Why you should Learn to Cook

Learning to cook is an ability that no one should be without, especially if one wants to be able to eat. It is a skill that sticks with you for a lifetime. It’s a basic survival skill not only for single people living in the city, but college students and even soldiers in the middle of nowhere. And, learning to cook saves you money, too.

Some people claim that boiling water is a challenge. Really, it’s not. I got lucky. I can remember standing by my grandmother’s side, and my mother’s as well, at a very young age, learning to cook different foods. The lessons they taught me were invaluable.

I will talk about six methods of cooking: boiling, simmering, sauteing, grilling, roasting, broiling, baking. Hopefully these will be of some help to you. And, I hope you will be inspired to try to cook. Please remember to practice kitchen safety.

Boiling water is simple: Put the water in the pan, place the pan on the stove with the handle towards the center of the stove for safety, and turn the burner on. Do not stand and watch the water, as it always takes longer to boil. Get busy doing other things that are needed for your recipe while you wait. Every once in a while, look over at the water. Bubbles will start to form, slowly at first, and then more and more rapidly. The water is boiling when it looks like a rolling wave that isn’t stopping.

Simmering is similar to boiling. As a matter of fact, a lot of recipes will have you bring your liquid to a boil, add ingredients, and then bring it back to a simmer. This means that you are bringing the liquid to something of a very slow boil. You will still see individual bubbles popping on the top of the liquid, but they will not be like the rolling waves of the boil. Simmering is used over a longer length of time to help develop the flavor of a dish, like a stew.

Sauteing is a method of cooking that is used to keep the moisture, flavor and color of a food in a little bit of fat over high heat in skillets. It is used on meats and vegetables, and it does cook the food all the way through. The two most important things are that all of the food is laid out in one layer to do this properly and that the pan is very hot.

Grilling is simple, but not a no-brainer. Of course, turning the grill on is simple. But it is imperative that you practice grill safety. Know how to light your grill properly. If it’s gas, or electric, keep it properly maintained. Make sure the screen is clean. Cooking things like pineapple and fruit on the grill are easy, as long as you pay attention to them. Follow the recipe directions and don’t wander too far away.

Roasting changes the flavor of meat, vegetables, coffee or even chocolate by caramelizing the food itself. Dry, even heat is used to produce the caramelization effect. The heat source can be an oven, or an open flame. Based on the recipe, either low or high temperature can be used. Moisture is retained by basting with a small amount of liquid during roasting.

Broiling, though it rhymes with boiling, is nothing like it. Broiling is done with a radiant heat source. It sears the outside of the food, much like grilling. Typically, a broiler is found in an oven. However, a salamander, another piece of kitchen equipment is also used to broil food.

Baking, my all-time favorite activity, is to cook food by dry heat. The process used to accomplish it is called conduction. Normally one thinks of using only an oven to do this, however, other things can be used. Grills, skillets, hot ashes or even hot stones come to mind.

I hope that a new cook will find this list helpful. This was just a quick description of cooking. I actually really enjoy it. For me, cooking is therapeutic. If you don’t want to eat take-out every night, you have to learn to cook!