One of the best things you can do for yourself to be a better cook is learn a few basic recipes or processes. This is true for seasoned professionals, long time home cooks, novices who are just learning, or people who really don’t enjoy cooking but are trying to cut back on eating out for one reason or another. Once you learn how to make some of the most basic foods (or foods that you eat often and enjoy), you can build on those skills to make more complicated items, to tailor any recipe to suit your personal preferences, or even to create your own recipes.
Think of it this way: when you were in school, first you learned the alphabet. Then you learned how to read and write your name and other small words. Then bigger words and sentences. Questions. Exclamations. Clauses. Prepositions. Eventually you could take all of these skills and write papers. Some people can even write whole books!
Cooking is a lot like that. While you can easily skip some of the basics and be a pretty good cook, a better understanding of the little things can lead to better food in the long run. I’m not saying learn all the things they would teach in the first semester at Le Cordon Bleu, but master (or at least learn about) how to properly cook your favorite proteins, sauces, and baked goods and you will be well on your way to better meals.
There are a few recipes that I remember vividly from growing up. My mom always had a few standby recipes that she’d make often–usually big batch recipes that she could use for multiple meals. Specifically, I remember chili, spaghetti sauce, and chicken salad, because those were always my favorites.
When I was a kid, my parents both worked full time and were always shuttling my brother and I to whatever sports practice or school event we had, and it all seemed so easy until I grew up. Now I wonder how they did it. Particularly my mom, because she did all the cooking. How did she work all day and get home and cook a meal for all of us that we would all eat? We were all different types of picky too. I wasn’t much of a meat eater at the time (a trait that I no longer possess), but I would eat almost any vegetable that she put in front of me. My dad and brother were almost the exact opposite. Somehow my mom managed to work around it all. It’s more than a little impressive when I think about it.
It’s that time of year when I have to stop myself from making pasta for dinner every night. The weather sucks, even here in Texas (50° and rainy constitutes bad weather, okay?), all of the good shows are on hiatus, and all I want to do is sit around in my pajamas with a big bowl of cheesy pasta and binge watch Sherlock on Netflix.
Is that so bad? Yes. Yes, it is. Especially when spring comes around, and I can’t fit into any of my shorts.
That’s when I have to force myself to remember that I do actually like vegetables. Kind of a lot, actually. Plus, I can totally sit around in my pajamas with a big bowl of salad and binge watch Sherlock, and then I won’t feel bad about that
glass bottle of wine I’m drinking, because SALAD!
This Broccoli and Arugula Salad with Harissa Shrimp is actually tasty enough that I don’t even remember that I wanted pasta. It has A LOT going on in it (don’t get intimidated by the number of ingredients!), it is really filling, and it comes together in no time.
Happy New Year!
I hope the holidays treated you right and 2017 is going well so far. I know that for my part, the holidays were awesome. Especially the food. Especially the cookies.
Now, I’m not a big New Year’s resolution person, but I do like the idea of using the calendar change to check and adjust some things, diet included. Mostly, after periods of time when I eat a lot of unhealthy foods, I find myself craving vegetables. I’m not going to stop eating cheeseburgers or anything, just more salads.
The key to great salad is great dressing, and the king of all dressings, in my opinion, is ranch. I mean, come on, I live in the land of people who put ranch dressing on their pizza. Enter this Better than Bottled Ranch Dressing.