Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Introducing a New Topic, From Cook to Chef!

For most of my life, I had no idea how to cook. I also didn't care to learn. As long as I could make my boxed Velveeta macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and toast, I was good. My grandmother was horrified I refused to learn to cook. Every time I went over to her house, she would lament, "I can't believe you don't know how to cook!"

My attitude changed slightly when I went off to college. For the first time, it was up to me to feed myself. Sounds silly, but up until then, I had never worried about where breakfast/lunch/dinner was coming from! My mom went grocery shopping and my parents did most of the cooking, so I never had to worry about my next meal. When I went to college, I realized, oh yeah, now I have to do this! The first step towards learning to cook is awareness.

I lived on-campus all through college, so learning to cook, even with my interest piqued, wasn't really an option. I did expand my repertoire to Hamburger Helper and peas thanks to Jared's apartment kitchen. It wasn't until I graduated college and moved into my own apartment when cooking became essential. I quickly learned eating out every meal was much less cost-effective than making my own meals and eating leftovers.

So I started to learn. It was daunting because I knew nothing. I started watching The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network because my mom loves her so much. Ina Garten's confident, encouraging attitude prompted me to try many of her recipes. Since she seasons her food much more than most cooks/chefs, the Barefoot Contessa also helped develop my palate.

Ina gets a bad rap sometimes - Photo credit
Developing your palate, or being able to to distinguish how a certain ingredient will impact a recipe, is the first step towards proficiency in cooking . I also finally accepted instruction from my parents, who are excellent cooks. I would actually call my dad a chef because he often invents his own recipes, which come out delicious every time.

Now that I have had some success in cooking and an appreciative husband, I am determined to start evolving from a cook to a chef. To me, a cook is someone who can follow a recipe. A chef is someone who can alter a recipe to their liking or invent their own recipes. I want to be a chef! This topic will cover my journey.

What inspired you to cook?