I think its a shame that more people don’t enjoy cooking, and I think the main reason is that a lot of people are simply intimidated by it. When a recipe calls for precise measurements of 15 different ingredients, its tempting to skip to the next recipe or just make something you already know how to make instead. But to me, cooking is an exciting exploration, and I think with the right mindset, other people would share my enthusiasm. To that end, the following points summarize my philosophy on cooking in general.
- Recipes are guidelines. A recipe is merely a set of instructions showing how one person makes one dish — there are as many variations of every dish as there are people who have ever cooked it, and while recipes can be useful guidelines for one person to convey his or her variation to other people, nothing is written in stone. I encourage you to get creative and stray from the guidelines I present to you in my posts.
- Experiment. In order to enjoy cooking, you MUST experiment with recipes yourself. Try it, modify it, use pieces of it that you think look good and ditch the rest. When you want to cook something new, skim through 5 or 10 different recipes on google, and pull your favorite ingredients and techniques from each one. Make your OWN recipes.
- Senses trump science. I hardly ever measure anything using cups or spoons (unless I’m baking something or making rice, where proportions matter). The best measuring devices are your eyes, hands and nose. I prefer terms such as handful, fistful, palmful, capful and pinch rather than terms like cup, tablespoon and teaspoon. Nobody likes measuring anyway… so keep the tools in the drawer, and trust your senses. You’ll quickly learn how many twists of your salt grinder or pepper mill it takes, and you’ll have one less thing to wash.
- Fresh ingredients make delicious meals. I find that supermarkets keep all the best stuff around the edges, where you’ll find all the fresh fruits, veggies and herbs, the butcher counter, the fish counter and the bakery. If you can make it from scratch using the raw materials you find in the outskirts of the grocery store, why would you buy the prepared version off the shelf?
- Have fun. If you’re inspired to cook something, then do it. Don’t be intimidated by the long recipe lists or new techniques. You can literally cook anything you want.