To the uninitiated, home cooking can seem like a great deal of effort for no deep reason. Why should you spend time sweating over a hot stove for a recipe that could have been much simpler, quicker, and more convenient?
Well, of course, you get to decide what your priorities in the kitchen are. There’s nothing wrong with putting together a simple meal in the oven from frozen. As you can see with the best smoothies, sometimes a rewarding and nutritious snack, drink or meal can be as worthwhile as putting together some excellent ingredients and blending them together, a craft you begin to love the more you learn about it.
However, as you begin to engage in cooking more, you start to learn that it’s inherently therapeutic. It’s a microcosm of a craft that helps you learn how to expand your confidence in feeding yourself and your loved ones, improving your health, and saving money cooking for yourself as opposed to others.
So, what are the hallmarks of confidence in the kitchen? Let’s consider that below:
Ingredient Substitution Secrets
If you were to watch cooking shows, read recipes, or simply get advise from friends, you would think that cooking is an immutable art that must proceed in the best way unless you mess it all up. But the truth is that you can have fun with whatever you have on hand. An omelette can be made in one of many ways. You can swap onions for shallots.
You can use simple stock cubes to help provide body to sauces instead of rendering your own stock, or use curry cubes to season and add thickness to your Japanese curry. You can even see that previous complex recipes can be made utterly delicious and simple too, like this easy shepherds pie recipe found here. In other words, little substitutions and shortcuts are absolutely normal, and knowing that can help you prevent perfect from being the enemy of good.
Kitchen Organization Hacks
Chefs call preparation in the kitchen “mis-en-place,” which quite simply means having everything prepared, organized, to-hand, and easily managed. Getting into this habit can make cooking feel so much more enjoyable. From weighing your ingredients before you cook with them to having different parts of your surface space for different tasks (like chopping, flouring, or grating into different bowls). Better yet, making dishes in batches (like ragus, stews, even stroganoff) can give you multiple portions to keep and freeze for later. There’s no better example of kitchen organization than saving time by reheating a nutritious meal you’ve already made.
Practice Knife Skills
A chef knife is one of the more important tools in the kitchen, but it can be intimidating for newcomers. A good chopping board, a sharp knife, and a simple technique (simply use your knuckle to help guide the knife and chop away from your fingers as you move them), can help you be clean and focused, and soon feel easy no matter what you chop, from onions to mushrooms to dicing garlic. If you can feel robust enough with your knife, you have a solid foundation to work from.
With this advice, you’re sure to enjoy more confidence in the kitchen no matter what you craft.