My Experience Learning How to Cook
Unlike most women, I did not learn how to cook from my mother. My mom is not big on cooking. When she does cook, she tends to only makes things that come from packages with directions printed on them.
When I lived on my own I would cook occasionally, just simple things like meatloaf, spaghetti & meatballs, turkey chili, and roasted vegetables. When I first met my husband he lived in a condo. He had an outdoor a patio from which we could hear the music coming from a nearby bar. He bought a grill and in the Summer we'd sit on the patio listening to the bands play, cook and enjoy a bottle of wine. We'd grill steaks, chicken breast, king crab legs, asparagus, and potato slices. As the weather got cooler we had to move inside, and I missed our nights of leisurely enjoying a good meal over wine.
A friend of mine mentioned Super Suppers to me. It's a franchise where you go for a few hours, prepare meals with friends, and then freeze them at home until you're ready to cook them. I tried it out with a friend. What I liked about it was that all of the ingredients were already out and available, you just had to follow the recipe for measuring them out into the tinfoil pans or into the freezer bags. Directions were easy enough to follow that my friend and I were able to talk and enjoy the music that was playing at the same time. I brought these home, and my boyfriend and I were back to romantic nights filled with home cooked meals.
When we got married we moved into our house, which was a real fixer-upper, and we had to redo the kitchen. We didn't have a kitchen for almost a year. Our meals were anything that could be delivered or come out of a microwave.
During that time I missed having real food and with visions of my finished kitchen in my head, signed up to take recreational cooking classes at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC. Each class was one night from about 6-11 p.m. I took Greek, Cuban, Mexican, Thai & Filipino cooking classes. But, best of all, I learned how to use all of the kitchen appliances that I received at my wedding shower and were still in storage at my mother-in-laws. When my kitchen renovations were finally finished, I knew how to use my Kitchenaid food processor and stand mixer, and I was comfortable experimenting in the kitchen.
A friend recommended Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods recipe book to me. I love the easy to follow recipes, each with a bright colorful picture so you know what to expect. I subscribed to the monthly magazine and have enjoyed many of the dishes featured within.
Over the Summer we joined a Community Supported Farm where each week we'd receive a share of the harvest. New vegetables like kohlrabi, fennel, kale and garlic snapes were introduced into our diet. I didn't want to waste the food, so I found recipes on-line. I enjoyed it so much that I've already signed up to participate in this upcoming Summer's vegetable share.
I found an amazing iPad app that I rely on called My Recipe App. It lets you import recipes from Allrecipes.com and Foodnetwork.com, and you can even enter your own recipes. It was a lifesaver and invaluable tool when I hosted my first Christmas this year.
I still make freezer meals, but on my own, not at Super Suppers. Every once in awhile I place a big order from the Supermarket and have it delivered through Peapod. When it arrives I cut up all of the meat, season it, and prepare my freezer meals with the ingredients. Then during the month when I'm too tired to cook, we can defrost a meal to cook, or with some of them cook in the oven straight from the freezer. I also like to make ribs and pulled pork in the crock-pot.
My husband thinks that I'm a great cook. I think that I'm pretty good. We've eaten out at many restaurants, and I can honestly say, along with several people who we've had over to eat, that my potato skins, king crab legs, Challah french toast, potato soup, chicken pot pie, strawberry rhubarb pie and three berry pie are as good as they get.
How did you learn how to cook?
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Institute of Culinary Education in NYC
Where I took recreational cooking classes.