The Interior of my cooking

Daniel has started a discussion about the useless and useful kitchen appliances. This makes me think about how I am cooking and to what end.

First of all I am cooking because I need to eat something every day and have decided that any kind of ready-made food is evil. The more parts of the food are pre-processed the worse. The more of the things I prepare myself, the healthier the food gets. Of course that takes time of which I do not have much. Therefore anything that saves time on cooking is good: mixer, food processor, the magical ‘mash wand’ (dt.: Stabmixer). All these are in heavy use in my kitchen.

Second I am cooking because I love to eat good food. That’s where all those secondary appliances come in handy: I have noticed that not only the perfect ingredients but often the right mould or pot or pan makes for a better result. Tin foil is becoming more important too and I wish I was better at growing fresh herbs. Lately I have noticed that one of Rolland’s favorite kitchen paradigms “Viel hilft viel!” (engl.: “the more the better” ?) is really not true. Especially with herbs and spices. I used to use a lot of them and sometimes that is what is needed but more often one wants a subtle flavoring …. the flavoring axiom: “Less is more!” (this goes for the amount of food as well!)

Third reason I am cooking because I simply like to cook. That’s why I need all those cookbooks. I am working hard on completing the first ‘Meter’ (of space the books take up in the cupboard). I am always experimenting – mostly on week-ends. A lot of these experiments go toward finding more healthy recipes to cook during the week. I have published a few of my experiments on the web so just browse to the recipes category (well most of the recipes are in German, but I am learning kitchen English now that I own two English cookbooks).

The more I cook for myself, the more I hate anything not homemade. I am completely off chocolate bars like Snickers, Twix and Mars. I find them simply grosse. I am still eating sweets but homemade ‘Kuchen’ (which is not cake …) or Pannacotta (the Jamie Oliver recipe 🙂 of course) or cookies or … a lot of the fast food and snacks you can buy somehow make you always want more of them (cheap chocolate, chips/crisps, pizza, coke ….) there must be something addictive in them: sugar, caffeine, salt …. everything is over-dosed. Slowly my sense of taste is coming back.

But how do I really go about it? I have tried to get Rolland to try the same approach but it just doesn’t work with him.

I love to read cook books and there I find a tasty looking picture which I simply have to try. I go buy the ingredients, or if I have a lot of them I try to make the recipe with what I have at hand (which is much more fun anyway, trying to substitute all kinds of things). If I have time I clean up the kitchen before I go, but usually I just start with cutting up the onions (9 out of 10 things I cook need onions – except the desserts of course). Then I start doing all things at once. Usually I do not even read the recipe before I start which has often resulted in a mess or uhm ‘interesting results’.

I am now in a learning phase where I normally manage to make the rice/potatoes/pasta/salad at the right time so it is ready with the main dish, but as everyone sure knows this is a real challenge. Because cooking is not only “making the main dish”.

Depending on the state of order in the kitchen everything goes smooth or not. Sometimes I even manage to prepare all ingredients and search for all the herbs and spices before I start. At other times I have to scream hysterically at the fridge or the cupboard because something seems to have gone to food nirvana. If the kitchen was orderly before I am even cleaning up some things while cooking. So here’s one of my cooking axioms: “Chaos generates more chaos.” and did I mention the first axiom of cooking yet? “Nobody cooks by the recipe.” Nobody, no matter how hard they try. Cooking is not an exact science!

When everything is done the kitchen is either a real mess or nearly clean. The food is ready to be served and then I expect everyone to jump. I now understand my mother’s sunday scream “Come down here, the food will be cold!”

Another thing really important to me: if the food isn’t an absolute disaster (which rarely happens) I want people to show that they enjoy the food. I want feedback. My star sign is Lion and I need appreciation for my work.

What I love after dinner if someone else cleans up the mess I left. This is not a necessity because I understand how cleaning up a messy kitchen sucks. But it’s so nice. My father has cleaned up the kitchen every sunday since I can remember without being asked or asking for help and though my mother usually said he didn’t need to do it and he was usually complaining about the mess she left, it was part of the sunday meal as much as the wine that goes with it.