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How to Be a Bad Cook

The bad cook has several characteristics. If you don't want to be a bad cook, avoid these habits.


1. Cooking is a magical process. Rely on the magic! Don't bother to pre-cook items like rice, beans or pasta. They're going to be cooked in sauce later, right? In response to this avoidance of boiling lasagna noodles as a preliminary, recipes for no-boil lasagna have been invented.

2. Skip any steps which involve washing or picking over dried legumes to remove stones and dirt or learning any special techniques, such as how to wash leeks to remove the sandy soil. You are an optimist who trusts things will turn out well anyway, and will be known for your "Gray and Gritty Vichyssoise".

3. Do not waste. Include any pieces of gristle, fat, specks, pieces of eggshell, dark areas of otherwise light colored foods, solidified or liquified parts of any item which is intended to be the opposite. All of this food belongs to you. You paid for it and that gives you a number of specific legal rights.

4. Don't bother to time how long anything takes to cook. Guess! That's more fun and tests your ability to smell burning food. Serve it anyway, though. Everyone's hungry.

5. If you've ever watched a chef on TV, you know cooking involves shaking spices and herbs into a pot. Sprinkle any amount of seasonings for as long as it feels good to shake the container. It's bound to be delicious! I know that because I watch TV a lot.

6. Cooking is a long process. Cook and cook and cook each dish. It gets tastier the more you cook it. Keep stirring and stirring anything which can be stirred, too. It's the mixing which does the trick. If the ingredients seem to be getting crushed and mushed, remember Step 1 and rely on the magic.

7. Surprise the palette! You can put any combination of ingredients together and they will taste great! Try a little of everything you have. When you go to the store; buy one of each so you can be sure of having it later on. Spices, herbs and seasonings never go bad or become too old because most of them are dried anyway. Soy sauce, wine, cheese and jam were invented out of spoiled food and they taste wonderful.

8. Foods last a very, very long time. People who are about to eat at your table will approach you with items you have stored without refrigeration (sometimes even items you have kept in the fridge) claiming they smell funny, have soft spots, mold, or are shriveled or swollen. Insist the food is perfectly good. You didn't pay your good money just to throw it in the garbage can.

9. Be very experimental. If you have read about or heard of a dish for which the details now escape you, make something up.

10. Buy your ingredients long before you intend to cook them. Perishable items can be kept for weeks. What if the store is out of something by the time you get there? Plan ahead.

11. Bugs and worms, bacteria and mold spores know what's good to eat. You don't have to waste time removing these from your ingredients: they magically disappear during the cooking process and you will not be able to detect them, even if your guests tell you THEY can. Just laugh. They are probably trying to be witty.

12. Talk a lot about what you are planning to cook. As you eat, talk about how you created your menu, anecdotes of what happened while you cooked and make observations about how tasty it all is! Later, remind your former guests of what they had, how you had discovered the recipes, cooked it, etc. Eating should involve ALL the senses including hearing.

13. Food can be stored anywhere on your property without being covered. This ability of food to remain wholesome under a variety of conditions gives you some freedom to relax after a meal and chat with your guests. Remember to tell them how you thought of each recipe, what happened as you prepared it, etc. It takes lots of hard work to be a chef. Never cease in your efforts.


* This is not merely a comedy article. I have eaten the loving efforts of a bad cook for decades and I know all the signs.

* I, myself, have done some dumb stuff, such as being too lazy to scrub or dig out the sprouting eyes on some elderly potatoes I wanted to bake. I wrapped each one in aluminum foil like the restaurants do! Before serving I was overwhelmed with doubt and decided not to put them on the table. This is why a bad cook needs to be determined to carry out the plan. Those of us who are sensitive to what others think can never be truly bad cooks.

* Helen Gurley Brown's "Single Girl's Cook-book" has a chapter on what to cook to get rid of a man. It has suggestions such as a breakfast egg poached in red wine. It's probably delicious; but an off-putting purplish color first thing in the morning.

* A companion's habit of preparing disgusting food or, even worse, not cooking at all, has often been mentioned in the confessions of murderers. It is this ability of food preparation to remain endlessly challenging which captivates the imagination of so many of us.


* Some things can be dangerous to your health. Avoid eating the following even if you must be rude to the bad cook: raw meat, raw poulty, raw fish (except from an authorized sushi chef), and raw eggs, old meat and poultry, old fish, old eggs or old dairy products even if they were cooked, cracked eggs, swollen cans, food which smells or looks spoiled, anything moldy, items which should be served hot or cold but have been sitting around at room temperature, edibles which have been touched by the raw juices of poultry, eggs, meat or fish and food which a sick person has coughed on, if you needed me to tell you that last one.

 Things You'll Need

* Self-confidence: people will try to discourage you from cooking. Don't listen to them!

* Faith: the belief that the impossible is possible.

* Leadership: be the first to praise your own efforts.

* Imagination: for when results turn out differently than the recipe predicted.

* Determination: cooking is not for the weak.

Focus on your goal which is to be a cook. It's okay to be a little deaf to complaints, blind to any of your dishes which look disturbing, and insensitive to hard, dry, gummy, bitter or burnt sensations. It takes time and effort to develop gourmet abilities. Lots of people didn't like caviar the first time they tried it, either.

Article added: 25 February 2011

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All the flair you can
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