Advice Male Perspective

The Male Perspective: Cooking 101

Over the years there seems to have been a growing trend wherein people do not know how to cook the simplest things at home. Whether its barbequed chicken or something as simple as a piece of toast, you are likely to hear people exclaim they don’t know how to make even the basic of things.  This reality has happened because of the busy lifestyles we all lead, but also because of our becoming too dependent on restaurants for the most basic of nourishment.  Yet, with rising costs and plunging salaries there is a growing necessity to know how to cook at home so with that in mind here are a couple tips.

First you should begin with trying to make something very basic. If you’ve never made a piece of toast at home now’s the time.  However, I usually recommend trying to bake or roast something in an oven.  You’ll find that the majority of things you cook in an oven are done between 375 to 400 degrees for about twenty minutes.  During those twenty minutes you usually have to flip the food about once or twice.  As for preparing your food many supermarkets sell fresh chicken, fish, and meat already with marinades and can provide you with instructions on how long to cook them for.  When cooking any of them one of the keys is to know when they’re actually cooked and ready to be eaten.  The easiest test is to take a knife and make an incision, then look to see if it looks raw (cooked chicken should look white, cooked meat should look grey, and cooked fish you’re best to touch the inside with your finger to see if it’s hot) and if not leave it to cook a little longer and redo the test.  Often a recipe will say to cook something for a certain amount of time that is actually not enough to fully cook it.

If you decide to go the route of trying to marinade it yourself the best approach is to keep it simple.  For chicken the simplest way to marinade it is with salt, pepper, garlic (either garlic cloves or garlic salt) and olive oil.  For meat the easiest thing to do is to use some steak spice and Worcester sauce; for fish use salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  However, from those basic marinades you can build and add additional spices and other items.  A great example is maple syrup and salmon.  Many restaurants will use the basic marinade I described above, but they’ll add maple syrup to it and advertise it as gourmet food.  However, all that’s really been done is to add in one ingredient which you can easily do at home and get a much bigger piece of fish for a much lower cost.

A common trick when it comes to marinades is to use something that already exists to flavor the chicken/meat/fish.  For example salad dressings typically contain many of the ingredients you’ll find in most marinades at a very cheap cost.  Restaurants have been using them for years because they’re a quick and easy way to flavour food quickly.  Some other useful things that can be used to marinade food are jams and mustards.  Almost any roast is usually smeared with mustard prior to it being cooked to give it proper flavor and taste.  Apricot and plum jams are commonly used along with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic to flavor chicken.  Beer mustard can be used to further add to the flavor of fish.  Just try different things and see what smells and tastes good.

The rise of cooking TV shows has been a very useful for learning how to cook something.  Just tape a show to get some tips and try making it at home.  However, keep in mind that when you do it at home things won’t be as simple or as easy due to the fact that the cooks on those shows have several takes to get it right.  So feel free to pause the show as you do each step and move on to the next step only when you’re ready.  Online search engines are also very helpful as you can usually find recipes for almost anything along with some instructional videos.

The important thing though is to have fun with cooking and be creative.  Don’t be afraid to experiment or add in another ingredient that’s not in the recipe.  There’s no rule that says you can’t.  Just remember to be patient and you may find you enjoy cooking and eating at home more than eating out.

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