Okay, guys (and gals), cooking is hard.
I began cooking for myself when I started at MSU in 2010. I did okay, mostly sticking with cheap things: beans, veggies, rice, pasta (I can still cook a badass lentil chili). I learned how to make homemade marinara sauce to save money and other great cheap-o things.
Even though I self-identify as a badass cook, I’m not really quite there yet. I’m working at being a badass. Because that shit is hard. It takes time, effort, experimentation, dedication, and a serious fucking love of food to be good at cooking.
I started to really experiment when I got my first real job in June of 2012. I had more money, and I was going to spend it. On food (and good beer, but that isn’t what this post is about).
Though I had already followed several food blogs, I quickly found more and more wonderful blogs to follow that gave me new and different recipes. I began to cook more meat (man, that was a process), began to buy expensive things (pine nuts are expensive but they make the best pesto!), and generally hang out in the kitchen more. It helped that I wasn’t just cooking for myself anymore, I was cooking for Jacob. It’s better to cook for others.
Cooking has become such a wonderful thing for me. I always enjoyed it, always loved putting together delicious meals, but now it’s something else. It’s another place for me to express creativity, to try new things, and to fuck up sometimes (okay, a lot). There is something magical to me about coming home when the sun is setting and throwing open the windows, chopping onions and managing not to cry, sauteing leeks to make a delicious leek quiche, kneading dough for the pizza I’m going to make in an hour.
It’s a time where I am allowed to be in the moment. I don’t worry about all the work I have to do, because hey, I have to eat. And I can focus on cutting peppers and slicing sausage into little medallions, and maybe sipping some wine while I do so.
Writing has always been my escape, and now cooking has joined the list. It’s fun. I get to eat the finished product. But, I think most importantly, I get to share with someone I love and who loves what I make. That part is pretty awesome, too.
I always wanted to be a badass cook from the get go. I wanted to throw shit together like my mom does and have it come out and taste like heaven. Except that sometimes the cake was hard and the soup was too salty. It’s easy to get frustrated at food, get mad that it won’t do what you want, but the trick is to take your time. Learn from it. Maybe you didn’t pick the best recipe, or maybe you had the oven too hot, or crowded the pan and nothing browned.
Cooking isn’t just a beautiful thing I do and eat. It is something that reminds me that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to take your time with this. Watch the chocolate liquify. It glistens so beautifully on a whisk in the sunlight. The cheesecake needs to refrigerate overnight, but that’s okay, you can wait. The onions need to caramelize. Stir them, occasionally, sip your wine, and watch them transform. Add some mushrooms, that’s a kickass combination. Let your soup simmer for thirty minutes. Take the time to make homemade veggie broth with kitchen scraps, filtering out the little bits with cheese cloth.
Be patient with yourself. You aren’t going to learn to be the best chef there was with a few harder-than-mac-and-cheese meals. It takes a while to find your palate, to know instinctively what will go well together. You’ll make it, though, and even when you’ve made it, there will still be some epic fails.
Embrace them. You are human and you are a badass cook. That’s what I keep telling myself, and you know? I’m starting to believe it.
Some Food Blogs that I Love
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