I have a couple of friends who think that cooking a meal is equivalent to undergoing torture. Cooking, to them, is a journey into the unknown, so they stay away from anything that resembles preparing food.
But if you go to their homes and see their kitchens, it’s as though you are seeing an entirely different person. A marble-topped center table, with a gleaming set of pots and pans hanging from stainless steel hooks above the table. A Sub-Zero refrigerator, a professional cooking range that must have cost thousands of dollars and a spice rack that would make Emeril jealous.
I can sympathize with this dichotomy because it is very similar to my own adventure in learning how to ride a bicycle. I have never had an interest in riding a bicycle and I thought I will never need to. But when my daughter started to bike I thought, “Why not me?”.
I wasn’t satisfied with a plain ordinary bike. I bought the most expensive one in the bike store, with gear shifts that I will never understand nor dare to use. And of course I bought a fancy helmet, knee guards, elbow guards, leather gloves and a cast-like apparatus that prevents me from scratchining my skin off should I fall. I did not forget the expensive bottle that fit into the pocket on the bike. By the time I donned all the cloth and the gear my husband said I looked like a 16th century knight going out to battle. In the park, I found it impossible to ride the bike, to the sound of shrieking laughter from my daughter. She offered to get me some training wheels, which I declined on grounds of retaining some bit of my dignity.
I’m certain that my mindset is similar to those friends who have fear of cooking. Unless they can achieve perfection the first time they try, they seem convinced they should never try again.
Remember that you need not start with the most sophisticated recipe you can think of. Start with easy recipes, a soup, a simple pasta or baked chicken. Cook any dish a few times in order to build your confidence, and leverage this to build your cooking portfolio. Here’s an easy recipe to start with:
Basic Tomato Sauce for Pizza or Pasta
makes three cups
1 16-ounces can tomato sauce-with no corn syrup in the ingredients
4 cloves garlic, mashed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon basil
salt to to taste
-In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic for few seconds.
-Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil. Adjust the seasoning, cover and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.