August 9, 2022

Cooking Advice From Mom

An old request from my mother to write about the lessons I had learned about cooking came up years ago. This was easy because I was still living with my parents and cooking almost every day with my mom, so it wasn’t difficult. Although I still learn from her, she sometimes learns from me. 😉

How to cook artichokes

My mother is an intuitive cook in the kitchen. She doesn’t need to follow any recipes after having six children. You can see her cooking, and you will be amazed at the seamless timing.

While I prefer to make one dish at once, mom can organize a whole meal for eight–the main course, two or three vegetable sides, a starch and a salad, without getting too overwhelmed.

She is always tasting what she cooks and tweaking the seasonings. She relies on her memory to cook and has a good sense of how flavors work together.

You’ll soon discover that my mom loves to advise if you have the opportunity to meet her.

She will continue to give the same advice if you work with her in the kitchen until you know what she is trying to teach you. Maybe it’s me, or she needs to keep giving the same advice to me because I am a typical girl and my mother cannot tell me anything.

What are some things my mother taught me about cooking and food over the years? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Use salt, sugar, and fat in your cooking. They are essential for flavor, and all foods should be used in moderation.
2. You can taste the food as you cook it. You must taste the food and adjust as necessary to achieve the perfect balance.
3. Balance the acidity and sugar. Because tomatoes are acidic, it is possible to add some sugar to a tomato-based dish. The sauce can be sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar or sauteed carrots or onions. The same goes for salad dressings. To balance the acidity of lemon juice, vinegar or oil-based dressings, you can add some sugar.
4. Salting your food before you cook it will enhance its flavor. Make sure to add plenty of salt to your pasta water. You don’t need to worry about salt if you are using whole, fresh ingredients. Most of the salt in processed foods is added.
5. Cook what is in season. Ask if you are unsure of what is in season. Most people in grocery stores’ produce departments are more than happy and able to assist you.
6. Always check the label on the cans and boxes for any ingredients. These days, they put all kinds of junk in products. Pay attention to labels that say “low fat”, as they often pack these products with carb-based fillers.
7. When buying grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit, make sure to choose the largest one. The juiciest one will be chosen. This is the first thing my mom taught me about food. I can still recall as a child picking the largest oranges out of the bin.
8. After you are done, use a separate cutting board to cut the poultry.
9. Some bacon fat can be used to enhance flavor. These fats can be used in moderation. Use oil with a high smoke point to fry foods, such as grapeseed oil or rice bran oil. Olive oil is great for everyday cooking. No matter what diet you choose, your body still needs fat to function properly. Don’t be afraid to try it.
10. Fresh fish should be eaten the day it is bought. Keep it chilled before cooking. Fresh fish is the best.
11. Don’t stir your meat if you want it to brown. Let the meat rest in the hot skillet until it’s browned on one side. Stir it again or turn it.
12. Use a pressure cooker. These new pressure cookers have many safety features. A pressure cooker will save you a lot of time, especially when cooking dry beans.
13. Varietate your meals every day. For example, if you eat chicken for dinner, try beef, pork, or fish for dinner the next day. You shouldn’t eat the same food every day. Our bodies were designed to eat variety.
The list could go on and on. Mom can talk for hours about fat and how it benefits you. She can also tell you how to make jam, when to cook a steak, and how there are no one-size-fits all diet. Etc. My mother is kind, curious, strong, happy, and healthy. Her example has influenced everything I know about cooking and food. You don’t get more luck than that. Happy Mother’s Day.