When I tell people that I cook dinner nearly every night, they're always so impressed. Why? We all have to feed ourselves and cooking is not hard. Good food can be made with hardly any effort, few ingredients, and little money. Time and time again I hear stories about how people think they can't cook or they're bad cooks. Both of these statements have something in common, the person saying them is lazy. Anyone CAN cook. If you can follow directions: written, spoken, or viewed, then you can cook.
Being able to feed oneself is a necessity in life. But it's also a great skill to have and good for your well being because you can control what goes into your body. Need to diet? Try cooking for yourself. You can eat pretty much anything you get out with less calories, unless deep fried candy bars are your normal snack, in which case have fun with the diabetes and/or eventual heart attack.
Let's try cooking something
Let's stop for a second. Do you have some potatoes sitting around in your kitchen somewhere? First check to see if they're growing new potatoes, if not then here's a recipe you can try right now: roasted potatoes. I'm going to take you step by step through this recipe, giving you more detail than you actually need just to show you how simple cooking really is.
1) Preheat your oven to to 400 degrees F.
2) Take a few potatoes and rinse then thoroughly with warm water to remove any dirt.
3) Dry them off with a paper towel and throw the paper towel away.
4) On a cutting board using a sharp knife, make three to four cuts lengthwise.
5) Now cut each potato crosswise every inch or two to create small chunks.
6) Put potato chunks into a bowl and drizzle a quarter of a cup of olive oil over them.
7) Sprinkle 1 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder over the top.
8) Toss until the potatoes are well coated and spread out into one layer on a sheet pan.
9) Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp.
10) Flip the potatoes twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning.
11) Remove from oven, season with more salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
That seems like an awful lot of steps for such a simple recipe, but it's really not. Here are the exact same instructions as they'd be written in a cookbook:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes into one inch chunks and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve hot.
See how easy it looks now? I purposely broke it down and added extra steps so it'd be near impossible to screw up. While your potatoes are roasting away in the oven, let's continue.
Don't like to cook? Just say that.Before I get too far into this, if you say you can't cook but in all actuality just don't like to, just say that. Some people hate cooking, and that's great. It's not for everyone but to say you can't is just bullshit. You can if you want to, you just don't.
People think they are bad at cooking
I once heard a story that a person couldn't even make Easy Mac. For those unaware of this product, it's Mac and cheese that comes in a microwavable cup. All one has to do is add water to a line in the cup, microwave, add cheese powder packet, and stir. It's very easy to make, hence the name. They have literally burned it more than once...get the fuck out of here. This wasn't Encino man, this was an educated person from this millennium.
Cooking isn't fun or is stressful
I've also heard that cooking isn't fun or it's stressful. It can be both of or neither of these things. If you don't enjoy it, fine. But there maybe be some aspect that you do enjoy. I particularly love prepping ingredients. It's incredibly calming for me to dice up some celery or whisk up a marinade. Another thing I enjoy is cooking with my daughter. Do things always go exactly how they should? No, but it's great bonding time and I'm able to teach her something that she can use for the rest of her life. Letting her roll out some pizza dough and have her add toppings is fun for both of us. Plus whatever gets cooked gets to be eaten, who doesn't like to eat?
Is there stress? Sure, there can be. Getting everything to come out perfect at the same time is a balancing act but guess what, that's not always necessary. There are plenty of tricks to keeping foods warm or cold until they need to be served. Presenting a whole turkey dinner can get stressful if you let it, but if that seems like to much to think about, try a one pan recipe at the bottom this article. Adding ingredients to a pan and then standing and stirring it so they cook evenly don't burn is very easy. Also, with a one pan recipe, you have even less dishes to do so that's even less to worry about. Cooking doesn't have to be stressful, just don't bite off more than you can chew.
Cooking can be a drag
Don't get me wrong, can cooking become a drag sometimes? YEP, but that's only because we're forced to eat unless we want to die. Cooking turns into just another chore we have to do like paying bills or doing laundry. I don't cook every meal, because sometimes it's already late or I'm just not in the mood after having done it for weeks in a row. There are nights where waiting any longer for a meal to be completed isn't something we're willing to deal with so just ordering pizza or swinging through a drive thru is the way to go.
There's also the other side of cooking, if you're really into it, where you're always chasing the new fancy recipe. When they don't work out, that sucks the fun right out of the whole process. You may have spent more than you normally do on ingredients or put in a lot of time into a recipe that in the end either lets you down or outright sucks. So don't do that. Instead, learn a handful of recipes you really like and just do those each week for a while. As you feel more adventurous, start adding new dishes and techniques to your repertoire. If you're a person who can eat the same thing over and over, cooking should be the easiest on you. Find a recipe you like and just master that.
Personally, I tend to make the same three dishes every week, pizza, pasta, and tacos. Changing up the ingredients keeps things fresh but they're foods we enjoy and I know how to make them with my eyes closed. Then I fill in the rest of the days with new recipes or super easy stuff like breakfast for dinner. The point is, cooking can be taxing at times but once you do it often enough, it becomes second nature.
Cooking with Dan
If you're reading this and are saying to yourself, I hear you Dan but despite my best efforts, I really can't cook, I'm extending an open invitation for the betterment of those in your lives, including you. I will teach you how to cook if you're willing to learn. I'm not some Michelin star chef or even claim that I could hold my own in one of those home cooks shows on TV but I can more than get by and rarely get a complaint. If the thought of making a holiday dinner from scratch sends shivers up your spine, worry not, you can do it. If you're ever plan to come to Delaware, my kitchen is open.
Start cooking with these recipes
Here are some recipes that are easy and don't require much skill, money, or time:
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