It’s been a month. How are those New Year resolutions coming along?
Yeah. That’s what I suspected. Resolutions are useless things.
But there is always stuff you ought to do for yourself, not so much to improve your life but just to feel competent and accomplished. Face it, we’re all lazy. Creating new habits is difficult and time consuming but the benefits always outweigh the shortcuts.
In January, Todd Van Der Werff over at VOX wrote a good article on how cooking should be everyone’s resolution. There are some great resources in the article, but I think Van Der Werff overlooks some pragmatic concerns or general anxieties folks have about cooking.
There are certain aspects to cooking that regularly hinder people from attempting it. Finding recipes isn’t difficult although building the confidence to carry them out sometimes is. One becomes a good cook through practice, and every start is sloppy and wretched. That should be expected. It’s not something that should be liked, just expected.
What I have in mind is far more basic. Do you have the space to cook? A studio apartment hinders cooking limiting your space because to cook well you need counter space, a stove top and oven that are reliable, and cabinets. Then there’s the clean up situation. If you have a large sink and dishwasher, things go a lot easier. If you have a tiny sink and a nasty ass living sponge or rag, then there’s a mental block to making more dishes. Not a day goes by where I don’t walk into my kitchen and utter, “Fuck you, dishes.”
Pots and pans, utensils, and appliances are routinely taken for granted by those who advocate for cooking at home. I once had a roommate ask me how a whisk worked. Another only ever owned a single pot to boil water in until they got married. Point is, often the tools one has and one’s familiarity with them will determine the food made. Thus, to talk about cooking you must speak in terms of what is readily available to someone who has never cooked.
To this end, I’ve put together a cookbook geared towards building up the habit of cooking through confidence and experience. A simple gimmick: few ingredients, inexpensive, easy prep, reasonable cook time, a small amount of clean up, and Goldilocks serving sizes. For many of these recipes, you will have leftovers that would serve as good next day lunch. The book is meant as a springboard to get you into cooking, an easy way to start. Try these for a month and see how you feel. Is cooking something you want to pursue or, hey, fuck it?
I enjoy cooking, but it took me awhile to get there. Unlike baking, cooking allows you to innovate and be less precise. Following a recipe to the letter will work, but so will being more flexible with it. Sometimes this is how you discover the flavors you’ll love and hate. Ultimately, cooking is about taste. It’s about making eating less of a chore and more of an activity giving you satisfaction so you can say to yourself ‘I made this, and it’s good.’
For Patrons of my writing, this cookbook is one of the rewards at the $1 level.