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I don't know how to cook. I never learned. I have a HUGE mental block that kicks in whenever I see a recipe that requires I put more than two ingredients together. And a disgruntled impatience with the idea of a meal taking longer to prepare than it does to eat. The origin of all this, though, was growing up in the 70's, when women's lib was blossoming full flower. It was a matter of principle to me not to prioritize traditionally female skills. And my mom, who was more interested in law school than cooking herself, didn't worry too much about this gap in my education.

For the record, I was equally disinterested in my father's attempts to teach me how to change the oil in my car. I was an intellectual.

When Mom got busy in law school, my dad took over the cooking duties. Before he got married, he was a cook in the National Guard, so you can imagine the sort of stuff he made for us. He didn't bother to teach me to cook, either.

How did I eat once I didn't have the college mess hall to feed me? It helps not being a fussy eater, but lots of ways, really. You wouldn't believe what comes in cans and boxes and takes a couple minutes to nuke in the microwave. Later, there were girlfriends who cooked (I always dated women who could cook). And when I lost twenty pounds a few years back, it was in part because my mom had been on a crockpot cooking kick the year before.

I occasionally ate meals out, although I rarely relied on that. It was fattening. I did learn how to prepare a few things myself, like pasta, and my father's French Toast (which gave me heart palpitations, so I didn't make it very often). But see above re: two-ingredient cooking.

As I get older, though, I am wanting to take more charge of what goes into the food I eat, and that means learning a skill I never learned. "Never learned" is a sweeping generalization, I've found, though. Earlier this month, I decided to try my hand at Actual Cooking with a 17-ingredient beef stew. I actually knew quite a bit more about what I was doing than I imagined I did. You don't get to be [bleep] years old and not pick up a few tricks here and there.

I'm not saying the stew is particularly good, but I think it's more the recipe than me. Next time, I'm leaving out the onions, tomatoes, and oregano. But it was improved with some chopped chili peppers thrown in. And in the effort expended vs. outcome received department, I made a dozen portions to finish up.

My next experiment this past weekend was more successful: a black bean veggie wrap. I still strongly resent the time expenditure. As for Ingredient Overload, I try to concentrate on one line of the recipe at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Next up, baked fish, I think. And then mamculuna's Dharma Shala Soup.



Jan. 28th, 2014 05:02 pm (UTC)
To be honest, I am not sure of the exact difference. My mother's "broiling pan" was a pan with a ridged cover that had holes in it. You put meats and fish on the cover and their juices and fats drained into the pan below. That was "broiling". "Baking" involved laying the meat or mixed stuff on the bottom of the pan.

Both went in the oven of course.
Jan. 28th, 2014 05:06 pm (UTC)
it does help if you have something very fatty to cook. You can also just get a little wire mesh rack that fits into a bake pan to get the same results. In fatty meats, the juices have a tendency to poach the food rather than let it cool, hence the need to drain it.

In fish, that's less likely to be a problem. I usually just whip things into the baking pan and broil them
Jan. 28th, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
I usually just whip things into the baking pan and broil them

So what makes that not "baking"?
Jan. 28th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC)
it's the temperature and length of cook time that divides them, broiling is done high temp short cook time and baking is the reverse
Jan. 28th, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay. You learn something new everyday.
Jan. 29th, 2014 01:52 am (UTC)
I'm sure there are other differences but right now my brain is as empty as can be
Jan. 29th, 2014 02:02 am (UTC)
In old school ovens baking uses the heating elements on the bottom only, broiling uses the top element or both. So often broiling crisps/browns the top of a dish more than regular baking.
Jan. 29th, 2014 04:11 pm (UTC)
So relative use of either method depends on what you're cookin'.