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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Knowing how to cook part 2

 When I first wrote about the importance of knowing how to cook I had these grand ideas that could be written about over many blog postings and then I realized that my thoughts were neatly summed up in the video I posted.Right there around the one minute mark of the video is the summary of my thoughts. You can feel down and worried about your food or you can realize "I can cook" and make yourself a good meal that can be stretched if need be.
  A good meal can be empowering, you took control of your life and needs when maybe you were feeling a bit blue about where you are at. A good meal can lift your spirits, after all who does not get some emotional satisfaction from really good food? 

  I know of two people who are good examples of  why knowing how to cook is so important.One  friend is on food stamps and knows how to cook.The other is not on food stamps and only sort of cooks.By knowing how to cook, and I must add how to shop, my friend on food stamps eats well and the food stamps lasts the month.This friends attitude is positive, she knows in this one area of her life all is well and her knowledge of cooking is keeping things going.The other friend is always scrambling around for food and the money to pay for it.His attitude is not positive,food insecurity is stressful on any human but he is seeing the light and knows he must learn how to cook more and  be a more careful shopper.

  How to learn to cook is not something I can begin to teach here.I learned one step at a time,one dish at a time from a very young age.I guess you could say I have many ,many years experience.Over the years I have added and discarded many recipes or ideas.Learning to cook is all about experimenting keeping what works for you and pitching the ones that don't. Once you have been at it awhile you may find it easier and easier to simply read through a recipe and know wither you will like it or not based on what you already know.This will also help you make up your own recipes.It's kind of like that children"s game Mother May I, maybe you start with little steps ,then bigger ones and then get set back a step.Crossing the finish line is not really part of the game of cooking it's about playing because you can.

  I will be continuing this series of postings but I am leaving the learning to cook part up to my readers to do for themselves. I can not tell you what works for you or what you will like.I will make suggestions and share with all of you how I go about cooking good food on a budget. I am hoping to just plant some seeds in your mind to carry with you when you shop. 
  I am going to leave you all some thoughts to ponder or to consider until the next posting in this series.
** The next time you are at the store really pay attention to what you are buying.Are you buying food or ingredients to make Food? Is there a difference to you?
   I would love to hear your thoughts on these thoughts and where you are hoping I am going with them.By posting your ideas and thoughts you too can help others learn something new including me.

Broodie Hen Report: Mama ended up with three chicks total which is what we kind of expected a 50/50 ratio.This morning Mama and chicks came out of the broodie house for the first time.I will post pictures of the brood soon while they are still in their cute fuzzy stage.Since Mama is up and about it is safe for us to assume she is done sitting and the remaining unhatched egg is not going to hatch.



  1. Great post... I grew up poor but we were never hungry because we always had the simple but nourishing and healthy ingredients on hand.

    Now that I'm grown and financially secure ( or as secure as anyone can be in this economy), I still think carefully about my food purchases, and grow, raise, and forage as much as I am able, not only because of cost, but because I'm able to control the quality and what goes into my little girl's mouth.

    well done in raising awareness.

    PB, Jelly and a loaf of wonder bread is not dinner for a little kid that needs good nutrition, yet I still see this when I visit my poorer relatives.

  2. PCP- Ditto here.I always feel that part of poverty is a mind set, if you don't think poor you won't be.Add in some skills and you are going to be alright.

    And don't get me started on the PB diet or the shopping carts filled with total crap.Our diet has its holes but really people Coke,chips and frozen meals as a total diet?

    When our Issac first started eating solids our Peds Dr said this, "If you only feed kids healthy food then that is what they will eat and be better for it." Best advice ever.

  3. In California we had a good CSA that included recipes with each week's produce share. This helped me a lot with veggies that I was unfamiliar with.
    I got to where most everything I could put into one of a few default categories that I would process right away to turn them from "plants" into "ingredients".

    1. Already a simple ingredient: salad greens, fruit, herbs
    2. "pot greens": process like spinach -- wash, parboil, cool, chop, freeze
    3. roasting: carrots, beets, fennel, squash, ... -- skin if needed, chop, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper
    4. onions and their ilk: leeks, scallions, green onions -- treat like onion

    More than anything this removed a lot of anxiety and indecision when faced with something unfamiliar or if I got a bunch of veggies without a plan for exactly what I wanted to do with them.

    Then I just built up recipes I liked that worked from these categories.

  4. I'm not sure there is a difference between food and ingredients to make food. Is there?

  5. In my dictionary food is just heat up stuff,ready made items and foods that are pretending to be food.
    Ingredients to make Food are way different,they make some pretty Plain Jane dishes into some good eats.
    To quote Chance "The end results of ingredients makes Food."
    I will be sure to cover this thought more deeply soon.
    Thanks Margaret!

  6. When I go to the farmers markets here, some have a lot of "food booths" - prepared foods, like baked goods, or salsa, or jam, or tamales, or soup and sandwiches (food you can eat right there or bring home) and not a lot of booths selling "ingredients" - produce, meat-fish-poultry, eggs nuts, grains and flour (food that mostly requires combining and probably some cooking before eating) Some markets the proportion is reversed. I know why there are food booths, value added is more profitable.

    But when I go to shop, I don't want someone else to have done the cooking, I just want to buy the ingredients, which makes my meager funds go farther than if I am paying someone to do the work that I can do for myself. Now fortunately I do know how to cook, not anything like as well as dear Rois and her talented hubby, but well enough. And I'd much rather use the skills that I have, and save money that way, so that there might be a little availabe for the things that I do not know how to do...

  7. That last paragraph Dear Alison is a huge part of my point.

  8. Interesting post Rois and I agree with you wholeheartedly about the importance and the pleasure of cooking. I hope I don't offend anyone, which is not my intention at all, but when I used to visit a much loved aunt who lived in New England I was often struck by how much more putting together of ready prepared food there was than cooking from scratch. I don't know if there is more of this in the US than here in the UK or whether I simply cook more myself than is the norm. We don't even buy bread. I think I would feel really guilty buying something where someone else had done the preparation! Mind you, I love a good meal out when funds allow!

  9. No offense elizabthm, none at all.It does seem to be the way most Americans "cook" . And part of my point here is people just don't understand that making food from scratch at home is more affordable than buying all of that ready made stuff.And it tastes better to boot.