Friday, June 03, 2005

A Meal in 15 Minutes

-A case study in optimisation

For a fancy meal (by student standards, of course) in a short time, the trick is to run several parallel and partly automated processes at once.

Here is a proposed lunch that could conceivably be prepared in 15 minutes-
Soft boiled eggs
Coffee/ tea

Soft boiled eggs require the eggs to be immersed in boiling water for 3 minutes.
Toast can be made from existing bread slices using a toaster.
Salad consists of 2-3 lettuce leaves, 1 tomato, 1/4 of a red onion, shredded/powdered cheese, some cut up bits of ham, a suitable dressing from a bottle.
Coffee can be brewed by using a plunger (instant coffee is a last resort); tea infused from a bag in hot water.

Most of the work will be centred on the salad and its preparation.

-Start by boiling water for the eggs. Use hot water from the tap if available to avoid having to heat up cold water (it takes ages).

-Insert (ceramic or glass) salad bowl into freezer.

-Start cleaning and cutting work on the vegetable.

-When water starts to boil, remove some for the plunger coffee/ tea infusion. Add eggs into remaining water. Note the time, and start working on the coffee/ tea. Insert bread into toaster.

-Back to the vegetables.

-3 minutes after the eggs have been started, remove them from boiling water and quench into cold water (stops it from subsequent cooking, and lets you handle them easily). Plunge the filter on the coffee.

-Vegetables should be done by now. Put them into the chilled bowl. Add dressing and shredded/ powdered cheese.

-Take a slice of ham and fold it up arbitrarily, then cut it into bits using a pair of scissors onto the salad.

-Crack eggs into a bowl. Add pepper and soy sauce to taste.

-Remove toast from toaster, and cut into appropriate size (if desired) with the previously used scissors.

-Mix up salad.

-Sweeten and add milk to coffee/tea.

15 minutes.

The washing up should be sufficiently easy. Pot was only used to boil water and eggs- a rinse will suffice. Knife and chopping board were only used for vegetables with no oil content- a rinse will suffice.

This scheme would defeat instant noodles easily. Instant noodles need about 5 minutes, contain only carbohydrates and crap (flavourings, taste enhancers, salt).

I had easily attempted the above without coffee in 15 minutes. The next challenge would be the full thing including coffee, in 10 minutes. With a shart knife and a deft cutting hand, it should not be too difficult. We'll see.