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12 Posts of Christmas: #10 If You Can Read This You Can Cook

December 23, 2016

 

 

A lot of people that don’t cook on a regular basis THINK that can’t cook. Good news is, if you’re one of those people this article may show you otherwise. Think about this for a second, cooking is an invention of humankind. There were no cook books and Betty Crocker mixes available in the days before civilized society and Gordon Ramsey wasn't managing castle kitchens in the days of yore. Cooking has been continuously evolving over the centuries and every new innovation came from someone who didn’t know whether or not it would work at the time. With that in mind I’m not just going to SHOW you how to cook some random dish. Instead I’m going to first teach about you some methods of cooking that’ll have you looking like a Master Chef in no time.

 

Planning a meal.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to use a cook book, there is one thing that remains the same whenever you enter the kitchen. HAVE A GAME PLAN! Even when I improv in the kitchen, I always formulate a rough plan of what I’m going to fix before I turn on my stove/ oven. The three basic elements of a balanced meal are proteins, starches and vegetables. In some cases, like with potatoes, a vegetable is considered a starch and for e sake of my vegan and vegetarian friends out there, protein doesn't just come from meat and dairy. Also laying out all the seasoning and spices you plan on using beforehand is a good idea. I like to actually pour whatever seasonings I need in a small bowl so that I can add it by hand rather than using a shaker, especially when I only need a small amount. We’ll come back to seasoning in just a bit though. The last thing I want to say in regards to cooking technique, is also the most important in my opinion. The number one contributor to kitchen accidents is stress. Being tense in the kitchen does not work and it often times compounds on itself. One mistake can lead to frustration, nest thing you know you smell something burning and now you’ve gotta order out. Learn how to relax when your at the stove. Play some music, dance a little while you work. Enjoy the experience of crafting a meal that is of your own design and in the process you’ll also build upon your skills and confidence. Once you've played everything out it's time for step number two

 

Check the technique.

A chef is a professional artist in the culinary coliseum. As such, he would be nothing without the proper tools and know how. Make no mistake, I am NOT a professional chef, but I am sought after for my skills with a skillet. This is all thanks to me learning the techniques of cooking. There’s a few intermediate techniques for you to start practicing as the holidays approach that I’ll demonstrate for you in the video below as I take you through a quick improvised dish. Now technique is a matter of practice, dexterity and above all else patience. Brining, sautéing, reducing, dicing and pan-searing are some fundamental skills to start with as you begin to cook more frequently. 

 

Gear Up!

Knowing how to do the job is one thing, being equipped to do it is quite another. How can anyone expect you to dice a tomato with a dull knife? Having a properly maintained set of kitchen tools and gadgets makes a serious impact on the effectiveness of a chef. Get into the practice of sharpening and maintaining a good knife set and also invest in a quality mandolin to help cut down prep time. Some staples you should definitely include in your kitchen are a crockpot, a hand blender, meat injector, an electric griddle and a rice cooker; all of which can be purchased from your nearest Walmart, Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. Above all of these gadgets and new age kitchen tech, however, is one item that has been in the kitchen since the dawn cooking. The cast iron skillet. This classic, yet vastly underrated cooking apparatus is an exceptional kitchen tool because it can be used on the stove as well as in the oven. Another lesser known feature is that it can be flavored to add another element to your dishes. So once your broken out the ingredients and tools for your dish its time to for the final touch.

 

Spice it Up!

Going back to how to season your dishes, the most important factor is balance. There are dozens of descriptive words for flavor, However, when it comes to actual taste our tongues detect flavor in  major categories: . Just like with someone’s noise or odor tolerance, two people will not have the same exact perception of taste. To avoid overloading a person’s palette, you need to exercise moderation when adding seasons to a dish. Salts and sugars require a delicate touch, while the mild flavor of some herbs can be handled with less reservation.

 

Time to put it all together.

 

 

Learning to cook is a matter of patience and open-mindedness. Sorry the video isn't the best quality, I'm working to update my equipment so that I can start doing more videos in the future. Let me know what other kinds of videos you'd like to see in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe to Yagoli.

 

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