The Art of Cooking Well ~
Roughly, between the ages of six and twelve I learned a host of various cooking techniques.
I remember these particular instances:
- My paternal grandmother taught me how to make homemade buttermilk biscuits.
- My maternal grandmother taught me to make delicious, moist cakes and broccoli-rice casserole, one of her favorites.
- My dad taught me how to make savory southern gravy and how to fry chicken in a cast iron skillet.
- My stepmother taught me how to make a pot roast in a crock-pot and how to bake a brown sugar ham.
- My aunt taught me how to make homemade potato soup.
- My uncle taught me how to make a roast in the oven.
- My godmother taught me how to fry fresh caught bass, make a jammin chicken casserole, and awesome chocolate chip cookies that won me a blue ribbon in school.
- The father of a childhood friend (a restaurant owner) introduced me to the wonderful world of herbs and spices.
- My babysitter taught me how to poach an egg.
- My cousin taught me how to make buttered egg noodles with Parmesan.
Also as a teen I worked at Hardees. It wasn't long before I was pulled from the drive-thru back into the kitchen - frying up frozen burgers. It was there that I learned about the short shelf life of fast food and that I wanted no part of the creative-less side of cooking and soon asked to be back on the drive-thru.
I cooked frequently at home and at the homes of friends. One of my childhood friends and I cooked all the time. Later in life, she and I owned and operated a restaurant together.
Another teenage friend (and my BFF for life) and I experimented with foods that were out of the ordinary for both our locale and our non-worldly palates. My god sister and I were always cooking as well; we made fudge, pizza and casseroles.
Throughout all of my early cooking experiences – not once was a measurement used in any fashion. I learned to cook by sight, feel, and taste.
Neither were there any timing devices. I developed an internal sense of simply “knowing” when something was cooked properly - by sight, smell, and even sound. There is actually a unique sound emitted from a perfectly cooked piece of protein in a fryer or even in a pan-frying skillet.
My love of all things food is very much alive and well. I enjoy sharing my recipes with others and even enjoy giving away my “secret” ingredients and processes.
It is quite tedious and time consuming, though, to measure ingredients and list step-by-step instructions for my recipes. However, I do realize that most people need that information in order to duplicate the recipe.
Before I started blogging, when someone asked for a recipe I would have to sit down, visualize the process of cooking that particular item, write down the ingredients as I remembered them, and then go back and try to visualize the amounts. Often, later in the day I would recall an ingredient left out and then follow-up with the requester.
Starting my blog was actually a selfish endeavor to help me catalog my favorite recipes, making the sharing aspect a lot easier.
I think “The Art of Cooking Well” is actually within the experimentation. Whenever you see a recipe’s ingredient list – I encourage you to consider swapping other ingredients you would like to try. I often peruse cookbooks to get ideas and then may use a few key ingredients and change more than 75% of the recipe.
Cooking should be fun! Get engaged in the process of creating something and enjoy the method behind the madness. Don’t let fear into the mix – What’s the worst that could happen? You throw it out and begin again, big deal.
As a special note – in most circumstances there are many ways to repair a recipe if you add too much of something or have the wrong texture, etc. I am going to compile a list of these “repairs” along with some “cheater” tricks that may help you whenever you find yourself in a bind. Stay Tuned!
By TR Hughes, © 2008 - 2011 GuideToLifeForWomen.com.
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