One of my goals for the upcoming year has been to become a better cook. Until I hit 30, my repetoire consisted for knowing how to fry things really well, spaghetti, the ability to doctor up some canned or frozen vegetables and breakfast food. My food would always look good and smell good but when it came to taste? Honey. The taste of my food had two extremes: blood pressure rising salty or cardboard bland. I didn’t know the proper way to season nor did I step out of my comfortable Lawry’s and black pepper seasoning. I remember the first time J cooked for me he made these AWESOME breakfast tacos and I watched as he fried the tortillas to make them into a taco shape and I almost went to heaven the combination of sausage, eggs, and peach mango salsa collided so well. I wanted to cook like that. Getting help in the cooking department was a hard step for me. It is a sign of shame if you are a woman who can’t cook. All of your problems can be pointed back to your lack of knowing how to cook. Divorced? It’s because you can’t cook. Single? It’s because you can’t cook. Flowers don’t grow in the yard? It’s because you can’t cook. So I was terrified to ask anyone how to make “xyz” because I thought they would just think, “That’s why she’s still single!” This is where Pintrest comes in. While Pintrest is the well of all things that make you feel like you aren’t doing life “right” it is also a great way to get recipies to try. From this idea my board, “Food and Liquor” was born. I began to pin all of the things I hoped to make and even found improvements to things that I cooked before. After trying a few recipies this is what I learned:
- The right tools make a difference– Food Blogger, Angela Davis did Storify on kitchen basics and it contained a good list of things needed to get started. I have learned the importance of having the right pans to do the right thing. Through trial and error, I am learning that frying is better in a cast iron skillet HANDS DOWN. I had a nice cast iron pan in my 20’s that I dessimated by putting it in the damn dishwasher. Though I am pretty good on pots and pans, I am going to roast a chicken next week and I am searching for a good roasting pan. Cookware doesn’t have to be expensive when you are just starting out either. I have built my collection up via IKEA and I will upgrade pieces as I get better.
- There is a happy medium between Hi and Lo– In addition to my two favorite seasonings I had two favorite stove settings: Hi and Lo. In my eyes, nothing would cook in between it was either one or the other. Hi was usually my preference so everything I made would have a slight Cajun effect to it. Now, always start out a medium heat and then build my way up and I LISTEN to the sound of the food cooking. I know that sounds silly but that will let you know if your food is on the way to Cajun land. I remember a former boyfriend was over and while I was frying chicken he screamed from the next room, “You need to turn your grease down!”
- Lawry’s is not the ONLY seasoning in the world– All I needed in this life of sin was a Sam’s Club sized container of Lawry’s. That was ALL I had to season my food and in my mind that was the gold standard. The thought of using things other than salt to season my food was a foreign concept to me. I let go of that concept the summer of 2012 when I went to Eatonville in DC and ordered the Lavender Lemonade. OMG! I tasted lavender and I liked it. A few weeks ago I sauteed a bunch of asparagus using nothing but a pinch of sea salt and a squirt of lemon juice. I was so proud of the balance that I maintained.
- It will NOT look like the pictures– This is where I would beat myself up the most, especially on Pintrest. I food would be finished and I would almost faint because it didn’t look like the photos. I try to keep the words from my friend K in my head: those pictures are professionally taken and they have a lot of lighting work and photoshop on their side. Presentation is important but I am here for the taste.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help– If you invite me to a party and you cooked something I loved, I am going to ask how you made it. I have several friends who bake and I know I wear them down with my questions but that is the only way I will get better. FYI, if I know you can grill really well, I will be BLOWING your phone up this summer because mama is gonna master the grill!