquid whey and a tablespoon of fresh ground white flour.
I gave it a good stir and let it sit out on the stovetop all night night long. This is what it looked like in the morning.
In the morning, Jason only had to add the cup of filtered water I had set out and turn on the stove. Once the oatmeal boiled, he turned the heat down, let it cook another couple minutes and DONE!
Doesn't get easier than that!!!
I don't know if I would call it oatmeal anymore. I think a better name is definitely porridge. But it's damn good porridge! It thickens up as it cools off. Add whatever you like to it. We are big fans of maple syrup and butter around here. It took Leo two days to warm up to the different texture of the oatmeal. But the flavor really isn't different!
I recently found the sauteed banana trick from Chocolate Covered Katie and it is wicked delicious for a sugar-free sweetener! All you need is a little melted butter or coconut oil and a sliced banana. Melt the banana in the oil for a few minutes and then add it to your oatmeal. Crazy delicious.
We just gradually increased the amount of whey until we got to one tablespoon and the flavor was still fantastic. I highly recommend!!
5) Homemade Liquid Whey
Originally, I was searching for an easy and fast breakfast for Jason to make for the kids and, when I found the soaked oatmeal, I was going to skip it since I don't have any "whey". I really don't even know what it is...
But the same blogger had a super simple tutorial on how to make whey from plain full fat yogurt. And since I always have plain yogurt in the fridge, I had to give it a try!
Just put a spoonful of yogurt in a coffee filter and hang it over a bowl. Once you have collected enough of the clear liquid, congratulations, you have whey.
And the yogurt that separates from the whey isn't unusable. Put in the fridge to use as a spread like cream cheese!
My soaked porridge experiment was so successful that I finally just decided to collect whey from an entire jug of plain yogurt! I just put the yogurt in cheesecloth and hung it in a strainer over a bowl for a couple hours.
You can see the whey dripping out here:
(Those dried sweet potatoes from dinner on the counter aren't embarrassing me at all. Not in the least...)
I double strained the whey because it was still milky. I just ran it through a coffee filter one more time and put it in the refrigerator for later use. It will last up to 6 months! And whey can be used for a lot of different things.
And I used all the extra yogurt "cheese" left over from making whey for a huge pancake dinner. Delicious!!!
(this was a badddddd week to try to go dairy-free!! I couldn't resist these at all.)
6) Frozen Bananas
We go through a bunch of bananas almost every day. It is one of our main snack foods especially at bedtime when the kids claim they can't sleep because they're STARVINGGGG!!!
We also love to eat smoothies as a snack. But frequently we will be out of bananas because of how quickly we run through them. The other day, a facebook status read: "I am busy chopping and freezing 10 bunches of bananas that were given to us this week!"
I had a complete a-HA! moment. So I got a few extra bunches of bananas and we chopped and froze them so we'll never run out! I can't believe I've never thought of that before.
Sites like Pinterest were made exactly for people like me who need a lot of hand-holding through life...
Every time I look at them, I'm so tempted to make Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites...
This post brought to you by Kerrygold Grassfed Butter
Big props to Sam's Club for carrying Kerrygold. This stuff is magic. If you see it, buy it. Beyond delicious. And made from grass-fed cows. The flavor is superb and unlike any other butter. We spread it on everything. Except the baby.
The combination of delicious just wouldn't be safe.
Please, for the love of pete, if you know of any other awesome ways to save time in the kitchen, let me know!!!!