Random Ramblings of Everyday Life

Learning how to cook

Posted in Uncategorized by ziptrickhead on April 18, 2010

I will never understand why people don’t learn how to cook. It always surprises people when I say that I can cook. I find cooking to be really easy, all you need is a cook book and the internet! Use those as guidelines and with some practice, cooking is really simple.

I’m not sure why I love cooking so much. Well, I have some theories. Cooking involves TOYS! Gadgets more like it. Think of all the stuff you see in cooking supply stores, especially all the different knives. It may be silly, but I’m dreamed about what my kitchen would look like and what it would be stocked with when I get my own place. There’s also TV. When I was younger, I would always be watching cooking shows with my mom. And no, not most of the crap thats on the food network as I didn’t have cable until moving onto campus for college. I don’t believe that most of the TV chefs on the food network are real cooks. There’s nothing I hate more about them than how they leave out a lot of the aspects of cooking. You rarely see them do prep work or cleaning during the shows. That leads me to probably the most important aspect of cooking, techniques.

I believe that the biggest reason why people can’t cook is because they lack technique. If you can’t do the most basic things, how can you expect to cook well? When you read a recipe, they always use all these terms like sear or blanch. When you learn techniques, everything else just falls together. If you don’t know how to handle a knife, how can you expect to cook? What I see now is laziness, where people buy everything pre-prepped. Unfortunately when you buy things already peeled and cut for you, the flavor of the food is affected negatively. The average person isn’t cooking for an entire army platoon, at most a family setting. Prep for a small number of people doesn’t take that much time, especially if you know what you are doing. My favorite chef is Jacques Pepin. His cooking shows would be my favorite when I was a kid and I’ll still watch re-runs of some of his shows for refreshers. He is also the one who wrote the book on techniques. His book “La Technique” was used as a textbook that many culinary schools use. Now originals are getting harder to find as well as expensive. A few years ago, the book “Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques” was published and it’s basically a combination of both of Pepin’s famous books, La Technique and La Methode. I got the book and I love it, reading it for tips as well as on my spare time.

People will always argue that they have no time. Perhaps it’s because I find cooking enjoyable. You could sit on the couch and watch television for an hour, OR you could take that hour and cook dinner which will be cheaper, tastier, and healthier than ordering out every night. Heck, with the advent of the dishwasher, clean up afterwards doesn’t even take that long. On average, It think prep work would take all of 20 or so minutes while clean up afterwards would take at most 10-15 minutes.

Finally, there is practice. It’s not surprising to screw up the first or even second time trying out a new recipe. The first time I tried making potato gratin, I added too much heavy cream. After following the recipe, I looked at the pan and thought, no way thats enough cream, and proceeded to add more. After baking, while the dish was still tasty, there was an unappetizing pool of cream at the bottom. Lesson learned, you need a lot less cream than it looks in potato gratin. Or my first time making clafouti, the heat was too high and there was basically a layer of over cooked, dry egg custard. Practice makes perfect, so before entertaining with certain dishes, be sure to try out the recipe a few times before. People get discouraged from cooking because the screw up the first time and then never try again, which is a mistake. Once you get something cooked just right, it’s a great feeling and usually the times after that will lead to better results.

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