The Simplicity Of Cooking

Jul 13, 2018 | Cooking Tips

I have taught a lot of people to cook over the past few years. In that time one thing that has struck me as more of a hindrance than anything else is people’s need to measure ingredients.
Unless you are baking, measuring is really subjective. The quicker you can change the way you think about cooking, ie. getting rid of the measuring cups, the quicker you will get better at cooking.

Cooking is just as much an art as it is a science. But it seems that people often forget about the art of it. They focus way too much on getting the exact measurements and not nearly enough on using their senses. Eating is obviously a very experiential process. Cooking should be the same. If someone only focuses on getting the measurements right they are missing the joy of the process.

There are two main problems with focusing so heavily on measurements. First of all, ingredients don’t always taste the same. A tomato is sweeter or more tart depending on a lot of factors. Onions and garlic may be stronger at different times of the year. What this means is that if you follow the same recipe four times a year, you will get four different tasting dishes. If instead, you learn to cook with relative measurements (eyeballing) and focus more on taste you can balance the dish to taste the same no matter when it’s cooked.

The second problem with focusing so heavily on measuring is that you will likely never learn to cook without using a recipe. Cooking without a recipe is when you really start to learn to cook. When you make dishes that taste good and look good without a recipe in front of you, that’s when you become a good cook. Anyone can follow a recipe. Cooking is about putting yourself into the dish. It’s about letting go of the constraints and letting your creativity run wild.

I understand that this is not for everyone and that it can be a scary idea to wrap your head around. You don’t want to mess up dinner. But here’s the thing. Focus on learning the basics and think through the process before you start cooking. If you are making something with ground beef you should already know that the beef needs to be browned to add flavour. If you are making tomato sauce knowing that a touch of sugar will take away some of the acidity will make it easier to balance.

To be clear what I am saying is that if you want to be a good cook. If you want to cook without recipes and without measuring, learn as much as you can. Read recipes as suggestions, not laws. Start by removing the measuring cups and eyeballing ingredients. A little extra of this or that isn’t going to change things nearly as much as you think. Learn as much as you can, enjoy the process.

When you get to the point where you can let go and just enjoy putting ingredients together, cooking becomes so much fun. It becomes something you desperately want to do rather than something you have to do. It can even become a form a meditation and a source of relaxation. That is what cooking should be. It should be fun. So, lose those measuring cups, start tasting as you cook, and enjoy the process just as much as you enjoy eating the outcome.


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