Get ready to cook

As A Reluctant Cook I’d regularly get really stressed while cooking. That still happens sometimes, but a bit of prep goes a long way to making the whole process smoother.

First rewrite the recipe.

I find most recipes are written for people who know how to cook or enjoy cooking. They lump a whole lot of steps in together and even get things out of order. They also seem to assume that you’ll have all the ingredients measured out and prepared beforehand in a dozen little bowls.

That may be how things work on cooking shows, but in real life I reach for a packet and measure out the spice or whatever straight into what I’m cooking.

The first thing I do is to go through the recipe I’ve saved in Drafts app and break it down into tiny, single actions. I’ll often also set up a separate Preparation section for things like making stock (from boiling water and a cube), or chopping up veges.

For that recipe for Mexican-style Mince (from the first post in this series) my Preparation section has this: Make 1 cup beef stock, cook rice, drain can of beans.

I also expand abbreviations: when I’m cooking I can easily mistake 1 tbs for 1 tsp. I’ve made TextExpander abbreviations so I can easily go through and write tablespoon or teaspoon where it’s needed.

Then I work through the steps and add in amounts of things. A recipe may say something like:

In a large bowl combine the beef mince, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, paprika and chilli powder.

I rewrite that with quantities, so now it says:

In a large bowl combine 500 grams mince; 1 carrot, finely chopped; 1 stick celery, finely chopped; 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 teaspoon paprika; 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or more to taste).

Note: I don’t eat onion, so I remove it from my copy of the recipe.

OK, recipe rewritten, I’m now ready to cook, so I get out the pans and dishes I’ll need, spoons and measuring jugs and so on, plus the ingredients.

I also grab my iPad, call up my rewritten recipe, make sure the text is large, and put the iPad on a stand so it’s easy to read.

Note: Drafts has a Shopping Mode that I only recently learned about. It stops the iPad from going to sleep and also stops you from accidentally editing a recipe you’re simply trying to scroll.

It’s time to cook!

Miraz Jordan @Miraz