Monday, October 7, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: But I hate cooking!

Cooking takes forever!
Chopping carrots AND onions AND potatoes for a stew seems to take forever – especially when you are using a dull pairing knife and a unstable cutting board. The best way to improve your kitchen skills is practice but a half-way decent knife ($30-50 range) and a stable cutting board (put a tea towel under the board for stability) will drastically improve your kitchen life. It still might take you a long time to cut huge amounts of vegetables and that's okay. Move your set-up to the table. Have a seat. Listen to a podcast. Get your prep done. You'll feel better about the amount of time it takes to prep a stew if you have leftovers to stock your freezer with so make extras!
No one helps me!
Your non-cooking partner can help you prep while you focus on the timing of a different aspect of the dish. Utilize pre-washed greens or pre-chopped vegetables because cooking is more important than chopping! Experiment with the aspects (cooking versus cleaning) and type (quick and dirty versus day-long kitchen adventures) of cooking that you enjoy. Avoid cooking for large gatherings, special occasions and holidays before you have a good base of cooking knowledge. Special occasions and holidays are stressful for the cook regardless of experience level (remember that when your bubba cooks Christmas dinner for you!) Consider meal planning.

I can't find anything!
No matter the size and layout of your kitchen or the amount of kitchen equipment you have (or don't have) an organized kitchen will make any cooking experience more pleasant. Store knifes close to the cutting boards. Use the drawer closest to the stove to store spatulas and wooden spoons. Donate kitchen items that you dislike, were once owned by an ex, or that you never use. Discard broken kitchen items. All the equipment you really need is a few pots and pans, a cutting board, and a sharp knife.

I don't know what to cook!
Focus on learning some of the basic forms of cooking (like sautéing or roasting) as this will give you the freedom to cook without a recipe. Libraries have a plethora of cookbooks which can be great resource. Food blogs can be beneficial but sites were recipes are crowd sourced (like are more reliable than most food blogs, especially if you are a beginner with limited kitchen intuition. Sometimes you will have zero motivation and no ideas for supper and this is when a stocked freezer is a blessing.

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