Lazy Food

On January 28, 2005, in Food and Drink, by psu

I like to cook but I am, by nature, a rather lazy person. This can be a problem at times, since good food is often labor intensive. Luckily, many of the best things you can make do not require your full attention during the making. So here are some easy recipes for great food that you can make while playing Halo.


Use a rice cooker. Set and forget. You can play Halo for 20 to 30 minutes while it cooks.

Coffee in a French Press

OK. This is barely a recipe, and you don’t get to play Halo, but bear with me.

I like coffee, but making a really good drip or espresso or even moka pot shot is sometimes just too much cognitive effort. For these times, I do this

- Put two or three handfuls of beans in the grinder. Set to coarse.

- Grind it all.

- Dump in french press. I use one of the larger Bodum ones that hold around 8 cups of liquid.

- Add hot water. I fill it half way or two thirds of the way up.

Wait a while. Drink. The trick is to judge the amount of water you should put in by how many grounds you end up with, and don’t let the grounds sit in the press too long. I like to put in way too much coffee but not have it sit in the water that long before pressing it.

I hear vaccum pots are also a nice lazy way to make coffee. They make me nervous about boiling the coffee too much.

The french press also lets you be really lazy and make good tea. And tea is even less work than coffee because you can steep it multiple times. This is good for when you are sick.

Homemade Chicken and Matzoh Ball Soup

I described this to my boss one day, and he thought it sounded like too much work. So I tried to cut it down a bit.

First, buy a two or three pound package of chicken wings. Then cut up 2 onions, 2 or 3 carrots, and 2 or 3 stalks of celery. Put all this in a pot, cover with water, add salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Turn the heat on until you get a simmer. Now play Halo for 3 or 4 hours. If you are industrious, you can saute the vegetables before adding the wings and the water. You can also hack the wings in half. But these are both extra work and not really needed.

Here is the hardest part: dice an onion, 2 more carrots and 1 or 2 more celery stalks. Dice as small as you can.

Saute these in a soup pot with salt and pepper. Add a quart or two of stock, as much white wine as you like, and another quart or two of water (until you get enough soup). Simmer this for a while. Then make matzoh balls using the directions on the mix. Add to the broth, get all this to a low simmer. Go play Halo for however long you like your matzoh balls to sit.

That’s all.

Pasta with Bolognese Meat Sauce

Start with a pound and a half of ground beef.

Dice 1 or 2 onions, 3 or 4 carrots, 2 or 3 celery stalks. You want to dice this as small as you possibly can. This is the only hard work in the whole recipe.

Saute the onions in a pan with olive oil. Add carrots and celery. Add salt and pepper.

Now put the beef in with another spray of salt and pepper. Brown it until it is not red anymore.

Add a cup or so of milk. Turn the heat to simmer. Play Halo until the milk has reduced off. Check the stove between matches (every 10 minutes or so).

Add a cup or so of white wine. Do the same simmer and Halo trick.

After the white wine has cooked off, add one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (maybe slightly more), or the same volume of fresh that you have ground up in the Cuisinart. Stir, turn the stove down as low as it will go. Play Halo for 5 or 6 hours, stirring every few rounds.

Now make your favorite pasta that is similar to penne. Mix the pasta with the sauce, grate on some Parmigiano Reggiano. Eat.

Indestructible Beef Stew

This is a variation on Pete’s Braised Beef.

Dice an onion, saute in olive oil. Throw in a pound or two of cubed stew beef. Add salt and pepper. Stir around until the beef is browned. Add sliced mushrooms and a couple cups of red wine. Put this in the an oven set to 300-350F. Go play Halo for an hour or two.

When you get all done with Halo, cut up a few potatoes, and a couple of carrots. Add this to the pot, throw it back in the oven. Play Halo for 2 or 3 more hours.

Pull the stew out, throw in frozen peas. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir it around so everything is still hot. Serve with bread or rice.

Note: I call this indestructible stew because one time I accidentally added soy sauce instead of red wine, and the stew was still edible.

What recipes do you have that require little work, and allow you to play Halo and still get credit for kitchen time?


6 Responses to “Lazy Food”

  1. David R says:

    Somen noodles.

    Cook noodles in boiling water for three minutes.

    DO NOT PLAY HALO: The noodles will overcook.

    Rinse noodles in cold water.

    Add somen sauce out of a bottle with drawings of crustaceans on it.

    If you’re feeling fancy, chop some scallions and put ‘em on top.

  2. a. says:

    I realize there is a difference between recipes one might make when one is lazy and there is nothing in the house, and recipes in which one has ingredients but would prefer not to be attentive. Here’s a decent soup that fits both bills (as well as the low-budget one):

    Lazy chickpea soup

    4-5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
    Two 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
    One 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
    4 cups vegetable broth
    rosemary leaves (a teaspoon or so)
    dash of cayenne
    a few tablespoons olive oil
    grated Reggiano or other sharp cheese like Park provolone

    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Fry garlic until golden. Add can of tomatoes. Crush rosemary in heel of your hand and add it to the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes. Dump in chickpeas, cayenne, and broth. Play something for 20-30 minutes. Eat soup topped with cheese; sop up liquid with chewy bread.

  3. Gretchen says:

    We made your indestructible beef stew and I can definitely vouch for its indestructibility. I didn’t closely supervise my husband and he didn’t realize that you ought to cook a braise *covered*, but luckily he also added extra wine. It was still tasty after several hours baking uncovered! It came out sort of like a pot roast with very little sauce. I took the liberty of adding celery to your ingredients and left out the peas.

    My mom’s “working mom” Lemon Chicken, easily adapted as gamer food:

    Set oven for 350. Wash and poke baking potatoes and chuck them in.

    Take several bone-in and skinned (necessary for flavor in this recipe) chicken breasts, one per person. Quarter a lemon and squeeze the juice and rub the lemon over the breasts. Season to taste (my mom’s version uses freshly ground black pepper, thyme, and Lawry’s seasoned salt.) Chuck in oven about 15 minutes after the potatoes have gone in. Bake skin-up so they get nice and crispy.

    Go off and play Halo for 40-50 minutes. The breasts are done when you can cut into the thickest part and the flesh is white and the juices run clear.

    Serve with a salad or steamed broccoli or nuke some veggies in the microwave. If you’re feeling fancy, you can defat the roasting pan juices and make a quick pan sauce. The especially gluttonous (me!) can just pour the pan drippings into the baked potatoes.

  4. psu says:

    It occurs to me that in the stew recipe, you should add water and wine in a volume totally 2 to 3 cups or whatever you need to cover the contents of the pot.

    Still, that’s common sense, and you have a lot of latitude.

  5. Gretchen says:

    I’m pretty lazy when it comes to stew, so if I’m doing a covered braise in the oven, I might not cover the contents completely, just stir it a few times to get even distribution. This means I don’t have to reduce the sauce later if it’s not gloopy enough for my liking.

    If I’m doing it stovetop and I think it’s going to take a while to cook (tough beef: flavorful and cheap!) I may more than cover it with liquid so that I’m adding liquid less often. It depends on if I have potatoes or other thickening agents in, too. I do it uncovered on the stovetop so it loses more liquid in the process.

  6. Doug says:

    Easy vegetarian chilli.

    This one is the one I am asked for the recipe the most often from friends, but it feels like cheating every time I make it.

    In a pot, saute a chopped onion, some whole chillis, and some garlic.

    Add cans of various beans (rinsed if you are feeling industrious). I like pinto, kidney, black, navy, and chickpeas.

    Add two cans of tomatoes, crushed, chopped, whole, whatever.

    Add a little soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, mushroom sauce (the kind that is fake oyster sauce, or use oyster sauce).

    A large dollop of honey (say 2 or 3 tablespoons)

    and finally some spices. I usually go for Newfie Savory, black pepper, a ton of chilli powder and paprika.

    You may have to add some water too. Simmer until you are hungry. Serve with goat cheese.