Random Thoughts

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Cook.

When I decided to start this blog, I did so with one big thing in mind: I was determined not to be intimidating. I don’t want anyone to ever look at my blog and think, “I could never do that.” Sure, I do some crazy, time consuming recipes sometimes, such as the Asian dumplings. But most of the recipes on here, including those time-consuming ones, I strongly believe that anyone could do. I am, after all, just a twenty-something year old who loves to cook.

I do believe, though, that the “foodie” world can be very intimidating to those who aren’t used to being in a kitchen. Food magazines are filled with page after page of perfect looking food. The stars on Food Network always deliver flawless dishes.

Yet what people don’t see is the work that goes into creating those perfect images and shows. One photo in a food magazine, for example, can easily take half a day to shoot. Not only is there a photographer present, by also at least one food stylist. The final plate of food that is shot has been touched and fiddled with so much that most photographers say that they would never eat it.

And as for the cooking shows, unless it’s a show like Top Chef or Iron Chef, they can do as many retakes as necessary to make sure everything looks flawless.

As for me, though I certainly don’t have a food stylist, I can still turn a plate to only photograph the side that isn’t burnt, and I can take 50 or so shots of one plate of food and only post the one that makes it look good. I don’t post everything I cook. Most days, I cook three meals a day, and notice that you don’t see all of those meals. I just post the ones that turn out right. 

But trust me, I’m far from perfect in the kitchen. I make mistakes. A lot. So I promised myself when I started this blog that I wouldn’t only show the good things. I’ll let you see the bad things too.

And so, I’ll begin my making a list of the things that are bound to happen in a kitchen, and why you shouldn’t let these things stop you from cooking.

Not everything turns out that way it should.

  • Some recipes aren’t worth trying again and others take work. Pick the ones worth working on and keep trying until you get it right.
  • Take tonight, for example. I decided to try a new recipe. It was Alice Walter’s method of baking salmon. I followed exactly what she said, but when I pulled it out of the oven, it just didn’t seem like it was cooked enough, so I put it back in. I’m still not sure if I overcooked some of it or not, yet it tastes wonderful and I plane on trying it again until I can do it with confidence.

You will burn things.

  • Every time I make pancakes, I burn at least two of them.
  • I burn bread on a regular basis.
  • I’ve even managed to burn things that I didn’t know could burn.

You will burn yourself.

  • I burn my arms on a regular basis, but that other day I managed to burn my leg and foot as well. How? I was doing a chicken stir fry and, when I dropped the chicken in the wok, the oil splattered and hit my leg and foot. It’s been over a week and my leg still looks like this:

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You will make a mess.

  • Anyone who has ever lived with me will tell you that I’m a messy cook. This is what my kitchen looks like tonight:

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Yes that’s rice on the floor:

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You will do really silly things.

  • Just tonight, I put mushrooms in a pan and after five minutes couldn’t figure out why they weren’t sizzling. It took me several minutes of staring at the stove to realize that the burner wasn’t on.
  • A few weeks ago, I managed to dump half a bottle of paprika on a casserole.
  • I once caught a potholder on fire.
  • The first time my mom and I tried to brine a turkey, we chose a container far too small. Let’s just say that it ended with turkey-contaminated water all over the floor and my mother.
  • Nearly every time I make pizza or roast vegetables, I forget to turn a fan on and, therefore, set the smoke alarm off.
  • More than once, in the past couple months, I’ve grabbed a hot pan without potholders.

Why do I tell you all of this? To make you afraid? No, just the opposite. I want you to see that even someone who cooks as much as I do, still does all of the above on a regular basis,  yet I still plow on. If you let things like this stop you, you’ll never learn to cook.

After all, even Julia Child made mistakes.

And some more Julia Child quotes: 

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed — eh bien, tant pis! Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile — and learn from her mistakes.”

And my favorite:

“Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?”

So need I say more? Just start cooking. Make mistakes. Burn things. Drop things. Make a mess. And more importantly: Never apologize. Have fun!

 

 

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Local Ohio Strawberries

Welcome to my food blog! I now have an official place to share my love of food with the world. I’m still adding and customizing things here and there, but feel free to look around, and come back soon for my first recipe post.

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