Cook Without Fear: It is Easier Than You Think
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Cooking can be very confusing at first. But with a little practice and the right attitude you will be amazed.
Actual Un-Retouched Photo of my wife and me taken on our wedding day
Not really!! Kathy just likes messing around with FaceApp and other cool stuff on her iPad.
(but I really miss having hair, so I like this picture a lot)
If you know me, you most likely know Kathy (Vassalotti) Faria too. Kathy and I were married in 2019 on September 28th, but we've been together since 2016.
In our domestic life, the arrangement is, that I'm the Master of the Kitchen and Basement and that she is in charge of Everything Else. However, as time goes on she's slowly taking over the basement too. But I'm not complaining.
In addition to proofreading most anything I write, Kathy is the VP of Quality Assurance for all the musical things that I do. You will never hear one of my songs that hasn't been completely vetted by Kathy.
She is also the one who keeps in me touch with the world through Facebook. If you follow her posts there, you have undoubtedly seen some of the meals that I have made because Kathy likes to post pictures of my cooking for all the world to see. I find it quite flattering.
What most people don't know about me though is
For most of my life... I had absolutely no idea of how to prepare food.
I Was AbsolutelyTerrified of Cooking
TRUE STORY: When I was about 15, I used to enjoy watching the Galloping Gourmet on TV. I never thought about actually cooking anything, I just liked to watch the show. Graham Kerr was a very entertaining host, he made really elegant food and he always had a glass of wine going throughout the entire show.
So, feeling cocky one Sunday, I told my Mom I was going to make the dessert that night.
I spent the entire afternoon making a lemon mousse dessert. Not from scratch. Not from a recipe... From a package. All I had to do was open a little box and pour the ingredients together with a couple of eggs and some water following some simple directions. I was so nervous the whole time, that this process took me about 3 hours and on top of everything else, I made one hell of a mess in my Mother's kitchen.
That one afternoon really changed my life because it made me very leery of doing anything in the kitchen beyond opening the refrigerator or putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster.
Fast forward many years... To the golden era of cable TV. Back before On Demand and before you could talk to your cable remote and go right to the thing you want, you had to actually search through the enormous list of channels looking for shows while looking for something that was on RIGHT NOW. One fine day I discovered The Food Network and my life began to change again!
Suddenly I was able to watch shows that taught you how to make delicious food, step by step. There were innovative shows like Good Eats with Alton Brown. It was an educational show about all kinds of foods that we eat all the time, and you learned how to make them, but he also talked about the science and history behind the food... It was entertaining, informative and it was always fun.
One time he actually dedicated an hour-long show to SALT. The episode was called Eat This Rock He talked about WHERE it comes from, HOW it makes everything taste better, and HOW TO apply it in some unusual ways. Boring..? You would think so, but it wasn't.
Did you know that after extensive testing at the Good Eats lab, it was determined that 209 deg Farenheit is the ideal temperature of the water used to make coffee. OK... that's a bit too far. But really, it was a great show and if you can find it On Demand, let me know.
Then I ran across a cooking series called Emeril Live ...
This was one that I watched every day. I loved it!!
This one series totally changed my outlook on cooking... By the time this series went off the air, I was on my way to being a good cook. Not because I learned every technique there, but because he made me realize that if you use your head, use good ingredients and you don't ruin them, that you will have delicious food nearly every time.
There was a kick-ass band that played at the beginning and end of the show (but not nearly enough, unfortunately).
There were guest chefs from all over the world... and then, most importantly, there was Emeril Lagassé,
Emeril, despite being an entertaining and "down to earth" TV host, was also a classically trained chef, restaurateur and an experienced teacher of the culinary arts. There was something about the way he talked and sounded that struck a chord with me. In fact, it turned out that I had a few things in common with Emeril.
Although Lagassé is a French name, his mother is Portuguese just as whole my family is. As Emeril says, "Mom ran the house, so we grew up Portuguese." Then I found out that although he's famous for his Louisiana style restaurants all over the country including New Orleans, he is actually from Fall River, Massachusetts. As it turns out, just about 3 blocks from Saint Anne's Hospital, where both me and both my parents were born. He grew up in the same neighborhood where both sets of my grandparents lived and where I was "dragged" what seemed like every Sunday for a family dinner. So naturally, I couldn't help but feel a kinship with him.
Emeril's show convinced me that even someone like me can actually learn how to cook.
He accomplished this feat through the repetition of notable catch-phrases such as
"Pork Fat Rules!"
"This tastes so good, I’d eat it off a car bumper"
"I don't know where you get your beef, but where I get mine ...
IT DON'T COME SEASONED ! ! "
And WHEN things inevitably go wrong at the stove, to remind us to not lose our cool, he would often repeat mantras like these ...
Don't Call Food 911...
"Relax! If your sauce is getting too dry ...
ADD SOME LIQUID ! ! "
And my favorite ...
To keep guys like me from burning everything because we always cooked on HIGH heat
"Use Your Knobs... !!"
He reminded us of the obvious solution which is to turn down the heat
All these things added up, and over time I slowly came to the realization that I was cooking delicious meals pretty much every day. Most of the time, without using a recipe.
Believe me...That was a really good feeling.
I'd like for you to be able to experience that feeling too!
I'd like to share with you the skills that I have acquired and I'd love to learn some new ones from YOU
I want you to Lose All Your Fear of the kitchen and I want to share simple, delicious recipes that you can make even if you're not quite "Fearless" yet.
From time to time, I might throw in a music video or maybe a guitar or saxophone lesson. Or maybe a story or two from my experiences over the many years that I played with some amazing musicians.
I hope you and your family can benefit from my journey I made as I transitioned from being a Culinary Menace to actually surprising myself with how easy Cooking Without Fear can be.
Until the Next Time ... So Long from Bob's Diner
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