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What’s On My Plate, and Why You Should Learn to Cook

February 23, 2010

(This is the first helping, thanks)
What’s On My Plate: Baked Sea-Trout

This is what I broke a 24hr water fast with: buttery baked sea-trout served with sauteed broccoli, mushrooms, and onions.

But this delectable dish did not always look like this. No, it once took the form of a frozen-stiff, completely whole monstrosity that went for the low price of $2.70/lbs, probably because the average shopper has no idea what to do with the thing. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Trout is exploding with Omega-3 fatty acids, a great source of protein, and, above all, tastes absolutely wicked. If you ever find yourself passing up such morsels simply because you don’t know what to do with it, it’s time to re-examine your skill-set.  But why?

It’s economical.

$5 got me this:

It spanned a baking dish.  It could definitely feed 4 normal people (or 2 of me).  How much could you pay for baked trout at a restaurant?  Perhaps $20 for one entree at a restaurant I’d trust to handle fish properly.  And you know the head and bones are being saved to make stock.  No waste, money in your pocket.

Don’t give me any BS on how you could feed yourself cheaper at the drive-thru.  A $2 hamburger will keep you full for how long?  And we haven’t yet factored in the money needed for your diabetes medication and triple bypass.

It’s healthier.

I came to university fresh from varsity rugby at 145lbs, 31 inch waist, and with the ability to stand toe-to-toe with players twice my size for a whole game.  Two years in residence on a cafeteria meal-plan added 20lbs, 3 inches to my waist and certainly didn’t do wonders for my heart.  My third year I went off-campus, and one semester of cooking my own food I was back to nearly the same weight (and this is before I started researching about food).

When you cook for yourself, you control what goes in your food.  And there’s more to health than what you put into your mouth.  When’s the last time you noticed what you were eating?  Truly appreciated it?  When you start to cherish the necessities that keep you living, isn’t that another type of health?

It’s fun.

Eating is fun.  Chopping veg like a pro-chef is fun (you’ll get there).  Being revered by your friends for your culinary skill is fun.  For the guys, being able to do more than Chef Boyardee interests the ladies – that’s fun.  What’s more, unleashing your wild-side by trying new foods and flavours is fun.

It’s fast.

My meal took 20 min to prepare.  Clean the fish, season it, pop it in the oven.  Chop and sauté some vegetables.  Go do something else important, come back and eat dinner when the fish is ready.  Not really that strenuous.

“But can I really learn how to cook?”

Let’s put it this way:

I’m a male undergraduate university student. You know, the ones famous for chugging beer and subsisting on mac & cheese for 4 years. Not only can I cook myself healthy, vitamin-rich food everyday, I can do so for far less than $10/day in one of the most expensive countries in Europe. All that at a quality that makes me loathe to spend money at many restaurants because I can do it better. If I can do it, so can you.

Tips to get started:

  1. Watch FoodTV shows.  Good ones to go for are The Naked Chef, Chef at Home, Good Eats, and Everyday Italian.  Sure you have time to watch them – while you eat dinner, of course.
  2. Use a recipe.  Just until you build some chops.  Don’t be the type shackled to the constraints and limited imagination of a cookbook.
  3. Subscribe to food blogs.  Use Google.  I’ll post some of my favourites to the side, too.
  4. Just do it.  Start cooking.  If you’re a total klutz, you might render something inedible, but I highly doubt it.

The bottom line is that cooking shouldn’t be seen as a necessary evil.  Its healthier, better tasting, and can save you boatloads of money.

Vi sees.

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