I’ve avoided learning to cook for many years. I didn’t think it was necessary. I used to feel that it’s a hassle to cook. I just like to eat, not cook. I tuned out whenever some of my friends talked about cooking.
There were two short-lived times in my life when I attempted to cook but these episodes ended shortly, and I never did feel I’ve learned to cook anything. It’s more like throwing ingredients together and see if the dish would work out, and it didn’t.
After my little boy was born, I was so blessed to have my mom cooked for me and later for him too. I didn’t have to worry about my meals as taking care of my young baby was intense and life was real busy back then. When my son began to learn to eat, my mom was there, cooking soft foods for him.
Then in December 2012, something happened in my family and my mom couldn’t come to my place as often and that’s when I knew it’s really time for me to learn to cook. I had to learn to cook for my son to eat!
Still, it was relatively easy. It’s all about cutting and throwing all the ingredients into a pot and steaming it for 45 minutes. My mom gave me a quick briefing on what to do. Oh, now that I recalled, I ate the same mushy food my son ate for several months.
The Learning to Cook Journey Unfolded
As he was turning two, I had to start cooking more solid foods for him. My mom gave me a few pointers about handling minced pork and seasoning fish, and that’s about it. I remember how in the past whenever we sisters asked her how something was cooked, her standard answer revolved around estimation.
But unlike the past, this time I had my smartphone and the internet to the rescue! I’ve been using my smartphone to surf for real easy food recipes on the Internet, and that’s how I slowly picked up cooking.
My Cooking Mistakes
Initially, I felt that I was cooking for my toddler, so I tried to keep it as healthy as possible. I didn’t even add salt to my cooking. I hardly added much seasoning and would cut down on the seasoning portions, and no wonder my cooking turned out lacking…
Back then, I liked to keep it as simple and fuss-free as possible. I still remember how I tried to ask my dear friend on her chicken pasta salad, and how I told her I would just add chicken to the pasta without the other vegetable ingredients and without the lemon zest, and she tried to tell me in a gentle way that it wouldn’t taste as good. ;) She was so kind to take photos of her next chicken pasta salad making session and sent the step-by-step photos my way!
Oh, and I wanted to keep my cooking time as short as possible. When I tried to experiment with cooking pasta or Chinese soups, I kept the simmering/boiling time to like 10 minutes. And I wondered why the flavors of my pastas/soups weren’t right.
After many rounds of bland and boring meals, I decided to perhaps follow recipes more closely in terms of their seasoning. Slowly, the taste of my dishes began to improve. A few months ago, I found out that a longer simmering pasta helps to bring out the flavors in pasta sauce, and a longer boiling time makes the soup so much tastier.
My Regular Ingredients and Dishes
Till now, the ingredients I use are very limited. For vegetables, it’s mainly carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, corn and pumpkins. The Chinese leafy green vegetables which I used to cook for my son when he’s younger, he doesn’t want to eat them now. He’s at the phase where he’s avoiding green vegetables with the exception of broccoli.
For poultry, it’s just minced pork. Yup, just minced pork, and so I tried to create different dishes using minced pork. Then on weekends, when we go visit my parent-in-laws, they will always pan-fry fish for my little boy to eat.
In the past, the only chance I ate pasta when I out dining with friends. These days, it’s a weekly dish as my kiddo likes pasta, and me too! I found a few easy pasta recipes on the Internet which I’ve enjoyed making. As I like Chinese soups, I’ve tried Egg Drop Soup and Crabstick & Corn Soup. I’ve also come up with my own style of making tomato soup, pumpkin soup and recently old cucumber soup.
Cooking is a Useful Skill
Upon reflection, I’m thankful for the chance to finally learn to cook. I’m still quite a distance from being a good cook, but I’m pleased that I’m now able to cook to feed my son and myself, without having to resort to buying lunch or dinner from outside everyday.
I learned cooking at a juncture when I needed it and it’s indeed a very practical and useful skill to pick up.
4 years ago, it never crossed my mind I would learn to cook one day, but today, I’m glad I’m able to cook something instead of muttering, “I don’t know how to cook.” ;)