Monday, October 18, 2010

How I Learned to Cook

I never really participated in our cooking classes back in high school. I always volunteered to either be the dishwasher or marketer and I can say my skill level for both is pretty high and I love doing both. Preparing and cooking food were two things I didn't want to do and there were days I was assigned to be the cook. We were graded based on what we produced so my group mates found ways to cook the food while our teacher was busy with other groups.

I was a diligent note-taker though and have kept all my recipes from my high school class. Fast forward to year 2010. Jay and I survived our first few weeks of marriage by getting a lot of free food from all the parties we had to attend. Both our parents also sent us food. And, of course, there was delivery. Our most frequently used appliance back then was the microwave.

After about two weeks we got sick of eating left-overs and fast food delivery, so we attempted to fry some eggs. It was almost a disaster (read about it here), but eventually I got the courage to try cooking again. The very first thing I successfully fried was Ma-ling and this was followed by other canned goods. Eventually I realized I had to really learn how to cook. It was that or sentence ourselves to eating fast food or canned goods forever.

I come from a family of great cooks. My Dad learned how to cook at Moderna Bakery (now Casa Moderna) in Naga and I have never seen him use a recipe. My sister was a natural as well. My aunts - Tita Olive, Titay, Tita Josie etc. are all good cooks and most of them just learned on their own and each have their own specialty.

Anyway, here's how I learned how to cook:
1. Spaghetti. Bugging friends and colleagues - I learned how to cook spaghetti but bugging my seatmate at work. I'm glad though that she was patient because she had to explain things to me several times. I also learned how to make my Dad's secret Mustasa dish and kangkong atsara by following him around the kitchen.

2. Adobo. Watching Youtube vids. I did have some introductory lessons from a friend's BF, but I can attribute my adobo-cooking skills to the Komikero and his famous adobo Youtube video. I also learned most of my basic cooking skills (chopping/slicing etc.) by watching Youtube vids.

3. Baked Potatoes. Online cooking mentors. The reason I stick around at Plurk is because I get lots of cooking advise especially when I'm in a bind for alternative ingredients! I also get help from my online friends whenever I don't understand a cooking term (i.e. poaching).

4. Spanish Adobo. Watching TV. I learned how to cook adobo on the fly. I was watching Simply KC and wrote down the recipe. I didn't realize that it would be one of my specialties. 

5. Pasta Pinanganat. Talking with an entrepreneur. I had a hard time looking for the recipe of Pasta Pinanganat which I sampled at Small Talk Cafe in Legaspi City. I learned how to cook some from an entrepreneur in Naga City and my friends have been raving about it.

One of my 2009 goals was to learn 12 new dishes. I didn't complete that goal last year, but I think I have surpassed the mark this year. I still have a lot to learn though and will continue to go through my cooking channels in the coming months.