I love a good home cooked meal. Perhaps because it is something I grew up with (thanks mom!), or because it is simply something I started to enjoy doing over time. I was a disastrous cook when I moved out at the tender age of 18. By now, I throw 5-course dinner parties for friends and have produced recipes even my mom had copied. Almost all recipes you see on here feature nothing but fresh ingredients and today I’d like to take you through how I manage to cook from scratch.
Cooking from scratch: chore or must do activity?
For me cooking from scratch is a no-brainer. I wasn’t raised on microwaved foods. In fact, my childhood home didn’t have a microwave until I was well into my teens. What a novelty that was! When I moved out, a microwave was not part of my kitchen arsenal for the first three years as well. And in those three years I learnt how to cook. But let’s take it back a step.
Cooking from scratch is something that needs to become a habit. A habit I easily developed because I saw my mom cooking meals every day. It was only natural that once I moved out, I would do the same. My first attempts were disastrous. I would try cooking the same meals we had at home, with little success. Traditional food quickly became part of my ‘please no’ list. After years of potatoes, veggies and meat on a plate almost every night, I’d decided I had had enough (sorry mom!).
Then I discovered pasta and that became my experimental ground. I just chucked in as many veggies as possible and just hoped for the best. It helped I had a very kitchen savvy housemate at the time who was able to teach me the basics. I slowly dabbled into baking, copying my mom’s traditional recipes and those did work out very well. I think I’m a better baker than I am a cook, but I can do a bit of each. Some friends of mine swear by my NY Cheesecake, I’m telling you!
So how can I cook from scratch? I hear you thinking. First, I think you should try and find a good example. There are many cooking videos up on Youtube now. Jamies FoodTube but also Gordon Ramsey’s channels are pretty neat. I found that when it come by doing, I learnt better by copying examples rather than following written instructions. So if you can find someone even closer to home to take you through some of your favorite recipes, it can be of a great help.
If you want to learn basics, a good cookbook that goes over the most standard elements of cooking can be very helpful. So skip the fancy cookbooks you see in the store, but invest in a good basic cookbook which takes you through different techniques and doesn’t over-complicate things. I find that some cookbooks make it a sport to use nothing but hard to find and process ingredients, which is not what cooking has to be about for your day to day cooking skills.
The best way to cook from scratch? Is by keeping it simple, clean and easy. Use ingredients you know and like. Combine them in different ways to figure out your favorite combinations. What goes together? What doesn’t go together? Try a vegan recipe, try a vegetarian recipe, try a gluten free one. All those different types of diets require different skills which will make preparing meals so much easier.
Mostly it is a process that takes time. But if you’re willing to invest that time, you will soon have a couple of staples up your sleeve that everyone will love. Plus if you make some extra, you can pop them in your freezer and have a home cooked meal without much of the hassle even when you’re busy. No more need for store bought, microwaveable foods! YAY!
Do you cook from scratch?