The Joy of Cooking

 The Joy of CookingOne of the things that brings me great joy, is cooking. I love to cook alone, and decompress from a challenging week, and I love to cook with my son (a teen, at this writing)!

Being inspired by the movie, “Julie and Julia“, I have made it my goal to attempt to make every recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens NEW Cook Book. As of this writing, I have made about 50 recipes from the book and continue on in my quest for better cooking skills, understanding of flavor profiles, etc. More on my cooking conquests in upcoming posts. I am posting some of my favorite Better Homes and Gardens recipes, including the things that I have done to make them more healthy or tasty. I am also posting my own recipes which I hope you try!

Something funny happened on the way to Home Economics 101!

When my son was very young, I used cooking and kitchen duties as a way to teach life-skills. It was rocky at first, since my son has Dyspraxia, and almost everything we did in the kitchen was performing in his weaknesses. Not really inspiring, but I knew that once he grew up, he needed to know the basics of kitchen/food management.

Time after time, the stirring of ingredients with those shaky, clumsy hands of his, would end with all those ingredients on the floor, or the counter, if we were lucky. Oh, and of course, I heard the bawling, “my hands are tired now,” or “my hands hurt, mommy!” There was the shaking of herbs and seasonings that went everywhere, but on the food. Let’s not forget the dozens of cracked eggs that went down the drain instead of into the bowl, or more fun, the cracked eggs that slipped quickly and surreptitiously down into the dark regions of the stove, beneath a hot burner.

But we persisted and the stress of getting everything prepped turned into joy. Then we had to work on timing a meal, so it come out at the same time. For a kid with ADD and Dyspraxia, that was (and still is, to a degree) a MAJOR point of stress. But, still we persist. It will come, as have all the other skills that we now enjoy.

Oh, back to that funny thing that happened! As each skill-set was acquired, another layer of enjoyment came to live in our kitchen. Although, we cannot take all the credit. The Food Network Channel, along with its inspiring Chefs and Teachers (part of the illustrious line-up of teachers in our home school), has played a huge role in the development of our love of cooking, as well as helping us to learn all kinds of advanced skills, such as how to create an exciting flavor profile, or a new knife skill, or the yearning to try new and exotic foods and flavorings.

Alton Brown has been our chemistry and science teacher for as long as I can remember. Alton, you have no idea how much we all love science, chemistry and food history because of you! You are the coolest geek in our home school!

Bobby Flay is this cute Irish guy that has taught us a lot about flavor profiles, not being scared of the BBQ grill, and how to compete and win with honest humility. Thanks, Bobby!

And who in their right minds wouldn’t love to learn how to pronounce Italian words correctly, from a petite little Italian lass called, Giada De Laurentiis? Just makes me want to say mozzarella over and over and over again.

And just when things get a little dull around here, Aaron Sanchez is always ready to add some heat to spice things up.

Let us say, that the reward of many flops and tears in the kitchen has been that we both have learned how to cook. Not just Kansas meat-and-potato cooking, but exciting, fresh, creative cooking with healthy ingredients, many from our own organic gardening, and some from ethnic groceries near our home.

My son’s friends get so excited when they are invited to stay for a meal. They start coming into the kitchen and sniffing and oohing and awing, asking when it will be time to eat, and exclaiming in delightful, hungry teenage boy methods, how “this meal smells so good, it will be the best meal they have ever eaten”.

Best yet, is the many memorable hours that I have spent cooking with my son! We have developed a rhythm in the kitchen. He loves to prep, and I love to let him. He has excellent knife skills, and a set of “real” Shun Ken knives. He chops and measures, I do the “scary” stuff, like searing meat in a really hot spattering pan. Together we make wonderful meals that will bless our family and friends.

Join us in the Joy of Cooking!

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