Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Over It

Like writer's block, many home cooks get frustrated in the kitchen because they decide something is too complicated to make even before trying it.  How do you know if you've never tried?  My new motto for myself is: get over it.  I'll never expand my skills or palate if I stick to what I already know and get intimidated by a new concept.

There are some foods which really are tricky to make.  Even a professional chef can have a mayonnaise or hollandaise that fails.  Sometimes low relative humidity can make it impossible to work with phyllo dough.  The truth is, even the most complex recipe can be made easy if you just break it down into smaller steps and do them in the right order.

The best way to resolve this Cook's Block is to read the recipe before shopping.  All the way through.  If it's something you really want to make, nothing should stop you.  Hot dogs from scratch?  Did that once, just to see if I could.  The hardest part turned out to be keeping everything cold enough to be safe.  I don't recommend trying it unless you have a strong stomach, but that's not the point.  Roommate Smurf can't hard-boil eggs without a cookbook.  A properly boiled egg is what brings her satisfaction as a cook.  More experienced cooks may think deboning their own poultry is the extent of their powers, or croissants, or tamales, or Duck a l'Orange.  (Hm, I need to do a post on deboning poultry.)

The most important part of preparing a meal is believing you can, and being ready to improvise if you suddenly find out you can't.  You didn't realize you had to marinate your roast for two days?  Get over it.

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