Hey guys and gals. To enrichen my blog and share a bit more about my personality, I want to let you into my head for one of my biggest passions: cooking.
It is one of the easiest things in the world, I believe, BUT you have to build up a feeling for it over time. I was lucky enough to be brought up by a mum who took us shopping almost every week and also got us involved in the cooking/chopping/etc. from a young age. The great thing was that she had a wealth of knowledge about food and I was a curious kid, so I learnt a lot. In addition to that, when the TV was on at home there were often cook shows running, which I soaked up as well. There is, however, something that I only realised in retrospect about her cooking, that has pushed my admiration to another level. There were times, when I was younger, that we didn’t have so much money, but food was never something my mum compromised on. She made sure that we had good food, even if it meant getting creative.
I remember that there was a family we knew, because my sister was friends with their daughter, who also didn’t have much money. For them, contrary to us, it was because they chose to save money to buy a swimming pool. To be able to save the money they lived mainly from eating white toast, beans and pickles… I am so glad something like that would have never happened at our house.
Earlier I mentioned getting creative with cooking. My mum initially had to do this because of allergies my sister and I had as babies, but this creativity and use of all her knowledge later translated into her cooking. From there it has become one of the biggest elements of my culinary endeavours, encouraging me to try new things with new combinations in a very spontaneous and intuitive way, even if that means messing up sometimes. I don’t tend to cook from recipes unless I am baking (one of the big areas I differ from my mum), which is why writing them down was quite a task for me. I love cookbooks, but only for idea generation.
There is a good reason why as well. When you follow recipes you tend to work for the end product and pay more attention to the paper than the ingredients your working with. Also, if you only ever use the recipe you won’t try new things that could open your world of taste to new opportunities. You should never blindly follow orders. Taste is different for every individual, you have to learn how everything tastes, the different cooking techniques (and what they do to the food) and how to put it all together to match your palate, wallet and lifestyle.
I throw lifestyle in there because so many people say: “I don’t have time to cook” or “I don’t like cooking for myself” or “I don’t know how” or “It’s too expensive”. There is only one of those reasons I would ever half accept: not knowing how. There are so many fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fish and herbs available that, understandably, starting out can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t grown up with cooking. However, healthy nutrition is SO important that there is no way around it. Build up your knowledge from anything you may know a little about, base veg like potatoes and carrots or just have a look at what is in season. In season veg are not only going to be cheaper but will also taste better than veg which is artificially grown and pumped full of water and artificial nutrients. In the longterm everything you eat leaves its traces in your body and I am not just talking about fat. Think about it logically: good produce that is good for your body costs money, so there is a reason the ready meals are cheap.
On the other hand, eating healthy doesn’t have to cost the world. This takes me onto the points “It’s too expensive” and “I don’t like cooking for myself”. Too expensive(?): buy the things that can hold for several weeks (potatoes or onions for example) in bulk, make sure you store them right and it will give you a cost saving basis to build your meals from. Also, fresh food markets can be cheaper than your regular supermarket: no import cost. The same thing goes for cooking for yourself: don’t want to be doing it every night, then cooking in bulk and freeze. You can make your own ready meals for the week, that will be exactly how you want them, cheaper (if you buy smart) and 100% more healthy.
So then we get to the final point: “I don’t have time to cook.” Considering the previous points that I made: you should take time to cook! However, if you need more convincing: I would argue you can cook most standard meals in about 30 minutes. That’s quicker and more healthy than ordering takeaway, most ready meals take around the same time too.
So lets talk about putting together a dish. I won’t go into the details of ingredients, instead I want to talk to you about what you should keep in mind: your palate. There are 5 main taste sensations which we feel and you should try to balance them in your dishes. The 5 sensations are: Bitterness (back of your tongue), Salty (middle sides of tongue), Sweetness (tip of tongue), Sour (in between Sweet and Salty) and the fifth Umami (down the middle of the tongue). Umami is a moreish savoury flavour, if you’re interested to know more read up about it.
What I want to finish on is just a summary of the above: don’t be scared to explore food, it doesn’t have to look fancy (like on so many social media accounts), make the time for it because it’s your health we’re talking about and last but not least play with your food!