If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume my blog was taken over by anything and everything Thai lately. I guess you could blame that on a recent wine tasting event, getting to know Kanchana Rubino and all she does at Sweet Basil, and developing an interest in trying her food. This all led to a relaxing day in the park and a lunch date.
What can I say? I’m spoiled. Our lunch date was outside of Starbucks cafe in Mission Viejo and consisted by green papaya salad, chicken wings, and a dessert of mango sticky rice topped with mung beans. The green papaya salad is a mix of papaya, tomatoes, lime, fish sauce, sugar, Thai chili powder, pepper, dry shrimp, and garlic. I’ll have to admit – I was a little skeptical of this mix and wasn’t quite sure how it would turn out but I was pleasantly surprised by how light and refreshing it was. Kanchana topped off this salad with naturally roasted peanuts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy my chicken wings and had a hard time pulling the meat off the bones. The few pieces I could taste were delicious but eventually I gave up my conquest much to my dismay.
Dessert was exquisite and out of this world unique. I would have never imagined sticky rice, mango, and mung bean as a dessert but Kanchana’s Thai lunch opened a world of new possibilities for me. If you experiment a little, you just never know what you might create and end up liking. However my problem has always been just getting started and staying in the kitchen long enough to find the inspiration to create anything. In my laziness and general distaste for cooking, I go for the quick fix. If I could be creative and concoct recipes, I might enjoy my time in the kitchen more.
I’m not alone in my way of thinking. Fast food continues to grow in popularity because of people like me who are not motivated to cook a meal for themselves. Why cook when you can get it delivered, picked up curbside, microwaved, steamed in a bag for 5 minutes, popped in the oven for 15 minutes, etc? However a lot of these convenience foods are packed with preservatives and high sodium counts. They are silent killers in the long run as opposed to fresh market ingredients that require some physical work but keep you healthy for a long fulfilling life.
Here a few tips that I’ve taken to cure my fear of cooking a.k.a. Mageirocophobia:
- Plan our your meals: make a list of meals you’ll be having for a week or two weeks. A cookbook can help you make that list. Browse a bookstore and choose a few that you like.
- Make a grocery list based on your planned meals. A grocery list will keep you on track, keep you from wandering through unnecessary aisles in search of something you might not need, and keep you within your budget.
- Wash, cut, and prep all your produce according to the guidelines for your meal and the recipes. Prep work is a major factor in the cooking phobia. When it comes down to cooking your meal, it will be an instant relief to know all your prep work is already done and you just have to add it to your cooking process as you go along.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices. Add a little at first, taste test, and then add more if desired. Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match different spices to create something that is uniquely you. Some spices are grouped by region – basil, oregano, and garlic would go well with an Italian dish whereas cumin, coriander, and red pepper would suit a Mexican dish.
- As a beginner, pick one method of cooking that works, stick to it, and build your confidence. Once you have mastered your recipe for let’s say scrambled eggs, then you can get creative and start the next phase by adding a few spices and/or milk, half/half to make them fluffy
- Last, relax and don’t psyche yourself out. If something doesn’t work, you can try it again. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means your first method didn’t work and there’s room for improvement. A few trial runs will help you perfect your technique.
If anything, these past few days have taught me the importance of embracing cooking and how the convenience of fast food could be killing me. It’s a real wake up call if you stop and think about the harm you are causing yourself by ordering out. I will be making a conscious effort to get over my own phobia and face my kitchen with the tips I’ve outlined above and possibly unveiling a potential master chef that may lie buried underneath.