4 Delicious Lessons I Learned in the Kitchen
Unless your kid is Pele Jr., they’re not going to be able to feed themselves from soccer. If your kid knows how to play soccer, but not make dinner, you have done them a disservice.
~ Alton Brown, Host of the Iron Chef America
I really enjoy cooking.
Cooking is one of those hobbies that I never really expected to like, but somehow ended up falling into. Maybe that fact that (according to some) I am a picky eater figured into things somewhere? Instead of eating out, I like being able to save money while eating better at the same time. In fact, cooking at home is one of the 6 ways I found more money in my daily budget.
The wonderful thing about cooking is: the end result is something you can eat. If you do it right, you end up with something you can enjoy eating, and can share with others.
If you do it wrong it can lead to waste, disappointment, or even food poisoning (I’d never wish that on ANYONE).
Because I like to analyze the mundane, I’d like to share with you four lessons I learned from cooking.
1. Have a Need
It’s probably a good idea to be hungry, or at least have a few hungry people close by when you set out to cook. While cooking itself is fine and good, enjoying the product of your work – especially with others – is even more enjoyable.
In fact, at times when I’m by myself, I have very little interest and actually cooking an elaborate meal or even spending much time in the kitchen at all.
Art for art sake is lovely, but it helps to have a purpose. I know that my work needs this component. It also helps if you’re solving a problem for other or meeting an important need.
2. Have a Plan
Before you even get started, you should have a recipe. If you go to the kitchen looking to make dinner, and you have no idea when you’re going to make the results can be disastrous.
When I was about 10 years old, I wanted to try my hand at cooking. I wasn’t sure what to make, so I decided on soup. Soup is easy, right? Who can mess up soup?
Well, the only thing I could find in the refrigerator to make that soup with, was a single radish. And some water from the tap.
You can only imagine how awesome the result was. I think I added some dried ramen noodles in a desperate attempt to salvage lunch, but soggy radish colored noodles about as appetizing as they sound.
Whenever you take on a new project or start a new venture, it sure helps to have a goal. You need to have a plan, and the more detailed and well thought out, the more likely your end result will be like you envision. Here is one of my favorite cookbooks. The Food Network website is also an amazing and free resource with how to videos and many recipes. Anything from Alton Brown is pure gold.
If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.
3. Prepare as Much as Possible
It really helps have all your ingredients and all your food prepared for cooking before you start. This is especially true if meat needs to defrost or be marinated. Rushing a process that requires time in the kitchen is dangerous. Sure there are shortcuts, but there’s something to be said for some of the most delicious slow-cooked meals.
When starting a new project it’s a good idea to list out all the steps. For example, if you are going to paint your living room, it might be a good idea to identify all the different items will need before you get started. At least before your first trip to the Home Depot.
4. Know Your Audience
Sometimes people have allergies to certain types of food. I’m lucky enough to be allergic to shellfish and eggs (Please, don’t think me rude when I pass up that wonderful shrimp omelet you wanted to surprise me with).
Others may have a specific taste or style of cooking that they like. Failure to pay attention to what the audience or your customer wants can (and soon will) be disastrous.
This is one of the first rules of public speaking: Know your audience. I can think of no better way than to put to sleep an entire room of grown adults than failing to identify who they are and what their needs are. The same can be said of customers. You will sell very few products that do not meet the wants or needs of anyone.
For what it is worth, I have to give both Alton Brown, Good Eats, and Iron Chef credit for sparking my interest in being pretty good at cooking. I have to give my wife credit for giving me a daily source of inspiration for making something worth eating.
What lessons have you learned from an everyday activity or hobby?
By the way, the picture at the top of the post is a Peruvian dish called Lomo Saltado. Stir fried steak, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, and french fries served over rice. It is about as much awesomeness that can possibly fit on to one plate!