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Cooking can be therapeutic and calming. It can be laborious and tedious. Cooking is different for different people. We need to look at various experiences without dismissing any.
It is generally said that if you are having a bad day, browse through the cooking websites for new recipes. It is more helpful than flipping through the TV channels and sitting like a couch potato in the living room. So, dig up a culinary storm, as it is pointed out by science that cooking is an emotionally-satisfying experience.
Well, I often repeat this several times a day like a mantra. It helps as I rattle the cabinets, looking for a frying pan which is invariably found at the very bottom of an unstable pile of pans of various sizes. Or, pierce the blade of a knife through a stalk of celery. Even as I toss a teaspoonful of salt disinterestedly at a whole lot of boiling potatoes, I chant the mantra.
Small and simple repetitive tasks that are semi-creative in nature, like chopping vegetables, making dough. They are supposed to loosen us when we stand frozen with the dread of day to day occurrences. Cooking is supposed to give us a sense of command and authority over the small world of microwave, grinder, cutting board and cooking range!!
The process of cooking for me is about creativity, as opposed to making you feel distressed and apprehensive. I believe it calms down your mind and relieves you of consternation and worry.
But cooking is also more than just what I have said above, all fun and rewarding. Cooking can also be boring, laborious, and onerous.
By telling only fun stories of cooking, we exclude those who have no luxury of choice. We create the impression that cooking is a passion instead of a basic life skill.
I believe in cooking from scratch, but it doesn’t always go smoothly – one needs a ton of patience and a sense of humour if one is to enjoy something felt as tedious. Since she had been under the tyranny of cooking being an essential, everyday chore, my friend Sarayu found that making her meals from scratch was not at all exciting but a monotonous chore.
It is a myth that cooking is ‘easy’. Cooking tasty meals within a short period of time becomes easy only once you have mastered the art of cooking, a skill learnt over a period of time. It requires practice and committing errors several times.
To cook the entire meal at a speed that can equal box-meal offerings, it is imperative for a person to know to make on-the- fly substitutions; correct an over-salted or over-spiced dish; able to make the selection of items; know the length of time to which it can be preserved before cooking the same; and the method of stocking a pantry economically.
Without knowing the basics of these essential skills cooking is no laughing matter! Mistakes are a natural part of learning this great art and that’s the reason why I love this wise remark…”no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing,”
Cooking is an art which is measured not in the cooking of individual dishes. It is but a judicious navigation of ingredients, their expiry dates; their uses; their identicalness and variableness. Most importantly, all these require planning and organization.
Your larder needs to fit all your requirements. Then again, you have to wander around the aisles of the supermarket, fill up your trolley after carefully choosing your ingredients from the plethora of items displayed there.
Yes, these days we have the facility of shopping online for groceries, which will be delivered at your doorstep. Hundred percent true! But you will have a tough time finding reasonably priced grocery websites, as each website has its own attractive offers which truly confuse you.
Sometimes it so happens that when your grocery arrives, you may find items different from what you have ordered. There might be a Lux soap instead of Sandal soap or Nescafe coffee for Bru. It often happens due to non-availability of that particular brand. Some items are past their due dates. Also, sometimes the sent items are not asked for but billed.
The list goes on!
The most common mistake made by several people is that they buy large amounts of groceries without taking an inventory of what is available at home. Then, they start breaking their heads as to what is to be done with that huge quantity!!
For minimal wastage, have a look at your pantry before shopping. Just buy “additional” groceries and nothing more. It appears counterintuitive but is not so. It prevents wastage to a great extent.
Now coming to the issue of leftovers! It is indeed an art to cook without excessively carrying forward the dishes to the next several days. For zero wastage, all that is necessary is extensive organization and a good know-how of repertoire.
Often heard directives from the head cook of a home include – “Pick up some curry leaves or kottamalli or green chillies….; “fill the pot with water and add salt to it……” etc. Delegate your shopping as well!
If I know that my spouse or friend is going to a certain place, I text them the list and ask them to pick up the stuff. Be rest assured that you alone need not run the kitchen. If your children ask you to prepare french fries, then tell them to help you.
“Sure sweetie, I will. Now come here and help me- start cleaning the potatoes and peeling them. I will make hot French fries for you. Ok?”
Cleaning comes under delegation too. Tell your dear ones, “Wash whatever utensils are in the sink whenever you happen to see them; do not allow them to grow into a mountain.” Consider yourself to be the head of an army unit, wherein there are soldiers to readily help you. The soldiers are none other than your spouse, children and others.
Well, if you are not meticulous and organized, you do have to accept a certain level of financial wastage. The first thought for any person in charge of cooking on waking up each morning is, “what do I cook for all the three sessions of the day?” Add in more time for planning the previous day itself.
Take a mental inventory of recipes well ahead so that you can use all your ingredients effectively. Substitute for ingredients you have forgotten. And, adjust to the needs and preferences of those you are cooking for.
You need an extensive range of skills to make even the simplest meal. Several devices are flooding the shops day in and day out. Make sure you know how to handle your kitchen devices. I gradually got used to the micro oven, induction stove, and the likes of it.
And to round it off, you need to keep in mind the items which are worth saving, the ones that are to be discarded; and ways to keep your kitchen sparkling clean. The point, however, is that even if you have some domestic help to clean your dishes, you still need a helping hand to sort out the murky contents of the refrigerator.
Despite the much-talked increase in cooking done by men, it is the women who still do the major share of food preparation in our country. The culture thrusts immense expectations upon women. It dismisses their labour to provide complex dishes as effortless. And, this can be overwhelming!
The whole cooking industry is built on the supposition that creating delicacies at home is a cakewalk. It is just a myth. It is only the most dedicated ones who see it as a gratifying challenge.
A humble request – please do give the home cooks the kudos they deserve!
Managing a kitchen is similar to running an army. Napoleon observed, “An army marches on its stomach.” I am in total agreement of this statement.
Cooking is considered a burden by some. It is laborious and time-consuming. I possess both, the inclination as well as the passion for cooking. But, if there is no choice but to cook every day, come what may, it is not an enjoyable satisfying job!
My fridge has been stocked with several items during the past ten months. I have tried my hands at umpteen numbers of dishes that I have prepared during those Corona days. I am filled with dread, looking back at those days.
My social-media feeds were loaded with remarks by individuals who consider their own culinary languor with something next to veneration. One of the posts in my Facebook account made several rounds amongst my friends.
It said, “I have reached a saturation point in cooking now and all I want now is some nutritious liquid to be injected into my body, as cooking daily is surely a drab!”
Cleaning, ironing, and mopping are all drags but are mandatory for the smooth running of our day to day living. They are not soaring cultural explorations but fundamental necessities. The same is true for cooking too!
Image source: Sasint on pixabay
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