I’ve been cooking for a month now. Our cook and helper of over 10 years decided not to come back after her mom passed away. We tried to survive on food delivery and dining out, but after about 3 weeks of that we all started to feel sick. I knew then that I had to do something I swore off years ago — cooking. As a teen, I almost chopped off my finger trying to slice ham. I still remember walking to my room with blood dripping all over the floor where I walked.
My first attempt at cooking was roasting carrots and potatoes in the oven last August 10, 2016. I was lucky our super nice neighbor The Hungry Chef gave us some really yummy lechon from Manilachon. All I had to prepare was a side dish. I’ve progressed to cooking full meals. I started from zero and I’m so thankful we now have Google. Google is my teacher. I’d Google everything from how to clean vegetables to how to cook steak. I even Google what I should do with leftover ingredients. I wouldn’t be where I am now in this whole cooking journey without Google.
When I don’t have much time (sometimes we get home later than usual), I have stuff like homemade tapa which I order from purveyors like Garlic and Lemon. I also have ready-to-cook supermarket fare like Pampanga’s Best Tocino. Then I just cook rice and simple side dishes like Korean-style spinach or Taiwan-style tomato egg.
Pasta is another option when I’m pressed for time. I discovered my kids never really liked the sweet pinoy style spaghetti our cook used to prepare. I’ve made sauce using bottled San Remo Bolognese Sauce with tomato chunks and Contadina diced tomatoes on separate occasions. They said they liked both better than the sweeter sauces we used to have.
When we want to indulge, we’d buy Meltique steaks from S&R. They’re pretty pricey and I was cooking them for the first time so I googled how to cook steak. The results led me to Jamie Oliver’s website. His technique involved rubbing the steak all over with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. It came out yummy thank goodness, I just need to work on getting the doneness right. I cooked ribeye steaks and one was perfectly medium, one was medium rare, and one was rare lol. The rare ones went into my pre-heated oven (because I roasted potatoes) for 5 minutes and they were okay.
I try my best to come up with balanced meals. When I cook just one viand, I make sure it has both meat and vegetables.
One of the yummiest dishes I’ve cooked is Japchae / Chapchae. It was kind of tedious though — I didn’t know I had to marinate and cook each of the components (veggies, meat, noodles) separately! You just mix them all together in the end. Took me over two hours to finish this one dish but the taste was worth it!
In the past month that I’ve been cooking, I realized a lot of things:
- Our former cook and helper was really wasteful. She’d go through approximately 4 liters of cooking oil a month. I haven’t even finished one liter and it’s been over a month.
- We had a lot of leftovers stuffed in the refrigerator when she was around. She would cook so much every meal, even if I’d tell her to cut down the amount of food.
- She wasn’t careful with cookware. How the hell do you remove the entire pan’s nonstick surface???
- She was kinda bad at menu planning. Many nights we’d have 2 meat dishes and rice for dinner. It was something like fried chicken, pork adobo, and rice for dinner. We’d grin and bear it.
- She liked to hoard. I used to be totally hands off the kitchen and I’d just go buy what she listed at the supermarket. I found something like 8 tetra packs of all purpose cream, 8 cans of button mushrooms, packs of tablea marked 2004, and a whole lot of other things in the cupboards and fridge.
You know what? I don’t want to hire a cook anymore. To be fair, our ex-helper was trustworthy in that she never stole and I have pretty much everything lying around. She was also good to the kids.
Nowadays I buy everything from the supermarket. It’s pricier but it’s also more convenient. Plus well, I need the labels because I get confused… like I can’t tell a tomato from a persimmon and so forth lol. I also upgraded all our ingredients. We went from regular iodized salt to sea salt, and more recently Himalayan pink salt I bought from Malaysia. I replaced regular soy sauce with Kikkoman. White sugar is now muscovado sugar. I trashed canola oil in favor of olive oil. White vinegar became apple cider vinegar. Instead of MSG I have an array of spices like cracked pepper, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, cumin, etc. We can have steak, salmon, gindara… etc.
My grandma, mom, and aunt are all really really good cooks. My lola is the type who makes ube from scratch. They said they aren’t surprised I’m taking to this fast. Like from a total zero I’m cooking complete meals in just a few days. I didn’t go for lessons too, I just googled everything.
We are actually eating better and spending less because I’m 100% in control. My kids don’t order pizza and other foods for midnight snack anymore. They used to do so at least 2x a week because they weren’t eating well during mealtimes.
If I can do this, anyone who has never cooked can!
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Congratulations! I’m so happy for you and your family! Blessing in disguise ang pag-alis ng cook ninyo.
I am always looking forward to your food posts in IG or FB. I really enjoy your cooking milestones. Nakaaalis ng stress! Keep up the good work!
Thank you! That means a lot. 😀
Bravo!!! Now ako na ang dapat invited sa house mo to enjoy your fiesta meals!! I never even tried to cook most of your beautiful dishes coz I’m such a lazy cook! :))) b
Just a tip: try not to replace canola with olive oil coz they taste really different and can affect flavor of the dish…especially for Asian dishes, best to use canola, corn or soy oils. Olive oil can’t be used over high heat also. 🙂 Ultimately, use whatever you prefer. Now tell Peter to pay you your cook’s salary na! 😀
Wahahahaaa! Wala ako choice maarte yun mga kumakain dito imagine sawa na daw sila sa Korean beef lol. Yun canola kasi inayawan ko na bec of its GMO roots. Walang plant na canola kasi. Kaya takot na ako sa canola. Keri naman si olive oil for most dishes, used it for Beef Yakiniku last night (combined with a bit of sesame oil) and okay naman..
You should check out the widely popular Tasty youtube channel.
I like watching those videos!
So happy for you and your family. One reason why my mom doesn’t want to hire a helper anymore is because she finds it too stressful and tedious to train them and as you pointed out, they tend to be wasteful. To make our lives easier, we have automated appliances if they’re available (e.g. washing machine); my mom is also looking into buying a dishwasher hehe. Her reason is that since we don’t have helpers, there is less expense around the house so we could afford extra “luxuries” to make our lives easier.
Regarding oil: I agree with the previous post, some types of olive oil can’t be used over high heat because it could be carcinogenic (can’t remember which, Google na lang:)) so I think it’s best to use corn oil especially for deep frying. I hope you’re also enjoying your cooking adventures. I find that cooking is such a fun activity and not much of a chore. 😀
I recall a chef once told me EVOO isn’t for cooking, regular olive oil is daw. But I’m not really sure. Still looking for good alternatives to canola oil (we used to use canola oil). I’ll Google more about oil lol! I did get Pomace which is supposedly okay for frying but again mixed feedback… XD
I use palm oil instead of canola because like you, I believe na walang canola plant. Hehe. I use olive oil lang for some dishes na okay with it. There are dishes kasi talaga na hindi bagay yung taste ng olive oil. 🙂
Btw, do you eat dishes with bagoong? I’d love to send you my products from Bebeng’s Kitchen! It can make your cooking easier kasi timplado na. Ihahalo mo na lang siya sa pork, may binagoongan ka na.
I think I have bought Palm Oil na din! Yes I agree naman olive oil has a distinct scent and taste… vegetable oil is the other kind I have here. Wow thanks kaso ako lang kumakain ng bagoong, hubby and kids hindi huhuhu. Kaya nga pag sa resto kami and I order kare-kareng gulay si yaya ang kahati ko. They do eat chili garlic oil(?) served in Chinese restos though. 🙂
Congratulations ! Cooking is therapeutic especially when kids finish the food you prepare. Keep on cooking;)
Thanks! Nakaka-down din pag di nila type though lol. XD