A little break from the 52 weeks challenges as I offer some encouragement. To every person who believes that he/she cannot cook I say, “Yes, you can.”
In this age of the internets that we live in, anyone who can read and navigate the internet well enough to be reading this blog can cook. This biggest challenge in home cooking is being able to find good recipes and follow them. So here are a few tips in overcoming this hurdle.
- What type of recipe are you looking for? If it’s a classic recipe, like a Coq au Vin, I suggest searching a website where the contributors are chefs, like the Food Network website. Enter the recipe you’re looking for in the search bar and hit enter. After the results come up, sort them by rating rather than by relevance. That way, the best-reviewed recipes are always at the top.
- If the recipe you’re looking for is something a little less specific or something that has many different variations (like lasagna or chicken enchiladas), I suggest websites where the contributors are home cooks, like the Taste of Home website or Tasty Kitchen. Once again, I suggest sorting your results by rating rather then relevance.
- Do you have a bunch of ingredients that you want to use up? Try going to AllRecipes and doing an ingredient search. Enter all the ingredients you’re trying to use up and see what recipes come up! Pay attention to the user ratings…if something has just one-star, you might want to avoid it.
- Do you really have no idea what to make? I suggest subscribing to some food blogs. I have at least 10 different food blogs on my blogroll right now, so I get new recipe ideas every day. Here are some of my favorites.
So at this point you’ve found a recipe. Here are a few suggestions for being able to follow it successfully.
- Read the entire recipe before you decide to do it. Look at the ingredients. Will you be able to find all of them where you live? Living in small-town Arkansas, I have to drive up to an hour in order to get specialty ingredients. So if I want to make a recipe with odd ingredients, I have to make sure I’ll be able to get to Little Rock or Hot Springs beforehand. Look at the instructions. Is there anything that you don’t understand? A word or a technique? Google it.
- Food substitutions. Try not to have to do this at all. If you absolutely cannot help it, google your food substitution idea BEFORE you attempt it. You think you can substitute spread for butter? Look it up. You think you can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil? Look it up.
Okay. You’ve finished your cooking, and you have one of three reactions.
- “This is delicious! I want to make this again!” Make sure you’ve saved the recipe somewhere.
- “This is okay, but it would be better if______.” Try the recipe again sometime and make some small tweaks. Don’t change too much. You want to keep the integrity of the original so that the whole thing doesn’t fall apart.
- “This is really nasty. I never want to have this again.” Scrap it and try something else. Don’t beat yourself up. This happens to everyone, even people who have been cooking for years. It happens to me all the time!
Just a couple more things before you venture into the unknown.
- The more you practice, the better you’re going to get. You may start with half a dozen flops. But you will get better!
- Try to surround yourself with encouraging people. When I was growing up, my dad would eat absolutely anything that I cooked. I tried making fudge for the very first time in an Arkansas summer with no air conditioning in the house. I think I was around 10 years old. It was a gloppy mass of what tasted like burned marshmallows. My dad put it on his ice cream. Today, my church family will eat any experiment that I choose to subject them to. Even if it’s not that good!
- Remember that the way you cook has no correlation to your worth as a person. You can make flop after flop, and you are still worthwhile and full of value.
Let me know if you have any questions!