So not to toot my own horn or anything but I'm not a bad cook. You know what? I'm actually pretty good. I don't mean I am a Top Chef or an Iron Chef, just a pretty good housewifey cook. That being said, I really had to work at it. I remember once after high school I cooked chicken parmesan for some boys and fried the chicken in like a cup of oil. It was so embarrassing! Or at least at the time I didn't think it was but now I can't believe I did that.
The point I want to make is to let all of you out there know that if you aren't already a good housewifey cook you sure can become one. Let me just offer some unsolicited advice on the matter.
First start with recipes. Tried and true recipes. That's it. Seriously, follow it and you will succeed. After that, you can begin asking yourself what would make it a little better and start modifying little by little. My older sister made me a cook book with all of the family recipes for my wedding and it saved my marriage. Now there are little additions and notes in the margins because I have my own style and spin on things but in the beginning I never strayed.
Watch cooking shows. PBS plays them during the middle of the day. Martha comes on sometime before 1:00 p.m. and Food Network is constantly running something you can learn from (except Sandra Lee. That lady is horrible and wrong and her boobs are nasty just like her semi-homemade crap.) Just by watching a show occasionally you will start to get a handle on some basics. Things like complimentary flavor combinations, when and how to cook certain ingredients, and fun tricks like how to gracefully remove all of the seeds from a pomegranate (thank you Alton Brown).
If you don't have a TV or don't like TV, pick up a magazine, read a blog or go over to a house where there is a good cook and observe. I don't like it when people pass themselves off as "bad cooks". I truly believe that everyone can learn how to cook good food. It is definitely something you have to work at but it's possible for everyone. I feel like I am starting to quote Ratatouille or something!
Taste your food. When you are cooking, dip your finger in the balsamic vinegar before you add it to your sauce. Nibble a fresh basil leaf and you will see why people call it sweet. Have you ever eaten a spinach leaf whole, raw out of your hand with no fork or salad dressing in sight? Taste your food meaning all of your ingredients.
Along these same lines, use your nose. Have you ever walked in to your mom's house on Sunday and instantly started salivating at the smell of the pot roast? A light bulb should be going off. If it smells good, it will taste good. Maybe this is why we don't like to eat things that smell like poop!
Cook seasonally. This may sound very chefy, chef, chef, snobby but it's not. I don't mean that you should only buy the finest ingredients from the organic farmers market. I mean, don't cook spicy chili for a noon lunch on the day of the summer solstice. There is a reason we like pumpkin desserts and slow cooked animals in the winter. There is a reason we salivate for a bowl of chilled gazpacho in the summer. You will always like your food better if it is appropriate. I promise.
So there are some random tips. I think that having a desire and the confidence that you will succeed can make you successful in pretty much anything.This post may seem like it is totally out of left field but I have a couple of friends who doubt themselves but are so good at other things they work at. I know that if they just tried to cook well, they would. I promise that you can go from drowning chicken in oil to experimentally creating a perfect Thai coconut curry as long as you just commit and learn.
Now that I sound like this big expert snob I think I'll end. I have re-written this post so many times trying to make it sound less hoity toity but I can't. I'm sorry that it sounds that way but I hope you don't think I'm a total B for all of the things I said. Or that I'm super conceited or vain. Remind me to tell you the story of when a semi-stranger flat out told me that the first thing they noticed about me was that I was vain. Yeah, that's a good one. I digress. Go cook.