Am I Really Ready To Change My Cooking Level? - My first blog and it's a survey! Not very adventurous. Blog at - 91208

My first blog and it's a survey! Not very adventurous.

Am I really ready to change my cooking level? 
Apr. 23, 2009 5:25 am 
Updated: Apr. 26, 2009 9:21 pm

Sadly, I am the child of a mother who didn’t allow children in the kitchen when she cooked. As a result, I made meals when my children were still living at home, but never really enjoyed it. I always have loved to bake and am quite good at it. My love for baking started with my first Easy Bake Oven. I became a baking queen. When my children were little, I used to bake all the time “butt” became a product of what I loved to cook (fat would be the honest way to put it). So I quit baking, thinned out and became a little rusty with my true kitchen skills. In fact, when I sold my house in Florida, my best friend said to put in the flyer that the stove “has never been used,” she was right, it hadn’t. My husband had allowed me to be a princess and it was a little embarrassing.

I am, by my own admission, a newbie to the whole "love being in the kitchen" thing. I have stepped up my game now for almost 8 months. I am becoming less stressed and more comfortable in the environment. I am actually cooking food, real food, not just goodies.

On a recent camping trip, while sitting around the campfire, my husband spent an inordinate amount of time complimenting me on all the things I've been whipping up and putting on the table. We were talking about the things that have been hits and misses. As the conversation continued I started thinking he just doesn't want me to stop cooking! He loves to cook and is somewhat intimidating to me, he doesn’t ever follow a recipe; he just throws in stuff that sound good to him and I have to admit, he’s an excellent cook. I, on the other hand, have always been petrified of spices and/or the combination of spices. I think it stems from my need for perfection. In fact, he does the majority of the cooking when we camp and loves to cook in his Dutch oven. I'm terrified of the process because I don't like moving hot coals.

As we continued our evening, out of the blue he suggested I change my cooking level to intermediate (he knows my obsession with the AR site and how I love this community). I was, at the least, befuddled. He explained that he could tell I was more at ease in the kitchen and actually enjoying myself and delivering “out of the park” meals. I explained that I was basically copying other people’s recipes. He said “So what? It’s obviously empowered you to explore the kitchen and produce with exceptional results. If what you make doesn’t turn out, you figure out why and make it work. That’s a far cry better than you were a year ago.”  

Yes, he’s right in one sense, I can bake quite well, I just choose not to because we’re always watching our weight (grow usually). However, the cooking with pots and pans and such, I’m not so sure about.

Hmmm, yes he’s right in a lot of ways, yet, I still don’t know how and what justifies anyone’s cooking skill level. I’m guessing it’s a cross combination of confidence and skill.

As I’ve pondered this question for a few days now, I still don’t know if I’m ready to make the leap up to intermediate. I am, however, happy to give it the ol’ college effort and make a go of delivering better and healthier meals with a little singing in the kitchen.

As I do get more successful in the kitchen maybe I can start concentrating a little more on my camera skills…

Apr. 23, 2009 5:48 am
I would say that if you can put up a great meal from scratch then your abilities are better than a beginner!! If you know when you have made a mistake and know how to fix it then your abilities are better than a beginner!! Intermediate is right for you I vote for the change!!
Apr. 23, 2009 6:03 am
Hi Lisa T! I say take the leap and change to Intermediate. Nothing wrong with following a recipe at all. And if your husband thinks you should then definitely do it. What a nice compliment that he gave you. Its great that he is supporting you in your cooking adventures! :)
Apr. 23, 2009 6:08 am
Glad to see I'm not the only one who is hesitant to make the change. I blogged about it too on here a while back. I felt that even though I had progressed, much like you I am following recipes a lot. I narrowed down my criteria to two things that I think an intermediate cook should know how to do: lasagna and a bread with yeast. I actually made lasagna a few weeks back (and was quite proud how it turned out) but the yeast still scares me. But I may change it to intermediate as well just because I can make several things without following recipes. Like you, I worry about using the wrong combination of spices. I'm quite spice-ignorant I guess you could say. And does that constitute an intermediate status? See, the vicious cycle begins again for me! Bottom line, though, I'd say that we should both change to intermediate because we know our way around the kitchen and still have room to grow.
Apr. 23, 2009 6:55 am
Go for it! "Expert" is the one that scares me, so I think I'll be a lifelong member of the Intermediate Club! ;) I'm not big into labels, but I think if you can make a grilled cheese, you can chop an onion, and you can follow a recipe, you know the difference between saute' and're already beyond beginner! Intermediate, to me, covers such a wide range...just because you might need to look at a recipe doesn't mean you don't know how to cook! Anyway, glad you're enjoying yourself in the kitchen, now Lisa!
Apr. 23, 2009 9:07 am
Do it! Make the change and then believe it. =)
Apr. 23, 2009 1:33 pm
I feel the same as Christine M. People have been encouraging me to change my level to "Expert", but I just can't bring myself to do it. Some of the questions I have to ask are just not the things an "Expert" cook would not know. I HAVE to comment on how amazing I think your husband is! I think it's wonderful that he's noticing your improvements in the kitchen and he's encouraging you! So many people on the exchange complain about their husbands not caring about the effort and love they put into their cooking, so for yours to be so supportive is awesome :-)
Apr. 23, 2009 1:54 pm
I changed mine today! It was scary, and I blogged about it. I've been cooking family meals for six, for over 5 years. I felt that was enough to bump me up. You deserve the intermediate too. Go ahead......I dare you!! lol.
Apr. 23, 2009 2:35 pm
Hi LisaT! You are always going to be a beginner at something and an expert as something else - such is life. I finally took my level off completely (which I hadn't remembered as being an option). I feel comfortable cooking just about anything, and feel like a complete boob when it comes to baking. I've been enjoying having no label for anyone to raise eyebrows at. Keep having fun (I'm an expert at fun-having)!
Apr. 23, 2009 3:36 pm
I second that everyone is a little of both. I doubt any one cook, chef, whatever can cook expertly at EVERYTHING. Just look at the cooks on Food Network, Rachael Ray is an expert at easy, quick meals, but not at baking desserts. Paula Deen is a butter expert, but she's not well-versed in healthy recipes....I think the fact that your husband noticed and brought attention to your skills (which is so sweet and considerate!) shows that whether you realize it or not - you're one heckuva cook! It doesn't matter if you have to follow recipes, that's what they're there for, right? Oh, plus you said you can bake quite well. Oh, just face it already, you're rockin that kitchen!! :)
Apr. 23, 2009 8:54 pm
lisa, for me a beggining cook is one who is learning to make basic things such as pasta, rice, how long to cook chicken.. stuff like that (like my brother LOL).. i am sure you are intermediate or even more. i wish there was a "family chef" option LOL.. you are definetly no longer a begginer! change your level!.. i will probably change my level once im a professional.. but i am currantly intermediate and ALWAYS have questions. when it comes to food there will always be new things to learn.. some people stick with the basics, some of us want to keep learning new skills. either way im sure you know the basics :D HUGS!
Apr. 23, 2009 9:13 pm
Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments. I probably will change my skill level. That means I'll need to change my profile info. Will this be my next blog? What on earth will I have to say? This is, almost, beginning to sound like work. Yikes!
Apr. 24, 2009 7:04 am
I have to agree with Christine M. and Keri, I think there should be a level between Intermediate and Expert (perhaps Advanced?) Since I've made up many of my own recipes and change things to suit my taste all the time I feel that I'm beyond intermediate but not quite expert! As Christine said, I'll probably be a member of the Intermediate club forever since I'll prob never have the courage to proclaim myself an expert! I think you are well beyond qualified to change your status to Intermediate. Congrats on your new cooking skills!
Apr. 25, 2009 10:42 am
Lisa I debated about my level as I first filled in my profile. It is somewhat a confidence thing and not so much credentials like having been a restaurant chef. I have grown over the years and I credit the Internet and AR being around for so long for a good bit of it. As I age I get bored with the same old food. The Web has opened a new world of creativity and variety. Other factors come into play too like eating in more to save money. Mom too did not have a lot of depth or breadth in her culinary skills. But maybe raising children you stick to what works. Not a factor for me. I see so many intermediates, and even beginners, review recipes and tell how they successfully ad-libbed in a recipe. In many ways I always think the ability to improvise without fear, whether successful or not, is actually the measure of a true expert cook. Maybe you should change your level to that!
Apr. 26, 2009 9:21 pm
Thanks again everyone, I'm going to spend a little time this week to "reconsider" my skills. I think this is a huge step for me. :o)
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Slow Cooking, Quick & Easy

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About Me
I've never really been a happy cooker, I prefer to eat out. When I do cook I get frazzled easily. I have cooked several of the recipes from this website and have found most delicious and the feedback very helpful. I am trying to develop an interest. I'm jealous of all of you who seem to really love to cook and are at such ease in the kitchen. UPDATE: It's been a year since I originally input the prior information. I am now much more at ease in the kitchen and rarely grumpy when cooking. This site is responsible for the new me. I am changing my cooking level today to intermediate. Everyone on AR has helped me achieve my new level and I look forward to learning and cooking more. I am going to keep working on my skills and hopefully be half as good as most of the members on this site. I love AR and the confidence and education I have received from everyone here.
My favorite things to cook
Simple but very tasty. I love chicken.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I go all out on Thanksgiving and pull out all my cooking skills for the one day. My family travels from all over the States to come. I have to admit.... I'm usually very grumpy by the time the meal is served because of my unease in the kitchen.
My cooking triumphs
Finding a wonderful chicken casserole that the entire family loves!
My cooking tragedies
I burn bread almost every time I make it! UPDATE: I'm still burning the darn bread. I don't get it...
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