I hope everyone is feeling well and staying safe at home. Also, I hope you have something that’s keeping you occupied in these times. Given that “bread recipes” has shown a huge spike in the number of searches on Google lately, meaning people probably are finding ways to cope.
Having gotten invested in cooking since last September, it delights me every time I see someone I know, spend more time in the kitchen and whip up something delicious.
While I’m nowhere near being an expert, nearly a year of developing my culinary skills have taught me invaluable lessons. Not just in the kitchen, but outside as well.
If you want to make custardy-soft scrambled eggs, you need to cook it on low heat for a longer time. Patience is key. One of the things I’ve stopped doing is trying to cook several dishes at the same time. Using all four hobs with four different pots means your attention is split four ways. Similarly, don’t try to do everything at the same time for the sake of speed.
Enjoy the Process
In a way, this is an extension of patience, but this is relevant. Gary Vee preaches that loving the process is as important as loving the end goal. In a similar vein, loving the act of cooking is equally as vital as putting gratifying food on the table. It’s what drives you to improve. The quality of the meal only acts as a measure to see how much you’ve grown. Never let the results rule the way you do things.
I lied about not using four hobs at once. Turns out that once you know exactly you’re doing, bigger problems become more manageable. This means planning ahead. Since New Years I’ve gotten in meal prepping, which means making bigger batches of food to last me through the weekdays. In order to maximise taste and reduce cost and time in the kitchen, I have to lean into the prep part of meal prep. This means detailed grocery lists, nutritional value, planning your schedule and planning the order of how you cook.
Four dishes on a hob will still be too difficult for you unless you’re a professional chef. What’s easier? Throwing two dishes in the oven, stir-frying one, while cooking rice on the side. Poor planning would lead to an incredible mess or worse – ruined food.
Experience and inspiration
When starting out, the absolute best thing you can do is follow the recipe to a T. Even as time goes on, you’d be wasting your time memorising the recipes. The internet exists. But what you do learn is how to blend different flavours. My mom always spoke of “blending three S’s: salty, sweet, sour.” [Or was it spicy? Can’t remember] More time in the kitchen lets you discover things like that. I didn’t know that bitter dark chocolate works with spicy dishes until I made chili con carne. Teriyaki teaches you the same “3 S principle” my mom preaches. Keep exploring, and you’ll keep gaining knowledge.
This part isn’t a lesson. I’ve grown fascinated with heat in general. Such a wild concept. Food molecules need to vibrate at a specific frequency for it to be edible/tasty. There are so many different ways to give it energy to vibrate. Boil it. Pan fry. Bake it. Slowly simmer it. Barbecue it. Or you can slap it at 1665.65 m/s. The possibilities are endless. On a deconstructed level that’s what most cooking is. It’s your choice. After all, you are the Chef John of your Chicken Salad and Crouton.
[I think he’d be proud of that reference]