“___ON___”: Home Cooking

“___ON___”: Home Cooking

In this new series we’ll be hearing from a new person each month, talking on a specific topic of their choosing – something they love, a hobby, an interest, a thread they’ve been feeling lately, or a new discovery.

Binh Cao on Home Cooking

“Home cooking may feel like a chore because how often we eat (and how often we’re home nowadays), but looking closer reveals it to be a miraculous act of cultivating your mind & body (and spirit if you’re into that). Restaurant cooking is often romanticized as being obsessive & passionate— work reserved for expertly skilled chefs or tenacious line cooks. Home cooking in contrast is entirely different: more laid back, a healthy way to relieve stress, and a casual, creative outlet. I’m not denouncing eating out or heating up a frozen meal (and who doesn’t love a bowl of cereal), but rather sprinkling some awareness around not becoming too dependent on processed/prepared foods, as well as the joy and benefits of home cooking.

Cooking for yourself is all about control over your life and an expression of creativity. At the surface, cooking is an essential life skill that is both empowering and relaxing. It lets you know exactly what you’re putting into your body, saves money, and keeps you healthy. The most obvious difficulties come from finding time to do so. Regularly getting groceries, keeping your kitchen/dishes clean, and finding the energy to prepare a meal after a long day are all valid points, but in the grand scheme of things, the benefits are insurmountable. I understand cooking every single meal would be daunting, if not impossible for many— but making the effort to do so at least a few times a week can certainly improve your life. Home cooking truly is time well spent.

As for the fun and creative side of things, this is where the rabbit hole can go as deep as you want. You can practice different cooking techniques and knife cuts as you’re trying new recipes. Learning the origin of ingredients and spices is a great way to learn about a culture (and more dishes to try). Check out farmers’ markets or the food co-op and learn how they work within our local food system. If you like plants & gardening, try growing some herbs or vegetables on the side. Pickling & preserves will definitely be ‘in’ with winter coming up. You could explore baking and pastries— worlds unto themselves. Having a deeper understanding of all these things gives you a greater appreciation for the food we cook, and the meals cooked for us.

Once you get more comfortable with cooking simple meals, experiment with flavors and stack up your spice rack. Plan out some leftovers or prep meals so you don’t have to worry about what to eat later. Keep notes on food you want to try. Having a very sharp knife and basic cooking gear makes everything more fun (and safer). When you get the chance to cook a bigger meal— make it fun and unrushed. Put on a playlist or album, crack open a cold one, and take smoke breaks if you wish. Cooking with friends and family can be incredibly rewarding and be a really wholesome activity to do together. My nephew was born about 2 months ago, and you can bet that I’m super excited to be able to cook for him once he can eat a real meal.”