January 31, 2012

On Learning to Cook

I am in the process of learning to cook. It is something that I  have always wanted to be able to do and do really well. I've been on this learning to cook journey for going on three years now, which is when I moved in with G. Sometimes things don't turn out so well and sometimes they do. I have a hard time accepting when things don't turn out quite as planned and I relish in the times when things turn out wonderfully.

One of the hardest parts of learning to cook, for me, was the whole, "be creative with the recipe" stance that some many people take on cooking. I need specific and measurable directions. When I see or hear directions like, "a pinch of salt" or "a dash of nutmeg" I am sent into a tailspin. What does a pinch mean? What if my idea of a "dash" is completely and totally different than the cookbook author's?? This is why cooking something usually takes me like 4 hours. I read the recipe then re-read it and read it again. It can be torturous for all parties involved. Like when my husband is so famished he's considering eating the coffee table because my pot roast has taken me 24 hours to complete. He's fainting and I'm panicking because what does low-medium heat really mean and how do I know if the onions are really translucent?

Cooking is slowly getting easier but it is certainly a process. I have gathered many recipes from friends and have about a dozen cookbooks. I still call my mom when I'm in the grocery store because I'm terrified that if I buy the wrong tomatoes the chili will be totally disgusting. But, I'm learning all the same.

I have two go to cookbooks that have not failed me yet on a recipe. I love it when recipes from cookbooks turn out well because not only do we get to eat good food but it gives me the confidence to try more things in the kitchen.

The first cookbook, The Comfort Table by Katie Lee, is really straightforward and provides tons of fun recipes. I have made quite a few things from this cookbook and every one of them has been a hit. She has not only great appetizers and side dishes but really great main dishes, too.

The second cookbook, The Commonsense Kitchen, seems really intimidating when you first get it because there are no pictures, which is something I find terrifying and comforting at the same time. I made the roast chicken on Sunday, which is a meal I deem to be fit only for serious cooks, and it turned out beautifully. Perfect crispy skin and loads of flavor. I made the simple roasted potatoes to go with our chicken last night and again, so tasty.

Now, if only had a kitchen bigger than a shoebox to cook in... 

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