I don’t know how to cook

11Aug09

This may surprise some of you since almost every post under the “foodie” category on this blog was written by me, but it’s true. I don’t know how to cook, and I’m not good at cooking, really. What I am good at is following directions. I can’t fix anything but spaghetti or grilled cheese without a recipe, but give me that recipe, and I will cook you something delicious, as long as that recipe was in fact delicious. If it’s crap then I blame the recipe. As far as real cooking knowledge goes, I have none. I don’t know what make up the basic ingredients of soup, salad dressings or even what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder or their functions in a recipe. I just read the ingredients closely to make sure I pick up the right box and correct measuring spoon.

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I have only come as far as I have these last two years trying to find my way in the kitchen because of one cookbook–Food Network’s How to Boil Water: Life Beyond Takeout (or in my case, Life Beyond Lean Cuisine frozen dinners). It is the perfect beginner’s guide to cooking with a whole section devoted to how to properly cut and prepare veggies and fruit, the differences in cuts of meat, and my two favorite sections: Basics of Soup and Basics of Chicken/Egg/Tuna Salad. These two sections tell you the mechanics behind any soup or chicken/egg/tuna salad. For example, for soup you need aromatics cooked in butter or oil (onion, carrots, garlic), main ingredient (meat, veggie variety), liquid (water or broth), and thickeners (cooked beans, noodles or rice to give some heft). With these basic instructions, even the most inept cook (see yours truly) can improvise a soup.

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But this isn’t about soup. Today, it’s all about the tuna salad. I am a big tuna sandwich person, always have been. It wasn’t until high school, though, that I allowed anything but mayo into my tuna sandwiches. I was on a mission trip to Mexico, all of our meals being prepared by the loveliest, sweetest old Mexican ladies. Of course, being in a different country on a mission trip, we were instructed to eat everything before us whether we liked it or not as it would be rude not to. It’s amazing what kinds of food we find out we really do like when we’re forced to eat it out of good manners. When we came in for lunch after renovating a house, we were happy to eat whatever was placed in front of us. Enter THE tuna salad of all tuna salads. This sucker had everything in it, EVERYTHING. You had your basic staples: relish, onion, celery, whatev, but there were definitely green peas in that tuna salad! Green peas! Who puts green peas in a tuna salad??? I hate peas! I ate it like a good girl and was surprised by how good it was. Well, my recipe doesn’t have peas because I still hate them, but it comes from the basic mechanics of chicken/egg/tuna salad from my favorite falling a part cook book.

tuna salad is not photogenic but i tried.

tuna salad is not photogenic but i tried.

Tuna Salad from How to Boil Water

Something Crunchy like 1 rib celery, 1 small apple, 1/2 fennel bulb, 3-5 radishes, or 1/2 cup of sweet or dill pickles. *Not all of these, choose one. For my tuna salad I go with the celery, but I also make one with pickles for John. I want to try apple or radishes some time.

Something Oniony like 1/4 small red onion, 2 scallions, or 1 large shallot. *I go with the red onion. If yours has too much bite, I found that soaking it in water for a few minutes takes some of the kick down a notch.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

I also like to add a bit of mustard too.

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One Response to “I don’t know how to cook”

  1. 1 onemeanmfa

    If you’re looking for a really useful cookbook to give you basic recipes and food knowledge go and get The Joy of Cooking. It tells you everything you need to know about food. It is broken down into sections like bread, poultry, beef, fish etc..and the author tells you how to cut, buy, and cook everything. She explains the differnt parts of the meats, and the differnt grains you would use to bake with. She even gives you a glossary of food. If you don’t know what tripe is you can just look it up in the glossary. Seriously, it’s the best cookbook ever and no I don’t work for the publishing company. It’s just the best. I give it as a gift to all my foodie friends.


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