Yes You Can! Cook . . . yes, YOU!

17 Sep

I always say that if you like to eat and you can read, you can learn to cook! (If you are visually impaired, perhaps you could let us know what you consider to be the trick to learning to cook.)

Sensual pleasure at the table will make you aware of tastes and combinations that appeal to you. Then, when you read a recipe you’ll have a  decent idea whether you might like the dish or not. I also say that my taste buds must be connected to my optic nerve.

The second secret to learning to cook, in my humble opinion, is to have and use a timer. I have yet to figure out how to use the timer on my oven, so my microwave’s primary work-out is as my timerkeeper.  I have a lousy sense of the passage of time, finding it quite elastic depending upon where my mind or attention is travelling. A timer keeps me from burning too many things or overcooking vegetables to the point where they are tasteless.

Have some go-to resources. Mine tend to be my subscriptions to three great Canadian magazines — Canadian Living, Chatelaine and Style at Home. Sometimes there are great recipes in my city paper, The Ottawa Citizen. Over time, I have accquired a number of cookbooks — basic recipes, speciality or regional cookbooks. I’d recommend starting with a good all-purpose starting-to-cook volume with lots of photographs and step-by-step illustrations. Make it one from your own cooking region so that measurements are familiar and ingredients are ones you can readily acquire.

Being a visually-oriented dame, I get my best inspiration from photographs and paper pages. If, however, I have a specific ingredient or cooking method I want to use I will go on-line to search for recipe options. This resource works well it you are aiming for variations on a theme . . . for example meatloaf or lasagne. How many different recipes must there be in the whole world!

Another handy resource for learning to cook is courage . . . and thick skin. I am always trying a new recipe for the very first time when I have company to dinner. Knock on wood, but 95% of the time it works out successfully. But sometimes it doesn’t. I always tell my guests when they are being guinea pigs, so that helps manage expectations somewhat.

I urge you to be brave and to err on the side of trying. For it is truly in our failures that we learn what or how to improve or, conversely, what not to select next time. You’ll need thick skin to gracefully take suggestions and criticism with an open mind and a grateful heart. Home cooking is both a science and an art. There is room for rational analysis of your efforts. And thick skin will come in handy (or a good pair of oven mitts) with the inevitable mishaps as you find your way around the stove, the oven and the sharp knives!
Finally, never be afraid to ask another cook for her recipe. Most will oblige, with pride and enthusiasm. A few will decline, for the very same reasons! Or to protect a secret family recipe. Always ask if you really like something and want to add it to your repertoire. Again, 95% of the time you will get the recipe. It’s a great way to widen your ‘cooking community’ so you have people who will share their table delights and acquired knowledge with you.


2 Responses to “Yes You Can! Cook . . . yes, YOU!”

  1. cynniebuns September 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    I love this article and the alliteration of your blog’s name! My favourite go-to cookbook is Joy of Cooking; it’s got everything. My mission is to collect good recipes that work; adapt if necessary. So, we could exchange ideas. 🙂

    • Susan at Savvy Single Suppers October 1, 2012 at 1:17 am #

      Thanks for stopping by Cyn. I do hope we can create a little community of savvy single cooks, encouraging each other and trading ideas and tips for eating well with limited time. Looking forward to your contributions!

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