Ten Things I Want to Learn to Cook Before I’m 40

Spaghetti Carbonara – This is a simple recipe, but the fear of the eggs scrambling when they are tossed with the pasta keeps me from trying this recipe.  Allowing the pasta cool just long enough so that doesn’t happen but not so much to where it’s cold is just too much pressure.

Cheesecake – I have owned a springform pan for years now and have yet to pull it out of my cabinet to use it.  Every time I see it collecting dust and cobwebs, I feel bad for that pretty little pan.  All of the other pans get pulled out to be filled with delicious food, and there it sits, no purpose but to be a base to hold the others in the cabinet.  Someday I will make the most amazing, decadent, Carnegie Deli Cheesecake in it.  Someday.

Tamales – When I joined my husband’s family, I was perplexed that a German family from New Braunfels always had tamales and chili for Christmas Eve dinner.  Before this tradition became mine as well, I was never very fond of tamales.  Over the years, though, I’ve come to love them, and I would love to be able to make them from scratch.  Of course, that would involve me taking off for the entire week of Christmas and/or quitting my day job.

Soufflé – I don’t have a particular flavor (savory vs. sweet) that I want to make, I just want bragging rights that I successfully made a soufflé whose texture and stature was perfect.

Risotto – This is another fairly simple thing to make that intimidates me.  I blame Gordon Ramsay sending pan after pan of it back to the chefs for being cooked improperly on Hell’s Kitchen.  He’s traumatized me into believing that I could never make it, either.

Yeast Rolls – I have a confession.  I have never, ever, ever used yeast in a recipe.  I have never even held a packet of it in my hand.  Baking in general frightens me, but using yeast is just too overwhelming.  If I can’t make it with Bisquick or use beer as the yeast, I kindly ask one of the bakers in my family to make it.

A Beautiful Three-Layer Cake – Once again, baking is involved.  Worse than that, icing a cake is involved.  Any time I ice a cake, it looks like my 15-month old did it.  A dear friend of mine recommended I purchase an offset spatula to make it easier, but it still looked like some kind of post-modern art.  I leave this to the professionals.

Julia Child’s Boeuf (Beef) Bourguignon – I feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to do well with this recipe.  I’ve already mastered her Gratin Dauphinois, so I feel that I need to continue on my French cooking adventure and learn the Boeuf Bourguignon.  Now I just need to find a quiet Sunday afternoon to tackle it.

Crêpes – Another elusive dish.  My mother used to make them for dinner and stuff them with leftover roast or chicken and smother them in a delightful mushroom cream sauce.  “It’s all in the wrist,” she always tells me.  I need to schedule a Saturday Crêpe Cooking School with her so my wrist can learn the twirl the batter around like she does.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Sushi – I’ve tried different types of sushi, and I just can’t get past the texture.  It’s not for me.  My husband, on the other hand, loves it.  Adores it.  Can’t get enough of it.  For him, I’d learn to make it.  While he enjoys the sushi, I’ll toss up a bowl of carbonara and dive head-first in that instead. Update: I now LOVE sushi thanks to the hubs and my dear friend, Athena! And, we’ve made our own thanks to the Sushi Bazooka!


  1. Duanrijun says:

    Your article is very well written, I learn the knowledge, thank you

  2. I understand your fear of yeast…I was that way for YEARS! Now? I’m challenged by new and more difficult recipes :) May I suggest starting with a simple homemade bread? This is the recipe I use for our typical bread usage: http://www.foodjustsayin.com/2011/02/a-slice-of-organic-life-make-bread/ – it’s about foolproof and will help you become less afraid. :D (especially if you have a bread maker)

    I finally tackled Tamales as well. I spread it out to a two day process (with no help, of course – it would be easier with an assembly line.) I prepared the meats on the first day and the tamales/steam on the second. Reading the process overwhelmed me…but if you just take it step by step, they are really easy. They are just time consuming…so when you make them, make like 100 and freeze them in batches. :)

    As far as cakes…all I can say is practice makes perfect. It’s really an art. An offset spatula does help, once you get the hang of using it. One of my favorite tools for smoothing sides is actually a straight edge spatula.

    Sushi *gag*. I was hellbent on learning to make beautiful maki rolls and loving them. I did make some gorgeous ones (with the correct vinegar rice)…took one bite and almost threw up. I just couldn’t “do” the seaweed wrap. I was horribly disappointed. I have done a bit of research and you can get these clear rice wraps that do the same thing. I am willing to try :)

    Another tool you will get addicted to…the springform pan. Once I started making cheesecakes from scratch, I actually sought out other recipes that required the springform pan. (like this one – it’s a fall favorite of mine: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Buttercup-Squash-Coffee-Cake ) Just do it. :)

    I will admit. Gordon Ramsey has put the fear of hell in me about risotto as well. lol

    Happy cooking!!

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