So I like to cook. Specifically I like to bake and since i’m having a friend over this weekend, I have been baking and cooking up a storm. (I quite often make dinner and when my back doesn’t hurt — i have severe chronic pain–i bake a lot too). I posted some recipes on facebook and got into a conversation with a fb friend, a father who is trying to teach his daughter how to be comfortable in a kitchen. Chatting with him and others and sharing recipes spurred me to put together a few of my thoughts on must know things to survive learning to cook.
LOL. I never thought about some of these until talking to people about cooking and hearing their mishaps and sharing my own. Feel free to add your own here. I’d love to see what ‘basics’ folks would suggest. I really wish home-ec were still taught for boys and girls. It would be nice to know that kids are graduating high school knowing how to budget, cook, and run their own households. Anyway, here are my suggestions for things to know getting started in the kitchen:
1. wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat or egg shells. (Salmonella). Wash any and all surfaces the meat has touched.
2. Clean as you go. LOL. it’s much, much easier.
3. There are measuring cups and measuring spoons and scoops (that go all the way up to a cup, maybe higher). The measuring cups, the glass cups that have a little spout…those are for liquids. the spoons and scoops…those are for dry ingredients. They are not interchangeable. They are really really not.
4. While one can often eyeball measurements with meals, baking is pure chemistry. follow the recipe. Unless you fully understand the process behind it, the equation, don’t shift or eyeball amounts. follow the recipe. lol. (I sometimes experiment but only with things i understand fully).
5. you can combine cooking lessons with history lessons. lol. For instance, i like to read jane austen books. So i also looked up regency era food, and experimented with some things. and when I found some neat southern recipes, i looked up the history of them. For instance, when I made that vinegar pie i talked about, i thought ‘why the fuck would you put vinegar in a pie?”. weeeeell, a little bit of google and it turns out it’s a poor man’s fruit pie. The vinegar was added to the filling to provide a bit of tartness, to mimic the taste of fruit. I first read about vinegar pie in the LIttle House on the Prairie series and it’s only as an adult that i realize how much food is central to those books. The author was writing pastiches based on events from her childhood and as an adult, I realize how much starvation and near starvation played a role in the presence of food in her novels. it’s also a good way to explore ancestor work. My lithuanian ancestors love it when I cook the lithuanian recipes i got from my dad. 🙂 Food is life and history and lineage and love.
6. oh yeah, when adding flour to bread, it’s not exact. many things can affect how a dough will set, including weather, altitude, etc. use the flour amounts as a guide but go by feel.
7. Sometimes shit will go wrong, not turn out, be ghastly, etc. Make the best of it. Don’t eat gross food. LOL.
8. you can avoid waste by adding left over potatoes, meat, and most vegetables to omelettes the next morning.
9. A stick of butter will fix many, many things. Do not use fake butter. Just don’t. (i don’t care what anyone else says, don’t do it).
10. Invest in quality materials esp. a really good, large knife. I do most of my cutting, chopping, peeling, etc. with a butcher knife and i keep it very sharp. It’s worth the investment.
11. I strongly suggest getting a crock pot (and I recommend the book “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow”. It’s all good crock pot recipes and for someone starting out learning to cook, these are practical, tasty, they build confidence because they’re easy) and a rice cooker.
Yes, it’s cheating, but it helps so much.
Here’s the recipe that I shared earlier, one that put my husband in a sugar coma. heh.
Three Cuppa Cobbler
Take whatever fruit you have on hand. Boil it down (i add a cup of water, half a stick of butter, and some sugar) until you have a nice fruit in syrup mixture. (Tonight i used oranges and dried cranberries and i added a bit of honey).
In a bowl mix one cup of self rising flour (I don’t buy this. I looked up how to make it and to get one cup of self rising flour, mix one cup all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda), one cup milk, one cup flour, one stick of butter melted (8 tablespoons). I added a tablespoon of orange extract because the fruit I was using was oranges and dried cranberries. I’d probably add vanilla or maybe lemon extract with any other fruit.
Pour that into a 9×9 pan. Drop dollops of the fruit mixture on top. dust with cinnamon. Bake in a preheated 400 degree farenheit oven for 35-40 mins. Serve with whipped cream.
While i made the recipe as is, i believe one can cut the amount of sugar involved. lol.
I always seem to cook and bake more as I’m going into the autumn. What are some of your favorite recipes? 🙂