“THE BLACK ART OF COOKING”
I laughed out loud the other day when I came across a how to web site designed for singles wanting to remount the slippery slope of cooking for one. It contained the usual, books and recipes for sale, tips on everything from shopping to the use of spice. One senior gentleman’s testimony said the book had helped him conquer the “black art of cooking” and was finding cooking enjoyable.
Funny as it was since I so enjoy cooking, I can remember a time not so long ago that if I’d had the words I might have expressed my feelings in the same manner. Growing up in the fifties and the sixties, as in most households I quickly learned that cooking was considered woman’s work, something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Too, women entering the man’s world of work wanted to be free of all household chores including cooking which added to the demise of the freshly prepared meal.
Today, many women despise even the mundane chore of warming things in the microwave. Which actually I think is part of the problem, opening boxes and microwaving, is not cooking it’s a bore. Lost is the creation of beautiful yet simply prepared dishes of food that are colorful and a delight to serve.
So how can we revive this lost art form? Several things come to mind. If someone told you they had a magic plan that would help you loose weight, be healthier, save money, teach your children some valuable lessons about life, manners and health do you think you’d be interested? And by the way, I’m not necessarily zeroing in on women, nor am I talking about just BBQ on the grill.
After the cook in the family is knighted he, or she should arm themselves with the right tools: sharp knives (a must), at least two cutting boards, a food processor, a decent collection of skillets and pans, a garlic press (another must), strainers, graters and a steamer. Of course there are lots of other tools that you will want to acquire over time.
The next stop is the bookstore for a modest collection of cookbooks. Start with two or three that appeal to your taste. Go for books with lots of pictures and step by step instructions. Stay away from recipes and books that require lots of time that are complicated or include lots of ingredients. Save those recipes for holidays or special celebrations.
Now it’s on to the health food store for a supply of spices. Small amounts of fresh spice can be purchased in bulk for pennies. Start with cumin, fresh nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, peppers, lemon pepper, ginger, turmeric and celery salt.
This time of year is a wonderful time to revive the black art of cooking in your household with all the fresh herbs and vegetables. When shopping for vegetables pick up a variety, consider colors, shapes, sizes and what appeals. Look for fresh basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, mint and dill.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if your first attempts are not what you had hoped as far as taste or presentation. Enlist help, cooking can be a family time of sharing. Besides who knows what family crisis or worldwide problems might come to resolution over a large pot of homemade soup. Till next time, Rebecca