There's a post that Sharon Astyk wrote at some point that has always stuck with me about how cooking takes time, and how those recipes that claim you can cook something in fifteen minutes are pretty much a myth.
It's a great post, and if anyone knows where it is on her myriads of different blogs, please let me know so I can link to it.
Sharon basically argues that meals made in fifteen minutes are called salads. I'd argue that you can also scramble an egg or make a very simple omelette in about fifteen minutes, but other than that, things take time.
Of course, Sharon makes food from scratch, from scratch. I don't do that. I don't can pasta sauce, or make my own butter or yogurt, or my own bread, or anything of that sort. I'm perfectly happy to buy ready-made hummus and sauces and jams and breads.
Still, I find that cooking (as opposed to say assembling a sandwich or what have you) inevitably takes me at least twenty minutes if not more.
On Wednesday night I made spaghetti. This is probably the simplest thing that I can claim that I "cook." I buy whole wheat pasta and canned tomato sauce. All I have to do is cook the pasta and chop some vegetables to add to the sauce, cook the vegetables, and heat the sauce.
I've made this meal a bajillion times over the years. It requires no spices, no looking up recipes on the internet, just chopping and cooking.
It took me 20 minutes.
Perhaps I am slower than most people. I would argue that that's very probable: if you cook every day you probably are a faster chopper than I am. But it's hard to be faster about things like getting your water to a roiling boil or cooking pasta until it's the right level of tenderness. While some people can probably make spaghetti in fewer than 20 minutes, I'd venture that it's hard to make it in much fewer minutes.
Of course, as Sharon points out, some things require forethought and not much more. The soup I made yesterday took me about half an hour all told, reading the recipe, chopping the vegetables, adding spices, blending the soup when it finished cooking. But it also simmered in my slow cooker for twelve hours. I didn't have to think about it while it was cooking, but I did have to have the presence of mind to start cooking early enough that the soup would be ready to eat for dinner.
Ultimately, I think the idea of "quick cooking" while super-appealing is pretty much a myth. Which isn't to say that you can't feed yourself quickly: make a sandwich, make a salad, make a scrambled egg. But if you're actually cooking food? I find I have to block off at least a half hour.
What's your experience cooking? Can you prepare a meal in under half an hour?