Learning the language of cooking
I used to say, “If you can read, you can cook.” But that’s not really true, is it? If you’ve never actually seen someone sear a giant roast, how would you figure it out? When a recipe reads, “Mince two cloves of garlic…” could you do it? And how much, really, is a “pinch” of salt?
In my 20s—before online search engines answered any question we might have about cooking—I called Mom, Grandma or Aunt Beverly for answers. When I first moved south, I pestered my friends Millie or Betsy. Now, I just shout it into my phone. That’s incredibly convenient and efficient, but I miss those food chats with real people.
Real people usually have confessional stories to accompany their answers. Take, for instance, my “town kid” mom who married a farm kid. She knew nothing about meal prep, let alone growing food. When Grandma sent her to the garden to pick some strawberries, she scanned the tidy green rows in anguish, spotting nothing resembling a delicious red fruit. Aunt Marilyn to the rescue! She parted the leaves and—voila! Strawberries! Hiding underneath! Who knew??
It is astonishing how much food knowledge a farm kid gains just by hanging around the fields and gardens. In college, a friend asked me, “Do you ever just walk into the field, rip off some corn, and start eating it?” Sarcastic snort before, “Well I might. If I was a COW.” [awkward pause] “Field corn is not the same as sweet corn.” [crickets] “It’s really dry.” [blinking] “You’ve maybe heard the commercials about corn-fed beef…?” [light bulb moment]
The same is true of kids who hang out in the kitchen. You might start out standing on a stool and just stirring, but you soon learn a wooden spoon picks up every flavor, every spice it stirs. So you might not want to mix your baking batter with the same spoon dipped repeatedly in your pot of jambalaya. You don’t remember learning this, but you just know that measuring cups are different for dry vs. liquid ingredients. So you measure flour or nuts by the cup or half-cup, and oil by the ounce.
So yes—if you can read, you can cook. BUT…there’s always a learning curve along the way. Just ask the questions. Someone out there will be happy to share the answers. Bonus: You might get a little story out of it. Like that time I had to rescue a salty gravy a nameless friend tried to thicken with baking soda instead of flour…
It seems impossible that just one year ago, when the world was still slightly mad and everyday tasks were restricted, I agreed to start a YouTube show. I mean, how much crazier could life get?
As it turns out: Pretty crazy!
A luxury weekend for out-of-town guests led to a coffee-shop meeting, which inspired a phone chat, that shaped an idea with currently 20,000+ YouTube views about…hospitality. Yes—hospitality! Those skills you gleefully drag out when guests arrive and you get to kick your daily routine to the curb. The happy excuse you give for trying a new and possibly expensive recipe. The much-needed reason to spruce up your home and yard because: Company is coming!
Now, hospitality can be as simple as having a friendly and generous spirit as you welcome people into your everyday life. It can be. But it never is for me. I seem to go over-the-top for one guest to join us for chicken pot pie. I mean, flowers need to be enjoyed…candles need to be burned! A coffee chat needs to give the French press a workout. Tea is just better in a vintage pot with a fresh slice of pumpkin loaf on matching plates. Am I right?
Of course I am! And that’s why I’m having so much fun sharing hospitality tips with viewers all over the world.
You see, we are all better people when we extend a hand to friends and strangers. People notice when we try harder. Guests appreciate beauty and thoughtfulness. Generosity is never out of style! And kindness should be second-nature, shouldn’t it?
I think so, and I hope you’ll continue to join me each week as I try to encourage everyone to confidently say those three magic words: Come on over!