Welcome to Cook 5, a weblog of culinary instruction! No assumptions are made here. If a recipe calls for a diced onion, there will be instructions on how to dice an onion.
Learning to cook can be daunting and it shouldn’t be; it’s not difficult, you just need to do it. Nobody was born knowing how to cook.
My name is L.R. and years ago I took the time and made the effort to follow recipes and before I knew it, I was a cook. It still surprises me a little when I make something and it’s delicious. Which is most of the time.
Learning to cook has been the coolest, most satisfying thing I’ve ever done.
And when I say that, I don’t mean that I attacked the learning process with any sort of scholarly rigor. I cooked for myself and others maybe once a week.
In fact, this blog was started because of an onion…
When I was an undergrad on summer break a bunch of us were hanging out at a friend’s parents’ house in suburban New Jersey playing drinking games and Annie from Marshfield (“Mahshfield”) MA made roast chicken and twice-baked potatoes for the maybe eight of us. I don’t remember much about the food but what still stands out years later is that Annie could cook a meal for many. I didn’t have even a nascent interest in cooking or I would have been in the kitchen with her instead of playing Quarters.
Soon after that something shifted and I wanted to learn to cook, so I taught myself from books and magazines. There were many frustrations due to a lack of clear guidance.
A chef friend recommended a (still) popular classic reference cookbook and one night I set out to make macaroni and cheese. I was a junior and lived with five other guys in a three bedroom apartment on Comm Ave in Brighton MA and as you may guess, the kitchen wasn’t tidy and our pantry wasn’t stocked. One of the steps in the mac ‘n’ cheese recipe in the classic cookbook was to make a béchamel (a white sauce made with flour, butter, and milk); and one of the steps in making the béchamel involved a small onion studded with cloves.
That clove-studded onion is the inspiration for this blog.
I was 20 years old, had no skills and no points of reference (and there was no household internet) and I bought a five dollar jar of cloves so I could use three of them to stud an onion to make a béchamel to make what I hoped would be a simple dish of macaroni and cheese.
If you’re an experienced cook, the nuanced flavor that those cloves might impart to the finished casserole is not unimportant. But the beginning cook needs easy, satisfying wins.
Stick around this blog long enough and you will rack up win after win — and before you know it, you will be a cook.