Do you love to cook? My friends think I love to cook every day and that I’m always making amazing and complicated meals. Not true! I’m just like everyone else who loves to cook, but maybe not every day. My friend Lucy reminded me that not everyone likes to cook…ever.
Whoa! Take a pause. Not like to cook ever? I feel a little sad for those folks and want to rush into their kitchens and give them a hug…and then cook together. But it’s true, there are some people who don’t like to cook. They think it is messy with dishes and pans to clean and takes too much time and effort. They are right… cooking can get messy and takes planning and effort. I just think anything worth having is worth effort. We all have to eat, right?
I also think there are a lot of people who haven’t had the chance to learn to love cooking. So I wanted to give some tips to help inexperienced cooks further develop their comfort and expertise in the kitchen.
Easy tips for the beginner chef:
- Begin with a clean kitchen. It’s your fresh canvas. A clean workspace is calming plus it saves time and promotes cleanliness.
- The right tools make all the difference. I don’t have expensive tools or fancy cookware but I did invest in a couple of really good knives. Sharp knives are not only helpful but are less dangerous. If you are just starting out, I would suggest buying a good serrated paring knife (the kind with the ridges) and a cook’s knife. You can do almost anything with these two workhorses. A knife sharpener will come in handy as you spend more time cooking.
- Recipes are your friends. Just stick to the recipe and the more you cook, the more comfortable you will be adding a little more pepper. Despite all my years of cooking, I still follow my recipe. When I don’t, I often forget an important ingredient.
- Clean as you go. My first kitchen was super tiny and the only real work space was a large cutting board. There wasn’t room for anything other than what I was working on at the moment. I had to clean the board in order to start the next step. I’ll wash a bowl and the mixing spoons while I wait for the onions to soften in the pan. Make use of your time and space and the cleaning up won’t seem so daunting.
- Gather all your ingredients. Ever seen chefs on TV dump their already chopped basil or lemon juice in the bowl? I find if I measure out everything in advance and prep the ingredients like chopping the onion, then the actual cooking part is easier and less stressful.
- Start slow and build. Get good at a few recipes and then add more periodically. Sometimes I double the servings for the recipe and rewarm the leftovers another night. This is easy to do in my DinnerTime Meal Planner.
- Presentation is a nice touch. As the saying goes we eat with our eyes first. My mother was taught to vary the colors on the plate to make the dinner more pleasing to the eye. I know for a fact, my dad would never have handed over a plate of carved turkey at Thanksgiving without adding a piece of parsley. That bit of garnish made the presentation special.
- Gather for dinner. While sitting in front of the TV is ok sometimes, gathering together at the table allows everyone to appreciate your efforts. Sharing dinnertime together is good for everyone’s health and happiness. Even when you eat alone, take a few moments to admire the wonderful dinner you have prepared and appreciate yourself.