Home Cooking

How do you learn?

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Home Cooking 9

How do you learn?

eight_inch_pestle | Apr 15, 2010 12:03 PM

I was going to post this as a reply in the "What recipes do you make at least once a month?" thread, and then decided that it was off-topic enough to merit its own post...

I'm utterly fascinated by the fact that Chowhounders whose opinions I've come to respect (bushwickgirl, todao, phurstluv) don't cook the same thing "twice in a year." For me, repetition is more educational than chowhound, any cookbook or cooking show, or anything else I do in the kitchen. I make something once (either from a recipe or off-the-cuff), then obsess over what worked, what didn't work, and why. And then I tinker endlessly, exploring how different proportions, processes, and ingredients impact the resulting dish. All along, I'm noting results and thoughts for future changes in my cooking journal (some dishes are even versioned----I'm on Chili 4.5, for example). At some point, a dish becomes as perfect as I my meager skills and knowledge can make it, and it either goes into the rotation as is or falls by the wayside. Any principles I've learned (how to butterfly a pork tenderloin, and how long a 1-pound tenderloin needs at 400 degrees after it's been butterflied, stuffed, tied, and seared on the stove) are applied to future dishes. Is this not how other people learn and grow as home cooks? How do you learn? 'Cuz I'm open to the possibility of changing course.

And people really don't make steaks, omelets, scrambled eggs, pancakes, a go-to quiche, roasted chicken thighs with herbs, basic roasted fish, grilled cheese, salad nicoise, burgers, ribs, a favorite soup, a beloved pasta, or a standard curry twice in a year? I have a hard time even getting my head around that.

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