03 September 2009

learning to love cooking again


When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to learn to cook, so I picked a night and that was my night to make the family dinner. Coming from a meat and potato kind of house, I was excited to branch out and try new things like stir fry, interesting pastas and enchiladas. Of course I always needed to include some sort of meat and bake a potato for my dad if those options weren't inclusive in the meal. I grew to really love cooking. I loved trying new recipes, going to dinner parties, throwing dinner parties, baking for friends.

But then, somehow, it became a chore. Just one more thing to try and get done every day. I don't throw dinner parties anymore because it is too stressful to plan. I don't go to dinner parties because most of my once single and fancy free friends are married with kiddos and struggling to get it all done too. We are barely surviving our weeks let alone living perfectly articulated lives with gorgeously clean homes and delectable meals each night.

It has become a line up of standbys and thrown together mishmashes. It is uninspiring and down-right discouraging. It certainly is not how I want it to be. I really want to fall in love with cooking again. I want to enlarge my repertoire of go to recipes so I don't keep going to the same ones, over and over again. I want to throw dinner parties again and have fun, not stress out.

So, I have decided to create and enroll in my own on-line blogger cooking course, sort of a Cooking 101. At first I was going to give myself a schedule and deadlines, but then I pulled back. I want this to be fun and inspiring and somewhat organic, not forced. So I put away most of my plan. Here is what remains. I am going to pick one chef, cookbook or food blogger at a time to focus on for a few weeks, months, whatever. During that time, I will post at least once a week about the recipes or techniques I am trying, successes and failures. When I feel like I have learned what I can or I'm bored, I will go on to the next source of inspiration. You are welcome to join me if you would like, following as closely or loosely as you would prefer. If you do follow along, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email to let me know how its going.

It seems I'm not the only one with this idea. With the release of Julie & Julia (which I haven't seen, but would like too), several other bloggers have gotten inspired to beef up their skills in the kitchen with some help from a few cookbooks or blogs. Emily, over at wide open spaces, started her cooking adventure this week using Good Housekeeping's Step by Step Cookbook, so go over and get in on her giveaway!

My first book will be Martha Stewart's Cooking School. I chose this book because of Martha's basic directions and great photos. She has spent a lot of time and money perfecting her craft and I figured she would be a good place to start. I am going to start with the first section next week, which includes an overview of the basics, such as kitchen tools, pans, herb, spices and chopping. So if you want to join in, head out to your local library or bookstore and get your copy this weekend.

10 comments:

Erin said...

What a great idea! Looking forward to your dishes! I know what you mean about things like cooking falling by the wayside with kids in tow, plus the things they are willing to see on their plates are limited...good luck and can't wait to see photos of your creations.

paula said...

I so have a desire of being a brilliant cook. My husband does most of the cooking. He likes it and is uber picky. Makes cooking hard:(

Beegirl said...

Have fun! I loved Julie and Julia - movie and book. Just went back and read your post 'Life after...30?"
Looking forward to logging some miles on my library card this winter!

Martha said...

Great idea. You must see Julie/Julia, I think it will inspire you even further!

I love Martha, but think her Cooking School Cookbook might be a bit overwhelming for the life you describe.

You might want to check out her Everyday Food: Great Food Fast Cookbook. It's full of fresh seasonal recipes designed for easy everyday cooking.

I look forward to checking in on your progress!

Lisa H said...

"We are barely surviving our weeks let alone living perfectly articulated lives with gorgeously clean homes and delectable meals each night." Amen! It's all we can do sometimes to scrape together pancakes. One thing that has worked for me in the past, and that I'm trying to get back to, is the weekly menu. Makes shopping easier and takes that meal decision off my shoulders at the end of a long day.
Good luck on your adventure. I'm tired just thinking about it...

autumndaesy said...

I know what you mean about branching out from that "meat and potatoes" menu. Funnily enough, we've branched so far that my husband acted like a kid at Christmas when I told him we were having steak and baked potato for dinner! He was sick of grilled chicken, pesto sauces, red beans and rice...finally, just some plain old red meat! ;)

dig this chick said...

Great idea. Nothing like a blog to keep you in check with stuff like this!

Miss you...let's go see Julie and Julia together!

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