cook without a book

My friend Jay's new cooking column has launched and you should check it out.

Jay's kitchen philosophy is that cooking should be freestyle - without strict rules -- as well as fun. And having eaten his meals many times now, I can tell you that he is perhaps the most talented cook I know personally.

He has a great voice and I'd enjoy reading his writing even if I weren't interested in cookery at all. Actually, I'm NOT interested in cookery. In fact, if you read the column, the "friend" to whom he alludes, the one with zero food in her kitchen, is me.


Lone Ranger said...

Before you can cook without a book, you need to know the basics of cooking. I will give you a recipe that is so basic, the only way you can mess it up is intentionally.

3 pounds skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 medium sliced onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Put all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

This is a very forgiving recipe. If you don't like garlic, leave it out. If you like ginger, throw some in. Just don't mess with the soy sauce/vinegar ratio. Once you've made this, you might be curious about other things you can do. When you visit a restaurant, take notes of the things you like and see if there are recipes on the Internet. After awhile, you'll be able to taste in your mind just by looking at a recipe how they will turn out. No skill can be mastered unless you first have the determination to tackle it and unless you can follow instructions.

mamalife said...

Oh, I agree with him on butter, NOT margarine... margarine is a pet peeve of mine. It ought to be outlawed. That and powdered pepper. I love his comment that cream "Will make you feel good and your food taste good" Oh yea!

Ms. Booty Homemaker said...

Plus which, you can mix the cream w/ your regular old milk and make half & half for your coffee. You can do this with even skim milk, which-- you do the math!-- won't be precisely half & half, but super tasty in a cuppa rich dark roast anyhow. Real cream. Real butter. Nothing you can't pronounce. Oh! And for that homemade butter made from your left over cream? Add some herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme....) and slather your homemade creamy herb butter on good peasant bread with salad or stew or some other thing soulful.

Dewi said...

Katie if you were interested enough you would know how to cook well, it’s a lot easier then half the things you do proficiently such as making a 1000 pound animal jump over a rail, or writing a well turned out sentence or knitting socks.

Kitchen science and cooking is about taking the time to read cookbooks, and then practicing cooking. Making inedible mistakes and ordering pizza for dinner is part of learning. Read “The Joy of Cooking” it’s a classic cookbook and an instruction manual on techniques. If you really want to learn how to cook simple food, buy the best quality meat, fish or poultry you can afford and learn how to roast, bake, steam or broil. One or two techniques can take you a long way to creating a decent meal every night. Sautéing (using a sauté pan to cook, and making sauces) is a difficult technique to do well and beyond most home cook’s need or ability.

BTW, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to cook or knowing how to cook. Then there is a glaring need for your household to employ a housekeeper / babysitter. Think of all the money you would save if you had a housekeeper /babysitter helping you care for the kids, food shopping and cooking you homemade dinners every night :-)

Anonymous said...

I am truly not trying to be nasty in asking this, but how does someone live to the age of 37 with three children and not know how to cook, even the most rudimentary things? can you afford to eat out or order takeout? do you subsist on TV dinners? cereal for dinner? I am really curious, I dont see cooking as "womens work", just a neccessary lifeskill right up there with cleanliness and balancing the checkbook and changing the oil in your car. dont leave home without it sort of thing. I mean, it doesnt have to be gourmet or up to restaurant quality. thats why they have betty crocker and better homes and gardens and four ingredient meals in minutes. not to mention stouffers and costco, although those are only good to pull out a couple of times a week. my mother was an awesome cook and I did not inherit her skills but I can open a few cans, season them the way the cookbook says and slap together some presentable chili or smear some ranch dressing on some chicken breasts and roll them around in bread crumbs and bake them. not to mention cornbread mix,etc etc

Anonymous said...

there is plenty wrong with not knowing how to cook or balance ones checkbook or do basic cleaning or other basic life skills. I notice the people with the least interest in basic life skills are often those with highly developed skills at totally useless activities. perhaps because their parents were more interested in turning out little intellectuals than in people prepared for life. I say this as someone whose parents probably fit into this category. I had to learn this stuff the hard way. while folks are making sure their kids are learning musical instruments and esoteric sports perhaps they should also make sure they turn out kids that can survive in the world. maybe I am a pragmatist but if it doesnt serve a purpose, why waste the time?

Anonymous said...

in case one wonders about my previous posts about college and living wages vs the whole intellectual thing: let me say this: some of the people least prepared to earn their way in the world and support themselves have been those with the most advanced learning. again, I say this from personal observation growing up. not neccessarily my family but I saw a lot of it growing up. the purpose of education is to prepare you for the world, prepare you to earn a living and support yourself, not to sit around mentally masturbating about stupidity that really doesnt matter in the big scheme of things.

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