I don't know how to cook. I know how to prepare nourishment to keep hunger away.

In my teens, I took cooking classes ("home economy"?), and those were very useful. I didn't learn all that much, and have forgotten most of it, but I have the very basics down: I can boil water, peel an onion, and make pancakes, and a couple of other things like that.

I'm going to learn some more now. I'm going to learn how to make food that is delicious, healthy, and fairly cheap.

There's a reason for this. Actually, three reasons for this. Well, four.

  1. I'm fed up with eating ready-made meals I buy from the store. They're not very tasty.
  2. I need to improve my health, and food is a big part of that. If I prepare most of the food I eat, I can control that part of my life more easily.
  3. As I get older, I find myself becoming more frugal. Cooking myself is much cheaper than eating out, or eating ready-made meals.
  4. It's a lot of fun, actually, especially in company. Particularly with the special woman enriching my existence in so many ways.

This desire to cook has been growing for about a year. The first really concrete step happened in November, when I bought a copy of Mark Bittman's How to cook everything, based on the recommendation of Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar blog, and some extensive browsing in the bookstore.

That's an excellent book. It is not just a list of recipes, but starts with how to buy ingredients. Most helpful for a newbie such as myself.

Bittman seems like my kind of chef in other ways too. He writes for the New York Times, and one of this pieces shows how you can get all the pots, pans, and tools you need to cook just about anything for $200. (I'd link to it, but NYT wants registration, so I can't.)

This approach fits very well with my new cheapskate streak. In fact, after reviewing what I already had in my kitchen, mostly thanks to my mother, I figured that the only thing I needed or wanted to buy right now was an instant-read thermometer. I've used it several times now, and it is really handy: it removes the need to guess when meat is done (also known as judgement guided by experience).

Of course, after buying the book and thermometer, I haven't actually learned much new. I've cooked more, but mostly stuff I already knew how to make. The only new things I've tried is meatballs, lamb curry, and various experimentation with spices other than salt, black pepper, and chili.

That's going to change. Since I'm too lazy to try new stuff without some pressure, I'm applying some. Until the day before the Eve of May 1, I'm not going to eat any ready-made meals, and I'm only going to eat out if I'm having company.

This will force me to try new things. If I stick to what I already know, I'm going to be fed up with them very quickly.

I doubt writing recipes here will be of much interest, but I do intend to write here about my progress, if only to keep the pressure on me by keeping things in public.