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Kitchen basics for beginners

Guided cooking leads to cuisine confidence

ChickenCooking was not a skill I learned early on in life. Waking up at 4 a.m. to feed farm animals and to retrieve eggs from the chickens, before quickly catching the bus for school was a routine embedded into me and my four siblings from junior high to high school. Breakfast was a mythical thing in our household, and lunch was provided by the school. 

Dinner at home was always interesting, but not in a good way. My mom worked in the refineries and did not have time to become Betty Crocker while paying a mortgage and supporting five children. So baked fish, watery spaghetti and tough-to-chew barbecue was on the menu anytime of the week. The effort was there, just not the skill.

Needless to say, I did not ask her to teach me her ways when I became a single mother —some things are better left in the past. I mastered not burning scrambled eggs, grilling cheese sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese. My one-year-old toddler did not complain about his limited options — anything not charred was acceptable.

It wasn't until I began dating my boyfriend that the opportunity arose to become proficient in the kitchen.

During one of our first dates, he told me that he was passionate about food and his hobby was cooking. I thought, “Could I really have gotten so lucky?” 

I proposed that instead of expensive dates every week, that he buy food and teach me how to cook delicious meals for a fraction of the cost that he would spend taking me out. 


The next week, he showed up with bags of food I never would have looked twice at in the market — sausages, vegetables and chicken.

I watched as he pulled groceries from the bags with a smile on his face, clearly happy that we were about to do something that he believed was fun.

He did not dominate the kitchen or make me feel dumb — he took things slow, kept his distance and gave directions as I did all the work. Not only did he gift me with a priceless skill, but he also created a safe environment for me to feel OK if I messed up. 

I grabbed a pack of small sausages, wrapped them in sliced bacon and rolled them onto brown sugar. Then I set them into rows on a pan and popped the appetizers into the oven at 350 degrees until crispy.

I washed three chicken breasts, wrapped them in bacon and set them on the cake pan. Then added mushrooms, green beans and diced red potatoes next to the chicken. I then added two sticks of butter and a packet of ranch seasoning, covered the pan with foil and added it to the oven for an hour and a half. I learned later on that any vegetable can be used.

That evening, he gave me a gift that I had always needed — confidence in the kitchen. That gift has grown since then. I now have the ability to not only follow recipes but also make my own.

Category: Opinion