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Busayo Oderinde: Shortcuts in Cooking

Busayo

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I do not like stress or ‘long thing’, as we say in our colloquial English. I like easy, simple, straightforward things and it reflects in my cooking. I love Nigerian food but I have noticed that there is a lot of stress in our cooking e.g. pounding yam, turning hot amala, extracting banga from palm nuts. We spend hours and hours to produce one meal. Why?

I know our mothers were Superwomen – I don’t know how they did it. To produce fresh meals cooked from scratch every day for a household to me is a mighty thing to do. And when I find young women trying to do the same thing today with everything else they have to juggle, my mind is blown.

A true Chef will tell you never to compromise in cooking. They have a puristic attitude towards cooking and that’s fine. This is their life’s work and we understand wanting excellence, but my grouse is with us everyday cooks. Why put ourselves under so much pressure when we don’t have to?

An example is if I want to cook Jollof or Fried rice, of course I need meat stock. But do I have to boil meat just to get stock when I can buy store bought stock in cartons. They taste good so why not? Or if I want to make Banga soup, what’s wrong with using the canned palm nut extract? It tastes fine. I know I see people rolling their eyes and saying it doesn’t taste the same. Really, are we sure it doesn’t taste the same or it’s in our heads?

Pounded yam can be made with a food processor; it’s less stress and quicker. Amala can be made with a food mixer, saving you the extra muscle strain. Use a pressure cooker for beans, use a blender to grind up okro, chop up vegetables with a food processor, use a blender to peel beans for moimoi and akara (a fantastic method I saw on someone’s food blog), or don’t peel the beans at all, another healthy easy option I saw on someone’s else food blog and there are so many more out there.

I am always looking for shortcuts. I don’t have to bake a cake from scratch, there are cake mixes where I can add three ingredients and voila, they are ready and they taste good too. In cake school, my lecturer was always attacking me for looking for easy cake recipes. I didn’t see the point in trying to get the butter, scratch that margarine, hard Naija margarine and sugar fluffy for that long when there are cakes baked with vegetable oil and didn’t need much mixing and tasted fantastic. The irony of this whole thing is once I showed her my chocolate cake recipe using vegetable oil, she started making it for her customers, and she never went back. (I would never advocate baking cakes for buying customers using cake mixes; this is seen as fraud in the culinary world)

Now I am not preaching compromise because you need to spend less time in the kitchen. Things like canned vegetables or already ground cheese are just yucky, fresh always always tastes better. In my opinion, the only vegetable that makes sense canned is sweet corn. There are some foods that do well with canning though: fruits, fishes, tomatoes (which is also a fruit) The taste is well developed and the preservation removes nothing from the taste. A good shortcut is to have canned goods in your pantry; you could make all sorts of sauces in a flash when the need arises.

I love ofe owerri or oha.  It follows the same methodology, just add different vegetables but it’s not my go-to soup because it takes a long time. First you peel the cocoyam, then boil then mash and you have to boil the meat before all the other addendums. All in all this would take about two hours. Nah, I will pass. Or I will buy it outside or let someone else cook it for me. Thank you very much.

I love to make pasta; it’s fast, delicious and you can make it as gourmet as you please and it has way less calories than its evil twin, Rice. The canned goods I said you should have on hand in your pantry can transform your pasta dishes.  For a romantic dinner, pair with crusty bread like a baguette and buy a leafy green salad from the supermarket with a good glass of red wine and you are good to go.

If I ever wanted to have a food blog, it will be filled with easy peasy recipes, I can’t kill myself abeg. My sister was still teasing me recently on my loving shortcuts. I don’t like to pick beans, and it was a chore I hated as a kid. Now I just pour water on the beans, allow the dirt to come up and rinse and rinse, so far not one stone or chaff in my beans.

We overlook the fantastic invention that is called an oven, every modern cook should know how to throw stuff in the oven. By throw, I really mean learn to throw stuff in there. It will shock you just how many people ignore their oven, always cooking food the traditional ways, some even go as far as using the oven as a storage space.  Amazing. The possibilities with what you can do with your oven are endless. It creates variety in your cooking and it’s a great stress saving tool. I saw a method on a food blog of roasting onions, tomatoes and peppers in the oven before blending to make our Nigerian stew; that was just brilliant, I have not tried it yet but I am sure it will be great, it means no more splatters and washing up and straightforward cooking.

Also, I will urge everyone to learn the art of making casserole dishes, there are so many recipes to choose from, all you need is to just assemble the dish beforehand, put in your refrigerator to allow the ingredients come together properly and develop their flavour then put into your oven and voila! Magic happens. I make Lasagne this way and it’s heavenly.

I also think if you can afford the gadgets, please stock your kitchen, this will help your life in the best way possible. If you can afford it, buy a food processor. This is a juicer, blender, mixer, chopper, grater, mincer, slicer etc in one. I don’t have one yet but I have one accessible to me. It is a fantastic tool by the way.

Food is great, it makes life beautiful, I do not think it should be stressful or with plenty long thing. I know I am not the only one who feels this way so what are your shortcuts? Or your ‘no long thing’ methods in cooking?

Have a great weekend, Love and Chocolates!
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang

My name is Busayo, a Food Enthusiast, I love love food, its a huge passion for me and I believe Chocolates make the world a happier place. Feel free to contact me via email, [email protected]

31 Comments

  1. Sonia

    April 26, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I love this

  2. PATSYCHY

    April 26, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    For me,i think shortcuts are for lazy people.and my dear,canned foods and fresh ones dont taste same.and also dont raise ur kids that way bcos they wont know the basics talk more of shortcuts.and also canned foods contain preservatives that most times harmful to our health.our aged parents and those at the village eat and cook everything from scratch and they live up to 90-100plus without cancer or unknown diseases.for less stress,my dear cook and store up in the fridge.and besides,prep everything you will use for cooking,multitask while in de kitchen and u will be out sooner than u think.

    • Sekinat

      April 26, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      Washing machine is also for lazy people. Microwave oven is also for lazy people. Blowdryers are also for lazy people. Blenders are for lazy people.

      In africa as a woman if you choose to do things that makes life easier for you, you are lazy. Why would you choose to slave and toil making food an ancient way when there are mordern methods?

      I am sure the method you use that u think isnt lazy had been reinvented over time. Instead of wasting productive hours that we can be using to do something else we should spend 5hrs making one dish that would become poopoo.

      Thank you sister. If doing something in a new a different way is Lazy. I embrace laziness.

      Anyway this post is for women that work and 24hrs is barely enough for them. Even the Bible praises a wise woman. Why spend hrs cooking for the husband and children that do not care about the method. When all they want is the results, a delicious meal.

      Abeg embrace CHANGE!

    • S!

      April 26, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      APC…………

    • ShineShineShine

      April 26, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      Really? Okay o. Pls. Come back here and retell ur story should you ever choose to live abroad. Also, do not forget to google the meaning of lazy when u do not hv a Sikirat “the maid”, Agnes “the house Manager”, Tony “the driver” Ekaette “the Laundry woman” Ochuko “the Gardner”, Aunty Rose “the Maths lesson teacher”, Uncle Jeremiah “the Ghanian English teacher and so on and so forth! By the way, don’t forget to feed ur 3+1 Children. When u ar done and u still remember the meaning of the word “Lazy” let me know and l promise to give u a share of my winnings when l win the Lottery!

    • Warizdiz

      April 27, 2015 at 2:29 am

      @Shineshineshine, you forgot to add that she MUST also hold down a salaried job o. No supermarket biznis or fashion tailor that can go as she please o!

  3. Chee

    April 26, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Hehehe,I feel e share a kindred spirit,I do most of what you sai above and for my coco yam I use food processor and when it doesn’t really thicken it,I dissolve Akamai and add.want to thicken my elusive soup? I just sprinkle garri (mother taught me to use pounded yam to thicken it) and the day I bought myself a ken wood food processor,I danced into the house cos life just got easier…..that machine is a must have for every woman!

  4. Scared homosapien

    April 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    We sure think alike. I have been crowned the fastest ‘cooker’ in my house. I can present you a meal others will make in 2hrs, in just an hour. Why stress myself so much in the kitchen? *wipes sweat*

  5. Cynical

    April 26, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Educate me on the using blender for peeling beans and the food processor for pounding yam part o……as for shortcuts,not all will give you the desired effect.i am all for no suffering,I always use banga purée but things like canned vegetables are a no no. Also have you ever tried using the beans powder to make akara or moimoi,the diference is 7up.

    • missnk

      April 26, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      Dooney’s kitchen blog has the guidelines for them. The best for me was making delta starch using a hand mixer instead of manually stirring. I was in high heavens that day

    • Carliforniabawlar

      April 26, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Moinmoin in less than 1hour:
      1.Soak beans for 5mins
      2. pour into a food processor./blender and pulse for couple of seconds at a time
      3. rinse and voila! ALL the skin/chaff is out.
      4. Blend with your pepper and onions
      4. Mix in all your condiments and jaras
      5. pour in a baking pan and shove in the oven

      This is the same moinmoin that used to be community effort that the entire family of 7 had to come together to accomplish growing up o….from who will wash the beans and remove the chaff, to who will go and blend it down the street, to who will remove the bone from the fish, to who will remove the stalk from the moinmoin wrapping leaves…the drama was endless…smh.

      Also, I can’t believe all these years, I could have put my okra in a blender and chopped it on the pulse setting…I used to grate so much okra, one time I grated my cuticles and bled (nasty stuff!!)….I sometimes think our mothers knew some of these lil tricks but just loved to watch us suffer lol.
      Canned vegetables are a no-no for me though…I’d rather go the frozen route if need be. E.g. When I cook beans and corn…I don’t go and pick ‘maize’, boil and then painfully remove from the cub. I just jejely pick a pack of frozen corn and my adalu is set to go in no time 😀

    • Tosin

      April 27, 2015 at 8:07 am

      see encyclopedia.
      please teach us more.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      April 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Hahaha! No be small community effort of 7… 🙂

      Meanwhile, I used to be staunch nay-sayer about the concept of frozen spinach until a good friend (who I have to cook the dish for as a massive “Thank You!”) gave me the recipe for Efo riro just this last Friday and I decided to try my hand at it with two bags of frozen spinach from ASDA on Saturday. Lord on the Throne!!! Vegetables out of the bag, into the strainer (to remove excess liquid) and into the soup pot in 5 mins??? How did I not realize this stress-less route to making vegetable soup before now? The old me would spend nothing short of 30mins washing Ugu and fresh spinach leaves (one leaf at a time under the tap, oh! The fear of sand in your soup is the beginning of wisdom…) then another 30 mins chopping them into little bits, although sitting in front of the telly while I do that probably doesn’t help me save time. Ah, suffer!!

      Frozen spinach for efo riro is now the way forward for the foreseeable future. Other forms of veg soup such as afang and edikaiko shall “perraps” be taken off the menu for a while…

    • Magz

      April 27, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you so much for this!!!! The only reason i hate making moinmoin is the strenuous process it involves.

      I’m getting a small oven and making moinmoin!

      God bless you!

    • tunmi

      April 27, 2015 at 4:24 am

      9jafoodie also has guides
      I rely on her stew base method (soon to be patented) in.making my stews

  6. Arrabella

    April 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    This write up would have made more sense with a better structure. Use headings for your shortcuts instead of rambling. It also assumes the reader is unaware or doesnt own a food processor because the writer herself doesnt own one. It is condescending. Good effort but sharpen your writing technique.

    • Carliforniabawlar

      April 26, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      I am no writer but I agree with you on the structure part…for a very interesting topic, it was a somewhat cumbersome read..lol.

  7. Eze clara

    April 26, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I love this food processor but for the canned food, i hate the advice of using it.

  8. Thanks

    April 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Which one is ken wood food processor and what does it do?
    @patsychy I hope you don’t use gas cooker,freezer,blender, juice extractor etc at home cos that will you lazy.

    • Anon

      April 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Abeg don’t mind patsychy. I hope she doesn’t take the elevator in a high-rise building. Not walking up to the 15th floor has to be lazy, no?
      Bring the shortcuts please. Some foods do well canned, some not so e.g. canned green beans yuck.
      I remember when my mum would tell me to cook moimoi. If I was the only one at home, trust me, a lot of skin is going in masked with maggi or knorr. Nobody ever noticed.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      April 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      A Kenwood food processor has been on my wish list for ages. It’s basically a dream kitchen aid (and by the way, there’s actually a brand called “Kitchen Aid” which makes food processors that are the senior and more expensive kindred of Kenwood). The sort you’ll be looking out for depends on whether you bake or cook a lot in large quantities, but that baby is magic for handling your food preps with all sorts of attachments for blending, mixing, chopping etc.

      I can’t store a Kenwood just now but when I get my dream kitchen, ooh la la…

  9. Dee

    April 26, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Sekinat…i looooooovvvveeee uuuuu.
    best comment! i made sure your likes reached 1000.

  10. IK

    April 27, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Cooking can be very straight forward when you know what you are doing. Gadgets are good but what happens when you have power outage, cooking becomes very expensive if you need the generator all the time.
    I will suggest that anyone who is serious about easy cooking should follow the likes of 9jafoodie. As a man who didn’t start cooking until later in life, I thought Nigerian food was time consuming until I discovered the magic of food blogs.

  11. kellyoflife

    April 27, 2015 at 7:11 am

    Good to prepare a sumptuous dinner in 30 minutes ….but we’ve got to be mindful of the preservatives in canned foods….

  12. Tosin

    April 27, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Trader Joe’s kare.
    I don’t endorse poundo yam, although these pounded yam joints ain’t loyal.
    I do endorse frozen veggies, and true about canned whole tomatoes.
    I remember one recipe they had for garden egg sauce (to go with yam) and of course the first time I had to make it I cut out steps like why do you have to remove the skin of the garden-egg, na poison? People have time for iranu sha. The skin ma sef na vitamin something nah.

  13. Simsi

    April 27, 2015 at 8:27 am

    This is me!!! I don’t like cooking. I can’t spend more than an hour on a meal. I’ll just be tired. I’ve already promised myself that I would get a food processor as soon as I can afford it. I also hate picking beans. I just pour water in it and all the dirt will float up. And nobody notices. I wonder why nigerian women will want to kill themselves so people can say they’re hardworking

  14. eyenabasi

    April 27, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Interesting shortcuts. which tool in the food processor can pound yam please.

  15. ednutey

    April 27, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Shortcuts…long cuts,a freshly made meal always tastes better,this has nothing to do with it been in our heads.Lifts….staircases,a good walk will make u healthier.Its not the ‘longthing’ or the 5hrs cooking that’s the issue,its the lifestyle u adopt that matters,i think its more than whether the meal would turn to poo-poo,bear in mind we have healthy and unhealthy poo-poo.

    My 2cents here…if the meal would take a longer time to process,why not start earlier,in the long run its to your benefit never to compromise on a healthy meal because it has its benefits,and if you cant be bothered about getting prepped on time,employ the services of those who enjoy doing it.And in the case you cant employ services…just never compromise on a healthy life style…that u’re skinny doesn’t mean u’re healthy.

  16. Becca

    April 27, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Just discovered frozen spinach. Best thing ever! No more picking, washing and cutting of leaves. all done for you, just defrost & squeeze out excess water & into the pot. So much cheaper than buying lots of bundles or bags of fresh spinach.

    I don’t turn amala till cooked, I just mix it to the consistency I like then cover it with a lid with a lil hot water and let it cook under low heat. Hot amala no koko.

  17. Mz Socially Awkward...

    April 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Me, sha, I love to suffer myself. Not in the sense of handling mortar and pestle for the joy of getting fluffy white swallow but I refuse to blend okra as I live for the joy of chomping on fresh, bite-sized bits in my soup. It’s the same way I’m against the making of poundo/semo in microwaves. You can’t convince me that it tastes the same as the one that’s stirred in a pot and beaten with a wooden spoon within an inch of it’s life.

    However, I’m changing little by little and along with my recent discovery of frozen spinach, also came a hesitant reliance on frozen veg for fried rice… but depending on my mood, I might still decide to opt for the fresh produce that I need to chop by hand. My friends tease me about the length of “activity” I’m prone to engage in whenever they’re invited for lunch at my place but I probably still believe in many of the old-fashioned (a.k.a. sufferhead) ways of doing things. 🙂

    Saying that, though, I’m with the writer on sweet corn being the one veg that should always be bought in a tin. That and canned tomatoes.

  18. brownchocolate

    April 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Canned food is UNHEALTHY!

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