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fast foods: winter quickies
simple, speedy meal ideas for the busy work week by Yee-Fan Sun
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I love cooking best when the cooking’s a little bit of a challenge – when I’m prepping a meal for friends, or trying out a new recipe, or experimenting with some bizarre exotic ingredient: when I’m cooking for fun, that is. But when it’s for the simple and rather dull reason that it’s 7 pm and I haven’t had a bite to eat since noontime, and my stomach’s so cranky at the lack of food that it’s threatening to auto-digest, cooking feels like a chore, and fun’s the last thing on my mind.  On nights like these, I want food that’s fast, filling and easy.

Even if you’re the sort of person who loves reading cookbooks for kicks, there are days when you find yourself standing in the kitchen come dinner time, brain so distracted by the persistent rumblings in your stomach, that you can’t for the life of you figure out how to make the hunger go away in the quickest – but still satisfying, of course – manner possible.  For times like these, it’s good to have a few no-brainer quickie “recipes” on hand …

1 rice redux
On an evening when you’ve got some time – say a Sunday night for example, cook up a big batch of rice, enough to last you three or four evenings. Microwave the rice as you need it during the week – pair it with a quickie stir-fry one night perhaps, a fast Thai green curry another, an Indian dal made from canned chickpeas the next. Don’t have time to make something saucy to pair with the rice? Fry up the rice with onions, garlic, ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, whatever)and frozen peas, then drizzle with sesame oil; or sauté it with garlic, onions, bell peppers, and canned beans, seasoned with a little cider vinegar and hot sauce. Either way, your pre-cooked rice will allow you to have a delicious one-dish meal ready in less than fifteen minutes.

2 (almost-) homemade soup
Keep your kitchen stocked with a good broth – either make large batches of your own stock and keep convenient serving-size portions in the freezer, or cheat a little and buy canned stock – and have a tasty, nutritious, broth-and-stuff soup ready to eat in 20 minutes or less. Chicken and veggie stocks are both good to have on hand. Add some onions, herbs, mushrooms, diced potatoes and carrots (smaller chunks will cook faster), leftover chicken, sausage, leftover rice or small pasta bits – get creative … just about anything goes.

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