Two of my great passions are cooking and eating.  I started really cooking in business school and have since tried many many recipes, bought many cookbooks, and fed lots of friends.  Cooking is more than just a meal for me, it’s therapy, creativity and pleasure.  I got to thinking about this the other day and realized, it’s even more than that.  If I were a teacher, I might teach other life lessons through cooking and eating.  Enough with learning life lessons the hard way, learn a few the tasty way!  Here are some examples:

  • The beauty of simplicity – roast a chicken.  Roasting a chicken can be a complicated affair, but I find the best way is to pop a washed and dried, salt and peppered chicken into a 400 degree oven for about an hour and let it go.  No need to mess with it, no basting.  Simply delicious.
  • Things do not need to be expensive to be great – make potato and leak soup
  • But luxury has its place – enjoy a glass of champagne and a blini with caviar
  • Even things that don’t appear great have potential if you just give them a little TLC – roast cauliflower tossed in olive oil, salt and peppered, at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Prepare to be excited about cauliflower.
  • Witness patience as a virtue – make risotto.
  • Understand that some things take care of themselves and we don’t need to control everything – tackle an Osso Bucco recipe.  Do very little, let it work it’s magic and enjoy the fruits of your lack of labor.
  • Less is more – eat a tomato or ear of corn in season
  • Good things come in small packages – eat a fresh raw oyster
  • Attention to detail – bake just about anything.  Baking requires exact measurements to be successful.
  • Creativity – unlike baking, cooking requires that you taste and test and sometimes come up with substitute ingredients. 
  • Appreciate what you have  – make pasta puttanesca…most of the ingredients should already be in your pantry (at least mine)
  • Flexibility and respect – like Creativity, cook anything.  Even if you have made a recipe a hundred times, you need to be aware that every ingredient is unique, as is every oven and every burner. 
  • Be a team player, but be clear about roles and responsibilities – cook with your spouse.  My husband loves to cook just as I do, but we have very different approaches.  We work well in the kitchen together because we have learned that one of us needs to be the stated Chef, and the other, the Sous Chef.  Clearly stated roles and objectives are key.
  • Be in the now – cook pasta.  Overcooked pasta is disgusting.
  • Everything is better with bacon – what a fun lesson!  Add bacon to just about anything and learn this – add it to salad, a sandwich, on top of a meatloaf, your Saturday morning french toast, even chocolate (weird but true).
  • Don’t take everything so seriously – if all else fails (like your recipe), order pizza and open a bottle of wine.  Your family or guests will still be happy.