A few years ago, I developed a wonderful relationship with 2 other bloggers (Toni, The Happy Housewife and Joy from FiveJs). We turned our friendship into a little experiment we called “3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days.” We spent a month blogging about what went on in our kitchens and had so much fun working together that we decided to start a group blog which we called Happy To Be At Home. It was a great blog that we grew to include a whole team of contributing writers. But then we all got busy with other things and we quietly let Happy To Be At Home slip away. I think it happened before any of us realized what was going on. However, I’m glad to say I still consider Joy and Toni to be very good friends.
Below is one of my personal favorite posts that I’ve ever written. It was originally published the first month that Happy To Be At Home was in existence. I’d completely forgotten about it until Joy emailed me all of my posts from there that she recovered from the server. I hope you enjoy it!
When I first began my role as a homemaker, I was very cautious in the kitchen. I would only prepare things that I knew for certain I’d be able to get right. This often meant boxes of Hamburger Helper, Create-A-Meal freezer bags, or the tried and true recipes I helped my mom make when I was growing up. I often longed to be more courageous; to take on baking a loaf of bread or making a fancy gourmet meal. I watched cooking shows voraciously and with sincere fascination. I read cookbooks as though they were novels, marking every page that had something I wanted to try to make someday, when I was bold enough to move beyond my crutches. I hoarded these things and my cooking vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds. Yet I was still stuck.
One day, my husband convinced me to just try something, anything, which I had been dreaming of making. He pointed out that the worst that could happen was we’d lose the few dollars we’d spent on the ingredients, throw the meal away, and order pizza. Obviously I knew he was right. So I tried. I don’t remember what that first fateful meal was, or even the outcome of it, but I remember the result. I felt empowered for my courageousness. I suddenly saw the kitchen as full of possibilities. I had learned not only cooking terms, but also many procedures, just through osmosis while watching Food Network or reading Julia Child cookbooks.
So my courageousness grew each day. There was a whole plethora of opportunity awaiting me in my pantry and refrigerator. The remarkable thing? With each new something I prepared, I felt more willing to try other new things. That in turn led to my feeling confident in the kitchen. Nowadays, there’s nothing I’m afraid to try. Not everything is a success, not by far, but I’ll continue to try. I will even attempt a second time a recipe that was a flop by putting my own twist on the ingredients or method.
Here are a few pointers I’ve learned along the way when it comes to having courage and confidence in the kitchen:
- Start small. If you’ve never scrambled an egg before, don’t attempt an omelet on your first try. Or, do attempt an omelet, you may surprise yourself.
- Understand and be willing to accept that some dishes will just not turn out right. Even the seasoned professionals make mistakes. Don’t be willing to let a flop foil your whole career in the kitchen.
- Study, ask questions, and practice. Read a few cookbooks and watch some cooking shows. Get to know your way around foods, terminology, and methods. Ask someone whom you consider a better cook than you for advice when you are stumped. Cook as often as you can. The confidence that grows from doing a task over and over applies in the kitchen also.
- Loosen up and take a night off. If you are getting frustrated or losing focus, take the night off. There is nothing to be gained by forcing yourself to prepare a 7-course gourmet meal when you are tired of “learning” how to cook. Go ahead and open up a box of macaroni and cheese.
Personally, I needed to find courage in the kitchen before I was able to do much of anything. I needed to let go of my perfectionist ideals and risk something new long before I felt confident. But for some people, the reverse could be true. Perhaps you are very confident in the kitchen because you do a fantastic job of cooking the things you know how to cook. If you desire to broaden your culinary horizons, use that confidence as a spring board into courageousness. It really is not important which trait comes first (it’s a bit like the chicken and the egg). If you want to push yourself to the next level in your kitchen, use the skills and traits you already have, and take a risk. Be courageous and confident in the kitchen. What’s the worst that could happen?