It is a truth universally acknowledged, that most of us have to cook. Whether boiling an egg or making toast, or whipping up a birthday cake to ensure you get asked to bake cakes for the rest of your life. Cooking is unavoidable. Even for those of us who may have tried.
Rewind a few years back and I was standing in my student dorm kitchen, pouring boiling water in to a big mug filled with powder from a packet promising soup. A few energetic stirs with a spoon, et voila. This was a good solution for nights when the kitchen was too crowded for “real” cooking or when one had to study for exams. Not to mention it was easy on a student budget. Later I got to know a girl who studied nutritional science. When I asked her what was actually in those “soups”, she rolled her eyes and said I didn’t want to know.
I kind of thought so all by myself, but hearing this from someone who actually dealt with food put things in a different perspective.
I switched to canned soup.
Gone are the days. Of course I didn’t exist solely on powdered products that resembled food once you poured boiling water on them, even if the kettle was my big friend. But I had gotten in to the habit of easier cooking and sometimes the choices were based on convenience due to circumstances, rather than creativity.
Once I got my own kitchen to spread out in, I discovered that I was a bit of what’s mentioned in the title of this piece, a subject I also partly addressed in my previous post about hosting a dinner party at home. I felt anxious about cooking. So what is an anxious cook to do? Well:
Don’t stop trying new things when you actually really want to
I felt even more anxious when the blueberry loaf I wanted to bake came out runny and flat from the oven. This actually led to months of not baking. Wrong action! I had wanted to continue baking, but I was a deflated by the setback. After the initial trauma and neurotic reactions you can bake a few simple things to get a good idea of how your oven works and whether you might need to change a product you use. If you do have to throw something away, breathe through your nose a few times and try again. Obviously this example translates to other types of cooking, not just baking.
Work around and polish the skills you have
We don’t always stop to think about the sometimes basic, but useful things we do in the kitchen that we are good at. A friend of mine is adept at cutting vegetables in to thin, even strips, so he worked on it with those that needed some practicing, like potatoes. He usually fries everything he slices, and after a while he started including finely sliced meat with his dishes. It became a specialty of his and I discovered there were lots of recipes and ideas for cooking around this particular skill. It didn’t have to be hard, it just needed to stay enjoyable. If you’re good at tossing salads, you already know there’s a billion ways to keep that going. It also means you might be good at mixing things in general and probably have an eye for making food look attractive.
Bottom line: you can cook!
Also: recipes, cookbooks and food blogs were put on this planet to make life easier. Find authors and sources that appeal to you.
As a kid I’m guessing you couldn’t wait to get your hands in to that dough (even if for reasons not related to cooking), shell peas or help to carefully spoon cream on your favourite pastries?
Find that kid!