fresh food bowl love to cook
Food & Cooking,  Mental Health,  Personal Experiences

Why I Love to Cook

I love to cook, in case you have not noticed. In my (not so) humble opinion, I tend to be pretty good at it.  Recently, I realized I was using my cooking abilities in both a healthy and unhealthy manner.  As I look back over the years, I can see where I used it as a tool to get people to like me.  Moreover, I would use my culinary prowess to get praise and acceptance.

On the other hand, I used cooking to build my confidence and self-esteem.  When I go into the kitchen,  I leave my mental health issues at the door.  Cooking became a form of meditation. Additionally, my self-love grew as well.  Making masterpieces in the kitchen is a form of high praise that I heap upon myself.  In those moments, I am reenforcing I am worthy of this effort.  It took a while before I could appreciate my skill when applied to myself as opposed to others.

My Cooking Journey

When I was in single digits, I had an encyclopedia that had recipes intended for children.  Additionally, I collected a few Highlight magazines which had recipes as well. They were simple concoctions, such as Ants on a Log and other “non-cooking” recipes.

As I marched toward double digits, I started scrambling eggs and baking cookies.  I made plenty of mistakes, such as using too much salt in the eggs.  Once I even, I forgot to add sugar while making cookies. To “fix” the mistake, I sprinkled sugar on top before baking.  Of course, it didn’t work!  Regardless of the setbacks, I continued trying and retrying recipes.

During my pre-teen years, my mother and I would spend a lot of time watching cooking shows on PBS on the weekend.  These weekly marathons helped me understand cooking methods.  Eventually, Food Network rolled around, introducing me to Alton Brown. He exposed the science behind cooking and reinforced knowing methods, not just recipes.  It was around this time my love of cooking really blossomed.

cream cheese biscuits I love to cook

Love to Cook

Now you know how I became interested in cooking.  Let’s talk about how I became pretty good at cooking.  Was I born with some cooking jutsu? Did I study cooking at a culinary school? Nope and nope.  While I have taken a few culinary classes, I do not have formal culinary school training.   However, you do not need a culinary arts degree to be a good cook.  Josh Elkin is a fantastic example of how imagination and practice can make up for formal education.

Here’s how I did it:

Practice

This is most helpful for skill development, such as knife styles.  Get a bag of potatoes, carrots, basil and, tomatoes to practice different knife cuts. Practicing aids in developing muscle memory, which in turn will help you use knives with more confidence.

Experiment

Experimenting is the number one way to kick up your spice and herb game.  Also, try switching up cheeses, protein, and vegetables in recipes to get a whole new spin on a dish.  Experimenting is quite fun and really helped me to develop my love to cook. 

Having a well-stocked pantry makes this phase easier. 

Studied

Studying for cooking is easier than it may sound.  You can take this step as far as you like, from learning about different cooking techniques to using spices from around the world.  Personally, I enjoy browsing Spice Inc to learn about the world of spices. 

In the modern kitchen, having the correct tools, such as cookware, utensils, knives, and “gadgets” saves time. Shortly, I will make a list of my favorite kitchen equipment.

Comfort Zone

This is also good practice for real life as we often have to set out of zones as we interact with our environments.  Being able to dip a finger into an unfamiliar cooking area is one of the best ways to broaden our culinary horizons.  Even if you do not take the big plunge into authentic regional cooking, you can bring some elements into your regular cooking style.

smoked salmon with avocado, capers and pickled onions I love to cook

Almost Lost My Love of Cooking

My love to cook was temporarily taken from me during one of my struggles with depression.  When I could muster the motivation for cooking, it was plagued with problems.  My internal timing was off; therefore, I burned or undercooked so much of my food.  My frustrations boiled over to the point where I knew I had to do something about it. 

I needed to start using timers.  The truth is, I had a resistance to timers because I was so proud of my ability to keep track in my head.  Unfortunately, this ability has not fully come back, but timers are easy to set on my Google Home products.

The Outcome

I was able to take this process and use it in my day-to-day life.  Cooking has taught me as I experience how to sit in my emotions for a moment, then find solutions or accept the new circumstance. My culinary experiences have given me a new lease on life.  It also helped me to change my outlook when faced with unfortunate setbacks.  It is my hope you enjoyed my cooking origin story and why I love to cook. Please leave a comment with your experiences!

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