I cooked again today, a nice dinner: Spicy Pepper Beef, sticky rice, cucumber salad. It comes to the table as just a few things, but it requires a surprising amount of prep to bring it all together. There is a lot of slicing and chopping and grating (fresh ginger -- mmmmm!) before you even get to the actual cooking parts. Those processes, the "prep", are all working towards the cook's dream: a perfect mise en place. The literal translation from the French means "put in place," and that's exactly what you're doing.
I've already taught my kids about having a good "meez", especially when you're baking. We assemble all the ingredients before hand, to make sure we have everything we need, and nothing gets left out. Even when I'm baking something hurry-quick-quick that I have done a million times and need no recipe for (like chocolate chip cookies), I still do a mise. Perhaps not the elaborate mise you'd see on a cooking show, where every ingredient is pre-measured into neat glass bowls (although I do have some of those -- not enough, now that I'm thinking of it...), but at least I have every ingredient out, lined up, and all the appropriate measuring cups and spoons out, too.
So today, I got my mise together by coring and slicing the peppers, and then steaming them in the microwave (IMO, crunchy peppers are best left to salads and crudite plates; if it's cooked, I want it soft and flavorful). I sliced the beef and marinated it, and then I crushed the garlic and grated the ginger into one of those little glass bowls I don't have enough of. Then it was just a question of pulling everything else down out of the cupboard and lining it up on the sideboard. When it was time to cook, the whole thing came together effortlessly.
I love a good mise.