Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Recipe For a Great Cook

I’ve had many people tell they can’t cook. I’m not the best cook, but I know how to cook and for my tastes, I consider myself a good cook. I was very fortunate – I had three people who taught me how to cook. These three people were my grandma, my dad, and my grandma Lee’s neighbor, The Major.

I'm here to help (Source)

Many people will go on about ingredients, temperatures, recipes, and preparation techniques being the most important things about cooking. Some overly sentimental people will tell you the most important thing is the love you put into the food. While those are all important (though the jury is still out on the love thing), they aren’t the most important. You can have all of those things and still mess it up if you are lacking the most important aspects of cooking:

1.     Patience
2.     Imagination
3.     Bravery

Full Disclosure: This did happen once...(Source)

My grandma embodied patience. She taught me how to wait. When to check on things and when to leave them alone and let them cook. She taught me to take the time to prepare the ingredients from a meal properly. She taught me stirring and letting things cook to savory perfection. Patience is the hardest for me to learn and I still struggle with it today; this is why I am only a good cook and not a great cook. But patience is the difference between having a moist and flavorful chicken breast as opposed to a dry and tasteless thing.

My father exudes imagination in everything he does, and cooking is no different. My dad is always ready to try a new recipe or just throw things together and see what happens. Not everything turns out perfect, but some things do and if there were no experimentation, we would miss out on those great dishes.

The Major wasn’t called The Major for nothing. He had been in the military and I never knew his real name, he was always introduced as The Major. He only taught me one dish, orange chicken, but the lesson in bravery may have been even more important than the dish itself. It was an instance and that one instance has stuck with me ever since. We needed some eggs and he taught me to crack the egg and empty its contents with one hand. My first egg fell on the floor. He didn’t get mad about the mess, we just cleaned it up and I tried again and this time I got it in the bowl.  Such a single, simple moment, but it taught me not to be afraid in the kitchen. Being careful is important, but not being afraid of messes, sharp objects, open flames, and errors is also important.

Be Patient: They’ll be done when they’re done.
Be Imaginative: Feel free to experiment and create new combinations.
Be Brave: Don’t be afraid of failing, just clean up and try again.
This took all day to make, the recipe for the
potatoes is my own design, and it was delicious

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