I had an interesting conversation in the office this week on the merits of cooking, and wanting to cook. For those who didn’t see a point in cooking, the reason came down to, it’s just food, it’s transient, we eat for energy we poop it out the other end, there’s nothing more to it. Sure it tastes good for like 10 min, but that’s about it. We have eat every day to survive but in our busy lives, cooking has become somewhat of a tedious chore. It’s an interesting train of thought, one which I don’t subscribe to but one which intrigues me nonetheless.. For me however, and I think for a lot of others, food is intrinsically tied to family…to culture…to daily habits. But I do sometimes wish I could just approach food just as an energy source, I think my waistline would thank me profusely in return.
From the casual chat to mum while she prepares dinner to the ultimate focus and concentration whilst practising my chopping skills, for me the preparation of meals is also a time for reflection, relaxation and a bit of meditation.
But you can buy the food, and still enjoy the meal which saves you the arduous task of cooking it. But in the end someone has to cook right? It means someone enjoys the merits of cooking enough to sell the produce to others, whether it’s for money, a livelihood or for the actual love of it… or until Soylent Green becomes real…
Making your own condiments, sauces and spreads is pretty much the ultimate in kitchen prep meditation. They take a shitload of time to prep and make and the end result is a jar of something you can pick up for around $3 at the supermarket. But paradoxically they’re also some of the most rewarding items to make as they form the foundations of so many other recipes. For example, this harissa recipe (another from the Weekend in Canberra at Hannahs) forms the bases for another recipe to come this week. Luckily jars of stuff do keep for a good chunk of time in the fridge, so make it on a lazy weekend and use it during the week.
(from Bourke St Bakery Book, Makes around 500g)
5 red capsicums, seeded, membranes removed and finely chopped
350g brown onions, chopped finely
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red chilli finely chopped seeds included
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
15g smoked paprika
2 teaspoons salt
Put all the ingredients in a large heavy based saucepan. On low-medium heat, simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 10-20min making sure the sauce doesn’t stick.
You can cook the mixture for less or longer time depending on whether you want chunkish harissa or a paste (Hannah has kept it quite chunky here). You can also blitz in a food processor once cool if you want something a little smoother.
Good to keep in the fridge for at least a week.