Chef Not Included. Boo.

I decided that this is the year I’m going to start cooking more often.  Most of my “cooking” revolves around three things:

  1. Baking and/or making dessert.
  2. Breakfast food.
  3. Frying bacon.

I can make food just fine; my chicken breasts are usually done and juicy and you can’t screw up a can of green beans.  But it’s not great.  It’s edible but I want it to be incredible.  OK, maybe incredible is a bit of a stretch but I do want more flavor, more textures, more yummyness… preferably the kind that doesn’t widen the hiney.  I’d like to make a bit healthier too.

I’m definitely down for trying new things so last night I did just that: I made a big pasta dinner.  The hubs was out on business, this was a great time to experiment and so I did.  And now I know why I don’t do big dinners during the week: it took 1.5 hours from prep to plate.

I can blame part of it on my lack of slicing and dicing skills.  But I didn’t eat dinner until 8pm.  And I was starving.  And I was pissed because a) my pasta did not look like the internet’s pasta, b) my sauce did not thicken like the internet said it would and c) I was starving.

Though I had a few hiccups and the dish didn’t turn out exactly like it was supposed to, it still tasted good.  And I hoovered it.  Word on the street is that I was starving.  It’s just disappointing that it took as long as it did to prepare my dinner and the picture on the internet look more appetizing than what was on my plate.  Boo.  Leftovers will be consumed today and fingers crossed the pasta soaked up that sauce and make it even better tasting.  *fingers crossed*

My theory about this whole cooking thing is if I just get my butt in the kitchen, I will learn to cook.  Even if I mess up and make a few bad batches of something, I will learn to cook.  I plan to pick up recipes, actually read them beforehand, slice and dice veggies, boil, bake, saute, broil, microplane things… if I do this, I will learn to cook.

Someone please tell me I’m right.  Please?  Because, if you haven’t noticed, I want to learn to cook.  And bacon doesn’t cover all the necessary food groups.

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February 4, 2010 - 12:49 pm

sheMohn - I have gotten a lot better here lately, but mainly because I/we have been cooking a lot. I think you are right…it takes practice. I have learned a lot by messing things up and learning from it.

February 4, 2010 - 1:09 pm

shutterboo - Practice is on the agenda. I hit the grocery store with vengeance the other day.

February 4, 2010 - 1:27 pm

katie o. - Loving your enthusiasm. Yes, practice. Sometimes I can nail a recipe and other times, I suck at it. But you just get back in there and keep trying. Start with easy dishes and build up from there. I cannot wait to see how you progress!

February 4, 2010 - 2:12 pm

bro - My rules.
1. Use butter.
2. If it doesn’t have flavor add Sriracha.
3. If you don’t want heat use fajita spice.
4. If it still doesn’t taste good after that then ask the wife to fix it.

February 4, 2010 - 2:22 pm

Kelly - I linked in through Ree Drummond’d Blog to see if you had made it. If you want your sauce to be thicker next time, try dusting the chicken with a little bit (about 1-2 TBSP) of flour when you add the spice~ it helps create a thicker roux. If you want to avoid the added carbs of the flour start with 1/2 the amount of chicken stock and then add as it reduces. That’s what I did and it helps. For your pasta (as in flavor helper) add 1 TBSP of Kosher salt per quart of water boiling, the only chance you have to flavor the pasta is while it is cooking. If you are trying to stay away from salt then do not follow the directions of the recipe and pre-cook the pasta, but bring water to a boil while you are dealing with browning the chicken and veggies, then while you are reducing the wine and stock cook pasta for 5 minutes in the water, then after you add the cream and then the goods back in add the pasta for the final two minutes of cooking, because the pasta is still hot it will continue to soak up the liquid giving it more flavor. If you stop the cooking process and it cools it will not soak up the liquid as effectively. And just remember when you are using a new recipe it generally takes 2X the time alloted on the prep and cook time becuase you don’t have the flow of the steps, I bet if you made the dish again in a few weeks it would take you half the time, because you know what you need to do next. As well it will be easier ot improvise and use other flavors and additions becuase you know what the final product taste like and what you might want to add. Wow, long comment~ but I love that you are wanting to cook more for yourself! It is so rewarding, and healthy!! Happy Cooking!

February 4, 2010 - 2:27 pm

shutterboo - Thanks Kelly – and yes, I made her cajun chicken pasta. Flavor for days. But thin sauce. And like a said, this didn’t stop me from eating it last night. Or this afternoon. :)

February 4, 2010 - 2:28 pm

shutterboo - I don’t have a wife to fix things. And Mike is useless in the kitchen. If I asked him to fix it, he’d put ketchup on it.

February 4, 2010 - 2:30 pm

shutterboo - If I keep talking about it, it probably means I’m progressing.
If I stop talking about it, I probably gave up and put a frozen pizza in the oven.
I’m just being honest here. I don’t share Abe’s birthday for nothing.

February 4, 2010 - 4:00 pm

Dawn - Yes, if you keep doing it, it’ll get better. Your slicing and dicing will get quicker with practice. Trying more recipes will give you practice on different techniques, so you’ll get better. And eating more new things will help you develop more of a sense for flavors and textures, so you’ll get a better idea of what it is you want to cook.

I have faith that you can lick this one.

February 4, 2010 - 4:00 pm

Doo Doo - Boo Boo

Probably the most important advice I can give is you need someone to experiment on if the HUBS isn’t home.


February 4, 2010 - 5:06 pm

shutterboo - Pop – your palette would not have been able to handle what I cooked last night because of the cayenne pepper. I would have had to hear about how I messed it up and how I need to go ahead and dig a grave in the backyard for you because I was trying to kill you blah blah blah. Bro, on the other hand, would have liked it.

February 4, 2010 - 5:06 pm

shutterboo - Oooh, I like the idea of licking the spoon. Does that count?

February 4, 2010 - 11:51 pm

Shelli - I’m not a kitchen person. I can screw up a bowl of cereal. Well, ok, maybe not. But then again ….

I don’t like to experiment, because after 25+ years of cooking and screwing up what should have been a perfectly good meal, I figure I may as well leave it to someone who is obviously capable of learning how to cook. Something I’m obviously not capable of. I wish you better luck than I’ve had! :-)

February 8, 2010 - 11:03 am

Wendi - Hey girl, stay strong in the kitchen. And just remember that we all have food failures.

February 9, 2010 - 12:02 pm

J. Smith - Subscribe to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine. It’s little. It’s cheap. It’s filled with pretty pictures and each month there is a “Cooking With Allie” section that is basically a tutorial with detailed pictures on how to do some cooking task (like how to make an omelette or separate eggs properly or how to make the perfect apple pie — with pictures! Did I mention that?)

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