Cooking Advice for Freelancers

Why is it when we work ten feet from our kitchen we never eat? Or at least we never eat an actual meal. I’m the queen of munching my way through an afternoon, but rarely is it a balanced meal.

1. Make stew

You’re home. You can fry up some vegetables and throw some meat (or stew) around lunch time in the slow cooker or even a gently simmering stock pot/dutch oven and by dinner time you have food.


Cut up a bunch of garlic and an onion. Fry in olive oil until translucent. Add a pound of ground meat (I like turkey), if you’re a veggie-type go straight for the beans. Brown the meat.

Add some combination of cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, chile powder, cayenne (the two kinds of chiles taste good together and round out the flavor), salt (smoked if you have it), and black pepper.

Dump in the slow cooker with a couple cans of beans, a bottle of shitty light beer, a can of tomatoes or tomato paste, and lime juice if you have some.

Cook on low for 8 hours. A half hour before serving, you can add some fresh veggies, such as mushrooms (surprisingly good), peppers, squash, whatever.

Serve with cheese and/or greek yogurt and/or chips.

2. Cook ahead

Were you one of those people who cooked on Sundays so you had something to eat all or part of the week when you worked in an office? I sure was. We freelancers might think we can gracefully finish editing at 4:30 and then prepare dinner for ourselves and/or others while sipping a Manhattan; however, more often than not we finish working late and grab some cheetos to eat with a glass of rotgut wine. (Don’t tell me you’ve never done that.)

Boil up some chicken to eat over salad for the week or to stick in a sandwich. Or if you’re a veggie type, cook up some potatoes or beans from scratch. Stop eating like a college student.

Busy Freelancer’s Curried Chicken Salad

Buy a chicken and boil it in olive oil, wine, and chopped onions (Little known fact: You can make a broth with nonrotten vegetable peels, scoop them out, and you have a delicate yummy broth) and whatever is in the back of the fridge.

Or buy it precooked because you’re a lazy ass. I do that too.

Debone. (This is fancy cooking term for strip the meat from the bones. It’s messy. I once worked at a deli where they told me that this was the essence of Jewish life. I looked at my boss like he was crazy. I think he just wanted me to do the job.)

Mix shredded chicken with a generous scoop of mayo and a generous scoop of curry powder.

Eat on bread. Yum.

3. Never underestimate the peanut butter sandwich

We all have foods that are quick, easy, and not too terrible for us. For me, this is a peanut butter sandwich. For you, it might be Nina Simonds’ Quick Peanut noodles.

In a food processor, chop up 1/2″ ginger and 8 cloves of garlic. Add 1 ts of chile paste, 1/2 c peanut butter, 1/4 c soy sauce, 3 1/2 Tb sugar, 3 1/2 Tb Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tb sesame oil, 5 Tb chicken broth or water.

Mix with hot noodles or pour over meat, tofu, and/or vegetables. Or eat it with a spoon. No one is watching.

4. Make peace with snacking

They say having five small meals a day is good for you. Hell yeah. Make up some cheese biscuits to celebrate. I swear up and down that it’s super easy, quick, and they are just amazingly delicious. (To you Commonwealth readers, I am from the southern United States, where biscuits are like scones only much much better. But by all means, bake cookies as well. Who doesn’t love a good batch of chocolate chip cookies?)

Cheese Biscuits

2 c flour, 4 ts baking powder, 1 ts salt, 2 Tb. butter, 3/4 to 1 c milk (sour milk is fine), 3/4 c grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter. (You can do this with a pastry cutter or two knives. The goal is to have every bit of butter bond with every  bit of flour. You basically cut the butter in until it is the size of small split peas, or you’re exhausted, whichever comes first.) Stir in the milk quickly and add cheese. Knead it three times. DO NOT OVERHANDLE THE DOUGH. Place on floured board and pat until 1/2″ thick. cut into rounds or little squares and bake in greased pan for 10 to 15 min. Don’t tell your partner you’ve made any so you can eat it all yourself.


12 responses to “Cooking Advice for Freelancers

  1. Wait, how did you know I was going to make a peanut sauce tonight, and needed a recipe?

    Man, you are GOOD.

    Also, thanks for the reminder to cook ahead. We really need to cook ahead.

  2. Last week when southern Southern California was without power for hours and hours, a peanut butter and honey sandwich saved me. Tonight (heavy editing to do) it’s a baked potato and fresh tomato. I grew up in the south, too, and have rebelled against all those 14-course heavy meals. Unless, of course, someone else cooks.

  3. OK, making the PB thing immediately.

    I make these things called “Potato Thingies.” Nuke 2 potatoes until almost cooked through. Slice them into rounds and put them on a cookie sheet (I line with foil & spray with non-stick stuff). Spray the rounds with the non-stick spray or use olive oil or whatever. Hit your spice rack and dump whatever sounds good on the potatoes. I used dried onion flakes, parsley, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder – whatever I feel like. Bake in the over at 475 for 9 minutes. Dip in mayo/ketchup mixture for ultimate tastiness. This is good with soup or sammies.

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