You would think that being nearly 40 years old I would know my way around food and the kitchen. Not so.
In my teenage years, I started avoiding food because, for the most part, it made me feel ill and, because of that, I hated to eat. I learned later, when I had surgery for endometriosis, that one of the side effects of that disease (depending on where it grows inside of a person) can be nausea and lack of appetite. So it was for me.
As an example of my food gauche, it wasn’t until 2004 or 2005 that I learned you could cut a banana in half and it would self-seal, and you could eat the other half the next day. I was so excited about that discovery! Another example: It wasn’t until this past year that I learned you could push those little tabs in on the side of the box for aluminum foil, saran wrap, wax paper, etc. and the roll wouldn’t fall out when you were pulling some out.
I know enough to get by, but I often feel as if I’m like a kid in the kitchen and I envy and feel a little insecure around you people who have kitchen savvy and think cooking is no big deal. Those of you who think up substitute ingredients at the drop of the hat and can whip up dinners in no time flat just off the top of your head boggle my mind. I want to watch you cook, you’re like a celebrity to me, but I feel like you’ll notice how lost I am in the kitchen. I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing in there! Me, I’m like, “What’s for dinner… salad? Sure! I’ll just make it a REALLY big one and THAT can be my dinner! And DON’T WATCH ME MAKE IT!”
The other day I read an article in the October 2009 Men’s Journal, entitled How to cook like a Man. A little misleading in that there are a lot of men who are chefs but, hey, I didn’t write the article’s title — and, oh my, what a large title it is, eh?
It was followed by an article entitled, Kitchen Tool Commandments and in that article, it said you should have two knives — a 10″ chef’s knife and a paring (or boning) knife. Do I even want to know what a “boning” knife is?? *clears throat*.
I have a chef’s knife and a paring knife, and I’ve learned over the years that I also need a mixing spoon that can stand up to heat and thick ingredients, a metal pancake turner and a couple of spatulas. That little spatula in the picture is one of my favorites, it can get inside jars like nobody’s business!
Essential ingredients that I always try to have on hand include onions (you always need onions), rice (it’s a food staple), kidney beans (I love them), fresh veggies for salads and, since I’m not vegetarian, chicken or hamburger. To make it challenging, I don’t cook with dairy products, unless they’re raw (unpasteurized) — so that eliminates most “cream of…” soups and I don’t like spending more than 15-20 minutes prepping food, so the recipes I make have to be simple and quick.
My question to you is two-fold. What ingredients or spices are essential in your house and why? And what cooking utensil is essential for you? And a bonus question: What food or kitchen tip (like the banana cut in half thing) would you pass onto your child if you were teaching them how to cook?