I’d like to introduce y’all to my number one kitchen inspiration: my mom. It is a cliche to say it, but it’s true: most everything I know about cooking I learned from this lady. I am merely the padawan to her Jedi Master. My brother and I used to joke that Mom could go into the kitchen with only a bag of flour and a jug of milk, and come out with a ten-course meal. I still think that’s true.
While working as a nurse, my mom trained as a chef, opened her own catering business and has continued to operate it for nearly 30 years. She’s cooked for all sorts of people, including some celebs, and has forgotten more about food than I will ever know.
As a teenager, I was perhaps a bit too stubborn to accept her advice and preferred to
learn the hard way experiment without the benefit of her wisdom. Despite this, I somehow managed to absorb lots of cooking tips and techniques. I was probably the only kid in my dorm who packed recipes for harissa and risotto along with my bedsheets and backpack.
Now that I’m an adult, I have much more appreciation for Mom’s professional experience. I know that I use things I learned from her every day. So I thought it would be interesting to share some tips and tricks here on the blog, for those of us who did not grow up with a chef in the kitchen.
For today’s installment, I asked Mom to give me the top 10 things she wished she’d known when learning to cook. She writes:
- Know how to read a recipe
- Know the difference between baking and cooking
- Know how to measure
- Understand food terminology (sweat, deglaze, dice etc.)
- Understand when food is done (i.e., cake springs back when touched or how to use a food thermometer)
- Knife skills (how to cut food – dice, chiffonade)
- Food safety
- Learn how to substitute ingredients
- How to plan a meal
- How to use spices
I’m rather impressed with her list — anyone who masters these things would be very well equipped to handle just about anything in the kitchen. In future posts, we will review each of these points in more detail, but just for today, the list is food for thought.
What about you? Is there anything you would add to this list?