Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Knowing how to cook

This, of course, falls into the "skills and knowledge" category of your preps. It's probably one of the most important skills that you can have, though. I'm not talking about knowing how to work a microwave or being able to grill a choice cut of meat. I'm talking about making bread from scratch or knowing how to take subpar meat (a rat for example) and make it taste good. There are very few skills that are more likely to come in handy. It's useful even if the ball never drops. It can save you money. It's very easy to learn how to do. Ingredients tend to store a lot better and last a lot longer than the finished product. If you're doing it from scratch then you know exactly what you're eating. You can tailor what you eat to your own tastes. There are resources available everywhere.

Part of knowing how to cook is having the proper tools and knowing how to use them. Like a lot of us I have a bunch of kitchen gadgets that just sit in the back of a closet or in a drawer and gather dust. There are a few that I use all the time, though. I think that what is considered "necessary" is different for everyone. Most kitchen tools are just specialized tools designed to do a certain thing. A decent set of knives, a basic utensil set (wooden spoons, tongs, spatulas, etc), a few pots and pans and a mixing bowl is all you need to get started and, in a pinch, it'll be sufficient to do 95% of the things that you need to do in the kitchen.

The most important part of knowing how to cook is just understanding how the ingredients interact. Once you know what certain ingredients do and how they interact with other ingredients then you can start to improvise. Anyone can read a recipe. In SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation you might not have access to the ingredients in those recipes, though. Cooking is just chemistry. Understanding how it works is the most important part.

One of my favorite cooking and food related sites is The Hillbilly Housewife. The link is in the corner in the "links to live by" section. She does an awesome job of breaking everything down and explaining the how and why. She also gives some great suggestions on how to stock your pantry on a budget. I would recommend that site to anyone and it's generally the first place that I check when I'm looking for a recipe.