How I Cook

Last revised:  04-Oct-09 17:18

I use only fresh, natural, whole, minimally processed ingredients.  Fruits and veggies must be fresh, crisp, and a joy to nibble on and behold.  Critters must be live or freshly killed.  Out of necessity and for the sake of convenience, I do use frozen and canned; but only if I must (it's the only successful way I've found to deal with seasonal issues).  I keep a sharp eye out to minimize our intake of needless or junk carbohydrates, and do not buy finished products like soups or chili in a can--that's for lazy, clueless, amateurs.  I do buy ingredients: tomato chunks, whole, pureed, sauce, paste, etc.; green beans, fruits, vegetables, and so on.  I *do* understand nutrition, which is why I NEVER knowingly buy anything that contains HFCS or Trans-fats but will happily buy and eat eggs butter and other yummy, time-tested human foods!

I do most everything either "by hand" or use tools from the last century.  They cooked great things then without electricity and many of our modern conveniences we find it "impossible" to live without today.  If they did it, I can do it that way too!  I love my Wüsthof knives and cast-iron pans (Teflon, ugh!).  My three favorite and most often used tools are:  knives, whisk, and tongs.  In my next house, I'm going to build an old fashioned stone bread oven outside by the kitchen.

But don't think that means I'm stupid or terminally fixated on bygone ways.  A stone oven will be nice, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy and get good service out of my microwave oven too.  While you can make whipped cream by hand, there's a time and place for a good mixer, and I'll be darned if I'm gonna buy and grind my own wheat for flour.  Whipping fresh whole cream and sugar into whipped cream isn't quite the same as using a food-processor or bread-machine.  Buying flour, sugar, yeast, and spices isn't quite the same as buying a box of "Yellow Cake Mix!"  If you can't figure that out, you should probably go read about cooking someplace else.

"It's a recipe, dummy!  Not a chemical formula!"  Recipes, to me, are a general guide to get me close to the result I want.  Too many folks become slaves to their recipe book.  To me, it's a source of ideas and inspiration.  From there, you never know what you're gonna get... I might follow a recipe the first time, then I make my own changes in order to get what *I* want out of it...

Almost every day, as we eat, someone remarks about how much they like what I've made for them.  And for that I always graciously thank them (actually, they're smarter than they look--it might really be good, or they just don't wanna hafta do it themselves...), while I'm not satisfied with it.  It's just that I have an "image" of what I want to make in my head.  And when it doesn't come out the way I wanted it, I'm not happy with it--no matter how good everybody else thinks it is.  But, that's just an opportunity for me to adjust my recipe and do it again...  You have no idea how many "mistakes" I feed my crew...