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Apr 26, 2012 12:16 PM

Foods you dread making because they’re time-consuming

Let me first start off by saying I’m thankful to be blessed with an abundance of food. That being said, as I become more health conscious I shop more carefully, make more items from scratch, and do more canning and freezing. Some things can’t be rushed, thus food preparation seems to take an increasing amount of time. (Even with time-savers like a food processor and blender.)

Usually I do things in large quantities because if I’m gonna do all the work, may as well make it worth the effort. Certain foods I have to gear up for bec they’re a major production. So here it is.

Soup. I make several kinds from scratch and they’re all time-consuming.

Anything during canning season. Those of you who also can will understand.

Things that make it less dreadful:

Make components in advance. I’ll generally make stock ahead of time. Also freeze leftover meat or chicken so it’s ready to go. Spread prep time over a few days. Prep one day, cook the next day, portion & freeze after that.

Listen to music, books on CD, phone family and friends (altho if prep requires loud noise from exhaust or blender, forget it)

Change environment. While prepping items for canning I generally like to sit outside on the deck. The tranquility is great and I feel less confined to the kitchen.

So while I may not always feel the joy of cooking, there’s joy in knowing I have delicious, healthy food readily available.

Can anyone else relate to this?

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  1. I just have one, which is officially called Amaretto Truffle Brownies, but in my kitchen, it's known as the Damn Brownies. 3 layers, all of which need prep, then cooling before the next layer. They're delicious, and friends demand them when I invite them for dinner, but Damn Brownies they'll always be.

    Oh, and I guess my version of authentic biryani would be in that class, too. In fact, a friend describes most of my Indian recipes as "begin with 4 pounts of ridiculously fine sliced onions, a peck of garlic, chop and de-skin a flock of chickens, home-grown and individually roast spices"--well, you get the picture. I try to tell her that most of those recipes were originally done by a hired cook, not exactly a quick heat and eat American meal.

    19 Replies
    1. re: pine time

      Could you share the recipe for damn brownies? They sound like they're worth the time. Thanks.

      1. re: chowser

        Here 'tis. Note that the original recipe calls for boxed (20 oz.-ish) brownie mix, but I make a homemade brownie base.

        Amaretto Truffle Brownies
        Supposedly makes 48 to 54 bars (yeah, right)

        21.5 oz package fudge brownies (haven't seen this size in years, so use a little less oil & water if using a slightly smaller package. Even better, use your favorite homemade brownie batter)
        1/2 c oil
        1/3 c water
        2 Tbl Amaretto
        1 egg
        3/4 c chopped almonds

        8 oz softened cream cheese
        1/4 c powdered sugar
        8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
        3 Tbl Amaretto

        1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
        1/4 c whipping cream
        1 Tbl Amaretto
        1/2 c sliced almonds. toasted

        Oven to 350. Grease 13 x 9" pan. Combine all brownie ingredients. Bake for 26-33" until set. Avoid overbaking. Cool thoroughly.

        Filling: beat cream cheese & powdered sugar, add melted chips & Amaretto. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

        Ganache: Over low heat, melt chocolate chips with cream, stirring constantly. Add Amaretto towards the end of cooking. Spread over cream cheese topping. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before slicing. Keep refrigerated.

        1. re: pine time

          Thanks--sounds good. It's like a chocolate cream cheese brownie w/ ganache topping only w/ a lot of amaretto. Can't go wrong with that!

          1. re: chowser

            I also made it once with Kaluha in place of Amaretto--good, but I prefer Amaretto.

            1. re: pine time

              Hmmm - I don't like Amaretto - Kaluha sounds wonderful though. Just a taste preference for you?

              1. re: Jeanne

                I had made it so many times with Amaretto, just needed a change, so grabbed the Kaluha. Don't see why you couldn't sub other liqueurs (Chambord comes to mind). Now I'm wondering about using rum. Hmmm, may be another batch in my future.

      2. re: pine time

        Chiles en nogada is the ultimate Mexican labor of love, Oaxacan moles are a close second. And there is no dread. One plays music and pours wine and dances along the way.

        1. re: Veggo

          Ah, what an image! Will use music, wine, and dancing to banish the dreads!

          1. re: Veggo

            Mole, sí. All the toasting, roasting, grinding. But there is no dread, it is truly a labor of love

            Chiles en Nogada? Real version or cheaters version :-). Peeling all those walnuts is a chore, so I use walnuts that have already been shelled and cleaned. The rest of it's not too bad.

            Posole...if you're making it with the dried hominy corn and are going to slack it, cook it and pull out the pedicle so it will bloom <sigh>

            1. re: DiningDiva

              DiningDiva, I love Hominy and have read some on how to make it "from scratch". Could you talk a little about how you do it?

              Let me give you some of my (ignorant) impressions:

              1. Use Dried Corn.
              2. Boil it in a Lye/Slaked-Lime/Cal solution (with Salt, and maybe other spices). (If you could, please address this. That is, what ratio of Lye to water?)
              3. Drain, and repeat step 2. Drain, and repeat once more.
              4. Shake/Peel off that outer layer.
              5. Eat as is, or,
              6. Dry your Hominy (in a dehydrator)
              7. Grind to a semi-course grind for Hominy Grits (which, themselves, need to be cooked).

              I believe that I left out a step where you let the Hominy sit and the "shells" (or "peels") will float to the top and then you can simply scoop them off. That might be between steps 3 and 4, or replace 4 altogether.

              Again, any and all notes would be appreciated.

              1. re: DougRisk

                I'll pull out my directions for processing corn for posole when I get home and, hopefully, get them posted later on today.

                1. re: DougRisk

                  Okay, here are the directions (from Diana Kennedy)

                  The large dried white corn kernels are know as cacahuazintle (ka-ka-wha-zint-lay...or words to that effect). Rancho Gordo sells it - - and if you've got a Mexican or latin market in your area, they will too, and may even sell it in bulk rather than packaged. Dried corn can be found with the pedicle or without. The pedicle is that hard, fiberous piece at the base of the corn kernel. If it's been removed, the corn kernel will appear straight across the bottom. I've seen it both ways here in San Diego. Diana says that the dried hominy with the pedicle is usually labeled "con cabeza" but I've not seen that in my area, perhaps it's true in Mexico. Where the corn has the pedicle removed she says it should be labeled "descabezado"

                  Since it can be a time consuming project to slack, cook and take the pedicle out, it is possible to prepare a large batch up to the final cooking step and then freeze it in batches for future use.

                  8 oz of whole dried hominy with the pedicle is about 1 1/2 cups and will yield 3 1/2 - 4 Cups of finished product depending upon the quality of the corn.
                  For 8 oz of whole dried hominy you will need 1 1/2 rounded teaspoons of cal (powdered lime, aka Calcium Hydroxcide


                  Put the dried hominy into an enamel or stainless steel pot and add cold water to cover the corn by 2". Set the pot over medium heat.

                  In a small bowl dilute the cal with about a 1/2 cup of cold water. Add it to the pot through a fine mesh strainer. Press on any little lumps so that they get sieved through the strainer into the pot. The water will turn milky.

                  Cook for about 20 minutes or until the skin can be easily slipped off the hominy. The hominy will turn bright yellow. .

                  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

                  When the corn is cool enough to handle, drain it and put it into cold water. Rub the kernels together with your hands until all the skins have been cleaned off. (This step is pretty quick and easy). Skim off the skins and discard. Rinse the corn.

                  Using your thumbnail or a small paring knife remove the pedicle. This is the point at which it can be frozen

                  When all the corn has been cleaned put it in a pot and cover by 3" with fresh water. Bring to a fast boil.

                  Continue cooking until the corn is tender and the kernels have "bloomed", about 1 1/2 - 2 hours depending upon the age of the corn.

                  Reserve the cooking liquid to add to the soup. You can use a pressure cooker for the last step above (cooking until tender after removing the pedicel); bring up to pressure, lower heat and cook about 30 minutes.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I was away for the weekend, so, a belated, "Thank you".

                    About the dried corn, I actually have a fair amount of it at home. It was one of the reasons that I wanted to ask about it.

                  2. re: DougRisk

                    go to and check out the recipe there. it's wonderful.

                  3. re: DiningDiva

                    Molé si, si. I don't begin until I have time to enjoy the process, truly a labor of love. Assembling the ingredients borders on a meditation.

                    1. re: janeh

                      I agree :-). I love pulling everything out of my "Mexican" closet, going throught, figuring out what I need. But I just love that process of watching all those improbable ingedients cook down into something that far exceeds them and is a totally new and unique flavor profile

                  4. re: Veggo

                    I have a simple recipe for Oaxacan mole negro: get up early on Saturday morning, mosey on down to the farmers' market, find the guy who runs the Oaxacan food booth and say, "Here is $5: please give me a tub of mole negro". Perfect mole every time!

                    A lot of Mexican dishes are time consuming but worth it. Every so often I persuade Mr. Tardigrade to make tortilla soup from scratch. Haven't tried chiles en nogada yet, but I'm tempted.

                    ETA: I once made mole poblano from scratch, complete with roasting several types of chiles, grinding all the spices, etc. We like to joke that Diana Kennedy's recipes should really start with "Have your maid...."

                  5. re: pine time

                    I agree with Hyderabadi Biryani. It is a labor of love. I know aunties who've been making it their whole life and till this day it still takes them three hours.

                  6. frozen turkey

                    cheese enchiladas

                    hash brown potatoes

                    scalloped potatoes

                    apple pie

                    1. Wiener Schnitzel & Caponata. Love, love, love eating Wiener Schnitzel, but it 's such a massive PITA -- a million and one bowls or plates, and it's all gone (inhaled) under 10 minutes.

                      So delicious, but not often on the table.

                      The caponata is also relatively involved, the recipe I have makes a ton, so I only make it for dinner parties or potlucks.

                      My man would likely add his dolma. Talk about time-consuming. Delicious, too, tho.

                      1. Eggrolls, lumpia, springrolls, etc.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: letsindulge

                          When our kids were still kids, I would get everything together and we would all sit at the kitchen table and roll up and freeze about 20 dozen lumpia. Days gone by.......

                          1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                   have to do it assembly line fashion! Homemade taste best because you can adjust to your taste, but ordering is much easier and almost the same cost after buying the ingredients.

                        2. It is a personal rule of mine that I never cook anything if it would instill dread.

                          On the other hand I have looked forward to making complicated, time consuming, meals and when finished being so tired of dicking with it that I didn't want to eat it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kengk

                            I'm the same way. If I don't want to make something, then I don't or I take a short cut. I'm not above making a lasagna w/out boiling the noodles, using canned sauce, ricotta cheese when I can't be bothered. It makes those times when I do it all from scratch that much nicer and I never get resentful of cooking.