Wednesday, February 6, 2008

And we're off

I always wanted to learn how to cook, but I’ve never been able to do more than try a few recipes with the occasional disaster, but mostly mediocre results.

I didn’t want to just try different cookbooks, looking for a handful of recipes in each that I could make consistently well. Actually, I didn’t want to keep trying that. It's what I've been doing. It’s tedious as hell, and it can get pretty expensive. So I looked for books that would try to teach how to cook, rather than just collection of recipes. After an afternoon in a bookstore, I found 2 that I thought might do the trick.

What’s a Cook to Do by James Peterson is a collection of nearly 500 basic tips and techniques for working with different ingredients, pans, knives, etc. There are a few recipes in there and some of it is common sense, but for the most part, it goes along way toward demystifying a lot of what goes on in the kitchen, and shows you some stuff that real cooks learn from years of experience.

The other book is (don’t laugh) Cooking Basics for Dummies. Yes part of the Dummies series. I have to admit to being embarrassed by owning the book, but more than any of the dozens of others I looked at, it explains why you’re supposed to do what you’re doing. It also has about 150 recipes in there, but I think they’re meant to demonstrate the stuff you’re reading in the text. It doesn’t always work out, and it's far from perfect, but like I said, it’s better than regular cookbooks which are just recipe after recipe, disaster lurking in each one.

So, between the two of these, I figured I could put together a reasonable guide to teach myself to cook. I decided to read the books more or less simultaneously, reading the tips in What’s a Cook to Do and using it as a reference and working through Dummies front to back. It became pretty clear that the best way to learn the stuff was to read the text and then try out the recipes, so I committed myself to trying each one along the way. At least for now. Who knows if I can get through all 150.

After I decided to do that, making a blog out of it seemed like the natural thing to do. I have no idea if I can stick to it (I have a life to tend to every now and then). Either it will be fun for me to try or it will be fun for you to watch me go mad. A win-win proposition.

With any kind of luck, I’ll teach myself to cook, maybe by learning from my mistakes you might be able to teach yourself to cook too.

No comments: