Pet Peeve #6

I was a line cook for 6 years, back in my undergrad days. And my parents are foodies. So do I know how to cook? Yeah, kinda. Am I good at it? Yeah, kinda. Do I like to cook? Totally. I love making delicious and (relatively) healthy food. It’s a form of stress relief for me, bordering on meditation. However, do I want to cook every single meal, every single day, especially of I’m cooking for more than just m’self? In a word…. NO. Cooking is a pleasurable thing for me, it’s calming, but not when it becomes a chore…. or a job. (Back in my line cook days, I did NOT cook on my day off if I could at all avoid it). So, what’s my pet peeve, exactly?

I’m really sick of being told, ‘you should do it, you’re better at it than me.’ Cause that’s code for, “I’m lazy.”

“Hold on, L’s,” you may be thinking, “not necessarily. What if they’re just intimidated? Don’t get your panties in a twist because other people don’t have the training or the background that you do!”

To that I say, “Oh you’re ‘intimidated’? Well, get the fuck over it.” If you want me to like you and not eventually resent the fuck out of you, don’t make me cook everything with that increasingly feeble excuse. That is such a minuscule thing to actually stress over. Trust me, there are waaaayyyyy more intimidating people in this world than lil’ ol’ me, and I like to think that I’m very encouraging. Let’s be honest, I’ll pretty much eat anything anyway.

I find it unbelievably frustrating that because I learned how to do something I enjoy well, I end up paying for it by cooking for every person who’s too lazy to do it themselves. Earth-to everyone: Cooking isn’t difficult.

“Nu’uhhhhh!!” You may balk, “that stuff is soooo haaaarrrdd!!!”

My response? Like my Da always says, “Cooking isn’t hard. You just have to give a fuck.” (…that’s me paraphrasing…. but not much…) With the plethora of information about food in media, the list of excuses I get is becoming more and more intolerable.

At a certain point, it’s just a little depressing, because I want to share this thing that makes me happy with people that I love, but instead of engaging with me and doing it together (which is my idea of heaven… or foreplay…), too often it gets unceremoniously dumped in my lap. Then I’m fed expectant little remarks like, “hey are  you hungry?” Which, if I respond in the affirmative (’cause I’m always hungry)… well, you know where this ends up going…

In case I hurt your feelings because I was mean to those people who feel like incompetent cooks, here’ s a few tidbits: Part of finding a recipe that’s fool proof is understanding how to read a recipe. Are the amounts specific? Especially when you’re baking, for example, seeing amounts in weights is usually a good sign, though not absolutely necessary for relatively simple recipes for cookies, cakes, that kind of thing. Do they give detailed instructions? If you’re cooking a protein, do they describe how it should look when it’s done, in addition to an internal temperature guide? Does it let you know if and when you can do certain steps ahead? and so on…

Now, since that becomes easier with minute experience, I’ve listed a few web resources I really like that tend to provide excellent recipes right out the gate:

– Everyday Maven : It’s a home cook’s blog about eating healthy. It’s basically a combination of weight watchers and whole30. Delicious and nutritious!

– Fine Cooking : This is for a person who wants to experiment a bit more, be a bit more adventurous. They take home cook enthusiasts and introduce them to new cuisines, ingredients and techniques that stretch their epicurean muscles.

– Food Network : I know, I know, you’re all, “a-whaaaaaa?????!!!” This is my disclaimer: Basically ignore everything on that web site except recipes by Anne Burrell (She hosts the show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef). I used to be an avid cooking show enthusiast, and her show is unfortunately one of the last ones I can tolerate, because I can tell she knows what the hell she’s talking about. How? A couple tricks I utilize to see if the host has some chops:

1) DO THEY KNOW HOW TO USE A KNIFE? If they look equally at home with a chef’s, paring, serrated and boning knife, you can trust ’em. Now, if they hold the damn thing like they’re scared of it (i.e. they hold it at the end of the handle instead of right at the hilt, or if they have their pointer finger on top of the blade like they’re trying to hold it down or keep it from running away), then change the channel. They’re wasting your time.

2) DO THEY SEASON STUFF? You’d be surprised how often I’ve seen a person who gets paid to make food put the teeniest pinch of salt into an entire pot of soup… fucking ridiculous. (Making soup 101: You don’t season at the end… cause that just makes it taste salty… or not seasoned at all if you put LITERALLY a pinch in a gallon pot. You season soup in layers, as you’re putting it together. That’s what makes it goooood…. and incidentally, why all soups tend to have a high sodium content… thems the breaks I guess)

– My Buddy Bennett! : He’s the corporate chef for Harry’s Seafood and Grille, which is a restaurant chain down here in FL. He was my boss for a bit back in my line cook days (he actually got me the job!) He’s a bit cheesy (sorry, Ben, you know I had to say it!) but he also knows what the hell he’s talking about. And even though I tend to shy away from chains, I know that Bennett’s really kicking Harry’s up a notch. BAM!

Current Jam: “12:51” The Strokes

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