Weekend Plans Post: Learning to Cook



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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42 Responses

  1. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    Gonna be crappy weather here (maybe severe weather tonight, maybe snow tomorrow morning). I did my weekly grocery shopping yesterday (this involved driving 1/2 hour to the nearest Kroger’s; this was the last week I’ll be able to shop on a weekday for a while – four of my five weekday afternoons are full once the semester starts, and I have frequent evening meetings)

    The guy behind me in line commented “Gonna get cold this weekend.”
    “Yeah,” I said, “That’s why I’m doing my shopping today.” (I had a bag of oranges, a bag of grapes, some bread, some milk, pork ribs for the slow cooker, oatmeal, some crackers…)
    “So am I,” he responded. I looked over: he had two bottles of sparkling wine and a tube of Braunschweiger.

    I’m….not sure that Braunschweiger will last the entire weekend…

    This is also the last weekend before classes being. I have a little research work it would be ideal to finish up (scoring soil samples) and I am going to do some of that today and if the weather’s not icy Saturday, I might come in and do what I don’t complete today.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I have found the zenith of the is/ought problem; The Duvet Cover. The wife thinks this Ought to solve all bedding problems. I think this Is the biggest pain in the ass ever devised. I thought I had won this battle, but no.

    The Duvet Cover can never fail, only be failed.

    (A friend of a friend just entered hospice, so we are house-sitting in Portland while the friend goes to visit. Sucks, but there you are.)

    ((I never liked cheese. Or any dairy really.))Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

      I’m sure you’ve seen this. If you haven’t, it’s *NUTS*. It’s, like, topographical math or some crap.

      We used to have a duvet and we used to do the thing where we’d shake it in like a pillow and then have to crawl in to get the last corners.

      We learned this trick and then, whammo, we switched to blankets.

      But, seriously, it works:


      • Avatar JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

        That looks like madness applied to blankets. Thankfully that trend didn’t make it out here.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

        You can do all the clever work in the world installing the duvet cover, by morning the duvet itself will be bunched up nyt your knees while you huddle in a ball under empty duvet cover you’ve fruitlessly pulled up to your ears.

        Blankets are the way to go. Wool ones, ideally.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to dragonfrog says:

          We’ve got a flannel one that is more or less about 50% as heavy as the lead vest that you get at the dentist when they do X-rays.

          It’s preferable to the duvet, if you ask me. (But you aren’t going to be rolling over a whole lot.)Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to dragonfrog says:

          The actual quick way to put a duvet cover on is to lay it on top of the duvet, but inside out. Then you tie the little corner thingys and you can easily flip it inside-out.

          But the even quicker method?


  3. Avatar Fish says:

    I don’t think my parents ever sent me into the kitchen to make dinner, but I learned similar to you: box mac and cheese, sandwiches, etc. I remember once making an omelette for my Dad and the first time it came out PERFECT and…I’ve never been able to replicate it. And when Mom went back to work we all learned that it was Dad who was the REAL whiz in the kitchen!

    At my first duty station, I learned how to adapt some pasta recipes for the microwave (because that’s all we had–the days of enlisted dorms complete with a full kitchen on every floor were still a few years away). I dated an Italian/Greek girl from Chicago and she taught me how to make my own spaghetti sauce. And of course, there was the grill.

    I really started learning after we bought a house and got married. I’d watch K in the kitchen and think, “I can do that.” And obviously opportunities to excel present themselves because everybody works and everybody has to take their turn in the kitchen, right? And oh yeah! A couple of years ago my sister gave me a bunch of cook books. I can follow directions! And from there it’s all experimentation and trying stuff and seeing what works and what doesn’t and trying to remember to write down what I did so I can replicate it. I’ve now got a “Recipes” folder on my google drive that I can consult for ingredients when I’m shopping.

    And a few months ago my mother-in-law bought me a big fancy new grill. Well, specifically, she “bought herself a new grill but she decided to keep it at my house.” I immediately noticed the rotisserie motor mounts and bought a rotisserie motor and spit and learned how to brine chicken and cornish hens and make those rotisserie-style on the grill. I even made a lamb roast! That one was good, but needs refinement (and really the best part was cutting up the leftovers and finding a good recipe for lamb curry).

    The boys have had their turns in the kitchen (though admittedly not nearly enough) and when they go out into the world they’ll have a handful of meals they can make in the kitchen. We should probably push that more often!Report

  4. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Jay mentioned the Keto diet several times here, so I mentioned it to Riggs and he looked into it and was: “yeah, I think this is really doable” so we started last monday. He calculated a 9 weeks run, which is cool, because at the table we kind of discuss ‘this is real food!’.

    As far as cooking goes, I showed him how to cook pork chops the way grandma did. Pretty good sear on each side with a touch of salt and pepper.

    Slow cookers are usually frowned upon, as the presence of one tends to lead to the creation of ‘Big Pants People’. There is nothing wrong with BPP, but the doc usually looks at ya with some disdain, and becomes rather preachy about the downside calculations of BMI when you see him every fourth year.

    Since the accuracy of that other muzzle loader was resolved, moved on to see how well the Kentucky cap lock would group. It’s a .45 which usually takes a .454 round ball, but for these 1980s types I have started using a .454 Casull round. Well, the rounds were tumbling and keyholing at the 20 yard range. I knew the barrel was pitted, but this was a bad sign. A round ball somewhat hides the tumble and did have tighter groups.

    Usually blackpowder rifles are pitted throughout the bore all the way to the breech, but this one was unfinished (for 35 years) so it looks like it spent time in a garage or attic, and picked up moisture mostly at the muzzle end. The solution was to cut approx. 12″ off the muzzle end and see if that alleviates the tumbling, (as a side note the barrel was still over 16″).

    Between honey do’s and chores I will see how it groups.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    Kids love learning to cook. Emulating their parents, accomplishing something, quick results. And it’s scalable. Scrambling the eggs and shaping the cookies for the young ones, then cutting the tomatoes and carrots, and later coordinating and timing multiple dishes. Something as simple as build-your-own tacos can get a child over the initial fears. And since kids often have simple tastes, you can get them making their own bologna sandwiches or mac-and-cheese and feeling like chefs.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Pinky says:

      I have happy memories of learning to cook as a kid. Of course, both my parents liked to cook and that helped. But when I was quite small, I asked my mom for an Easy-bake oven and she asked me: wouldn’t you rather learn to use the real oven? And she taught me how to make cookies and simple cakes.

      One Christmas – I think I was about 5 – I got a copy of “The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook” (which is a SOLID cookbook with good and fairly complicated dishes – it is the source of the creamed salmon recipe I frequently make) from family friends. I still have it. Some time after that, we were shopping at a Best (one of those big warehouse-showroom type stores that used to exist – my family shopped there a lot) and they had copies of The Mickey Mouse Cookbook out and my dad asked me if I wanted one and I said yes, and for years I would bake cakes out of the recipe in that book. (That book is definitely more kid-oriented than the Winnie-the-Pooh one was – that one is more a serious cookbook with a whimiscal angle, and the Mickey Mouse one is more “food kids like”). I still have that one, too – the way I do oven fried chicken is based on a recipe in that book.

      As an adult, I have an embarrassingly-large collection of cookbooks (including a few more child-themed cookbooks: a year or two ago Disney came out with a “Princess” cookbook somewhat in the same spirit as my old Mickey Mouse one, where each dish was “introduced” by a character. It’s a surprisingly solid cookbook in the diversity of its dishes (hummus, for example, and a Chinese-style stir fry for Mulan…)

      Alas, I have kind of wound up as a “big pants person” though i suspect I’m partly just genetically predisposed to it. I’ve tried to cut back recently because past experience showed just cutting back on sweets and carbohydrates (and not even cutting OUT) results in a drop of a few pounds, enough to make my doctor happy. (This fall, with grief-eating, was bad; some of my slacks are no longer comfortable to wear, but hopefully that will change)Report

  6. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    Have to go to Vegas for 4-days for annual corporate meetings. Every year one person gets fired; the only question is whether it will be for banal mendacity or in a spectacularly picturesque flame-out. Usually its banality, but every 3-5 years we get something that keeps our hopes alive.

    Strangely, the one year in the past 10 that we went somewhere other than Vegas (New Orleans) was the year with the highest casualty rate… not all were terminal, but the number of walking wounded was very, very high; and the stories we, um, storied. I attribute it to the fact that people had to go outside and interact with real other people vs. the cocoon that is a Vegas resort.

    Predictably I’m rather boring in Vegas… its just another corporate meeting except the leitmotif is: Sex. And here I’m using leit as a courtesy.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

      When I did the Vegas thing, it was when the Family Friendly Vegas had done its apex and was now beginning to wander back down towards Sin City. That was… 2010? 2012? The recession was in full swing and I interpreted the tone shift to sex as an attempt to woo back tourist dollars.

      Now that the recession is ostensibly over (no politics), I admit to assuming that Vegas went back to Family Friendly without really having anything to base that assumption on.

      So I’ll ask you: have they continued their change in emphasis since 2012ish or so?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

        Good question…I think its going to be mostly driven by the property.

        One year around 2010-2012 we were at the MGM Mandolay Bay an there was definitely a pro-family vibe to the place – think Circus. Then again, they were also hosting the AVN awards the same week… so Sexy Adult Circus?

        The past years we’ve bounced between Aria and Cosmpolitan which I’d rate as Sexy + and Sexy ++ which is to say that everywhere you look there’s a silhouette of a non-PG boob… even in the (expensive) industrial carpet. I feel like they are going for (Semi-)committed couples get-away.

        I don’t claim to have a definitive scorecard of Sexy vs. Sleazy, but Cosmopolitan > Aria > MGM.

        The sleaziest place we’ve been to was the Rio. That one had girls dancing on special platforms on top of the Slots. Not all the time (and not naked)… just sometimes at random? But yeah, it was weird… so there’s a big Sexiness swing from Rio to Cosmopolitan.

        Places like the Venetian and NYNY seem less Sexy+ (being merely sexy in that ubiquitous Vegas way). I’m sure there are dozens of other places that run the gamut too.

        So, there you go… impressions of a decade of corporate meetings. But on the whole Family thing… I don’t think there’s a push anymore… but then, I do see a fair number of families. However, I’ll note that they seem to be the 1, maybe 2 kid variety and overwhelmingly toddler age – which might seem odd in one way, but make perfect sense in another. I honestly can’t recall seeing a tween or teenager… but I’ve seen innumerable toddlers.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Tomorrow, Zorro comes home with us (he’s an 8 week old smooth collie, black and tan). It’s been 20 months since we had to put Lance down, and that is way too long to live without a dog.Report

  8. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    I’ve always said if you can read you can cook. Follow the recipe to the letter, then adjust it after you’ve tried the results.

    And, PAY ATTENTION! Half the battle in getting edible dishes is making sure they’re not overcooked. My wife’s sister lived with us while she was in grad school, and she used the smoke detector as a cooking timer.Report

    • the funny thing is, I have known a few chemists who absolutely could not cook. They could teach chem lab fine, they could do their own research fine. But when it came to producing food that was actually edible? No.

      It was a mystery. I am somewhat clumsy in lab (I broke so much glassware one year in college and that was partly why I decided to become an ecologist) but I am a pretty good cook. (As long as I pay attention. I have very occasionally scorched things in a pan because I either forgot to turn down the heat or I wandered off to do something and didn’t stir enough).

      I have a colleague who fancies themselves a “creative” cook and makes things without a recipe, but those things are mostly inedible and they wonder with disappointment why no one will eat their food at the departmental potlucks. I learned early on to figure out what dishes people like and consistently produce those. (To the point where there are things I am “expected” to bring to certain parties….)Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Chemists can’t cook… wrong skills.

        Ask them to try baking.

        Unless they get hung-up explaining (to nobody) how the cookbook gets the Baking Soda reaction wrong…Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Yeah, baking and cooking are really two very different things. When I cook, esp. if it’s something like a stew or a casserole, I will substitute wildly if I don’t like or don’t have one of the ingredients, and I often only roughly measure (like: I know about how much a teaspoon looks like in my hand).

          When I bake: nope. Get out the measuring spoons and cups, and only substitute if it’s something I know has similar properties to what is being substituted for (e.g., dried cherries instead of raisins)

          I learned to bake before I learned to cook. (Though I cook far, far more than I bake now. I did more baking between December 1 and December 20th of last year than I did in the previous 12 months….)Report

  9. Avatar Damon says:

    After Xmas, I roasted a small chicken. Boiled the carcass and various herbs and veggies to make stock. Supplemented by good purchased stock. Made chicken soup with carrot, potato, wild rice, and celery. Used chicken thighs.

    Tasty. Ate it for a week.Report

  10. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    I mostly learned to cook by guided osmosis I guess. My parents giving me kitchen jobs – make the salad, dice me an onion and some carrots, keep an eye on the fish while I pop out for groceries…

    In early high school I came home in time to watch “the urban peasant” on TV while eating considerably less ambitious snacks than James Barber was preparing. I think that got me ambitious to learn and experiment more, even if I didn’t necessarily incorporate a lot of the specific techniques or recipes he made.Report