Friday, March 25, 2011

How to cook and stuff

Last night, well, for a significant portion of yesterday, I made a split pea soup and two loaves of french bread. Easy, no? No. However, my experience has gained me a great deal of insight into the wonderful world of cooking, and I thought I'd share some of that with you.

1) Prep things before you start. Seriously. This is basic stuff. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT YOU MESSY TARD-FACE.
2) The yeast stuff stinks. Pretty bad. Let it "soak" somewhere outside of a 3 yard radius from your face, or the stink may discourage you from baking any actual bread. How something that stinky goes into something that comes out tasting in any way edible is beyond me.
3) Kneed bread on a lightly floured surface. Wax paper might seem like a good idea. It's not. The dough just gets stuck and you wind up spending your whole time trying to peel your elastic-y sticky (still somewhat stinky) mess off of your "lightly floured" wax paper. Dough is sticky. This point is vital here. Just use a clean counter or something. What do real bakers use? Heck if I know. Here's my surface, and my super super mess:
4) Also, take off your freakin wedding ring before you start baking bread. See point 3 again for further explanation.
5) Again, make sure you get everything you're going to need out before you start. It's no fun covering your wax paper dispenser (which shouldn't have been used in the first place, see again point 3) in sticky gooey dough mess. If you don't follow this point, everything you own is now covered in a sticky gooey mess. Congratulations.
6) Only cook something so tasking when someone is watching your kid, so that you don't assume she's sitting nicely watching her favorite cartoon when she is ACTUALLY destroying your living room, leaking through her diaper and trying to choke herself with the lid of the cinnamon jar. (No worries, everyone survived, and pants were washed.)
7) Wear an apron. This is NOT a good look for you, and no one needs to feel as affraid as you did when you saw yourself in the mirror like this.
8) Chopping vegetables: Celery is easier than the other vegetables. If you're ever chopping in public, choose the celery, delegate the rest. This way you look marginally more competent than you would otherwise. Oh, and celery will never make you look like Tammy Faye Baker in the middle of a TBN fundraiser.
9) Being lame at chopping vegetables is irrelevant for Pea Soup. After 90 minutes of simmering, you're gonna dump it all in the blender anyway. So chop it as ugly as it needs to be, and dump it in the pot. Your family WILL NOT KNOW that you chop like a retarded kangaroo instead of like a teppanyaki chef.
10) Don't sweat it if your bread looks like this:
It doesn't taste worse just because it's ugly. Oh, but when it says to re-cover it at this point, DON'T. Or at least, don't use paper towels. Because then you'll spend an extra 20 minutes picking disintegrated paper towel out of your dough. Again, see point 3.
11) Check it out! You made it to the oven. Now go pick the cheerio bits out of the carpet which your daughter dumped there while you weren't paying vigilant attention, and give the kid a bath. She's a mess and she needs some attention.
12) Waiting is hard!
13) Soup is basically pretty easy. Chop. Saute. Simmer. Blend. Serve. Follow the basic directions and even you can make a soup that your husband (who apparently hates pea soup, but chose NOT to divulge that before you began this 3 hour cooking journey) will enjoy it, and say it "tastes more like Indian curry".
14) Bread, on the other hand, is a fickle, temperamental mistress that will make you question all of your life choices and your capabilities as a human. If you find yourself sprinkling Holy water on your loaves and cursing the demons which must have taken up residence within, don't worry. At the very least, you're not alone.
Above are the almost decent looking loaf and it's super ugly sister. If they look like this, stick them back in the oven for a few minutes. They're not done yet. Also, slice it up before other people see them. Sliced bread just looks like sliced bread. None will be the wiser.
15) You know this one. You are not a cook. And you are super slow at just about everything you do. A recipe that is supposed to take 2 hours WILL inevitably take you three and a half. Plan accordingly.
And last but not least:
16) Next time you head to the grocery store for yeast packets and bread flour, pay more attention to the lovely display at the bakery. You know the one. Perfect, symmetrical loaves of fresh baked French Bread, on sale today for 98 cents. And if you'd like, bring it home, warm it up on a baking sheet and sprinkle some flour around. Su-freakin-fficient.

Happy cooking y'all!


  1. 2 hour recipe + munchkin = 3.5 hrs IF YOU'RE LUCKY/AMAZING. I regularly start dinner around 3, so I can have it ready when the munchkin goes down around 7. Keep cooking! :)

  2. I'm impressed by your dedication, but I'm also concerned that you might be clinically insane. Does your family appreciate it more because you made an olympic sport out of cooking? Because my daughter (who loved canned veggie soup) refused to the soup I made. Though I must admit she was quite taken with the bread. I will keep cooking, but thinks like baked chicken, pasta, stir fry, curry rice, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, and other things I can knock out in about 30 minutes. Good luck, hope all your meals taste 8 times as good as mine ;-)

  3. This post made me laugh. I love to chop veggies and I love the smell of the yeast mixture, and rising bread in general! :) In case you ever want to make pizza dough, the Pioneer Woman has an easy recipe that I use all the time ( There's no kneading at all, takes just a few minutes to mix it all together!!

  4. I fell off the chair laughing so hard at this post! Oh Ashley, you totally made my day! I loved reading this! Thanks for the tips! See ya around!

  5. Thanks Rachel, I might check that out some time!

    Glad you enjoyed it Michelle. Always hoping others can benefit from my incompetence! :-)

  6. As a chef, I feel I need to correct #9. For soup, look of cut on your veggies doesn't matter but SIZE of cuts do. You need relatively even sized cuts or you may not get even cooking which can later mess with your texture and nutritional value. Keep chef-ing. Cause it's awesome.


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