Organization in cooking
A Reader’s Digest article from many years ago struck a chord and stayed with me. It concerned a woman who had been out of the workforce for several years while she raised a family. Once they were grown, she decided to apply for employment. With her many years of being away from office work, it was difficult to even be granted an interview. When she finally got one, the boss stressed a new worker in his office would have to be organized and prompt. She would need to be able to plan and complete projects on deadline. He asked about her experience working with various factors — including last minute changes — to get her job done.
Her response was, “I can cook a five-course meal and have all the foods hot when they are placed on the table at the same time.” She got the job.
That makes me wonder how many noncooks have any idea what a monumental accomplishment that is. Home cooks (as well as those in restaurants) learn what it takes and they repeat the skill over and over for many years. As is likely the case with many cooks, I have enjoyed teaching our sons and now our grandchildren how to make it all happen.
A breakfast tip I taught them is to put the bread down in the toaster at the same time you flip the over-easy eggs. It worked perfectly until we had to buy a new toaster, which has a longer time requirement. That threw off the timing and we had to adjust.
For planning time management, it usually works to figure out your menu, then after reading through the recipes, consider the time requirements for each dish. The one that needs to cook the longest or needs to be marinated before it is cooked, would be the one that is started first. Basically, you work backwards from that first preparation to the one that takes the shortest time to cook, such as sautéing mushrooms.
Once you are an experienced cook the routine becomes second nature. Much of the meal planning is done on the fly, while considering what is on hand. Recipes are more like guidelines for experienced cooks.
Beginning cooks have more challenges. First a menu must be planned, recipes found and don’t forget grocery shopping for items not in your kitchen. Cooks will learn about substitutions in time. If they want to make brownies and the recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate squares, it is not necessary to run to the grocery store. For each 1-ounce square called for use 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon of oil or shortening. Internet cooking sites abound with facts like this.
My suggestion for any cook is to utilize the books, the TV program and/or the blog of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Her directions and photos are clear. If you learn cooking terms and procedures from her you can cook anything. Happy learning! ❖
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