Welcome to the first edition of My Favorite Way To Lose A Customer. Let's begin. As usual, feel free to ignore this whole thing. My favorite way to lose a customer is for you to become an empassioned and efficient home cook. Efficiency, it turns out, is very much the key to the whole thing. Shopping, stocking, managing fridge and freezer, prepping, cooking, keeping a shopping list, menu planning, recipe reading, table setting, plating, eating, washing, deep cleaning... efficiency in all these things (except eating, of course) is required to make a home cookery practice thrive. If it takes a special trip to the store, wandering the aisles in search of the eight or so ingredients for shrimp scampi, then a drive back home through rush hour traffic, you're peeling your shrimp before your pasta water is on flame (uncovered) or your saute underway... you've forgotten the white wine so send your lovely out to the store... and a Rachel Ray 20 minute recipe is now turning into an epic narrative longer than Das Boot, you're finally putting that parsley in the fridge that's been wilting next to the stove for two hours and washing the last dish and there's no time left in the evening except for a quick read of an online newspaper. Whereas, let's say you have a well-managed kitchen and shrimp happened to strike your fancy the last time you were at the store... you kept it on ice for three days and it's still fresh and you walk in from work, put on some water for pasta (covered) before you even pause to pour a glass of wine, you know what's in shrimp scampi and it only takes you one trip to the fridge to gather the ingredients... you know what order to prep the ingredients, you have your saute pan on flame before you reach for a knife... you drop your pasta before you deglaze with wine on the way to set the table... your wine is reduced and when your shrimp go in the pan and there's nothing left on your counter but a little pile of fresh parsley and a lemon, everything already returned to the fridge or sent to the trash can or compost pile. You've summoned your lovely as you tong the pasta and dinner hits the table the same time her buns hit the chair. Twenty minutes flat. Meaning you're more likely to do this kind of thing more often... especially when it tastes better than you can get at a restaurant, is more fun, rewarding, cheaper, quicker, and more comfortable. It takes a while to get to this point, and My Favorite Way To Lose A Customer is my way of nudging you along towards this goal, should you happen to have it.
Anyways, Lesson 1... The Shopping List. Brought to you from the same woman who got me to wear a bicycle helmet and floss regularly, the shopping list. Seems simple, but it took me years to realize how important this is for your home's inventory control. Yes, inventory control. We have an inventory checklist at the shop... why not at home? Depending on your level of anality, you could have a pre-printed form organized by grocery store section on a clipboard... ooh, I like this, I may need to upgrade our simple piece of scratch paper cut into quarters and stapled together by my thrifty wife, which already works wonders. The main thing is that this shopping list needs to be posted in plain view in the kitchen with a writing implement ALWAYS next to it. Preferably on the fridge. Every time you take the last of anything or are nearing the end of your supply or get a wild hair (I think I want to braise some short ribs soon!), put it on the list. That's a common refrain around our house, be it in reference to our NetFlix list or shopping list or just a passing desire for world peace or to be loved and understood... "Put it on the list!"