Not long ago, a friend commented on my kitchen knives. When I mentioned he should think of investing in a set, he rolled his eyes. “Those things would scare my wife. She doesn’t cook.”
This got me thinking about cooking shows. Who’s using their Cuisinart to whip up foie gras or serving their family roasted bone marrow in lieu of mac and cheese? Like fashion magazines, these shows leave us feeling inadequate. After cursing our thighs in the shower, we berate our fragile egos for what is lacking in our pantries and cupboards. Add to this our sketchy culinary skills, we wonder if planting an herb garden will ease the pain while a celebrity chef on the Food Network debones a chicken.
I understand why my friend’s wife is afraid of sharp knives. I’m afraid of chain saws. But this doesn’t mean we can’t overcome our fears. I’m a cook. I’ve been a cook since I was old enough to stand on a chair at the stove in my mom’s kitchen where she let me stir soup and add salt and pepper to vegetables. My first job was as a cook and cashier at KFC, and for twenty-five years I worked in restaurants in various capacities. I love turning fresh meats and vegetables into savory dishes and sugar and flour into mouth-watering desserts. I love grocery shopping, serving friends and family, and even plunging my hands into hot soapy water to clean up after a good meal. In short, I’m not intimidated by Bobby Flay.
For those of you who do not cook, but would like to learn, start by turning off the TV. Attempting the recipes shared on cooking shows will leave you weeping as you watch butter burn in a skillet. Instead, admit your limitations and muster up the courage to ask for help. Also, invest in a couple of good knives. To get started, you need one serrated knife/utility knife for things like cutting vegetables and trimming meat and one chef’s knife for easy chopping and slicing. Now this is a big knife, but there is no need to be frightened. You’ll soon get the hang of it. I use Cutco knives because I can send them back at any time to be sharpened, and I also have a set of Pure Komachi knives, which I bought after my husband started using my kitchen knives for do-it-yourself projects. They’re colorful and fun. They also slice and dice like the devil.
If you are interested in learning how to prepare a dish, send me a note. But before you do, have something in mind you would actually eat. Diet gurus would have us believe that what’s good for them, is good for us, too. Don’t put anything in your body that doesn’t taste good. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower will never darken my shopping cart again, but there is always room for chocolate. I look forward to hearing from you, and I promise not to judge.