Guest Post: Diana Smith
While some grow up with guardians who teach them how to cook from a young age, a lot of people today are completely clueless – until they start living on their own. And then: panic. Cooking is not easy when you’re not sure how exactly to fry an egg. But knowing how to cook won’t only allow you to put food on the table; it is a valuable life skill that will help you develop your creativity. How? Let’s take a look:
Make do with what you have
We’re not always in a position to run down to the store and pick up all the ingredients we need – an uninvited guest barging in for dinner, closed shops, or simply no funds. So you open up the pantry and the freezer, and you’re greeted with a couple of eggs, some pantry staples, a can of tomatoes and some frozen ground beef. Can you think of a dish? Having to learn how to use ingredients on the spot is a great creative skill that will teach you resource management. Before you fully develop this skill, you can use sites like Supercook, where you simply enter the ingredients you have available, and it will tell you what dishes you can make. Knowing this will also help you learn what the staples of the food you like to eat are and what you should always have on hand.
Make it your own
Let’s say you’ve found a perfect recipe. But, you don’t have all the ingredients, tools or the time to make it. Or maybe you are allergic to an ingredient in the recipe. You don’t have to completely abandon the idea! Use your creativity and make it your own. Learn how you can substitute ingredients, adapt methods to the tools and supplies you have, and what parts of the recipe you can omit. Don’t have a blowtorch? You can still make crème brûlée! Learning this will make you more comfortable in the kitchen, and help you develop your own recipes using these methods and ingredients.
Be well equipped
Sure, you can make do without a lot of equipment that is often found in kitchens, but you just can’t sacrifice the basics. Working with faulty equipment can often be dangerous, so you need to know where to never cut corners. Getting a good, safe oven, a reliable Frigidaire refrigerator, and solid small appliances mean that you can do more with less. Learn how to use each setting and use it to your advantage when cooking.
Plating is half of the dish
All great chefs know: a dish that isn’t well plated can go straight into the trash. Learn from them, look for finished dishes online and in magazines and pick up on all the little tricks. Why do they smear the sauce in that way? What do they use for garnish? And then make your own. Even if you are making a quick, overnight oatmeal or scrambled eggs to eat in bed while watching Netflix, make the dish look visually appealing. You will enjoy it far more, and you will use the chance to be creative and make something beautiful and original. And when you need to cook something seriously impressive – you will be beyond prepared!
Mastering cooking isn’t just about following recipes and executing them perfectly. It is about learning to work with the ingredients and coming up with something that will not only be your favorite but your friends’ and family’s favorite as well. You should start off with some simple recipes but get into experimenting as soon as you get the basics down. You will surprise yourself the first time you make a wedding-worthy layered cake for someone’s birthday or prepare a restaurant-quality dinner next Christmas.