Food for thought and Banana Bread

Having taught many people the joys of cooking, the statement I am all too familiar with is ‘I want to learn to cook, but I don’t know how’.

And that’s it.

Give up before starting because the whole thing is too difficult and too intimidating.  It’s a profession for many, and a life-long passion for even more.  You don’t learn it in one lesson, one day, one week, and so on…

So how do you learn to cook?  Go to culinary school?  Sure, why not.  Take amateur classes at a local gourmet center or community college?  I guess so…  Try recipe after recipe?  Will this work?  Maybe…

My answer to those most in need is easy:  Take your three favorite dishes and try to make each of them.  First time through, probably not so good, probably not your favorite dish.  Learn from what went right and what went wrong.  Maybe those onions just weren’t chopped fine enough.  Maybe my sauce ended up like soup.  Next time I am going to cut the onions finer, and reduce that sauce more.

Second time though, marked improvement, but still, lots of room for improvement.  Sauce still needs to reduce, and I burned the onion.  Before long, you’re doing better and better.  And you realize, you aren’t really improving the dish, per se, but you learning and improving technique.  The building blocks of cooking.  The foundation, square one, ground zero.  Soon you realize that your favorite chicken marsala is very similar in technique to chicken picata.  Add a 4th dish.  And that’s how you learn.

When you hit a wall, then take a lesson or two to fill in the gaps.  That’s when professional assistance will really push you ahead.

Banana Bread
active cook time: 1 hr
Prep time: 15 min
Makes 8 portions

5 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces 
1 tsp b soda
1 tsp vanilla ex
pinch of salt
1 ½ c AP flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 12×8 baking pan with butter and flour.. Place bananas in a bowl and mix in melted butter by hand (should still be slightly lumpy). Mix in the sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt on the top and mix thoroughly. Add all the flour at once and fold in until just incorporated. Fold in nuts.   Place the batter in the baking pan and bake for one hour.  
Thankfully this one is really easy.

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