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Ready, Set… Let’s Get Cooking!

Posted by on March 14, 2011

Cooking at home has made a comeback. In all fairness it may have never actually went away, but it seems to have gained popularity in recent years.  Beyond Julia Child and Martha Stewart, there lies a plethora of shows for the cooking enthusiast: The Rachael Ray Show, Hell’s Kitchen, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and my personal favorite, Master Chef. And those are just what is on regular network television. There are endless possibilities found on cable TV, too.

The simple fact is America is tuning in to hone their skills in the kitchen and, at least for the moment, we’re captivated.

For me, learning to cook was borne out of necessity.  As a single woman, I did not cook anything more challenging than spaghetti or scrambled eggs. But when I married a man who had custody of his two young sons, I knew cooking was not an option. I had to learn quickly–my family was depending on it.

Maybe you are like I was and don’t cook at all, or maybe you already cook but want more variety in your repertoire of recipes after hearing one too many times “Not this AGAIN!”

The initial step in beginning to cook is taking stock. It’s time to open up your cabinets and assess your current cook-ability. What do I mean by that? Over the years you may have collected cook books and cooking magazines ,or even a lot of index cards and newspaper clippings of dishes that sounded great and you thought you might like to make some day. Even if you have never cooked before, you may be pleasantly surprised to see the number of recipes you’ve amassed over the years. You may be very encouraged to learn that you already have a head start.

Supposing that you do not already have a stash of recipes and are truly starting from scratch, you have a number of options.  There is no limit to the number of cook books available in your local book store (and probably your local library). There is also a mind-numbing list of cooking magazines for every cuisine or lifestyle goal (such as weight loss or heart smart).

As far as cook books go, I feel the best cookbooks are collections of favorite recipes submitted by families who compile them into a formal book to be sold as a fundraiser (usually churches, schools, scouts and other non-profit organizations).  They are chocked full of tried and true recipes from real families with real schedules. Usually void of any rare ingredients or labor intensive directions, they are family-friendly.

In addition to my cookbooks, early in my marriage I subscribed to Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking magazine.  Not only was I venturing into new territory of being a new wife and full time step-mom to two young sons, I also worked full time. As much as I would have loved experimenting and challenging myself, it was about getting a kid- and husband-approved meal on the table quickly.  All of the recipes were simple and to the point. It was a great starting point for me as a newbie chef.

If money is tight and you aren’t wanting to spend a lot of money to increase your recipe options, consider recipe swapping with friends and family members. Be willing to share some of your own favorites in exchange for them supplying a few of theirs. The internet is also packed with on-line recipes. In fact, many of the monthly issues of cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and Rachael Ray print their recipes on line. It’s not something they are going to advertise. After all, they would rather you buy the subscription than to obtain it free.  There is the obvious downside of the general inconvenience of having to go on line to find a recipe, especially if you are hoping to find a new recipe quickly, or want the recipe in front of you without having to print it out.

Hopefully, this article will inspire you to try something new. For some people it might inspire you to start cooking and for others, to breathe new life into a chore you may not necessarily enjoy. Either way, your family will thank you for it.

Check back next week for part two of Bonnie’s cooking series, “Got Recipes? Get Organized!”

Image Credit: The Recessionista

Bonnie Krueger  can be found in her kitchen in West County. In 2009, she began her first blog, Inside My Head and she began a second blog devoted solely to the memory and unique story of her mom, Heart Speaks. She can also be found on Wednesdays on The Patch’s Mom Talk.

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