Not Immediately Obvious

So it’s been about a week since I blogged about how I’ve been struggling and about some of the ways I’m coping with it. I discussed cooking a bit, but I wanted to explore that a little more and I want to share some thing that were not immediately obvious to me: things I had to learn (or re-learn).

For me, cooking has been a good coping mechanism for three reasons:

  • It gives me something to do.
  • It helps me feel accomplished.
  • It helps me eat nutritious food.

It’s also something that I get to do with my wife, which is always fun. I also get to wear a cool apron, so.

And of course the cool thing is with Blue Apron is that I’m able to take lessons I learn from their meals and apply them in other circumstances. For example, if I learn how to make a specific kind of salad, I can make that salad again with a different meal. Sounds basic, and it is, but fundamentals are important. Other skills I already had are starting to come back to me. The excitement of trying something new is coming back to me.

I’m currently taking parts from different recipes and combining them to make remixes. I don’t have to get, like, really good at it or anything; I’m already enjoying it. But I’d like to think that more experimentation progresses me towards being a better cook. This is a pretty nice and quite needed boost to my self-esteem.

So anyway, here are some lessons that I’ve picked up on.

  • Any vegetable can – apparently – be cut, drizzled with olive oil, tossed with salt and pepper, then roasted in the oven for a while and it will always taste amazing.
  • Similarly, vegetables like kale, sliced cabbage, and thinly sliced radishes can be left to marinate, raw, in a little vinegar and will taste good somehow.
  • I never liked black pepper, but it apparently tastes amazing when put on food before it’s cooked.
  • “Season with salt and pepper” is basically implied at the end of every step of every recipe.
  • Okay so the stuff left in / stuck to a pan after cooking meat is called “fond” and with nearly no effort can be made into a sauce. Praise to the sauce, protect the sauce.
  • Related to using fond to make sauces, the way to use spices (chilli pepper flakes, sage, rosemary, etc) is to simmer with some kind of fat, maybe oil or butter.
  • There are many kinds of vinegar and they’re all great for different things and experimenting is fun. Do not settle for off-brand Heinz white vinegar!
  • Sharp knives make things easier, safer, and more fun. I was using the knives my old roommate didn’t bother taking with him, but splurged on this knife and it is so. much. fun.
  • I really really need to learn how to use my roommates’ rice cooker.
  • Having little dishes around is really helpful. A friend recommended it to me but I didn’t really get how useful it is, especially in prep work, until I got a few little dishes.
  • There is a lot of fun to be had in plating food to look pretty. I started doing this in Toronto and it’s still really fun.
  • So scallions (“green onions”) have two distinct parts: the white stem and the green stalk. Separate these parts and use them both omg.

Feel free to @ me with your favourite cooking thing that wasn’t obvious to you.

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