On Learning To Cook

As far as I’m concerned, everyone should know how to cook for themselves. You don’t need to be able to perfectly gut a fish and grill it to perfection, but knowing the basics, whether something is cooked through, properly defrosting food, safely preparing dishes, doing your best not to burn whatever it is you’re cooking, these are skills you need to look after yourself. You can’t just live off ready meals until the day you die.

Alright, I’m not saying that you should avoid ready food completely. A pack of oven chips isn’t a problem, making your own chips is often rather time consuming if you haven’t mastered peeling potatoes at a reasonable pace or don’t have access to a deep fat fryer. And honestly, it’s nice to have shitty food sometimes. I’ve always enjoyed those crappy little cocktail bangers, and tins of beans and ‘sausages’ which are more gelatin than pork. You can have ready meals as part of a balanced diet. Just not all the time.

But in this day and age, there’s even less of a reason to not be able to cook. Unless you don’t have an internet connection. The world wide web is full of cooking websites and food blogs. They’re everywhere. make one false step and you could fall into the blog of a middle-aged woman talking about how her kids love this new cake recipe she’s made up and how the stevia means it’s better for their teeth or whatever. They’re everywhere. There are even websites that will give you recipes based on what you have in the fridge or cupboards – although I’d avoid the site Yummly like the fucking plague as it’s 99% popups and requires you to constantly log in and shit like that.

Heck, you don’t even need to know a ton of complicated recipes. Or even remember them. Just save the recipes and follow them.

Not having the equipment isn’t really much of an excuse either. Even if all you have is a microwave, you can cook plenty of meals. My mum has a book from 1982, available on Amazon to buy for around $5, that contains only recipes that can be done in the microwave, from appetizers to meat to pasta to cakes and pies to deserts. The first section includes information on how to use microwaves from 1982, but the concept is roughly the same.

Two pages from the book Microwave Cooking for Today's Living, printed in 1982.
Two pages from the book Microwave Cooking for Today’s Living, printed in 1982.

The only things you’ll want a few of are knives, saucepans, bowls and chopping boards, and really, chopping boards are the only really important one, as you need an individual chopping board for meat, vegetables and dairy. Yes, even at home, use separate chopping boards to protect from cross-contamination.

And this is ignoring all the potential future partner and family stuff. Maybe one day you’ll get a boyfriend or girlfriend. You won’t spend every date going to a fancy restaurant. You’ll spend time together in each others’ homes. You’ll move in or they’ll move in. You’ll be cooking for each other. Heck, maybe one day, you’ll be cooking for a family. After all, two people who can cook are better than one.

More importantly though, the ability to cook means you have more access to tasty, tasty foods. You don’t have to go to the shop to buy a cake, you can make one! You might not have to go to the shops to get a missing ingredient, you can improvise! Plenty of freedom comes with cooking. As you improve, you’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t, what shortcuts you can take and how you can put your own twist on a recipe.

At the end of the day, being able to cook is rewarding. You’re making something nice for yourself. A delicious meal or pudding or whatever, made with your own two hands. There’s a hint of pride in a home-cooked meal that you don’t find anywhere else.

If you want some simple things to cook, check out SPUFood for some random recipes.

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