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You CAN Still Learn to Cook!

I consider myself a good cook, and a pretty good baker. I remember my mom having me “get dinner started” before she got home from work when I was just eight or nine. We didn’t know that we were latch-key kids; grandmother lived next door. It was 1967. To me cooking assignments were fun and I liked being helpful (and probably feeling like I was more grown up than my brothers).

As a weight management specialist—for nineteen years now—I’ve long been aware that cooking skills have a lot to do with eating choices. For good or bad we pass our skill, or lack of skill, to our children.

Recently, I read a book that got me thinking more about my own cooking skills: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School--How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks, by Kathleen Flinn.

Like the nine novice cooks in the book, I cook a lot like my mom. For instance, since reading the book I noticed that while I know how to roast, or sauté, fresh veggies, I often warm up frozen veggies in the microwave. Maybe that’s because like most of us I feel time-constrained, and I already have the entrée to deal with. On the other hand, mom used mostly frozen veggies. Thankfully, they are a healthy choice that we needn’t feel bad about! Still, more roasted veggies will be showing up on our dinner table.

Most of us would probably like to cook more, and feel more competent at it. Most of us would also like to spend less money on food, and most importantly feed ourselves and our families more nutritiously. Learning to cook—and then actually cooking—can deliver all that.

Whether you like cooking, or don’t feel like much of a cook, but would like to learn, I think you’d enjoy and take a lot away from Kathleen Flinn’s book. She provides a great basics foundation: the basics of soups (and stocks), braising, how to cook fish, simple guidelines on dressings, marinades, seasoning styles (Italian, French, Thai, Cajun, Indian, etc., etc.). There’s also good advice on how to improvise, including using leftovers and even how to avoid throwing so much food away.

The most vaulable take away might be to learn to trust your instincts, your own taste, and the empowerment of being able to create food that you and yours will enjoy.

My cousin, a 6-foot 4-inch tall Gulf war veteran, originally recommended Flinn's book to me. He’s the cook in his house and he thought it was great. Needless to say, it has wide appeal! Love to hear what you think.


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