Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cooking: No Longer Just French Propaganda

Have you ever thumbed through recipes only to see words such as julienne, flambé, or chiffonnade? Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know French…at all. Before I became the culinary genius that I am today (note sarcasm), I would have felt dumb and skipped to an English recipe, avoiding all of that French propaganda.  

Before my interest and knowledge of cooking grew, my mother always teased me growing up that I couldn’t make a cake that even had the instructions on the box. In my defense, I totally could I just chose not to so I wouldn’t have to do it. Just like whenever I mowed the lawn, I always did a bad job (not mowing in a straight line, getting the mower stuck in the ditch, and occasionally running into trees) so I would not be asked to do it again. If I do say so, those were both pretty smart moves on my part.

Fast-forward about 15 years and I still probably can’t mow in a straight line, but I can hold my own in the kitchen. How did this culinary transformation take place you ask? Well I did take home economics in high school but I really didn’t learn much given that we had what were called free labs where we typically brought in frozen pizza, Lipton noodles, and brownies from a box. Did I learn to cook from my mother or grandmother? Not really unless you count browning hamburger for Hamburger Helper and other very simple things pertaining to cooking meat, which has been lost on me since I am now a vegetarian.

I actually learned quite a bit just solely watching the Food Network and picking up tips from reading cooking magazines. Now that I work closely with our chefs here on campus, if I ever have a question I can just ask them. Unfortunately, many of you do not have this luxury of pestering a chef.

Having watched one of my brothers wave around a knife like a serial killer this past Thanksgiving, I quickly knew that he didn’t learn anything in home economics either. Knowing that my brother isn’t the only one to wave around a knife like a serial killer, this got me to thinking. Aside from taking cooking classes, which can be expensive, how does one learn basic culinary skills?

As always, I have your back on this one. I was perusing through Facebook recently and saw that the New York Times released their Cooking website and app. Big whoop, right? I mean there are a million of websites out there with recipes filled with French propaganda. Upon browsing this new website, I did find one component that I found extremely helpful. They have a collection of videos on basic cooking techniques.

There are videos ranging from how to dice an onion to how to frost a cake. One that everybody should watch, especially if you ever cook in front of me, is how to hold a knife.  You will definitely impress your friends and family with how you properly hold a knife to do this..

Why does cooking matter?
I like to cook for myself for a couple of reasons. Being the pseudo-hippy vegetarian that I am, I can make sure that my food is vegetarian and I can control how much oil, sugar, salt, etc goes into it.  I also don’t have to rely on this as “cooking"…

Instead of relying Hamburger Helper and Chef Boyardee, I can whip up a healthy meal in just as little time that is both healthier and tastier. Now if you will excuse me, I have to use my superior knife skills to open my frozen pizza. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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