I know, I know . . . this is like my 69th article about cooking and food in the past few months but just hear me out. For so long my identity has been tied up in sports, anime, film, and tv – that I feel like a lot of my friends would always ask me about my thoughts on those topics. Who’s winning the SuperBowl? What’s the anime of the year? What are you watching now Baron? I get it. I have a blog and I write about those topics, so even if you agree or not with my POV – I’ll have a perspective that is somewhat polished. But the truth is that I don’t really even do much of that stuff anymore. I haven’t watched anime since the summer, I haven’t watched sports nearly as much as I used to (I’ve pretty much given up on all fantasy sports), and I feel like I’ve fallen out of the conversation on the hot films and tv shows of the past 6 months. Friends ask me what I’ve been doing with that time, what have I been doing with my weekends – and it’s just all revolved around food.
Instead of watching tv shows, I watch recipe videos on YouTube, appliance reviews, and food tourism segments. When friends ask me what I’m doing on my weekends, I let them know that I’m cooking all day – I’m not going to bars or seeing shows, I’m at grocery stores. To be honest, it’s really fulfilling. So I’m going to write a few reasons about why I think cooking is important for the basis of life. Those things are: discipline, basic survival, and creatitvity.
A lot of people talk about not being able to find time to cook, being the reason that they eat out as much as they do. Well I call cap. Deciding on what to eat, waiting on the food to be ready, the time it takes for you to go to the food or the food to come to you – it’s really not all that different than cooking on your own. And I understand that as a single man with no kids, I have more time than most adults but just hear me out. Having a routine of cooking on the weekends or a night where you don’t have much planned can be a really good use of time. And then planning that day around cooking by creating your grocery list, identifying where to buy those groceries, and actually going to the places you need to – is a part of building discipline in your day/week.
And it’s not like cooking even takes your time away from things. You can do what I do and learn how to braise meat and create stock. The actual amount of time that it takes for me to actively cook those aforementioned foods are around an hour – that’s prepping veggies and meat (cutting and seasoning). And remember, I’m cooking like 6 meals ahead – so I’m saving time on the meal prep. When you braise a pork shoulder like I did yesterday, most of the time is spent passively. Leaving the pork to braise in the meat in an oven takes at least 3-5 hours. Time you can spend watching sports, playing video games, or working out. And when you’re done, you have something that you can reheat at any time. Knowing what you’re going to eat and having it be efficient, is in part you being productive, creating discipline, and setting a schedule to further enhance efficiency in your day. That’s discipline.
This is the obvious one. You save money (something we all want more of), time (something we never get back), and you know what you’re putting in your food and body (your health). Cooking for yourself gives you the opportunity to save resources for other things in your life that you think will improve your general quality of life. There is no reason to not learn how to cook, or spend more time in the kitchen. It also gives you time on your own so that you can just focus on you and it’s therapeutic. The times I spend prepping meat, veggies, getting my steps in to and from the grocery store – affords me time to self reflect on my day and what I need to do in the foreseeable future. The money I save from cooking, allows me to get an extra pint or two at the bar with friends. That pint is bad for my health but since I know that I’m cooking healthy food – it really resets my health to baseline. Do it for all the booze and drugs you could be doing instead (that’s like a half joke, please do not consider this as me encouraging drug use).
Listen, I don’t work in creative. Sometimes I need an outlet. This blog is a good excuse to be creative sometime – but all we’re doing here is writing slice of life articles. The only difference between me and you is that I write my thoughts out for the world because I didn’t receive enough attention as a kid.
My favourite show from the past year was The Bear – you all know this. I made cola braised beef short rib from that show this past month. That was a creative endeavor – just like how drawing or music is. Now that I know how to braise, I can be creative and try to braise with different liquids, different cuts of meat, and use that big hunk of meat to make salads, wraps, dishes on rice, dishes on potatoes. I used to question how my mother would make soup with apples, but now after learning how to make chicken soup myself with chicken carcasses – I know how she was able to make soup like that. Cooking is art you can eat. You can be fun in the kitchen and create whatever you want. I’ve made some pretty heinous things by mistake, but I’m sure even Monet had a few duds that he had to scrap.
So go forth and cook. Become the master of your own domain. It doesn’t take much to be a good cook and overall – the process is fun. It’s not like many of you will ever work in a professional kitchen anyways and have to deal with a stressful cooking situation. When I think about the things that I’m looking forward to in the week, it’s that Sunday or Saturday where I have something on the stovetop or in the oven. This is truly one of the most fulfilling hobbies that I’ve taken seriously as an adult. I mean, it’s not like I’m smashing bodies, while breaking my own like I did when I was playing rugby but there’s a game going on in my mouth and I’m the winner.