Throughout 2017, we are working to transition our practices to a more continuous system, with prep and production for our classes meshing together, rather than requiring meal-based shopping, ordering, and organization. Especially in the new Industry City cooking studio, we will apply the Continuous Kitchen philosophy to our course scheduling and planning. Our Knife Skills classes will use available seasonal vegetables, and cuts will go into stock or be pickled. Stock will be made from vegetable scraps and animal bones on a daily basis. The meat from the Pig Butchering classes will be apportioned for use in subsequent classes. Somehow it will all make sense.
I run a business and have two small children and an ancient dog. Still, Harry and I make time to cook every day, so I'll always have something on hand for the next meal. These days, it seems like food is all about being plated for a photo, nevermind the leftovers. I'm coming around to a new (ancient) way of cooking, of having cooking be a continuous process, a little bit at a time, all the time. Continuous cooking is building the elements that get used to construct a meal, building your pantry so that assembly is simple on a Thursday night when the toddler is crashing and you're short on creativity.
Even if it's late (too late) at night, after everybody is finally in bed and before I sit down for my midnight email session, I'll sometimes just do a quick 15 minute therapy prep session. I'll peel some beets until my hands are pink, chop them up and leave them for tomorrow. Those onions that are starting to go soft? Peel 'em and slice 'em, let them simmer on the stove until they're deep brown, and then just freeze them and use them for burgers or soup later. It takes 15 minutes of active time, but sets you up for crunch time at 6:15.
There's some tiny part of my mental checklist that just feels better when there's a container of beans in the fridge. There's always some pasta around (see aforementioned toddler), and if you're making meatballs, freeze half. Parent friends are astounded that we cook as much as we do, but for us it really is just easier.
"It seems to me that less cooking is done today than used to be and that when it is done, it is so much more work because we have lost the habit of the continuous kitchen. We start each meal from scratch with fresh shopping and a brand-new independent recipe. Our predecessors didn’t, and we can save ourselves a great deal of work and have better, more economical food with greater depth of flavor by seeing cooking as an ongoing process. …Leftovers have gotten a bad name . … Having good leftovers is like having a good sous-chef in the kitchen, someone who has done half the work before I turn up for the finishing touches.
Barbara Kafka, Roasting: a Simple Art 1995h/t Flora Verdura blog