“It’s an intense 20 minutes,” he admits. “There’s no walking out of the kitchen at any point, and most people just can’t do it as fast as I can,” he cautions.
To watch Joe in his kitchen is to watch a master of time and motion. He brings to his cooking the planning and multi-tasking skills he’s learned as a housing contractor and as a drummer. Here are Joe’s tips and recipes for simple, healthy dinners that kids love.
Involve your grill. “I keep a variety of meats in the freezer and pull one dinner’s worth out to thaw every morning before work,” Joe says. “When I come home, I put the meat on the grill and prepare the starch and veggies while it’s cooking.”
Outsource. Even though he doesn’t have much time to shop, Joe’s kitchen counter is always filled with fresh, in-season vegetables that he can saute quickly or throw into a salad. His secret? The Produce Box, a local business that delivers fruits and vegetables every week from local farms and the farmers’ market. Bonus: It’s affordable. Joe pays about what he’d pay anyway at the supermarket, and the produce is much tastier.
Grow your own. Herbs are easy to grow and add zest to any meal. In the kitchen garden right outside Joe’s front door: rosemary, oregano, Italian parsley, sweet basil.
Too cold to grill? Embrace the pot. “Line a big baking pan with foil so you don’t have to wash it later,” Joe advises. (He has a giant roll of foil his sister-in-law bought him a Costco two Christmases ago after determining that his food storage solutions were woefully inadequate.) In that one foil lined pot, make your family’s entire dinner. Throw in chicken or sausage, diced potatoes, whatever fresh veggies you have and fresh herbs. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Then, remove the foil from everything but the veggies to allow the meat to brown a bit.
Joe’s been a busy single dad since his daughters were toddlers, and he’s glad he’s found ways to cook for them most nights. Some of his fondest memories involve dinner time with his girls —and the various neighborhood kids who end up stopping by just around dinner time.
Recipe: Single-Dad Marinara Sauce
Heat up olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
Throw in 3 garlic cloves, half of an onion, fresh basil leaves and salt and pepper. (Heating the herbs in the olive oil “awakens the flavors,” Joe insists.)
Drain the juice from a 35-ounce can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes into the pot.
Chop up the tomatoes and add to pot.
Simmer everything for 5-10 minutes.
Single moms and single dads. Got any cooking tricks to share? Comment here or visit our Facebook page.