In preparing a meal, the one thing you do not want to do is take all day about it. Cooking can be an enjoyable experience, but there are sure to be other activities in which you also wish to engage. You will learn time conservation from this cookbook. How you use the time saved is entirely up to you. You can run your Mercury outboard in a trash can full of water, or oil all of those electrical tools that hang from a peg board in the garage.
One of the greatest time savers in cooking is the oven. Don't be fooled by those who tell you that a microwave is the fastest way to cook. Sure, a dish gets done faster, but you have to get up from your Tom Clancy novel every five minutes or so just to stir something or turn something or add something or uncover something. More time is spent in total aggravation than Clancy spends describing the innerworkings of a nuclear sub. Although stuff put in the oven often takes longer to cook, it saves you time by allowing you to ignore the dish. An oven will cook evenly and thoroughly without you having to attend to a beeper every few seconds.
You will undoubtedly notice that most recipes that require oven-time call for 375 degrees. In most cases this is just a number. The fact is that many dishes may be cooked faster or slower depending on your preferences. Meats can be cooked as high as 425 degrees and still have the inside get done before the outside is burnt. Most things can also be cooked more slowly in the oven, this will allow you to time dishes so that everything you have decided on for a meal gets done at the same time.
Knowing how long it takes for stuff to get done is important. There is a general rule of thumb. Most plain vegetables take about five minutes (in the microwave), starches take fifteen to twenty minutes (on the stove top) and meats usually take forty-five minutes or more (in the oven). This means that you should always work backward. That is start the meat first, then the starch, then the vegetable.