Tuesday, July 12, 2005 by Mariskova
After 6 months of cooking struggle, I was finally able to make a guide list on how to conquer a kitchen -mostly, my kitchen. Although I mention 'ULTIMATE', what do I know about cooking? It's only been 6 months, anyway. Just read on, and enjoy my struggle...
1) The first thing you should do to conquer a kitchen is to Get yourself an apron. You wouldn't like food stain and food smell on your favorite clothes, would you? If possible, find a nice, encouraging, spirit-boosting apron. Mine is an encouraging one. Encouraging, because if I do what it says, I'll end up being a master of 'halfdone' to 'neverdone' food. Thanks to my kid bro who knows me this much!
(read: Tukang masak temporary. Khusus masakan setengah mateng! Enak tidak enak harus dimakan. Kalau enak bilang enak, kalau tidak enak juga harus bilang enak -hehe.. gw banget!-- Hobi saya sebenarnya adalah makan-makan saja, tapi hari ini saya mengalah demi perdamaian dunia. -sorry, no English translation. It won't be funny.)
2) Buy recipe books. They help a lot for two things: you can bring them to the kitchen so that you can cheat on the recipe during cooking, and you can have a written proof of the food you're trying to make -in case, something goes wrong (just blame the recipe!)
3) Don't buy books with sophisticated-meaning-complicated recipes. Remember, you're trying to conquer your kitchen. Not becoming a five-star-hotel chef!
4) Read the books before you buy them. Find the vocabulary of cooking techniques and ingredients that you're not familiar with, or that you're not comfortable with, and when you do find them...
-If you can't guess what it means, don't buy the books! (In my case, I'm not quite sure what "serve within 15 minutes of preparation" means. Should we wait 15 minutes after it's done to serve the food? Well, it's just me...)
-If you find some discouraging sentences in the recipe, don't buy the books! (I find "Cooking time may vary slightly depending on the type of oven you are using" discouraging. I'm struggling to be able to cook, and now I also have to 'study' my oven?! Get outta here!)
-If you find a long-complicated-cooking step, don't buy the books! (Try this: "When the water returns to the boil, pour 1 cup of cold water. Bring water back to the boil and cook the noodles for about 2-3 minutes or until just tender when tested, taking care not to overcook... bla bla bla..." and all that long is for Step 1 only!)
-If you can't find any pictures of the cooking techniques steps, or the pictures of the supposed-to-be-like food, don't buy the books. How else should you find out your cooking is supposed to be like, or how you're supposed to do it?
5) Browse the internet for more recipes! You can choose which one is cheaper: to pay for the internet connection fee or to buy recipe books... (this can only happen in Indonesia hehe...)
6) Shop like there's no tomorrow. Don't bother to check the price: It's frustating enough to check cooking ingredients! Besides, shopping can boost your spirit to cook.
7) But, before you shop till you drop, Find a comfortable store. You know, the one where you can spend hours without knowing it??? Again, don't bother about the price! Just fill up the trolley!
7) Memorize the names of veggies, meats, cooking ingredients, etc. as if you'd have a biology exam tomorrow! By the way, don't just memorize the names, you've got to know which ingredient/veggie/meat/etc. goes with what name because it determines how your food would taste... yeah, it's that bad!
8) Get to know your weapons, a.k.a. cooking utensils. Shop for them if you don't have a complete collection. Yes, complete collection. It can bring your mood back when you're staring at your kitchen.
9) Find yourself a cooking guru. Mine is 20-minutes-by-bike away... This very nice and kind lady in yellow on the left is my cooking guru. She never tells me how silly I am as a cook; She just laughs! (I can live with that!) I managed to get her to teach me how to make her precious brownies, and I successfully have made my own meatballs too, thanks to her recipe.
10) For your cooking improvement, Find yourself 'food police' or 'food critics'. You know, the ones who tell you whether your cooking sucks (or the ones who never tell you how sucks your cooking is). They are also the ones who've got to eat your cooking. Sounds fair, doesn't it? Mine never tell me my cooking sucks, and they eat my cooking too.
11) Play your favorite tune when you cook. It helps you relax. Your tension can contaminate the food you're trying to make. Perhaps you can try Mozart for Cooking (if you find one, let me know). If plants can be happy while listening to Mozart, may be food can too. Who knows?
12) This number and the numbers after it are still under construction. But...
...) My ultimate guide to conquer my kitchen is Don't cook, if you don't feel like doing it. Tomorrow is another day.
Note: You, guys, are welcome to add more to the list, though comments like: "It never happens to me." won't be taken into consideration and won't be very much appreciated since -read the tittle again- it's MY kitchen. Ha!