M I C H E L L E M A N N I X
A few things you can do to jump start your path to cooking more - and from a place of confidence and instinct in 2019
1. I think the best place to start is the mindset. By getting clear (and realistic) on what relationship to cooking and food you want to have in your life - from there you can establish the priority it will take in your life and you can begin to develop your own culinary expression based on the foods that you want to be eating and the skills, tools and time you need to make it happen.
2. Let go of recipes. Not completely but as a way to get to know the process of cooking more intimately so you can begin to understand the process of developing and building flavor. Use them as a starting point, reference and source of inspiration. How do I do that you may say? Think of something you love to eat, cook already - where you use a recipe, or something you’ve always wanted to cook.
3. Pay Attention. To everything. Then do something with the information. What do you order in restaurants? What flavors do you like and why? How often are you ordering out? How does that make you feel physically and emotionally? Use. What. You. Have. Use your common sense. If you need something to start with...Boil noodles, add butter, parmesan and pepper. In many restaurants in NYC that’s a $17 bowl of cacio pepe. In my house its 15 minutes of meditative time in my kitchen, a warm bowl of goodness that is cheap AF. Sprinkle on some bacon, parsley and add a glass of wine and its notched up a whole other level. Eat it out of a pan with absolutely no guilt what. So. ever.
4. Start to develop your style. Your own culinary expression. We do it with everything else - our clothes, our apartments, our music - why don’t we look to ourselves more for our inspiration and expression. What do you like to eat and why. What food systems do you want to be and are currently supporting?
5. Get in shape. We mean your skills and your mindset. Practice. Just like anything else you only get better by doing. So start one meal, snack at a time. See it as a fun process in the ever evolving journey of developing your skills, palate, understanding and JOY in cooking and feeding ourselves and others. There is no shortage of videos, tips, recipes - what we need more of is pushing ourselves to figure it out. Use what we have, what we like and what is in season. And most importantly to make it a priority and to do it for ourselves, each other and the planet.
6. Get your space and ‘tools’ in order. Make sure you either sharpen your knife or get a good one and know how to hold it. From there I don’t think you need much more than a cutting board, a couple pans, Olive/Canola oil, salt and pepper and the mindset of possibility and fun - to begin cooking anything. I’m so machine, extra tools averse that I’ll avoid those dishes that ask me to use them. It takes me out of the flow I get into when I lose myself in the process of throwing something together and building and developing flavor as I go. Go through your cabinets. All of them. Your freezer and refrigerator too. Make it a fun exercise in not only building awareness but in building your culinary muscles with the creativity you will have from using things up. Identify patterns in what you buy and why. Find ways to use them both new and old. Organize your pantry. Use it up and find the joy in creating, being resourceful, frugal and in the feeling you get from cleaning out anything and starting fresh.