Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cooking Made Easier With Everyday Products

On my trip to India during the summer, I decided to make quesadillas for A's parents and my parents. His parents had them before, but my parents had not. The night before I wanted to make them, a very simple thought came to my mind. Cooking in the United States is way more easier than it is in India.
My mom soaked red kidney beans overnight, so I could use them for my dish the next step. This was the first step that would be avoided if I were here. Get a can of Bush's canned kidney beans, open the can and your beans are ready to use. The next day, I made salsa from scratch to put in the quesadilla. I make that here also, but again, a step that can be very easily avoided if time is a restraining factor. There is no dearth of getting salsas - whichever ones suit your palette - hot, medium or mild, chunky or not. You do get ready made salsas in India, but cost was a factor and a more important factor was how much were my parents going to use after I left!
Next was shredding cheese. Because of the size of packets of cheese you get there, we just decided to get a block of cheese and shred it. This was not bad at all as it hardly took any time.
In the evening came one of the most tedious tasks. I am sure several people would not make quesadillas if it were not for the ready made corn or flour tortillas. Since those were not available there, mom and I made them, just the way we get it here in the store. We made the dough, she rolled the tortilla and I semi-cooked them and wrapped them in a piece of cloth.
I made a kidney bean and veggie filling for the quesadilla.
After all these steps, I was ready to do the simple task of making the dish, that is not at all time consuming. The efforts were paid off as A's and my parents thoroughly enjoyed the quesadilla. When I was patting the quesadilla on the pan, my mother quietly quipped, "No wonder everyone makes this so often there. Everything is ready-made, and so naturally it is easy for you to make this frequently!" She sure was right on that one.
The biggest benefit was that I got to cook with my mom, spend time with her, and relive memories of the past when we'd just sit in the kitchen as she would cook and we'd talk!

If you give a moment's thought, it is not just quesadilla that makes cooking easier over here. Most dishes are not just fairly easy to cook, but not time consuming also. Students, stay-at-home moms, working mothers, dads and others do not have time to spend in the kitchen and cook for a couple of hours. So many things are at our disposal, at a reasonable price also. Things like canned beans, chopped lettuce and other greens for salads, pasta sauces - alfredo, marinara, chopped vegetables ready to throw in the pan and saute, and so many other ingredients can be incorporated in everyday dishes to make cooking quicker, healthier and easier. We tend to take things for granted, but like other situations, when you do not have something, you then realize the value of it.

Despite the ease of cooking here, people tend to eat out a lot. In the recent past, A and I have met friends and other acquaintances who said that when they consciously make an effort to eat home-cooked food, not only does it make them feel better health-wise, but also makes their pockets better too!

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