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10 Lessons I Learned from Cooking

When I was a young spry bachelor, one of the things that I wanted to master was the art of cooking. I’ve made a lot of dishes in my youth- from cheesecakes, to shrimp fettuccine, even breakfast sandwiches weren’t exempt from my culinary clutches. Now, as a father and a husband, I make most of the meals for my family, and it really is a joy and a love.

As you read on, I challenge you to take things that you like to do, and look at the lessons you’ve learned. Bon appetite!

1. What’s Your Purpose? There are a lot of reasons for cooking-holiday feasts, impressing a romantic interest, or a quick bite- knowing WHY you are cooking often leads your actions.

2. TEAMWORK Makes the Dream Work!   If you have ever used too much salt, ginger, or curry, the results have probably been DISASTROUS! Cooking is the balance of different items (meats, fruits, veggies, spices etc.), and how they complement each other for a harmonious results. This delicate dance that happens when cooking can be disrupted if there is too much, or too little of an ingredient.

3. Be Prepared! Have you ever been ready to create a meal and found that you were missing one or more ingredients?  Sucks, doesn’t it? One of the most important things a person can be is prepared. Having the necessary tools (in this case ingredients), is almost as important as the next lesson-

4.  Follow Directions… Every recipe has directions- step by step instructions that will assist you  achieve  the desired result. As I am writing this, I am making cornbread, and I just messed up…yup, instead of adding 1/3 cup of milk, I added  1 and 1/3 cup of milk (perhaps I shouldn’t have been so distracted).  As you, (and I) see, it’s very important to not only follow directions, but perhaps go over them again, just to ensure you avoid mistakes.

5.  …But don’t be afraid to Improvise!  This doesn’t mean to add a full extra cup of milk to cornbread (still reeling over that), but be ready to make changes. If you look online, there are millions of recipes, and even more variations of the recipe. For example, when I looked up the popular dish “egg salad” here was the different deviations that popped up:

  •  Adding paprika
  • Using bacon or ham
  • Using sour cream instead of mayo

Ultimately, if you feel that you want to add something, GO FOR IT! There have been millions of chefs, cooks, and culinary experts that have modified a dish to the delight of their customers. Why can’t you?

6.  Take Your Time:  In my youth, many a dishes were ruined due to me not following this advice. As a cook, patience is key! If things are supposed to marinate, let it marinate! The more you let something marinate, the more flavorful it becomes. If the recipe calls for the sauce to simmer, then sit back, and relax. Cranking the heat up and rushing things does work in any situation…..does it?

7.  Try Something New! The food world is not compiled of things that YOU have made- there are a SLEW of wonderful recipes that can ignite your senses. Be daring! Be bold! Grab a cook book, identify something that interest you and GO!

8.  Listen To the Critics: There is nothing wrong with feedback/critic in reference to cooking. I made my AMA-ZING (patent pending) WINGS for my friends while watching the Ravens/Steelers game. I made these wings previously, and they were a hit! I looked forward to making them again, but I used a different sauce. Unfortunately, they weren’t as EARTH SHATTERING as my previous wings, and my friends let me know about it (not disrespectfully, but they detected a difference). While there is nothing wrong about having feedback, if you feel that someone is a “hater”, please click here for immediate assistance.

9.  REPRESENT! I watch a lot of food shows, and one of the things that I really appreciate is how the cooks present their dishes- even if the dish may not have been the best bacon-double-cheeseburger-cupcake sorbet, it at least looked nice. A lot of people use social media to post their created dishes, but while it may have tasted great, they didn’t visually look appealing. Make sure that all the senses are covered.

10. ENJOY! If I have learned anything from cooking, it is to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The look on my wife and son’s face when I make a great meal warms my heart. Sometimes people who make their meals feel tired, and may not eat what they have made. I say, enjoy it! When you have a hand in your success, it just seems a little sweeter.

As always, thanks for reading.


Ps. The cornbread I made didn’t make it. R.I.P. Cornbread (2012-2012)

P.P.S. If you don’t do well the first time, you can always try again!!