John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Kitchen Commando in Training

Part of the transition towards writing full time, is that I'm also becoming the full-time cook-at-home guy. laurie_robey and I have lived largely off of restaurants for the past several years, not because we like them so much as because we tend to both be pooped when we get home, especially if coming home from my day job is just the precursor to doing my real work.

When I'm no longer going to my day job, that will open up considerably more time for things like "cooking your own food" and "washing dishes," which is a good thing, because unless I have an unexpected runaway hit (fat chance) we won't have the money for restaurants anyway, or at least, not very often.

However, I have a certain level of quality I require in my food, and to that end, I have to learn how to cook. When I was growing up, my father did all the cooking at home, and from him I learned the following lessons:

  1. Bang your pans as hard as you can, cursing like a sailor at all times.

  2. Cleaning your pots, pans, utensils, dishes, and working area is for suckers.

  3. The cheapest ingredient is the one you should use.

  4. Never cook by hand, what you can microwave the hell out of.

  5. Fry everything in a huge cast iron skillet. Including soup.

  6. Knife is dull? Go buy a new one. They're only a buck or two at the grocery store anyway.

  7. Just don't use the parts of the flour with bugs in it.

  8. ...uh... did I mention banging your pans?

So... yeah. Learning to cook is something of a journey for me. However, I am making progress. I have learned the basics of using a chef's knife without losing any fingers, I have managed to successfully sauté a few things, I've even mastered a pretty nice little chicken fried rice recipe.

I'm also starting to notice and plug gaps in our kitchen armory. Basically, the third time I say "I wish I had a ______" I put that thing on the shopping list. And today we gathered up two years' worth of "Bed, Bath & Beyond" coupons and tromped over there to start plugging holes.

Most of the stuff we bought was pretty dull (Pyrex measuring cups, tongs, stuff like that), but we did get two items that I'm actually pretty excited about. The first was a deep fryer because, being from an old Virginia family, I am all about the fried chicken and chips. The second is a good knife. I've got one good knife already, but I'd like to have two on hand. I've also got a set-in-a-block of cheapie ones that were a present from relatives, of which we rarely use any. (Protip: Any knife that claims "Never needs sharpening!" is lying to you.)

I do need to get a knife sharpener of some kind still-- BB&B had an electric one that had a coarse grinding stone and a fine grinding stone. For the good knives, probably all I need is one of those sharpeners that looks like a sword and a little practice. For the not-so-good ones, they probably need a serious sharpening, or possibly a throwing away.

In any case! I'm pretty jazzed about it. Cooking is fun if you have the time and energy, and Laurie's and my tastes are so eclectic that cooking our own food is probably the best way to make sure we always have stuff we like. It's a skill I wish I'd learned long ago, instead of taking a crash course now, but the world is what it is.

Speaking of all this, I gotta go make dinner. Gonna try some shrimp scampi. :d

-The Gneech
Tags: gneechy talk
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