07 1 / 2011
Cooking like bootstrapping your company
Ok, let’s be honest, I’m a lousy cook. Not only is my food terrible, but I also don’t enjoy cooking — I would prefer to spend my time doing other things. Case in point: before people come over for dinner, they want to know if I’m cooking or if my husband is cooking. And if the former, people suggest going out to eat. For the longest time, I thought the solution was just to work harder at my cooking even though I didn’t enjoy it or enjoy the progress I was making.
But, since I’ve started bootstrapping my internet business with my friend Jennifer, I now think about the world entirely differently. As a bootstrapper, life is about getting the most value out of your limited time. Contrary to what we’re taught as children (or even as adults), life is *not* about hard work. It’s about only doing the things that people will appreciate the most and deliberately deciding *not* to do anything else. (Note: people who work for other people can follow this philosophy at their own risk. :) ) (Double note: this is not to say that bootstrappers should be lazy. They should certainly work hard at running experiments to figure out what valuable activities they should be doing. They just should not be pouring their time into activities that have little to no value. But that’s a whole different blog post.) So, when it comes to cooking, instead of working more or harder at getting better at cooking, I came to realize I was thinking about this all wrong — I should spend *less* time.
In an ideal world, I should spend zero time, since I don’t enjoy anything about cooking. In an ideal world, I would make Curt cook all the time, or order out, or buy frozen dinners, or go out to eat. But Curt can’t cook all the time, and the other meals are just too unhealthy and bad in other ways to be a solution most of the time. So, I had to figure out how to run experiments to hack together meals. These meals would need to 1) Take no more than 20-30 min of my time to make (i.e. if a meal required letting the oven spend 1 hour cooking it, that’s fine, as long as I can leave it be) 2) be healthy, 3) be good enough to serve to other people (i.e. not just cereal out of a box, though too much cereal for dinner might violate #2), and 4) needed to be super simple to make (that’s a technical term).
Most of the time, the things that I find as clever discoveries in life directly pertain to my venture, so it absolutely pains me that I can’t share my “cleverness” with anyone. (not that most normal people find online affiliate arbitrage exciting at all) But, today I can share with you my clever cooking experiments — 2 awesome recipes that fit the above.
1) Roasted asparagus in < 10 min inclusive of prep and cooking time. Yep, this takes less time than baking a frozen pizza, faster than making crappy spaghetti with pre-made sauce from a jar, and faster than running through any Google cafeteria to get food. And, it will taste more awesome than any asparagus you’ve ever had even at a top notch restaurant. (It’s not my recipe — I don’t take the credit — it’s a hodge podge of recipes from the internet that I mixed together)
Things you’ll need:
Get a bunch of asparagus (or more), olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 lemon.
1) Pre-heat oven to broil on HIGH or some high heat like 400 degrees. 2) Chop off bottom hard ends of asparagus. 3) Lay asparagus flat on a foiled baking sheet. 4) Pour a nice heaping of good olive oil all over the asparagus. Make sure all pieces are coated. 5) Pinch salt over them. 6) Grind pepper over them. 7) Cut 1/8 - 1/6 of lemon and squeeze juice on. 8) Optional: if you have an extra 30s, take a knife and scrape some lemon zest on top of the asparagus. Doesn’t matter if it’s sloppy and not on every piece — it’s a great touch that’s the key to making this taste better than any other asparagus dish.
Ok, the oven should be pre-heated by now. This all should’ve taken you < 3 min. Remember, just be sloppy about throwing all these ingredients on the asparagus — no biggie — it will turn out just fine. Put asparagus in the oven. In 7 minutes, it’s done — look for crispy, slightly charred tips to make sure.
2) Baked Tilapia in < 18 min inclusive of prep and cooking time.
Things you’ll need:
Get Tilapia filets — as many as you want to eat/cook. Butter, salt, pepper, 1 lemon.
1) Pre-heat oven on bake to 400 degrees. 2) Lay all your Tilapia pieces flat in some pyrex rectangular container thingy. 3) Cut 1/3 lemon and squeeze juice over about 3 pieces of Tilapia. 4) Put a bit of butter in the microwave for about 30s to melt it. 5) Meanwhile, pinch salt over the Tilapia. 6) Grind pepper over the Tilapia. 7) Butter should be melted — pour over Tilapia. All pieces should be coated with butter.
This should take you < 3 min. Oven should be preheated now. Throw in oven for 15 min. Pull out and eat.
Ok, here’s the other thing about bootstrapping. The strategy is to find something that works in generating value quickly, take advantage of it, and then try to use that same skill or technique in other areas. You’ll notice the recipe for this Tilapia is nearly identical to the asparagus (i.e. salt, pepper, lemon, and some fat), because we already know that flavor combo works. Guess what — this combo works for a whole ton of other foods as well. :)
Have fun not spending time cooking!