lots and lots of dishes!

I hate doing the dishes and I cannot think why anyone would willingly say that they LOVE doing them.  But they are a necessary part of cooking, that is for sure.  No matter what, at our house there is always something that needs to be washed, and in the restaurant business and way back in chef school it was no different.

Now, because I cooked professionally and was trained well by European chefs, I do all my prep work before I begin to cook any recipe.  The prep work is called “mis en place” and is French for “everything in its’ place,” which means instead of continuous frantic chop-chop-chopping while wondering if the meat is burning, I can now enjoy a glass of wine and good conversation with my dinner-mates during the actual cooking part of the meal.  The included picture above shows an example of what my mis en place looked like before I made my latest batch of Beef Stew with Butternut Squash and Ginger.

But as you can see, there are a fair amount of dishes in the picture.  Sometimes, there are many ingredients for a recipe all in separate little dishes – even more than are pictured above.  So many in fact that it often feels like a dim sum restaurant at my house and at any moment a Chinese waiter in a black vest is going to pop out, count up the dishes and hand me my bill.

But the truth is, even though there are a lot of little dishes, since we switched to Paleo cooking, clean up has never been easier to do!  I remember certain traditional recipes in the past that once done it would take 2 or more days to get the dishes clean.  All that baked on cheese, dried flour glutens and seized proteins that were going to require multiple soaks, scrapes and washes through the auto dishwasher.  The recipe was fantastic, but the cleanup was agonizing!  A couple times I think I actually discovered a glue that would help space shuttle tiles survive re-entry!

What I have noticed with paleo cooking is that no matter what we prepare, cleanup is a breeze.  Nothing is ever baked on, dried on or stuck to a point that I can’t easily clean up the dish.  In fact, after the beef stew recipe, I left the dirty pot out overnight as a test.  I wanted it to dry with sauce all over it so I could test whether it would clean up easily, or I would be back to traditional scrubbing and scraping.  I left it for 24 hours and checked it the following evening when I was doing the next night of dishes.  After placing the dirty dutch oven in the sink, I turned on the warm water, and voila! the dried on sauce instantly liquefied and rinsed away!  Within 2 minutes, the entire pot was clean and shining and sitting in the drying rack without any harsh scrubbing with the steel wool.

So, although I dont have a definitive answer as to why, I do suspect that without all the glutens in the dishes, the proteins have nothing to create a sticky glue with.  That, and of course, a lack of dried cheese too!

Now, in conclusion, I am not saying that your total cooking time from start to finish will be less if you eat Paleo, but I do think it will be simpler.  Yes you will need to spend time menu planning, but you should already be doing that for your health and budget whether or not you are paleo.  Yes you may spend more time chopping vegetables – perhaps more than you have been doing to date.  But, in reality, whether you choose a Paleo lifestyle or not, don’t you think some more fresh vegetables in your diet could be a good thing?  But in the end, wouldn’t it be nice to know that even if your prep time is a bit more than it used to be, and your cooking time is the same, your cleanup afterwards will be a breeze?


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  • I love your page Craig, and the food sounds great! You come from a long line of wonderful cooks and along with your education we are very proud of you.
    Grandma had recipies that took days…like pick, clean, cut, chop, marinate the first day, season, boil, cool, the second day and layer, build, cheese, topping bake the third day. (kidding but the old people took a long time to prepare food sometimes).
    Grandma was in the Womens Army in WW2, and we always said she cooked like an Army cook, everything in the kitchen was used and left for the kids to clean up.

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