Although I don’t understand it myself, apparently there are people in this world who don’t like and/or don’t know how to cook. Both camps pain me greatly, and so I’m here today to start my campaign to get the world a-cookin’. First, I’ll begin with Thursday 13 reasons you should get in the kitchen today. As time goes on, I’ll add some cooking how-tos for those culinarily curious.
|Vegetable curry is a perennial fav.|
1. Healthier lifestyle. Recipes from The Pioneer Woman notwithstanding, cooking at home generally affords a healthier lifestyle. Typically restaurant foods (especially those of the fast variety) use a ton of salt and fat for flavor. Learning how to prepare food can keep you eating and staying well.
2. Leftovers! So many dishes turn twice as delicious the next day (yes, I’m owning that rhyme right there). Plus you can save money on going out to eat by bringing leftovers to work.
3. Cook once, eat twice (or if you’re me, 10 times). Although cooking admittedly takes time, with some forethought, you can prepare meals that feed your family more than once. If you have Cook For An Army Syndrome like yours truly, you may even be able to make your energies do triple or quadruple duty. At least once a week, I like to make entrees we can eat twice, and then freeze to enjoy later in the month (or year).
4. Caring for friends and family. Good cooking can be a gift. Whether it’s making a meal for your immediate family or taking food to a friend in need, cooking allows you to demonstrate care to your loved ones. For the record, my M.O. is to make casserole and/or cookies.
|Potatoes Anna. Easy and incredibly satisfying.|
5. Wooing. Want to know how Mr. T won my heart? With spinach and strawberry salad, Welsh rarebit, sautéed chicken, spaetzels, and burgundy mushrooms and peppers. Years and years later, I remember exactly the production number dinner he prepared. If you want to woo a significant other, the kitchen is a good place to start. (We may or may not have gotten my brother Josh the book “Will Cook for Sex” for Christmas. Hey, if it works…)
6. Saving money. Think back to the last $10 plate of pasta or $12 chicken dish you ordered. Did you know you can make most meals for a fraction of the cost a restaurant will charge? Knowing how to cook is a big time cash keeper.
|Pancakes with blueberry compote. Oh yes.|
7. DIY gifts. It’s easy to turn your culinary creativity into beautiful (and tasty) gifts for friends and family. One year my sister made everyone out-of-this-world spaghetti sauce for Christmas, and I always look forward to Deb’s apple cake and my mom’s peach jam.
8. Sharing identity and culture. By sharing food, you can share who you are. For instance, I got to know my old roommate Matt best when we were in the kitchen. By talking about, preparing and cooking food together, he taught me about Hawaiian traditions and how he grew up (and a hundred other things). Likewise, I love that my friend Geeta makes me Indian tea when I crash at her place and that we always find ourselves chatting over raviolis or popcorn or most recently, mango lassi. I’ve learned so much about my friends by cooking with them.
9. Expressing creativity. Whether it’s cobbling together a menu from disparate ingredients, trying a complicated recipe, or preparing something aesthetically pleasing, cooking is an excellent creative outlet. It combines art and science, improvisation and structure. And have I mentioned, it’s fun?
|Sauteed chicken and roasted root veggies.|
10. Bragworthy bashes. Our best parties have involved home-cooked vittles. In particular, our annual Christmas brunch is now a beloved family tradition.
11. Stress relieving. At least for me, the kitchen can be a retreat from the stresses of the day. Although I admit I don’t always feel like cooking, most of the time, chopping and frying and stirring can ease my soul.
12. Staying connected. Want to keep a couple, a family, a friend network connected? Make a meal. When I think about the friends we see most often, and the family events that I remember most fondly, I can envision us around a kitchen table.
13. Did I mention leftovers?