Wouldnít it be great to walk into the kitchen, open the fridge and pantry and be able to cook up something using the ingredients on hand? That is a big thrill and one I would love to pass on. My whole kitchen philosophy centers around two principles. The first is that cooking should be product-driven and the second is you need to have a basic understanding of fundamental cooking techniques and food so you can spontaneously create your own dishes without relying on a recipe.
What does it mean to be product-driven? A product-driven meal means that you created a meal with ingredients that you have on hand. The opposite of that would be a recipe- driven meal which outlines what ingredients to use and generally means another trip to the store to purchase those ingredients. Donít we hate that? That trip to the store for one or two items wears me out and takes the fun out of cooking quicker than anything. If you will exert the smallest amount of energy and money stocking a basic pantry and organizing your shopping list your whole attitude about food and cooking will change.
On to that second principleÖHow do we gain that understanding of basic cooking techniques? Cooking, like anything else, is a learned skill. If you were getting into woodworking or learning to play the piano you certainly would expect to make mistakes along the way. Thereís got to be a learning curve. But sometimes we get impatient with our failures in the kitchen and sadly so because itís when we work through mistakes that our learning curve accelerates.
I have to share a story. A few months ago I invited a friend and her two sons over for dinner. When kids come over for dinner I try to make it fun for them and so I usually plan for some kind of pasta and then they get to roll it out on the pasta machine. So the kids rolled out the pasta (and loved it I might add) and my friend was so impressed with the machine and her kidís attitude that she bought a machine for herself. She made noodles the following week and hasnít made them since. She had a bad first experience. The dough didnít cooperate and didnít meet her expectation so it now sits in its box on a shelf. I canít convince her to try it again when I know for a fact that the second time around will be easier and will work better.
We have to be patient and accepting of our mistakes. Iíve learned more from kitchen mishaps that I have from kitchen successes. And hereís the key Ė when we make mistakes we have to think about why that might have occurred. There is always a reason. It doesnít just ďhappenĒ. And hereís some great news. Cooking unlike woodworking or piano playing is a daily need. We all have to eat and most of us canít or would rather not eat out for every meal. That means we get plenty of practice time. Yahoo!!