For my birthday this year J got me a gift certificate to a local cooking school, something I'd asked for, and when I went for my class - which was an incredible amount of fun and inspired me to try baking again, despite the fact that I have claimed over and over to hate baking and, actually, come to think of it, I haven't baked since recommitting myself to it, but that's another story - one of the things the teacher said that really stuck with me was about following recipes. I mean, of course she was into recipes, because she teaches people to cook for a living, but what she was saying, specifically, was that sometimes people feel like they can just "throw things together" when it comes to cooking. And hey, sometimes they can, especially if they know what they're doing or have a knack for the culinary arts.
But sometimes, she said, if you're not much of a trained cook, "throwing things together" tastes like exactly that: something thrown together. I knew exactly what she meant. I've tried throwing things together before to bad results because there is, in fact, a science to cooking. Like, you can't just throw cheese in with macaroni and make macaroni and cheese. I heard about someone who tried that once. Didn't work.
If you use recipes often, though, you learn techniques and rules and then, after awhile, improvising while making dinner becomes easier.
Her sage advice came to mind this morning when - after telling Nora that we could have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight - I was looking up meatball recipes and found one that looked great but required the addition of bechamel sauce and I was thinking, "You know what? I bet it would be fine without that." Because I'm a little lazy when somebody tells me I am going to need to make a sauce. Also, it seemed like a highly caloric sauce, as they often are, and I forced myself to believe that I didn't want to make it because it would be healthier for my family to leave it out. The truth, however, is the thing I wrote before about being lazy.
But after going back and forth on the issue a few times, I remembered the advice about following recipes and I realized that if I want to expand my cooking skills in general, I should learn to make a basic bechamel sauce.
And so I am!
While whisking the milk into the sauce just now - constantly whisking, a necessary step - I had some time to think, and I thought to myself, "Hey. I haven't updated my blog in forever. And I haven't posted anything interesting up in even longer." So here I am.
Today I didn't let laziness get in the way of following a recipe and I updated my blog with hopes of doing the same more regularly. Both following recipes and the blog, I mean. I'm going to try my very hardest.