I made this meal for our dinner on Saturday night.
As beef burger meals go it was pretty amazing and I basked in the glow of having created something I would have happily paid a premium for in a restaurant. With such a popular and obvious restaurant sort of a dinner it was inevitable that I found myself comparing it to meals I have had when eating out or even fast food I have taken home. For a moment I scoffed - after all the burger had only taken 15 minutes to cook from frozen (whilst I busied myself with chopping salad vegetables) and yet the end result was so much better than something I could have ordered at a fast food place.
As I sat down to eat, I found myself analysing the meal to work out why it was so much better than a McDonalds. Slowly it began to dawn on me that although it had taken only about 20 minutes to cook and assemble, it had in fact required a good deal more time and effort than the finishing flourish may have suggested. Like a swan swimming effortlessly over the water, the time to make dinner belayed the hours of background effort this meal had taken.
Earlier that day, with dinner in mind, I had made a batch of purple coleslaw. This is made by chopping up red cabbage, a small red onion and grating in some raw beetroot. A little salt and pepper and several generous heaps of mayonnaise are then stirred in to finish the job. It keeps well in the fridge for several days so it is a good one to make ahead.
Even earlier in the day I had measured ingredients into my bread machine, set that off for an hour and half and then proved and finally cooked 8 bread rolls. I had sprinkled 4 with sesame seeds to have with dinner and bagged up the other 4 to have with soup for lunch on Sunday.
It had been last week when I had mixed some minced beef with some salt and pepper and a little umani paste and then carefully formed them into pasties. I had frozen the eight beef burgers to have a quick and convenient meal at a later date.
It was the micro leaves salad on the side of the plate that had taken the most amount of forward planning. It being winter and not the ideal growing conditions, these tiny leaves had finally become big enough to eat some 6 to 8 weeks after I had sown the trays of seeds in my greenhouse. They are a new venture for me and a bit of an experiment but they made an interesting and nutritious addition to our evening meal.
So there it was. Where exactly should I place my time-marker to work out how long it had taken to make dinner? At the 20 minutes it had taken to cook and assemble? At the beginning of the day when I had made the bread and coleslaw, or as far back as when I had batch made the burgers? Or was it reasonable to stretch it as far back as when I had sown the seeds for the salad leaves? Even McDonalds could claim time for growing salads in their production line, time for making their buns or chopping their chips. It isn't something the customer troubles themselves with when waiting for their order on a Saturday night. So maybe we should only go back to the 20 minutes I spent in the kitchen making dinner. It's amazing what you can do in just 20 minutes!