Cooking Steps Made Simple Essay, Research Paper
Cooking steps made simpleWhen I first learned to cook about six years ago, there were no magazine articles or books in bookstores explaining how to cook; there were only cookbooks with recipes for one to decipher. Today, the articles and books that explain how to cook are minimal. Not everyone can compete with Julia Child in cooking gourmet food with the menu devised in our minds without referring to cookbooks, but many of us can learn to cook effectively. A step-by-step process should be followed to learn how to cook successfully.1. Find a Recipe. First, search for a recipe you are excited about making; it helps when there are pictures along with the recipe because you’ll get an idea of what the finished product should look like and whether it appears appetizing. Look through cookbooks and food magazines until you find a recipe that is pleasing to look at, easy to read with all the ingredients nicely specified and converted in U.S. measurements, has easy to find ingredients and is not something you’ve never heard of or something that’s out of season.2. Read the Recipe Completely. Once you find the recipe, read it thoroughly, making sure all instructions are perfectly clear to you. If some of the food terms are incomprehensible to you, you may want to refer to a good food dictionary.3. Make Only One Recipe. Plan on making only one main recipe such as a chicken entree with a simple sauce and the rest of the menu should be simple such as a salad, a starch such as potatoes or rice and vegetables to go with the meat dish. For dessert, buy quality ice cream. Once you get more experience, you can gradually plan on making the salad dressing, fancier side dishes, and dessert from scratch.4. Buy Necessary Tools. Make sure you have all the necessary tools such as measuring cups and spoons, sufficient pots and pans, mixing spoons and spatulas, knives, mixing bowls, a food processor, and a salad spinner. You may want to buy a book or borrow one from the library showing pictures of cooking tools and explaining their uses. Make sure you buy quality tools that will last several years versus poor quality ones that will need to be replaced within several months to a year. Shop at fine department stores where you can obtain advertisement brochures describing the quality cooking tools along with warranties. Having the correct tools makes the cooking process much smoother and stress free.5. Buy Quality Ingredients. Write down your shopping menu and plan on buying quality and time-saving ingredients. In addition to shopping at your local grocery store, shop at the farmer’s market for the freshest fruits and vegetables in season. In buying quality ingredients, don’t be too thrifty because quality ingredients usually cost more than generic and non-quality ingredients. For example, buy butter instead of margarine, real vanilla extract instead of imitation, peppercorns instead of ground pepper, and low salt soup stock instead of bouillon cubes. For time-saving ingredients, look for bagged and pre-washed spinach or mixed baby salad greens, peeled and washed baby carrots, gourmet low-salt pasta sauces and frozen gourmet pastas.
6. Give Yourself Enough Time. Devote ample time to cooking to give it your full attention. Cooking should be done in a leisurely manner. If you’re too busy, don’t plan on cooking anything complicated; try ordering pizza and save the recipe until you have more time. Don’t let interruptions ruin your dinner. If the phone is constantly ringing, unplug it or turn your voice recorder on so people can leave messages.7. Pay Attention to Detail. Be precise about cooking times and temperatures. If a recipe calls for baking a cake for 40 minutes, don’t plan on leaving the house to run an errand if you won’t return for 50 minutes. Read the recipe carefully. If the recipe says to bake a cake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then to reduce the heat to 350 for the remaining 30 minutes; don’t make the mistake of reading the recipe too quickly and accidentally only reading the first part of the instructions and end up baking your cake for 425 degrees for 45 minutes. You’ll end up with a dry and burned cake that you may have to throw away.8. Keep Your Pantry Clean. Toss out old ingredients such as hard brown sugar, stale flour, expired baking powder, soda, and spices. If you accidentally use old ingredients in your recipes, you will have wasted your time and effort in preparing the recipe because the recipe won’t taste as good, your guests may not eat it, and it may make you ill.9. Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Follow Good Food Safety Rules. In a clean kitchen, you’ll find the cooking process to be less stressful when you can move around freely without tripping over things and in pulling items out of the pantry you’ll be less likely to accidentally knock things over and get hit in the face or head. Don’t leave hot food out on the tabletops to cool off. Refrigerate any food that requires refrigeration if no one is going to eat it. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, and eggs to avoid food contamination. After using dirty utensils such as knives used with raw meat products, be sure to place them in the washing area so you won’t use the same knives on other food products such as fruit and vegetables.10. Practice Cooking. Finally, learn to make one good recipe and prepare it as many number of times it takes you to master it. It could be two or three times or perhaps more. Then, gradually move on to expanding the number of recipes you have mastered. Be sure to follow the recipe completely. Don’t change the recipe before you’ve made the original recipe. You’ll never know what the original recipe should have tasted like. Over time, you can gradually add new ingredients to the recipes you’ve mastered.Bibliography:San Jose Mercury News, Food Section; Caroline Grannan, September 18, 1996, pages 1 and 4F, “Can’t Cook? You Can Learn.”