Kristina's Blog: I Dare You to Cook!
Posted: Thu 12/08/2011 06:00 AM
Let’s get one thing straight: everyone can cook. Everyone! Even if you’ve never picked up a spatula, even if the idea of making toast puzzles you, even if your kitchen is smaller than a bathtub and missing a stove, even if you have twelve kids (all under the age of 5), even if, even if, even if... you can cook, and cook well.
My mission in life is to build confidence in all the discouraged folks who have spent most of their lives thinking that cooking means being just like all those perfect chefs preparing their perfect nine course meals and intimidating the “you know what” out of every wannabe cook. Or thinking that cooking is just another thing to add to that mile-long to do list that’s just never going to happen. Most likely, all you want is to be able to feed yourself and your family a home cooked meal – not open a five star restaurant – and maybe even enjoy doing it. If you trust yourself with a knife and know not to place your hand directly on a hot stove top, you are already on your way to becoming an excellent cook.
One of my beliefs is that you will enjoy cooking a lot more if you adapt it to your personality. Let me explain. I am a creative type so I approach cooking as an art. I'm always “creating,” adding something new to the dish and combining flavors that sound really good in my crazy, little head. Think about your personality. If patience is not your best quality, don’t choose complicated recipes that might trigger a nervous breakdown. There are plenty of easy, quick recipes that require no more than tossing a few ingredients together and throwing them in the oven. If you’re the adventurous type, use that in the kitchen. Go crazy! Who cares if you’ve never heard of a mustard flavored dessert? If it sounds good to you, invent it! For all you analytical folks, find recipes that are very detailed, and learn cooking by figuring out the whys and hows.
Let your personality also dictate the type of environment you cook in. If you’re an extrovert, does having a friend or two around make cooking more enjoyable? If so, invite people over to sip wine and hang out with you as you cook. They will love having a home cooked meal and you will enjoy the company. Don’t worry about impressing anyone. Your guests won’t care whether the meal is “fancy,” they’ll just be thankful for a fun evening and a free meal. On the other hand, if you like being alone, in a peaceful setting, put on your headphones and enjoy your favorite tunes while preparing a meal.
I, personally, change it up. Some days friends keep me company, other days I put on loud music and cook with my kids (this usually results in some great pots-n-pans drumming sessions and lip-syncing into spatula-shaped microphones). Other times I like to be alone with my headphones and a good audio book. (There is nothing better than a great audio book or a podcast from your favorite radio program when you’re washing dishes or stirring risotto for 20 minutes.)
Be honest with yourself about who you are, what you can handle, and most importantly, what will make cooking most enjoyable for you. And please – try not to think of it as a chore. Bathrooms are a chore. I don’t see how you can possibly categorize scrubbing the insides of a filthy toilet with creating sweet and savory Mongolian beef, vegetable fried rice, mouth-watering Asian green beans, and then finishing it all off with a decadent chocolate dessert.
I dare you to step away from the frozen nuggets, put down the take-out number, and get cooking! (And ship any leftovers my way!)