Shorten cooking time with these tips

My idea of cooking is quick and convenient: One hour at the most to prep meals.

So I will resort to ways and means that shorten the food preparation process, especially now that I do not have a helper.

I love fresh vegetables, but they take time to prep. So if I am making a stir-fry or a soup, I will opt for frozen vegetables - mixed vegetables, peas, beans and such.

Using frozen greens may actually deliver more nutrients, as they are usually picked and frozen at the height of ripeness.

I saw British chef Jamie Oliver recommending frozen spinach on TV. They are cheaper than buying fresh varieties and they are as good when you want to use them as a stuffing, as he did with pasta, or to braise as the Teochews do, topping them with fried sole fish at the end.

And when I do use fresh leafy greens, I would chop up a bunch, instead of plucking them - into smaller pieces if I need them to wilt in a soup and larger if I want some bite.

I would ignore my grandmother's chiding voice in my head. Her generation of cooks would always pluck vegetables stalk by stalk to separate the stems from the leaves, which should be left whole as they look prettier on the plate.

I no longer top and tail my green beans. Instead, I line them up, tough stems at one end, and chop them off. The other end is fine for eating as it is.

Similarly, I have stopped plucking and discarding the roots of bean sprouts. Do you know that they are full of nutrients?

Instead of using dried beans, I use canned beans. This cuts out the step of soaking and boiling the dried beans before cooking.

Besides, little nutrients are lost from the canning process.

Then there is this timesaver which I cannot wait to try. When defrosting meat, pour some vinegar over it. Not only does it tenderise the meat; it also thaws it faster. Just wash off the vinegar before use.

This article was first published on Nov 20, 2014.
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