An older man commented the other day that he didn’t want to read my book, as he was a “burn and serve” cook--- when he cooked at all.
I think a lot of people fit that category of home cooking in our current society. So many people just didn’t learn enough about cooking at home so that now they’re all but dependent on prepared meals from the grocery store, restaurants and take out restaurants.
Cooking is not part of what many people saw every day while growing up. Now they just don’t think of it as being a part of their daily routine. I remember actually eating in restaurants exactly 3 times before I was 18 and left home. Mom didn’t allow any of the kids in the kitchen while she was cooking, so I knew nothing at all about cooking. Didn’t take me long to learn enough to know I could make better food than I could ever get in a restaurant—unless it was a restaurant I couldn’t afford.
I hear a lot about burn and serve kinds of cooks; “when you smell smoke, it’s done.” If you like burned food, that’s all you need to know. For me, I like my vegetables lightly steamed and I like my meat to be tasty and juicy. I’ll have my steak or roast medium rare, my pork cooked just to 160 F., internal temperature, and my chicken crispy, juicy and well done.
And that’s the first step-knowing what you like, and how you like it. Once you know what you like and how you like it, learning how to prepare it that way is easy.
“Baby steps,” as Bill Murray made famous in the movie, “What about Bob?” is the best way to learn, I think. If you’ve never cooked much, are of the “burn and serve,” persuasion, here’s an easy approach: 1) pick your favorite meat dish 2) Google search a recipe for that dish 3) cook nothing else at all. Just cook that one dish, be it a broiled or fried burger, a beer steamed hot dog, or a breaded and fried pork chop. That will build a little confidence, you’ll want to improve on your first effort, learn how to make it so that it suits you perfectly, and from there you can add another dish to your repertoire. Just keep it simple and easy. Taking on a full 5 course, “Gourmet's Delight,” before knowing how to steam a carrot, is a sure recipe for returning to a “Burn and Serve” kind of cook that prefers a take-out place.
You can always trust what you cook at home.