Even prior to writing this article, joy and excitement overwhelmed me as I was about to share my reasons for falling in love with the culinary arts two years ago. Knowing the ins and outs of food preparation is, in my opinion, hugely beneficial in a variety of life situations. For the purpose of clarity, I singled out 7 contributing factors: Personal Motivation, Growth through Learning, Health, Creativity, Perseverance, Usefulness and Recreation.
Undeniable signs you’re a practicioner of the arts already:
• Your face brightens whenever you see cook books
• During Saturday shopping rounds you cannot but realize you look like a stereotypical housewive with bags on both hands containing only groceries
• Your favourite shopping spots are supermarkets, wet markets and department store kitchens
• You relentlessly spot deals and discounts for fresh produce
• Gathering loved ones at home is a prime opportunity for you to showcase your cooking talent
All the above are applicable to me for sure and I have hoarded my kitchen with lots of stuff which almost cannot contain. I simply love food and are willing to invest heavily into culinary stuff for the kitchen, so long as it can help me to succeed in my cooking and baking.
Although some may think otherwise as they may not behave like me above because most of the time, individuals look for convenience and if they like to enjoy that comfort of shopping for their cooking needs from home, online delivery services are available around the clock.
Each of the below reasons to fall in love with the culinary arts today contains a simple recipe, which I think many veterans out there would have already know. However, it does not matter because sharing is caring.
1 Personal Motivation
Everyone has their own interest and passion to pursue and for different reasons, they choose either to excel from it or just to keep up with the trend, whether it is for a hobby, career switch or passion. I first found my interest in food through photography. And with the growth of Instagram, we are exposed to interesting photos, especially food.
I had a great deal of curiosity toward food and its creator but back then, all I could do was taking photos and eat with admiration. As you move forward to the next stage of life, you want not just a role as a corporate woman in the workforce but also a capable wife at home. And there is this saying – cooking is the way to man’s heart. That’s what I want to do.
Besides, I wish to open a small café too. On top of experience and managing skill, what is essential to provide customers with quality and interesting food is culinary skill. Now that I have revealed the motivation behind my drive. What about yours? However, I understand that sometimes you just love it unknowingly.
Recipe for homemade Moist Fried Vermicelli (Beehoon)
• Soak 200g vermicelli till soft and drain off the water
• Heat oil, fry 1 tbsp chopped garlic till fragrance, then add 125ml chicken broth to boil
• Add and mix Premium Dark Soya Sauce and Abalone/Oyster sauce to taste
• Add soaked vermicelli and mix well with the broth mixture till it absorbs completely
• With the right texture, turn off the heat and serve with your preferred sides
2 Growth through Learning
There are many platforms made available for us to learn this skill:
• Youtube videos
• Self-taught through online recipes
• Cooking demos
• TV shows
• Mum, Mum in law, your spouse
• Cookbooks from bookstores
• Cooking schools, local or overseas
Why did I suggest family and friends? Because you can take the opportunity to spend time with them and create a closer bond by understanding each other’s quirk through the process. That’s priceless. Luckily, my husband knows how to cook and even better than my parents. So I can count on him to teach me the basics while bearing with his nagging whenever I do something wrong.
It’s okay because I learnt from mistakes. Moreover, I will ask for simple recipes from my mum too. However, I reckon that going to cooking school can teach me more than that so I sign up for an 8 weeks course for a start. Nowadays, more people are attending short cooking or baking classes, and even pursue a proper education in culinary or baking, which I will be doing so soon.
This is also heartening to know that regardless of race, age or gender, they want to equip with this skill set, whether as a hobby or passion. Food for thought: Bachelorette’s nights are no longer just about partying or spa session but a cooking or baking gathering with your girlfriends at culinary school. It sounds more meaningful – at least for me.
More individuals are adjusting to a healthy lifestyle. They exercise regularly and eat healthily. Not only food companies and restaurants are doing their part in introducing healthier products and dishes, we can do our part in cooking and baking at home too. We have full control of what we want to do. We choose fresh produces and healthier or organic products over processed food.
We try to reduce, change or omit ingredients or methods that could had done better in another way. For those with health issues, medication and treatments can prevent condition from worsening but be watchful of their diet plays a part too. They need nutritional meals with healthier food choices. For the past two years had been a tiresome one for my mum, as she had to be mindful of what to cook at home because of my dad’s medical condition and a diet to look after.
The same goes to my mother in law. Also with advanced technology, air fryer has been the best investment in most household. It is made easier and convenience for us. I own one too because it not only can thaw frozen food but also requires zero oil in cooking or frying. So now, weight watchers like myself can feel less guilty on cheat days.
Recipe for homemade Fried Tom Yum Yakisoba
• Mix well 30g of Tom Yum Paste with 70ml of Chicken broth and 30ml of water
• Heat oil, fry a spoonful chopped garlic till fragrance, add prawns and mushroom to fry
• Add in Tom Yum mixture and mix well with ingredients
• Add Yakisoba into Tom Yum mixture and mix well for absorption of taste
• Lastly add in vegetables and stir fry with ingredient, turn off the heat and serve
My husband is not one that follows fully a recipe and tends to do whatever he deems fit suitable for the dishes. He is quick-witted and adopts Jamie Oliver’s style. I, on the other hand, follow the recipe faithfully and refuse to make any changes to prevent another failure.
But it clearly shows it didn’t work at times. In recent years, cooking blogs and Facebook groups start sprouting online to share recipes, exchanging pointers and showcasing the proud works. And I’m impressed that they are so creative in tweaking a recipe to something different than the norm.
My colleague has once said that cooking and baking is a trial and error process and it takes one’s courage and open-mindedness to try. Therefore, I told myself to put on the thinking cap, be flexible and create an exclusive recipe of mine. If not, I will not stand out among others because there is nothing special about my cooking or baking.
Recipe for homemade Breakfast Toast
• Cut the preferred shape on the bread with cutter or knife, set aside
• 2 beaten eggs with pepper and light soya sauce to taste
• Cut in cube the preferred ingredients and mix with beaten eggs
• Heat the pan, lay the bread in, drizzle a little oil in the middle of the bread
• Put in a spoonful of mixture in the middle, making sure is fully covered and cooked
• When it is cooked, flip over to toast the other side of the bread, turn off the heat and serve
You won’t know that I actually failed the 1st time making tiramisu, which is ridiculous because it simply requires zero baking. So I tried again and succeeded. Previously I failed on chiffon cake. I thought I really don’t cut out in baking. But picking up the courage to try again is really worth. Because from your 1st experience, you will try not make the same mistake again on your 2nd time.
Sometimes it takes more than what you think to succeed so seeking advice from others can be helpful. The only sacrifice is spending more on ingredients to get things right and extra time of yours. Other than that, you gain more experiences through the process.
Recipe for homemade Tiramisu
• Brew 3-in-1 coffee, combine with ½ tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp Caramel Baileys and 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Whisk 250g Mascarpone and 3 tbsp sugar until smooth. Add 150ml Caramel Baileys, 2 tbsp vanilla extract and 3 tbsp coffee mixture from 1st step and whisk till combined. It will be very watery
• Whisk 200ml thickened cream until stiff peaks. If fluid is seen, continue to whisk until it is gone
• Mix cream and Mascarpone mixture together until combined. Thick and sturdy, not watery
• Dip half of the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and lay them in the container. Spread the Mascarpone filling over the ladyfingers. Repeat the steps until the top. Dust with cocoa powder and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving
At times when you run out of budget for the month especially near your next payday, you need a way out for this short period of time. Take example your daily meals. What can you do? Fret not. Go to your fridge and pull out what you have and whip up a simple meal or two to save the day. I have been saved by my home-cooked fried rice many times when I run into situation like this.
Of course there are others like aglio olio and fried vermicelli. Imagine if I can’t cook, what am I suppose to do? Others may say just go to your parents’ and have your meal settled there. But how long can you depend on them? Forever? Definitely not. So at times like this, having the essential culinary skill becomes your life savior. It saves you the trouble of borrowing from friends or starving yourself.
However, on certain occasions where a person can cook their own meals when they know nuts about cooking, you know they did it out of desperation. Because human brains has the quick analyzing ability that reacts to any emotional signals like on desperation moments.
Recipe for homemade Fried Rice
• 1 cup of rice, cooked and add pepper and sesame oil to taste
• Light frying of your preferred ingredients and set aside
• 2 beaten and seasoned eggs, pour in pan and fried till 80-90% cooked
• Put in the cooked rice and mix well with the egg
• Add fish sauce and garlic salt to taste
• Then add in your preferred ingredients and mix well
• Turn off the heat, garnish with fried onion or fresh spring onion, and serve
There are times where cooking can be quite therapeutic than retail therapy. Because after a long day at work, all you want is to have a nice meal and unwind for the day. You tend to slow down your pace and wish that the night can be longer before another day comes. And then you let your focus fall on washing, chopping, rinsing and cooking in a less intense place – the kitchen, with a promise of a complete meal after that. As you sit down to savour on your meal, you thought to yourself how wonderful life is, being able to taste your own cooking at the comfort of your home. And you are complete.
The question remains: What does one actually achieve by cooking a warm meal? For me, the answer is satisfaction. The journey of a dish – from the purchase of ingredients, through to cooking and serving up – is a fascinating one, and I readily admit that it’s mostly been a rather time-consuming matter. Most importantly, however, I thoroughly enjoy it: Owing to my belief in and love for the life skill that is food preparation. Seeing happy faces means you have succeeded in your cooking and this almost automatically translates into a sense of achievement. When they come asking for more of your food, I always know I must have done something right.
Culinary skills are of good use wherever you go- take volunteer cooks at nursing homes, charity events, baby-sitting, teaching others the same skill or even starting a business of yours.
I will continue as I have really found what I love doing. Because if you are not doing what you love, you are just wasting your time all these while.
Let us love and appreciate the Culinary Arts!
One who speaks her mind, with little boundary; Stella Chen, a Food and Lifestyle Blogger, who uses her novice photography skills to let the pictorial snippets form her tiny kingdom that spins around on food adventures, culinary arts, wanderlust and life.