You need to eat. It does not necessarily mean that you need to cook, but it usually goes this way. You may prefer to be waited on. Understandable. Someone cooks for you, someone cleans after you, someone gives you foot massage. Makes sense. But anyway some cooking skills are good to have. Just in case. Just for fun. Or even to eat. Maybe you will like it. Maybe you will be able to produce something exquisite. Like meatloaf. Or apple pie. Or both. So people can taste them both and maybe even identify which one is which. You will be proud.
Learning to cook is not this hard. First, you need some instructional manuals. It’s easy. The two biggest sellers in bookstores are the cookbooks and the diet books. The cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food. The diet books tell you how not to eat any of it. Forget the diet books. Get yourself some beginners guide like “Any idiot can cook” or “How to boil water” and try to comprehend what they are saying. It’s not easy. The terminology is confusing and the directions are missing important steps.
For example, a popular line “Add a can of something” never specifies that you need to take the something out of the can before adding it. They leave it to your imagination. Using your imagination is fun. You may like it.
It takes time to adjust to culinary terminology. But you can do it. You may be proud of your extended vocabulary.
For example, “Fold two substances together” is not what a normal person understands as folding. It is a combination of two motions: cutting vertically through the mixture and turning over repeatedly by sliding the instrument along the bottom of the bowl. Huh? And “sliding the instrument?” Will a trombone do?
At the same time, “Kneading the dough” means “to manipulate with the pressing motion, accompanied by folding and stretching”. In this case folding is “bending something over on itself so that one part of it covers another.” And not the other folding. Ambiguity is very misleading. But you can get used to it. After a series of trials and errors.
Every culinary virgin understands what “beat by hand” means. But you will learn not to do it to your food. You will learn to “make mixture smooth or to introduce air by using brisk regular motion that lifts the mixture over and over.” Huh?
Now, if a recipe said, "Serve without dressing", you don’t need to serve the dish naked. You sure can, but it will taste the same as if you have some clothes on.
The fundamental recipe “How to boil water” is one of the most confusing. It gives you a bunch of unclear references like Poaching, Simmering, considering your elevation and higher altitudes, but ignores important steps; a novice chef has no idea of. Generally, the recipe says “Boil is to cook at such a temperature that bubbles rise continuously and break on the surface“. And who will explain how?
That’s how this comprehensive recipe should look:
How to Boil Water
Total Time: 7 min
Prep Time: 2 min
Cook Time: 5 min
- Find suitable cookware. Look in cupboard, cabinet, stove, garage etc – use your imagination.
- Serving size is 1 cup. There are 4 cups in a quart. Do the math depending on the size of the cookware, you’ve managed to find.
- Place your pot in the sink under the tap. (The sink is the large depression in your counter top. May be filled with dirty dishes. In this case, remove them from the sink and place them in the oven).
- Turn the cold-water knob to the "on" position.
- Fill the pot to within a couple inches of the rim.
- Lift the pot from sink and transfer to stove. (The stove is usually the thing with 4 or more circular metal bands on top of it).
- Find the knob on stove that corresponds to the "burner" you have placed your pot on. In addition to words like "Right Front" or "Left Rear," there are usually little pictures near the knobs to indicate position.
- Turn knob to "High" and wait until water boils.
- The dish is ready when bubbles rise continuously and break on the surface.
Now, when you’ve mastered water-boiling, you can attempt a sweet iced tea.
How to make Sweet Iced Tea
Total time: 1hr 15 min
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hr
- Find suitable cookware. If you are missing a measuring cup or a functional pitcher, use replacement tools (coffee pot works great for measuring cup, glass beer jugs for pitchers, and an automotive funnel to compensate for lack of a pitcher with a wide opening).
- Carefully measure 2 cups of water using coffee pot.
- Pour into the tea kettle.
- Bring to a rapid rolling boil.
- While water is boiling, prepare 2 cups of sugar using the coffee pot. Pour the sugar into a beer jug.
- Pour boiling water into coffee pot. Don’t be surprised if you are now down to 1 cup of water due to vaporizing.
- Fill the tea kettle back up, bring to a boil again.
- Carefully pour boiling water into coffee pot till you hit the 2 cup mark.
- Add in tea bags and a pinch of baking soda, place lid on coffee pot, place beer jug on top to cover most of the holes.
- After 15 minutes, remove tea bags, do not squeeze into pot, discard.
- Use funnel to add lukewarm tea to sugar mix and try to dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 2 cups of warm liquid.
- Cap beer jug, shake furiously, realize that it is only halfway dissolved, fret.
- Pour mixture back into the coffee pot, stir vigorously.
- Decide that the lukewarm water is what is killing you, pour mixture to the tea kettle, return to the burner, turn on to heat water.
- Remove occasionally to check water warmth, stir often.
- Pour concentrated mixture into funnel aimed into another beer jug, with 6 cups of cold water.
- Cap, and shake well.
- Serve over ice.
Now when you mastered complicated drinks, you can attempt an exquisite dish. Like a cake. By this time you probably possess required cookware, measuring cups and electric mixer. Because “beating by hand” is not much fun.
How to make a cake.
total time – 1 hr
prep time – 1hr
cook tome – 0 min (or 0 hr for slow cooks)
Vanilla Extract (or lemon juice, or cardamom – or something)
Chopped nuts (or dried fruit, or fruit preserves – or something)
Wine (or whiskey, or rum, or something – booze)
- Take a large mixing bowl.
- Turn on electric mixer, beat butter in the bowl.
- While the processor is pulsing, sample the booze to check for quality.
- Check the booze again.
- Add sugar to the bowl and beat again.
- Meanwhile, make sure that the booze is still Okay.
- Turn off the mixer. Add to eggs to the bowl (remove eggshell). Turn on the mixer.
- Check the booze for quantity: pour one level cup and drink.
10. Add flour to the bowl.
11. If you don’t feel that 1 cup of booze is a sufficient quantity for cake, pour 2 cups. Test.
12. Check if the mixer is still on. If not, turn it on.
13. Add dried fruit. Or fruit preserve. Or something.
14. To kill time, enjoy your booze.
16. If dried fruit (or something) gets stuck, loose it with the screwdriver. Make sure that the mixer is off.
17. Add salt, baking soda, juice, nuts, garlic… (maybe not garlic…) But who cares? Whatever you can find.
18. Remember that you were supposed to add the booze to the cake. Try to remember how much. If you can’t remember, drink one cup to refresh your memory. If your memory is not refreshed, drink another one. Try to remember what you were supposed to do with the booze. If you can’t remember – forget about it.
19. Grease the oven. Turn it on. Don’t forget to throw the cake into the oven.
20. Fall down to the kitchen floor. Rest.
21. Wake up when the smoke alarm goes on.
22. Scrape the dough from the floor and eat.
23. Scrape yourself from the floor and hit the fire alarm with the hammer.
24. Drink the remaining booze and crawl to the bed.
Warning: this recipe is not recommended during pregnancy. Even more – after pregnancy. See the alternative after-pregnancy recipe for both the one who was pregnant and the one who (culinary speaking) put the pea in the pod.
How to bake a cake (with small children around)
- Preheat oven, get out bowl, spoons and ingredients, grease and flour the pan.
- Remove 5 crayons, 2 toy cars and one stuffed bear from kitchen table.
- Beat butter and eggs in the bowl with the electric mixer.
- Measure 1 cup flour.
- Remove children’s hands from flour, wash flour off children.
- Measure one more cup of flour to replace flour on floor and table.
- Put flour, baking powder and salt in a sifter.
- Get dust pan to sweep up pieces of broken bowl children have knocked onto the floor.
- Get another bowl, answer phone, return to the table.
10. Get greased pan and a new bowl, remove crayons from the pan.
11. Answer the phone again.
12. Return to kitchen and take greased pan from child, who flees, knocking new bowl off of table - again.
13. Wash floor, table, walls, dishes and children.
14. Call local bakery.
15. Go lie down.
Just follow the direction and you can become a great self-made chef. If you are uncertain about the cooking time, use this helpful tip: when the smoke alarm goes off, your dinner is ready.