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Cooking: Prep Time

Posted on 11 April 2011

I’ve never been much of a cook. In high school, my mom was concerned that I wouldn’t have the life skills necessary to feed myself. I argued that as long as I could read a recipe, I’d be fine, and to prove my point I made a pie. It was great,  and I seemed to have won that battle. In retrospect, though, it was a fluke. Or at least not indicative of my overall abilities.

I’m not bad, just not especially skilled. But that’s changing. After slacking in the dinner-making department for years, I’m finally trying to contribute 50%+ of the meals a week. As I try more and more complex recipes, I’ve determined the secret to making cooking enjoyable and easy: prepare the ingredients in advance.

This is probably obvious to a lot of people. But it wasn’t to me. I would follow the recipe step-by-step, only doing things like measuring out the liquids or chopping the vegetables when the time for their use arrived. This made things stressful and chaotic as I desperately tried to complete whatever I was doing before the water boiled or the sauce burnt or whatever time-limit I was up against arrived. I was usually not successful.

Now, I go through the list of ingredients, prepare everything, and group them together based on when they are to be added to the recipe. Not only is this easier, it speeds things up, and makes me feel like I actually know what I’m doing because, after all, I have everything arranged like I’m a pro chef. So if you were like me, let me tell you the secret to cooking: don’t rush. Take the time to prepare everything ahead of time, and it will all turn out.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

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